This month’s indie comics round up takes a look at fantastic series which have been collected into must read trade paperbacks.
Planet of Daemons: The Eye of Lucifer (Amigo Comics)
Kevin Gunstone and Paul Moore’s tale of a 17th century witchfinder who guards the gates of hell (or rather the demonic planet known as the Quilipoth) was one of our favourite indie comics of 2017. And his new collected edition helps remind us of exactly why. It’s part supernatural quest and part Gothic mystery whodunnit, as Amos Deathridge must fight to protect the bridge between earth and Quilipoth, but also piece together memories of how he came to be in this new role . Not to mention who the new demonic characters he encounters are, and their connection to his previously life on earth. Gunstone’s world building creates an intricately woven and complex demonic galaxy that feels like a mix of Dante and Frank Herbert with a dash of Neil Gaiman thrown in for good measure. While his verbose style of writing perfectly suits the pious character of Deathridge and his place in this devilish world. These ambitious concepts are brought to life by artist Paul Moore whose classic British style feels like it could have been plucked from the pages of a vintage edition of Warrior. His figure work is superb and his design of the demons is both sinister but also very grounded and makes the whole thing have a ‘Hammer horror meets Alan Moore’ feel to it rather than going for the more Spawn-esque contemporary approach. If you love books like Sandman or, more recently Vault Comics’ Fearscape, then this is an essential read and a fantastic example of ambitious and confident story telling that does not talk down to its readers. A devilishly good read!
Captain Ginger (Ahoy Comics)
Aboard the spaceship Hiss-Bite-Claw-Sometimes-Fall, the intrepid Captain Ginger must marshal his crew of feline ship mates in a pitched battle against the ominous Lumen. While the opening pages of this delightfully daft series from Ahoy Comics may look and read like a feline Star Trek or an animalistic Battlestar Galactica, it is underpinned with some delightfully daft dialogue as these aren’t your traditional anthropomorphism heroes. As well as battling the light based Lumen, Ginger and his crew (Science Cat, Mittens and Ramscoop) are in the middle of an existential crisis as they do not know how they have come to be or what they are. And as such in the heat of battle they are more interested in scratch posts and litters trays, than powering up their shields. There are also dozens of kittens in every shot as the ships crew are going through a population surge at the same time. Captain ginger is one of those brilliant genre mash ups that can only really happen in comics. To heat that synopsis would imply an Adventure Time/Dungeon Fun style cartoonish tale. However the artwork from June Brigman is more like a traditional comics page, with stylish spaceships and slick spacesuit wearing cats whose faces and details are rendered in fabulous details. The story and artwork manage to perfectly balance ridiculous cat based jokes with an epic slice of pulpy action adventure. The jokes never wear too thin, and in actuality catch up by surprise as just when you think you are reading a straight sci-fi story they throw in a pun or a silly notion and you are made to laugh out loud. If you loved some of the recent DC reimagining of classic Warner Brothers characters then this is the book for you.
Cognition Volume 1 (Ken Reynolds Comics)
Ken Reynolds Cognition has consistently been one of the best small press comics published in the uk. A regular in our best of the year list, this new collected edition brings the first four issues into one handy volume. It’s the perfect chance to check out one of the small press scene’s best titles. Cognition follows the adventures of Cal and Sigma, two operatives in the British Occult Secret Service. But what makes these different to your ordinary occult detectives is that one is a man’s spirit in the body of a robot, and the other is a demon in the body of a mouse. The two are fused together by a ritual that went wrong and their back and forth banter (which only they can hear, or so they think) is the highlight of the series. On the surface Cognition feels totally similar to BPRD and Hellboy with its demonic heroes and it’s world built around the darker strands of mythology. However just like the wonderful Merrick, it is much more than just a Mignola wannabe. With the stories split up into shortish chapters Reynolds is able to build a story that builds from issue to issue as Cal and Sigma solve cases that vary from demon dogs to occultists trying to steal the ravens from the tower of London. However he also gives the characters plenty of room to develop and tell their story which allows Cal, Sigma and the supporting cast a chance to really flourish. What really sets Cognition apart from the masses is Sam Bentley’s extraordinary black and white artwork. It has this angular, demonic quality that makes every page feel like it has been inked with obsidian and coal dust, capturing the dark Victoriana and demonic world exquisitely. At times it can be a bit too over-powering and some of the detail gets lost in the shadows, but the raw energy it exudes on every page is worth this minor niggle. With a tantalising final page hook hinting at future adventures for Cal, Sigma and co, this is the perfect time for new fans to check out the brilliant book – and a chance for existing fans to remind themselves of how great a series cognition really is!