In two weeks, Alterna Comics releases their new, bi-monthly anthology. Named after the weekday that gifts us with new comics, here are some thoughts on the stories from the inaugural issue:
From Latin (“Veneris Meridianus”) to a title that needs an asterisk to explain that “Arvo” is Australian slang for “afternoon,” “Friday Arvo” devotes a lot of time in the beginning to clarifying what to call it. Since it’s acting as a preview for the upcoming Alterna Comics series, Exilium, this seems like an avoidable trip up, but maybe that’s because it’s an intentional one.
By learning what Arvo means, you’re more prepared to notice the other ways this story is ingrained in Australia. Commander Buck plays cricket, uses the word “Crikey,” and is the first Australian alien I’ve ever met. While his appearance is extraterrestrial (his eyes are especially cool and fly-like), Buck is Sydney’s representative on an international council. Pulled away from a work cricket game to answer a phone call, writer, Ben Slabak, and artist, Salomon Farias, do a great job establishing the kind of leader Buck is from this opening sequence. He may not be able to hold his liquor, but his cricket teams are integrated and the competition’s friendly.
Racism’s not dead, though. Why is Buck the only alien on the council, and why does Rio’s representative seem determined to mispronounce Buck’s name?
While these questions generate interest in Exilium, Marc Sintes establishes a strong, color palette, then gets to show it off in a space battle that also sees HdE’s letters help associate each sound effect with a different action. “Friday Arvo” tells a complete story but I’m glad it’s not over. Exilium #1 starts in August.
Some people look to the Met Ball to score big (Ocean’s 8), others the swampy waters of the bayou, and in “Hexed” only one of those places has a shack with a voodoo priestess’ valuable spell book inside. Written by Stephanie Cannon, with letters by Marshall Sriboonrung, “Hexed” is most notable for the point it brings readers into the story. By not using colors to emphasize objects, artist, Javi Laparra, lets readers discover how scary this house with each new possession picked out on the shelves. This is a story where it doesn’t pay to carry a lantern.
Teen Wolf was my introduction to kitsunes but it was enough to realize these foxes from Japanese folklore should be getting more exposure. In “The End of a Beginning,” writer, Eastin DeVerna and artist, Shawn Daley, pose the kitsune as one half of a romantic pairing with a samurai. The contrast between the violence the samurai describes and the art style, which doesn’t seem compatible, makes a curious mix but the one-sided perspective of the narrative gets frustrating.
How wonderful is it to have new Mr. Crypt stories in the world? Created and written by Troy Vevasis, Mr. Crypt was the first comic I ever reviewed and tells the story of a skeleton’s attempts to blend in. Aleksandar Jovic’s animated art, like a silent movie with words (by which I mean big reactions and slapstick), is sure to produce smiles and, as much as I would have the series run forever, the one-page format suits it well. Mr. Crypt will be making regular appearances in the anthology and his friend, Baron Rat, is getting a one-shot in September.
“Behind the Cover with Eli Powell”
Nobody really underestimates the importance of a good cover but what goes into making one? Even when a cover catches your eye, do you really stop and look at it? I thought I’d seen Eli Powell’s cover for It Came Out on A Wednesday (and was glad to hear he was involved, after enjoying his work on Scout Comics’ InferNoct), but thanks to this ongoing feature you get to learn the story behind his monster and a bit about his career, as well. “Behind the Cover” is a wonderful way of drawing attention to what cover artists contribute to a project (and the mystery interviewer, Wednesday Warrior, reminds me of 2000 AD’s Tharg).
“The Maddening Sound”
Drawn and colored in a true crime style by Michael Oppenheimer, Alterna Comics founder, Peter Simeti, writes and letters this genre story about a superhero who gets thrown off his game by a noise. Cleanly split between before and after (before is sepia toned, after is blue), when we see our hero again he’s unshaven and talking to a psychologist. This should be a good thing but their meeting feels like an interrogation and the ending isn’t a happy ending you can trust. A story that leaves you feeling like you were played somehow, that’s a pretty impressive reaction.
When their spaceship crash lands on a foreign planet, Hrek and an unnamed narrator are the only survivors. Of the stories in this anthology, “Sleepships” could benefit most from having extra time to unravel. Ken Knudtsen’s light, sketchy pencils set the right mood. These are uncharted lands, where nothing looks familiar, but his art can be a little indiscernible when it comes to telling the native population apart from the humans. Written by Scott Bryan Wilson, with letters by Tom Napolitano, the title’s sleepships are a cool concept, with lots of room to expand. “Sleepships” is just too brief.
“The Wicked Righteous: Genesis”
A prequel comic to Alterna Comics’ series, The Wicked Righteous, Genesis tracks one family’s reaction to the deadly virus that is spreading across the globe. Set in Texas, with strong religious undertones, Wicked Righteous isn’t my personal cup of tea and Genesis is a particularly jarring introduction, but the circular close by artist and letterer, Dave Swartz, and writer, Terry Mayo, sneaks up on you in a deceptively calm fashion.
“Bloodfist: The Well!”
Amazing Age‘s Jeremy Massie goes solo for an ongoing comic that’s Xena if Xena was a burly dude with blood stained, Lady Macbeth hands. “The Well!” is where he meets his Gabriel and it’s the kind of pairing that’s been done before but is so much fun to reinterpret. The Bloodfist world has a cool origin story and the smackdowns are full of “Thuds!” and “Pows!” Head Lopper fans should appreciate Bloodfist, too.
Other than overloading the end with some of the sadder titles, It Came Out On A Wednesday is a shiny debut that’s worth taking a look at when you’re already at the comic book store on July 4th, 2018 for Batman #50.