Mini-Reviews Teaser: Try Something New

Jun 16, 2021
Looking for a new series to warm your comics heart? Need a suggestion from the PCG team? 

We know that some of our regular readers are missing the weekly mini-reviews from the previous incarnation of the PCG and so we're looking to bring back something similar in the near future. 

Here's a little taster of the kinds of things we might include, with two recent books I can't help but rave about. 

Cover of Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1

If you've been reading the PCG much in the last few years, you'll be aware of how readily I will rave about The Old Guard - it's often my second recommendation to a new reader, soon after Lazarus (not coincidentally also a Greg Rucka title). The recent second volume, Force Multiplied did not disappoint but I will admit to having had concerns about the third outing, The Old Guard: Tales Through Time, as it was pitched as telling a wider range of stories from a wider group of creators. The Rucka-Fernández team were unassailable in my mind and I worried that, although Greg Rucka was clearly the 'show-runner', different creators might not 'get' what I got out of the franchise. I needn't have worried! Issue #1 is absolute comics treasure. 

There are two stories, the first from the established team will be a familiar theme - depending on your vintage, the story of the Ship of Theseus or Trigger's broom might be recognisable in 'My Mother's Axe' - and a second from Andrew Wheeler and Jacopo Camagni, pulling a tale from the history of Joe and Nicky, characters from the Old Guard team, once mortal enemies, now (nearly) immortal partners. This second story is a perfect fit for the franchise (phew!): Camagni's art and colours are superb, different enough from Fernández to give distinction but still a recognisably affectionate rendition. Beautiful page structure was one of my standouts for the first series and Camagni masters this here: a page where Joe and Nicky reminisce together uses trails of cigarette smoke to divide the panels of the story and Jodi Wynne's imaginatively laid out lettering provides a perfect complement. 

Wheeler's story is cleverly structured to set a full story including twist ending into half a book, never an easy task, and his writing conspires to make me love these ancient queer characters impossibly even more than I did already. 

Cover of Phantom on the Scan #1

My second choice this month is Cullen Bunn's - well, I was going to say 'Cullen Bunn's new series', but that kind of statement is going to go instantly out of date, what with Bunn being one of the most prolific writers in the comics medium. Phantom On The Scan is a new start, in the super-powered horror story zone, and it's a cracking example of the writer/artist combination being more than the sum of its parts. If you read Bunn's previous collaboration with Mark Torres, Cold Spots, you'll be familiar with the blend of Bunn's inventiveness (I can't imagine what the inside of this guy's head must be like, to keep producing so many new ideas - he's a story machine) combined with Torres' hazy, murky artwork. Again, we're introduced to ghostly apparitions, and here Torres shows the shade of the brother of the 'hero' as an inky blur: I loved that the artist has used his fingers to make the smudged outline, you can see his fingerprints on the page in places, as if to connect the afterlife with real life in a physical representation. 

I always have mixed feelings when an issue appears to come to an end many pages before the end of the book, and I'll admit to brief disappointment when this first issue ended, I definitely wanted to find out more, immediately, however the feeling of being slightly short-changed was ameliorated by the treasure trove of excellent back matter - intriguing documentation which really gave more to the story - bravo, Bunn and Torres, I can't wait for the next instalment. 

(W) Greg Rucka, Andrew Wheeler (A) Jacopo Camagni (A/CA) Leandro Fernandez

Phantom on the Scan #1 from Aftershock Comics
(W) Cullen Bunn (A/CA) Mark Torres


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