TRAIN 8: THE ZOMBIE EXPRESS #1
The title itself leaves little room to wonder as to the plot in TRAIN 8: THE ZOMBIE EXPRESS #1 from Bliss on Tap Publishing. Written by Dave Stephan and Marysol Levant with art by Alex Cormack this comic takes the zombie adventure on the road, or at least on the rails. After a scientific experiment to rid the world of invasive species goes awry an infected individual with a penchant for human flesh boards a train bound for Chicago. Once the dominoes start to fall the infected masses are hunting the remaining human passengers to the end of the train as two friends try desperately to survive the trip. The characters and dialogue are solid as is the art. The only thing holding this mini series back is the fact that it brings nothing new to a well established genre. The idea to set the book on a train is novel and leaves hope that the series can find its own voice in the next two issues.
DREAD GODS #1
The Greek pantheon gets a super hero make over in DREAD GODS #1 from IDW Publishing. Veteran writer Ron Marz establishes a dystopian world in which the masses are kept entertained by a shared virtual reality experience in which they watch the lives and adventures of the Greek gods play out before them. Whether this is real or fabricated entertainment is a mystery yet to be revealed but it is all run by an unnamed nebulous corporation so it is safe to infer the show is not benign. The gods themselves have been upgraded to look more like modern day comic book heroes than the gods of old. Togas have been replaced with shiny armor and transformation powers. The action is solid as is the art, I actually kind of like the modern redesigns of the Gods even if they are a bit over the top. After the bombastic defeat of the Hydra the issues closes with a lone fan vowing to help save the gods, leaving the mystery of whether or not this is all real to be answered over time. This is a fun series though the first issue did not grab me enough to hold on for issue #2.
HARBINGER RENEGADES #5
The lives of young Psiots continue to grow more perilous in HARBINGER RENEGADES #5 from Valiant Entertainment. Written by Rafer Roberts this is the start of the new arc entitles ‘Massacre’ and it is aptly named. The H.A.R.D.CORPS response team lead by Major Palmer is on a mission to capture the activated children Psiots hiding in The Rook, an abandoned part of Detroit. Things go bad for both sides instantly and casualties abound including the violent death of a major Valiant character. After the fallout Palmer is tasked with an even harder mission, he is to bring in the rogue Harada Lieutenant Solomon. Overall I genuinely think that Valiant is producing some really amazing comics across their line, but this is not one of them. The art is rather average and dipping into the D list of a smaller publisher results in an entire issue of trying to remember who was who and why the fight I am reading is even taking place. I would recommend SECRET WEAPONS, BLOODSHOT, or X-O MANOWAR for anyone looking to get started in the Valiant universe and leave HARBINGER RENEGADES #5 to the well established fans.
LOLA XOXO Vol. 2 #1
The adventures of Lola Jones in the wasteland continue in LOLA XOXO Vol. 2 #1 from Aspen Comics. Siya Oum returns to art and words in the second volume of her creator owned series that follows a young woman’s trek across a desolate America in a search for her parents. The first volume closed with Lola escaping Edgar and his Wasteland Trading Company. Now her and her group of rag tag carnival entertainers have arrived in Artemis, New Texas only to find their old problems waiting for them and new ones on the horizon. First off I have to mention the art because it is absolutely fantastic. The pencils are great as well as the designs of the characters and the world, special note must be made of the coloring. The entire issue looks as though it has been painted in water color which creates a great effect on the finished page. As for the story, it is OK but lacks that unique spark needed to stand out from the already crowded shelves of a comic book store. If you read Vol. 1 and enjoyed it then definitely add Vol. 2 to your pull list.