Quick Picks #2

Quick Picks is an occasionally published feature of a set of three microreviews of stuff I’ve read the past two weeks. I’m still working through my stack of minis, which includes some micropublisher work, a few subscriptions, and even a Kickstarter project or two.

Bastard #1, by Max de Radiguès

Max de Radiguès is kicking up a little attention this month because of the recent One Percent Press announcement that his book Rough Age will be available in English for the first time at SPX. Charles Forsman has published another of his comics in English, a mini called Bastard. The 3-in-1 mini is a sub-theme for this Summer’s Oily bundle, and Bastard #1 collects the first 3 minis of a comic that features a mother-son pair of unlikely outlaws as they race from a mysterious crime scene with bags and bags of money. Radiguès has a clean style reminiscent of Sacha Goerg and Charles Forsman, but what’s different is his specific paneling choices. He sticks with the classic 6 panel page like Forsman, but varies that based on the scenery (two vertical panels combine to make a closet, two horizontal panels combine to show a shopping plaza, etc.). I loved the way he lets the mystery of his story grow just enough to keep you interested and reading, but without giving away too much too quickly. Bastard #1 has a great sense of character and space in a comic that is the definition of slow burn.

Blades & Lazers #1-2 by Benjamin Marra

Blades & Lazers was my first experience with Marra’s work, and many of his comics seem to run on a similar idea, to pay homage the ridiculous fever-dream comics of the 80s. And Blades & Lazers does this with aplomb, featuring V’LARR, a mute 24th degree reaper and blademaster, and V’RONN, a las-slinger. They hunt Galacto-Demons. Yep.

Blades & Lazers has a unique design, in that it’s only two colors (riso print neon pink and navy blue). Blades & Lazers is a pulpy and a homage to the 70-80s B movie. The story being told sounds like a Star Wars side story – these two characters could easily be found at the Mos Eisley cantina. The stories are interesting, the books are fun, but I wouldn’t say that I’m rushing out to buy more of Marra’s work, just like I’m not rushing out to buy Star Wars comics. Blades & Lazers failed to capture my imagination.

Storm Chasers by Ken Mahon

The mysterious appearance of a second moon plays havoc on the Earth’s surface with storms, tsunamis, and other natural disasters. Humans escape to the skies to avoid the weather, while a select few remain on earth. When a sky-citizen falls to the earth, a family of storm chasers saves his life and promises to take him back to the elevator that will get him home. But they are beset by challenges along the way. Mahon has a lot of great ideas for Storm Chasers, but the execution is lacking. There are two sub-stories that really pull from the main thrust of Storm Chasers, the jealousy/anger of the son character, and the archeological dig of the mother character. It feels like those are pieces that Mahon thought were worth exploring, but they come off as either ham-fisted or disingenuous. Additionally, the book is extremely dark, so at times the art doesn’t pop. Storm Chasers had a lot of strong ideas, but nothing coalesced.

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