Written and Drawn by Various
Published by Various

Reviewed by Marc Mason

Taking a look at three recent comics from three different publishers…

I’ve been enjoying LI’L DEPRESSED BOY (Image Comics) quite a bit, and issue five does a nice job of taking the character in an interesting direction. Writer Steven Struble and artist Sina Grace pick up where the last issue left off- with LDB discovering that Jazz has been playing him- and put him back in his proper, depressed funk. But the return of a friend who has been touring with his band sets our lead back on a proper path as the duo gather themselves for a road trip. The book continues to work well for a couple of reasons. One, LDB is an extremely relatable character- a good chunk of us have felt like him or been in his position before, and the creators keep it very emotionally real. Two, the book keeps it simple- it’s a book about music and heartache. No grand themes, no overreaching to make a statement. Every month this book has crept closer and closer to the top of the stack. A cover by CHEW’s Rob Guillory makes this package even sweeter.

Oni Press debuted SPONTANEOUS on Free Comic Book Day, but if you didn’t get one then, issues one (reprinting that offering) and two will be making their regular debut in San Diego this coming week. Writer Joe Harris and artist Brett Weldele present the story of Melvin Reyes, a seemingly normal kid in a seemingly normal town. But what Melvin knows and no one else suspects is that this city has an epidemic of spontaneous combustion going on. Now he is tracking the patterns and trying to identify future victims in order to stop it. When reporter Emily Durshmiller gets involved, though, Melvin begins to wonder if she will help him save lives or destroy his quest in her hopes of making a name for herself. The elements in SPONTANEOUS are thrilling- interesting conspiracy, good mystery, interesting characters- and the art by Weldele is note perfect (as with his work on SURROGATES, it’s hard to imagine the book done by anyone else). This has the look of a breakout hit.

I haven’t been very impressed with most of the recent output by Radical Comics lately but DAMAGED #1 is a step back in the right direction for the company. This is the first issue of their collaboration with Sam Worthington’s “Full Clip” imprint, and by bringing in writer David Lapham and artist Leonardo Manco, the company demonstrates just how seriously they’re working to make it a success. The story is clean and simple: Frank Lincoln- the toughest cop in San Francisco, the man that heads up their anti-organized crime taskforce, is being put out to pasture by the city government and replaced with a young idealist. But before Frank spends his last day on the job, he’s going to have to deal with two problems. Training his replacement? Easy enough. But the arrival of a vigilante who is murdering mobsters by the dozen? Considering that Frank is more than passing familiar with the identity of the shooter, that’s going to be a bit more problematic. Lapham is a pro at this kind of story, and his dialogue and pacing here are tasty, and Manco remains one of the best, most underrated artists in comics today. Recommended.


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