It’s nearly Wednesday, and you know what that means: a fresh load of comics and graphic novels! With so many publications hitting your local comics store, comics event or digital storefront, the BF team are here to lead you through the woods with our weekly staff picks. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Comic of the Week
After some high-profile spandex work elsewhere, Jonathan Hickman’s return to Image Comics – his first work at the publisher since the much-loved East of West with Nick Dragotta – was always going to be an event.
Co-created with artist Mike Huddleston (Middlewest), Decorum is a full-blooded slice of sci-fi. After a couple of initial diversions, it eventually lands on Imogen Smith-Morley – “the most well-mannered assassin in the known universe” and a protagonist who will no doubt send an army of cosplayers diving for their sewing machines.
As you might expect from Hickman’s involvement, this first issue forces its comics pages to compete with a panoply of maps, infographics and RPG sourcebook material. However, those pages by Huddleston crackle with propulsive energy and invention, forsaking generic storyboard goo to embrace a variety of bold graphic styles, even within a single scene.
The cool and intriguing killer might be a well-worn trope by now, but there are probably a few of you out there who still have a Killing Eve itch that needs to be scratched. Hickman and Huddleston (and their very capable collaborators) are here to help.
Jonathan Hickman (W), Mike Huddleston (A), Rus Wooton (L), Sasha E Head (design) • Image Comics, $4.99
– Tom Murphy
Thoreau and Me
Thoreau and Me is the debut graphic novel of Cédric Taling, an artist whose wider practice has included screenwriting and animation, and whose comics-influenced paintings take their inspiration from American and Japanese influences.
Capturing the zeitgeist, this story sees despairing artist “Cédric” in a contemporary Paris, processing his feelings about mass consumerism and the environment in conversation with the spirit of 19th century philosopher and early enviromentalist Henry David Thoreau. Some unlikely links reveal themselves between the centuries as Taling adopts a variety of ever shifting presentational approaches to communicate the book’s themes with his audience.
Cédric Taling (W/A) • SelfMadeHero, £14.99
– Andy Oliver
All My Friends Are Ghosts
A young woman trying to find her place in life, and helping others do the same. It sounds like the stereotype of what a young adult novel ought to look like, except that this is by Eisner Award-winner Shane-Michael Vidaurri and involves a ghost school. It’s fun, full of interesting episodes featuring everything from possession to demon magic, and also a detective story involving an elusive spirit.
The art from Hannah Krieger brings to life a world that is magical yet firmly rooted in our own. If you’re looking for something that breaks the mold as far as this genre is concerned, this is a pretty good attempt.
S.M. Vidaurri (W), Hannah Krieger (A) • BOOM! Studios, $14.99
– Lindsay Pereira
Jim Henson’s Storyteller: Ghosts #1
As Jim Henson’s weirder side gets its long-overdue renaissance on the screen (see Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and upcoming Labyrinth 2), BOOM!/Archaia continues its earned lovefest with the late puppeteer’s properties, this time in Jim Henson’s Storyteller: Ghosts, a four-part miniseries of self-contained stories.
A fireside tale narrated by the famous show’s Storyteller sets the tone for this gothic yarn about a classist tragedy and “Mylings”, cursed baby ghosts that attach themselves to hosts and force them to carry out their bidding.
Any more than that for a synopsis would inevitably include spoilers. But rest assured that writer-artist Márk Lázló, colourist Patricio Delpeche and letterer Matthew Levine capture the bizarre yet surprisingly human tone of Henson’s darker side, through great plotting, evocative art, lush colours and shadows, and expressive lettering. Some of these Jim Henson adaptations are worthy of an ongoing series, and this one is no exception.
Alas, goblins, David Bowie and his glorious hair don’t make an appearance.
Márk Lázló (W/A), Patricio Delpeche (C), Matthew Levine (L) • BOOM! Studios/Archaia, $3.99
– Moe Abbas
Whistle is the first of two new books from Breakdown Press this week, those fine purveyors of narratives experimental, alternative and boundary-pushing. It’s also the debut English language work of French cartoonist Louka Butzbach.
Breakdown’s description on their site tells us only that it’s “a whimsical tale of potato-induced revolution in suburban Paris” but as taglines go that one’s got our immediate attention. Plus there are a number of preview pages here to whet your appetite. It’s Breakdown Press, people… it’s going to be worth your time!
Louka Butzbach (W/A) • Breakdown Press, £15.00
– Andy Oliver
And here’s the other new Breakdown Press book this week! A few years back Breakdown published Palace #0, a collection of seldom seen comics gems by Antoine Cossé (Mutiny Bay). The title returns as an ongoing publication this week with three stories: ‘Plague’, ‘Guards’ and part one of ‘Alphonse’.
While hardly unrecognised in his own right Cossé is an artist who really should have a far, far higher profile given his astonishing command of the form. If you’ve yet to sample his work then this is a perfect entry point to his practice. Again, you can see preview pages here.
Antoine Cossé (W/A) • Breakdown Press, £15.00
– Andy Oliver
Machine Gun Wizards TPB
Magic and Prohibition-era crime collide in Christian Ward and Sami Kivelä’s four-issue miniseries Machine Gun Wizards, pitting Eliot Ness and the Untouchables against Al Capone and the trench-coat-clad sorceress Candice as Chicago cracks down on speakeasies selling the prohibited “lick” — a liquor that grants magical powers, the source of which is a mystery. Before long, Ness and the Untouchables discover a grand conspiracy and get caught in a war that threatens to destroy Chicago and beyond.
Religion, belonging and public mistrust of the police slip into this tale as themes, but Ward and company eschew some overreaching stab at topical relevance here. These themes serve more as situational context for idiosyncratic characters, unique world-building and a twist-filled plot to deliver a fun, kinetic book that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Read Moe Abbas’s full review on the issues that make up this TPB here at Broken Frontier.
Christian Ward (W), Sami Kivelä (A), Dee Cunniffe (C), Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou (L) • Dark Horse Comics, $19.99
– Moe Abbas
Heavy Metal #298
Earlier this year we ran an extensive preview of the 298th issue of this venerable science fiction anthology here at Broken Frontier. As we approach that landmark 300th number this month’s offering is a specially themed ‘Furthest Reaches’ issue which, we are promised, will take us to the “edge of the cosmos and beyond.”
While it’s unfortunate that the contributor list is so male-dominated there are some very notable names in these pages including Broken Frontier Anthology contributors David Hine and Mark Stafford, the legendary Richard Corben and Alien film franchise concept designer Carlos Huante. Most of the work herein is self-contained as well for those readers wanting to dip into an accessible collection of sci-fi fare.
Anthology – Various creators • Heavy Metal, $9.99
– Andy Oliver
Sex, Death, Revolution TPB
Written by Magdalene Visaggio, Sex, Death, Revolution follows a transgendered Manhattan sorceress Esperanza struggling with the collapse of her coven and inexplicable memory loss that’s not only ruined her friendships, but her sense of identity as well. As the world of magic closes in on her, she’s forced to confront demons of her personal history once thought long buried.
Visaggio’s use of magic is less “pow bang” than a vehicle for navigating reality in matters of identity and the heart. The story is exceptionally perceptive about the psychology of identity, and brims with the authenticity and vulnerability of a private diary. Artists Becca Farrow and Katarzyna Witerscheim bring Esperanza’s world to life with a tonally fitting balance between photorealism and exaggeration without superhero grandiosity.
Sex, Death, Revolution is exemplary of what diversity brings to comics. The seemingly mundane in familiar tropes and contexts becomes fresh and exciting through a perspectival shift, giving us insight into the unique experiences of an overlooked and misunderstood population whose struggles with identity are not as foreign as bigots try to make them out to be.
Magdalene Visaggio (W), Becca Farrow & Katarzyna Witerscheim (A), Harry Saxon (C), Zakk Saam (L) • Black Mask Studios, $19.99
– Moe Abbas