WLG #375: Palette Cleansing

A column article by: Kyle Garret

Editor's note: Two of our regular WHAT LOOKS GOOD writers, Chris Murman and Paul Brian McCoy, have had to step away from the column, but not the site.

Don’t worry though, Matt Spatola will still be providing you with his brand of WHAT LOOKS GOOD goodness every third week.

Because of this assignment shuffling, Comics Bulletin is running a series of pilot entries from writers who are being considering for the column. Next up is Kyle Garret.

Please take a moment to give Kyle some feedback on his column over at the message board, and come back next week for another fresh young face!

I have to wonder: is this what it was like twenty-five and a half years ago?

In March of 1986, DC published the final issue of Crisis on Infinite Earths, the book that would relaunch their entire line with revamped, simpler continuity. That final issue would cap off a history of nearly 50 years.

It had to have been different back them. After all, there was at least an element of surprise – without the internet, fans probably had little information to go on as to what changes were coming. That’s actually kind of a pleasant thought, the idea of being surprised by the content of your favorite comic book.

I also can’t imagine people looked at the DC revamp in broad terms. This was about DC improving their sales; the future of the entire industry never played into it, unlike with the coming relaunch.

How much could they really have known twenty-five and a half years ago?

Today, we know a lot. The week after this, DC will publish only two comics, the finale of their universe altering story, Flashpoint and the first issue of the new era, Justice League #1. Here’s what this means: this is the last week of the DC Universe as we know it. The titles that come out this Wednesday from DC are the last books of a twenty-five and a half year era.

So, at this moment in history, what looks good in the world of comic books this week? That’s easy: indie books.

Whether they’re legitimately interested in all of them, think they’ll be worth something someday, or are sadists who plan on reviewing every issue (*cough*me*cough*), a lot of people are going to be buying all of the new #1’s from DC. Even those who aren’t buying all of them are most likely increasing the number of DC books they buy. Basically, the percentage of every dollar from the comic buying public that goes to DC books is going to increase, probably by a lot.

Sure, Marvel might lose a few sales here and there because of this, but it’s not going to be anything that will do any real damage to them. But a few sales here and there are a big deal to indie books. They can mean the difference between survival and cancellation.

So before we head into the insanity that is the DC relaunch, let’s take a step back and think about those we might be turning our backs on, and maybe try to do something good for them so they can survive the coming lean month. Besides, all those superhero comics are going to overload anyone, so having a few palette cleansers would be nice.

Dungeons and Dragons: Drizzt #1 $3.99 (R.A. Salvatore & Agustin Padilla)

Dungeons and Dragons #10 $3.99 (John Rogers & Andrea Di Vito)

IDW’s regular Dungeons and Dragons series features the one thing that all those fantasy fiction books are missing: fun. Writer John Moore understands that part of the joy of pretending to be an adventurer is that you actually go on adventures – swashbuckling adventures, be it on land or sea. Moore’s also not afraid to delve deeply into the wide world of sword and sorcery, or the world of gaming, for that matter. But it’s the fun of this book that makes it enjoyable.

I don’t know how much of that will carry over to arguably the most serious character in the D&D universe, but IDW’s track record so far means they get the benefit of the doubt. Up until now, I think we’ve mostly gotten adaptations of R.A. Salvatore’s novels about Drizzt. This series will feature original stories that run alongside the current trilogy of books, written by Salvatore and his son.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 $3.99 (Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz, & Dan Duncan)

It’s only appropriate that when I’m rallying the comic book audience to buy independent books, a new volume of a seminal creator owned book would launch. Sadly, Kevin Eastman sold the rights to TMNT to Nickelodeon, so he’s actually doing work for hire on this new series. I’m willing to look past that, though, if only because of what TMNT represents: indie creators hitting it big.

Eastman returns to co-writing the book and doing layouts, so the look and feel of the new series should at least be somewhat reminiscent of the first run. Part of the greatness of those original TMNT stories was that it felt like anything could happen. It will be interesting to see if the new owners of the Turtles’ rights will let those kinds of stories see print.

Echoes Volume 1 HC $19.99 (Joshua Hale Fialkov & Rahsan Ekedal)

Of all the questions regarding DC’s new 52, the one I’ve seen that I find the most amusing is this: who is Joshua Hale Fialkov?

Fialkov has been putting out great series after great series from publishers like Archaia and Image. His most well-known work, and perhaps what landed him a job on DC’s I, Vampire is Echoes. While most refer to this as a horror book, it’s equal parts psychological thriller. Even though the ending is inevitable, it’s no less devastating.

Rahsan Ekedal’s artwork is wonderfully atmospheric. The two page spreads he incorporates into the beginning of every issue are reason enough to buy this book.

Spontaneous #3 $3.99 (Joe Harris & Brett Weldele)

Oni have quietly been publishing a large archive of great indie books, and while The Sixth Gun is their current crown jewel, Spontaneous is a great book in its own right. The search for an explanation to spontaneous human combustion isn’t an entirely new idea, but writer Joe Harris has given complexity and depth to his characters, and manages to make an old concept feel fresh. Brett Weldele’s scratchy, dark style, is reminiscent of Ashley Wood, and works nicely with the muted colors.

I’m not entirely sure that Spontaneous can provide a satisfactory explanation for such a long standing, scientific anomaly. But I’m willing to stick around for the ride regardless of the outcome.

This list is just the tip of the iceberg. There are dozens of indie comics being published each week. Given that we’re all going to be inundated with superheroes from corporate companies over the next month, this week would be the perfect time to take a break and see what else is out there. The success of independent, creator owned comics is good for the industry, and that’s good for those of us who read comics.

Kyle Garret is the author of I Pray Hardest When I'm Being Shot At," available now from Hellgate Press. His short fiction has been published in the Ginosko Literary Journal, Literary Town Hall, Children, Churches, & Daddies and Falling Into Place. He writes comic book reviews here at Comic Bulletin and blogs for PopMatters. He can be found at KyleGarret.com and on Twitter as @kylegarret.

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