Surprisingly, there are more comics than the adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s American Gods debuting in stores this week. In fact, it’s not a bad week for #1 comics as Aspen launches a new Soulfire volume, Batwoman gets her Rebirth, and there’s a Vampirella. This week, we’re only talking about the best and well… the not so best of the week.

Divinity III – Escape From Gulag 396 #1


Story: Eliot Rahal

Art: Francis Portela

Color: Andrew Dalhouse

Letters: Dave Sharpe

Publisher: Valiant




These one-offs and splinters from Valiant’s Stalinverse are getting to be a bit much. Not in any sense of them being dreadful, in fact most have been rather solid comics. No, the overwhelming comes from such a large gathering of books which according to Valiant you may not need to read everything to get a quality experience, but the reality is it certainly helps. Escape From Gulag 396 by Eliot Rahal and Francis Portela is another bright spot in the Stalinverse but one showing the symptoms of fatigue.

Escape From Gulag 396 is a re-imagining of the origin of Archer & Armstrong for this Russian propaganda laced alternate Valiant Universe. Obadiah Archer grows up under a religious father and with communist Russia persecuting Christians who supported anti-Soviet regimes the events take a rough turn. By the end of the story we see how Archer befriends a fat immortal in prison in order to form the duo Valiant fans know and love. Writer, Eliot Rahal, doesn’t deviate much from the inner workings of these characters in the regular Valiant U. That’s also the flaw of a story like this which lends itself to experimentation. Other than the twist at the end, these characters are little more than Russian versions of their American counterparts.

Francis Portela’s art is phenomenal. Typically, heavy dialogue scenes are quicksand in comics. Even with good dialogue if the art doesn’t convey emotion properly, it just reads like a sinking boulder. Portela’s work in the sequence with our heroes talking through a jail cell door is a prime example of how art can change the feel of dialogue. Their actions and emotions in it make the whole thing read at a quicker pace yet no less impactful. The final layer of color placed by Andrew Dalhouse’s red and blue contrast adds that missing touch.

Unfortunately, it just isn’t enough to fully say this is a must buy in a week with a high level of competition.  Escape From Gulag 396 just doesn’t make readers who know nothing about Stalinverse want to invest, neither does it add anything vital to the narrative set by Valiant.

[DONE]- It ain’t the worst comic book, but it certainly doesn’t do the Stalinverse any favors. 

Coady and the Creepies #1


Story: Liz Prince

Art: Amanda Kirk

Color: Hannah Fisher

Letters: Jim Campbell

Publisher: Boom! Box (Boom! Studios)



Boom! Box continues to be one of the best lines in comics. From Jonesy to Giant Days; the books put out by the imprint represent the non-superhero future of comics. Coady and the Creepies is just the latest in a line of comics that makes something full out of something simplistic.

Writer, Liz Prince tells a story about a teenage rock band comprised of triplet sisters: Criss, Corey, and Coady Castoff. When tragedy strikes, the band is forever changed in unusual ways. A year later, The sister band known as The Creepies are determined to win Pinmageddon, (a race to play the best venues in the country). While the set up is a bit bare bones for a first issue, Liz Prince packs this book full of fun character. These girls have moxie and show it while coming back from tragedy, scarred and in one case a wheelchair.  Like most of Boom! Box’s titles the book is laced with humor from ghost hunter jokes to chimichanga deities. As we meet more bands and characters in this series, it’ll be fun to see the makeup of this rock band world.

Amanda Kirk’s art is in tune with the lighthearted rock vibe of the book. It’s what the best cartoon strip comics bring, easy to follow visuals enhanced by over expressive emotion. Almost every character in this book looks like someone you probably went to school with; nerd with glasses, unibrowed bully with pierced ears, maybe even tomboy drummer girl. There’s such a variety of character trait and representation which blends together organically into something fantastic.

Coady and The Creepies is the best kind of musical story. An emotional twist of a tale that puts character before music. Let’s face it there are very few problems in life one can solve with music. No matter what TV tells you. Visually, the book doesn’t hammer panel after panel of music note filled art. Instead, readers get a comic book full of superb characters that draw you into the early makings of a fun four-part story.

[WON] – Coady and The Creepies #1 is a rocking good time (BOOM! that quote is available for any and all collections)

Here’s the rundown of this week’s #1 comics:

  • BATWOMAN #1 (DC Comics)
  • CADMUS #1 (Antarctic Press)
  • SOULFIRE #1 (Aspen Comics)
  • VAMPIRELLA #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • WARHAMMER 40000 REVELATIONS #1 (Titan)