*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.
Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.
Dig If You Will an Image: Tough Worlds (Part 1)
After reading the first trade of the first comic listed below, I knew that whatever the topic was to be for this chapter, it had to include this amazing comic. So, I started thinking of all the possible categories and themes that could possibly encapsulate this book while not retreading any recent topics and leaving enough room to have, at the least, enough other titles for one post, and, at the most, open the door to having a follow up entry at some future date. After combing through my collection for a theme, it occurred to me that most of my comic book consumption over the past few years has leaned heavily on the Image Comics side of the spectrum. I then thought of my favorite Image titles and found that many of them focus on bleak, hopeless, harsh worlds where only the strong survive and sometimes even that is not enough to make it through. After that revelation, the Image titles came raining down, enough for a part one, a part two, and possibly a part three. To start off, I give you the mindblowing…
Game of Thrones, Mad Max: Fury Road, and mixed with the darker Studio Ghibli masterpieces—think Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Princess Mononoke—Extremity follows Thea of the Roto, said to be the greatest of artists until the day the Paznina arrive and brutally murder one of her family members and steals her greatest gift. Her heart filled with revenge, Thea gives herself over to her father’s thirst for revenge as her brother, Rollo, helplessly watches the artist he thought he knew slowly vanish. My goodness, Denizens, the imagery alone on this series has it all: floating plots of land, cool flying machines, strange creatures, intricate costuming, stunning character acting and drama, epically devastating battles, and an emotional weight that you absolutely do not want to shed. Matching the intensity of the visuals step for step is the powerful story. You can’t help but feel for the main characters, but just as you are ready to take up figurative arms alongside the Roto, Johnson unveils more details from the characters’ past and not everything is as black and white as previously believed. Yes, the Paznina’s actions are abhorrent—and extremely violent, to say the least—but there is a near-unbreakable cycle that drives all of the tribes, one that threatens to swallow Thea in its wake. Extremity is slated to be a 12-issue limited series, with the final, oversized issue coming out in the next week or two, and the final trade dropping in May; I will be there eagerly awaiting what is certain to be an amazing finale. This one took me by surprise, and I am already gearing up for a reread to see everything I missed. You simply must read this fantastic series.
Whenever I start to feel the crushing weight and despair of today’s toxic political and social climate, all I need to do is read the latest issue of Lazarus to really, really bring me down. Please understand that this is not a slight against the series, but rather high praise for the creators who seem to have predicted where we have been headed over the past four years ago. In Lazarus, the world is not divided by political or religious lines, but by economic ones with sixteen families laying claim to all. Members of each Family hold the highest power, those known as “Serfs” provide services in their Family’s name, while the “Waste” struggles to survive, ever hoping to lift themselves to “Serf” status. What makes the series unique is that each family has a protector known as a “Lazarus,” alone, nearly unstoppable being to terrify enemies, inspire Serfs, and met out their Family’s will. This series follows the Lazarus Forever Carlyle as she begins to gain thoughts of independence. Yes, this book is heavy. Yes, it usually leaves me with an increased level of anxiety. But, the levels of intrigue, the family machinations, Forever’s awakening, the handful of Waste who succeed in being lifted to Serf status, the subterfuge of Family members, and the slow steady glimpse into families outside of the family Carlyle all make this devastating-yet-powerful series a must-read comic. Soon to be an Amazon Prime exclusive television series, you can get ahead of the game with either the two available hardcovers or the five trades, and supplement that with Lazarus X+66 and the Lazarus: Sourcebook Collection. You might not be smiling as you read this series, but you’ll be glad you did.
Rick Remender. That’s pretty much all I need to say, right? Given the man’s phenomenal stable of books, that’s all I need to give a comic a shot, but holy moly, when you see Jerome Opeña’s stunning artwork with its intricately detailed backgrounds and masterful character designs and acting, you’d have to be crazy to pass up this rich fantasy adventure series. The story follows Adam Osidis, a man dying of a disease and trying to protect his family from the God of Whispers, who Adam calls the Mud King, a monster who has enslaved most of the kingdom of Zhal’s populace to his will. Adam joins with the remnants of a powerful sect of mystical knights to save the world by capturing the Mud King and destroying him once and for all. The Mud King, however, has something Adam might not be able to resist: a cure. Remender and Opeña have created an immense world complete with a lush history, rules of magic unlike anything I have ever seen, different races of beings, religious systems, strange alternate dimensions, and amazing heroes and villains. Only nine issues have come out over the past year and a half, but work of this caliber takes time and I am happy to wait just so long as more of this gorgeous series is on the horizon. Heck, maybe even a few side miniseries or prequels to expand upon this massive world would be a great way to ease the time, but for now, you have two beautiful trades to tide you over until the series picks up again in the next couple of months.
Disclaimer time: Only 10 issues of the main series have been published over the past three years and three months. Yeah, not very much, but there is also a supplemental five-issue series of side stories titled Bitch Planet: Triple Feature to tide you over until things pick back up again…whenever that may be. That said, Bitch Planet is very much worth your time and is sadly all too relevant given today’s terrible—and oftentimes misogynistic—political climate. The series embraces the look and feel of the ‘70s most notorious sexploitation films, especially the “girls in prison” genre while having a strong, feminist, pro-LGBTQ+ message. In Bitch Planet, most of the planet is ruled by a patriarchy that determines if women adhere to the rules they set forth. If a woman does not do what is expected, or fails to smile, or talks back, or eats too much, or does not dress appropriately, or does not maintain her looks, or or or…she can be shipped off-world to an inescapable prison men jokingly call “Bitch Planet.” Kamau takes the lead in an expansive roster of women imprisoned on all sorts of ridiculous “crimes,” and we quickly learn that Kamau wanted to be taken to Bitch Planet for a very particular reason. When the patriarchy gets the idea to involve the women in a televised sporting event to keep the masses content and to enrich themselves, Kamau sees other possibilities. The series is very well done and the story and art engaging, but Peter’s mostly flat colors with their occasional halftone dots set a tone of both despair and hope in this great, progressive comic. If you’re as sick of the old white men in charge as many of us are, if you stand by the #metoo movement, if you want to see changes in this corrupt world, then Bitch Planet is a book you need to be reading. Now, if only we could get some more issues…
Alright, I absolutely have to mention the leviathan in the room that is The Walking Dead. The world doesn’t get any tougher than in this series, and I don’t mean the zombies. Yes, the zombies are an ever-present threat, but the most terrifying aspect of this series is what becomes of what remains of humanity. Other people is the fear that haunts main characters such as Rick, Michonne, Carl, Maggie, Andrea, and the other main characters, and fear they should after so many of the supporting cast have died…horribly. To put it mildly, my wife almost made it to the fifty issue mark, but she had to tap out at around issue #45 because of how stressed out the comic made her—imagine how bad things would have been for her if she had made it to issue #46 and#47! Fans of the television show who have not delved into the comics really need to read the source material. It’s very different, there are new characters, there are characters killed on the show who are still around, and it is shockingly bleaker. It’s also been around for 178 issues and still going strong. You can jump in with the three compendiums, the hardcovers, or the regular ol’ trades.
I am still completely pumped about Extremity and also want to go back to Seven to Eternity in the near future, and that The Walking Dead reread I’ve been promising myself is also calling my name, so I’ll leave things here. Until next time.