Comics: Of Kings and Gods

by Dee. 1/28/2017
Lords and Ladies:

We find ourselves again at this impasse: You need information about neat current comics and upcoming goodies, and I want to air my opinions. I'm so glad we've come to a reasonable, workable solution. This week, we have Lady Castle, American Gods (yes, Neil Gaiman! I know!) and Royal City.

This is a bit unusual, as I am known to pull from the month's selection of DC, Marvel and smaller publisher titles. I gotta keep you on your toes, though.

So here we go!

Lady Castle (Boom! Studios) - Delilah S. Dawson is a writer of many genres, and this is her first original series for comics. Not only this, but the artist Ashley Woods did Niobe: She is Life, which is an excellent example of a black warrior woman.

Here's the basic premise: Princess meets tower. The town's men are killed by a troll that curses the land. The women are struck by the revelation, and get the town back on it's feet in all capacities.

My knowledge of Disney movies came into good use, once I noticed that the singing princess was parodying Belle's song "Little Town" from Beauty and the Beast. Self-aware trope-y cleverness is sprinkled throughout this book, though some of the more modern references can take away from the storytelling (if I am thinking about South Park while reading a comic about resourceful women, there's a bit of a disconnect for me).

All in all, I was happy to see this anti-princess story and the town of practical, capable women behind the newly appointed king. Yes, she's a king. What of it?

People likely to pick this up: Fans of Princeless (comic), Another Castle (comic), Yona of the Dawn (manga and anime), people who have watched many a Disney Princess movie, people who like subverting expectations, and those looking for a fun but still significant comic to read.

Neil Gaiman's American Gods (Dark Horse Comics) - You guys. You guys. Seriously. The more I read about this, the more compelling it becomes.

If you don't know Neil Gaiman, good news: he's prolific in many forms. Sandman (comic), Marvel 1602 (comic), Coraline (short story turned stop-motion movie), Stardust (book turned movie), Good Omens (book with Terry Prachett), Anansi Boys, The Graveyard Book and many other gems.

Both Dark Horse and P. Craig Russell have worked with Gaiman before, and the variety of cover artists and illustrators lined up is significant. In Sandman, there were many strong artists involved with every issue, so I am confident that there will be cohesive creative brilliance involved with this comic.

This is a book that feels very faithful to Gaiman's storytelling style and the shape of his dialogue. This is not a tortured comic book: there are some comics I've encountered that feel like they are awkward cut-and-paste jobs from movie or TV stills, and this is not one of them. This is a more organic, easily translated story-to-comic rendering.

I wish they'd sent more than just a one issue preview. This is something that I will read as soon as I can.

Release date: March 15, 2017

Royal City (Image Comics) - The tagline for this comic is "The story of one family and the ghosts that haunt them". Sadly, but also intriguingly, the preview does not give away much of the plot, but it certainly builds environment and mood.

The environment of Royal City is that of a defunct factory town. The story seems to be small in scope, but with a depth and a history that is unexpected. This comic is also billed as a multi-generational work, and Lemire himself has said that he's already planned out through the first twenty issues.

The father to the family goes out to his workshop late one night to fix radios, and as he's working, he hears his long-dead son Tommy's voice through the radio's static. His surprise leads to a stroke. His son Patrick, a famous but fading author, returns home and gets reeled back in to the family dynamics and struggles. Every one of the Pike family is being haunted by a different version of Tommy, who drowned many years previously.

His signature art style is once again a good companion to his story, as the delicate, tense, ephemeral quality of his line work and his coloring complements the melancholy of the subject matter and the brittle relationships of his characters.

Interestingly enough, the first issue is 40 pages. The previews I receive are not necessarily the entirety of an issue, and I'm quite sad that I didn't get to see more. What I did see, I enjoyed quite a bit.

Release date: March 22, 2017

Give me your hands, if we be friends,

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