Although I don’t read many, I like a good mystery. I like watching a tangled web un-weave. I like watching our protagonist being dragged through the darkest, dankest, dreariest caverns of the human psyche to solve a puzzle. I’m not sure if Dead Inside by John Arcudi is going to match my ideals for a good murder mystery, but it’s off to a strong start on the writing side.
As the story of Conan the Slayer unfolds, you come to understand that Cullen Bunn isn’t interested in telling your typical hero story. He’s interested in putting his hero through the shredder. That doesn’t come in the form of losing fights or getting beaten up physically, but in losing battles and the consequences of doing so – and the consequence of simply being a “slayer” looms on the horizon. I won’t go into all of them, but you get the sense that something big is going to go down.
For all the pathos and dark twists and turns, for all the loneliness and sadness at the heart of Jeff Lemire’s Black Hammer, there is also a sincere sense of joy for comic books and what they represent and the worlds they can create. Lemire is able to explore the complex emotions and psychologies of a group of superheroes trapped on a mysterious farm, unable to reveal who they really are, while at the same time revealing their pasts through Golden Age-style comic book tropes. This book is complex, emotionally satisfying, and entertaining. Is issue #9, we step into a horror vault-style comic book in which weird magic and dark turns occur, and then we get to see how that echoes into the modern age of comics environment.
For the last few issues of Matt and Sharlene Kindt’s murder mystery, Dept.H, Mia - while trapped in a mostly submerged room with Roger on a deep sea research base - has been trying to learn more about the motives of the other crew members, so she can solve who killed her father. Her father having been the head of Dept.H. While Mia is considering Roger’s character analysis, we get to see how the paired-up crew members not only deal with the structure as it falls apart around them, but how they react with each other. Right now, there are three different cliffhangers that I’m waiting to find out how they will resolve.
Matt Kindt’s most recent book, Ether, finds a scientist from our world venturing into a world of nothing but magic to help solve a murder mystery. This is a weird, wonderful book, and, so far, I like it, though I have no idea exactly what this book is going to end up actually being about.
In Issue #7 of Dept.H, by slowing Mia’s personal story down a little, Matt Kindt managed to heighten the tension considerably. The last issue was phenomenal, and in this issue, my heart was racing. Kindt has found a perfect device to really spend time getting to know the characters surrounding our hero as she searches for her father’s killer on an underwater research facility that is collapsing around its crew.
Cullen Bunn drops a Thanksgiving-sized helping of truth in Issue #18 of Harrow County, and the reveal isn’t even the best part of this issue.
Black Hammer #5 has the wandering poeticism of Alan Moore’s early work on Swamp Thing. The great thing about Jeff Lemire’s creation is that with multiple characters, each issue can skew in style and tone to match their perspectives, and by shifting perspectives with each issue, the depth to which we are beginning to understand these characters in only five issues is wondrous and heartbreaking.
I love Matt Kindt. I read his newest comic, Ether #1, with a huge smile on my face. I entered the first page having no idea what the story was about or what I was getting myself into and enjoyed it all the more for approaching it in such a way. I’m incredibly wary of giving away too much so that anyone who wants to read this book will have the same joy in experiencing it as I had. So instead, I will write about my reactions to the book and how it compares to Kindt’s more recent work.