It’s been a bumper week for must-read digital comics thank to the San Diego Comic Con, but here are some of our favourites for you to enjoy in the Sunday Digest, including Top Shelf’s Monster on the Hill, PJ Holden and Si Spurrier’s Numbercruncher and Erik Evensen’s The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay.
The Monster on the Hill (Top Shelf Comix)
As a comics fans it’s easy to get side tracked by the latest gritty crime drama or post-modern superhero deconstruction, but every now and then it’s worth remembering the simple pleasure that we all had as kids reading comics. One book that should help reaffirm that childlike delight in comics is Rob Harrell’s The Monster On The Hill. Set in a fictional England in the 1860s each town has a monster living nearby who both terrorizes the townfolk, but also gives them a sense of pride. Not all monsters are as impressive as the others though and one of those letting down his town of Stoker-on-Avon is the rather depressed Rayburn. But with a little help from an eccentric doctor, a plucky street urchin, and a confident monster mate, Rayburn looks to regain his mojo and make the people of Stoker-on-Avon proud (and afraid) of him once again. This is a truly wonderful and charming read for all ages and is the kind of book that warrants repeated reading. Harrell’s artwork is brilliantly expressive and full of character, while the story reads like an absolute delight – funny, charming and engaging in equal measures. It has such a fantastic sense of fun and enjoyment that it deserves to be a future children’s classic for many years to come.
The Monster on the Hill is available via ComiXology or the Top Shelf ComiX app for £6.99
Numbercruncher #1/4 (Titan Comics)
From the minds of British writer Si Spurrier and artist PJ Holden, Numbercruncher is one of those books that is hard to define, but is utterly enthralling to read. Brilliant young mathematician Richard Thyme is convinced he can regain his lost love by manipulating the enigmatic Divine Calculator to allow him to be re-incarnated and return to the woman he loves. However Karmic agent Bastard Zane has other ideas. It’s a book that is packed full of ideas, but thanks to Spurrier’s accomplished writing it never feels over whelming. This first issue balances, action, plot, and exposition perfectly introducing us to the concepts of the Divine Calculator and the Karmic Agency while also giving us a rip-roaring adventure. Artist PJ Holden’s work is as accomplished as ever, with the book having an almost Kevin O’Neil/League of Extraordinary Gentlemen feel to it, but with elements of It’s a Wonderful Life, 12 Monkeys and even A Clockwork Orange thrown in for good measure. This is smart, articulate and sophisticated sci-fi comics at their best, so be sure to get your hands on all four issues of this brilliant new series.
Numbercruncher #1 is available via ComiXology for £2.49
Banshee: Origins (IDW Publishing)
Based on the hit Cinemax TV series, produced by True Blood creator Alan Ball, Banshee: Origins gives an insight into the back story of main characters Lucas and Anastasia as it plays out the final heist that sees Lucas end up in jail and Anastasia on the run – where she ends up in the small town of Bansgee. For those who love the show it’s a great way to flesh out the back story of the two main characters from the show, but for those who aren’t fans then it’s still a fun crime caper story which requires no understanding of the TV series to enjoy. You might even end up a convert. With it’s transvetite hackers and evil Lithuanian gangsters it’s certainly got an intriguing cast list and seeing as this prequel is free to download, it’s well worth a read. It’s even got full colour artwork from Masks & Mobsters monochrome master Mike Henderson in it, so what’s not to love?!
Banshee: Origins is free to download via ComiXology or the IDW Comics app
The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay (Evensen Creative)
Erik Evensen’s self published graphic novel The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay reads like an episode of the X-Files meets Scooby Doo, as struggling paleoanthopologist Brian Wegman is recruited by the local sherrif of Wolfe’s Bay to help investigate a mysterious murder of two college kids by a giant ape like creature. With help from the sherrifs daughter, and folklorist Winifred, our intrepid team attempt to overcome the sceptics and non-believers and prove once and for all if this, and other unsolved disappearances in the town, are the work of the mysterious wendigo. There’s a constant danger with books like this that they can turn into turgid cliche, but thanks to Evensen’s light tone, stylish artwork and liberal use of in-jokes and geek culture references, The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay is a really fun and enjoyable read with a neat twist at the end.
You can buy the Beast of Wolfe’s Bay via ComiXology for £5.99 and for more info read our in-depth interview with Erik Evensen.
Judge Dredd: Day of Chaos (2000ad)
When it comes to epic storylines it’s easy to view them with an air of cynicism, after all how many times have we read epoch defining books where we know that they will inevitably return to the status quo before the year is out (Death of Superman/Bruce Wayne/Captain America we’re looking at you here!). However with his creator John Wagner at the helm, Judge Dredd’s world of Mega City One has been literally decimated thank to a biological attack orchestrated by a disgruntled ex-Soviet general. Referring back to the equally ground-breaking Apocalypse War storyline from 30 years ago the relentless destruction of Mega City One at the hands of an increasing disparate group of assailants is truly epic in it’s scale. Just when you think they are going pull back from the brink, the story goes head long into the next destructive chapter and once you get to the end you soon realise there is absolutely no way of going back from this. This is courageous large scale comic writing at it’s absolute finest and will shape Dredd for a new generation. It deserves to be held up there with the very finest Dredd story-lines of all time, and it’s not often you can say that about other books that have been around this long. Wagner is ably support in the art department by Leigh Gallagher and Henry Flint who give the whole book a grim and gritty tone that suits such a bleak, yet compelling storyline.
Judge Dredd Day of Chaos is available via Amazon here while 2000ad is available every week via Apple Newsstand