The Unthinkables (Unlikely Hero Studios)
With an ultra violent beginning which sees a bunch of superheros in space being murdered, the Unthinkables sets out it’s stall very early, as an adult all action superhero. What follows is a slick, albeit a bit jumbled, superhero origin story, that feels more like an issue #0 rather than and issue #1. It’s essentially a series of character introductions as we get to meet a rag tag bunch of characters, who may or may not, be heroes, and who are being brought together to take the place of the heroes who have been killed in space. There’s also some sinister villain types in the background, up to no good, but we never really get much of an idea of who is who or what they’re up to beyond a basic introduction. It has a real hint of Suicide Squad about it, mixed in with the tone of a Mark Millar book like The Ultimates or Authority – and with really slick and stylish artwork from Ian Richardson it has a bit of Bryan Hitch about it, which means that comparison continues. While not the most coherent of debuts, there is definitely enough here to pique your interest and bring you back for more. The writing and characters have an anarchic and edgy feel to them, they just need to have a bit of a purpose and direction. If that can be resolved in the subsequent issues then we could be looking at something really fun – especially if you are a fan of more adult superior series like Suicide Squad or Death Sentence. (And with a cover by the awesome Martin Simmonds, we couldn’t help but make that reference!)
Emulator (Alaire Racicot)
When a bunch of kids bunk off school to play video games, their world gets rocked when the villain from the game suddenly emerges into the real world when the game crashes. Cue a series of escapades as the villain attempts to cope with life in the real world and the kids attempt to put things right. While this concept of characters from fiction coming into the real world reminded us most of kids film Enchanted, due to the video game centric concept it felt much more like Ready Player One by the end. But with the kids banter and bickering reminding us of the Goonies or the brilliant 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank. It’s a great concept for a comic, and one which has the potential for a lot of fun. Although this first issue feels a bit fragmented with the key moment happening out of nowhere and not entirely making sense, because this is a book about video game characters coming to life, so we’ll give them a pass here as really it is all about setting up the concept. With slick artwork from Emiliana Pinna that has a very 90s Wildstorm style to it (reminiscent of Withcblade or The Darkness) and a really strong central premise, this has the potential to be a real break out series, once you start progressing through the levels towards the end game. This is one comic we really look forward to seeing progress to the next level.
The Gallows Man
We often mention how superhero comics need to do something to stand out from the crowd and this dark take on golden age capes definitely does just that. Brandon Ingram and Helen Boulton’s take on classic capes, is a darkly satirical take on the genre, and isn’t subtle about its approach. Our hero, Gallows Man, evokes memories of the Hood from Watchmen and his similarly gallows themed sidekick Nooseboy and pet Hangdog continue that theme. They are pitted against a bunch of Nazis in a very obvious case of good vs evil. Gallows Man is a curious mix of dark humour and over the top comic book silliness which makes for an odd, albeit enjoyable read. There are plenty of familiar comic book tropes, from the sidekick to the butler to the secret identity, and while it doesn’t say anything particularly new, it does at least feel unlike anything else around with it’s darker than dark sense of humour. While the tone of the art feels ‘all ages’ the content and characters are anything but, with a mix of jet black humour and the odd moments of extreme violence. With a story that feels like a series of moments or sketches, rather than a coherent arc, it leaps around from one idea to the other it’s difficult to see quite where it is heading. However as a satirical swipe at violence in comics and society it makes for an interesting and memorable read.