Welcome to another installment of I Did That Thing I Said I Wouldn’t And Fell Behind On My Pull List Again So Now I’m Looking At The New Comics Section On Comixology To Find Something Interesting That I Haven’t Already Ordered!… also known as Comicphiles.
A lot of what I’ve been reading recently has been fairly dark in tone or grounded in pseudo-realism. Even books I’ve been following that were initially quite light hearted seem to have taken a heavy turn during recent arcs. As such, I was hoping to find a little something on the bright, colourful and ridiculous end of the spectrum on the list this week. Curse Words delivers on all of the above in spades.
Right from the get go, Curse Words reminds me of early Rat Queens. It’s got a similar sort of vividly coloured fantasy art style, as well as a similar humorous tone. It’s a bit brusque without being what I’d properly label as ‘adult’. I suppose the big difference is that Curse Words, while it is centered on fantasy battles, isn’t set in a traditional fantasy world. It’s set in New York. Modern day New York.
The book follows Wizord, an actual, real-life wizard who sells his magical powers as a service from an office high above New York. Working alongside him is his press agent, Margaret. Margaret is a talking koala. No, wizards and talking koalas are not commonplace in this version of Earth. Wizord is one of a kind, or so we’re led to believe until another magic user shows up. From here we’re told the tale of how Wizord came to arrive on Earth and eventually grew to kinda like it.
If you’ve been looking for something that melds High Fantasy with Modern Fantasy, you won’t go far wrong with Curse Words.
The Kamandi Challenge
I’ve seen The Kamandi Challenge advertised so hard in other DC titles that I had to see what the fuss was all about when it came out. More of a concept project than a comic, The Kamandi Challenge is a combination of tow things: Kamandi, a comic series created by Jack Kirby, and DC Challenge. Originally, Kamandi, The Last Boy On Earth was a typical adventure comic that followed a boy surviving in a world that had been blown back to the stone age. DC Challenge was a project in the 80s which featured multiple creative teams, each taking on a single issue of a limited series round robin style. As such, it’s gonna be impossible to judge the quality of the project as a whole on any single issue, but hey, colour me intrigued.
Despite being a modern revival, The Kamandi Challenge clearly borrows heavily on its vintage roots. The team on this opening issue, Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt, have ditched the styles and tone I’m accustomed to seeing them use. Instead, they’ve opted for some slight updates on traditional vintage creative techniques, both in terms of art style and narrative delivery. In some ways, I was reminded of Alan Moore’s Tom Strong, something that felt both well-aged and fresh at the same time.
Rather than throwing us in at the deep end, The Kamandi Challenge gives us a speedy recap of Kamandi’s story so far. It opens on a regular, suburban setting with nice references to some industry creative giants, and ends in a world dominated by anthropomorphic animals. It’s all very Planet of the Apes, which makes perfect sense given that Kamandi was originally created when DC failed to get the rights to a Planet of the Apes book.
A great swashbuckling adventure story so far. I’ll be sticking with it to get a little light-hearted fix, as well as to see how the project turns out.
And from magic and adventure, I’m jumping right back into something dark and gritty. Still, as dark stories go, Southern Crime Fiction is pretty easy to absorb. Sure, it gets a bit violent, but at least it won’t punch me in the emotions. So, with that in mind, Loose Ends seems like the exact sort of thing I’m looking for, plus the creative team is made up of people I’ve enjoyed in the past.
One of the reasons I’m a sucker for Crime comics is the art. Almost universally, they make use of a hyper contrasting chiaroscuro and when that’s done well, with just a little artistic flare, I can usually tell the book is going to be a treat. Along with that, they tend to let the art tell more of the story than the average comic book. Loose Ends isn’t one to buck this trend, keeping the dialogue light bar a couple of conversations and letting a lot of the shorter statements blend into the background image. It’s not an effect I’m unfamiliar with, but it is nice to see it with this somewhat psychedelic colour scheme.
Loose Ends is aptly named in that the first issue sets up a lot of stories, hints at a lot of backgrounds, and gives only just enough connections between them all to keep me believing that there’s something coming to tie them all together. It’s a little rough around the edges and could do with some improvements on the pacing. I’d say these are things Latour should have ironed out by now, but, as I found out after reading it, Loose Ends is not a new work. An Afterword revealed that it was originally written early in his career and eventually released a few years ago under 12 Gauge Comics. It was kinda cool seeing some of the reflection on how the book turned out in the end.