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The Lion and the Roc, The Massive, Monologue, Descender: This Week in Comics #4

After robots bring galactic genocide, the survivors go on a robot-killing spree. TIM-21 is a boy-robot, one of the few remaining machines you get to read about in this week's comics column.

February’s always a great month for comics. Readers are warming up to the new year and trying out new books, titles are either launching or really hitting their stride mid-run, and it’s generally the "calm before the storm" that is convention season. Any time is a good time to get into comics—but these past few weeks have seemed particularly great for the medium. This week’s selections from the physical and digital shelves feature an end-of-the-world tale, a storybook fable, a twisting quest for self-truth, and robot hunters. It’s a nice mix of styles and stories, but even so… a trend emerges: small-press and self-published comics artists are elbows deep in watercolors, and the result is a batch of hazy, bubbling, beautiful pages.

The Massive: Ninth Wave #3

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Cover for The Massive: Ninth Wave #3. Illustrated by J. P. Leon. Photo courtesy of Dark Horse Comics

Written by Brian Wood, art by Garry Brown, colors by Jordie Bellaire, and letters by Jared K. Fletcher.

The Massive: Ninth Wave is a spin-off of Brian Wood’s award-winning comic about the earth post-disaster. In the original series, global warming has happened—in a big way—and the comic revolves around a cast of ex-environmentalists on a huge freighter trying to find their sister ship. Ninth Wave turns the clock back a bit, and takes a look at the eco-fighters before the Earth went to Hell. This is a very realistic comic, one that doesn’t mince mysticism or magic, and it’s nice to see an ecological story given so much heft and respect in the comics medium. Each issue in the series is a single, self-contained story, so here’s as good a time as any to jump in. Garry Brown’s linework in this comic has a purposefully rushed, sketchy quality to it that perfectly mirrors the pace of Wood’s writing. But the real show-stopper here is Jordie Bellaire’s coloring. From stark neon-green and black blocking in a control room sequence, to dynamic outlining in a courtroom scene, the colors in this issue are subtle but breathtaking.

The Lion and the Roc #1

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Cover for The Lion and the Roc #1. Illustrated by Kathleen Kralowec. Photo courtesy of Comicker

Written and illustrated by Kathleen Kralowec.

The term “dreamlike” often gets overused and thrown around to describe flights of fancy, but The Lion and the Roc #1 fully fulfills the phrase. Written, illustrated, and colored by Kathleen Kralowec, this introductory issue follows Cassander and Brigid, two wandering cursed spirits sent on a quest to find “the stranger with the secret.” In this flowing, pastel-colored tale, we meet Parable, a young child with amazing abilities; Gusty, Parable’s protector; and a once-powerful goddess. With illustrations that range in style from The Little Prince to Alex Gray, The Lion and the Roc tells a story with a pace that’s in no hurry. This is a peaceful story, and it comes off almost as a bedtime musings in comic form.

Monologue #1

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Cover for Monologue #1. Illustrated by S.J. McCune. Photo courtesy of Millicent Barnes Comics.

Written and illustrated by S.J. McCune.

After a small print release last November, Monologue #1 is now available as a digital comic, and the world’s a bit luckier for it. The concept and basic plot is straightforward: a woman recounts a moment in her life where she made an intense choice, and the entire comic is told in a narrative monologue. Even the artwork in the beginning of the comic, with its dusty desert reds and browns, feels to-the-point. But readers should beware the false sense of security, as structurally, tonally, artistically, and narratively, the comic crumbles into controlled chaos. This is exciting work, work that comes off as daring without being shocking, and is certainly deserving of your 99¢.

Descender #10

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Cover for Descender #10. Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen. Photo courtesy of Image Comics. Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands.

After giant robots destroy much of the civilized galaxy (and then disappear) the survivors go on a robot-killing spree. TIM-21 is a boy-robot, one of the few remaining machines in Descender, and now he’s being chased around by robot hunters and all kinds of other nefarious sorts. This is classic sci-fi stuff, and may be a little too techno-futurist for some, but the artwork is jaw-dropping. Dustin Nguyen’s pencils and watercolors make for a beautiful counterpoint to Descender’s hard-edged sci-fi setting, and the comic’s story is solid and well-plotted, and makes no concessions toward the fantastical in its science fiction.

What'd you read this week? Let us know @CreatorsProject or in the comments below.

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