This month’s guide to the Best of ComiXology Submit features surreal science-fiction in Gamma, creepy Catholic horror on a remote Irish island in Lord, high octane alien action in The Red Mask From Mars and the return of cyberpunk assassin beta in Template: Binary Code.
Gamma #1 (Buster + Norah Press)
If you can imagine a Pokemon adventure drawn by Shaolin Cowboy’s Geof Darrow then you will come somewhere close the highly imaginative and surreal world of Gamma from Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas. Lead character Dusty is a former monster training world champion, who these days lets people punch him in the face for money. In a world where duelling monsters have made him a hero, when they start to take over the world and displace mankind it is up to Dusty to save the world, but after a relentless five year battle against the increasingly powerful monsters Dusty has enough and leaves mankind to it. In return he is branded the worlds most infamous coward and can only make a living by letting people take out their rage on his face. Gamma is one of those books that will have you shaking your head with disbelief on every page. The artwork is sublime, with a level of detail and characterisation that would make the aforementioned Mr Darrow jealous and with a muted colour palette that prevents it from veering into childish animated excess it becomes a thing of beauty – especially when it comes to the highly inventive and weird monsters who are a major part of the issue. Farinas and Freitas’ script creates a weird and wonderful world in which the characters live and the tragic/comic situation that this once former hero finds himself in makes for a fantastic and engaging read. If you’re after something completely fresh and different from your usual read, then Gamma is the book for you.
Purchase Gamma from ComiXology for £1.49/$1.99
Lord (Misrule Comics)
Set in 1970s Ireland, Leonie O’Moore’s exquisitely realised tale of a troubled young girl sent off to a remote island to be educated by strict nuns is as beautiful as it is unsettling. The remote island setting gives the whole series a claustrophobic feel, while the underlying themes of rigid Catholic dogma and a Wicker Man style pagan undercurrent makes the whole story compelling and un-nerving in equal measures. Beautifully rendered with water-colour washes, O’Moore gives the whole book an innocence that reminded us of 70s annuals and comics like Jackie or Bunty and juxtaposes brilliantly with dark and mature story she is telling. With a number of adult themes and issues developed throughout the story, it may not be to everyone’s taste and a disclaimer on the ComiXology page that says it includes ‘depictions of abuse and violence’ may put some off – as may the relatively high price of £5.49 – however, for those who give it a try they’ll be rewarded with an utterly extraordinary and accomplished piece of story-telling.
Purchase Lord from ComiXology for £5.49/$6.99
Red Mask From Mars #1 (Raw Edge Comics)
Doug Stewart was a thrill-seeking astronaut whose life was changed when a chance encounter with an alien life form left him with amazing abilities, invulnerability and an alien stuck to his face. As part of the mysterious Xenosphere agency it’s up to him to deal with all kinds of weird and wonderful space nasties from giant alien goo monsters to prickly space sharks. Writer/artist Vince Hunt instills the Red Mask with a vibrant pace and plenty of off-the-wall humour which goes well with his cartoony art style and vibrant colours from Descending Outlands Shaun Dobie. In this first issue, Hunt doesn’t bother with an origin story, he just explains all we need to know in a handy half page exposition panel and then gets straight on with the action. The Red Mask From Mars mixes familiar tropes from the Fantastic Four, Alien franchise and Hellboy & the BPRD to create a really enjoyable read which thanks to it’s constant sense of fun and enthusiasm, as well as plenty of quips and gags, means you can’t help but be taken along for the ride by this quirky new hero.
Purchase Red Mask From Mars #1 from ComiXology for £1.49/$1.99
Template: The Binary Code Chapter 1 (QAM Comics)
This follow up to 2014’s excellent debut series sees our cybernetic heroine Beta back in action taking down villains for private security firm Oversight, but still looking for answers about her predecessor Alpha and the enigmatic Ina Britt. Now a fully-fledged field agent, Beta is forced to work with a new handler, in the form of series debutante Roxy, (who Beta does not seem to gel with), while they pursue the Binary group, a shadowy band of tech-terrorists who have managed to obtain the Oversight group’s AI software and intend to use it for nefarious purposes. Writer Quentin Miles continues to brilliantly build this world of high-tech assassins and shadowy military tech companies into something really smart and engaging, while artist Andres Quezada does a superb job of bringing life and dynamism to the action. Although the visuals can look a little bit erratic at times, they are an improvement on season 1 and distinctive enough that they do a great job of giving the book a unique look and feel which, when used in conjunction with the Guided View transitions (which is becoming an increasing rarity in the world of digital comics) means that we have all the ingredients for a great series that is far from being another cookie-cutter comic.
Purchase Template: The Binary Code from ComiXology for £1.49/$1.99