The concept for Copperhead seems to be a natural evolution from Joss Whedon's Firefly. He brought us cowboys in space, now writer Jay Faerber and artist Scott Godlewski move forward with the space western by showing us the life of a human settler on an alien planet. The story follows human Sheriff Clara Bronson, a single mother, who’s transferred to the small mining town of Copperhead on the alien planet Jasper. Partnered with a somewhat bitter alien named Budroxifinicus (or Boo if you want to piss him off), the duo are drawn into a murder mystery before Sheriff Bronson can set down her bags. Together the two are what passes as law in this melting pot of a town on a far away alien world.
From what I can tell the book’s tone serves as an allegory to western expansion America, where the gun was law, foreigners weren’t trusted, and natives even less. Jasper is populated by humans, dozens of alien species, and androids. Faerber’s writing is smart, and sharp. Characters two issues in feel very well defined. Deputy Boo is one of my favorite new characters. Faerber doesn’t overplay the fantastical concept, letting it feel natural as though 5 eyed green aliens were an everyday occurrence, which in this book it very much is. Godlewski’s art follows suit. Aliens don’t come across as too fantastical but aren’t by any means dull or derivative of other people’s designs. With only 2 issues out so far, it’s easy to catch up and treat yourself to cool space-western.
Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s horror/mystery book finds single mother and small town policewoman (I’m sensing a pattern here) Dana Cypress, trying to hold her home town of Wausau Wisconsin together after dozens of dead people return from life. Not as zombies, but as living and breathing normal people, or at least so it seems. As the world’s eyes turn to toward Wasau and the mystery of the “Revivals” deepens, Officer Cypress must deal with zealots, organ traffickers, and a resurrected sister who was murdered and is now seeking revenge in her second life. Oh and there’s a weird white ghost/monster stalking the woods outside of town looking for it’s baby.
Writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton work so well together in tandem, creating a unique and genuinely creepy book. The book is peppered with interesting characters who are just trying to make it day to day as their home becomes the center of a truly frightening mystery. A crossover issue with the hilarious Chew was a nice tension breaker in the series and while the issue isn’t going to answer any of either series’ big questions, it’s a fun reprieve in the middle of all the death and undeath (?) of Revival. 24 issues are out so far, as well as several trades, so you don’t have too far to go to catch up, although I will recommend the trades in as much as you’ll read through each issue quickly trying to find out what happens next.
How to describe East of West… hmmm… well it’s a western… it’s about revenge...it’s an alternate history story… it’s about the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse… Oh and there’s Cthulu-like tentacle monsters in one issue. Yeah that sounds about right. While this book isn’t Johnathon Hickman’s most out there concept it’s still pretty far out. Focusing on the Horseman Death as he tries to get vengence against his fellow Horsemen and those who took his life away (ironic I know). We find a very different America that veered greatly from our history after the Civil War. 200 years later America is is divided into 7 kingdoms. has flying cars, vast megalopolises, and robot dog/horses/guns. Yeah. It’s a Johnathon Hickman book remember.
Hickman isn’t at his Hickman-y-ist with East of West. It’s not quite as crazy as Manhattan Projects, but it’s certainly not as grounded as his Marvel work. The book is full of trademark Hickman out there concepts that are never fully explained, and dark and morally ambiguous characters who sometimes are hard to side with. But oddly these things don’t detract from the book at all. You’ll find yourself rooting for Death as he cuts a bloody swath across America as he kills the people who took his family from him. And HOLY balls is Nick Dragotta’s art amazing in this book. Dynamic and beautiful, Dragotta is drawing the hell out of this book. Able to go from vast futuristic cities to quiet Chinese gardens in a single issue, Dragotta is really showing what he can do. I am curious to see what Hickman’s described in his script when it came to Death’s robot/horse/dog/gun and how Dragotta was able to come up with what he did. Hickman’s stories can sometimes be a bit of an info dump, but they definietly read best in trades and East of West is no exception.
Starlight is what happens when Flash Gordon gets old and settles down. An unabashed love letter to pulp heroes and the same serials that inspired George Lucas to make Star Wars, Mark Millar and Goran Parlov’s Starlight tells the story of Captain Duke McQueen, retired test pilot and once liberator an alien planet from the clutches Lord Typhon. Of course that was 50 years ago and McQueen is an old widower, who’s family would rather watch a baseball game than spend time with him. When McQueen returned from space everyone thought he was a crackpot so he settled into a quiet life with the woman he loved most. It’s like Flash Gordon meets Up. When the world he saved all those years ago comes calling for his help against an even greater evil, aged septuagenarian Duke McQueen must travel back to space and save the universe one more time. Of course things aren’t as easy as they were all those years ago, Duke isn’t as young as he used to be, and this new enemy is more savage than the dictator McQueen fought once upon a time. Will Captain Duke McQueen be victorious?
This is the Mark Millar I enjoy reading. There’s a cynicism to a lot of his work of late. I don’t know if Millar just became too big for his own good after Marvel’s Civil War, and bought into his own hype, or what. I didn’t enjoy Kick-Ass, or Nemesis, and was somewhat reluctant to read Starlight, but I gave it a chance because of Goran Parlov’s art, a Croatian artist who’s work I fell head over heels for with Fury MAX. I’m glad I gave this title a chance, Duke McQueen is such a great tragic character who isn’t afraid to get his knuckles bloody. He’s the grandpa you always wanted. He’ll play ball with you, teach you how to build an engine, and how to throw a punch. The 6 issue mini-series just wrapped up, and should be out in trade before too long. I desperately hope the recently announced movie adaptation will be able to capture this books charm. If they can capture Parlov’s throw-back Flash Gordon serial esthetic and Millar’s rough and tumble old man with a heart of gold, I’m sold.
Alex + Ada is a love story between a man and his robot. It’s not nearly as hentai-y as it sounds. Taking place in the near future, Alex is a lonely bachelor, who’s finding it difficult to get back into the dating scene. His Grandmother who’s has her own successful relationship with her own robot, decides to buy one for Alex. Alex who is reluctant to accept his Grandmother’s decides to return his robot. Just before it’s carted away by the manufacturer, Alex has a change of heart and decides to keep her and names her Ada. Alex after hearing rumours of being able to unlock the sentience of his robots A.I. decides to do so, choosing to have a genuine companion rather than a facsimile of one. Once awakened Alex finds himself reluctantly falling for Ada.
Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn’s Alex + Ada is a bit of a slow burn, preferring to build naturally to Alex and Ada’s romance. Luna’s art is somewhat static and a little flat, but that’s not putting it negatively. This isn’t a manga where all of the sudden Ada will go into battle mode and have guns appear out of her elbows. This is a normal somewhat realistic view of a future that may very well come to pass. Luna and Vaughn tackle difficult topics in the book like what makes someone human, and paranoia and fear of something that’s different. The book does stay grounded, never letting the serious subject matter get too heady or preachy, and the romance never gets too melodramatic. Alex + Ada harkens back to romance comics of the 50’s giving the reader a sweet, natural evolution of a relationship, that some may not understand, or accept. If you want a book that’s light on action and heavy on character, you can’t do much better than this one.
Quick Shout Out to Other Titles Worth Checking Out: Low, Black Science, Sheltered, Dark Engine, Sex, The Wicked + The Divine
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