A few Wednesdays ago I headed to my local comic shop and purchased a trio of books I am currently reading. While the Big 2 are very well represented in my local shop (and then some!), on this particular Wednesday, my choices highlighted some of the great companies and stories that exist in the industry beyond the Big 2.
The first of the trio I'll be talking about is from the biggest and most important non-Big 2 company:
Starve #10, Image Comics
In my last career I was a chef, and worked for nearly two decades in the food industry, at least half in fine dining. I saw Brian Wood, Danijel Zezelj, and Dave Stewart's "Starve" highlighted last year in an issue of Comic Shop News and decided to check it out.
I got the first five issues, and, after the hiatus, picked up the next---and last---five issues. This issue, #10, marks the end of the series. This saddens us hardcore fans, if only because we'd like to watch Gavin and Angie start the revolution that was alluded to in the first issue. Of course, that revolution is addressed in issue 10, and the selfishness of wanting said revolution, and we are left just trying to be happy and excited for Angie to start her own place.
It could have been the years spent in Brooklyn, but the views of Gavin starting his own place on what looks like Broadway (in Bed-Stuy) were the most exciting parts of the story for me. My view was shaded by nostalgia, but any world where a comic book series about a dystopian future and bad-foodie-culture causes drugged out chefs to want to start a revolution is a world I'm proud to be a part of.
The next book is from my favorite company, and is a title I got into with the start of the Analogue Man story-line back with issue #10 of that series:
Bloodshot Reborn #14, Valiant Comics
This kicks off both the Bloodshot Island story-line and new villain Deathmate, and the return to the title of artist Mico Suayan. Mico was nominated for a Harvey Award this year, and reading this title shows why that makes a ton of sense.
The Analogue Man arc was beautifully painted and presented in Valiant's "Prestige Format," similar to the Divinity titles and the upcoming Britannia mini-series, but here Mico is back and the detail is outrageous.
The story, from Jeff Lemire, has Bloodshot finding himself stuck on an island with other nanite-infested soldier-projects and all being hunted by the killing-machine/lady Deathmate.
Bloodshot is Valiant's action comic, and this one delivers.
The last of the trio is the new issue from a new company I really enjoy, newest fare from Black Mask's hottest new title:
4 Kids Walk into a Bank #2 (of 5), Black Mask Studios
The cover plays up the opening scene from the issue, where, like the first issue, the 4 eponymous kids are rendered as characters they're playing in a game. In issue #1 it was a role playing game like D&D, but here it's a video game.
Paige gets into trouble, confronts her dad about the scummy guys who came to see him (she's resourceful when it comes to scoring information), and both her and her dad make promises they can't keep.
It's a surprisingly touching and amusing title, and like Starve, something totally out-there in the market.
I would fully and excitedly recommend each of these titles. I bought my graphic-novel-liking coworker the Starve Vol. 1 collection, and talk up Valiant to my students all the time (Ninjak may be my favorite).