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. Read on!
Trillium #1 (of 8) (by Jeff Lemire): Apologies to my loyal readers- I meant to put this book on The Pull List, but it slipped my mind. Hopefully you will get a chance to pick this book up!
What can I say, Jeff Lemire has done it again. Last year he gave us the heartbreaking Underwater Welder, a very personal tale of a man who is about to be a father, coming to terms with his relationship to his own father, all told through creepy underwater occurrences and twisted dream states. Now Lemire has rocketed us to the year 3797, where the human population in the galaxy has dwindled to just 4,000 souls. A race named the Caul are slowly wiping us out, and the only thing that has a chance against them is a flower called Trillium. Dr. Nika Temsmith and her AI partner Essie, are on the verge of discovering a massive source of the plant, but she needs to befriend and communicate with the planet's indigenous species, and time is running out. I won't tell you how, but by the end Nika finds herself in a strange place, and she meets a strange man emerging from a jungle. Here's the rub- the second half of the book follows a man named William, a man haunted by the atrocities of World War 1, and obsessed with finding a lost Incan city. He and his expedition party find themselves in some dangerous and harrowing situations, all culminating with William emerging from the jungle to find a strange woman, wearing a strange futuristic suit, standing in front of the Incan temple he's been searching for.
Lemire is such a wonderfully complete storyteller. His ideas are both unique and familiar, and are presented to us with his gorgeous pencils, inks and watercolors. Underwater Welder was a haunting experience in Black and White, but Trillium bursts with color and vibrancy, thanks to the washes and detail. This could be a genre/sci-fi classic in the making. Seriously, don't miss this book.
Lady Rawhide #1 (by Eric Trautmann and Milton Estevam): Can a book that clearly is banking on its sexy and scantily clad heroine actually deliver a good story to go with the eye candy? The answer is... sort of. If you read all the text boxes filled with exposition and colloquialisms as if they are being read by a gravelly voiced narrator, then you might get a vibe of swashbuckling adventure, although whether that's on purpose or not I'm not exactly sure.
The story revolves around a gang of banditas who attempt to rob a previously impenetrable locomotive called "The Sparrow". It's reinforced with iron, and steams across the sun bleached landscape with no fear, however, these outlaw women have a plan. They successfully rob the train, but one of their number gets shot, and per their rules, she must be left behind. The wounded bandita is not ready to die, and she narrowly escapes the train before it explodes.
Meanwhile, Lady Rawhide is doing her best Robin Hood impression, or perhaps I should say Zorro impression. He's referenced in the story, but never named thanks to those pesky rights. Rawhide is having a blast toying with the local authorities as she flips and cartwheels away from their grasp. Her coup de grace is using a church as a way of escape, since the Mexican soldiers will not fire upon it. And yes, she's doing it while wearing an outfit that looks like it was found in the "college girl needs a last minute sexy costume" section of Halloween Adventure. Hey, I love boobs as much as the next comic fan, but a little updating and practicality would have been nice. Although there is an attempt to address it, I believe- "It was the delirious sense of freedom, and the joy of shedding the crushing weight of convention and propriety, and becoming something different. Something more. She was never more herself than when she wore the mask." We'll see where this goes...
Robocop: Last Stand #1 (of 8) (by Frank Miller, Steven Grant and Korkut Oztekin): This was a lot better than I expected. Digging up Frank Miller's unused script for Robocop 2 is an interesting idea, particularly given the history between Miller and the Robocop franchise (he swore off screenwriting after all the changes made to his Robocop 3 script). What we end up getting here, and it's something not all that common in comic books, is a blast of 80's style "future primitive" action. So many stories in every medium were taking a stab at our fears of a future police state, and how it would turn our world simultaneously corporate and hyper violent. The original Robocop film captured that perfectly, and I'm happy to report it carries over to this book.
The story picks up with Robocop in hiding, and the OCP viciously hunting him. We get a look at how this is affecting the common man (OCP takes a wrecking ball to a building full of people), and how Robocop has become an urban legend and protector. He has an almost Michael Myers quality in the way he shows up with violence, then disappears. Korkut Oztekin's art threw me at first, but as the book went on, it became the perfect complement to the strict yet gritty future world. It has a British comic quality to it, like Judge Dredd or Heavy Metal, highlighting the desperation and ultraviolence. I'm definitely in for this series, so if anyone picked it up I'd love to know what you thought.
Joel Rickenbach is a curator of cult cinema at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and can be heard every week talking film, TV and other geekery on the You’ve got GEEK podcast. Follow him onTwitter and hilarity will no doubt ensue.