There’s really no singles jumping up and shouting at me as deserving of the top slot this week, so let’s get all indie and shit. You’ve gotta’ check out Black River (Fantagraphics) by Josh Simmons, his latest full length graphic novel that seems to be taking his go-to elements of ethereal horror, latent comedy, and a phantasmagoria of the bizarre, and sets them all in post-apocalyptic trappings, a genre that’s one of my all-time favorites. I think most audiences associate him with The Furry Trap, but for me it’s his work on Jessica Farm that sealed the deal. Jessica Farm was one of my Best of 2008 selections and was a “Lynchian take on Alice in Wonderland” set in a Midwestern farmhouse, delightfully balancing the disturbing and the alluring, the reconciliation of which teetered on the edge of your periphery, just beyond the reach of full understanding.
Descender #3 (Image) by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen, and No Mercy #2 (Image) by Alex De Campi and Carla Speed McNeil are also out this week and I like them both for several reasons. Despite liking the genre as a reflection not of our future, but of our present, I fear the comics sci-fi market is in danger of being glutted at the moment, so it takes something special to stand out from the pack. The design work in Descender is first rate, with ink washes that achieve the type of aesthetic quality I’m drawn to. No Mercy takes the type of clean, almost sterile visuals I’m drawn to (Gibbons, Cassaday, McKelvie, et al) and amps them up with rich generational observations in a unique setting. Speaking of McKelvie, he and Kieron Gillen also have The Wicked + The Divine #10 (Image) out this week as well.
I’m a big fan of Star Wars Rebels, so I’ll check out Kanan: The Last Padawan #2 (Marvel), though I admit being totally underwhelmed by the first issue, which seemed to violate the old screenwriting rule of getting into scenes as late as you can and getting out as early as you possibly can. It was a lot of wind-up with very little forward motion, nothing inherently advancing plot or revealing character. I’m curious about Arcadia #1 (Boom! Studios) by Alex Paknadel and Eric Scott Pfeiffer, it’s got an interesting post-apocalyptic premise surrounding pandemic, tied to a sort of utopian solution, and the art looks intriguing. I’ll also give We Can Never Go Home Again #2 (Black Mask) by Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon, and Josh Hood a flip. The first issue worked well, featuring that old chestnut about kids getting powers and having to navigate their existence without much adult direction, which seems to be a sub-genre experiencing a resurgence at the moment (in the model of, say, Demo, They’re Not Like Us, etc.).