Although we love our indie and small press comics here at Pipedream Comics, every now and again we like to dip our toe back in to the mainstream – although not too far – and so this week we take a look at a couple of books from Image that have been rocking our world (Mark Millar’s new arc of Kick Ass and Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus’ trippy sci-fi road trip Void Trip), as well as a new offering from IDW’s Black Crown imprint that is brining a bit of snarling attitude to the world of comics in Punks Not Dead!
Kick Ass #1 (Image Comics)
After an incendiary debut back in 2008, Mark Millar’s post-modern superhero Kick Ass swore and punched it’s way to a slightly underwhelming conclusion in 2014. However Millar included one final moment of brilliance in the final act by opening up the idea that the mantle of Kick Ass could be taken on by another and become a symbol of fighting injustice, not just the trademark of one individual. This simple notion has allowed Millar to reboot the Kick Ass character and do away with the fairly average Joe lead character of Dave Liezewski and replace him with a more dynamic and diverse hero in the form of Patience. This ex soldier decides to start fighting crime after leaving the army and being screwed over by her ex partner who has gone on the run. By taking on the mantle of Kick Ass she uses her military skills to make her small town a better place, but because she is also non-powered she still manages to get her ass kicked along the way. With this new arc Millar does what he did so well with books like Ultimates or Red Son, breathing new life into an established franchise (even one of his own) by taking a completely new look at it. He brings Kick Ass back to that gritty and raw debut, before it got overtaken by outlandish super villains and ultra violence (although there is still enough of that for long term fans!) and makes it back into the fun and smart comic of those early issues. As before he is aided and abetted by co-creator John Romita Jr who manages to reinvent his classic style yet again with a new digital ink and painting assist from Peter Steigerwald which takes those classic Romita lines and style and give it really refreshing take. If you were put off the final arc, or want to discover what all the fuss is about then you cannot ask for a better jumping on point for a reboot that really works and makes Kick Ass kick ass once again!
Void Trip #1-3 (Image Comics)
Ryan O’Sullivan and Plaid Klaus’ psychedelic road trip continues as Gabe and Ana get closer closer to their ultimate destination of the planet Euphoria. As our two vagabonds/space hobos attempt to blag their way across the galaxy in various states of sobriety (thanks to their love of space hallucinogen Frood) they encounter a host of weird and wonderful characters while being pursued by the enigmatic nameless Progressibot bounty hunter – who is one of our favourite new villains and reminded us of an android version of The Operative from Serenity. Void Trip reads like Saga meets The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, and O’Sullivan and Klaus have definitely upped their game to bring this strange and meandering story to the world. Packed full of smart and witty ideas (a planet of robots who are eternally at war because their human masters have never told them to stop) as well as just plain weird and wacky visuals (the mentors from issue #2 and Klaus’ Jamie McKelvie-esque covers to name but a few), Void Trip is as stylish and cool as it is weird and wonderful and makes for a truly mind-bending read.
Purchase Void Trip #1-3 from ComiXology here
Punks Not Dead #1 (IDW Publishing/Black Crown)
The latest offering from IDW’s new Black Crown imprint (a bit like their equivalent of DC’s Vertigo) is like a punk rock version of Randall and Hopkirk Deceased meets 90s Doom Patrol. Troubled teen Fergie spends his time being picked on at school and going on chat shows with his dysfunctional mum. So when the ethereal Sid – a ghostly presence who bears an uncanny resemblance to the late Sex Pistols bass player – appears via a men’s loo wall, he acquires the most unlikely of spirit guides! As is always the case in books like this though, things aren’t set to run smoothly for the pair as lurking in the background is government sanctioned supernatural investigator Dorothy Culpepper – a kind of demonic Dolores Umbridge type who is taking care of demons at number 10 and will inevitably cross paths with our heroes. This first issue does a fantastic job of setting up the various characters involved and gives Sid a truly memorable introduction. The whole book has a real 90s Vertigo feel to it with shades of Hellblazer and Doom Patrol, but also more recent books like Dan Goldman’s Red Light Properties. It’s not afraid to pull it’s punches or go for the safe option, and while this doesn’t mean it is packed full of swearing and violence, it has an edge and a rawness to it that comes from the rough edges not being knocked off it by an over cautious editor or publisher. Writer David Barnett does a great job of building his cast of characters and posing questions of how the world is set to develop, but it is artist Martin Simmonds who is perhaps the stand out of this first issue, giving Sid a snarling anarchic attitude, complete with ink splattered hair and ghostly palour. Mixing digital slickness with an almost fanzine/DIY cut and paste feel Punk Is Dead is a really smart and engaging read that also manages to stick two fingers up at the establish to create a sense of rebellious attitude at the same time. The punk spirit definitely lives on with Punks Not Dead!.
Purchase Punks Not Dead #1 from ComiXology here