Plainer Jane #1(Broken Face Comics)
While this might sound like a lost story from Tammy or Jinty it’s anything but. Plainer Jane is not your average school girl, she is actually a dark web assassin who kills for cash. This debut issue from Broken Face Comics follows her origins from confused young girl who kills a bird for her peers approval, to something much more sinister. It’s a really compelling and well-crafted first issue that really plays upon middle class fears about what your children get up to online and what happens if they just don’t fit in. There are shades of Hit Girl in the dark secret she keeps, but it is much more grounded in its approach and so feels a lot more ‘kitchen sink’ than Mark Millar’s teen tearaway. Visually it’s quite rough around the edges, but that is a style which suits the story. The artwork has a very classic Brit comics feel to it, feeling almost hand drawn in places, with only a few splatters of red for emphasis. Overall it’s a strong debut with bags of potential for it to become something really interesting.
If you could imagine an LGBT Fight Club mixed with the gangs and romance of West Side Story then you’ll get somewhere close to 20 Fists. Star crossed lovers Rei and Chel are members of rival fight crews, but unlike Romeo and Juliet this is not doomed love story, rather it’s a relationship which becomes toxic as the two attempt to balance their loyalties. 20 Fists is one of those stories which can only really exist in a work of fiction While it feels realistic it has these strange rules that govern the characters lives yet don’t feel like they come from the real world – yet make complete sense for this one, and really drive the story forward. As such 20 Fists is constantly treading that line between realism and improbability and feels very reminiscent of the way Fight Club skirts from realism to dark surrealism at a moment’s notice. The story is a bit of a slow burner but the relationship is compelling and very raw. Artist Kat Baumann does a great job building the characters, and delivers some hard hitting action scenes that are just the right side of sensationalism, feeling hard hitting but without feeling glamorous and showy. (Although some elements where they borrow video game elements reminded us of Scott Pilgrim – which further the added to the surreal-ness of it all). Overall, 20 Fists is a bit of a curates egg of a comic. A unique and very contemporary concept for a comic which, while it doesn’t always quite land its punches, still leaves you emotionally battered and bruised by the end.
This is less of a comic and more an extended preview but it is of such high quality we felt we had to write about it. Oathbound’s writer Luke Horsman brings us a story of epic Norse mythology, with Odin and Loki on a mission to find Odin’s eye at the base of the world tree. While we don’t get much story in this preview, we do get a lot of scene setting and because Horsman is doing art as well as words, it allows him to really make both flourish. The artwork is just incredible and it has a complexity and intricacy to every pages which makes the whole thing feel very intense. It has a slightly Hellboy vibe to the whole thing (which may just be the talking head scenes) yet it has the kind of serious Nordic background of a Walt Simonson Thor, as well as reminding us of the excellent Eternal from Ryan K Lindsay and Eric Zawadski. While it would be easy to make comparisons to Marvel’s hammer wielding Avenger, it’s a much more serious and adult attempt at telling Norse myths and although it feels quite bombastic with the tone and art (although not quite managing to hit Knights vs Pirates level!) it is more of a historical horror story than a pulpy adventure. Oathbound is a book that oozes with raw potential and you can take our word for it, this book could be as epic as it’s subject matter if it can sustain the quality of this preview.