Mainstream Comics Worth Paying Attention To : “Dead Eyes”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Decisively proving that you can’t keep a good bad guy down, writer Gerry Duggan and artist John McCrea’s socially-conscious crime series (yes, that’s a thing) from Image Comics,  Dead Rabbit, returned from a cease-and-desist order filed by a bar of the same name (no, I swear I’m not kidding) under the shiny new moniker of Dead Eyes — and not only did the creators not miss a beat, their book has only gotten better.

It also re-introduced itself in a manner entirely accessible to new readers, laying out the premise quick and easy, just as I will here : infamous Boston-area masked stick-up man from the 1990s is now retired and living the quiet life, but he needs to come out of retirement when his disabled wife gets hit with a mountain of medical bills that her insurance won’t cover. Our guy is still pretty good at what…

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Mainstream Comics Worth Paying Attention To : “Gideon Falls”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

It takes a lot to maintain a compelling mystery over the course of 22 issues, but writer Jeff Lemire, artist Andrea Sorrentino, and colorist Dave Stewart have managed (with some admitted bumps along the way) to do just that in the pages of their Image Comics series Gideon Falls, a mind-bender set in the small town of its name — that isn’t a small town anymore, but that’s another matter.

And there are, in fact, several “other matters” on offer here, with no end to them in sight, although I imagine we must be at least to the halfway point of this thing by now — but I could be wrong about that. It’s been known to happen. And I’ve been wrong about any number of twists and turns in this saga, which is why it’s so damn much fun, in addition to being reasonably creepy and a tour…

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Mainstream Comics Worth Paying Attention To : “Billionaire Island”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Count me among those who were more than a bit unimpressed with Second Coming, the highly-touted series from writer Mark Russell and artists Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk that was scuttled at Vertigo due to its purported “sacrilegious” content before finding a new home at Ahoy Comics. Far from taking any sort of pot-shots at organized religion, the “Jesus-meets-Superman-analogue” premise actually reinforced tired Christian dogma at the end of the day and Russell’s usually-sharp satirical wit was uncharacteristically blunted by a chickenshit desire to play it safe and offend as few people as possible. Hell, by the time all was said and done, this was such a milquetoast offering that even the most fervent evangelical nutcase wouldn’t find much worth objecting to in it apart from some vaguely liberal “be kind to one another” politics. And let’s remember — evangelicals claim to believe in that sort of thing themselves…

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Mainstream Comics Worth Paying Attention To : “King Of Nowhere”


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

As is generally known, I’m not one of those “too cool for school” types who dismisses out of hand everything produced by the major comics publishers. In fact, until the industry shutdown engendered by COVID-19 took hold, I ran a “Weekly Reading Round-Up” column on this very site that mainly concerned itself with examining whatever mainstream titles this nominal “Wednesday warrior” had picked up during the previous seven-day span — and I imagine I’ll get back to it before too long here. That being said —

Shipping schedules are still pretty light, even though most comic shops are, in fact, open again, and this means that most weeks since “the return” haven’t seen enough interesting stuff hit shelves to warrant me devoting an entire column to reviewing them. It’s just a fact : most recent weeks have seen me leaving the shop with two, maybe three comics, and while…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Banal Complications” By Marc Bell (Mini Kus! #90)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

For the final entry (that being #90) in their latest foursome of Mini Kus! releases, Latvian publisher Kus! turns to the always-reliably-inventive Canadian cartoonist Marc Bell, whose work I’ll go out on a limb and assume most readers of this site are already well-familiar with. Or, at the very least, really should be. And in the pages of Banal Complications, he does what he does best, which is — his own kind of thing altogether.

This is a “meta” narrative, with Bell’s protagonist Chop Salad (always with these names, I tell ya!) pretty clearly standing in for the artist himself, so if that kind of thing annoys you, just check out now — but if you’re down for a fun and inventive take on a premise that really isn’t either one most of the time anymore? Then you’ve come to the right place. Maybe even the only place. Or…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Egle And The Snake” By Joana Estrela (Mini Kus! #89)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Casting far and wide for both talent and subject matter, Mini Kus! #89 from Latvia’s eclectic “art comics” publishing house Kus! features a Portuguese cartoonist, Joana Estrela, telling a decidedly contemporary version of an ancient Lithuanian fable in Egle And The Snake, which sees the serpent cast in its traditional role as schemer but our woman protagonist, while perhaps a little too polite for her own good (up to a point, at any rate), assuming a great deal more agency and self-determination than, say, the biblical Eve. It’s about time, sure — but there’s also something quite timeless about what this comic has to say about relationships and gender roles and power dynamics.

Egle is young — high-school age, according to the narrative — but wise enough to smell a rat (errr, snake) and to know when to say when. But damn if this story isn’t…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Crime At Babel” By Martins Zutis (Mini Kus! #88)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

Billed by publisher Kus! as either a “visual riddle or rather a sudoku in a comic form,” there’s really nothing that precludes Latvian cartoonist Martins Zutis’ Crime At Babel (released last month as #88 in the long-running Mini Kus! line) from being both, of course — after all, last I checked, a sudoku is, in fact, a type of riddle, and one that’s usually well beyond my meager problem-solving abilities, at that. I know a lot of people have fun with the damn things, but I’m not one of them, and therefore I went into this comic with, at the very least, some nominal misgivings.

Maybe the whole thing will just blow right past me, I thought to myself. Maybe my brain just doesn’t work in a way that will allow me to come to grips with it. Maybe it’ll just be too damn smart for me. These things…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Violent Delights” By Hetamoe (Mini Kus! #87)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I’ve reviewed some pretty “far out” comics in my time — and some of the most “far out” have been part of the Mini Kus! line from Latvian publisher Kus! — but Portuguese cartoonist Hetamoe’s Violent Delights (which was just released last month as Mini Kus! #87) probably takes the cake as the most experimental, borderline-indescribable work I’ve ever tried to wrap my head around in full view of my readership. I won’t do you the disservice of saying that I’ve completely figured this one out yet, and to be honest I’m not sure that I ever will, but maybe that’s not even the point here. This is complex, challenging, at times even taxing stuff — and where it takes you, as well as how it gets you there, is going to vary a great deal from reader to reader. I’ll even go so far as to say that I’m…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “(extra) Ordinary” By Roberts Rurans (Mini Kus! #86)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

For number 86 in their Mini Kus! series, Latvian publisher Kus! didn’t have to venture beyond their borders to find home-grown talent Roberts Rurans, whose work you may recall from some of their anthology publications and who more than proves up for the challenge of carrying a 28-page publication all on his own. In fact, if anything, (extra) Ordinary demonstrates that he could’ve used a bit more space.

Not for narrative, mind you — as far as story goes this is plenty “decompressed,” even threadbare, as is — but his Tommi Parish-esque compositions are so lush, so colorful, and so imaginative that 10-12 more pages of them wouldn’t be objectionable in the least. His tale herein is ostensibly about a young girl seeking escape from boredom, and to say it’s never boring in the least is an understatement of pretty significant, even borderline-criminal, proportions.

Now, whether our nameless protagonist…

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Mini Kus! Catch-Up : “Hero” By Harukichi (Mini Kus! #85)


Ryan C.'s Four Color Apocalypse

I know just about nothing in regards to Japanese cartoonist and experimental musician Harukichi, but that’s one of the sublime joys of the long-running Mini Kus! line from Latvian “art comics” publisher Kus! — its introduces you to new voices from around the globe whose work likely wouldn’t come across your radar otherwise. And when it comes to Harukichi’s Hero — number 85 in the Mini Kus! series — I’m damn glad it did.

Apparently, our protagonist in this one — a cat named Gosshie who “works” as a DJ — is a recurring character in Harukichi’s stories, and his gift appears to be the ability to find exactly the right song for every occasion. Not a bad skill to have, to be sure, and in this comic he cleverly deploys one apropos track after another for situations ranging from the everyday to the extraordinary as he makes his way…

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