NEW INDIES

NEW INDIES
Written and Drawn by Joey Weiser
Written and Drawn by Dan Mendoza

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Couple of things to recently cross my desk…

MERMIN #4 (Tragic Planet) continues Joey Weiser’s excellent series of minicomics, this time around upping the action quotient a bit. When last we left the book, one of Mermin’s human friends, a boy named Pete, had been captured by some nasty characters from Mermin’s below-the-waves home in an attempt to force him to go home. Now Mermin must save Pete and somehow prevent himself from being captured and dragged below. What makes MERMIN work is how well it combines its ingredients- Weiser’s story is fun, his art it wonderful, and the characters are just fun to read about. There’s nothing deep or groundbreaking about this book, it’s just good comics. We could use a dozen more just like it.

Just when you thought the zombie craze had reached its zenith comes ZOMBIE TRAMP (Super Real Graphics), a book that I think wants to be a satire but doesn’t quite get there. Hollywood’s most popular call girl gets chomped by a zombie but maintains some semblance of herself, sending her on a quest for revenge against the people that led her to her doom. Along the way she gets involved in a bizarre plot involving a voodoo priestess, a corrupt sheriff, and other strange characters (many of whom are undead). Rather than satire, this is more of a straight-up exploitation flick, though it shies away from full nudity for some reason. You’ve got R-rated gore going on, what difference are T&A going to make? Mendoza’s heart is in the right place, and his story does a decent job of working within the genre, but he never really takes that final step and embraces what he really has here. This book has one of the best titles of the entire year. I just wish it had a bit more courage of its convictions.

SUPER REAL

SUPER REAL
Written and Drawn by Jason Martin
Published by Super Real Graphics

Reviewed by Marc Mason

You’d recognize them immediately, as our airwaves are currently infested by them: vacuous 20-somethings looking for fame at any cost. They have no talent. They have no intellect. They have no moral compass. All they have is the drive to make themselves known and to make some bucks along the way. Thus, Jason Martin’s SUPER REAL, which started out as a parody back when the issues first began shipping four or so years ago, now looks like an oracle instead.

This being comics, though, Martin’s cast of characters have entered the reality TV arena in order to received super-powered enhancements along with fame and cash. Strength, adrenaline, hearing, vision… human attributes taken to the extreme are given to these five, but the question isn’t whether or not they’ll use their powers for good… the question is really whether or not they’ll be sober enough or clever enough, or stop fucking long enough to use them for anything at all.

Jason Martin, you see, weeps not only for the future, but also for the present.

I’ve been following this book since Martin produced his first preview issue and was selling it at San Diego, and it’s been interesting to see how it has evolved. At times, I felt like the parody aspect was completely overwhelming telling the story, and at other times I was more concerned about the digressions the plot was going through as Martin did a couple of special issues meant to build interest in the book. But overall, the one thing that always worked was Martin’s commitment to the work. His art, very rough in the beginning, smoothed out. The writing got a little more clever. And he stuck with it. In an era where Diamond minimums are dictating what comic shops can carry, and not quality, Martin busted his hump to reach a finish line and do it his way. That is something I can applaud.

Is SUPER REAL perfect? No. Does it have a transcendent moment? Nope on that one, too. What it does do, though, is entertain. It asks you to sit down, relax, shut out the lunacy of everyday life, and have a good time along with its creator. Over the last few years, and during the reading of this collected edition, that’s precisely what I did.

WOLVES OF ODIN

WOLVES OF ODIN
Written and Drawn by Grant Gould
Published by
Super Real Graphics

The ways of the old gods are fading, and worshippers are choosing a new way of worship: Christianity. But Odin, head of the Norse pantheon isn’t taking this affront to his divinity lightly. Instead, he has chosen three men to imbue with terrible powers, powers that turn them into unstoppable werewolves with a taste for killing unrivaled by even the most berserker warrior. Now, Odin’s eldest son Thor must work with an earthbound witch to transform the viking Tyr into a warrior capable of facing off against and defeating the beasts of the gods, accepting his destiny.

Simply put, WOLVES OF ODIN boils down to “vikings versus werewolves” and if that bit of high concept hits your sweet spot, then this is a book you’re going to want to check out. Gould has made his name working for Lucasfilm on the online version of STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS, but he makes a surprisingly gentle transition to the world of sequential art. His story is simple and moves along at a brisk pace, his concept is strong, and he keeps the cast small and manageable, making it something of an intimate action thriller.

Towards the end, he does lose his grip on the storytelling in a couple of the spots, as it gets a bit difficult to figure out what’s going on in the fights. But overall, this is a solid debut. And Gould shows he’s learned from his boss, leaving plenty of room open for a sequel.

Marc Mason