Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Image Comics
Reviewed by Marc Mason
Posting one final review here in 2014. It was an interesting year for comics, and a solid chunk of the really good ones continued to flow out of the Image offices. Let’s talk about four more you should think about buying.
I adored the simple setup of PENNY DORA AND THE WISHING BOX #1-2. A young girl, living alone with her mom, opens the front door one day to find a package on the stoop. Inside is an old box and no indication of where it came from. Later, when she inadvertently knocks the box open and a dim light emerges, along with a creepy voice that asks “What do you wish for?” Needless to say, if you make a wish upon the box, it will come true… even if you are the family cat.
Writer Michael Stock does a nice job of balancing the various aspects of the story. It’s about a lonely girl and her adolescent struggles, but there is also the underlying element of horror in the mixture. Penny comes across as a fully developed character, one we can empathize with and care about, and her dialogue is natural and easy. Stock is also helped enormously by Sina Grace’s art. This is another interesting stylistic turn from Grace. This work looks wildly different than his stuff in LDB and BURN THE ORPHANGE – he’s proving to be a wonderfully adaptable talent. Everything about PENNY is charming and entertaining, and it is fun for all ages. Recommended.
The best way I can describe THE HUMANS #1-2 by writer Keenan Marshall Keller and artist Tom Neely is “Sons of Anarchy taking place on the Planet of the Apes.” And honestly, if that description doesn’t make you want to read the book, then nothing will. The Humans are a motorcycle gang on this simian-based world, with rival gangs, friends lost to foreign wars, you name it. All the trouble you’d expect here on Earth. Honestly, story-wise, nothing came across as a grand surprise or in revelatory fashion, but I enjoyed the book for what it is. Neely’s art looks like 70s Paul Gulacy work, the colors are glorious, and… well, it’s a motorcycle gang of apes. That was cool enough for me.
THEY’RE NOT LIKE US #1 packs a metric ton of exposition into its pages, yet it never feels forced or heavy-handed. We open on a young woman about to jump off of a building and commit suicide, and from there writer Eric Stephenson stands on the gas, driving us straight into pure setup. Without spoiling, I’ll just say that the girl has an extranormal power, and she turns out to not be the only one. Which is good. But there are complications as she learns about her place in the new world being offered to her, and those complications could be very, very bad. Artist Simon Gane does a fantastic job of illustrating this rather complex bit of world-building, but at the end, you’re left with a deep sense of intrigue and a taste for more. A well-executed piece of work.
The anticipation for BITCH PLANET #1 has been huge ever since it was announced, and writer Kelly Sue DeConnick absolutely delivers with a story that sucks you in and entertains at maximum level. On the surface, the book would seem to be a fresh entry in the lurid “women in chains” genre, and sure – we’re playing in that milieu here. But DeConnick is also satirizing modern patriarchal culture, using the book to make a massive feminist statement with her characters and their refusal to conform to what is required of them by their incarceration (they get labeled “non-compliant” which is a fantastic statement in and of itself). Throw in elements of our worship of reality television and you get a bold vision that absolutely is not afraid to get in your face. Gorgeously drawn by Valentine De Landro, who makes the nudity unexceptional and the violence terrifying, this book is likely one that will be a contender at awards time next year. This is smart comics.