THE WALKING DEAD: THE ALIEN
By Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin
The Panel Syndicate, 2016
A 31-page B&W comic set in the Walking Dead world. Vaughan and Martin get to do their own thing by setting the story in Barcelona, Martin’s home town. The zombie plague looks about the same in Spain as in the U.S. There’s a visiting American who gets rescued by a Spanish woman wearing medieval armor. He wants to return home to visit a sick family member, but didn’t get out before the quarantine. She wants to get to the U.S. because she has heard that a cure has been discovered. So she agrees to take him to a private airstrip in exchange for returning with him. To get there they have to commandeer a boat, and things go out of control, as they often do during the Apocalypse. Nice twist at the end, when the American’s identity is revealed. Effective use of a color accent there as well–red for blood–much like the splashes of color in Frank Miller’s Sin City series. Good stuff, and it’s available for download from The Panel Syndicate at the usual “name your price” terms.
The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 3: Commercial Suicide
Kieron Gillen/Jamie McKelvie/Matthew Wilson/Clayton Cowles & several guest artists
Image Comics, 2016
Ananke warns the gods to prepare for war–but she neglects to mention that she appears to be instigating it behind the scenes. Woden plays a large role in this arc, and it is also revealed that he functions as her lieutenant. Another goddess dies unexpectedly, the event responsible for the collection’s title. In addition to all the internal Pantheon politics, there’s also a lot of pre-god history. Interesting to learn more about the gods as people, odd though that sounds. Personal history definitely colors their behavior even after ascending to godhood. Regular artist Jamie McKelvie only illustrates one issue, with a different guest artist on each of the other five. All of them use their own styles, resulting in a diverse look. Somehow they all work, even Brandon Graham’s issue (his style is easily the least like McKelvie).
American Vampire Vol. 8
Scott Snyer, writer; Rafael Albuquerque, artist; Dave McCaig, colorist
Vertigo Comics, 2016
Vampires in space! That’s the surprising tagline for much of this arc. Most of the action takes place in 1965. But there’s also a lot of history about the Gray Trader and the evil he is an agent of. The original and oldest evil, for which Snyder creates a back story that goes back to antiquity. More recently, it is revealed that the Russian satellite program was created to monitor the Beast–if he is freed it will trigger nuclear annihilation. Very cleverly done, and in the end I found it best to not think about it too much, and just accept it all and get on with the story. The current action takes place on two fronts: a top-secret government stronghold called Area 51, and in orbit above the Earth. Both battles are exciting conflicts, full of surprises. The big story is incomplete, but the Good Guys appear to have won some victories. And Skinner Sweet may actually have become mortal! Lots to look forward to in the Third Cycle.
Lazarus Vol. 4: Poison
Greg Rucka, writer; Michael Lark, artist; Santi Arcas, colorist
Image Comics, 2016
The Lazarus battle that ended the previous collection broke the Bittner-Hock alliance, and Hock managed to deliver a deadly toxin to Family leader Malcolm Carlyle, leaving him in a coma. North America is in a state of conflict, with Hock attacks putting Carlyle on the defensive. Forever is sent to Duluth to try to break the Hock forces entrenched there, while a medical team desperately attempts to save Malcolm’s life. Exciting action on both fronts, with a bit of Carlyle family treachery on the side for spice. There is a real shocker about Forever in the final scene, promising very interesting future developments.