We left our intrepid explorers on the run at the end of the first volume, and they’re on the run through most of this one as well. They do stay on the same planet until the last panels, but there are two recurring alternate scenes. One is a flashback, the other takes place on one of the alternate realities. There are a number of character surprises in this collection. Kadir may be not such a bad guy; Nathan and Pia McKay are learning to be independent; and Grant McKay–the main scientist driving the project–may not be dead after all, at least in some realities.
Scalera really goes to town on the alien character designs. Early in the arc one of the characters asks “Is that horse a…fish?!” And that’s not the craziest thing. There are also telepathic millipedes, talking dinosaurs, flying hippos, and a truly bizarre bear/lizard/snail hybrid. I think this is the first arc where the phrase “black science” is actually used. The Pillar technology that drives the series has supporters and detractors. In the long run it may be that conflict that will drive the story.
An oversize trade paperback I picked up at HeroesCon in a bargain bin. It reproduces original pages from Battling Boy, as well as some conceptual sketches. Most of the art is pen and ink, so it’s a B&W book for the most part, although there are a few color pages. Pope talks about the influences on the story and his process in several short essays that appear every few pages. A real treat for this Pope fan. But I would have trouble justifying the $24.99 cover price.
The rest are from the Comixology Submit self-publishing service:
Snipe (by Katherine & Stuart Immonen) is a cool arty comic which they originally published as a limited-edition print comic. There are two stories, both about snipers (of a sort). The first is a wildlife photographer trying to photograph a hawk, but his previous night’s dreams keep surfacing. Lush, realistic illustration style, B&W with green tones.The second is about Simo Hayha, legendary Finnish sniper during the Winter War. It’s a text piece with illustrations (rather than a conventional cartoon), which uses lots of scientific diagrams with cartooning running along the bottom. Primarily B&W, with red highlights. I liked it a lot: an intriguing bit of experimental storytelling.
Andrew Jackson Throws a Punch: An Inaugural Brawl (by Andrea Tsurumi) features a long imaginary sequence at Jackson’s famous rowdy post-inaugural reception, where everyone was invited, and thousands came. Punches are indeed thrown. It’s followed by a few pages about Jackson as man and President, and the punch recipe used at the event. Fun stuff, much more hand-drawn, with an interesting orange and yellow color palette. Tsurumi uses the Guided View feature as part of the storytelling.
Leaving Megalopolis by Gail Simone (Author ) & Jim Calafiore (Illustrator) is a good Astro City-style take on superheroes. In fact it’s really a horror story that focuses on the regular citizens trying to survive in a city where the superheroes have all started murdering people instead of saving them. The title story is about 90 pages long. Then there’s a 13-page backup written & illustrated by Calafiore, followed by some prose pieces filling in story background and discussion of the character design. Very substantial bit of world-building here. I’m sure the team could tell many more stories set in Megalopolis.