League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #1 (of 6)
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Kevin O’Neill
All good things must come to an end, whether it’s a decades-spanning epic or a legendary career in comics. The final entry in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen gives readers both. Writer Alan Moore and artist Kevin O’Neill are giving us one more whirlwind adventure through literary culture as a swansong. Equal parts nostalgia for the comics of yesteryear and an anarchist sneer at the crass consumerism and threads of fascism in modernity, both Moore and O’Neill are looking to end their legacy on their own terms. Both are well-known for their anti-establishment bent, and it has always shown since well before the beginning of League.
Volume IV finds us a few weeks after the conclusion of the at-times meandering three-part epic of Century. Never one for simplicity, Moore’s storyline starts at three separate points in time and space. O’Neill’s skilled illustration also swaps styles as a foil to the narrative as it unspools in installments. Visual and literary Easter eggs abound, as with the rest of the series, and the appearance of an iconic submarine serves as a bittersweet reminder that the world we live in isn’t getting that simple need of “Love” fulfilled. With Byzantine plots and weapons-grade satire, this final volume of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen promises a storm.
Farmhand #1 (of 5)
Writer/Artist: Rob Guillory
There’s a certain joy in the camp that comes parceled with early horror movies, the stuff of drive-in theaters, outsized insects, creaky special effects and bizarre plots. B-movies are a treasured touchstone of American cinema, despite falling flat on the screen, weighed down by canned shrill strings or hamfisted acting. In the first of five books, Rob Guillory’s Farmhand neatly sidesteps that pitfall with beautiful stylistic flair. The plot is pure pulpy Saturday matinee goodness, but Guillory’s writing is offset with his evocative but distinctly loose and cartoonish style. It creates a dissonance in the reader even as they’re reading classic B-movie power moves.
Farm that grows body parts? Check. Family coming together after some long-ago and unexplained feud? Check. Sinister forces at play just off camera (or out of frame)? Check and Check. The artwork is charming and expressive, bright and open, which offers a counterpoint to the macabre nature of the farm and the forces apparently trying to take it down. Beyond its inventive visual twists on horror tropes, this is a fun read, and worth it for the illustration alone.
Ruinworld #1 (of 5)
Writer/Artist: Derek Laufman
Ruinworld, or at least its main characters, weren’t originally intended for an all-ages audience, as Writer/Artist Derek Laufman reveals in an interview at the end of issue #1. The original character concepts Laufman had in mind for a darker adventure gradually germinated into the energetic family-friendly fantasy yarn, which isn’t surprising given his love for comics like Bone. There’s a universality to great stories, and sometimes an eyepatch or a scar is just so much gritty window dressing. The protagonists, Pogo and Rex, are more than compelling without the visual trappings of more mature books.
The five-part series, Laufman’s first solo title, is an odd-couple adventure in a desolate and dangerous land of ruins just waiting to be plundered. The anthropomorphic characters are richly illustrated, and Laufman’s palette work makes for some truly compelling and beautiful panels. This is exactly the perfect sort of eye-candy for the future comic nerd in your life. There’s plenty of chuckles, a good bit of danger and the MacGuffin of a stolen map is always a great start to any adventure, no matter your age.