Comixology Submit samplings: The Agency, Eternal Life, and Left Hand Path
By Osvaldo Padilla
By now I’m sure you’re aware that the Comixology Submit platform provides a great way for independent artists to digitally publish their work. Comixology curates the content to make sure it meets standards of professionalism. While there are always clunkers in every weekly batch, what’s more surprising is the number of quality books being made by unknown creators. I recommend sampling the indies from time to time; you never know what you’ll stumble upon. Here are a few titles I tried out this week.
Written by: Ruben Romero, Bethany Romero, Roger Cabrera
Artist: Eric Koda
Colors: Ross Hughes
Letters: Jaymes Reed
Published by Think Alike Productions
The International Agency of Magic is charged with keeping tabs on the worst magical criminals across the planet. When we first meet them, they’re undercover at a casino, a setting that allows the slick Mr. Remo and the no-nonsense Ms. Winters to be introduced to us in a familiar world of intrigue, sharp suits and high stakes. Within a few pages, the IAM have landed their mark, and we know that they’re a well oiled team no to be trifled with.
Later, they’re sent to capture Riley Anderson Dean, a teenager who harbors high levels of mystic energy that he has no idea how to control. He’s restless and aimless and noble — the perfect hero for this series to hang its hat on. We find out that there are forces within and without The Agency conspiring to use the boy for evil.
By issue two, an unspeakable act of terror sets the story in true high-speed motion and we’re given a clearer understanding of the factions of darkness working against The Agency.
While many of the ideas in this book seem familiar, the storytellers combine them well, giving us a team and villains we’re curious about. The art is crisp, and some pages — like the scene where Riley first discovers his powers — pop off the page. The one magic trick we’re waiting for however, is for the writers to take these characters in directions that surprise us. It’s solid enough for us to pick up issue no. 3 in order to find out if that happens.
Here are a few pages from issue one, enjoy…
Written by: Karen Beilharz
Art by: Paul Wong-Pan
Letters by: Karen Beilharz & Paul Wong-Pan
Like a Kubrick film, this book places us in smack dab in its setting — in this case, a space station — without much fanfare. Paul Wong-Pan’s evocative art puts us in Bri’s world, emerging with her slowly from a long sleep, wandering the lobbies and hallways, marveling with minimal dialogue. There are no gun battles, no chases and no cabal of villains plotting. — at least, not as far as we can tell from this first issue. The conflict is emotional and understated, which is a welcome shift from the stereotypical explosions-and-fisticuffs-every-five-pages motif that has become the standard industry formula.
Bri is running from a past, but it appears that what’s at stake is more internal rather than external. We’re not sure why she’s come such a long distance or where she’s going, but she wants to be alone — maybe even dead. Inversely, Daniel has been stuck on this space station all his life. A religious family whom he loves hamstrings the budding genius, keeping him from spreading his wings among the stars.
It’s a subtle, sublime read and the first issue ended too quickly. Looking forward to more.
Writer: Jason Franks
Pencils & Inks: Paul Abstruse
Colors: Eddy Swan
Letters: Ed Brisson
Published by Winter City Productions
“Hell is coming to Los Angeles. Better stock up on ice cream.”
Left Hand Path opens strong — with a demon-summoning ritual gone wrong and a gruesome decapitation. Zycorax has been let loose upon Los Angeles and he’s bloodthirsty. We’re going to enjoy watching him kill people in the most gruesome ways possible, and there will be jokes along the way to make it all the more entertaining, you know, it you think blood and violence in and of itself is a strong storytelling technique.
The solid opening scene leads us to a handful of protagonists, each more unlikeable than the next. Mr. Beaumont, a master of the mystical arts who makes extra cash “cleaning” wealthy people’s homes of evil spirits is an arrogant sadist. When a man complains of being ripped off, Beaumont turns his pubes into fishhooks. Funny, right? Our next protagonist, an L.A.P.D. cop charged with investigating unusual crime scenes is bummed because she hasn’t been able to get out on the streets and bash people’s brains in recently. A Los Angeles cop who likes to beat people up — hysterical, right? The climax for this first issue takes place at a diner, where we’re shown the devastation after Zycorax has ripped everyone to shreds. It’s a mangle of blood and body parts laid out on two pages. It culminates with the demon discovering that he really likes Peach Rainbow Swirl ice cream. Let’s not shed any tears or ponder the gravity of his massacre.
The artwork in this book is solid, and it’s clear that Jason Franks has spent some time mapping out courses for these characters. The problem is we don’t care about any of them because they all seem to care very little about humanity.