The fine folk from the PCG have sent us another round-up of the best mainstream digital comics, including A.D..: After Death Book One from Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire, who also supplies us a story for Old Man Logan. Plus Jason Aaron’s Unworthy Thor and Southern Bastards, and Dark Horse’s Ether.
A.D.: AFTER DEATH BOOK ONE
Publisher: Image Writer: Scott Snyder Art: Jeff Lemire Price: $5.99 from ComiXology
Matt C: The level of love that’s gone into this book is readily apparent as the heart and soul poured into the words and pictures ensure this is an astonishing example of comic book art. Synder and Lemire have joined forces, mixing up prose with more conventional sequential art storytelling to produce a tale that is profoundly affecting on a deeply emotional level. It’s a meditation on the nature of mortality that works because it has two of comicdom’s premiere talents at the top of their game behind it, and truthfully, if you’ve ever been taken with their work in whatever genre, or indeed you feel this medium has the ability to convey truth in a way that other mediums cannot replicate, you owe it to yourself to pick yourself up a copy of After Death. A modern masterpiece in the making.
UNWORTHY THOR #1
Publisher: Marvel Writer: Jason Aaron Art: Olivier Coipel & Matthew Wilson Price: $3.99 from ComiXology
Stewart R: When you have great artists working in the comic book industry it’s easy to say you want more from them, but with an elite artist such as Olivier Coipel it seems that you really must grit your teeth in excitement and employ a saint’s patience in waiting for Marvel to release his next collaboration. This is only his second appearance on interior art duties in 2016 after the rather sedate Civil War II #0 back in May; we’re nearly in 2017. But, by the roots of Yggdrasil, was it worth the wait as he reintroduces us to the fallen Odinson whose hammer-less hangover continues! Aaron drops back into the Asgardian prince’s story with confident ease, allowing the rending of troll-flesh to take place alongside brooding nods to recent events (Original Sin and Secret Wars). After the chaos of battle it’s the interaction with a (not so) mysterious stranger and that continued self-loathing that allows Coipel to demonstrate his range. Many blockbuster, grade-A artists can deliver breathtaking action, but can struggle to add subtle character expression to their repertoire. Coipel simply manipulates an eyebrow here, a grimaced lip there, and a character’s emotional state is laid bare upon the page. It works as a great compliment for a story looking at a fallen hero, perhaps blinkered by that which struck him down, allowing continued arrogance to block his path to true self-enlightenment. A thunderously good start to Unworthy Thor!
Publisher: Dark Horse Writer: Matt Kindt Art: David Rubin Price: $3.99 from ComiXology
James R: Matt Kindt is such a talent that a new series from him will always be an automatic buy for me. InEther, we see him on fine form, posing an intriguing question: can everything be explained by science? Is magic just phenomena we have yet to quantify? The plot follows Boone Dias, a scientist who has discovered a parallel dimension called Ether, which resembles a fairytale world full of strange beasts and creatures that defy logic. Dias is lauded by the inhabitants of Ether for his application of logic and reason to solve their intractable mysteries, and in this issue he is presented with a murder to solve. Kindt is clearly having a lot of fun with this one – there’s a whimsy alongside the usual intelligence and invention of his scripts. David Rubin does a superb job illustrating, giving us two distinct styles and moods between the fantastical Ether and the grit of our Earth. Kindt always knows how to draw a reader in, and he does it again here with a great mix of mystery, ideas and character. A magical debut, Etherrounds off a fine 2016 for Kindt.
SOUTHERN BASTARDS #15
Publisher: Image Writer: Jason Aaron Art: Jason Latour Price: $3.50 $3.50 from ComiXology
James R: I think it is a mark of a book’s quality when it goes on a brief hiatus and the wait for the return feels like an eternity. It’s only been five months thatSouthern Bastards has been absent from the new release schedules, but it’s felt so much longer, and this issue wastes no time in reminding us why it is up there with the very best. The plot picks up in the aftermath of the Rebels defeat to Wetumpka, and the once-impervious Coach Boss finds that he is fighting for his future in more ways than one. Roberta Tubb finally makes an appearance at Boss BBQ, but rather than immediate fireworks, Jason Aaron is content to let the plot simmer away. Aaron’s partnership with Latour is a remarkable one – I have never been fortunate enough to set foot in the Deep South, but every issue ofSouthern Bastards makes me feel as if I have. Latour’s art is beautifully observed, and Aaron’s characters so vivid that the verisimilitude is cut through this title like the rings of a tree. It’s a joy to see the South rise again – there’s still no comic quite like Southern Bastards.
OLD MAN LOGAN #13
Publisher: Marvel Writer: Jeff Lemire Art: Andrea Sorrentino & Marcelo Maiolo Price: £2.49 from Comixology
Matt C: A reassuringly intense end to the ‘Last Ronin’ arc that sees Lemire tap into the damaged persona of Logan once again, continuing to portray him as a man whose future-past drives him forward as much as it holds him back. There’s doomed romance in here amongst the blood-letting and claw-popping but once again the real star of the show is Sorrentino who, over the last year, has positioned himself as one of the shining lights in mainstream comic book artistry, and he shows exactly why this is the case here with a simply phenomenal double-page spread that is the very definition of eye-popping. This series has taken a character I felt had reached a stage of tedious repetition and a tale that was all high concept and no trousers and turned it all around into an utterly compelling look at a man out of step with the world but desperately trying to make sense of it all.