Hidden amongst the Secret Wars spin-offs this month are some superb new digital indie comics. We take a look at some of the best for this month so far, including Universe #3 from Panel Syndicate, UK anthology Atom Jacket, superhero homage To A Pulp and webcomic The Book of Fey.
Universe – The Periodical of Cosmic Wonder #3 (Panel Syndicate)
Albert Monteys’ quirky series of science fiction one-shots is slowly but surely beginning to eclipse it’s Eisner Award winning Panel Syndicate sibling, The Private Eye in terms of quality and originality. Universe #3 sees a crew of intergalactic explorers sent out on a mission to make contact with alien civilisations with inevitably bad consequences. Montey’s quirky Euro-sensibilities and stunning landscape layouts gives the whole book an amazingly fresh feel, and reads like 2001: A Space Odyssey as if draw by Tin Tin’s Herge. The design of the aliens and space craft, in particular the humanoid shaped ship with the detachable head landing craft, are second to none and so when you add to this Panel Syndicate’s ‘pay-what-you-want’ business model then Universe is one of the best value digital comics currently available.
Download Universe #3 from Panel Syndicate
To a Pulp (Pantheon Comics)
This homage to the Silver Age sees the two main characters from a pantheon of Justice League-esque heroes look into the mysterious disappearances of their team mates. Owing a debt to Watchmen with it’s self aware tone, but also classic DC with it’s line-up of stars, To A Pulp centres around the relationship between Argos and Atlas, who are clear allegories for Superman and Batman (there’s even a Detective Comics and Action Comics parody in there just in case you don’t see it). Writers Bobby Simpson and J. Luke Pham have created a smartly written homage to these characters, with an interesting ‘what if’ scenario, while artist George Kambadais has a Michael Avon Oeming-esque quality to his artwork which helps elevate the book above being just another superhero wannabe.
Download To A Pulp from Gumroad here
Atom Jacket #1
This British anthology has been put together by editor James Alexander and features familiar names from the UK comic scene like 100% Biodegrabable’s Dave Hailwood and 2000 AD veterans Darren Stevens and David Broughton. Free to download from DriveThru and Comicsy it offers up a mix of 7 stories in a variety of genres from sci-fi to superheros and so has a bit of something for everybody. Inevitably with an anthology like this the quality is varied, but stand-outs for us were opener The Traversers which sees a super villain return from exile on Pluto only to find his enemies have already been vanquished (or have they) and Apocalypse Now Or Never which sees the world taken over by militarised Elvis Impersonators!
Download Atom Jacket for Free from Drive Thru Comics
The Book of Fey
Cardiff based writer/artist Sian Jefferson’s webcomic The Book of Fey sees a young girl fall into an abandoned tomb while challenging a roguish warrior to a sword fight. While in the tomb she encounters a fiery demon who it transpires she has a mystical command over thanks to a magical bracelet. As the relationship between the two develops, the girl commands the demon to help her on a mission to find her brother in return for releasing him from his bond. Jefferson’s series is a fun and engaging fantasy adventure with a quirky sense of humour and a unique charm all of it’s own. Rendered in a very simplistic style mixing cartoony lines with a hint of manga styling, it is just the right side of simplistic to make it distinctive and not amateurish. The whole thing has a slightly rambling feel to it, which works for an opening chapter but which will require focus for it to work long term, however thanks to a strong Studio Ghibli/Spirited Away feel to the whole series it is definitely one worth giving a chance.
Read the Book of Fey via Sian’s Tumblr