‘Ironheart,’ ‘Infinite Dark,’ and ‘The Wicked + The Divine: The Funnies’: New Comic Day Joy

Reading Time: 8 minutes

When you’re a comics fan, there’s something special about new comic book day—especially since it happens every week. With movies, new books, and video games, you get that new media smell for just one day. With new comic book day—NCBD—you often get to find new, exciting, fantastic things to read every week.

This week, Kay fell in love with Ironheart, Life Is Strange, and Blackbird. MAJK dove into Vampirella & Dejah Thoris and The Wicked + The Divine: The FunniesLuke, meanwhile, saw some second-issue issues with Infinite Dark.

In short, we had a great new comic book day, and it’s great sharing it with you. If there are books you think we’re missing out on, please tell us about them in the comments.

Ironheart #1

new comic Ironheart Issue #1
Cover of Ironheart Issue #1

Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artists: Kevin Libranda & Luciano Vecchio
Colorist: Matt Villa
Cover Artist: Amy Reeder
Publisher: Marvel

Kay: I’ve been waiting for this book for months, and it was worth every single minute of waiting (and every single fight I got into—on the internet and off it). Eve Ewing’s Ironheart is everything I wished Bendis’ would be, and a hell of a lot more than that.

With all respect to the fact that Bendis put a Black girl into that Iron Man armor while Tony Stark was dead, there were a number of flaws in Riri Williams’ initial creation that were difficult to overlook. Basically, her backstory was flat and uninspired, and one might go so far as to say lazy.

Ewing covers that backstory in a couple pages, catching up readers who might have missed the previous series, and then moves on to much more fertile ground. We see Riri’s lab at MIT as she’s forced to show off her current projects to a bunch of (primarily, though not entirely) white world leaders. She fights a villain (who calls her the Barbie Dreamhouse Iron Man in a burn that made me cackle) and saves the day; she also spends a chunk of her night talking with an old friend Xavier while she works on different projects. Riri’s a nerd; she’s prickly; she’s sweet.

Ewing wrote a great line which, to my mind, is comparable to the old Mark Twain quotation (repurposed by J. Michael Straczynski for Cap’s speech during Civil War): “Those who move with courage make the path for those who live in fear.” This is Riri’s reason for wearing the armor.

This is a first issue, and it has the typical first issue hiccups. There’s a lot of setup here, but Ewing blends that nicely with some solid action sequences that make it clear: Riri doesn’t have all this figured out yet. She also reads to me as an autistic character, though that’s certainly not in the text at all. She misses social cues at several points and hyper-focuses on her projects to the point that she misses what’s going on around her.

I also need to be clear: as a white person, I can’t and won’t make an attempt to speak to representation of race in this book. As to the story, though? I’m all in, and I can’t wait to see the next issue.

Life Is Strange: Dust #1 of 4

new comic Life Is Strange
Life Is Strange Cover A from Titan

Writer: Emma Vieceli
Artist: Claudia Leonardi
Colors: Andrea Izzo
Cover Artist (A): Claudia Leonardi
Publisher: Titan

KayI’m inherently suspicious of tie-in comics. They can be really great, or they can be really awful; there’s rarely any in-between. I didn’t realize Titan was doing a Life Is Strange tie-in until I saw it at my local comic store; I bought it, figuring that one lousy book wasn’t going to break my budget. I was pleasantly surprised about the quality of the story and art, at least in this first issue.

Life Is Strange is a game from DONTNOD which features Max, a girl with the superpower to rewind time and change her actions. The game is played in several episodes; the first was released in 2015 to positive reviews. There have been sequels, none of which directly relate to the original story. This makes the comic the first official continuation of that original game. I have to spoil a major plot point from the game to talk about this comic, so proceed with caution.

This book will be a four part mini-series, and it continues from the ending where Chloe survives and much of Arcadia Bay is destroyed. This means that Chloe’s father is dead and that her mother married David.

In the comic, Chloe and Max have left Arcadia Bay; Max no longer uses her power, after seeing what destruction she caused. She and Chloe have new friends and a new life on the one-year anniversary of the disaster, but Chloe is dealing with guilt: is her life worth all those lost in Arcadia Bay? Max has no doubts. But time is playing weirdly around Max all of a sudden, even though she’s not using her power. There’s a moment where Chloe does—and does not—walk away from her, and several others where Chloe is gone, and the people around Max have no idea who she is. Chloe mentions her father in the present tense, implying that he’s alive. Max suffers another major nosebleed, and Chloe declares that they’re going back to Arcadia Bay.

While this comic does not proceed from my preferred ending for the game, the ending was always a believable one. The new story features gorgeous art, which captures the feeling of Chloe and Max without being beholden to the game. I like the evolution of time disturbance that’s occurring around Max; I would have been disappointed if this was just another rewind adventure.

I’m eager to see where this goes, and that’s head and shoulders above most of the tie-in comics I read.

Vampirella & Dejah Thoris #3

Cover C from new comic Vampirella and Dejah Thoris

Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Ediano Silva
Colorist: Dinei Ribeiro
Cover Artist: Carlo Pagulayan and Wil Quintana
Publisher: Dynamite

MAJK: When we last left the lovely duo, our ladies were captured by the Therns who intended to enslave them. Dejah has become disillusioned as she realizes the very people who preach the message of their Goddess Issus are nothing more than cannibals that feed off those who make the spiritual pilgrimage.

With Vampirella immobilized and Dejah disarmed, things looked bleak indeed until an attack by black Martians. After that, the “first-born” frees Dejah, who in turn frees Vampirella. At that point, it is all over for those who stand against our ladies.

Fortunately, the “first-born” are actual emissaries of Issus and offer to escort the ladies to her. Gaining an audience with the Goddess Issus turns out to be an easy thing, but what isn’t easy is hearing the truth.

The newly formed friendship between Dejah and Vampirella becomes complicated when the self-styled Goddess Issus shared the truth of her existence and offers to save Vampirella’s people… at a price that would change Martian society forever and turn Dejah’s people into nothing more than intelligent cattle. Dejah faces betrayal when Vampirella accepts the Queen’s offer.

Blackbird #3

new comics Blackbird Issue #3
Blackbird Issue #3 Cover B by Loish

Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Jen Bartel
Layout Artist: Paul Reinwand
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Cover Artist: Jen Bartel (Main) Loish (Variant)
Publisher: Image

KayWith issue #3, Blackbird is kicking into major gear. Backstory is solidly in place, and while we have flavor moments that remind us of past revelations or hit emotional notes, we’re progressing fast and furious in the story.

There’s a lot going on in Blackbird, and the comic walks a fine line between complex and complicated. One is intriguing and inventive, keeping the reader engaged and intrigued; the other means you need to start making charts about who is who and what’s happening to whom.

Nina is now actively in touch with the Paragons, and we’re finding out that there are many factions, called cabals. They are referenced quickly, and characters are clear about which cabal they belong to. As long as Humphries continues to make those things clear, I think we’ll stay in complex territory—if the relationships between cabals become more involved, the same way you (should) get in team-based superhero books.

Nina’s ongoing quest to find her sister, Marisa, is a great throughline in this story; Nina doesn’t give a crap about all this cabal stuff, and she’s even underwhelmed at the whole Paragon thing now; she wants her sister back. At the same time, when Clint, the Paragon who is protecting her, tries to share information with her, she often already knows. Because the internet.

Jen Bartel’s art continues to be incredible, and whenever she does a splash page, I’m in awe of her talent. Triona Farrell on colors is an absolute goddess. As a team, they continue to create a book which is flat out beautiful.

This issue also ends with an emotional gut punch that knocked me flat on my (emotional) ass.

Blackbird gets my highest star rating, my biggest cheers, whatever you want to call it. Every issue I finish, I’m angry I have to wait to read the next one. If you like fantasy comics at all, you need to catch up and put this book on your pull list.

Infinite Dark #2

Cover of Infinite Dark, Issue #2
Cover of Infinite Dark Issue #2

Writer: Ryan Cady
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: K. Michael Russell
Cover Artist: Andrea Mutti and K. Michael Russell
Publisher: Top Cow/Image

Luke: In our November 5, 2018 edition of Comic Book Corner, I reviewed the first issue of Infinite Dark. If you haven’t read Infinite Dark #1 yet, I’d encourage you to start at that first review, as spoilers shall follow!

Infinite Dark #2 picks up immediately after the end of the previous issue. Deva is having to navigate the shock of watching a crazed murderer disappear into the nonexistence that surrounds the ship. She is haunted by a dark, bipedal figure that she saw for the first time out in the Nothingness. She is trying to both manage her stress and anxiety levels, at the prompting of the ship therapist, while also pursuing the murder investigation.

The focus of this issue of Infinite Dark branches to follow the dual plots of Deva’s therapy and her deputy’s pursuit of the truth in the Dark Zone with the murderer’s assistant. Things inevitably go wrong.

This issue was not quite as strong as the first. Deva’s plotline could have been filled with tension as she fought to balance what she saw and her lack of trust with the rest of the crew on the ship, including her therapist. However, it mostly felt like a halt to the flow of the story, as nothing was achieved from that plotline other than finding an excuse for Andrea Mutti to draw an admittedly very cool looking rendition of the dark spectre that haunts Deva.

And, while Mutti showed his strengths in set design and monsters, the characters are beginning to look a little too similar, with all of them wearing variations of the same uniform and not having distinctive enough faces or body shapes to be able to tell them apart in each panel. Fortunately, Ryan Cady is doing strong character work, and you can tell from the dialogue which character is which.

The issue ends on a significantly satisfying moment, and I will be back for the next issue because this series has promise. But stronger performances that are consistent throughout the issue from Cady and Mutti, as in the first issue, would really help cement my confidence in this title.

The Wicked + The Divine: The Funnies #1

new comic cover of The Wicked and the Divine: The Funnies #1
Cover of The Wicked and the Divine: The Funnies Issue #1

Writers & Artists:  Kitty Curran, Larissa Zageris, Erica Henderson, Kate Leth, Kieron Gillen, Chip Zdarsky
Cover Artist: Jamie Mckelvie and Matt Wilson
Publisher: Image

MAJK: The sheer number of laughs and the variety of creators stuffed into this one-shot makes it perfect for fans of The Wicked + The Divine.  As a parody comic, this book is full of sheer, gutsy, unabashed making-fun-of-yourself. It’s like a good-natured roast of everything that makes The Wicked + The Divine so good. I’ve got to hand it to them, having the sense of humor to publish an entire issue dedicated to flipping the tone of the series and laughing at oneself is tough to do. To do this and make it worth the read—impressive.

Much like MAD magazine in it’s hey-day, The Wicked + The Divine: The Funnies offers up a smorgasbord of hilarious mash-ups and irreverent takes on everything from the characters to the creative team. While some of the segments are stronger on the funny than others, there are no real stinkers. Every segment will give you a firm laugh—provided you’ve read the series. If you haven’t, this comic might be a bit of a head-scratcher for you.

This one-shot contains two stories: “The Wicked & The Canine” and “13 Go Mad In Wiltshire.” As a dog-lover, I started out cringing at grim setup in “The Wicked & the Canine,” but leave it to this series to subvert expectations. Poor Ananke looks so worn and Henderson’s terrific art makes it clear that she’s just had enough. Meanwhile, all twelve dogs are bursting with life and energy. I can identify with that. I own three and they are a handful; twelve boggles my mind. The payoff in this comic is fun and is worth the pet-loving fears that were building up through the first few pages. The dogs behaved precisely as any dog owner would expect.

The Scooby-Doo mash-up, “13 Go Mad in Wiltshire,” is a splash of silly fun. The art even includes “The Vantheon,” which calls up memories of the Scoobies’ Mystery Machine.  Nothing in the old Hanna-Barbera cartoon is sacred, as the book mixes it all together and then creates something great.

As a whole, The Wicked + The Divine: The Funnies offers a wide range of silliness that is pure fan service-level fun. If you don’t read The Wicked + The Divine, then this issue might not be for you, but I would highly recommend this issue, especially for collectors of this series.

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