Our round-up of the Best of ComiXology Submit continues this month with: gritty adult western Abbadon from Jimmy Palmiotti; post-modern super villains in James’ Foster’s Gun; super-stylish 50s Euro jazz noir in Kitty Kat; and Egyptological and Archaeological horror in The Outer God.
Abbadon (Adaptive Comics)
This hard hitting adults-only Western from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray is a like an HBO mini series in panel form. Celebrated US Marshall Wes Garrett is summoned to the aspiring city of Abbadon to solve a grisly murder and prevent the fame hungry killer from taking advantage of his notoriety. Working with Sheriff Colt Dixon, Garrett must find the killer and help make the town safe for aspiring entrepreneur Jacob Sullivan’s social engineering scheme, while trying to prove, or disprove, links to the notorious killer Bloody Bill (who connects both Garrett and Dixon in a past life). All of which means the investigation isn’t as simple as it first seems. Palmiotti and Gray don’t hold back in their graphic portrayal of life in Abbadon with blood, guts and nudity galore. Artist Fabrizio Fiorentino’s incredibly detailed pencils render every explicit moment in a twisted beauty which at times cross the line into territory that isn’t always comfortable reading (a throwaway shot of some wolves dismembering a baby is particularly unsettling as are the gruesome and explicit murders of the local prostitutes that mix graphic gore with evocative bondage imagery). Although not one for the faint-hearted Abbadon is a smartly constructed story that keeps you guessing right to the final page. The dynamics between Garrett and Dixon shift as their past history is revealed, and the sub plot about Garrett’s fame and legacy gives the events an added level of intrigue. While the final resolution feels a bit rushed, the ultimate outcome makes for a definitive exclamation point for this gritty and grimy western world and leaves things open for a return to this nasty yet compelling world. Purchase Abbadon for £6.99 from ComiXology
Gun: Fighting is My Monday (Reckless Eyeballs) #1
While the world of post-modern superheroes is well catered for, there still seems to be some legs left in the world of post-modern super villains, as is proved by Jack Foster’s excellent new series Gun. Struggling supervillain Trevor Werner (aka Mr Twist) gets more than he bargains for when he rescues a ‘cape’ who is left for dead after a bungled robbery and along with his accomplices Olive Armstrong and the ageing Agent Orange decides to sell her off in a super villain auction. Inevitably things go a bit wrong and Trevor and Olive must attempt to extract themselves from the bounties placed on their heads. Rather than go down the Lobo-esque gritty anti-hero route for these villains, Foster has followed the Superior Foes of Spider-man approach by making them into a bunch of loveable losers. The tone is still pretty straight, as they are down on their luck rather than completely clueless and it makes for some very identifiable story-telling as Trevor and Olive have believable real-world problems, albeit within the realm of villainy. As well as this sense of empathy with the characters, what also makes Gun work so well is the detail of the world it is set in. Foster does an outstanding job of creating a myriad of villains and heroes to populate this world, many of whom only ever appear in the background or as brief mentions in conversation. They all have fantastic golden and silver age style names and costumes, and it reminded us a lot of Powers for it’s sheer depth of imagination. The stand out scene of this first issue is the excellent super villain auction which evoked the bar scene in the opening issue of Kingdom Come for it’s sheer inventiveness. Visually it has a slight echo of Alex Ross’ superhero epic as well, with Foster using a watercolour wash technique that gives it a really unique feel. Although not as accomplished as Ross’ work (but then, whose work is?!) it has a rough around the edges indie charm to it, which along with the inventive world building and compelling characters makes Gun into a book that should be a sure-fire hit!
Writing a good crime noir, is no easy thing. Getting the correct amount of twisting and turning in the plot to make it into an exciting and compelling read is not as easy as you might think, and unfortunately Andre St-Amour’s Kitty Kat is a prime example of how things can get a bit too over-written when in pursuit of pulp perfection. Which is a real shame because visually, it is absolutely stunning. It’s full of Cubist angles that would make Picasso jealous and has an energy reminiscent of a Ralph Bakshi animation, all rendered in a beautiful red and black duotone that makes it feel like a Saul Bass poster come to life. However, the story of a nightclub singer and her costumed defender alter-ego Kitty Kat goes off on one tangent two many, leaving you scratching your head and wondering what you just read when you get to the final page. At least when you go back to re-read it, you are rewarded with another chance to take in these stunning visuals, it’s just a shame that the story doesn’t quite live up to Kitty Kat‘s super cool looks. Purchase Kitty Kay from ComiXology
Outer God #1-5 (Mind Screw)
From first impressions this may look like another Hellyboy/Mike Mignola wannabe tale, but on reading the first issue you will soon discover it is so much more than that. Matthew Lovegood is an archaeologist who has been sent out to investigate what could be the most significant new Egyptian discovery since Tutankhamen’s tomb. However all is not as it seems when the team of diggers get inside and it is revealed that instead of being a burial chamber it is some kind of sinister temple of evil and begins to take it’s effect on those who disturb it. We learn all this courtesy of the diary that Matthew left behind and that has some how made it’s way back to Chicago and his distraught wife. With inevitable comparisons to Indiana Jones or The Mummy, Luc Labelle and Daryl Toh’s claustrophobic tale owes more to horror tales like John Carpenter’s The Thing or The Shining with it’s isolated location and rag tag group of scientists who are haunted by mysterious and gruesome forces. However, thanks to the use of the diary as the main means of telling the story it also feels a bit like a found footage story, with only the briefest of glimpses into the true horrors that are happening in the tomb. Labelle uses the dates from the diary, mixed in with some hallucinogenic dream sequences and disturbing and disorienting alternate timelines to give the reader a similar sense to the madness that it going on, while artist Toh mixes the dark shadows of his Mignola-esque tombs, with a much lighter, almost Anime infused touch when on the outside to give the whole book a unique mix of styles that feels familiar but also very different for this genre of book. In later issues when Lovegood’s wife Qianna enters the tomb searching for him, the beasts resemble Lovecraftian tentacle monsters, but with a Giger-esque sexuality and it creates a dark and unsettling nightmare of a comic that will stay with you long after you have finished reading. Purchase the Outer God #1-5 from ComiXology