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Comicscape: Who Needs the Moon #1, Doc Unknown #1, War of the Woods #1
Indie Go Go
By Robert T. Trate
September 20, 2013
Welcome to Comicscape! Each week we'll be taking a look at a few of the week's new books in hopes of informing your comic shop purchases, or at the very least giving you 4-color thrills and chills. This week is a little different, I was marveling at all the new shiny things IOS 7 brought to my iPad, and I ended up spending a good deal of time seeing what was new on ComiXology. It had been far too long since I checked out some new digital only indie books (The Lookouts being a stand out last time), and I decided to let the "New and Noteworthy" and "Staff Picks" dictate what I read this week. I'm happy to report there is a ton of great stuff for you to discover if you are keen on digital, and here are three shining examples which will cost you a combined $2.97.
Who Needs the Moon #1 (by Todd A. McCullough): With October fast approaching I am always on the lookout for good comic book horror to compliment all the classic monster movies and morbid fiction I devour (Truth: I'm always on the lookout for new comic horror, seasons be damned.) So imagine how jazzed I was to find a book like Who Needs the Moon that doesn't try to blow it's wad with splatter and cliché in the first ten pages, but spends the necessary time to build atmosphere and has me immeasurably hooked for issue #2.
Who Needs the Moon can feel a bit dark and morose, but it has an undercurrent of excitement. The book opens with two people being chased through the woods at night by a wolf we never see, we just feel and hear it. The book then cuts to a diner, and a man who clearly wears the fur when the moon is full, lamenting his existence. The specters of those he's killed are literally all around him, but he puts on a happy face for the regular world. He is accosted in the parking lot by two men who know "what he is", and he is not so subtly given the hint to get out of town. In the book's most slyly clever moment, our protagonist follows these men to their home, then backtracks, urinating at regular intervals along the way so he can find his way back when the wolf comes out. Brilliant. Also, this is a far better use of the idea than Jack Nicholson peeing on James Spader in the men's room. The book doesn't stop at werewolves, there are vampires hidden in the shadows and other undead things bubbling to the surface.
It's not just the pacing and foreboding mood that conjures up the book's fantastic atmosphere, it's Todd McCullough's refreshing art as well. There's a "cartoon" quality to his style that isn't an obvious choice for this kind of material, but it works very, very well. The little details and the character's shape and movement give me a bit of an R. Crumb or Peter Bagge vibe, and the choice to have certain things or characters in color and the rest in black and white put this book visually over the edge into gorgeous territory.
Who Needs the Moon comes highly recommended.
Doc Unknown #1 (by Fabian Rangel Jr. and Ryan Cody): In the afterward of Doc Unknown #1, creator Fabian Rangel Jr. states that the book is a mash-up of the things he loves- Batman: The Animated Series, Hellboy, Planetary etc. After reading the first issue I can say with confidence he is absolutely right, and that's a good thing, Doc Unknown is thrilling adventure with a retro style and just the right amount of cheese. There's reptilian villains wearing seersucker suits and fedoras, reanimated mummies and skeletal dinosaurs, artifacts with mysterious powers, and everyone's favorite- Nazis. All of this is rendered crisply by Ryan Cody who definitely takes his cue from Batman: The Animated Series, but has an edge a' la Michael Avon Oeming. The first issue also comes with a backup story called "The Ghost and the Time Machine" which is the creator's first attempt at this story, and also has the cool concept of our hero teaming up with the apparition of someone recently dead. Cool stuff!
War of the Woods: Season 2 #1 (by Matthew Petz): One of the most unique comics you'll come across on the digital shelf. War of the Woods involves a full scale invasion of earth by frighteningly remorseless alien creatures. Humanity doesn't have a chance, but there is a glimmer of hope- Phin. Phin is an otter living in the Jersey pine barrens, and he has uncovered the secret to defeating the aliens. Now, he, his father, Nathaniel and a turtle named Isaac are navigating the post-invasion world on their mission to save it. Somewhere deep down we're all fans of anthropomorphic tales, maybe it's just the Disney bred in us, or maybe it's just the innocence of animals, either way it's great to see a book as well done as WotW tackle a larger than life story with small critters that have real personalities. Season 1 was a joy, and the first issue of season 2 continues that trend. If you're looking for something free from the bipedal heroes that dominate comics, I highly recommend War of the Woods.