Category Archives: Reviews – Black Mask

I’m With the Band

We Are the Danger #1
Writer/Artist/Cover artist: Fabian Lelay
Colors: Claudia Aguirre
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Editor: Stephanie Cooke
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Price: $3.99 US

There’s been a great deal of discussion as of late in comics fandom and in the industry about diversity, about new creative voices and more inclusive interpretations of characters, both new and established. A lot of that discussion has arisen from a push back by a vocal minority who argue that diversity doesn’t sell. They argue about how properties they’ve loved all their lives have been transformed into women or have seen minorities fill those roles, as though if were actually possible the corporate owners of those characters aren’t eventually going to revert them to the status quo. I don’t get it. I don’t get why people are threatened by broadening the talent base and the array of characters to add to and expand the overall tapestry of the medium.

We Are the Danger is a comic book that brings more of that diversity to comics, that invites readers in who might not have otherwise been felt welcome decades ago. But it does so in a way that doesn’t dwell on its pro-diversity elements, and instead just focuses on engaging characters. And it’s a good bit of fun as well.

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Road Runner

The Wilds #1
Writer: Vita Ayala
Artist: Emily Pearson
Colors: Marissa Louise
Letters: Jim Campbell
Cover artists: Pearson (Cover A)/Natasha Alterici (Cover B)
Editor: Danny Lore
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Price: $3.99 US

At first glance, The Wilds might seem just like you have another post-apocalyptic/zombie-drama comic, in which it’s firmly entrenched. However, this comic book is crafted by women; the writer, artist and colorist are all women, and that helps to set this title apart from others like it. The focus is squarely on the female characters, even though they’re not necessarily in charge. They do stand out as the strongest players in this drama, though. The central conflict here is about responsibility to one’s community versus responsibility to oneself and one’s family. That character-driven aspect of the book is surprisingly relatable, even for those of us who haven’t had to live or survive in a zombie apocalypse.

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Take It to the Bank

4 Kids Walk into a Bank trade paperback
Writer: Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Tyler Boss
Flats: Clare Dezutti
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Price: $14.99 US

Goddamnit. The title for this book caught my eye when it was originally being released as a five-issue comic-book series, and I thought about checking it out. But there are always so many such comics that pique my interest, there’s no way for me to purchase and read them all. On the bright side, there’s such a thing as delayed gratification.

4 Kids Walk into a Bank is really unlike most comics or graphic novels with which many are familiar. It’s billed on the back as a “crime/humor” book, and I can see how some might describe it as such. Personally, finding even an amalgam of genres in which to slot this book is next to impossible. While it’s incredibly funny, I don’t really see 4 Kids as a comedy or humor book. One could try to label it a crime/coming-of-age story, but in some ways, its main protagonist, an 11-year-old girl, is the most realistic and mature player in the drama. I can describe accurately in this manner: it’s superb and should be on any mature comics reader’s must-read list for 2017.

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