Death Head #1 (Dark Horse, Zach and Nick Keller)
It looks like Dark Horse is quickly become one of the best markets for new horror books, especially those that draw on classic folk tales and ghost stories. The story follows a few strands, one with a couple looking to camp in the woods, one with a child being bullied into the sewer system, and the experience they have with a masked man and a world of the past. The dialogue and storytelling are both very clear and concise, which means that we can expect this to be a sharply crafted story world without a lot of excess or useless stylistic flairs. This is actually why it feels so perfect on Dark Horse, because it is less subject to current indie comic trends and puts the narrative first. This is a creepy and good first issue, and one to continue with, especially if you enjoyed recent books like Harrow County and Wytches.
Island #1 (Image, Brandom Graham)
This is the perfect move for Image Comics and one that they should have pulled the trigger on a long time ago. This is an anthology book, or a “comics magazine” as is phrased in the intro, that collects a few different themed stories in each issue. Anthologies are not great sellers, but tend to be a great place to reveal new concepts and talents, and they usually have a committed core readership. This project looks as though it will be collecting unique “Image like” stories into each issue, with stories that run longer and more in-depth than Vertigo Quarterly and less “pop properties” than Dark Horse Presents. What we have is a series of interesting stories, one following a young skater girl coming to terms with a changing world, one about a couple moving through a town too strange to describe, and the entire issue comes together as a sort of collection of crazy one-shots. The addition of a prose essay by Kelly Sue Deconnick, and may just have been added to capitalize on a major name for the first issue, but with the art it has associated, it is actually a nice addition. Overall, this is going to be a great, yet expensive($7.99), comic to follow for Image super-fans and readers of anthology books in general.
For fans of Ales Kot’s creator-owned work, you have come to be expect being a little confused and having to work a little bit to get into his books. Often steeped in academic theory on philosophy and meta-politics, books like The Surface, Material, Wild Children, and Zero all require something of the reader in terms of commitment, as well as having cutting edge design and storytelling. Wolf seems slightly different in terms of story-type, but it is going to be just as confusing. This major sized first issue is three times the regular comic size, and all of that is needed just to get a sense of what is going on. There is not enough space in this review to give you a good sense of what this is about, but it vaguely follows a supernatural detective, organized crime, a Cthulu appearing best friend, and a lot more of a complicated whirlwind. This is a book we recommend continuing through the first few issues, especially if you like Kot’s work in general, but it is hard to recommend it as strongly as his other work.