Where Home Sick Pilots started is nothing like where Home Sick Pilots is currently going. It all started with the question: “What if a punk rock high school band went to explore in an old haunted house?”, and then it became about the haunted house manipulating one of the members of the band. NOW, it’s about humans trying to control ghosts to make mechs work! Yes, this is a ghost-in-the-machine-style haunted house story with punk rockers, and it’s dope as hell.
Wow. Just wow. That was a ride with exactly the kind of cathartic ending I was hoping for. For the last four issues, I’ve been reading in a state of ever-increasing anxiety as this group of dogs, one by one, discovered that their owner was a serial killer. You knew generally how it was going to pan out, but the ride was simply beautiful.
I remember only just a few years ago when the name James Tynion IV popped up on a weekly Batman comic co-written by Scott Snyder. I was really big into Snyder’s Batman run, and this weekly series was pretty ambitious. I don’t remember having read much by Tynion before that, so this must have been a trial by fire! Now, the output he’s had since then has been astounding. Not just the number of comics, but the quality has been mindbogglingly genius. Something Is Killing the Children is a horror story. It’s an awful, horrible story of children being ripped apart, but there is more heart in this series than most straight-up dramas.
Black Hammer of late has been jumping far into the past, flinging itself into the future, meandering through other timelines, and asking what ifs? But finally, we’re placed relatively back into the normal timeline of our heroes, in this case Lucy Weber’s (the daughter of the original Black Hammer) who then became the new Black Hammer and helped save the heroes lost to the cabin. Speed forward 20 years, and Weber is married, a mother, and has hung up the mantle of being a hero. How well is family life going for Lucy? Well… not so poorly that she’s willing to don the mantle of Black Hammer again.
Upon reading Compass the first time through, one can feel that it’s steeped in history; the details about the places and people don’t feel made up (and, in many instances, they are not), but it’s also steeped in the love of Indiana Jones, The Mysterious Cities of Gold, and other adventures rooted in the joy of discovery. And in the notes following the story, the writers - Robert Mackenzie and David Walker - make specific reference to Mysterious Cities of Gold, also a show I grew up on!
I’m not even sure how to catch anyone up on what’s happening in Ultramega, and that’s honestly pretty wonderful. This is like nothing else out there right now. It’s a Kaiju story that isn’t concerned at all about pandering to tropes. It’s barely concerned about giving us a hero’s journey, and it’s pulling off avoiding that in the most spectacular way (in spades).
What is violence? What does power do to a person? Growing up in the '80s desensitized me to violence in a big way. Every action and horror film made was all about the death toll. I myself was never a violent person. I’ve never punched anyone, and I don’t ever intend to. As I matured, I began to find that violence could still affect me on an emotional and visceral level, and violence for the sake of violence in many cases became less and less interesting (though, admittedly, I will find the YouTube videos of all of the Mortal Kombat fatalities whenever a new chapter in the series is released). It all started to happen when the realities of how people die or are asked to die became known to me. Sending soldiers overseas to fight and die for … oil, and in the name of freedom, disgusted me.
James Tynion IV is known right now both for his Batman books from DC and also for his horror/sci-fi/fantasy comics from BOOM! Studios. He’s a stellar creator making character-driven stories that sink into your heart and soul.
Skulldigger is Black Hammer’s (Jeff Lemire) take on a sort of Punisher/Batman character. Instead of simply a skull on his chest, you can see the outline of his skeleton on his helmet and chest. (Yes, he has a helmet. Take notes, Punisher.)