Digital Visions #4 Review

This is another comic I’ve been sitting on for far too long, so it’s about time I mention it. Anthology comics are rare these days, although it’s great to see Dark Horse Presents back on the shelves, but indie books like these are are a good way to view some up and coming talents. From Visionary Comics, the fourth issue is out now and is free on Wowio. Yep, free.

The first of the three stories here is from Sam Johnson and Brunio Letizia. Entitled Voodoo Trespass, it follows Cabra Cini, who is a “Voodoo Junkie Hitwoman.”What a combo. Cabra’s latest case involves a dopey young man who killed his girlfriend while the pair were playing vampires. He took neck biting too far and ended up a murderer. Now the victim’s parents want revenge. We soon learn that Cabra swapped her cocaine addiction for voodoo and over the years has become rather adept, using “The Infinity” to teleport, which she does so to hunt down the vamp lover/ killer Tom Spelling.

On the way however, she runs into The Rook, the guardian of this secret dimension, as well as her abusive ex-boyfriend (who claims he’s currently in a coma in our world). With a brief battle and a hasty escape, Cabra meets Tom, and that’s where the story ends.

Johnson has done well to set up all that we need to know about the titular character in the first few pages. With her tough exterior , yet troubled past, and hints at a larger mythology, Cabra’s adventures are off to an intriguing start. Leitizi’a art is simple, but shows promise and the bold colour choices work well, especially when the black magic begins.

Gangland Avalon also mixes magic with action, and although this is the second part of the story, the opening page brings the reader up to speed. In short, a recent gathering of mob families ended badly, with main character “Stab Happy” Pelago earning his name. His narration guides us through the set up, with several characters (all of whom are tough killers), though it appears the action will kick in in the next instalment, with some discussion and a poisoning occuring in a restaurant making up the bulk of the story here. Writer A. David Lewis is perhaps the best known creator in this anthology, and his streamlined work with Michael Angelo Lee generates an interesting tale, with the focus on the gangster elements rather than the use of magic.

Finally, Deity: The Darkness and the Light centres on young blonde Jamie and her recent discovery that she’s a goddess and an alien race known as Ma’Shiva are trying to kill her. Thankfully, she has three protectors, but isn’t taking the threat seriously. There’s a lot of expository narration, from Jamie and her immense trust in herself (which you know can’t end well), the alien Valmek as he approaches his Lord Ogden and also Jamie’s boyfriend Zig. The script, dialogue and art all have a mid-90s approach that doesn’t scream originality and seems unnecessarily wordy. With a greater focus on action and some surprising character developments, creators Karl Altstaetter and Robert Lapton could be on to something.

Deadlands in June

Image Comics is launching a new western series called Deadlands. Below is the official info, with an impressive list of creators, plus covers for the first 3 issues, and some text-free pages from June’s #1.

HOW THE OLD WEST WAS WEIRD!

Image Comics Presents a Series of One Shots with Can’t-Miss Creative Teams 
 
Westerns, one of the truly original American genres! From books, movies and comics, the genre has always held a special place in the hearts of fans. This summer, Image Comics and Visionary Comics, along with Strider Nolan and Pinnacle Entertainment are bringing westerns to comics in a big way. But not just any western… the weird western! With a mix of horror, steampunk and the supernatural, the old west was never a more frightening and weird place than with DEADLANDS!
 
The old west will get a fresh new take in the DEADLANDS comics with the exciting interpretations of a list of super star talents. Those contributing their masterful storytelling to the series will include: David Gallaher, Steve Ellis, Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, Lee Moder, Ron Marz, Bart Sears, Steve Niles, and Francesco Francavilla.
 
Ron Marz, who also heads up the project as series editor, stated, “It’s been amazing. All these guys have been wanting to do a western, and there it was, the perfect chance. The books have each taken shape by creator choice. We couldn’t have hoped for better.”
 
C. Edward Sellner, Creative Director for Visionary and writer of the four part backup series appearing in each book also commented on the enthusiasm of the teams, “We just keep hearing how much fun everyone is having and this stuff looks like some of the best work of their careers. I think everyone loves westerns, and everyone loves a scary story, so when you combine the best of both, you get something everyone can love.”
 
While Deadlands is based on the popular RPG game from Pinnacle, one doesn’t have to be a gamer to love the books, explained Marz, “If you love westerns, if you love horror tales, if you love good comics, great art and storytelling, you’ll love these books. Part of my job was to make sure these books were accessible to all.”
 
The first book out of the gate is DEADLANDS: THE DEVIL’S SIX GUN by the Harvey award-winning team of David Gallaher and Steve Ellis. In classic Faustian tradition, a weapons maker comes to America to pursue the American dream in the former colonies. Instead, he becomes immersed in plots and manipulations to gain unearthly power through the supernatural Ghost Rock. His goal? To make a gun that can kill anything, including the powerful Hellstromme! Its a journey that will cost him everything he loves, including his soul!

DEADLANDS (APR110410), the first 32 page full color one shot in this series of weird westerns, will be available in stores June 15, 2011 for $2.99.