Rob Guillory’s Farmhand, out today from Image Comics, starts with a horror-movie style nightmare and transitions straight into a far more mature one: Ezekiel, a son with a family of his own, facing down the scary prospect of trying to rebuild bridges with his father. It’s not until you see the giant domes at the Jenkins farm that you realize this reconciliation might be more complicated than you think.
Guillory, who handles all the tasks here, makes a point here of putting Ezekiel’s issues with his father, Jedidiah, front and center. Ezekiel is singularly unimpressed with his dad’s literal organ farm, the result of merging stem cells and plants, because, after all, he grew up with it. Instead, he’s anxious about his family reconnecting with his dad and his sister, and it gives the book a certain emotional weight. Guillory’s contrast of the mundane chores of family life and the bizarre spectacle of a kidney tree sharpens both.
There is, of course, more to this story than just a son and his father. Jedidiah has secrets, and they are profoundly dark ones. But this book grabs attention because even the bizarre aspects take a back seat to a deeply relatable story about family that you’ll want to keep reading.
Outpost Zero #1, Image Comics
Sean Kelley McKeever and Alexandre Tefenkgi set up a fun, teen-focused comic about an outpost far from Earth, completely cut off, and the teenagers who are trying to figure out their place, or lack thereof, in it. McKeever and Tefenkgi dole out little crumbs of information that create a vivid setting, such as Tefenkgi drawing a vast auditorium with so few people in it, or an idle mention of the generation ships that brought them there. It’s a smart and engaging comic that stands out in a crowded field of SF books.
Resident Alien: An Alien In New York #4, Dark Horse
Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse wrap up their latest mystery story, with an alien detective, in the quiet, humanist way they’ve always resolved their stories. It sits at any number of intersections: Selfishness versus generosity, hope versus despair, and how our emotions and fears can overwhelm our ability to see what our actions do to others. It is, as always, a beautiful story, with Parkhouse’s crisp lines and Hogan’s strong characterization making it, yet again, one of the best comics on the stands.
Nancy Drew #2, Dynamite
Kelly Thompson and Jenn St-Onge follow up a delightful first issue with a second one that gives the book a little more depth. Nancy has always been something of a blank, which is the nature of writing books about finding pirate bones and solving Scooby-Doo-esque mysteries. Here, Thompson and St-Onge give it a little more depth, and St-Onge’s art in particular stands out for its cartoon figure work; you’d think this was an animated series. It’s a clever revival of an old-school kids series, and a lot of fun for all ages.
She Could Fly #1, Dark Horse
Christopher Cantwell and Martin Morazzo tell a story as much about anxiety, OCD, and the torture of mental illness as it is about, well, a woman who can fly. People think OCD is about flipping light switches, but you can also get a horrible thought trapped in your mind, repeating over and over, called Primarily Obsessional OCD and that’s what happening to Luna. She sees horrific visions of murder and death over and over and over again, and then the topic of her obsession, the flying woman over Chicago, explodes. Cantwell is blunt about what Pure O is really like, and how it can screw you up, but he ends the first issue with a surprising degree of hope. Luna is never going to be cured, but by the end of this, a measure of peace might be in sight.
Bloodshot Salvation #11, Valiant: Jeff Lemire and Doug Braithwaite throw Bloodshot in 4002 AD where he meets his greatest foe; himself, two thousand years and even more regrets later.
Plastic Man #2, DC Comics: Gail Simone and Adriana Melo’s ongoing reinvention of Plastic Man continues its funny and sardonic turn as Plas tries to do the right thing, in what’s decidedly the wrong way.
Ruinworld #1, BOOM! Studios: Derek Laufman mixes funny animals, D&D, and snarky humor for a lighthearted, action-packed all-ages fantasy book.
Domino #4, Marvel: Gail Simone and David Balderon finally explain just where Domino’s luck powers come from and, well… it’s not good, but it is exciting.
Relay #1, Aftershock Comics: Zac Thomspon and Andy Clarke offer up an SF comic tackling the issue of monoculture, via the Galactic Relay, which enforces a univeral culture and scientific culture… whether newly discovered planets want it or not.
This Week’s Best Collections
Ex Machina: The Complete Series, DC Comics (Hardcover, $150): Bryan K. Vaughan and Tony Wood deconstruct the superhero in some brilliant ways in this complete, thrilling series.
Memoirs Of A Very Stable Genius, Image Comics (Softcover, $20): Shannon Wheeler talks about life as a smart person, among many other things, in this hilarious collection of his work.
Made Men Vol. 1: Getting The Gang Back Together, Oni Press (Softcover, $20): Paul Tobin and Arjuna Susini offer a pointed twist on the Frankenstein legend where the “gang” is an elite group of police, and that subtitle is, shall we say, excessively literal.