This week’s lead review for Wednesday Comics is Immortal Sergeant #1, a new crusty old cop comic from Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura. In addition, the Wednesday Comics Team has a rundown of the new #1s and finales from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist/Letterer: Ken Niimura
Editor: Joe Illidge
Publisher: Image Comics
You know that one police procedural with the bitter, retiring loose cannon cop?
C’mon, you know the one. He’s mean, he’s old, he’s white, he’s divorced, he’s got anger issues, he drinks a lot, he swears a lot, he’s casually racist, he’s only sweet to the women serving him at the bar, his coworkers are scared of him, and his family has distanced from him? Maybe it’s from the ‘70s on account of the ‘72 Cadillac Coupe de Ville he blasts around a non-descript New York suburb? That’s this comic. That’s Immortal Jim Sargent. That’s Immortal Sergeant #1 in its peanut-excavated nutshell.
In their first foray back as a dynamic comics duo since their heartwrenching I Kill Giants, writer Joe Kelly and artist/letterer Ken Niimura bet it all on a buddy cop miniseries advertised as an “old-school detective [and] his anxiety-riddled adult son.” While that’s transparent setdressing for a redemption arc amidst the glorious era of generational trauma media, Immortal Sergeant #1 is missing one key element from the dynamic: the adult son. With half the core dynamic missing, Immortal Sergeant #1 exists as a reckless (or brave) and difunctionally light first issue, which is a difficult sell in today’s saturated market.
What remains clear is Immortal Sergeant is written as a graphic novel in nine chapters; marketability be damned. Tradewaiting dangers aside, this publishing tactic turns Immortal Sergeant #1 into the similarly fearless opening sequence of Darwyn Cooke’s Parker: The Hunter, which opens with a near-wordless 16-page sequence of an ornery grifter named Parker making his way about town through low level crimes. In Immortal Sergeant, we’re treated to a 12-page cold open of our eponymous Sarge gunning up a golf mound, taking out his gold retirement watch, and blasting that to bits. There’s even a callback to Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards #1, wherein a dog shits within the opening spread, so we know we really stepped in it this time (although, here it’s a bird).
On the art side, Niimura delivers his trademark charm with minimalist, gesture-focused cartooning that plays with chiaroscuro as much as it brightens the literal dark corners of Sarge’s miserable life. I’ve always admired Niimura’s work from Henshin to I Kill Giants, and in this opening salvo, he delves into my favorite aspect of his cartooning: bare essentials. What is it that a panel needs to have? What important details are required to communicate Sarge is a POS on a barhop kinda night? Niimura spends 35 pages efficiently rendering as little as possible while finding what elements actually establish a scene and a character. Sure, most of it is spent illustrating this salty cop’s piss-poor night out, but Sarge’s exaggerated bitterness and trope-checklisting helps set the stage for his son, Michael’s, debut, and their budding, familial redemption arc to start!
It should be noted, Niimura usually letters his own work to better incorporate sound and dialogue into his eyelines. Here, Niimura goes for a digital brush to sculpt out his clock ticking and engine roars, which provides a nice, though attention displacing symbiosis that screams as much as it guides. Not for nothin’, I’ve never felt a car rip down the street hard and fast enough until Immortal Sergeant #1. And now, so can you.
Writer: Elliott Kalan
Artist/Colorist: Andrea Mutti
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: AfterShock Comics
Since the series’ debut in 2021, Elliot Kallan and Andrea Mutti’s supernatural slasher Manic of New York has relied on its titular killer to act as a reflection of bad politics in a mayor American city. The Maniac, an imposing hockey mask-wearing being with otherworldly strength that can be argued as the slasher genre’s own Doomsday character. He kills in crowded areas and racks up a frightening kill count that puts the city’s mayor in an impossible position when it comes to campaigning for his reelection, a problem that is unfairly dumped on the two detectives that are after the killer.
Two story arcs in, the Maniac is thought to be dead. Like all good slashers, though, his return is inevitable. This time, in story subtitled “Don’t Call it a Comeback,” the expected resurrection comes in a way that puts the hockey mask on another person, a woman. What follows is a clever subversion of slasher conventions that builds on the myth of the Maniac as his brand of political disruption.
Kallan and Mutti have done all the necessary work already to establish the sadistic Maniac as a force of violence that is held back only by a kind of invisible force that keeps his murder sprees contained within a geographical area. The rise of the Maniac version 2.0 complicates the character in ways that deepen the horror behind it, especially as it pertains to the source of its power. Is the mask the source of evil, or is it something else?
Mutti’s art continues to frame the killer and his/her killings as if it were a kind of natural disaster that chooses its targets, cutting through innocent people with the indiscriminate demeanor of a tornado. Mutti captures a sense of imposing physicality that builds on a monstrous persona that retains its menace regardless of gender.
The Maniac reborn digs the city’s politics into a deeper hole, especially as the new batch of victims fall under the category of “social undesirables” (i.e. the homeless). The killer’s terror becomes a political talking point, making the Maniac’s new identity a catalyst for divisive rhetoric and misinformation.
“Don’t Call it a Comeback’s” mix of horror and politics makes for a compelling read that rewards fans and welcomes newcomers with the promise of blood and smarts. Catch up or start at the beginning, but make sure you’re following Maniac of New York.
Wednesday Comics Reviews Quick Hits
- Barbaric: Hell to Pay #1 (Vault Comics): One of the absolute best monthly comics returns this week with the new miniseries in the world of Barbaric, from writer Michael Moreci, artist Nathan Gooden, colorist Addison Duke, and letterer Jim Campbell. This book — for those who have somehow missed it — has been a massive hit, rapidly expanding from an initial three-issue mini to a world of titles with many more on the way. This most recent series continues the main narrative, and the first issue is fantastic. To me, it felt like the creative was really settling in here to start telling stories with this world and these characters for the long haul, which opens up new possibilities. The bottom line, though, is that Barbaric remains excellent, one of those books that is itself a case for following comics month to month. (Zack Quaintance)
- Giga #5 (Vault Comics): Giga #5 concludes the series as Mason and Aiko scramble for understanding by attempting a joining with the Red King. In their pursuit of religious understanding, rather, the pursuit of “truth”, they leave carnage and death in their wake. While the characters seek to understand the Giga, writer Alex Paknadel provides understanding in a way that reels in the scale of Giga and asks the reader and the characters to see how civilization even got to this point. This is a story that has convincingly set up a religion and governmental structure around it, then takes the time to shift the scope of its lens. There is a grandiose feeling throughout the series as it explores religious and government institutions. All of these dominoes fall in beautiful art by John Lê with colors by Rosh that create a sense of awe and scale amidst the chaos constructed in the story. Lê pulls the camera in and out, moving through the settings, exploring the reality, carnage, and beauty of this world and this work is elevated further by the letters of Aditya Bidikar who weaves the text and sound effects naturally through these pages. As Giga reaches its ending, it benefits from a closer look at these characters and their motivations; questioning if any of it matters if we’re not engaging with each other, if we’re more connected to institutions than the world around us. (Khalid Johnson)
- Highball #5 (AHOY Comics): This week marks the end of the excellent Highball miniseries from writer Staurt Moore, artist Fred Harper, colorist Lee Loughridge, and letterer Rob Steen. I think this comic — from start to now finish — has always been one where the high concept will either draw you right in or push you right out. In it, the main character is a space adventurer who is bad at it and also very drunk (thus the name, Highball). The miniseries has never shied away from that, much to its credit, and now in this finale issue it plays off earlier setup for a big and satisfying twist. It is, in other words, exactly what you want from a miniseries finale. I also want to specifically praise artist Fred Harper here, who continues to do standout work for AHOY Comics, building here on what he did in Snelson, one of the truly underrated comics of recent years. (Zack Quaintance)
- House of Slaughter #11 (BOOM! Studios): Antonio Fuso draws people marvelously— from world-weary monster hunter Jace Boucher (and his younger, happier self) to the kids he looks after, each of House of Slaughter #11’s players has their own body language at rest and in action (and in action, the way they move differs depending on whether they’re facing people or monsters). Author Tate Brombal sets the story’s stage well — contrasting Jace’s past and present with each other, with the kids, and with his one-time peers. It’s compelling, and its action balances thrills and horror with skill. This issue was also colored by Miquel Muerto and lettered by Andworld Design. (Justin Harrison)
- Sonic the Hedgehog: Scrapnik Island #4 (IDW Publishing): The horrors and mystery faced by Sonic the Hedgehog and his good buddy, Tails, come to an end this week in Sonic the Hedgehog: Scrapnik Island #4. The series’ conclusion sees writer Daniel Barnes wrap up Sonic’s latest adventure by highlighting that the Blue Blur has more up his sleeve than just “gotta go fast!” Sonic’s compassion and kindness shine through the darkness of Scrapnik Island, even in the face of his own demise at the hands of his supposed enemies. The horror imagery and action seen throughout the series since launch are equally balanced with the hope and light-heartedness Sonic fans have come to know and love from the franchise. Brought to life with art by Jack Lawrence, paired with Nathalie Fourdraine on colors, and Shawn Lee on letters, the book is a unique Sonic experience succeeding in showing readers they are in control of their own destiny, not some pre-set programming. (Bryan Reheil)
- White Savoir #1 (Dark Horse Comics): An unexpected time-warp hurls Todd Parker back into feudal Japan where waring clans battle for supremacy. Satirising the ‘white saviour’ trope, this caper is a fast paced and irreverent sendup of solemn period stories, spiking the unknowing context of the past with contemporary references, humour, and sensibilities. For anyone in the market for a light-hearted read that moves at a nice clip. Written by Eric Nguyen and Scott Burman, drawn by Eric Nguyen, colored by Iwan Joko Triyono, and lettered by Micah Myers. (Eoin Rogers)
Wednesday Comics is edited by Zack Quaintance.
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