Tiny Pages Made of Ashes: Small Press Comics Reviews 10/19/2012

A comic review article by: Steve Morris, Daniel Elkin, Jason Sacks, David Fairbanks


Tiny Pages Made of Ashes is Comics Bulletin's roundup of small press comics reviews.


No More Heroes #3

(Gordon McLean/Caio Oliveira/Kel Nuttal)




Assured and confident, Gordon McLean and Caio Olveira’s No More Heroes now heads towards the endgame. The adults-only story of a superhero suicide and a mission to get revenge, this series has been acclaimed by critics over the past few months -- and rightfully so. The core concept is a strong one, but it’s the throwaway use of convention which has made the book an entertaining read with each issue. McLean is obviously very aware of the traditional pathway to take a superhero story, and enacts a Garth Ennis-style takedown on expectations. Superheroes here are good people, but they’re down to earth, sweary, and plagued by human emotion. They get angry and vengeful and bitter frequently, and their capacity for good comes at a cost. 

The story has played out with some smart ideas, although the overall story has perhaps been a bit more generic than the opening premise -- our protagonist accidentally leads the world’s greatest superhero to kill himself, superhero’s sidekick ropes in protagonist to find the real culprit -- would suggest. McLean’s script is helped by Oliveria’s art and design, which finds a way to paint the madness of superheroics in a realistic setting, making the characters seem fantastical within a recognizable landscape. The character designs are funny, and there’s lots of detail hidden on each page. No More Heroes has walked down an unfamiliar path, with humor and violence meted out hand-in-hand. It’s a thoroughly promising work from the creators.

- Steve Morris


Torchbearer #1

(Nicolas Dedual/Dennis Calero)

Odd Truth




Torchbearer #1 is a decent enough independently produced comic book. Nicolas Dedual and Dennis Calero have put together what appears to be on the outset a nice little science-fiction/action/thriller story that takes place in one of those Blade Runner type futures where there are powerful corporate interests, a street level rebellion of some sort, manufactured humans, and hover taxis (I’m a sucker for hover taxis, always have been).  The art is serviceable, the story moves along nicely, the dialogue is believable, the characters seem to have some depth, and the world building is just fine.

But sadly, that’s about it. Certainly this is only a first issue, and it is hard to gauge where this book is going, but for now there was little in Torchbearer #1 to stir my juices. There just isn’t a whole lot new or exciting or different to make me take note or scratch my head or do that little excited dance that I do when I come across something, well, exciting.



Torchbearer #1 is a perfectly fine product. I have nothing bad to say about it, but it just is, isn’t it? Why does the world need another science-fiction/action/thriller book that covers the same well-treaded ground already covered by people who are, frankly, a little better at it? What does a book like Torchbearer #1 bring to the world other than the excitement of its creators?

I want to like Torchbearer #1, but really all I can say is that I didn’t hate it. It’s just one of those books that’s just kind of there, taking up space, perhaps something to distract you as you wait in the dentist’s office for your annual checkup. 

It does no harm, but really, it could do so much more.

For more information about Torchbearer #1, check out the Odd Truth, Inc. website.

- Daniel Elkin



(Elmer Pasaoa)





Man, I gotta tell you, sometimes reviewing stuff is hard. Material gets plopped in front of you and you're asked to review it for this wonderful website, but you just don't connect to the material in any way. That's unfortunately the case with Diversion.

Elmer Pasaoa definitely has enthusiasm for the material he presents, which he states will be part of a larger universe of characters and storylines. This first Diversion  is an anthology comic, featuring a fantasy adventure story, a sci-fi romance, an Indiana Jones style adventure story, and a super-villain crime story. Pasaoa shows his passion in every line he draws – you can see that this is work that he's been thinking about for a long time and that he's worked hard at presenting it to readers in a nice package.

Unfortunately none of these stories really connected with me. The best of the bunch for me was the fantasy adventure tale, in which our heroes lose a battle in the most embarrassing possible way. It's a cute tale with some slightly clever elements (the wordy elf is kind of fun), but it just didn't excite me. I feel like I've seen this story before, and the art was not as effective as the story may have deserved.



Pasaoa's art style is still evolving. Some of the material looks pretty nice – the calm moments in the sci-fi romance are pretty attractive, for instance – but he still needs  to work to separate foregrounds from backgrounds more effectively and to use shading to give his work more depth. With more work he could turn into a good cartoonist, and I hope he will.

This is one of those comics that really comes from the creator's heart and which obviously means a lot to him. Unfortunately, it just didn't grab me at all.

- Jason Sacks

This book is available at IndyPlanet.


Sick Liquid

(Adam S Lichi)





Sick Liquid is a book that seems like it could be brimming with potential. Maybe. After reading it, however, I found Adam Lichi's comic a bit lacking in both the art and story departments. His interior art is eerily reminiscent of mid-90s Liefeld work at times, looking to be drawn more with haste, overemphasizing unnecessary details like clothing wrinkles instead of spending a reasonable amount of time on delivering anatomically consistent, realistic looking characters.

Although covers traditionally take more time and have a bit more detail than the average page or panel, I think the art content of the book could use to look a bit more finished, a bit more like the cover art.

The art would be forgivable if the story were anything particularly new or interesting. Right now, it feels like half-formed ideas that seem to just drag on.



The greatest strength of Sick Liquid is that it is using a color palette that isn't getting much play across the realm of comics. Some pages remind me a bit of Frazer Irving or early Paul Pope due to their color composition alone. I'm curious to see what Lichi puts out next, if only because, should his art and writing skills improve, he could easily have some of the most interesting looking comics out there. That feels like it's a ways off, though.

You can read the first issue for yourself, though (it's free). It's the kind of story that I could see getting 8-12 pages in an anthology and working pretty well, but at nearly 60 pages, it did little to draw me in. The second issue is just more of the same (including a great use of color again). You'll have to pay for the second issue, but at $1.99, if you're liking the series, you really can't go wrong.

- David Fairbanks




Steve Morris is the head and indeed only writer for Comics Vanguard, the internet's 139th most-favorite comic-book website. You can find him on Twitter at @stevewmorris, which is mostly nonsensical gibberish you may enjoy or despise. His favorite Marvel character is Darkstar, while his favorite DC character is, also, Darkstar. He's on Team X-Men, you guys.




Daniel Elkin wishes there were more opportunities in his day to day to wear brown corduroy and hang out in lobbies. He has been known to talk animatedly about extended metaphors featuring pigs' heads on sticks over on that Twitter (@DanielElkin). He is  Your Chicken Enemy.



Jason Sacks is Publisher of Comics Bulletin. Follow him at @jasonsacks, email him at jason.sacks@comicsbulletin.com or friend him on Facebook.




David Fairbanks doesn't get many things right the first time. He studied physics in college, loves science, music, comics, poetry, movies, books and education pertaining to all of the above. He will talk your ear off about Grant Morrison and Ben Folds, has an indie bookshelf larger than his Marvel, DC and Vertigo ones combined and if he ever actually grows up, more than anything else, he wants to still be happy as an “adult,” whatever that is.

Mostly self-indulgent ramblings can be found at @bairfanx and untilsomethingbreaks.blogspot.com.

Community Discussion