World Comic Book Review

A Deep Six’d Publication

27th May 2022

Alpha King #1 (review)

Alpha King #1 (review)
(Image Comics, May 2016)
Writers: Brian Azzarello, Nick Floyd and Simon Bisley

Promotional tie-ins between comics and various goods and services are commonplace. Most usually these tie-ins are linked to toys or movies. Some of these have been exceptionally successful, for example, “Transformers”.

More blatant, perhaps, is various American publishers’ efforts to promote cars. In one instance, “Rush City” (DC Comics, 2006-2007), the comic’s existence was to facilitate the promotion of the Pontiac Solstice, a sports car. Dark Horse Comics’ “The Hire” (2004) similarly promoted BMW, a car brand. The Wall Street Journal has reported on Marvel Comics’ efforts to promote DaimlerChrysler AG’s Dodge Caliber car in various titles including Spider-man, and also on Marvel Comics’ deal with Nike’s “swoosh” logo, whereby Marvel Comics undertook to feature the logo within various comic titles over a four-to-six month period.

“Alpha King” is an unabashed promotional tie-in. The goods promoted by the comic, however, are novel: a microbrewery called 3 Floyds Brewing Company uses the comic to promote the brewer’s pale ale in the context of an interdimensional war involving sword-wielding demons. This is as ridiculous as it sounds. The plot begins with an amusing-enough gag: some soldiers in an army of ogres discuss Tolkein, before being rallied to a siege. The story then jumps to a bearded brewer in modern day America, who encourages kids to slip around the corner of the vat and sneak in consumption of the beer.

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Corruption at its Finest

The Fix #1
Image Comics, April 2016
Writer: Nick Spencer
Review by Neil Raymundo, April 10, 2016

In January 2016 a group of would-be security box thieves called the “Hatton Garden Gang” were apprehended by London police. The unique element to the robbery was that the apprehended thieves were all veteran villains, with the oldest, known as “The Master” or “The Guv’nor”, aged 76. The criminals burrowed though concrete and ransacked seventy-six security boxes, securing 14 million pounds stirling of gems, but seemed entirely ignorant of contemporary problems such as street surveillance cameras. Save for “The Master”, who suffered a stroke in prison and was deemed too unfit for sentencing, most of the robbers were sentenced in March 2016 to seven years in prison.

The first issue of this title begins with an internal monologue decrying the rapid advancement of technology, and how it has made virtual crimes very lucrative while conventional rank and file criminals languish in obsolescence: tech-savvy teenagers steal and defraud millions and use the funds to go on luxurious early retirements, while the old guard struggle with adapting now that people and banks have gone digital. The internal monologue is then revealed to be coming from a ski-mask wearing robber, who, along with a Hawaiian-shirt wearing partner in-crime, have decided to rob an elderly care facility.

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An American heart of darkness

“Manifest Destiny”
Volume 1: Flora & Fauna
Volume 2: Amphibia & Insecta
Volume 3: Chiroptera & Carniformaves
2014-2016, Images Comics and Skybound Entertainment
Writer: Chris Dingess
Review by DG Stewart, 19 March 2016

Writer Joseph Conrad published his masterpiece novel “Heart of Darkness” in 1899. The novel described Mr Conrad’s experience with colonial barbarism in the Congo, as a study in the transience of human morality. While as a consequence of the commercial benefits of colonialism the small kingdom of Belgium was rendered increasingly wealthy, sophisticated and gentile, its colony in Africa became increasingly shadowy, the focus of unadulterated evil exerted by its European overlords. The vehicle for this novel is a perilous and increasingly disturbing journey up-river to meet a man named Kurtz who has by his experiences become stripped of humanity. It was and remains a profoundly disturbing and influential work.

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The Wicked + The Divine “The Faust Act” (or, How Kanye West became a God)

Any review of The Wicked + The Divine (Image Comics, 2014) and its first collected work, entitled The Faust Act, needs to first address the influence of Jack Kirby in comics.

Jack Kirby was a masterful writer and artist responsible for the creation or co-creation of many immediately recognisable comic book properties, primarily for Marvel Comics, including the X-men, the Hulk, Captain America, and many others. In 1970 Kirby moved from Marvel Comics to its longtime rival DC Comics. During his four year stint with DC, Kirby created a pantheon of science fiction gods: cosmic beings representing various archetypes, all viewed through a decidedly 70s hallucinogenic prism. Evidence of this includes an abundance of abstract and psychedelic geometric forms in the art, together with bubbling manifestations of unearthly energy; satanic villains carved from granite with deadly, glowing crimson eyes; and the godlike but decidedly hippie Forever People with names like Mark Moonrider and Beautiful Dreamer. Contemporary flower-power influences define and guide Kirby’s creative output during this period.

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