A Lot of Heart & a Little Strange: Jason’s Comic Reviews
Welcome back to my ever-evolving comic reviews. Each week I will review a few new releases you may have missed on new comic Wednesday. As things change, mostly my mood, so will this column. Some weeks may be several new comics from various publishers or sometimes just one. There might be a time when it’s a longer review for a book I’m really excited about, and every now and then I may throw in a review of a retro book from years past. You never know!
This week, a teen searches for answers and a tin man looks for a heart.
- Dark Horse
- Written by Jody Houser
- Art by Edgar Salazar
Season 3 of the popular Stranger Things is nearing its release date. To keep yourself occupied, Dark has released a prequel miniseries focusing on some other patients of the Hawking’s lab. Issue two picks up with Francine also known as “six” trying to make the best of her situation. Francine has been having visions of some very bad creatures. This could be real or her precognitive powers working in overdrive. Another lab mate, Ricky, tries to reconcile with Francine. We learned last issue that they knew each other prior to being in the lab. Francine blames Ricky for her being in this situation, especially since it’s revealed that Ricky possesses the power of persuasion. Francine also tries to connect with twin sisters, in an attempt to possibly escape. She is thwarted by Dr. Brenner who gives her some insight into the lab, as well as a final-page reveal of a contraption that could lead to answers to what’s on the other side of Francine’s visions. Oh, and there’s a cameo by everyone’s favorite character, Eleven!
Issue one was a good set up for a deeper dive into this universe. However, it felt like mostly a setup. This issue we get slightly more back story and more importantly more character development. Francine is certainly an interesting character. From flashbacks, we see her life wasn’t grand but is this new situation even better. It’s also nice to see more of the inner workings of the lab in contrast to what we have seen on Strangers Things. Even, Dr. Brenner comes across slightly more caring than he did on the show. Just slightly though. The art also has improved in this issue as well. While there’s not much action, the characters do seem more expressive. This is with exception to Dr. Brenner, who’s shown to be a bit emotionless in the tv series.
In the past, I haven’t been a fan of comics that expand on existing media. They tend to not add anything new or exciting. If they do add anything, it tends to be ignored. It’s too early to tell if this will connect to the show any deeper but I have a feeling it might. Either way, this feels like a genuine prequel to Stranger Things and not just somebody trying to cram new material into an existing universe. If you are a Stranger Things fan, this will scratch the itch before season 3 hits!
- Written by David M. Booher
- Art by Drew Zucker
In a dark, bleak world, tiny tin men and woman do the bidding of their much larger and vicious masters. These poor creatures have no idea of their true origins, they’ve always been slaves. When they come into this world, their hearts are removed and replaced with clocks. They are given no names and not allowed to feel love or other emotions. However, one little creature does feel love and has a name, Canto. After his girlfriend is mortally wounded, Canto sets off into the wide world to find the location of his peoples’ hearts and discover their true origin.
There has been some buzz on this series. I just heard about it recently, though. The first issue is a nice setup. We even get a story about a prince who travels far and wide to save a princess, which you can guess mirrors the story (sort of) in this issue. While the tin men’s masters aren’t fleshed out, we do get a lot of insight into the tin men themselves. They are seemingly hard workers yet very timid. Canto is the most developed, it is his story after all. He’s not afraid of who he is, and is immediately someone you root for. The art is gorgeous, the character designs are very clever and unique. While there is a lot to like here, it does all feel very familiar. There’s a tin man looking for a heart and seeking a hermit who may have the answers, ring any bells? Aside from that, the character reminds me of another fantasy character from comics, Bone. However, Canto as of yet does not have the humorous bent of Bone.
Canto, is a great start to a series that should entertain fans of fantasy. While there’s some familiarity to it, the art and writing is spot on. The reader gets a very nice presentation and set up that it’s easy to ignore some familiarity to other stories. The biggest drawback is it’s a quick read. I, for one, was wanting more.
I’ll be back with a new crop of reviews. For more comic reviews, insight, and commentary on comics old and new check out the Drawn & Paneled podcast wherever you get podcasts!