Olly’s World of Indie returns with a look at some of the best new titles on the indie scene today. They include: a modern take on Jerkyll and Hyde in Planet Jimbot’s Good Cop, Bad Cop; a monstrous indie anthology in Mandy The Monster Hunter; and a tense crime thriller in Rebirth of the Gangster.
Good Cop, Bad Cop: Casebook #3 (Planet Jimbot)
Writer: Jim Alexander Artist: Aaron Murphy
A modern twist on the classic novella, Jekyll and Hyde, where the good cop is also the bad cop, sharing the same body and same head space.
Brian Fisher, our erstwhile hero, doesn’t seem to do things the easy way, as the reader is witness to the morning after the night before and a very strained breakfast he shares with Julie Spencer, his partner on the beat and now, seemingly, in the sheets.
Meanwhile, there seems to be the emergence of a newly minted serial killer with a penchance for killing cops, while Fisher looks into a 13 year old case involving another killer, Horse Peter, who has a thing for horses, it would seem.
As with any first issue of a mini-series, this is a set-up issue, re-introducing characters familiar to long-time readers, while offering just enough exposition to allow newbies, like me, to fill in some of the gaps, while leaving the true depths of Fisher’s ‘Bad Cop’ persona just out of sight, for now.
And, like Fisher himself, the story is also one of dualities. It’s one part Bad Lieutenant and another part Taggart, as Fisher calmly and collectedly follows leads and interviews stoolies to try and catch his man.
Alexander’s writing is solid and well paced and covers more ground than one would imagine in this first issue, establishing the key relationships in Fisher’s life, hinting at a 13 year old mystery as well as allowing the reader to catch a glimpse behind the curtain of his darker, more deprived side. All beautifully illustrated by Aaron Murphy, with the interesting idea of seemingly printing the comic to include the original blue-line art below the black inks and grey/blue wash. It’s a B+W comic, but hints at being a colour comic. There are moments of horror to be had, and the odd expletive, but then this ain’t no kiddies’ comic.
Good Cop, Bad Cop: Casebook #3 can be sought and bought on Planet Jimbot’s easy site to be found here.
Mandy The Monster Hunter: The Mandy Book of Monsters (Hellbound)
Writers: Mark Adams, Matt Warner Artists: Various
Take one central character, the eponymous Mandy, two writers, Adams and Warner, and a plethora of top UK indie talent and what you have is one outstanding anthology that delves into a wonderful world of monsters, madness and the macabre and all in full colour (well, mostly)!
Mandy the Monster Hunter, a young twenty-something kick-ass killer is positioned in these stories as an urban legend, only whispered about in playgrounds and children’s parties, but never quite believed. Certainly not by any adults anyway. After all, who would want to believe that there are things that go bump in the night? When something wicked this way comes, it’s Mandy, our sparkly, good-natured but lethal heroine, who comes to our rescue, and she does so in each of the 6 strips bookended with a prologue and epilogue; Mandy herself appearing at a children’s party and ready them all stories form her book. or should that be her Book of Bestiary. A hero to humanity, but a nightmare to the monster hordes, quite literally in “I Dream of Monsters’ (by Warner with art by Luca Cicchitti).
A great concept and another great new female hero for the modern world, adding to an ever-growing cast of strong females that include Star Wars’ Rey and Disney’s Anna and Elsa. A hero that my daughter can root for.
Of course, with so many different artists, while continuity of styles is not something that can be easily sustained, it’s not something the creators aim for either and the varied artistic takes on Mandy and the monsters she metes out her own particular brand of justice to, is welcome and well thought out. From the Disneyesque cute-look Prologue illustrated fittingly by Oda Sonju (fitting, given we are witnessing a kiddies’ party on a bright sunny day) to the dark and dangerous realistic noir art of Neil McClements (illustrating Warner’s Another Child’s Monster), the art fits with the mood of each strip, itself no mean feat to achieve when dealing with, essentially, the same set up each time: Mandy vs monsters. This mixing of art styles and the changing mise-en-scenes of the six stories elevates this book from a simple rehash of the same formula and outcome. There are the real world monsters we hear about on the news and in the papers, as well as monsters that live in as much fear of Mandy children do of them in return, and there are the monsters that are of the fluffy variety too. These are fun stories, but often with a heart of darkness beating beneath the surface in some of the strips. A promising new woman of wonders and a great new addition to the world of monster hunters past and present; Van Helsing, Hellboy and Buffy, watch your backs, there’s a new Monster Hunter out there, and she’s taking no prisoners.
Mandy The Monster Hunter: The Mandy Book of Monsters is available form Hellbound’s own website, to be found here.
Rebirth of the Gangster (CJ Standal Production)
Writer: CJ Standal Artist: Juan Romera
While this issue focuses predominantly on young African-American prosecutor, Marcus Thompson and the wealthy world of privilege he has been born into, by the end of this first issue there seems to have been something of the McGuffin played on the readership, with the real focus of this crime-story yet to be revealed totally. What is revealed, however, is a story of a man who hasn’t always been the Grade A student his parents see him as. Having been caught with a bag of weed while still a teen, this flashback sequence would suggest at a Godfather-like conversion of a guy from the right side of the tracks dragged into a world of crime, corruption and, no doubt, killing. But, that may come at a later date, not yet though, and not in this first issue.
Romera’s artwork reminds us of David Mazzuchelli on Batman: Year One crossed with the late and lamented Darwyn Cook, all bold but simple brushstrokes and strong shadow work giving life to each panel. The writing is more opaque, with no big teases offered other than the suggestive title and the last page reveal. Is it enough of a cliffhanger to get you to read any additional issues? Just. But, it’ll be the art that draws you back. What I leant of Marcus and his life of privilege, I couldn’t really liken him to the comic’s title. Not in one issue, certainly. But, this is a minor quibble in the grand scheme of things and overall, it is a worthy first issue and by learning of Marcus and his past, Romera certainly has me invested enough in this character to want to se how this saga plays out. Just, please, pick up the pace a bit in the next issue.
To grab your issue, head on over to Amazon.
Author: Olly MacNamee
Olly MacNamee teaches English and Media, for his sins, in a school somewhere in Birmingham. Some days, even he doesn’t know where it is. Follow him on twitter @ollymacnamee or read about his exploits at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or don’t.