Monday, January 19, 2015

Indie Corner - 01/14/2015

Each week I'll spotlight a couple independent books I've read and may have flown under people's radar.

There's a new printing of North 40 out this week, a series from 2010 with art by Fiona Staples.  So people might be interested in picking this up.  Also: It's good.

When two two high school students unwittingly read from a spell book, they release something that changes Conover County, NC overnight.  Suddenly there's zombies, a hulking brute, giant robot, tentacle monster, and loads more this small town is trying to contend with.  It's a shame the series didn't run longer, because the end of the book seems to imply the writer had more he wanted to do.  It's a bit like a Hellboy or BPRD trade, with more humor, and art by Staples.  So if that sounds like something you're interested in, I recommend checking it out.

Trees 8
Firstly, that's a powerful cover for anyone that's been reading the issue.  Next, one of the major events of last issue isn't followed up on at all in this one.  We touch base with everything else, however, with some major character deaths and location destruction.  The characters are still fantastic, and I hope this supplies enough "stuff happening" for the people that complained about that earlier on.  I, for one, am very much looking forward to the next arc.

Now this is what I'm talking about.  The drama is back as well as the fantasy - this issue hits the high points of the first issue that the last two issues had been missing.  While not much happens in the other world, in the "real" world, characters are hitting emotional and plot beats on just about every page.  I had been wavering on this series, but I'm glad I stuck around, because this issue paid off that patience in a huge way.  Really looking forward to next issue.

I emailed my comic shop to hold a copy of this for me while I was out of town.  That decisions was based mostly on the strength of the art because I couldn't actually read the preview pages on the slow Internet connection I had.  The beginning of the issue reminds me of a Fable game, with child and vague talk of paths not yet choosen before jumping ahead a decade.  There's a rich city, and a poor city that surrounds it.  A boy, a girl, and a budding friendship.  In all, there's a lot of common pieces here, and they didn't combine into a compelling story for me.

Oh American Vampire, how I've missed you.  Skinner, Pearl, and Calvin are back, now in 1965.  They've been keeping a low profile, more or less, for the last few years, and that's about to end for all of them.  Something is coming.  Something old and powerful, destroying everything in its wake.  Batman and Wytches are both very good books, but I think American Vampire remains my favorite Scott Synder title.  The writing remains excellent, and I absolutely love Albuquerque's art.

This issue is great and I can't stop thinking about the last page.  Of everything I've read this week, that's the standout page among all of it.  Nothing that happens in this issue is what I expected.  It's all brilliant and makes total sense, but absolutely none of it went how I thought they'd go.  There's a quote I can only half remember from an introduction in one of the Scalped trades about how in a noir story the audience expects the characters to redeem themselves, but instead they continue to self-sabotage.  "Self-sabotage" sums up this series pretty well, and I don't expect any of these characters to eventually redeem themselves.  Recommended.

I haven't talked about this series yet, but I have read the first two issues as well.  Quick summary: There's a couple shadowy groups, one of which, the titular Ghost Fleet, drives trucks across America.  A member of the Ghost Fleet gets betrayed and left for dead only to return really pissed off and looking for revenge.  What should be a pretty straight forward revenge tale is somewhat bogged down by keeping details of the parties in play especially vague.  The dialogue is good, and the art is great, but the story is kept a bit close to the chest and I think it's starting to hamper things.  I'll stick around for a little while longer to see where this is going.

I haven't been sure about this series for a few issues, but I decided to pick up issue five to see if/how the arc ends.  It does end, and it ends well.  The investigation gets wrapped up, resolution is attained for a couple plot threads, all characters get a nice spotlight, and at least one story seed gets planted.  I'll stick around for a few more issues to see where it goes.  If it's anything like this issue, it'll be somewhere good.