Review of No Mercy #2

No Mercy 2by Alex De Campi & Carla Speed McNeil

Writer Alex De Campi has been a name bubbling up for the last year or so in comics. As a woman who was once an investment banker and spends part of her time as a film director, her comics work has been relatively under the radar for fans that are accustomed to follow the DC/Marvel/Image Comics industrial complex. This is despite having been nominated for an Eisner for work that came out ten years ago, her comics writing has been relatively minimal and on the fringe’s of the industry, working on Manga, French comics, web series ect But De Campi is becoming harder to ignore and that’s to comics own benefit. She’s already shown what she could do in the work for hire front on Sensation Comics & the delightfully macabre Archie Vs Predator and for the last two years she’s been crafting wonderfully campy exploitation fiction in her Dark Horse series Grind House. But what feels like her most personal and thoughtful work is No Mercy, a brutally real horror story about first world kids getting a crash course in third world problems.

No Mercy follows a group of teenagers bound for Princeton University traveling in South America for charity work when there bus rolls off a cliff,  leaving them stranded in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by hungry coyotes. This is the genius of No Mercy, it’s terrifying for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with anything supernatural, it’s brutal violence is effective because it’s so real, it’s a type of horror that could happen to almost anybody. The almost anybody is the key here because De Campi’s character’s are brutally honest modern archetypes of adolescence. There’s a brush of slasher flick formulaic to them, but it’s accentuated by the hints of vulnerability and impulsiveness. DeCampi understands this age, how they aren’t fully formed even though they think they are and it creates a strong buy in for the reader. Artist Carla Speed McNeal accentuates the mood by deftly illustrating the raw violence, fear and reaction from the participants. It’s cartoony and round in a way that’s almost cute until it no longer can be and once the action kicks in, the work comes alive and ups the stories pace to push the level of fear on the reader.

No Mercy is one of the best new horror comics because it eschews or upends so many of the genre’s tropes to instead, create a type of horror that is grounded in reality. It doesn’t get any more frightening then that.

Review of Roche Limit Clandestiny #1

Roche Lmit Clandestiny 1By Michael Moreci, Kyle Charles & Vic Malhotra

I was a big fan of the first volume of Roche Limit. I picked issue #1 as week’s finest. If you were not able to read the first volume of Roche Limit, do not worry, you do not need it for this volume. The characters and the mission is all new. What Moreci is doing, is creating a world where many stories can be told were each will be about the reach of man exceeding his grasp. It will highlight how the very human nature that drove us to achieve great things will also destroy us as we do not learn from previous mistakes and let the power of discovery be our ultimate downfall.

This first issue is a typical space expedition gone wrong in the very same nature as Alien and Prometheus. If the story is going to start very typical then the character development has to carry the beginning of the book. Moreci does this brilliantly in the opening pages of Clandestiny. Open on a Mom in a space ship talking to her daughter and husband via computer uplink. She is answering their questions, and asking ones of her own. It isn’t until she starts reciting their answers before they give them, that you realize she is watching a tape. As tear’s fill her eyes, the recording ends and announces that the message is two years, seven months and four days old. A beautifully sad moment right off the top to give those heart strings a little tug. The rest of the book follow a typical alien planet discovery crew; there ship crashes, they explore the planet and find a forest in the middle of it where technically life should not exist. In the sky above the forest is a bright burning ball of gas, much like the one in the previous volume of Roche Limit.

Once you hit the back matter of this book it all starts to come together. We read a news story of a robot named Danny. A robot that ended up being sentenced to “death” after killing it’s creators daughter. With no understand and frankly a fear of understanding why the robot would do this, it was destroyed. We find out that the company that made Danny is the same company that developed a colony on Dispater. The two greatest advancements of man, have both been deemed complete failures.

This is a great sci fi story, in the nature of Prometheus but instead of aliens as the threat, it appears that the threat is the power thirst of man which makes for a very interesting start to the second volume of Roche Limit.

– Dean

Review of Descender #3

Descender_03-1By Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen

Coming off the emotional issue #2 of Descender, I was not quite sure what to expect with issue #3. Last issue Tim-21 had his memories uploading while he was experiencing a total system failure, due to a blast through the chest. We got to see Tim get accepted into a family as a real member of their clan. It definitely succeeded at establishing an emotional connection with Tim-21, making him feel like an adopted child finally feeling at home with his new parents. Issue #3 opens on Tim waking up in a strange land where a dishevelled looking robot says he has been waiting for Tim-21 to arrive. Concurrently to Tim’s time in the dream like land, our buddy Driller is trying to save him. Unfortunately though in Driller’s words, “Little bot’s gonna spark off and stupid Driller too stupid to fix him!” Thankfully for Tim the ship containing Quon and Telsa is approaching the planet.

Tim finds out that there is more than just one robot in this mysterious place. In fact every robot that has been discarded and destroyed is there. Since robots cannot dream, where could this be? Quon is able to get his hands on Tim and “bring him back from the dead” I am interested to get into next issue and see how Quon and Telsa interpret

I absolutely loved issue #2 of Descender. It was full of suspense and heart and became very connected to the book. Issue #3 was not lacking these elements. It included suspense and it included heart, just not up to the standard previously set by issue #2. This issue is a bridge point where we have been exposed to the robot purgatory, an interesting concept that is for sure going to be at the crux of the story. I am reminded of the scene in iRobot where all the older models of robots collect together at the shipping yard, it creates the mystery that something big is going to happen. While issue #2 gave you the heart, issue #3 laid the bricks down and started to build the foundation of the story. It’s not as strong as the previous but still a solid chapter in the series and help in building one of the best series at Image right now.

– Dean

Review of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

cBy Ryan North and Erica Henderson

There have been multiple people on this site recommending The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl to me. First, it was Cosmo, then Patrick, and finally Alex. If you are like me, you might be sitting there thinking, “okay I’m sure it’s funny, but I have a limited budget and I don’t think I can waste my money on a goofy book about a Squirrel Girl.” Well, in the words of Elizabeth Shaw, “I was wrong! We were so wrong!” I picked up issue #4 just so I could be part of the discussion on the last podcast and it was incredible. I’m talking one of the best books at Marvel.

This is an excerpt from The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. If you do not find this incredibly amusing…then I guess we find different things incredibly amusing.

Hey, this reminds me: with great power doesn’t come great responsibility! With great power actually comes great joules per second, or “watts,” the integral of which over time measures the work performed.

In a perfect world I don’t need to write anymore words, you have already opened up a new tab on your computer and fired up Comixology to purchase The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Since this is not a perfect world let me hit you with another:

It’s like, if you have the technology to build actual flying robot dinosaurs, why not open a theme park? You’ll make literally all the money.

Still not reading this issue of Squirrel Girl? Oh I get it, you already read it, of course you did! Issue #5 of Squirrel Girl is a nice one shot issue where a group of people are stuck in the Statue of Liberty waiting to be rescued. As they all talk about who will save them, someone throws out Squirrel Girl. Since no one there actually knows who Squirrel Girl is they all start telling stories about Squirrel Girl’s origin. The stories are all dead wrong and extremely funny. It is amazing how many people confuse her with Spider-man. This book is so enjoyable. Any book that has the phrase “I knew there was something fishy about that Bass Lass lady!” and Captain America saying, “Democracy seems pretty okay again, I guess!” is a book for me! Ryan North is right in the wheelhouse of my humour and Erica Henderson is a versatile, talented artist on full display in this issue. I hope this is a book for you.

– Dean

Review of We Can Never Go Home #2

cBy Matthew Rosenberg, Patrick Kindlon and Josh Hood

Remember when you were a teenager? Remember when you had a crush on the popular girl? Remember when she was actually freakishly strong and burst into your house while your dad was beating on you and punched him so fucking hard he died…okay maybe this isn’t the typical high school experience. The characters feel so real that this can easily be mistaken for my own memory. However, my own memory did not include fugitive teens on the run.

We Can Never Go Home is one of the strongest titles being put out by a talent filled group over at Black Mask. The story of the outcast and the pretty girl, bonding over a common ground…super powers. After hot girl Maddie kills Duncan’s father, there is nothing left to do but hit the road. This issue has all the classic tropes of a teens-on-the-run story. What makes it special is the honest reaction of the characters. There are a few car scenes where Maddie and Duncan are chatting while hitting the open road. As scary as it would be to runaway, the teens get easily distracted by the excitement and the danger of it all. In one page Maddie goes from wanting to turn herself in to giggling over how they will spend all the cash they just ripped off. It is very enjoyable watching these kids attempt to be outlaws, when basically all they know about being outlaws is what they see in the movies. They don’t rob a bank, that would be stupid, instead they rip off a drug dealer…yes much smarter.

The best scene of this issue and of the entire series so far is when Duncan and Maddie actually go to rip off the drug dealer. It’s a conversation between Duncan and Maddie in square boxes, indicating it is not happening at the same time as what we are seeing. Duncan is explaining how easy it is going to be to rob the drug dealer. While he is explaining we are viewing what actually happened when they broke into the drug house. Let’s just say things didn’t go according to plan. Ever since True Detective used this form of storytelling, where what you hear is not actually what you see, I have been gushing over it. It provides a great moment in this issue.

If you want awkward teen moments, super powered ass kicking and an evening stay at the “No-Tell Motel” then what are you waiting for? We Can Never Go Home is your jam!

– Dean

 

I Hate to be That Guy but, FACT CHECK!

I don’t know if it’s the new thing taking people to task for the things they say, but I thought I should get in on it. Lately, people in comics (someday I should find out what Comics even means) have been saying things that are sticking in my craw. Petty? Maybe a little.  Necessary? Not even close. Still, I got to get in on this thing before it goes out of style. Continue reading I Hate to be That Guy but, FACT CHECK!