I wasn’t sure if I would have anything new to say after reading another issue of Home Sick Pilots, but let me tell you, folks, each issue includes so much story that there’s always far too much to say. Just when I thought this series would be finding its way to a conclusion… it makes a hard left turn. The absolutely unexpected occurs.
I’ve spoken about my love of Black Hammer, as I’ve read almost every issue in the expanded universe, but one thing I haven’t said about it is that it’s one of the more curious superhero universes I’ve dived into. For instance, in the main story, certain characters fall into an incredibly meta aspect of this universe, which makes it possible for pretty much anything to happen. With that in mind, most all of the other stories have played within the boundaries of the said universe as opposed to going bonkers, filling in a rich history with an alternate timeline of superhero world events, but also filling in the already rich lives of our heroes. It has remained, above all things, incredibly human. In this issue of Black Hammer: Visions, Chip Zdarsky and Johnnie Christmas bring us a tale of an aging Abraham Slam and all of the existential crises that come with it.
In the wake of the global organ failure pandemic, scientist Matt Travers at the Regenerist Corporation perfects the art of organ duplication. But the new technology comes at a price. Fresh off its recent success on Kickstarter, Duplicant #1 introduces a well-constructed dystopian world and brings to the fore an array of challenging questions.
The second issue of Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel's new series, Nocterra, brings Val and her brother two new passengers at the Neon Grove truck stop - the first of many before they reach their destination. But some R&R isn't in the cards, because just as Val's brother shows signs of getting worse, a dangerous foe catches up to them, forcing Val to make a grave decision.
Geiger is the new superhero limited series by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank about a post-apocalyptic world ravaged by nuclear war. After atomic weapons have destroyed the world, different factions fight for survival, taking care to live safely from the radioactive wasteland, daring to venture out with hazmat suits; however, there’s one man whom everyone fears, as he can withstand the atomic radiation.
I’m going to be honest: When I first saw Tyler and Hillary Jenkins’ work some years ago (the artists on Fear Case), it didn’t connect with me. That has all changed, and let me preach to you right now: They are brilliant. They have found a way to portray tone that captures the soul of the series they’re working on like few artists have. When I read Fear Case, the imagery, textures, colors, and their choices don’t just show you what you’re looking at, but they invest you in a very specific world. You can feel the Southern California night air around our two Secret Service agents. You walk through the neighborhoods with them. You feel something encroaching, even when there’s nothing there. This is pulp horror noir at its best.
Beasts of Burden brings me great joy, and Occupied Territory is tickling the release of the same endorphins that the first handful of volumes did. This is a world in which animals use magic, in this case pooches (a.k.a. doggos) - man’s best friend. Here, they are known as Wise Dogs. What kid who owned a dog didn’t think their pet was magical? I certainly did. These good pups protect their neighborhood, but after the harrowing events of the last story, they’re taking a little down time and listening to a story from one of the dogs that’s eternal: Emrys, a shaggy-haired Wise Dog.
Science fiction is my favorite genre, and immediately underneath that is noir. There are so many types of noir, from hard-boiled to neo noir, to small town crime. What I love about these two genres is that they are able to approach the human condition in very curious and insightful ways. Dead Dog’s Bite, like Twin Peaks, Fargo, and Brick before it, is small-town noir. A curious teenager named Josephine - sorry, Joe - is dedicated to finding her friend that went missing. Her friend’s name is Cormac Guffin. Get it? That’s the level of intelligence and dry wit this comic works on. Cormac is a lovely blonde in the vein of Laura Palmer that, so far, we’ve only seen in photos, and so far, no one else seem to be all that concerned about. ‘Cept for Joe.