Sunday, February 16, 2014

Legenderry and The Mercenary Sea: two new books I like

Here are some new titles that I am enjoying tremendously.

Several months ago, I asked Sandy Sansolis of Comic Odyssey if he ordered Dynamite Comics' Legenderry: A Steampunk Adventure. He said he wasn't aware of it. I was following the last New York Comicon and this was one of the new books announced that event. First and foremost it is being written by Bill Willingham of Fables fame. But truthfully, I first read Bill's stuff when he was writing The Elementals from Comico. Well, he did create The Elementals. Only it was tough finding that book on the shelves locally. Filbar's did pick it up from time to time but not regularly. My collection of 10 issues was lost during Typhoon Ondoy. Hopefully, I'll be able to complete the series that has since been collected into trade paperback format. When Willingham finding more success with Vertigo's Fables, he seemed like a natural for Dynamite's Legenderry. 

You see Legenderry bands the various properties of Dynamite -- Vampirella, The Green Hornet and Kato, Captain Victory, The Six Million Dollar Man (known in the story as the Six Thousand Man), The Phantom, Flash Gordon, and Red Sonja into one storyline ala The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Willingham, if you're familiar with Fables, gathers some of folklore's different and disparate characters and is woven into a modern day setting. If Neil Gaiman's American Gods put the gods of myth in a modern setting this one's the opposite. It's all those characters from fables and myths put in the mythical town of Fabletown set in modern day New York City. I bought the first issue when it came out and decided to instead collect all the hardcover versions. It is one of my favorite series ever.

And that brings me back to Legenderry. It's set is a Victorian Era-style era where steam ran airships and trains. It's basically your horse and chariot fare too. Willingham finds a way to introduce the characters who receive all new backgrounds that are different from the present continuity. At the crux of it all is Magna Spadarossa who is fleeing from unsavory elements. Our heroes are there to protect her. It's a seven-issue limited series and after two issues of Willingham prose and the gorgeous art of Sergio Davila (with covers by Joe Benitez), I love it. Let's see where Bill takes this and if it warrants a sequel or an ongoing series. It's entirely possible I suppose as Bill has supplied us with a map of this Legenderry universe.

The other new book I like is Image Comics' The Mercenary Sea by writer Kel Symons and artist Matthew Reynolds. It feels like Josh Whedon's Firefly only set in the South Pacific of 1938 before the world was fully swallowed up in the conflagration that was World War II. Or maybe Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon before Star Wars. 

Somehow, I get this Adventures of Tintin vibe from the book. Sorry, I really can't explain. Maybe it's the beautiful artwork by Reynolds who colors it as well. It's not Herge but it has a European feel to it. 

There are these cast of characters of different nationalities in a submarine. Their purpose isn't entirely known yet. But they seem to be smugglers. Towards the end of the first issue, the villain is introduced -- Admiral Shi Tang (not sure if he's Japanese though). This brought back memories of that television series Baa Baa Black Sheep, the mostly fictionalized story of US Marine aviator Pappy Boyington and the famed Black Sheep Squadron.

The first issue introduces us to the characters including the cannibal chief of some island whose tribe enjoys popcorn and watching movies (through the old reel thingamajig). 

I'm excited to see where they go with this. And I don't know how much time Reynolds puts into the art and colors but I don't mind the book being late as long as he does his stuff. Last night I was going through my collection of Caros Pacheco Fantastic Fours and he did issues #35-50. While he co-wrote and plotted almost all of it, he was only able to do pencils on about 10 of those issues. sorry but the replacement guys are just not my cup of tea. They felt like goddam fill-ins. So it goes for this. I wish the crew of The Mercenary Sea all the luck. 


So many years ago, I discovered Mike Baron's and Steve Rude's Nexus and Dave Stevens' The Rocketeer. The only new independent title that I have come to love and enjoy almost in the same vein as the aforementioned two characters is Omni Press' The Sixth Gun. There are lots of good independents out there but characters? None as compelling. Yet. 

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