In the wind-swept lands north of the Roman built Hadrian’s Wall, the tumultuous history of Scotland unfolded over the centuries. A wee five years into the last millennium, Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (1005 – 1057) was born and probably raised in the county of Moray, where the lad became Mormaer of Moray in the early 1030s. He later became King of the Scots until his death in 1057. The name Mac Bethad may sound familiar for some readers; he is after all the king who inspired William Shakespeare to pen The Tragedy of Macbeth over 500 years later. Make another quick time leap to 2018 and land at writer Shaun Manning and artist Anna Wieszczyk’s Macbeth: The Red King, a comic book due to release soon from Lucha Comics/The Shooting Star Press Inc.
Here’s how you set the mood to read Nailbiter: Turn on YouTube (or talk to Alexa or Siri or whatever you have) and put on the sound of a storm in the background (or if you have a real storm, even better, but I live in Los Angeles where lightning doesn’t exist), then you go to YouTube, maybe a second time, if you already have storm sounds playing, and you turn on the original score to Se7en by Howard Shore, and then sit back and just try to peel yours eyes away from the pages. You won’t; you can’t.
Ken Reynolds is back with a new issue of Sliced Quarterly, collecting short comic works for our collective enjoyment. This issue is stuffed full of moving and intriguing work, with more emphasis on irregular or deconstructed narrative and experimental art. This issue will make you think, it will make you feel, and it has some really lovely instances of emotional communication. I'll briefly cover each one and my reactions to it, as I feel this collection is more about the artistic value and the discussions that could be prompted from the different reactions that they elicit.
“A mountain walked or stumbled. God! What wonder that across the earth a great architect went mad… The Thing of the idols, the green, sticky spawn of the stars, had awaked to claim his own. The stars were right again… After vigintillions of years great Cthulhu was loose again, and ravening for delight.”
The indie comic scene has spawned everything from turtles that have mastered the ninja arts to dragons with head fins and police badges, so the tabletop RPG-playing and former covert ops dark elf lead of Danica Shade is not only in good company, but fits like a long lost step sister.
Zombies are no stranger to the horror genre, having slowly (or quickly - depending on your zombie mobility preference) crept into the pop culture zeitgeist over the past fifty years. From Night of the Living Dead to iZombie, re-animated corpses have not only come to pervade the horror genre, but they have paved their way into various other genres and mediums of entertainment. Given the ever-present nature of the zombie tale, it takes a truly special story to stand out from the ambling crowd, and Bliss on Tap Publishing's Train 8: The Zombie Express does just that.
Issue #13 of Grass Kings finds a really nice balance between the war that’s been brewing between the Grass Kingdom and the outside world and the slow burn of uncovering who the serial killer is that might be hiding nearby. For me, it’s the first time this perfect synchronicity has been reached - though it wouldn’t be working as well as it is if building blocks weren’t previously put in place.
My Ainsel #1 marks the beginning of the second arc in the American Gods series adapted from Neil Gaiman’s classic novel. We jump right in to Shadow and Wednesday continuing their travels across America. In this issue, they begin in a snow-covered Wisconsin. The pace of the main action in this issue moves rather slowly, but that gives us time to appreciate all of the other stories that contribute to our understanding of this world.
Issue number 4 of the Valderramas’ Giants leaps a year into the future. Usually, time jumps like this so early on (or near the end of a story) are bold moves to take, but, logistically, it’s a smart one for the story, which is... The above world has been covered in snow and kaiju (For the uninitiated, think giant monsters like Godzilla or Pacific Rim.) These kaiju fight territorial fights. Meanwhile, in underground cities, violent gangs fight for control over what little territory there actually is to live in. Two ambitious lads, Zedo and Gogi, wanted nothing more than to join one of these gangs, so they were sent above ground to gather some ambernoir, which is a bit like Unobtanium from Avatar, just with a better name. It’s a rocky substance that’s incredibly volatile but creates energy needed for life and growth. Above ground, the two brothers were separated when a kaiju attacked. Thinking the other dead, Zedo went back underground, and Gogi met a peaceful group of people who were managing to survive above ground. Cut to a year later and wheeling back around.