Every week, comic fandom is gifted with a slew of fantastic stories from a slew of fantastic creators. These days there’s just so much good stuff out there that it can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you’re new to comics. Thus AIPT presents to you, Fantastic Five! A weekly column where we pick five fantastic books released during the week and tell you why you should take a chance on them via a snippet from our reviews.
Enjoy, and happy reading!
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Venom: The End #1
Words by Adam Warren. Art by Chamba.
This is a dense read but one that is rewarding thanks to the big beats in the story that reveal incredible ideas as biological life fights to stay in the conversation. It’s amazing to me that Venom 20 years ago was a visually interesting character and not much more, but here we see Warren take what Cates has built and shown us the sky is the limit when cleverness and inspiration meet in the middle. If you like encyclopedic reads or bang for your buck storytelling don’t skip on this. (9/10)
Life is Strange #12
Words by Emma Vieceli. Art by Claudia Leonardi.
One of the biggest positives of this series for me is how it follows in the themes of LGBT characters that were present within the original video game. In a landscape where the largest two publishers rarely have much LGBT representation, it is always great to see the smaller publishers take on what the others should be doing. So far the entire series has been focused around two sets of relationships between women, the first being Max Caulfield and Chloe Price from one of the endings of the original Life is Strange, and the other being an alternate universe Chloe Price and Rachel Amber, who had been murdered in the game’s universe, and both relationships are written incredibly well by Vieceli. (9.5/10)
Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy #2
Words by Jeff Lemire. Art by Tonci Zonjic.
I was incredibly impressed with the layout design in the first issue of Skulldigger and Skeleton Boy and also deeply interested how this story would diverge from the tropes we’ve seen in superhero tales before. Given Jeff Lemire said this is his “love letter to Frank Miller,” the tropes are very much on purpose. A commentary on superhero comics, Frank Miller in particular, with an artist in Tonci Zonjic to stretch our imaginations within this crime-alley inspired narrative? It sounds like a winning formula. (9.5/10)
Vampirella/Red Sonja #5
Words by Jordie Bellaire. Art by Drew Moss.
Speaking of the setting, this book’s art team has a particularly strong outing with some of this issue’s set pieces. In particular, the sequence in the punk club near the beginning of the issue is a major highlight. As Iggy and the Stooges take the stage, there’s a clear abandon from the band and the audience alike, all of them surrendering to the music. Vampirella and her new friend find each other immediately and the attraction is palpable. Becca Carey renders the lyrics to “I Wanna Be Your Dog” as though they are slashing their way through the air, while Drew Moss gives us dancing figures moving their way through the sound of Iggy’s vocals. It’s a striking visual. (10/10)
The Low, Low Woods #2
Words by Carmen Maria Machado. Art by Dan McDaid.
A strong indictment of how we inherit the violence in our world. With this being the second issue, Machado has cemented herself into the medium fantastically. For a “literary” reader like me, this is an exciting time to be reading a piece in an industry that’s sadly heavily male-dominated. Despite it being from the big two publishers, I have to praise DC for allowing Machado to tell such a powerful and socially relevant book like this. Readers in the industry can subconsciously learn a lot from this book, and I’m excited about the discussion that ensues because of it. This is a nice salve for everyone’s scars. Hopefully, together we may all see each other this way. Scars and all. (10/10)
–Arbaz M. Khan