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Geektrospective: June comic book reviews

So, I review comics (sometimes) bi-monthly in my column, and I thought you folks might enjoy it – as the column doesn’t have enough homes at the moment. I also don’t contribute enough to you beautiful nerds.

In that case, I thought I’d share my two reviews with my wonderful geekoptometrists (little inside joke from the PDN days).

Without further adieu, before I pass out, here are my reviews of Rogue Planet and King of Nowhere, both issue ones, both hella promising.

Rogue Planet #1: This space thriller is stellar

Dad jokes aside, the first issue of this ongoing series from Oni Press is an interesting take on the classic space saga. Written by Cullen Bunn (Deadpool Kills the Marvel Universe, X-Men Blue), drawn by Andy MacDonald (Wolverine Infinity Watch, 2020 Machine Man), colored by Nick Filardi (The Umbrella Academy, Cave Carson) and lettered by Crank! (Rick and Morty, Hack/Slash), the issue begins Biblically.

A hitherto unnamed Grey Alien-like humanoid discusses the stars and gods with his son Padwa. 

They talk of the gods using the ever-changing stars as a map, and Padwa asks his parent how the gods can find them and answer their offerings, as the parent says a greater offering is needed before Abrahaming the Isaac out of the kid in front of a fleshy pillar of body parts that Lovecraft would have swooned over.

Cut to a salvage crew coming out of hypersleep. There’s talk of the environmental systems having gone haywire since it is snowing inside the ship — the Cortez, we soon learn. A landing party is prepared as the crew sees they’re near a planet that has lost its solar system — a rogue planet — to which the ship has tracked a distress signal. They make ready to investigate the distress signal, because every gorham scavenging party thinks distress signals are the shiny promised land. It’s the space equivalent of “DON’T GO INTO THE DARK BASEMENT, YOU IDIOT!”

A landing party disembarks when the ship lands on presumably the same planet unnamed Greyperson merced their offspring on, and the most genius line of the issue is uttered by the ship’s captain, “Remember when people used to think space was beautiful? Before interstellar travel, every scientist with a ‘scope might as well have been a love-struck poet…”

The crew goes on to find the distress signal had led them to a ship graveyard, which they wade into just like Simba, but not before one engineer sees ghosties in semi-sentient crystals and spies a shadowy figure following. They then decide to bounce, but it may be too late, they’ve already been Eldritch’d.

This book has some real promise. It leaves you in that blissful spot where you’re on page 24 before you realize you’ve been reading. That’s what comics should be, in my opinion.

The writing is foreboding and witty, the rich colors convey the moods of each scene and the art as a whole is smooth and communicates movement very well, even in action — and tentacle — packed moments.

I’m looking forward to where this goes. I can’t wait to connect the dots between the Greys and the Cortez’s crew, or see what the tentacle muppets have up their space sleeves.

King of Nowhere #1: This book is going Nowhere. Fast. And that’s a good thing.

Denis is sure he’s dreaming when he sees a deer-man driving a Jeep, or when he meets the fish-man Jed in a bar down the road but isn’t so sure he’s sleeping when the six-armed Cullen punch, punch, punches his face into the dusty ground.

Denis seems to have a habit of finding himself in places he shouldn’t be, due – by his own admission – to his imbibing of substances he might ought have not imbibed. This time, he finds himself wandering around Nowhere, a place the deer-man says will eat him alive, the fish-man is praying is a figment, and Sheriff Tucker says he’ll fit in just fine. Well, after Denis helps Tucker and his daughter run off some giant lizards.

If you’re a fan of gonzo absurdism, you’ll be right at home in Nowhere with Denis. Boom! Studios King of Nowhere is off to a gritty start that had me at golden-hearted thug main characters, but kept me with existential questioning.

Writer W. Maxwell Prince (Ice Cream Man, One Night in the Library), illustrator Tyler Jenkins (Peter Panzerfaust, Snow Blind) colorist Hilary Jenkins (Black Badge, Grass Kings) — with lettering by Andworld Design — evoke the grit and surrealism of Wristcutters: A Love Story with a side of Beetlejucian whimsy.

The writing is surreal and lightly rambling, yet tightly self-aware. The color feels bright and slightly washed out, giving us the feeling we should be squinting in the Arizona noon the whole time and pairs perfectly with the loosely flowing but vividly detailed illustration.

I’m eager to see if Nowhere is really somewhere, if I’m right about where and if the sheriff will ever get dinner.

Cody Banning is an actor and writer from the Fort Smith, Arkansas River Valley and spends his time working, writing, playing board games and loving on his amazing family. You can contact him at codybanningactor@gmail.com anytime.

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