One day, I woke up in the morning, looked in the mirror, and said to myself, “You know what this world really needs? One more straight, white dude on the Internet writing about comic books.” Thus begins the story of how I breathed life back into this blog after an uncounted amount of neglect. Whoops.
Weekly comic books as a whole are a new endeavor for me. The only weekly comics I’ve read have been Jeff Lemire’s Royal City and Bryan Lee O’Malley & Leslie Hung’s Snotgirl. Entering a comic book store and gazing at a wall of glossy weekly releases was an intimidating mess up until about one and a half months ago when I really started digging into a few different story arcs. As an additional handicap, I couldn’t be any more uninterested in superheroes.
That’s right, nerds, I’m an interloper.
Honestly, skipping over the weekly releases by DC and Marvel is a relief. It allows me to focus on smaller, weirder releases, and in a manageable quantity, too. I’m never reading too much at any given time to forget what stories I’ve invested in, and I have much more time to reflect on everything I’m consuming.
Comic books are, as it turns out, very, very good. This has become an unexpected new hobby. Naturally, it could only lead to this: a new (hopefully recurring and definitely redundant) series called “Log’s Comic Log.” I’d like to spend a brief amount of time every Wednesday discussing what comics I’ve picked up that week, why, and how I enjoyed them, as spoiler-free as possible. However, since New Comic Book Day fell on National Hot Dogs and Explosions Day and I was admittedly distracted, I’ll be talking about what I picked up last week in the very first Log’s Comic Log.
In order, I will be discussing the following comics:
- Sword Daughter #2
- New Lieutenants of Metal #1
- Submerged #1
Sword Daughter #2 Brian Wood, (A) Mack Chater, (C) Josè Villarrubia, (L) Nate Piekos, (Cvr) Greg Smallwood. Published by Dark Horse.
The first issue of Sword Daughter arrived at a perfect time for me. I had just started getting into comic books, and I recently finished a nearly year-long binge of fantasy material wherein I read A Song of Ice and Fire and The Kingkiller Chronicles back to back in their entirety (well, almost, considering neither of them are complete). While Sword Daughter #1 isn’t exactly medieval fantasy, it scratches that itch just fine with its earthy, natural colors, and stark illustration. The first issue of Sword Daughter offered three aspects I found worthy of returning to: a mute, young, female protagonist, a historical setting, and a promising revenge tale. Sword Daughter left off with Dag and his daughter Elsbeth reunited after Dag’s recovery from a 10 year coma, and beginning their journey of vengeance against The Forty Swords – the clan that burned down their village when Elsbeth was just a baby.
This issue is meant to secure the tone and mood of Sword Daughter as a whole, and is therefore light on the story’s continuation. Considering that issue #1 of Sword Daughter set up the overarching story, it makes sense that issue #2 would focus more on character development and chemistry between Dag and Elsbeth as reunited father and daughter. Of course it would have been nice to get another taste of the real meat of Sword Daughter in this issue. I’m curious about topics such as finding out more about The Forty Swords, or maybe filling in some of the gaps of how Elsbeth raised herself after her village burned down. However, the conversation that takes place after this issue’s main conflict sets the stage for greater storytelling in future issues. Dag claims to still understand Elsbeth’s character, yet he has been in a coma for ten years and needs more adjusting than he might be prepared for. This dynamic is chilling for a revenge tale. Both characters are unsure of what makes each other “tick;” an important detail when creating and discussing character, although they have the same goal. This is bound to provide tense moments of conflict and discovery as both characters continue their story in their own, stubborn way.
The illustration, coloring, and lettering of Sword Daughter continues to impress in issue #2. Half of this issue is spent in rainy forest scenery, which provides for several panels which I’m sure I’ll inevitably scan and use as a banner in one of my social media profiles. Is that illegal? Maybe I shouldn’t have said that…
New Lieutenants of Metal #1 Joe Casey, (A/Cvr A) Ulises Fariñas, (C) Melody Often, (D) Sonia Harris, (L) Rus Wooton. Published by Image Comics.
Okay, time for a confession. I will judge a comic book by its cover. Illustrators and colorists work insanely hard to provide a captivating cover, which makes sense considering the competition in the industry and the way comic books are displayed in stores. It could be argued that comic book covers are designed to be judged; there’s probably an existing essay on the Internet that I didn’t care to find before writing this. New Lieutenants of Metal was a purchase decision I made precisely because I couldn’t keep my eyes off of the art. It’s zany, vibrant, and abrasive, yet welcoming due to Melody Often’s coloring, and Ulises Fariñas’ rounded, cartoonishly exaggerated style similar to Pendleton Ward or J.G. Quintel (first person to say “CalArts Style” gets a time-out). Plus, the idea of a monster-fighting team of metal-heads is too niche for me to pass up.
This comic begins in a way that only a cartoonish story about metal-heads can – in order to save their teammate, Steppenwulf, the New Lieutenants of Metal break him and dozens of kids out of “de-metaling” therapy aimed to “cure” their metal music addiction. This happens on page 5. It’s reminiscent of the campy Twisted Sister music videos where defiant teenagers tell the commanding adults in their life where exactly their priorities are. Appropriately so, what follows is an over the top action sequence where The New Lieutenants of Metal, now mostly whole again with Steppenwulf back on the team, fight off literal monster-sized Monster Trucks from destroying New York City.
References to rock and metal are heavily peppered into their Saturday morning cartoon mid-fight dialogue – some of which I’m sure soared over my head much like their hawk-shaped Metal Jet ship might. Shouts of, “Holy diver!” and declarations that they’re, “Two minutes to midnight,” or that they’re delivering a, “Sheer heart attack,” are just a few examples of the hilariously on-the-nose references made in this issue alone. By the end of reading New Lieutenants of Metal #1 I had at least 6 Google search tabs open for song names. The silliness and music references don’t confine themselves to metal music, either. At the conclusion of the issue we get a glimpse into a rival team, the Boy Band Nation, led by The Beeb, and in an interview with Collider, Joe Casey mentions that we will see another genre team, The Grunge, in issue #2.
I’m on board for this series. The camp, the action, the ridiculous references, the musical integration, and the outlandish style make for an extraordinarily entertaining read. I would recommend this to music lovers, comic lovers, and cartoon lovers alike.
Submerged #1 Vita Ayala, (A/Cvr A) Lisa Sterle, (C) Stelladia, (L) Rachel Deering, (Cvr B) Jen Bartel. Published by Vault Comics.
Second confession: if I see a new comic series created by an entirely female team, I’m definitely picking it up. Submerged was a no brainer for me. Based on the teaser blurb on the back cover, Submerged is combining story elements of paranormal and natural disaster, starring a female, bilingual person of color, Elysia Puente. Additionally, the illustration and coloring stands out in a realistic, approachable way for a comic depicting – I’m assuming – a modern day New York City, which is a welcome contrast when facing a literal wall of new comic releases. It seems unfair to write so little when introducing why I picked up this comic, but it’s a testament to how little convincing I needed to leave the store with Submerged #1 in hand.
As a title, “Submerged” describes perfectly well how it feels to read this first issue front to back. In the first few pages we see the main character, Elysia Puente, in the motions of an average evening’s wind-down: smoking weed, eating a microwaved pot-pie, and catching up on voicemails. By the end of the issue she gains wicked momentum spiraling down into a dark fantasy located deep underground New York City, melding the fantastical with the realistic in a disturbing and unique way. Elysia’s main motivation is finding her brother, Angel, who left minimal details of his situation in a voicemail to Elysia. As her journey’s beginning gets stranger, she explains to this story’s proverbial “gatekeepers of the Underworld” that she is her brother’s protector, and always has been. In the brief flashbacks offered to the reader, we get to see that she never really had a choice in this role, often times downplaying her involvement in protecting Angel.
Much of the contents in Submerged #1 are subject to speculation if you Google hard enough. A handful of the oddities Elysia encounters, in addition to the aforementioned gatekeepers, include a ferryman in the form of a subway train operator, a plague-doctor bird creature that calls Elysia by name, and a woman who spews cryptic Shakespeare quotes in front of two doors, one of which contains death, and the other lies. Even the names, “Elysia” and “Angel,” are enough to connote symbolism on a grand scale for this story. However, a deep dive such as that is not necessary to enjoy Submerged. The illustration, layout, and pacing of this first issue, in addition to Elysia as a refreshing bilingual, female main character, is all more than enough to bring me back for issue #2.
That does it for the first Log’s Comic Log! I feel lucky that this week contained 2 new stories that I’m incredibly excited to continue. The amount of time and effort put into both New Lieutenants of Metal and Submerged can be observed from cover to cover, which is an inspiring effect in a first issue.
3 is a magic number, so in the future I aim to keep the amount of comics that I write about to 3 per week, unless of course there is a particularly rich week for comics.
This upcoming Wednesday has some great releases that I already know I’ll be discussing. Coda #3 from BOOM! Studios, and Isola #4 from Image Comics will both hit shelves on Wednesday, and they’re two of my favorite stories I’ve picked up since getting into comic books. They’re both still young, but I couldn’t recommend them enough.
Thanks for reading! (Is this normally where people put like a “sign off” phrase? I need to get me one of those.)