Each week we take a critical
look at some of the best books on the stands, courtesy of Big
Guy's Comics (the unofficial comic book store of FanboyPlanet.com).
If you publish a book that you want us to be covering, contact us. Or
contact Derek. He doesn't have
enough to do.
At Penny Farthing Press, part one
Last month, Marvel's
boutique lines MAX and Marvel Knights took a bit of a hit as long-time
editor Stuart Moore resigned to pursue a career writing comics instead
of overseeing them. The lucky company that got his attention? A publisher
out of Houston, TX, called Penny Farthing Press.
If the name rings
a bell, it's because they have been producing an interesting quasi-superhero
series called The Victorian, but like a lot of smaller publishers,
most of their books have trouble finding shelf space. With the high
profile of Moore's defection, the publisher may get a little more attention
this summer. But it will be the quality of their books that holds or
loses that attention.
Editor Michelle Harman sent us a selection of Penny Farthing's books
for July, including the book Moore writes, Zendra. Quite understandably,
their output each month is small, but it's obvious that quality counts
more than quantity.
At least one of
the books was released last week, so forgive us if we're covering a
title you consider old news. But if you haven't already taken a look
at the company's number ones this month, you should.
of the Century #1 All Fun And Games, Till…
writer: Buddy Scalera
artists: Courtney Huddleston and Mostafa Moussa
Press seems to have struck the right balance between being highly artist
friendly without sacrificing story. (We're waiting on a little more
background information on the publisher itself.) They accomplish this
by hiring good writers to match their artists' creations.
In this case, former
Deadpool writer Scalera, no stranger to comic violence, teams
with Huddleston on an intriguing character. Think of Decoy as a far
more child-like and innocent Impossible Man. Having found a home on
Earth with rookie police-man Bobby Luck, the little alien tries to exist
in human society without being discovered. In many ways, it's a perfect
sitcom set up, except that Scalera and Huddleston have given it a darker
Decoy comes from
an alien race far more savage than their appearance would indicate.
Though they all look like they're just waiting to be licensed for girls'
toys, his people are the most brutal species in the known galaxy.
forces in Dolphin City (likely to know about Decoy; this is the second
mini-series) plot against Bobby Luck and his partner, officer Tessa
Moreno. As if that weren't bad enough, now they've got monsters lurking
in the sewer.
Hate it when that
The first issue
straddles the fence between humor and horror quite nicely, with a back-up
that delves further into Decoy's origins. Scalera assumes a little too
much about reader familiarity with the situation, but it's still an
Decoy and Herobear
and The Kid #1 Field Trip, part one
writer: Mike Kunkel, artists: Courtney Huddleston and Mike Kunkel
Astonish Comics (the home of Herobear and The Kid), this title makes
an interesting experiment in combining two different styles. The artists
trade off pages; every page told from The Kid's point of view gets drawn
by Kunkel; Huddleston, naturally, handles things from Decoy's angle.
It's also a good
introduction to both characters. Herobear has gotten a lot of media
attention lately, with an animated feature on the horizon, but Kunkel's
actual output has been rather sparse. This book provides a good way
of keeping the character in the public eye. And with this and his other
mini-series starting, it's a good month for Decoy.
The melding works
really well, and this story's "creepy old neighborhood house" makes
a good macguffin to have the characters cross paths. It's also different
enough from Storm of the Century to really show off the versatility
of the Decoy concept.
Heart Of Fire #1 The Windmills of the World
writer: Stuart Moore
artists: Martin Montiel and J.C. Buelna
In a conceit that
has yet to really pay off, Zendra isn't the oft-featured heroine of
the series. Instead, it's the name of the last refuge of humanity, which
HALLE (Human Analog Life-Link Experiment) has sworn to protect. She
herself is partially a genetically modified human, with a symbiotic
alien called an Aesirian co-existing in her space. Sometimes. Somehow.
It's confusing, but cool enough to let slide.
After a set up
that has recently been reprinted in trade paperback form (and we'll
review soon), HALLE has found her place amongst the last of humanity
when an old enemy rears its ugly head. No longer fighting alone, HALLE
leads a small army of defenders while trying to learn more about the
nature of reality than perhaps humanity is meant to understand.
a concept rife with clichés, but manages to make it work. Just like
in the DC and Marvel Universes, humans are the race most fraught with
potential and peril in the universe, which is why they've been hidden
away. Naturally, there's a big bad horrible alien race bent on its destruction.
But Moore paces it well, weaving in a bit more philosophy than space
opera is used to having, and building a character in HALLE more multi-faceted
than she needed to be. I would have said three-dimensional, but the
artists have already taken care of that.
Despite the ability
to transform into something more alien than human, HALLE's basic form
is straight out of a centerfold. But then, that's just one more cliché
in comics. The perfect woman must have an impossibly perfect body, with
gravity-defying breasts. Beyond that, creators Montiel and Buelna have
populated their universe with some great diversity. Occasionally they
borrow a little heavily from Jim Starlin, but the two have a sure sense
of layout and a straightforward storytelling style.
All these books
prove that there's life outside the Big Two. That life doesn't always
find its way to your local comic shop, so you're going to have to ask
for it by name. In particular, if you know any preteens that are interested
in comics, Field Trip makes a good, cheap gift. (And then we've
got them hooked…) Penny Farthing Press is definitely a publisher to
be watched, or perhaps more appropriately, supported.
Next week, we'll
take a look at two of their trade paperbacks released this month.