Our latest round-up of the best digital index comics features: politics, religion and reality TV stars in Ned Hartley’s Anti Gods; clueless cops in a small town with Tally Burtram’s Bajo Mano; Make Garley’s immortal retro killing machine the Samurai Slasher; and superhero hitman webcomic Turncoat from Ryan O’Sillivan and Plaid Kraus.
Anti Gods (Heartless Comics)
After the high concept simplicity of Punchface and How To Be A Superhero, Ned Hartley’s Anti Gods is a much more complex tale that brings together several strong ideas, but without making them into a satisfying whole. Casper Jones is reality TV star Supercop who crosses paths with lapsed Catholic detective Tessio when they attempt to being down a rapture-crazed senator on a killing spree. Their work is then made even more complex when a giant illuminated eye appears in the sky – is it God or some kind of high tech ad campaign? Casper and Tessio’s investigation sees them blown up by a crack assassin, help captive by an angry president and then going on the run with his daughter as they search for the answer. As you can tell from the synopsis there are lots of ideas on show in these first two issues and they rattle through at such speed that it’s like reading a 6 issue arc told on fast forward. In these first two issues individual elements stand out from the crowd – a government approved reality super cop, for example – and could easily hold a series on their own, but when put together with all the other ideas they just don’t quite hold together – although perhaps they will once we reach the series conclusion. The erratic artwork and gaudy digital colors from artist Seb Antoniou don’t really help the book either and could do with its own dose of divine intervention.
Purchase Anti Gods #1 for £2.99 from Ned Hartley’s Big Cartel Store
Bajo Mano (Tally Burtram)
Tally Burtram’s Bajo Mano (pronounced Ba-ho Man-o) sees a bunch of clueless cops trying to protect and serve a small town that makes you glad they aren’t your local law enforcers. Rookie Kurt Wakahisa is looking to try and raise his game and solve more exciting cases than missing cats and stolen underwear. While newcomer Burnie is attempting to overcome the general incompetence of her colleagues, not to mention put up with the unwelcome advances of various male cops. The series is rounded out with the usual supporting cast of misfits from the angry captain to the quiet but perfect sergeant, but they are stopped from being completely one dimensional thanks to some smart writing from Burtram – for example the potentially clched captain is given some added depth when is gay son returns after going missing and shakes things up considerably! Packed full of frenetic anime style visuals that give the book a real energy it also amplifies a lot of the goofy humour. But for those not used to some of the quirky flourishes (like the enlarged comedy heads or star struck eyes) it can be a slightly disjointed reading experience. Fortunately Burtram’s has instilled her cast with enough depth and interest that you forgive these flaws and as the series develops you can see Burtram’s work become more accomplished and sophisticated – just as her characters become more clueless and goofy!
Read Bajo Mano via the website
Samurai Slasher (Mike Garley Comics)
If you’ve ever felt that the world has been desperately lacking a samurai serial killer comic, then it’s your lucky day as The Kill Screen’s Mike Garley brings you just that book! Featuring 3 short stories (as well as some awesome pin ups from a who’s-who of the indie scene) it starts off with an ’80s slasher movie inspired debut that evokes Friday 13th as we are introduced to the bloodthirsty samurai who kills a group of teenagers by a lake – Mrs Voorhies style. With art by Sgt Rock artist Andrew W Clift it’s a great mix of old school ’50s style comics mixed with 80s slasher story telling and sets the perfect tone for the rest of the book. Next up there’s Origins of the Samurai Slasher which sees a terminally ill man tell a nurse the story of the slasher, which he has spent a lifetime trying to prove is more than a legend (and features art by Stiff’s Gavin Mitchell). While Exhibition of the Samurai Slasher sees a billionaire businessman salvage the slasher and bring him to the city. Finally The Decimation of the Samurai Slasher sees the army take on the slasher with devastating consequences. Like all the best indie books, Samurai Slasher is delightfully simple in it’s conception but a cut above the rest in it’s execution. The eclectic nature of the stories means Garley and co can develop the mythos of the Slasher without getting bogged down with creating a well-rounded supporting cast, instead they can focus on inventive new ways to kill of those the Slasher comes in contact with. With a new volume on the way soon, there has never been a better time to get into the world of the Samurai Slasher.
Purchase Samurai Slasher for £10 from Mike Garley’s Big Cartel Store
Turncoat (Turncoat Comics)
“Super strength, martial arts training… how do I kill him” – the opening salvo to each chapter of Ryan O Sullivan and Plaid Klaus’ webcomic Turncoat sees superhero hitman Duke sizing up his vastly superior opponents by reeling off their attributes and then working out how best to take them out! The problem is though, that Duke is a bit of a loser – complete with comb over, alimony chasing ex wife and swimming lesson deprived son – so it’s not as easy as you might think! Yet somehow he manages to carve out a niche as a superhero hitman – more by luck than judgement. So when a hit on the world’s top super team comes in, Duke stumbles across a massive conspiracy in the world of heroes and villains which he might have to solve without the help of his misfit sidekicks. Told with a snarky, self aware, Mark Millar-esque sense of humour O’Sullivan manages to both poke fun at, and revel in, the world of superheroes and villains to create a really great post-modern superhero tale in the vein of Powers or The Losers. Released daily, the whole thing feels like a completed work that is being drip fed to the world and as such the beats of storytelling are perfect – from the page by page cliffhangers to the regular chapter introductions. This is definitely a story with a purpose and a structure and O’Sullivan is brilliantly backed up by artist Plaid Kraus who’s cartoonish visuals and slick colouring, help prevent the book from descending into gritty anti-hero territory but at the same time doesn’t pull it’s punches when it comes to the violence. With the final chapter hurtling towards an epic conclusion and a collected edition on the horizon, O’Sullivan and Klaus are dead-on target with every shot in Turncoat, unlike their hapless hero!
Read Turncoat via turncoatcomic.com