30 Character Showcase #20: Suzie

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

20. SUZIE

SexCriminalsSuzieCreated by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

For evidence of the positive impact new characters can have on the comics landscape, one need look no further than the letters page of Sex Criminals #2.  In the reactions to the first issue of writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky’s stellar new series, we read the same testimonial over and over: that the story of Suzie’s sexual awakening was a breath of fresh air for so many female readers, that it resonated with so many of their own experiences, that female teenage sexuality is so rarely explored in comics, or indeed any medium of entertainment.

In the first issue of Sex Criminals, we get the tale of Suzie, as told to us by Suzie herself.  The whole idea of Suzie stepping out of the world of the comic to break the 4th wall and talk directly to us adds a sense of intimacy between reader and character, making her feel more fully-realised and helping her personality shine through all the more.  Through Suzie’s account, we learn about her very unusual gift: the ability to stop time when she orgasms.

Of course, in the flashforward at the beginning (and in the title) we see that Suzie gets involved in a scheme to use this most strange of superpowers to rob a bank, but the book is about so much more than the high concept.  Through that hook, we get insight into all the awkwardness and embarrassment Suzie feels in her formative years, unable to fully grasp the changes going on in her body and lacking any reliable source of information to turn to for guidance.  In one particular high-point in this first issue, the most “sexually experienced” girl in her year at high school shares a series of increasingly ridiculous scribblings on a bathroom stall depicting the sexual positions she must master.

Suzie’s experiences are mostly hilarious, but at times they’re also touching and even a little heartbreaking.  She feels like a very human character, and from the first issue we’re firmly invested in where the narrative will take her.  Issue #2 would require a filling in of the secon half of the equation… but we’ll get to that tomorrow!

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30 Character Showcase #19: Elliseye

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

19. ELLISEYE

DungeonFun5Created by Colin Bell and Neil Slorance

Yep, it’s Dungeon Fun again!  This will be a brief entry, as what else can I say to gush about this excellent new comic from Colin Bell and Neil Slorance? This is a book filled to the brim with charming characters, including yesterday’s spotlighted character, heroine Fun Mudlifter.  But perhaps the biggest scene-stealer of all in a comic full of them is Elliseye, the aged wise-man  and de facto community leader of Fun’s pit home.

The thing is, he may he aged, but he might not be quite so wise as everyone believes him to be, in a hilarious undercutting of this particular fantasy archetype.  The whole sequence with him revealing his “prophecy” to Fun provides one of the biggest laughs of the issue.  I just imagined him talking in the voice of Billy Crystal’s Miracle Mike from The Princess Bride.  But just when you’re ready to write Elliseye off as a total buffoon, he surprises us with an act of touching heroism.  He might be another example of a “single service character,” we’ll see, but his appearance here was one of the highlights of this stellar first issue.

Dungeon Fun has now launched, with a launch party set for Plan B Books on Wednesday night.  If you trust my opinion in comics now, please check this book out, as it’s just a joy to read.

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30 Character Showcase #18: Fun Mudlifter

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

18. FUN MUDLIFTER

DungeonFun3Created by Colin Bell and Neil Slorance

I feel like people must be getting sick of me raving about Dungeon Fun by now, but trust me, it’s worth every word of praise!  If you want to see me gushing about the virtues of the comic as a whole, please refer to the previous post in this very blog, where I talk a bit about its presence at the fast-approaching Thought Bubble.  But here, I want to focus on the particular charms of its heroine and (believe it or not) title character.

Neil Slorance gives Fun an immediately arresting design.  That front cover, with the little girl clutching the massive sword she can barely carry, instantly marks her out as an interesting figure.  Then you open the comic and see how Slorance can tug at the heart-strings, giving us a quietly moving account of her being raised by adoptive goblin parents who then died of old age, leaving her twice-orphaned.  And then Colin Bell steps in to imbue Fun with a lively personality and spark-plug wit, always ready with a pithy putdown and a clever comeback.  She gets to prove her mettle as an adventurer in this first issue, and emerges as an instantly likeable protagonist.  Now, when can I get a Fun Mudlifter soft toy?

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Thought Bubble: A Rundown of Royal Armouries Hall, Table 2

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This coming weekend, I’ll be down in Leeds for Thought Bubble, one of the biggest and best comic conventions in the UK.  There are all kinds of guests and debuts at the show I know I’m excited about as a fan of comics.  But for the rest of you attending the show, here is a handy guide to all the great comics that will be available from my table: Table 2 in Royal Armouries Hall…

ThoughtBubbleFloorPlan2013See us on the right there, just near the entrance?  You can’t miss us!  Anyway, if you stop by Table 2, here’s what you’ll find:

AND THEN EMILY WAS GONE

The critically-acclaimed, award-nominated horror mystery series made a big splash back at Glasgow Comic Con with the debut of its first issue.  Since then, it has continued to pick up momentum, with us selling out of our first print run, then taking the comic across the Atlantic where it did very well at New York Comic Con.  Written by me and drawn by Iain Laurie, And Then Emily Was Gone tells the story of Greg Hellinger, a former cop plagued with visions of monsters and horrific apparitions, and stuck in a miserable life of solitude, until one night he’s visited by a teenage girl called Fiona.  Having learned of his reputation for solving the most impossible of missing persons cases, Fiona recruits him to help her find her missing best friend, Emily.  Their search takes them to the Orkneys, and the remote island community of Merksay, where strange and terrifying things are happening.  As well as bringing the first issue to Thought Bubble, we’ll also be debuting the eagerly-anticipated issue #2!  Also, artist Iain Laurie will be in attendance at the show, so if you want to commission a sketch from the master of macabre, stop by the table sharpish to reserve one!

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BAD SUN

Written by me and drawn by Chris Connelly, Bad Sun is a sci-fi thriller set in a future Glasgow, 30 years after an alien race called the Tchairabun has migrated to Earth.  It tells the story of Lenniidasz Cowan, the first Tchairabun police officer to be promoted to Detective Inspector, who is placed in charge of a new department tasked with overseeing human/Tchairabun relations in Glasgow.  But as an extremist Tchairabun terrorist group emerges, Lenniidasz is torn between this external threat and the prejudices of his human colleagues.  With its Glasgow setting and political subtext, Bad Sun has enjoyed quite a bit of press here in Scotland, getting featured in several Glasgow newspaper articles, and enjoying strong reviews.  Thought Bubble marks the first time Bad Sun #1 will be available outside of Scotland, and artist Chris Connelly will also be in attendance, taking sketch requests.

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BLACK LEAF

Long in development as a graphic novel, artist Garry McLaughlin and I decided to release a special preview edition collecting the first 24 pages of the story as a special convention exclusive for MCM Expo Scotland a couple of months back.  It went down a treat, and ended up being my biggest seller of the day.  Now I only have a limited supply left, and am bringing them down to Thought Bubble.  It’s about a boy who travels to the Scottish Highlands to care for his ailing grandfather, only to encounter ancient magical forces lurking within the local woods.  If you’re interested, get your copy from our table… while stocks last!

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THE STANDARD

The comic that started it all for me, my trademark book, available in comic shops worldwide and on ComiXology.  Hailed by critics and winner of a SICBA award in 2012, The Standard is the story of a superhero mantle spanning two generations, and an examination of the way the world – and its view of what makes a hero – has changed across generations.  Can the old, optimistic ideals of The Standard still be relevant today?  Four issues of the 6-issue miniseries – written by me and drawn by Jonathan Rector – are now available, but remaining stocks are extremely limited.  If you want to get caught up on the series, you’ll have to get to Table 2 quick, as the remaining stock will go fast!

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But it’s not just my comics that will be available from Table 2…

EXIT GENERATION

Sam Read is a good friend of mine.  Some of my best memories of my 2012 England cons – Kapow and Thought Bubble – were of hanging out with Sam, and hearing all his incredible story ideas.  One such idea was for this comic, known in its current incarnation as Exit Generation.  The irresistable premise sees the world faced with a crisis of over-population, and so the vast majority of the population – the world’s best and brightest – set out in massive space armadas to discover a bright new future outwith our galaxy.  But then our story doesn’t follow them, but instead sticks with those left behind on a now nearly-empty world.  Having honed his skill in various anthology shorts, Sam brings his considerable writing talent to his first full-length published comic, and this first issue does a great job of setting up this world and introducing us to some well-realised characters.  On art duties is Caio Oliveira, who I became a fan of with his skillful work in Gordon McLean’s award-winning supehero deconstruction No More Heroes.  Here, Oliveira’s work has grown even more refined, resulting in one of the most polished, professional-looking small press titles you’ll find at Thought Bubble this year.  I told Sam a year ago that I looked forward to tabling with him in 2013, and that has come to pass!

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MASTER TAPE

Watch out for the name Harry French.  He started frequenting meetings for the Glasgow League of Writers earlier this year, and instantly started making waves amongst our little creator collective with his masterful scripts.  With an impeccable sense of pacing and an ear for slick, natural dialogue, he’s one of the standouts in a group brimming with emerging talent.  Master Tape marks his debut comic, drawn by Amaru Ortiz Martinez, and gives us a glimpse into a future-world where the music industry is dying a death, as the world’s youth heads off-world to enjoy the music of the cosmos rather than deal with humdrum Earth bands.  Desperate and on the brink of extinction – quite literally, as it happens! – fading music producer Leo O’Brien resorts to bold and desperate measures to revive his sinking label.  This is such a skillfully plotted book, and perhaps the most impressive thing of all is that I’ve read the scripts for the projects Harry has lined up for after this, and they’re even better!  Harry will be at our table selling and signing.  Get his autograph: in a couple of years, it’ll be worth something!

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DUNGEON FUN

In my humble opinon, this could be THE must-buy book for the whole of Thought Bubble.  At the very least, it’s a tie with Garry Mac’s Gonzo Cosmic, available over in New Dock Hall.  Written by Colin Bell, writer of Detective SpaceCat and letterer of EVERY COMIC IN SCOTLAND, and seeing him pair up with his Jonbot VS Martha artistic collaborator Neil Slorance, Dungeon Fun is a hilarious, all-ages fantasy adventure laced with a Princess Bride style knowing wit.  It’s about a human girl who has lived in a troll pit her whole life, and who decides she’s sick and tired of dealing with the dregs from the world above getting thrown into her home.  So she’s going off on a mission to complain about it… even if she has to navigate a dungeon labyrinth and do battle with three-headed monsters along the way!  Bell’s script is packed with zingers and epic punnery, setting up a story filled with memorable characters.  And you all know I love the art of Neil Slorance.  He gets better all the time, and this could represent a new high for him.  But he manages to maintain that perfect balance of adorable cutesiness and surprising moments of heart and poignancy.  Colin will be signing at the table, and Neil Slorance has a table of his own over at New Dock Hall.  Really, I can’t recommend this book enough.  I’ve said it so many times now, but it is one of the best issue #1s of the year, from any publisher.  Pick it up!

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And that’s the rundown!  Really, you’re spoiled for choice, with a diverse range of cracking comics to choose from.  Stop by our table and grab them all!  Table 2!  Royal Armouries Hall!  Thought Bubble!  November 22nd-23rd!  BE THERE!

30 Character Showcase #17: Jackson T. Winters

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

17. JACKSON T. WINTERS

GhostedWinters2

Created by Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka

Ghosted has been one of the many great new Image titles to debut this year, and one of the things that makes it so good is how, as both a heist caper and a horror story, it manages to succeed, staying true each genre’s respective conventions.  And the key to striking that delicate balance just right is our protagonist, Jackson T. Winters.  Horror usually works best by putting its characters in situations they can’t control, and letting us watch them become increasingly helpless against whatever monstrous threat they’re faced with.  But with Winters, Joshua Williamson and Goran Sudzuka give us a central figure who, like all the best heist story frontmen, is relentlessly prepared, who knows all the angles, and is one step ahead of not just his antagonists, but of us, his audience.  So even as the first arc of Ghosted got increasingly nightmarish, Winters was there to punctuate the chills with some badass thrills.

Not that Jackson is just a one-note cool cat.  Williamson has gifted him with a shady past that we’ve been getting in flashes and chunks of dialogue peppered here and there.  At the beginning of the story, he’s in prison.  Before that, it seems that he was in a job gone VERY bad: a heist of a casino built on an ancient Indian burial ground.  Apparently he was the only person left alive, and he was forced to kill his crew.  But even after that revelation, we get a sense there’s more of that story left to tell, some cards Winters continues to keep close to his chest.

Of course, with a heist you need a team, and over the course of the first couple of issues Jackson built around himself a team of diverse, interesting players, a couple of whom may yet pop up in this list down the line.  But the driving force of it all is Winters himself, and as Ghosted enters its second arc, it appears he is the throughline even as the other characters have been killed off or gone off on their own path.  It remains to be seen if he’ll get the team back together.

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30 Character Showcase #16: Joe

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

16. JOE

StrangeNation1aCreated by Paul Allor and Juan Romera

Showing up in the first issue of new MonkeyBrain series Strange Nation, Joe is a stirring example of what I like to refer to as a “single service character.”  Namely, someone who serves a particular purpose in a single issue of a larger story, before being set aside once he’s served that purpose and allowed the more enduring characters to progress forward in the narrative.  These often tend to be disposable, forgettable figures, but when they’re done well, they feel like they have rich lives and full personalities of their own that we just don’t happen to be exploring in this specific story, and once they’re gone we’re left wanting more of them.

In the case of Joe, the gut-punch is that we don’t know he’s a single service character until the issue’s end.  Up until that point, he’s a fascinating figure, one he imagine must surely be set to play a bigger role in the story.  His backstory is hazy, but it seems like he began as a gorilla, before having his head grafted onto a human body, and somehow gaining human intelligence and the ability of speech.  He’s been a victim of endless experimentation for his whole remembered life, and doesn’t dare take the opportunity for freedom when presented to him because his relatively comfortable cage is the only life he knows.  When he endangers himself to save the protagonist of the story, we imagine he’ll come back into play later on.  But instead, he is ruthlessly killed off, and it’s the kind of poignant, bittersweet moment Allor and Romera have both respectively executed so well in past projects.

Joe was the standout character for me in Strange Nation #1.  With him gone, it’ll be interesting to see how the rest of the ensemble rise up to establish themselves.  Because if a single service character with just a few pages of existence to his name can feel so fully-realised, given a few issues I’m sure the rest of the cast will flourish.

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30 Character Showcase #15: D4VE

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

15. D4VE

D4VE1

Created by Ryan Ferrier and Valentin Ramon

D4VE is a new MonkeyBrain comic debuting next week.  I read an advance copy, and recently wrote a review for it.  It’s an incredibly strong debut, and the dominant force in this first issue is our title character, D4VE.  Ferrier gives us a fully-realised character, incredibly relatable, who ironically enough feels like one of the most recognisably human comic protagonists of the past year, given that he’s a robot.  Once, he was a world-saving hero, but now he’s an office drone, beaten down by a bullying boss, a nagging wife and a son he can’t relate to.  It all feels like a bit of a parable for how a creative personality can be worn down by the mundane realities of life, which strikes a chord for a starving writer such as myself!

In a wider sense, Ferrier seems to have a few interesting things to say about the human condition, using non-humans to illustrate his point.  This robot master race that conquers Earth, then the cosmos, ultimately chooses to settle into mediocrity and the mundane, blind consumerism, because they feel it is expected of them, because it’s what humans would do.  There’s this real poignancy in the imagery of the robots – formerly warriors, or explorers – shuffling down the unemployment line looking to be assigned a cushy office gig, or sitting across the breakfast table with a bride they have nothing in common with, doing all this stuff that crushes them just because it’s what is done.  It feels like a really bleak Charlie Brooker style commentary on empty consumerism and our ultimately unfulfilling lives.

Of course, a big part of D4VE’s personality is conveyed through his “acting”, or how he’s brought to life by artist Valentin Ramon.  And Ramon does a fantastic job.  D4VE has no face, and yet Ramon is able to project onto that blank canvas joy, sadness, confusion, boredom, frustration, despair.  Just in general, it’s one of the coolest character designs of the year: the bashed, scuffed metallic exterior of a robot clothed in rumpled, not-quite-fitting human work clothes.

There’s a lot of world-building going on in D4VE #1, and it seems the incoming story is going to be large in scope, but it’s all anchored around a highly likeable protagonist in D4VE who, upon first meeting him, we immediately want to root for.

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30 Character Showcase #14: Velvet Templeton

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

14. VELVET TEMPLETON

Velvet1bCreated by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting

Continuing on from the espionage theme of yesterday’s Edward Zero, we now present a very different spy story, headlined by a very different type of spy.  It was really interesting to see the build-up before Velvet‘s release, as so much of the promotional imagery was built on marketing the title character, an entirely new creation.  And it worked, as going into the book, this was already a fascinating character I wanted to learn more about.

As far as protagonists go, Velvet is instantly engaging.  First off, there’s the fact that she’s a middle-aged woman, the kind of character who sadly doesn’t get to be the star of many comics, certainly not action thrillers.  Beyond that, though, Brubaker injects her with a fascinating personality: hardened, self-assured, and with just enough touches of ambiguity to make us question the reliability of her narration.  She’s a senior secretary for secret spy agency Arc-7, and so at first it seems like we’ve got a story of Moneypenny having to deal with the death of James Bond, which as far as elevator pitches go would be interesting in itself.  But as we learn more about Velvet, it becomes clear there is more to her than at first meets the eye, that she has a past that is going to come rushing into the present of the narrative.  And under Epting’s pen, she is lovingly rendered.  Whether she’s twirling her glasses in her fingers, puffing out cigarette smoke, or making what quickly becomes her trademark facial expression of the gears silently grinding in her mind as she pieces together an intricate puzzle of clues… Epting imbues her every motion with an iconic quality, where she feels like a larger-than-life character walking through the story in the same way that Captain America did in that series.

As far as lead characters go, Velvet Templeton is already one of the best new creations of 2013.  Brubaker has given her a distinctive, credible voice, Epting has given her a gravitas and physical presence, and together she is a rock-solid foundation upon which to build this new world.  I for one am incredibly excited by the prospect of the creative minds that so reinvigorated the world of Captain America now turning their minds to crafting a new world, one that exists within a similar genre and promises a similar tone, but which will be totally fresh, totally shaped by Brubaker and Epting.  And if these guys were bold enough to kill off Captain America, who knows where they’ll take Velvet Templeton?

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30 Characters Showcase #13: Edward Zero

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

13. EDWARD ZERO

Zero1Created by Ales Kot

Image Comics’ Zero is a book that seems designed to put character at the forefront.  As originally conceived by Ales Kot, each issue is set to be a standalone done-in-one tale, with the only throughline connecting them being that each chapter features a mission from the long, storied career of British superspy Edward Zero.  But what we may not have expected is just how diverse and nuanced this characterisation would prove to be, even after only two issues.

We’ve already seen Zero across a very wide range of his life.  In his first appearance at the very start of Zero #1, he’s an old man, presumably near death.  And then we flash back to him as a young man in his prime.  Michael Walsh brings this tale to gritty life, and though the focus is very much on a relentlessly-paced plot rather than extensive character analysis, the massive fight scene that dominates the book is intself a showcase of character.  As while the two genetically-modified powerhouses beat the holy hell out of each other and lay the scenery around them to waste in the process, Zero is like a ghost flitting through the background, observing quietly, waiting to pick his spot, slip his disguise and move in for the kill.  He’s ruthless, not above killing those who stand in his way, but in this seemingly dead-eyed soul we get just a flicker of long-buried humanity.

It’s all very intriguing, but it’s in issue #2 that things really blow up magnificently.  See, issue #1 sets some seeds that we expect to get picked up later as the character moves forward into other missions.  But then we don’t move forward into other missions, not yet at least.  Instead, issue #2 – with jaw-dropping artwork from Tradd Moore – takes us backwards to Edward’s formative years as a child, being trained to become the government-sanctioned killer we saw in the first chapter.  And it’s heartbreaking.  Already he’s emotionally stunted due to his harsh training and mental conditioning, but he’s still a child, and in spite of his skill and his deadliness there is some sense of innocence there.  And we get to watch the moment where its snatched away from him once and for all.

Zero #3 is just round the corner, and I have no idea what kind of plot turn awaits us in this instalment.  We could have a story from any point in between the beginning of issue #1 and the end of issue #2, really, so wide is the canvas and scope for fresh stories Edward Zero’s life allows for.  But if subsequent chapters can maintain the standard of what has come already, Zero will quickly cement his status as one of the most compellingly developed comic protagonists of recent years.

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30 Characters Showcase #12: Boss Snake

This month marks the arrival of the 5th annual 30 Characters Challenge, the excellent event run by ComixTribe publisher Tyler James, where participants have to create a new comic character for every day of the whole month of November.  I participated in the first year, successfully completing the challenge with 30 badly-drawn characters of my own, but haven’t done it again since.  I won’t be participating this year either, but thought it might be fun to spend each day writing up a little showcase to celebrate a new comic character who showed up in comic pages for the first time this year.  Comics are one of the most highly inventive mediums around, and this has been a particularly strong year for pumping out exciting new stories packed with compelling new characters.  Let’s take a look at some of my favourites.

12. BOSS SNAKE

DocUnknownBossSnake1Created by Fabian Rangel Jr and Ryan Cody

Yesterday I featured Doc Unknown, the star of the self-titled miniseries from writer Fabian Rangel Jr and artist Ryan Cody.  Today, I take a look at the first of numerous interesting foes that Doc Unknown has faced thus far.  Boss Snake doesn’t really fit into the larger narrative of that first 4-issue run, and really could have just been cast as a generic gangster bad guy.  But instead, Ryan Cody’s distinctive design makes Boss Snake instantly intriguing.  I’ve always thought Killer Croc was a cool Batman villain, but he doesn’t live up to his full potential because he’s always just presented as a mindless thug.  But here we have someone who captures that potent imagery of Croc, but is matched up with agency and authority to make him a more rounded, formidable foe.

And then Fabian Rangel Jr slips in a backstory and just a touch of tragedy to give Boss Snake nuance, and make him a villain that lingers in the memory long after his role in the story is done.  So memorable was this apparent single-use character that interest in him was enough to spawn a spinoff graphic novel, Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets, which was very quickly funded on Kickstarter and ended up far exceeded its goal.  That’s due for release soon, and I for one am eager to read it!

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