–BIRTHRIGHT, created by Joshua Williamson and Andrei Bressan
–THE HUMANS, created by Keenan Marshall Keller and Tom Neely
–WAYWARD, created by Jim Zub and Steven Cummings
Image Comics, April 2016
Mired in multitudinous messages as we are these days, we need help in critical selection more than ever.
These thoughts ran through my mind after gleaning a few good stories from the Image Firsts Compendium, Volume 2; other stories I passed, and some passed quicker. The format lets you skip. Experience digitizing music into playlists recently showed me in cases like this with sampler CDs, you can’t let the dross distract. The one song you extract can go straight to favorites and you won’t want to live without it ever again.
BIRTHRIGHT> Boy gets lost in woods and one year later returns as a grown man with long hair and a beard, half dressed in light armor apparently only for the side that gets hit, the rest naked and tattooed, chosen as a hero to save some alternate dimension on a different clock. Cool for those who missed or want to relive this storyline with new characters and a huge plot twist. Family pathos with a lost son is a large part of the story. How the brother develops intrigues me, seems bound for more. The illustrations are crisp, and superb when they incorporate backgrounds both here and in the fantasy world. I confess a small bias, once I saw writer Joshua Williamson hails from Portland, Oregon. Home boy, edible, choice.
THE HUMANS> A brilliant documentary on the way we lived out here, circa 1970, on the long open Western roads with two vulcanized rubber wheels and a hog of an engine pushing the horizon. Jackets are emblazoned with the most forsaken of places, Bakersfield, California. Remember great grandpa lived the same, used to drink fermented mare’s milk nights till he couldn’t stand, then galloped his little pony onto the prairie pell-mell arms akimbo under a giant bowl of stars. Do you remember those nights? No colors here, no whites or blacks or browns, because everyone is a great ape, or close. Add underground-comix drugs, sex, and violence with nothing gratuitous about it. This is the way it was. At least on the exciting days. Eat this whole.
WAYWARD> Sheer delight is a lovely phrase. Sheer makes it feel like gossamer, like delicate, smooth, and light delight. No mirror to confirm, but I’m pretty sure I began this story with a goofy grin that grew from panel to panel; starts: “Japan. 128 million people … plus me.” The red-headed girl thinking this is part Japanese and part Irish. She relocates to Tokyo for the first time to live with her mother. The “wayward” title evidently refers to a curious power she has to see ways out from her current position: “Just have to connect the dots,” she keeps saying to herself. The traveling story engages right away. Then monsters appear. The artwork blends classic styles from Europe and Japan combined, extremely elegant and resonant. “I knew you were special, Redhead,” her first mate on the streets tells her. I concur. Don’t eat this one. Lick and savor.
Blessed vigil on the page at the end here for the end of Stan Lee, who told us what was happening like we might not get it without him. Nuff said.