Infinite Vacation #1

Story by Nick Spencer and Christian Ward
Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Christian Ward
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

Here’s what I’m finding myself liking more and more about Nick Spencer’s comics. He doesn’t just take a single idea and runs with it, but rather, takes that idea and pairs it with a second one that makes both somehow even better. So for example, Infinite Vacation starts with the germ of the idea that everyone always wonders what would have happened had they made a slightly different decision in life. It’s simple enough, one that’s spawned a lot of other stories. But add in the current obsession that people have with buying apps for their smartphones, and suddenly Infinite Vacation has shifted from another story about parallel universes and into something more interesting and current.

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Memoir #1

Written by Ben McCool
Art by Nikki Cook
32 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

One of the things I’ve found myself enjoying from Image Comics lately is the number of compelling-sounding projects by talents ready to step up their profile in the comics industry and have their big break-out hit. I’m not sure who at Image is bringing all of these new books in, but even when they don’t succeed creatively (they can’t all be a Walking Dead, Chew, or Morning Glories), the wealth of ideas and concepts have been impressive. So with that in mind, I figured it was time to scoop up Memoir #1 from Ben McCool and Nikki Cook; once again, it had a concept that seemed worth following through.

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Marineman #1-2

By Ian Churchill
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There are so many jokes about Aquaman’s powers being fairly useless that it’s ceased to be a geek piece of knowledge and entered the general lexicon. (When even Saturday Night Live has gotten in on the act, you know it’s getting stale.) So with that in mind, I have to give credit where it’s due: Ian Churchill is awfully gutsy in having his brand-new, creator-owned comic be Marineman. I suspect Churchill’s already written all of the mockery himself at this point. But while he’s no Aquaman, Marineman ultimately became a book that both was and was the comic I was expecting when I first heard about it.

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Who is Jake Ellis? #1

Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Tonci Zonjic
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

There’s something about the cover of Who is Jake Ellis? that immediately caught my eye. I was familiar with Tonci Zonjic’s art thanks to his work on Marvel Divas and Heralds, both of which looked great, but this? This looked like the sort of design you’d see as a movie poster, or perhaps the cover of a suspense novel. It also all but screamed, “Read me!” and I must say that Zonjic did his job perfectly, because even before I’d opened the comic I felt hooked. By the time I was done? Utterly hooked.

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EmiTown

By Emi Lenox
400 pages, two-color
Published by Image Comics

Jumping into print with a 400-page reprint of your online diary comic is a rather brave proposition. A year’s worth of comics from Emi Lenox, EmiTown is a fun comic, but one that I think ultimately shines in part because you watch her progress over the course of those twelve months. When EmiTown opens, you end up with thin lines and a slightly scattered overall entry. It felt to me like it was a piece of paper that Lenox was trying to fill up, and does so with random moments and scenes shoved in to avoid a large void of white space. Her art style at this point feels slightly nebulous, too, with thin lines and an almost flat look to her pages.

I mention all of this because of the huge jump that the book takes the further in you read. Working every day on her diary comic meant that she quickly grew adept in telling vignettes from her life, and what started as an unmemorable comic rapidly became a lot of fun. Even when a page isn’t about a single event, Lenox still manages to make the update feel like one moment flowed into the next. Part of that may have to do with stronger layouts, but I think she also grew more adept as a writer. Her art is much stronger, too; there’s a confident and weightier line being used in her art, and she’s developed a stronger style that lifts the individual moments into something that moves easily from one moment to the next. She’s gotten great with both motion and also in guiding the reader’s eye; by the time we get an entry about dancing along to a Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode, she’s managed to draw a page that has no panel borders and still guides the reader easily from one moment to the next. EmiTown is a chance to watch the birth of a talented comic book creator unfold over the course of one year. Lenox is definitely a creator to watch out for.

Purchase Links: Amazon.com | Powell’s Books

Morning Glories #1-3

Written by Nick Spencer
Art by Joe Eisma
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I love the fact that, over the years, we’ve ended up with a subgenre of stories about teenagers involving evil schools and academies. There’s something about that natural mistrust that teenagers have towards adults that make it such an rich mine to tap, and Morning Glories by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma is the latest comic to visit that well. So while the story itself isn’t something huge and crazy and new, it’s the choices that Spencer and Eisma are making that ultimately caught my attention.

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Meta4 #1

By Ted McKeever
24 pages, black and white
Published by Image Comics

When you have a new comic from Ted McKeever, just about the only thing that’s certain is that you’re going to have a bit of oddness. That’s a good thing, in my book; I remember first encountering his Metropol back in 1991 and being simultaneously bewildered and enchanted. Twin Peaks was big at the time and I remember thinking that McKeever was to comics what David Lynch was to television and film. I don’t think it’s a comparison that still holds muster now, but you get the basic idea. Meta4 is McKeever at one of his stranger moments, but at the same time I think it could be one of his most accessible stories to date.

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Turf #1

Written by Jonathan Ross
Art by Tommy Lee Edwards
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

While American readers in general aren’t familiar with Jonathan Ross, he’s a force to be reckoned with in the UK. A hugely successful television and radio host, Ross writing his own creation Turf is certainly a big deal there. Ross is also known for being a big comics fan, with a collection to die for as well as reading all sorts of current comics. So knowing that he’s paired with veteran comics artist Tommy Lee Edwards, it would stand to reason that Turf could avoid a lot of the beginner’s mistakes that people from other disciplines make when crossing over into comics. The reality, though? Well, that’s something else.

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Chase Variant One Shot (Is All I Need)

Written by Rich Johnston
Art by Saverio Tanuta and Bagwell
28 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I don’t mind when comic creators try and play with the format of comics; when done properly, I applaud it. When reading Chase Variant One Shot (Is All I Need), though, a corollary to that general rule quickly came into play. Not only do creators need to have a solid reason for playing with form, they also need to understand when that shift in format has turned from something different and interesting to a gimmick that’s starting to bore your readers.

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Choker #1

Written by Ben McCool
Art by Ben Templesmith
32 pages, color
Published by Image Comics

I know I’m not the only person who misses Fell, Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s series for Image that quietly stopped publishing (for now) after nine issues. So while it probably isn’t fair to instantly start throwing out comparisons between Fell and Choker, I will admit that it was my missing of Fell that made me decide to check out Choker. While the two share an artist and a certain sensibility, though, it’s in the writing that the two series definitely part ways.

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