Our latest round-up of great new indie comics has a very crime focused feel with arctic misadventure Freak Snow, Blue Fox Comics’ Jimmys Vendetta and Ed Whiting’s 70s set Bigger Fish.
Freak Snow (Behemoth Comics)
Set in an arctic wilderness, Freak Snow introduces us to the world of Benny, a man who has drunk one too many ‘Smarg Blood cocktails’ (part 110 proof whiskey, part Smarg blood) and has only an 80s robot toy and a can of beer for company – oh, and he may or not have killed his wife and daughter. Kevin Roditeli and Rob Cannon’s comic is like a snow blinded, psychedelic freak out. It starts with an all action fight scene, but you soon begin to realise it is all just a fantasy within Benny’s mind. Freak Snow takes that classic concept of isolation in the arctic conditions and turns it up to 11. It’s a swirling vortex of a read, that disorientates and second guesses you at every turn. In part this is intentional as you question Benny’s sanity and mental state. But it is also as a result of Cannons chaotic artwork. On one level it has the energy and vitality to it which makes every page feel visceral and packed with creativity. It’s like a Gerald Scarfe cartoon mixed with a hint of Jock’s work in Snow Angels and a touch of Frank Miller in his more outrageous moments with Sin City. He layers textures and swirling patterns over each other to create a hypnotic and unique style that is perfect for the arctic location. But it can also go too far in places and make the story hard to follow and the characters blend into the background and each other. The story is told at such breakneck speed that you can’t help but be swept along for the journey, and while the style is a bit disorientating in place it has that raw energy and inventive spirit which we always prefer in an indie comic. Reminiscent of isolation horror books like Mountainhead or Road of Bones, this has the potential to be a really unique book, depending on the direction it heads and whether it goes completely freak out on us. Either way it’ll be interesting to find out.
Freak Snow #1 is available in-store May 26th. Pre-Order now from your local comic shop with the Previews Code MAR211143.
Jimmys Vendetta (Blue Fox Comics)
We often talk about how small press comics need to create something unique to stand out, and this new book from Blue Fox Comics definitely does that. With a hero who is a sort of undead zombie in a straw hat coming back for revenge it’s a bit like the Crow starring Raiden from Mortal Kombat and has a really strong set of character designs. Set in a futuristic Japanese City, the tone for this is definitely very sharp, and works really nicely to give the story a unique edge to it. However the story feels a bit jumbled and the twisty turning narrative of a gangster out for revenge gets a bit lost. It takes a while to really get an idea or who Jimmy (our undead hero) is and the beginning half of the book is taken up by a bit too much scenery chewing from mob boss Don Kronos instead of action or exposition. It’s a shame as the book feels packed with solid ideas. The synopsis on the back mentions a mix of demigods and mortals, but that doesn’t really come across, instead Kronos feels like a mix of the Kingpin and Jeff Bridges in Ironman. With artwork that reminded us of late 80s X-Men and early Wildstorm books by the likes of Whilce Portacio or Marc Silvestri, the style at least matches the tone of the story, and although not the most polished example of a crime revenge comic, the characters are larger than life and there is enough raw potential in here to have you coming back for more.
Jimmy’s Vendetta is coming soon to Kickstarter
Bigger Fish (Black Light Comics)
Set in 70s New York, Ed Whiting’s Bigger Fish is a slice of gritty, grind-house crime action. Packed full of corrupt cops, Mexican drug lords and down on their luck ex-cons, it checks just about every genre cliche but makes for a fun read all the same. Whiting is channelling his inner Scorsese and Tarantino for the story, while artists Hakan Aydin and J Francis Totti gives everything a slick and high energy sheen, full of blood-soaked gun fights and sleazy neon nightclubs. It’s definitely a loving homage to the genre, but as such it feels a bit of a paint by numbers at times. It certainly lacks the originality of crime books like the recent Cuddles or Write It In Blood, as the characters speak in cliches and the action is fairly predictable. The period setting also doesn’t always match up with the art style, and the character can feel a bit interchangeable, especially as they are visually very similar. We can’t help but think they could have done a lot more with the period setting to help make everything really stand out which feels like a missed opportunity. However as a first issue, it’s a fun read and if you like your crime comics violent and fast paced, then you’ll enjoy this. With the potential for more interesting stories down the line, this is a solid debut.