Our latest round-up of the Best of ComiXology Submit features classic superhero action with a dash of body swap in The Blue Baron from SIT Comics, murderous mechs in Grimfish, hyperactive space adventures with a boy and his teddy in Lloyd and The Bear and the reissue of 80s indie classic Kyle Bakers’ Why I Hate Saturn.
Grimfish #1 (Comicker Digital)
Aaron Pitman’s Grimfish sets it’s stall out very quickly on the first page – space, mechs and a rag-tag hero – what more could you ask for? Well, how about an emotionally deep story and some space voodoo – well it has those too! Our hero Fish (the aforementioned rag-tag space traveller) is on a yet-to-be-disclosed mission, accompanied by his robotic sidekick Eva. But this is no ordinary C-3PO type bot, Eva is the consciousness of his girlfriend inside a flying metal sphere. We have yet to find out how and why she gets there, but thanks to some back story involving the pair of them on earth we can tell they are very much in love and willing to travel to the ends of the galaxy to be together – aaaaw!! As he lands on a mysterious planet, Fish encounters a band of armoured robots who he and Eva defeat only to be knocked unconscious and woken up by some mysterious blue aliens. As you can tell, this first issue is a bit all over the place (we also get to meet the crew who were piloting the mechs and their nasty leader Daddy Longlegs!), but not in a bad way. Writer/artist Pitman is merely sowing the seeds for lots of disparate stories, all of which should add up to something very interesting indeed if this first issue is anything to go by. We would hate to invoke a comparison to the almighty Saga, but for fans of BKV’s epic space opera, this has a lot of tonal similarities, so why not give it a try!
Purchase Grimfish #1 from ComiXology for £1.49 per issue
Lloyd and the Bear #1-7 (Lloyd and the Bear)
This tale of a boy and his cuddly buddy is much more than just an ordinary cutesy kids book. Lloyd’s teddy ‘Bear’ is actually an alien called Bernard who crash landed on earth by accident while trying to escape from the evil Shoal – a race of purple aliens who invaded his home planet of Bur. When the Shoal come to earth and teleport Lloyd and Bernard onto their spacecraft, all this is revealed to the bewildered boy and as the two escape they decide to embark on an adventure across the galaxy to help Bernard find more of his fellow Burrians. With it’s quirky sense of humour and stunning visuals, Lloyd and The Bear reads like Calvin and Hobbes reimagined via the Powerpuff Girls and has more hyperactive energy than a toddler after a multi-pack of Fruit Shoots. Yet what makes it such a great read it that it also has some real tender moments as writer/artist Gibson never loses sight of the fact that this is a little boy who has been taken away from his home and thrown into the midst of a galaxy spanning adventure. With seven gloriously garish issues available to pick-up, this is a must-read for kids of all ages!
Purchase Lloyd and The Bear from ComiXology for £1.49/$1.99 per issue
Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn (5150 Media)
Like many of his late-’80s contemporaries, Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn was originally published as part of a desire to be independent from a stifling Marvel/DC contract and to own his own characters. Now given a new lease of life for a 21st century audience thanks to ComiXology, this tale of an alcoholic New Yorker whose sister believes she is the Queen of Saturn has a shambolic and meandering tone that perfectly suits it’s indie roots. This first volume focuses mainly on the trials and tribulations of main character Anne, and less on her intergalactic sister (although we do get a shot of her in costume when she takes Anne to the emergency room after she ODs). While rather dated in it’s tone and style, Why I Hate Saturn still has the enigmatic quality that all the best Indie Comics have, as you can tell that what it was doing felt completely fresh and original at the time. The layout and lettering style feels very odd to conventional eyes, while the loose art style is both impressionistic and packed full of detail and energy. With 3 volumes set to be released digitally, Why I Hate Saturn feels like one of those series that needs reading in it’s entirety to truly get your head around, but one that is well worth it if you give it a chance.
Purchase Kyle Baker’s Why I Hate Saturn volume 1 (of 3) from ComiXology for £1.99/$2.99
The Blue Baron #1 (SIT Comics)
SIT Comics have a delightfully old school attitude to comics. But not in a post-modern, ironic way. They just make classic old school superhero comics! Their cause is helped by having veteran comic artists Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema creating the visuals, but their main USP is to tell stories in self-contained blocks rather than ask readers to invest in 6 issue story arcs released monthly. It works really well, and for the same price as a standard floppy, you get a 64 page slice of classic superhero action. As an actual comic, The Blue Baron is pretty corny. Our titular hero is an immortal 300 year old adventurer in a tri-corner hat and Jacobean wig who battles alien invasions and hyper-coloured costumed super villains alongside the Heroes Union. However when he accidentally gets caught up in an energy explosion with high schooler Ernie Rodriguez, they swap bodies Freaky Friday style. This body swap element gives the story a great focus and allows for all the classic body swap tropes we know and love, but in a super hero book it seems rather fresh. The pompous Baron has to cope with bullies and tests at high school, while Ernie has to battle teams of villains while maintaining Baron’s secret identity as industrialist Cedric Carson. Frenz and Buscema’s art is as slick and classy as you would expect from such established names and the whole thing is presented in a very glossy and primary coloured style. There’s no tongue-in-cheek irony here, this is full on garish ’80s Marvel/DC, but in the current climate it is quite nice to see something so pure and unpretentious. The script from sit-com veteran Darrin Henry perfectly balances super hero bluster with high school angst and although it is not reinventing the genre, what it does do is take those classic building blocks and make a solid, well put together piece of classic superhero story-telling.
Purchase Blue Baron #1 from ComiXology for £3.99/$4.99