Pearl #1 (of 6)
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Gaydos

Cover for Pearl #1


Pearl is a unique book. It’s taut drama about a mysterious woman and her million-dollar tattoo, penned by the masterful Brian Michael Bendis. The book seems more appropriate in tone and subject matter for a smaller publishing house, where comic writers often go to pursue passion projects with short arcs. What’s interesting about Pearl is that the character is part of a forthcoming flood of creator-owned content coming from Bendis via DC. In a recent interview with Newsarama, Bendis alluded to dozens of irons in the fire, along with some work within the canon DC Universe. It’s exciting to see a DC giving talent that type of latitude, and the results speak for themselves

Michael Gaydos’ illustration is moody and articulate, and the snap-cut framework creates jarring action sequences. The quiet moments are heavy on shadow, and the close work on the characters is excellent. The story begins with a tantalizing little mystery about a tattoo, then proceeds to unroll several more mysteries surrounding Pearl, an albino tattooist who works for the San Fransisco Yakuza. The book is well-researched, with Bendis looking towards a more realistic portrayal of his gangsters and Gaydos practicing with tattoo guns. The dedication to the story shines in the highly detailed dive into the underworld. Hopefully, it takes us all the way to the bottom of the story behind Pearl’s tattoo.

Extermination #1 (of 5)
Marvel Comics
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz

Cover for Extermination #1


With a tri-color rainbow and then some of X-men books out and X-Men Black on the way, there’s a ton of threads out there. It was only a matter of time before Marvel hit the storyboard reset button on their universe to get back to core elements the X-Men. Extermination doesn’t disappoint, taking a character off the board early on, then executing another as part of a slow-burner of a twist. Ed Brisson is promising a plenty of timeline and parallel universe hijinx, and the appearance of Cable is almost always a sure sign of hard-hitting writing. It’s a bit of a relief that this series will likely be the beginning of the end of several trans-dimensional characters’ visits, as things were getting incredibly confusing at the Xavier campus.

Pepe Larraz, as Brisson relates in the back cover notes, brings “the heat” with highly detailed, sharp illustration and loads of fireworks. The journey of the original five X-men is coming to a close, with implications that will rocket throughout the timeline and Marvel Universe as a whole. While parts of the X-men ecosystem have been a little limp in the past year or so, Extermination is promising to be a total game-changer. With a highly complex storyline already established and blood on the ground, Extermination is a book with big teeth.

Crowded #1
Image Comics
Writer: Christopher Sebula
Artist: Ro Stein

Cover for Crowded #1


Crowded is one of those stories that takes place in the not-so-distant future, like the film Her or a Black Mirror episode. Life isn’t too different from what humanity wakes up with in 2018, but it’s just different enough. As countries embrace the future in state-run cryptocurrency or social ranking apps, stories like Christopher Sebula’s Crowded offer something of a window into what may be. In a world dominated by apps, one woman makes her way through life with countless side-hustles, juking through the complicated electronic wilderness to keep a roof over her head. Charlie, our protagonist, is all of us; thoroughly unremarkable, aside from the fact that she has somehow found herself in the crosshairs of a crowd-sourced assassination app.

If it weren’t for the fact that Charlie is on the run from certain death at the hands of total strangers, she’d be the obnoxious high-maintenance lady holding up the line at the coffee shop. Realizing she’s in danger, she employs a bodyguard via yet another app. Ro Stein’s illustration truly shines with his depiction and design of Vita, borrowing a few visual elements from Kill Bill. The somewhat cartoony character work plays well in this odd-couple tale, with Charlie getting on Vita’s nerves before they even meet. There are sight gags along with great humor in the dialogue, which keeps the pages punchy. Even among the many amazing science fiction titles in the Image roster, Crowded stands out from the crowd.

Three solid debut issues this week! What’s new on your radar?