Back in my day, comic book columns were real, we had to fact check our opinions and tear through stacks of books to opine on not only the floppies themselves but the state of the industry.
Nowadays with your ComiXology and your new fangled iPads, it can be hard to find something eye-catching in the digital store, not matter what the price point. This week’s Triple Shot takes aim at three independent books from some well known creators, taking a stab at comics free from corporate oversight.
Blackhand Ironhead #1
By David López
Blackhand Ironhead is the latest from Panel Syndicate, a pay-what-you-think-it-is-worth digital comics publisher co-founded by Marcos Martín and Brian K. Vaughan. This book is written and drawn by the incredible David López (Catwoman, All-New Wolverine) and stars our hero Alexia and her superfamily in a post-superhero world. When her dad, superhero name Iron Head dies suddenly, the family business of maintaining a cadre of supervillian weapons in a museum falls to her. In this world, the super-powered are relegated to fighting in the cages, and superpowers ray-guns and weapons of world domination are in this museum.
What Alexia doesn’t know it that there is more of her family out there, and that a resurgence of the Old Way is knocking on her back door.
This book is funny, and builds on the kinds of stories most recently retold in Jupiter’s Legacy et. al. This is a superhero book with powers, set in a world familiar to us and using tropes of old Marvel and DC characters while establishing a new universe with funny, likable and human characters.
If this is David López’ first writing work, well done! I am on board for this series, paying a Marvel cover price of $3.99 as my donation. I figure that’s the right price as it continues to support the artists directly and the catalog at Panel Syndicate is accessible and growing.
by Michel Fiffe
Bergen Street Comics Press/ ComiXology
Admittedly, I’m a bit late to the game with Copra from Cuban-American artist Michele Fiffe (All-New Ultimates). The book is up to issue #29 now, with #1 being released all the way back in 2012.
This is a well-rounded superhero team book for the art school crowd, blending Kirby wackiness and mysterious cosmic heads with a boots on the ground ridiculous looking (in a good way) rag-tag group of heroes that reads more like a Hama G.I.Joe book than it does an Avengers book.
Although it’s an homage to John Ostrander’s legendary Suicide Squad run, I would say this book also has a lot in common with another G.I.Joe property, Tom Scioli’s Transformers vs. G.I. Joe meets X-Force?
Copra has plenty of action, bizarre costumes, a weird villain, a flying robot and team in-fighting to make me want more. The art style is uniquely Fiffe’s, and looks more like an indie book than a superhero book but don’t let that stop you. This is a cool new world to immerse yourself in.
Lucky for me, I have nearly 30 issues to get caught up with.
By Kathryn and Stuart Immonen
Kathryn Immonen & Stuart Immonen’s Snipe is a different type of comic altogether. Snipe includes two stories about snipers. On is a wildlife photographer, the other is the story of Finnish marksman Simo Häyhä, aka “White Death,” credited with 505 sniper kills.
Juxtaposing the photographer’s four-color non-violent story about finding birds to shoot with his camera in the modern day against the stark, graphic design layout story of “White Death” is something that can wash over you like a painting. The message doesn’t hit you immediately, it does what good art does and burrows in to your mind and seeps there for a bit. Simo’s story is told in black and white with red highlights, as he is fighting the Red Army in The Winter War. Random facts unrelated to the story are added for commentary. Stuart illustrates by mixing charts and symbols with the character work.
On a total lark, for this assignment I took a chance on Snipe and I’m glad I did. It is a very different kind of story than I am used to reading but one that may stay with me for a while. The Immonens created this book to explore the medium of comics, and I’m happy to say I think they have broken new ground, or at least left some fresh prints in the snow.