Writer & Artist: Rob Guillory
The often loose yet highly expressive style of Rob Guillory’s Farmhand belies a complexity of storyline and character development. As the mysteries of the small town setting begin to unspool, readers are left with more questions than answers as the first volume of Farmhand comes to a close. Farmhand will be on a break until March of next year, the plotlines driving down deep for a winter slumber. Farmhand has thrown body-horror, B-movie monsters, conspiracy theory, stoner humor hefty smacks of religious and ethical concerns, and to top it all off, twee allusions to My Neighbor Totoro. For a story ostensibly about farm-grown body parts and one man’s troubled relationship with his father, Guillory packs a great deal into every issue.
The characters have become just as complex as the storyline, with teasingly truncated flashbacks filling in some of the blanks. This is a book that begs for close re-reading, and to that end, the TPB will be in print in January, though it’s available for pre-order through the usual channels right now. With the mayor’s malfeasance revealed, and the effects of Jedidiah’s Seed apparently running rampant outside the confines of his farm, Guillory’s Farmhand is sure to blossom into some explosive revelations come spring.
Writer: Jordie Bellaire
Artist: Vanesa Del Rey
Florida is a place that captures the imagination, from the expanse of the Everglades to the glitz of Miami, to the sordid headlines the region seems to specialize in. Jordie Bellaire’s Redlands has been working some deep magic and weaving these threads together. The heroes are a coven of witches, backed up by a cryptozoological boyfriend, a bound ghost and a familiar. Bellaire’s story is aggressively feminist, and the subject matter, along with its stunningly kinetic depiction by artist Vanesa Del Rey, is decidedly for mature audiences. In forewords and afterwords, Bellaire continually reaffirms that the book was written for whoever it resounds with, be they male or female, rebel or more straight-laced.
Redlands tackles heavy issues through a lens of the lives of the witches, which stretches back centuries. These flashbacks are especially poignant when the nature of family is brought about by the centennial appearance of the three women’s father, a heretofore nameless god of chaos and death who originally provided his ‘daughters’ with their power. Scores are settled, debts are paid, and villains punished, but in such a way that might give some nightmares. It certainly isn’t black and white, and the protagonists are as conflicted and complex as the issues Bellaire tackles. Redlands can be a challenging and even triggering read but it is a rich one.
Writer: Mariko Tamaki
Artist: Georges Durant
After an intense, body-snatching showdown with the Stepford Cuckoos, sisters Gabby and Laura could use a little break. However, an X-man’s work is never done, and with Gabby’s genetic material out in the wild, the two sisters jump from one case to another. Mariko Tamaki gives readers a stand-alone issue that deals with this pressing issue but represents a humorous pause. Sending the sisters undercover to track down said errant genetic material definitely errs on the funny side. Laura as an aggressive gym teacher is perfect, and Gabby as an excitable student struggling with the inability to simply punch her high school nemesis is terrific. Her narration, complete with superfluous codenames and words are icing on the cake.
Georges Durant capably takes the female portion of the Wolverine clan out of their usual uniforms and setting. While the issue doesn’t move the characters themselves anywhere in particular, seeing them both frustratingly out of their elements is entertaining. Gabby’s conveniently placed single claw also gets some very good use. The jokes are pretty rapid fire, and in parts was reminiscent of Honeybadger and Deadpool’s team-up- another single-shot story from All-New Wolverine, that was pure fun. With the Return of Wolverine being a little underwhelming thus far, and the apparent death of Old Man Logan more or less flopping to the ground, Laura and Gabby continue to deliver clawed magic.