Comicscape: Smaller Books, Big Rewards (

By:Joel Rickenbach
Date: Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The last few Comicscape columns have focused on the heavy hitters, Marvel & DC, so I thought it would be a good idea to give you some thoughts on smaller books that have made their way to the shelves of your local comic shop (Hopefully!) 

The Massive (Dark Horse Comics), by Brain Wood and Kristian Donaldson. This is definitely the most original book of the bunch, and gave me the sense that something big is on its way, it just doesn't happen in the first issue, and may not for the next few. The Massive refers to a ship that sails the waters of a future where the environment has completely collapsed due to man's machinations. The crew of The Massive are environmentalists who are attempting to somehow help this world of turmoil. The Massive, however, has been lost, and in search of their lost sister ship is The Kapital. We get the sense that finding The Massive is incredibly important, and through The Kapital’s journey we learn much of our world's predicament, which feels like a very possible future, but after the first issue we are still in the dark as to why The Massive is so important, and what possible hope our heroes have of doing anything about it. There has to be something else here, it's just below the surface, waiting. It must be said that Kristian Donaldson's art is sharp, clean and gorgeous- a perfect fit for the story, and Brian Wood brings an intelligence to the book that is lacking in so many comics. I'm excited to see where this one goes.

Planetoid (Image Comics), by Ken Garing. Definitely on the flip side of the coin from The Massive, Planetoid does with economy of story what The Massive does with post-apocalyptic opulence. Quite simply we follow a man's survival as his spacecraft is pulled towards a planet with a gigantic electromagnetic field. The planet itself is a wasteland of metal and machinery, so much so that the air contains enough metal particles to be lethal. Our "hero" only has a small kit of supplies, an AI companion and a mysteriously powerful gun at his disposal. What Planetoid succeeds at is giving us a simple, yet very effective story within the warm blanket of space-faring Sci-Fi. All of the story beats and action points feel like they would be right at home in Alien or Terminator. This isn't to say Planetoid lacks depth, in fact we get enough of a taste of where we are, and who are protagonist is, to keep us anticipating the next issue. Ken Garing writes, draws and letters the comic, and does a smashing job at all three. I hope the story continues to be defined by actions, and the pace remains at its current clip. Sci-Fi stories of discovery and alien worlds are always a good read, and this is no different.

Hypernaturals (Boom! Studios), by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Brad Walker and Andres Guinaldo. It’s tough to throw a futuristic world with new slang, new rules, new science etc. at readers right out of the gate. Some writers feel it’s unnecessary to shape their new world with people and ideas we can connect with, instead they run at a breakneck pace and figure readers will eventually catch up (*Cough* Grant Morrison *Cough*).  I’ll go on record saying this is not a good way to start a story, leaving readers cold and unattached will always get you nowhere. If you want an example of how to do it right, pick up Brain K Vaughan’s Saga. Hypernaturals doesn’t do it right, which is a bit odd considering the writing duo of Abnett and Lanning are old pros when it comes to cosmic comic tales. Hypernaturals takes place in a future world where the “Quantinuum AI achieved singularity and refashioned human galactic culture.” Yeah, it’s that kind of book. Despite all the jargon and future world window-dressing, at its core Hypernaturals is a super hero tale. The book opens with the current iteration of the Hypernaturals battling a big time villain who has acquired a big time artifact. It’s all a bit ham-fisted with lots of posturing, and had me quickly thinking about just giving up. I’ve read far too many books like this and they all muddle together in my brain. I am glad I stuck it out though, as the book improves quite a bit when it moves to present time (January 10th, 100 AQ, of course). The events of seven years earlier haunt former Hypernatural, Hatch Groman . He wakes up from his constant nightmare to a life not unlike Bruce Willis’ Corben Dallas in The Fifth Element- Washed up and hanging by a thread. As he makes his way to work, late, he finds out that his former team has completely vanished on a mission, the world is holding their breath, and so the mystery begins. We find out that the Hypernaturals are constantly employing and training new recruits hoping to get chosen to join the major leagues. Two of these hopefuls get the call to join the remainder of the team in search of their missing comrades. The rookies display some interesting powers, and something from the past re-emerges is a big way. Like I said- the book picks up when it shifts to present day, and a lot of the new ideas and language are given a bit more time to breathe. It helps make the book more engaging, enough so that I am definitely looking forward to the next issue. 

Fatima: The Blood Spinners (Dark Horse Comics), by Gilbert Hernandez. The creator of Love and Rockets, Luba and Speak of the Devil is doing a zombie book? Sold. If you’re in the market for something completely different, Fatima may just be the book for you. It’s not easy crafting an original zombie story these days (See Chuck Francisco’s Shock-o-Rama column from last week), yet leave it to Gilbert Hernandez to find a new spin on the genre, literally. The world as we know it is quickly becoming addicted to a new drug called “Spin”, which will “give you what you’re looking for”, but within hours of taking it you slowly descend into zombie-ville. This doesn’t deter the public from consuming- they figure a cure is forth coming, or that “it won’t happen to me”. The users and abusers don’t become insta-zombies, it’s a slow process where people actually live their lives as half-zombies, begging to be killed, or spending their remaining time with a loved one in a shared bond of zombification. Fatima was part of an anti-zombie task force, but for reasons yet unknown is now a cold-hearted, zombie-killing angel of death. Those who have never read a Gilbert Hernandez book may be a bit unprepared- He has a style that is part B-movie, part Russ Meyer and part social commentary. We get it all here- Fatima is a blood-spilling machine, all the girls are buxom (but not in an exploitative way) and the undercurrent of our current culture of drug use is spot on. Hernandez’ art is, as always, fantastic. His style is one-of-a-kind, and his Black and White rendering of Romero-esque zombies is sublime. You might have to dig a bit deeper for this one, bit it’s worth it.

New Comic Releases for 7/11/12


007 Magazine Archive Bond Posters And Artwork #1, $18.00


Zombies Volume 2 2ombies GN, $16.00


Jack Hammer Volume 1 Political Science GN, $14.95


Free Mars Riot Girls GN, $14.99

Hero Within I Am Heroic #1 (Of 3), $3.99


Greyman GN, $14.95


United Free Worlds HC, $7.95


Betty And Veronica Double Digest #203, $3.99

Life With Archie #21 (Dan DeCarlo Cover), $3.99

Life With Archie #21 (Pat Kennedy Cover), $3.99

Mega Man #15, $2.99


Broken Pieces #3 (Cover A Cory Smith)(resolicited), $3.50

Broken Pieces #3 (Cover B Marcus To)(resolicited), $3.50

Charismagic #6 (Cover A Khary Randolph), $3.50

Charismagic #6 (Cover B Siya Oum), $3.50

Charismagic #6 (Cover C Billy Tan), AR

Soulfire Faith #1 (Cover A Michael Ryan), $3.99

Soulfire Faith #1 (Cover B Siya Oum), $3.99


Hi Fructose Magazine Quarterly #24, $6.95


Torchwood Red Skies Audio CD, $24.95


Silence GN, $19.95


Crossed Badlands #9 (Jacen Burrows Regular Cover), $3.99

Crossed Badlands #9 (Matt Martin Torture Cover), $3.99

Crossed Badlands #9 (Raulo Caceres Wraparound Cover), $3.99

Crossed Badlands #9 (Jacen Burrows Red Crossed Incentive Cover), AR

Stitched #6 (Mike Wolfer Regular Cover), $3.99

Stitched #6 (Mike Wolfer Gore Cover), $3.99

Stitched #6 (Mike Wolfer Wraparound Cover), $3.99

Stitched #6 (Movie Photo Incentive Cover), AR


Doctor Who Blackout And The Art Of Death Audio CD, $19.95

Doctor Who Peacemaker Audio CD, $24.95

Doctor Who The Sensorites Audio CD, $24.95


Walter Koenig's Things To Come #2 (resolicited), $3.99


7 Warriors TP, $9.99

Adventure Time Marceline And The Scream Queens #1 (Cover A Jen Bennett), $3.99

Adventure Time Marceline And The Scream Queens #1 (Cover B Chynna Clugston), $3.99

Adventure Time Marceline And The Scream Queens #1 (Cover C Ming Doyle), AR

Adventure Time Marceline And The Scream Queens #1 (Cover D Lucy Knisley), AR

Adventure Time Marceline And The Scream Queens #1 (Cover E Colleen Coover), AR

Extermination #1 (Kalman Andrasofszky 2nd Printing Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), $3.99

Space Warped TP, $14.99

Valen The Outcast Volume 1 Abomination TP, $14.99


Comic Shop News #1308, AR


Blacksad A Silent Hell HC, $19.99

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 #11 (George Jeanty Variant Cover), AR

Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 9 #11 (Phil Noto Regular Cover), $2.99

Conan The Barbarian #6, $3.50

Creepy Comics #9, $4.99

Creepy Presents Richard Corben HC, $29.99

Dragon Age II Flemeth Dragon Statue, $49.99

Eerie Comics #1, $2.99

Game Of Thrones Embroidered Patch Greyjoy, $4.99

Game Of Thrones Embroidered Patch Tully, $4.99

Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5 Darkness Calls And The Wild Hunt HC, $49.99

Hunchback Of Notre Dame HC, $12.99

Massive #2 (J.P. Leon Regular Cover), $3.50

Massive #2 (Rafael Grampa Variant Cover), AR

Occultist Volume 1 TP, $16.99

Orchid Volume 1 TP, $17.99

Star Wars Knight Errant Escape #2 (Of 5), $3.50

Strain #6 (Of 12), $3.50


American Vampire Lord Of Nightmares #2 (Of 5), $2.99

Batgirl #11, $2.99

Batgirl Volume 1 The Darkest Reflection HC, $22.99

Batman #11 (Andy Clarke Variant Cover), AR

Batman #11 (Combo Pack Edition), $4.99

Batman #11 (Greg Capullo Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Batman #11 (Greg Capullo Regular Cover), $3.99

Batman And Robin #11, $2.99

Batman Arkham Unhinged #4, $2.99

Before Watchmen Minutemen #2 (Combo Pack Edition), $4.99

Before Watchmen Minutemen #2 (Darwyn Cooke Regular Cover), $3.99

Before Watchmen Minutemen #2 (Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez Variant Cover), AR

Deathstroke #11, $2.99

Demon Knights #11, $2.99

Demon Knights Volume 1 Seven Against The Dark TP, $14.99

Frankenstein Agent Of S.H.A.D.E. #11, $2.99

Green Lantern The Animated Series #4, $2.99

Grifter #11, $2.99

JLA Volume 2 TP, $24.99

Legion Lost #11, $2.99

Neil Gaiman's Midnight Days HC (Deluxe Edition), $24.99

Punk Rock Jesus #1 (Of 6), $2.99

Ravagers #3, $2.99

Resurrection Man #11, $2.99

Saucer Country #5, $2.99

Shade #10 (Of 12)(Frazer Irving Variant Cover), AR

Shade #10 (Of 12)(Tony Harris Regular Cover), $2.99

Suicide Squad #11, $2.99

Superboy #11, $2.99

Swamp Thing #11, $2.99

Uncharted TP, $14.99


Flutter GN, $12.95

Secretary's Job GN, $12.95


Disney Trivia From The Vault Secrets Revealed And Questions Answered SC, $9.99


Batman The World Of The Dark Knight HC, $24.99


Garth Ennis' Jennifer Blood #14 (Tim Bradstreet Regular Cover), $3.99

Garth Ennis' Jennifer Blood #14 (Tim Bradstreet Risque Variant Cover), AR

George R.R. Martin's A Game Of Thrones #9 (Mike S. Miller Regular Cover), $3.99

Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man #10 (Alex Ross Regular Cover), $3.99

Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man #10 (Alex Ross Virgin Variant Cover), AR

Kevin Smith's The Bionic Man #10 (Jonathan Lau Variant Cover), AR

Kirby Genesis #8 (Alex Ross Marvel-ous Acetate Variant Cover), AR

Kirby Genesis #8 (Alex Ross Regular Cover), $3.99

Kirby Genesis #8 (Alex Ross Virgin Variant Cover), AR

Kirby Genesis #8 (Ryan Sook Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Kirby Genesis #8 (Ryan Sook Variant Cover), AR

Lone Ranger Snake Of Iron #1 (Dennis Calero Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Lone Ranger Snake Of Iron #1 (Dennis Calero Regular Cover), $3.99

Pantha #2 (Mark Texeira Regular Cover), $3.99

Pantha #2 (Mark Texeira Virgin Variant Cover), AR

Patricia Briggs' Alpha And Omega Cry Wolf Volume 1 #8, $3.99

Queen Sonja #30 (Lucio Parrillo Regular Cover), $3.99

Red Sonja Omnibus Volume 3 TP, $29.99

Vampirella Archives Volume 5 HC, $49.99


Classic Marvel Figurine Collection Magazine #175 (Mockingbird), $14.00

Classic Marvel Figurine Collection Magazine #176 (Tiger Shark), $14.00

Classic Marvel Figurine Collection Magazine #177 (Nico Minoru), $14.00

DC Superhero Chess Figurine Collection Magazine #8 (Riddler Black Bishop), $16.00

DC Superhero Figurine Collection Magazine #109 (Robotman), $14.00

DC Superhero Figurine Collection Magazine #110 (Grifter), $14.00

DC Superhero Figurine Collection Magazine #111 (Aqualad), $14.00


Adult Movie Superstars Golden Age Photos Volume 1 SC, $24.95


Nick Cardy Wit-Lash Sketchbook HC (Signed Edition With DVD), $39.99

Nick Cardy Wit-Lash Sketchbook HC (Sketch Edition With DVD), $159.99


Summit Of The Gods Volume 3 GN (Of 5)(resolicited), $25.00


Dungeon Quest Volume 3 GN, $19.99

God And Science Return Of The Ti-Girls HC, $19.99

Jewish Images In The Comics HC, $26.99

Tales Designed To Thrizzle #8, $4.50

Walt Disney's Uncle Scrooge Volume 1 Only A Poor Old Man HC, $28.99


Tannhauser Rising Sun Falling Shadows MMPB (resolicited), $8.99


Bloody Chester GN (not verified by Diamond), $18.99


SFX #223, $10.99

SFX Special #56 (The Top 100 Science Fiction Fantasy And Horror Movies), $17.99


Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 42 HC (Avengers Cover), $35.00

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 42 HC (Catwoman Cover), $35.00

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 42 SC (Avengers Cover), $29.95

Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide Volume 42 SC (Catwoman Cover), $29.95


Steampunk Modeller Volume 2 SC, $28.95


Thackery T Lambshead Cabinet Of Curiosities SC, $14.99


Phantom The Complete Sundays Volume 1 1939-1943 HC, $60.00

Sparrow And Crowe The Demoniac Of Los Angeles #1, $3.99


HorrorHound #36 (July/August 2012), $6.99


Supernaturalist HC, $19.99

Supernaturalist SC, $9.99


After The Fire 100-Page Spectacular, $7.99

Battle Beasts #1 (Of 4)(Cover A Dan Brereton), $3.99

Battle Beasts #1 (Of 4)(Cover RI Ulises Farinas), AR

Big John Buscema Comics And Drawings HC, $59.99

Crow #1 (Cover A Ashley Wood), $3.99

Crow #1 (Cover B Kyle Hotz), $3.99

Crow #1 (Cover RI-A Kent Williams), AR

Crow #1 (Cover RI-B James O'Barr), AR

Doctor Who 100-Page Spectacular, $7.99

G.I. JOE #15 (Cover A Tommy Lee Edwards), $3.99

G.I. JOE #15 (Cover B Will Rosado), $3.99

G.I. JOE #15 (Cover RI Tommy Lee Edwards), AR

Ghostbusters Volume 2 The Most Magical Place On Earth TP, $17.99

Godzilla #1 (2nd Printing Variant Cover), $3.99

Locke And Key Volume 5 Clockworks HC, $24.99

Richard Stark's Parker Volume 3 The Score HC, $24.99

Smoke And Mirrors #4 (Of 5)(Cover A Ryan Browne), $3.99

Smoke And Mirrors #4 (Of 5)(Cover RI Nathan Fox & Jeremy Cox), AR

Star Trek Volume 2 TP, $17.99

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics #3, $3.99

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1 Change Is Constant HC (Deluxe Edition), $49.99

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 Enemies Old Enemies New TP, $17.99

Transformers Regeneration One #81 (Cover A Andrew Wildman), $3.99

Transformers Regeneration One #81 (Cover B Guido Guidi), $3.99

Transformers Regeneration One #81 (Cover RI-A Geoff Senior), AR

Transformers Regeneration One #81 (Cover RI-B Daniel Khanna), AR

Transformers Regeneration One 100-Page Spectacular (Cover RI Guido Guidi), AR

Transformers Regeneration One 100-Page Spectacular (Cover A Andrew Wildman), $7.99


Bulletproof Coffin Disinterred #6 (Of 6), $3.99

Chew Secret Agent Poyo #1 (One Shot)(Rob Guillory Regular Cover), $3.50

Dancer #3, $3.50

Darkness Origins Volume 4 TP, $19.99

Enormous #1 (One Shot), $9.99

Heart TP, $12.99

Hoax Hunters #1, $2.99

Li'l Depressed Boy #12, $2.99

Peter Panzerfaust #5, $3.50

Planetoid #1 (2nd Printing Variant Cover), $2.99

Planetoid #2, $2.99

Revival #1 (Cover A Jenny Frison), $2.99

Revival #1 (Cover B Craig Thompson), AR

Sunset First Look (One Shot), $1.00

Thief Of Thieves #1 (5th Printing Variant Cover), $2.99

Walking Dead #100 (Charlie Adlard Wraparound Black & White Variant Cover), AR

Walking Dead #100 (Charlie Adlard Wraparound Chromium Edition), AR

Walking Dead #100 (Cover A Charlie Adlard), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover B Marc Silvestri), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover C Frank Quitely), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover D Todd McFarlane), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover E Sean Phillips), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover F Bryan Hitch), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover G Ryan Ottley), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 (Cover H Charlie Adlard Wraparound), $3.99

Walking Dead #100 Poster, $9.99

Wild Children (One Shot), $7.99

Youngblood #72, $2.99


Animal Land Volume 5 GN, $10.99


Comics Buyers Guide #1692 (August 2012), $5.99


Locus #618 (July 2012)(not verified by Diamond), $6.95


Urban Legends GN, $17.99


Amazing Spider-Man By Humberto Ramos Poster, $8.99

Ant-Man Season One HC (Premiere Edition), $24.99

Avengers Assemble #5, $3.99

Avenging Spider-Man #9, $3.99

AvX Vs #4 (Of 6)(Brandon Peterson Regular Cover), $3.99

AvX Vs #4 (Of 6)(Fight Poster Variant Cover), AR

Captain America #14, $3.99

Casanova Volume 3 Avaritia TP, $14.99

Dark Avengers #177, $2.99

Defenders #8, $3.99

Ender's Game Formic Wars Silent Strike HC (Premiere Edition), $24.99

Essential Web Of Spider-Man Volume 2 TP, $19.99

Fantastic Four Annual #33 (Alan Davis Regular Cover), $4.99

Fantastic Four Annual #33 (Alan Davis Variant Cover), AR

Fantastic Four By Jonathan Hickman Volume 5 HC (Premiere Edition), $29.99

Journey Into Mystery Terrorism Myth HC (Premiere Edition), $19.99

Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 14 HC, $69.99

Marvel Masterworks The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 14 HC (Direct Market Variant Edition Volume 182), $69.99

Marvel Universe The Avengers Earth's Mightiest Heroes #4, $2.99

New Avengers #28, $3.99

New Mutants #45, $2.99

Scarlet Spider #7, $2.99

Space Punisher #1 (Of 4), $3.99

Spider-Men #3 (Of 5)(Jim Cheung Regular Cover), $3.99

Spider-Men #3 (Of 5)(Sara Pichelli Variant Cover), AR

Spider-Men #3 (Of 5)(Terry Dodson Variant Cover), AR

Takio #2, $3.95

Ultimate Comics The Ultimates By Michael Kormarck Poster, $8.99

Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 (Adi Granov Variant Cover), AR

Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 (Dave Johnson Variant Cover), AR

Ultimate Comics X-Men #14 (Phil Noto Regular Cover), $3.99

Uncanny X-Force #27, $3.99

Venom #20, $2.99

Wolverine #310 (Simone Bianchi 2nd Printing Variant Cover)(not verified by Diamond), $3.99

Wolverine And The X-Men #13, $3.99

Wolverine And The X-Men Alpha And Omega HC (Premiere Edition), $24.99

X-23 Volume 2 Chaos Theory TP, $16.99


Buffy And The Heroine's Journey SC, $35.00

Crossing Boundaries In Graphic Narrative SC, $40.00


Legend Of Bold Riley GN, $29.99


Bad Medicine #3, $3.99

Guerillas Volume 2 TP, $17.99


Doctor Who Magazine #448, $8.99


Dance Class Volume 2 Romeo And Juliets HC (not verified by Diamond), $10.99

Garfield And Co Volume 6 Mother Garfield HC (not verified by Diamond), $7.99

Smurfs Volume 12 Smurf Versus Smurf GN (not verified by Diamond), $5.99

Smurfs Volume 12 Smurf Versus Smurf HC (not verified by Diamond), $10.99


Man Of God #2 (Of 6)(Cover A Yvel Guichet), $3.50

Man Of God #2 (Of 6)(Cover B Daniel Brereton), $3.50


Our Valued Customers Conversations From The Comic Book Store SC, $11.00


2000 AD #1784, $5.25

2000 AD #1785, $5.25

2000 AD #1786, $5.25

Judge Dredd Megazine #324, $12.25


Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures #4, $2.75


Scream Magazine #11, $8.99


Play-Mate Of The Apes Deluxe Pack, $9.99


Alice In The Country Of Clover Volume 2 The Cheshire Cat Waltz GN (not verified by Diamond), $12.99

Angel Para Bellum Volume 1 GN (not verified by Diamond), $11.99

Jack The Ripper Hell Blade Volume 1 GN (not verified by Diamond), $11.99

My Boyfriend Is A Vampire Collected Edition Volume 3 GN (Volumes 5-6)(not verified by Diamond), $15.99


Seduction Portraits Of Desire By Claudio Aboy SC, $9.95


Sci-FI The Ultimate Guide To Mastering Digital Painting Techniques SC, $24.95


Awkward Silence Volume 1 GN, $12.99

Punch Up Volume 1 GN, $12.99


Amazing Figure Modeler #52, $8.00


Megami April 2012, $16.60

Newtype April 2012, $16.00


SpongeBob Comics #10, $2.99


Bloodshot #1 (Arturo Lozzi Regular Cover), $3.99

Bloodshot #1 (Mico Suayan Pullbox Cover), $3.99

Bloodshot #1 (David Aja Variant Cover), AR

Bloodshot #1 (Esad Ribic Variant Cover), AR

Harbinger #2 (Arturo Lozzi Regular Cover), $3.99

Harbinger #2 (Doug Braithwaite Variant Cover), AR


Bokurano Ours Volume 6 GN, $12.99

Fluffy Fluffy Cinnamoroll Volume 4 GN (not verified by Diamond), $7.99

Mameshiba We Could Be Heroes GN, $6.99


Shadow Show All-New Stories In Celebration Of Ray Bradbury SC, $15.99


Call Of Wonderland #2 (Of 3)(Cover A Marat Mychaels), $3.99

Call Of Wonderland #2 (Of 3)(Cover B Anthony Spay), $3.99

Charmed #22, $3.50