[Editor’s note, Chiclo brings us a report from San Diego Comic-Con 2010, from the depths of the Small Press Section]
San Diego 2010 was so awesome it practically numbed me. I spent most of Thursday in the small press area and ended up leaving San Diego with nearly a full short box of small press comics. Here are the top 5 picks from my short box of fun.
The Reconcilers – Viking Warrior
This is hands-down the best book I have read so far out of this group. I have one complaint about the whole thing – the action is a bit choppy with all the flashbacks. Neal Adams did the cover and I got him to autograph it. Reading it, I felt like I was reading a Defiant book. The book takes place around 2150. The main characters work for a small mining operation on the moon looking for a mineral called “Liberty Ore” that is an efficient power source.
One of the drillers on a hunch discovers the mother lode, enough to make all the employees of this company very wealthy men in a time when 5 years before food riots were a daily occurrence. The small mining company goes to great lengths to keep this discovery secret but one of the largest companies in the world that used to sub-contract with this smaller company finds out and stakes a rival claim. At this point in the future, civil litigation between companies has been replaced by quasi-religious trial by combat that is televised globally (called Reconciliation).
This would be the first time a small company (called a “wildcatter”) had taken on a Halliburton-type company like this. The large company has a team of professional killers specifically for these trial by combat procedures and the wildcatter company doesn’t have any such group so they get a group of volunteers from the company to fight. One of the guys that works for the wildcatter company was an undefeated champion in this kind of gladitorial combat until the wildcatter company saved him from that life. Will he be enough to win?
5 entertainmos out of 5. Maybe even 5.5 by small press standards.
Starmaker Leviathan: Book One – Dare Comics
I saw this in Previews a few months ago and was curious about it. This is going to be big in scope. The main character is an artifact hunter with significant resources. He is searching for a collar from the Hellenistic story of Atlas which is in the possession of a secret cabal with significant mystical and worldly resources too.
I don’t really know how to describe all this other than big. I think it’s so big that you can’t appreciate it all in just the first part. It is going to be a series of 3 or 4 TPBs.
3.5 entertainmos. Hopefully subsequent issues will strengthen the first.
Lazarus: Immortal Coils (1 to 4) – 10 Worlds Studio
This is the second best of the batch I have read so far. The story follows Biblical Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead. The catch is, when Lazarus was raised from the dead, he became immortal AND when Jesus brought him back from Hell some demons came back with him and possess human hosts.
Lazarus is fighting a war with these demons and is a bad-ass demon hunter. Like any story featuring a two millennium old main character, this story does feature a few flashbacks. I don’t like that they wrote Pontius Pilate as one of the first hosts of these demons since that is inconsistent with what I understand of Pilate but it did make for a convenient plot device.
Lazarus was written as a childhood friend of Jesus and calls him “Yeshwa” and Jesus blessed him with eternal life. There is an interesting comparison with another character, Ahasverus. He was a jew and servant of Pilate. He came to Jesus when he was captured and wanted to join Jesus’ army. Jesus told him he didn’t understand why He was there and Ahasverus was so enraged that he was on the front of the crowd when Jesus was carrying the cross down the road and Ahasverus beat Jesus savagely. Jesus cursed him to walk the earth until He returns Ahasverus has more resources than Lazarus in the modern day but he is still the servant of the same demon he was 2000 years ago.
I hope there’s a sequel to this. I want more.
5 entertainmos out of 5.
Gumby’s Gang Starring Pokey – Gumby Comics
In the last few years, Wild Card Ink has produced a handful of FCBD Gumby books, a 3 or 4 issue mini-series (complete with a variant of #2) and a TPB collecting that mini-series. If you haven’t had the chance to read these comics, they are bizarre.
This seems to be the continuation of those comics and I think they have dropped the Wild Card Ink name in favor of Gumby Comics. In this issue, Gumby and Pokey visit professor Kapp. The Professor says he is working the bugs out of a time machine and shows it to Pokey and Gumby and promptly leaves the room. Pokey ends up accidentally wearing and triggering an enchanted amulet that powers the time machine and wanders through several major events in history.
The main protagonist is Billy the Kid who Pokey ultimately maroons at Troy during the incident with the Trojan Horse. Billy the Kid was not used as well in this issue as some of the other real-life figures that have appeared in the Gumby comics, especially Johnny Cash.
I think they said that subsequent books in this mini-series will focus on different Gumby characters like the Blockheads. Still, a fun, family-friendly read but Gumby does lose a lot of its charm without the (still very much alive, it turns out) Bob Burden.
3 entertainmos out of 5.
The Descendants v1 TPB and Giant-Size 1 – Pen 2 Paper Entertainment
This is definitely a case where you can see the art improving as time goes by. I picked up the first issue the last time I went to SDCC and the art was rough but the story was compelling. You can definitely see the art improve with each issue.
The story pivots around two characters, Charlie and Jessie. They have a relationship similar to Gilad and the Geomancer. Charlie, though not immortal, is the Protector, a very capable combatant and powerful untrained spellcaster. Jessie is a direct descendant of Jesus Christ and Charlie is charged with her protection.
At first, Charlie is a mercenary specializing in the occult and totally unaware of this obligation until he is recruited by the Knights Templar to help them confront a rival organization called the Cross, headed by a mysterious figure named Blaine. Charlie undergoes a very organic transformation and ultimately comes through, stopping the Cross’ plot to re-open and enter the Garden of Eden.
The Giant-Size issue features perennial indy comic favourite Lazarus. You can tell that Joey Andrade, series creator, is a comic fan first. The foreward for the TPB was written by Ray Park who played Charlie in a trailer for the comic.
4 out of 5 entertainmos.