We continue our look at the best indie digital comics with our first ComiXology Submit round-up of 2016 featuring: transmogrified wormholes in Disunity; Leonie O’Moore’s afterlife adventure Double Dead; Andy Bloor’s time travelling action adventure series Midnight Man; and tragic Irish slice of life in Debbie Jenkinson’s Remorse
Disunity #1-2 (Blotch Comics)
You’ve got to admire a book that uses the phrase ‘transversable wormhole generator’ without irony. This rather complex plot device is created by super scientist John, which he hopes will solve the world’s over population problem, but instead creates a bubble around the earth which feeds off parallel universes and phases with them to devastating effect on both worlds. This high concept back story sees our charming, bearded, geek t-shirt wearing, ‘everyman’ scientist get ‘super powers’ of invincibility and immortality (but he still feels pain) thanks to his link to the original incident and makes him into a bit of a the last man on earth as he survives 200 years of getting beaten up and injured in a variety of ways without ever dying. However just when you think you have got a handle on this being a sort of lone wolf, man on a a mission type book, it takes a radical left turn and become a kind of superhero team book in issue #2, introducing us to a group of misfit buddies fro John including a warpaint wearing psychic, a delusional cowboy and Chronos the man who now sublets Cloud City from Lando Calrissian (not really, but their home in the clouds feels very familiar!). Thanks to this weird mixture of characters and easy access to other universes via the wormhole, creators Ron Batchelor and Rem Fields create an eclectic and intriguing basis for their stories, which are brilliantly realised via Batchelor’s sumptuous art and colours. However even after two issues it never quite manages to find that unifying theory that would help hold this disparate bunch of great ideas together, because if it did then it could become a really great read.
Purchase Disunity #1-2 for £1.49 from ComiXology
Double Dead #1-3 (Misrule Comics)
For her follow up to the critically acclaimed Lord, writer/artist Leonie O’Moore has gone to the depths of hell and back again. When stunt driver Robyn is killed in an accident on set, she is taken to the after life where she is given the chance to go back to before her death and be with her terminally ill husband. All she has to do is find a mysterious crystal from the depths of the underworld and make her way past the various tests put in front of her by the sinister King of the Crystal Caverns. With it’s afterlife redemption angle, Double Dead is essentially a gender reversed take on the Orpheus myth, populated with a supporting cast of quirky characters that look like they came straight from the pages Neil Gaiman’s The Sandman. Unlike Gaiman’s goth masterpiece though, it is told with a much brighter colour palette which makes the whole thing feel much more vibrant and O’Moore uses the same watercolour washes that we saw in Lord. However unlike the vintage feel that this gave her previous work, in Double Dead it makes for a a slightly surreal child-like quality which doesn’t always tally with the more serious subject matter. At three issues, the story feels a bit long-winded and rambly at times, but with a strong ending that resolves the whole story very nicely it makes for another unique tale from Moore (with the sight of the ferryman in a blonde wig being truly unforgettable!).
Purchase Double Dead #1-3 from ComiXology
Midnight Man (Bad Mother Publisher)
Any series that starts with the hero battling a demonically possessed American Civil War horse who has just fallen out of Big Ben is always going to be an attention grabber, so Mo Ali and Andy Bloor’s Midnight Man is off to a good start in our books! This time-travelling hero is a bit like Dr Who crossed with Watchmen’s Roschach and sees him take on the despicable Chronosazis in a variety of times and places throughout this first issue. The slightly indiscriminate use of time travel in this first issue gives the whole thing a very disjointed feel, that means it lacks a bit of the direction and focus you might expect from a more mainstream title. But it is packed full of enough humour and invention to make it well worth a read. It’s also packed full of some truly stunning artwork from artist Bloor whose style is one of a kind. With echoes of classic Brian Bolland in the cross hatched linework, and a hint of Mike Mignola or Michael Avon Oeming in the thick blocks of shadow, every page has a darkness to it which seems to suck light into the page and looks so lush and dense that you can’t help but wonder about Bloor’s monthly bill for India Ink.Purchase Midnight Man for £1.99 from ComiXology
Remorse (Debbie Jenkinson)
Penny and Leo are a young couple who are very much in love, however when Leo gets offered a job in New York their lives go in different directions and despite Penny’s assertion she will follow him out there, she never manages to motivate herself to do it. As the story plays out in heartbreaking split screen, Leo thrives in his exciting new life while Penny gets stuck in a dead-end call centre in Dublin. As time drifts by, her colleagues and friends come and go, but she is paralyzed by the fear of taking a risk, and ultimately the regret of what she missed out on. Haunted by a recurring dream of a tattoo needle writing Leo’s name on her arm, the story is beautifully rendered in monochrome watercolour washes and the whole book is packed with a sense of claustrophobia and suffocating ennui that anyone who has reached a certain age and had similar life regrets will identify with. Told over a 10 year time frame, starting in 1997, we see Penny’s life told in pain-staking detail, with page after page of mundanity as her stationery life is juxtaposed with world changing events like the Milennium and 9/11. Although this makes for a lengthy read, it does a great job of replicating the frustration and futility felt by Penny over the years. However it also means that the ultimate conclusion of the book feels somewhat rushed and is a tad unsatisfying – but you could argue that it is a reflection of the imperfect nature of real life and as such is the perfect ending for this melancholic slice-of-life.
Purchase Remorse for £1.99 from ComiXology