Here we are, back with our famous mini reviews! This week there were a number of great releases, even with Marvel focused in on Secret Wars. Image’s indie titles are filling out and the beginning of a slew of #1s are coming through that are solidifying Image as the new creative comics leader. This week were are reviewing We Stand Guard #1 from Brian K Vaughn, as well as the second issue of Colin Bunn’s Harrow Count and issue #12 of the Bunker on Oni Press. This is a great level of diversity from the indie publishers this month, and we hope that Image is able to maintain the genre options as they continue to grow their line-up.
We Stand on Guard #1 (Brian K Vaughn, Image Comics)
For some readers, this was the most anticipated release of the year. Comics Superstar Brian K Vaughn, writer of classics like Saga and Y: The Last Man, has created an interesting look into the future where the U.S. decides to create an almost genocidal war against Canada. We begin in the early days of the conflict when our main character, Amber, when bombings lack a clear perpetrator. That quickly subsides as their urban area is bombed and her family killed. Flash forward to her as an adult as she moves through the wildnerness, only to come up on some Canadian freedom fighters who are about to take on an American mech. The art by artist Steve Skroce is so clear and concise in its presentation that is really allows you to focus in on the storytelling that is happening, and this is especially true with the action sequencing since it is a text-light issue. At forty pages, this is certainly a nice amount of content, even though we still havn’t gotten much to figure out what is actually going on in the geo-political situation. Really, this first issue sets up Amber to join this kind of “rag-tag” group of liberation fighters, and it seems like this will be an engaging series that treats the character relationships as primary. It is interesting that while you read this it is easy to imagine how different it would be if someone like Brian Wood has written it, and with Vaughn at the helm you can expect there to be a warmer idea of the characters themselves. This is a great first step on this series and we are excited to see the unique concept play out with someone like Vaughn to realize it.
Harrow County #2 (Colin Bunn, Dark Horse Comics)
The first issue of Colin Bunn and Tyler Crook’s horror comic Harrow County was incredibly well received, and started a story of country witch hunting and dark ghost tales. The second issue runs with this by focusing on the young girl as she attempts to deal with ghosts filling up her life. In an attempt to avoid detailed spoilers, we will not give away the primary force of the story, but what can be said is that in the second issue the community begins to turn on her. Presented with the conflict she begins to jump headfirst into the supernatural world that seems to surround her. Tryler Crook’s art is an amazing surprise here, and has a smooth and almost classically-storybook flavor. This also begins to prove Colin Bunn’s pedigree in stories like these, especially after the fun Wolf Moon on Vertigo.
Bunker was a book that was originally rejected by many of the major and indie publishers for being too complicated and “too smart,” as one executively famously said. It was taken over to Comixology and became a best seller before being put in print over at Oni. The book has been amazingly constructed as a series of friends find a bunker with information sent by their future selves, which indicates both terrorism and tragedy that they are key figures in. While the storytelling was sharp and complex, and the art by Joe Infurnari that is chaotic and beautiful, it was often really difficult to maintain exactly what is happening with every character. This is especially true going issue to issue where you may have a month or more between episodes, but even reading the first trade there are times you can get lost. In the last couple issues, and especially in issue #12, it is becoming easier to lock down the different threads and see them in the bigger picture. This could be simply because we have been taken through a dozen issues at this point and we have a better sense of the characters and what is happening, or it could be that the storytelling has found its pace. Either way, issue #12 is one of the best yet, mainly focusing on Billy in prison deciding how to deal with the government’s investigation. Infurnari really shines here as he shifts between black and white sketches to the colored version, really showing the kind of textures that we see the world in when perspective changes. Billy really starts to come into full few, especially as it relates to what Grady has done, and how he has tried to intervene.