This week’s main review is Deer Editor #1Plus, the Wednesday Comics Team has its usual rundown of the new #1s, finales and other notable issues from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

Deer Editor #1Deer Editor #1

Writer: Ryan K. Lindsay
Artist: Sami Kivelä
Colorist: Lauren Affe
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Mad Cave

Review by Tim Rooney

Sometimes all your story needs to stand out is an anthropomorphic animal man in the midst of an otherwise grounded world.

In Deer Editor #1, writer Ryan K Lindsay and artist Sami Kivelä bring readers into a hardboiled noir that follows a grizzled investigative reporter named Bucky as he unravels a small-town criminal conspiracy. Bucky also happens to be, inexplicably, a deer-man. The book never explains why this man is a deer, and no one is particularly surprised by a talking animal.

Colorist Lauren Affe gives the story’s winter setting a monochrome blue shading that, combined with the blank specks of white snow drifting across the panels, gives the story an overpowering chill. Kivelä’s art is realistic and heavy in shadow, making Bucky’s presence in the world all the more startling. He is not rendered as a cartoonish animal but a realistic and terrifying presence.

It’s hard to say how much this story would stand out on its own if Bucky were an average Joe and how much of my enjoyment is the walking nonsequitur. By making the protagonist an anthropomorphic critter, the creators can push the genre tropes to their extreme without breaking the story. Ryan Lindsay’s script leans into the absurdity, the dialogue and narration absolutely dripping with the pulpiest purple prose imaginable.

Letterer Jim Campbell skillfully balances the preponderance of narration with the art, never overpowering the visuals.  Part of me wonders why this reporter is a deer-man. Part of me hopes it is never addressed. This is another idiosyncratic and charming release from Mad Cave, which is slowly building a reputation for distinctive and creator-driven books.

Darkwing Duck – Justice Ducks #1

Writer: Rodger Langridge
Artist: Carlo Lauro
Letterer: Jeff Eckleberry
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment

Review by Clyde Hall

Before comic fandom was getting regular love letters and corporate courting with big budget animated or live-action adaptations, there was Disney Afternoon’s Darkwing Duck. My then-toddler daughter and I watched together, her for Launchpad and Goslyn, me because of its abiding affection for pulp and comic book heroes.  

When Dynamite started their Darkwing Duck title, I followed it and enjoyed the novelty of new, mostly faithful, ‘episodes’  for that series. The title was cancelled after a 10-issue run, but this week we get a new Justice Ducks series featuring the Night-Flapping Terror and his fellow adventurers. 

I went back and re-watched the two Justice Ducks episodes from the cartoon, and was surprised at how egocentric Drake was, how resistant to sharing credit with a team. Writer Roger Langridge brings forth a more mature and seasoned Darkwing in the premiere issue, one who recognizes his limitations, who supports the team’s potential for tackling larger than street-level challengers. While Darkwing’s always had a lot of heart beneath the cloak and bluster, his devotion in this tale goes beyond protecting St. Canard. 

Langridge’s story is aptly illustrated by Carlo Lauro, and they serve up a space invasion tale echoing the silly fun of Marvel’s classic cosmic monster yarns. Seeing them bring Darkwing into his own, we can hope they have similar plans for teammates Gizmoduck, Neptunia, Stegmutt, and Morgana as well. If you’re a fan of the show, here’s a chance to become reacquainted with the toy surprise in evildoers’ cereal boxes, the migraine headache of the criminal mind, and to get dangerous all over again. Verdict: BUY (Clyde Hall)

Wednesday Comics Reviews

  • Damn Them All #12 (BOOM! Studios): Writer Si Spurrier and artist Charlie Adlard finish their love letter/breakup letter to John Constantine with the final issue of DAMN THEM ALL, out this week, and they stick the landing with a finish that goes big and small at once; as above, so below. This happy accident offshoot of Spurrier’s canceled run on Hellblazer (a title he’s back on as of this month) wraps up as one of the best Constantine stories in recent memory, a fresh and coherent take on the character that has everything but the character himself. This issue was also colored by Sofie Dodgson (with assists by Daniel Silva De Carvalho) and lettered by Jim Campbell. Bob Proehl
  • Ghost Machine #1 (Image Comics): Lookin’ more like a Free Comic Book Day sampler than a one-shot per se, Ghost Machine #1 offers a bevy of Ghost Machine’s 2024 creative line. If you’re a fan of 2010s era DC Comics, then Ghost Machine’s starting lineup will be familiar: Geoff JohnsGary FrankBryan HitchJason FabokFrancis ManapulPeter J. TomasiPeter SnejbjergIvan Reis, with Danny Miki on inks, Brad Anderson on colors, and Rob Leigh on letters! But Ghost Machine, the comics creator co-op, also uses this opportunity to showcase at least one page of work from their up-and-coming creators like Lamont Magee and Maytal Zchut, which is pretty nice! On the docket for their 2024 slate is a return to Johns’ and Frank’s post-apoc Book of EliGeiger, where the radioactive man searches for a cure! Johns’ and Hitch’s Vandal-Savagesque revolutionary Redcoat will get a series run in April 2024 for those seeking a roguish romp through revisionist historical fiction– dicey for an election year! There’s a Johns and Fabok book named Rook: Exodus running a post-apoc SF war solely off of animal controlling helmets, and a Johns et al title named Hyde Street that is giving violent Twilight Zone, but the real gems are the Tomasi/Manapul/Snejbjerg minis The Rocketfellers and Hornsby & Halo that manage to complete a done-in-one story in under ten pages. The Rocketfellers [Tomasi/Manapul] brings family fun from the future to the present and Hornsby & Halo [Tomasi/Snejbjerg] swaps a demon and angel kid into an angel and demon household, respectively! Also, of major major major note, the entire book is lettered in the widest range of styles possible by Rob Leigh and provides the easiest masterclass for quickly, efficiently establishing tone, pace, and style with only balloons and font across the entire Ghost Machine line! Wild! So, if Ghost Machine is your thing, you probably didn’t need me to tell you to check it out! —Beau Q.
  • Star Trek: Defiant Annual #1 (2024) (IDW Publishing): In this annual by Christopher Cantwell, Ramon Rosanas, Lee Loughridge and Clayton Cowles, Commander Sela comes face to face with an improbable figure from her past. The story in this issue technically flows from the “Day of Blood” crossover event (which also included issues of the mainline Star Trek comic, and a delightful Star Trek: Lower Decks one-shot that specifically comes recommended). However, even if you haven’t been following the IDW Trek line, you can easily pick up and enjoy this issue anyway, as it is mainly based on Tasha Yar and Sela’s Star Trek: The Next Generation continuity. There’s a little Martok in there, too. The Romulans make for worthy and comparatively underutilized antagonists. Plus, I am forever in favor of the addition of more caitians, in any capacity. However, as I read this issue, I did occasionally find myself thinking of the bit in Lower Decks in which Lt. J-Gs Rutherford and Boimler argue over whether or not Tom Paris and Nick Locarno have the same face. Ultimately, this issue was a solid one-shot story that will be especially engaging for TNG fans. —Avery Kaplan

The Prog Report

  • 2000AD Prog 2366 (Rebellion Publishing): We get a conclusion this week for The Devil’s Railroad, a sci-fi parable that speaks toward global migration crisis. This one has been among my favorites since it began, and the ending does not disappoint, which is not to say it’s a happy ending — most certainly not. But it is an ending that really makes you feel the plight of migrants. It makes you sit with their powerlessness, and it makes you appreciate the immense sacrifice one must make — typically with the next generations in mind — to leave one’s home for a shot at living somewhere better. And that’s all a very honest and well-earned ending. The Devil’s Railroad was written by Peter Milligan with artwork by Rufus Dayglo, colors by Jose Villarrubia, and letters by Jim Campbell.  As always, you can nab a copy of this week’s Prog here. —Zack Quaintance

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