Today’s post is the first from our newest blogger, Kelly, who works in the Customer Services department of Main Library. You’ll be reading Kelly’s take on life, the universe and everything at least once a month going forward. To learn more, visit the About Us page to read her bio.
Do you like comics?
If you answered yes, keep reading. If you answered no, keep reading.
Image Comics is an independent publisher of (primarily) creator-owned comic books and graphic novels. The writers and artists who put out books through Image each month don’t have to worry about pleasing any corporate bosses. They own their characters, and they can let those characters take them where they will. This leads to awesome stuff.
If you haven’t tried a comic book lately, or if you’ve been stuck in the same DC vs. Marvel superhero rut, try one of these excellent books from Image.
Saga, Volume I and Volume 2, Brian K. Vaughan.
No one thought it was possible for a native of Landfall and a native of Wreath to have a child together. No one imagined that individuals of the two species would want to. But Alana and Marko did, and now everyone in the galaxy wants them and their daughter either dead or captured.
In Saga, Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples haven’t just put a space opera spin on Romeo and Juliet. Vaughan deftly avoids every potential cliché by using wonderfully quirky details for both the world and its characters: robots with televisions for heads, the use of secrets as ingredients for spells, a cat that can detect lies. Staples uses bold lines and rich colors to make the world shine, and she adds her own details too (like adorable seal and walrus people).
What I love most about this series is how much diversity Vaughan and Staples work into the cast. Character skin tones run from light to dark. There are what we would consider traditional relationships, and then there’s one character’s relationship with an eight-legged spider woman. There are gay characters. There are ghosts, who are red instead of the tired blue or green. And there’s everything in between.
Fatale, Ed Brubaker. Book 1: Death Chases Me, Book 2: The Devil’s Business, Book 3: West of Hell.
In this aptly-named noir detective series, Nicolas Lash meets Josephine at his godfather’s funeral, and quickly realizes the story she spins about her grandmother being an old friend of the deceased doesn’t add up. She is the woman in the old photo she shows him. And she hasn’t aged.
Lash’s godfather and Josephine had some kind of connection to a weird cult/mafia group. Lash lets his curiosity get the best of him, and is drawn into a world of crooked cops, mobsters with monster heads, and Cthulhu-esque tentacles. Josephine and her supernatural power to enthrall men unsurprisingly sit at the center of everything.
Although Brubaker uses Lash (and sometimes other men that Josephine meets) as a frame for the narrative, they are also tools for exploring Josephine’s history and character. These men feel either an overwhelming need to kill or protect Josephine, but she proves that she’s capable of taking care of herself, without being the kind of leather-clad black-belt-super-markswoman-type character we see so much of these days.
Artist Sean Phillips uses dark shades and lots of shadow to create the noir horror effect. His panel layouts are simple and effective. I like that he doesn’t rely on gimmicks, just solid artwork. It helps ground the reader when Brubaker lets the plot get complicated.
Lazarus, Volume I: Family, Greg Rucka.
Forever Carlyle protects her family and its resources above all. And as the Carlyle Lazarus–a person genetically engineered to be an essentially un-killable and excellent fighter–Forever has little trouble fulfilling her duty.
The future Forever and her family inhabit is bleak. A few powerful families control all the resources, including food. Peace between the families is tentative, and when someone attacks the Carlyles’ seed storage facility, a war between Carlyle and Morray seems inevitable. But was it truly Morray who orchestrated the attack? As Forever investigates, she begins to question her job and discover some uncomfortable truths about herself.
Author Rucka’s writing zips the plot along, and Michael Lark’s artwork makes a bleak and scary future look gorgeous. I love that Rucka has thought of how this future would come about, and that it’s something that I could imagine happening. That makes the story feel real, and rather terrifying.