This month’s Best of ComiXology Submit features: science-faction, past lives thriller Deep Soul; 1980s inspired time travel, complete with Nazi robots in Henna Hanson Must Save Prom; 90s inspired western action from Reckless Hero Studios in The Last Sheriff; ultraviolent action in Revenger; and the return of animals vs. aliens adventures War of The Woods.
deep soul (doppelgänger publishing)
Brace yourself for some convoluted science mumbo-jumbo in the opening chapters of Deep Soul, but it’s well worth persevering with because AJ Lieberman and Tom Rhode’s tale of a scientist trying to rescue his wife from a coma, via past life regression is a rip-roaring read from start to finish that soon makes you forget it’s overly-complicated beginnings. Genius scientist Jake Penn has discovered a way to make wealthy patients regress back into past lives and experience them as real memories via his scientific McGuffin the ‘Deep Soul’. But rather than use his new found discovery to become a Silicon Valley billionaire his costly experiments are funding research into bringing his wife back from a car crash induced coma. When his experiments go wrong and his patients start killing people, while channelling ancient warlords, he encounters a shadowy government agency who try to weaponise his idea, but in doing so it brings him into contact with a woman who has a mysterious link to his wife in a past life, and may be able help him bring her back once and for all.
Lieberman’s densely-crafted story may have a far-fetched initial concept, but has a depth and attention to detail that soon overcomes this to create a really compelling read. It builds slowly, but surely, with every twist and turn, to deliver a tense and dramatic conclusion that would rival any Hollywood movie – and could easily become one given half a chance! Rhodes’ slick visuals give the book a high level of polish, with a clean and simple style that works in both the present day and the past lives, with some of the visuals in the past life regressions being truly stunning. Deep Soul is one of those indie books we hope gets picked up by a bigger publisher for a future release, because it is a highly accomplished, exciting and dynamic piece of story-telling that deserves a much wider audience! Purchase Deep Soul for £8.99/$9.99 from ComiXology
Henna Hanson Must Save Prom #1 (RD Productions)
High schooler Henna Hanson’s lifelong dream of a perfect prom is ruined when a rampaging horde of nazi robots attempt to take over the world. With the help of her time-travelling ex-boyfriend’s future-self she must combat the mechanical menace and save the day. Alabaster Shadows’Rashad Doucet mixes up Golden Age pulp villains, ’80s high school movie attitude, X-Men: Days of Future Past time travel and anime-style action to create a superbly original story with a truly epic title! (Surely the name alone is enough to get you checking this book out?!) He even manages to pack in a ton of pop culture references (is that an Akira bike and a Say Anything rain coat we spotted) as well as his trademarked big hair and big eyes – plus some some big guns and big mechs! Doucet’s loose cartoony style gives the whole book a fantastic sense of energy and fun, and while they may look at times like they belong in a kids book, just like in Alabaster Shadows there is enough depth in the story and characters for grown ups to enjoy too.
Revenger reads like a Quentin Tarantino fever dream – mixing ’70s exploitation movies, Richard Stark paperbacks and trashy ’80s TV shows into an ultra-violent, unapologetic treat. It’s anonymous black female lead wanders the wasteland of the 1980s with a 1-800 number and a bucket full of attitude and is called to Neptune, California, to rescue the girlfriend of a boy called Eddy from a child sex ring in a mysterious hotel run by small town boss Mr Groan. It certainly lacks subtly and finesse in it’s story-telling and at times you have to ignore some of the whys of wherefores of what is happening as they just make no sense – for example why is young Eddy’s girlfriend sold into slavery by her Dad in the first place and what the hell is that Soviet cyborg doing in the final issue? But all that’s unimportant, instead just enjoy the fact that the Revenger takes on Mr Groan with an army of gun-toting tramps! Just like it’s lead character’s actions, Revenger isn’t pretty, with some erratic artwork and even a wonky logo (not to mention a very strange sci-fi twist in the final act) however it has a kind of brutal, unforgiving charm to it that just seems to work. Spreading this story out over 5 issues is probably 2 issues too many, but like a bad 1980s straight to video movie, there is enough on show in each chapter to make you want to keep reading and find out what bizarre blood-soaked onslaught is going to happen next! Purchase Revenger #1-5 for £1.49/$1.99 from ComiXology
War of the Woods: the Campfire Battle #1 (Monster island media)
Matthew Petz’s animals versus aliens adventure War in the Woods is back for a third season and the story leaps forward in time 3 weeks from the climactic events of season 2 and the epic bear cavalry battle with the Raathinaaks. An aging raccoon is gathering a group of young animals around the camp fire to recount the tales of our brave adventurer Phin and his battles with the terrifying alien invaders. It has a horribly final sense to it, which we hope isn’t the case, as War of the Woods is one of the most original books out there and we don’t know how we’ll cope if anything bad happens to Phin and his turtle buddy Isaac. As well as shifting the narrative style Petz has also pushed the boat out visually, telling this first episode in a series of long scroll-like landscape panels (have a look at his Facebook page to see the epic 20 page spread take shape!). As always the artwork is exemplary with the animals beautifully rendered, but also packed full of character and emotion – and there isn’t a more unique hero than Phin the otter with a turtle on his head! Our only minor gripe with this issue was a handful of typos/grammar errors which took us away from what is otherwise one of the very best indie digital comics around. Purchase War of the Woods: The Campfire Battle #1 for £0.69/$0.99 from ComiXology