I Number One’d So Hard Last Week, Why Not Again?

New Comic Book Day highlights some of the best books released that week.

New Comic Book Day is upon us, and what a wonderful day it is indeed. Last week was a heck of a week for comics, pretty sure I took home about 20-25 books. This week was a little lighter weighing in at around 16, but that’s about my average. I don’t write about every comic I grab, mostly because I enjoy focusing on the smaller/indie press books. Here lately, maybe the last year, I’ve really started to gravitate toward indie and small press companies because of how different their stories are, they’re just refreshing. So, without further ramblings, let’s get into this week’s books of choice…

Jackpot-Cover-Issue-OneJackpot #1

Written By: Ray Fawkes
Art By: Marco Failla
Published: April 13, 2016 by Aftershock Comics

Have you ever read a comic wherein, as you read, you forget you’re reading a comic and the thing comes to life like a movie on the page? Jack Pot managed to pull that off for me and there are a few contributing factors to how it did that. First off, the premise of Jack Pot is a straight up caper movie plot, mixed in with some hidden agency surveillance twists, which immediately strikes me as very movie-esque. Secondly, I lost track of my page turning, which is a huge accomplishment. As I hit the last cliffhanger page, I was sort of jarred out of the book, realizing that I’d somehow read the entire thing without realizing it. I was that enthralled with the story. Lastly, the story ramps up to 100mph and doesn’t let up the entire time. Normally, that’d be a turn-off for me, but Fawkes delivers it so well I didn’t realize how fast paced it was until I was done.

Everything from how the characters are introduced, their roles, even their history together is woven seamlessly together, which is why I was able to be pulled in so deeply without realizing it. In my opinion, this might be Aftershock’s strongest book, if not it’s definitely competing with Replica and Super Zero for that title. In fact, that may be a fun post to do wherein I pull up all their titles and sort of pit them against each other. For now however, do yourself a favor and go read Jack Pot.

Moon-Knight-Cover-Issue-OneMoon Knight #1

Written By: Jeff Lemire
Art By: Greg Smallwood
Published: April 13, 2016 by Marvel Comics

Now, I realize that I literally just said in the intro that I like to focus on indie and small press books for NCBD. Yet, here I am about to blabber away about a Marvel book. What the heck, me? Well, I don’t hate, or even dislike Marvel or DC books, in fact, as of today, I’d say the two companies make up about 60% of my pull list and purchases. There’s no doubt that indie and small press books are slowly taking over my pull list and purchases, but if the Big 2 keep printing books like this, they’ll keep me around. With that said, there’s no doubt that Moon Knight, much like Black Panther last week, stood out from the rest.

What we have here is a relaunching of the character, and what a relaunch it is. I have to say, for the few titles that I’ve picked up (Power Man & Iron Fist, Black Panther, and now Moon Knight), Marvel is doing a great job at bringing these characters back in a big way. For this issue, what struck me as most intriguing is exactly how they’re bringing our boy, Marc Spector, back. This book is loaded, and I mean L O A D E D full of mystery. It seems that Jeff Lemire, who I enjoy, is withholding tons of information purposefully and using that as a means to generate intrigue. It’s a risky move for sure because it can leave the reader frustrated rather than suspense filled and satisfied. However, in my opinion, the unanswered questions definitely pulled me into the story more, and the breadcrumb trail Lemire lays out added rather than distracted in this book. If you’ve ever been even slightly interested in Moon Knight, or have no clue who he is, this is a perfect jumping on point, and this book is certainly doing it’s job to capture this reader’s interest.

House-of-Penance-Issue-One-CoverHouse of Penance #1

Written By: Peter J. Tomasi
Art By: Ian Bertram
Published: April 13, 2016 by Dark Horse

It’s books like this that are the reason why I’m always wiling to try something new. I’ve never read anything from Tomasi, and don’t normally by “horror” books, although I’m not sure I’d classify this issue as horror. It may turn into a horror book, but thus far it’s more suspense than outright scary. Yet, here I am, grabbing a book from an unfamiliar writer, in a an unfamiliar genre, and holy crap, I couldn’t be happier. I mean seriously, if more book brought this level of awesome to the stands I’d probably be homeless somewhere living under the pile of comics that would be my pull list.

As best I can tell, this issue is setting tone, characters, and introducing the plot elements without getting too deeply into the plot. I’m perfectly fine with this as I understand that certain genres, and certain writers, take a different approach to their stories. Horror needs to build deep characters, and strong ties to different aspects of the story in order to deliver the “scare” or “fear” aspect. With that said, allow me to then say that this was a great read. Everything about this story intrigued me, and held my interest throughout. So much so, that I’ll most certainly be purchasing the next issue at the very least. Also, the setting of the story is western-esque which we definitely need more of in comics.

For the story itself, we have a crazy lady who’s building a house with doorways and stairs leading nowhere. She keeps hiring people to work on her crazy house, but doesn’t allow anyone to possess guns on the property, which is intriguing because we learn (SPOILER…sort of) that she’s none other than the daughter of the Winchester family (Winchester is a gun manufacturer/brand for those who didn’t know). Then there’s a dude who’s killing Native Americans and making it look like rival tribes are killing each other. He ends up getting stabbed, but manages to travel through the most nightmare’ish looking forest ever. In the end, these two characters (SPOILERS again) end up crossing paths in the most unlikely of ways, and with that I found myself desiring to know what happens next. As I said, this isn’t a fast paced book, it’s going to set up the feel and tone, and I personally enjoyed it a great deal. So if you’re interested in a beautifully drawn, well crafted, horror/suspense western drama comic, it’s your lucky day…if not, I’d still give it a try because I wasn’t looking for something like this comic, but now that I have it, I want more.

Black-Road-Issue-One-CoverBlack Road #1

Written By: Brian Wood
Art By: Garry Brown
Published: April 13, 2016 by Image Comics

I know at some point on this blog I’ve written about my religious writing background. I don’t talk about it much, and only do so when it’s pertinent to the comic or story I’m talking about. Today, quite possibly, marks the second time when my religious background comes to play on a story I’m reading. Black Road isn’t a religious book, nor is it really trying to deliver religious messages. Instead, it uses “Christian themes” to deliver what I felt was an excellent story. What I mean by Christian themes is that in this book we find Christians being the bad guys…maybe. As the main character says, “I’ve yet to determine if I will go to war for the Christians, or against them.”

With that said, the book itself focuses on one figure, Magnus. He is a behemoth of man compared to the scrawny characters around him, twice as wide and a foot or more taller. There’s no doubt that this dude is a warrior. Artist Garry Brown does a wonderful job in character design by allowing us to see this visually, thus giving us a part of the story without a need for exposition. There’s a coldness in Magnus’ eyes that plays a huge part in developing both the story and character.

Our story picks up when Magnus is approached to escort a church Cardinal through an area known as the Black Road. We learn it’s called that because of just how much evil has been committed on the road. In the words of Magnus, “It’s a path built of misery, sorrow, blood, and bile. Armies have died on the road, mothers have been butchered, children enslaved…” The plot twist comes about two-thirds of the way through the book, and from there the story is off an running. In my opinion, this was a great story, and very different than nearly everything I’m currently reading. If you enjoy the show Vikings, or Game of Thrones, this book will probably be of interest to you. (For clarity sake, Magnus kind of has a Brienne of Tarth vibe going). As for this writer, I’m sold on this series and will be grabbing the next few to see where the story goes.

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