Image Comics repeatedly delivers some of the most interesting, quirky, creator-driven books, and this week is no different with the publication of Ryan Burton and John Bivens’ Dark Engine #1.
The main character of this series is the product of alchemists, an instrument of destruction, but what happens when she decides to cleave out her own destiny in the world, rib-sword in hand? The art for this series is terrifying and gorgeous, crooked lines and undulating textures providing a creepy Lovecraftian atmosphere (if Lovecraft had set his stories in the rainforest, rather than the arctic tundra and Boston).
My one concern with this book is the press release’s description of the main character as a “savage woman” – an unfortunate choice of words that suggests brainlessness more than it does brawn, which would seem to be at odds with the representation of the main character as struggling for freedom. That being said, the series promises to feature a struggle between individual autonomy and control by outside forces, suggesting that there is plenty of room for complex character development and fascinating world-building. (For those of you who live in Minneapolis, MN, John Bivens will be doing a signing at Comic Book College on August 6 from 4pm to 7pm.)
Of course, one Lovecraft-inspired book couldn’t possibly be enough to satisfy your longing for occult mysteries. Thankfully, IDW has put out a new mini-series this week, written and drawn by the immensely talented Ben Templesmith: Squidder #1. As the title suggests, this book draws on the Cthulhu mythos, but instead of being set in the lead up to the tentacular apocalypse, it occurs after the squid overlords have already gained control.
Templesmith’s art is the real draw, here. The line-work has a quirky expressionistic quality, its stark edges resembling wood cuts, and the colors are washed out but with a kind of glimmer. I was disappointed when Templesmith left behind his art responsibilities on Ten Grand, so it’s good to see him back on a book.
Also, for those of us who have been patiently waiting for the arrival of the new Robin, this week DC releases Robin Rises: Omega, a one-shot by Peter Tomasi with art by Andy Kubert and Jonathan Glapion that kicks off the rise of whoever will take over the mantle. (Will it be Damian, again? Seems likely… but who knows?!) This issue will be followed up by the Batman and Robin ongoing series by Tomasi.
Finally, Uncanny X-Men #23 (Marvel) is entitled The Last Will and Testament of Charles Xavier. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has already said that this issue will change the dynamic of both of the main X-Men book (Uncanny and All New X-Men), while keeping his lips sealed on the exact details. This X-Men book has been my favorite, with its moody and conflicted Cyclops, interesting reflections on politics, and brilliant artwork by Chris Bachalo.