Heroes & Villains Previews Dark Horse Comics’ ‘Strayed’ and ‘Tommy Gun Wizards’ + Thoughts on ‘The OA’

I’ve got a double dose of Dark Horse for you in this week’s Heroes & Villains! Technically, they’re both Advance Alerts for next week but one of the books was originally solicited for this week so we’ll just have to make do with what we have. Both books are worth waiting for!

Advance Alert(s)!

Strayed CoverStrayed #1
Carlos Giffoni (W)
Juan Doe (A)
Dark Horse Comics

I defy you to find a pet owner on the face of this planet that doesn’t have full conversations with their pets. It literally can’t be done. Personally, I’m not quite sure I could handle what my cats are trying to communicate to me, it could be anything from “more food” to “punish the unbelievers.” It’s a diverse group.

Luckily,  Strayed cuts out the guessing game of what cats are trying to tell us and raises the bar by giving us one that can astral-project across the universe. As far as high-concept sci-fi goes it’s pretty believable. I can’t imagine what else my cats would be doing with the 20 hours a day they spend in R.E.M. sleep.

While reading Strayed it’s easy to see that Giffoni is a cat person, the bond between Lou (the cat) and Kiara (the owner/scientist) is depicted in such a way that’s as accurate as anything I experience on a daily basis…except the cat responds in English. Of course, the military-industrial complex is there to ruin things like they always do.

The art by Juan Doe is stellar (pun only partially intended) and the sequences of Lou projecting across the universe have a wonderfully fantastic quality that a lot of sci-fi books seem to be lacking these days. 

Look for Strayed #1 next week.

Tommy Gun Wizards #1.jpgTommy Gun Wizards #1
Christian Ward (W)
Sami Kivela (A)
Dark Horse Comics

A good title is everything. As an avid reader of the Orbital Operations newsletter by Warren Ellis, I got a heads up on a book that I wouldn’t be able to ignore based solely on the title of Tommy Gun Wizards. I have to imagine the pitch for the book was exactly three words and those words were the title for the book. Then Mr D. Horse (the publisher) rubber-stamped it, or gave Ward and company a briefcase full of money. Listen, I’m not 100% sure about the internal workings of the comic book industry but I will assume that’s how it works until I’m told otherwise.

Anyways, I was lucky enough to get an advance PDF of the book with a confirmation from my editor that it did indeed “look good” and that was all I needed to dive headlong into the book. Somehow, it was even cooler than I could have imagined.

Tommy Gun Wizards delivers what the title promises AND gives you Eliot Ness and The Untouchables hunting Capone who’s bootlegging MAGIC instead of alcohol! If there ever was a way to make The Untouchables cooler…well, here it is. 

Tommy Gun Wizards #1 is out August 28th.

The OA.jpg

The OA

Last week my column was running long and I scrapped the last several paragraphs I had written about the Netflix series The OA. I’m glad I did because things have gotten so much weirder in the days following the cancellation of the show. 

Premiering at the end of 2016, The OA  by Zal Batmanglij and Brit Marling was a show that made me ask “how did this get made?” and not in the same context I use that question for after seeing a Michael Bay movie. It was a lushly filmed, tightly written, brilliantly acted piece of sci-fi that I was completely consumed by. 

Years prior, I had seen and loved Barmanglij and Marling’s previous film Sound of My Voice which was what drew me to The OA. Both works share similar mysterious lead characters (both played by Marling) and don’t necessarily hand-hold the audience, often leading to more questions than answers. It’s exceeding rare that I’ll find a television show that will get my full attention and stop me from multitasking (that’s code for checking Twitter, Instagram, and my email in an endless loop). The last show that did that to me was Twin Peaks: The Return. 

Aside from comics, I usually keep my TV, film, and music recommendations to myself. I don’t consider myself an elitist but my viewing habits beyond the comics-related movies and TV I ingest on a weekly basis tend to border on the esoteric. I had recommended The OA to a friend, an academic, and they dismissed the first episode as being “entirely up its own ass.”

A potentially valid criticism, I feel. At the same time, I think we’re conditioned to dismiss anything that doesn’t fit into a 44-minute hour with commercials as self-indulgent…and the first episode of The OA doesn’t roll its opening credits until at least that far into the episode. 

Now that I’ve properly set your expectations, I’ve always sought out stories like this. I enjoy what’s going on with Marvel’s House of X and Powers of X titles right now because it’s challenging to read. Whenever Grant Morrison gets really weird (see The Invisibles), that’s like catnip for me.

Spoilers for The OA season 2 follow

The second season of The OA  ends with the primary characters jumping to yet another dimension (think of it as Quantum Leap by way of synchronized modern dance) but the big twist is that they’ve jumped to a reality where they’re inhabiting the bodies of the actors that are portraying them on a show called The OA. In brief, the characters crossed over to our reality.

For some, that was enough to throw their hands up and rage quit the show. I, on the other hand, was floored and couldn’t wait to see what was next.

I was saddened when Netflix announced that The OA was cancelled as part of their third-quarter bloodbath of show cancellations and I had begun to eulogize the show in my last column.,.but something stopped me. Over the last week or so, diehard fans have been pointing out that this may all be part of some amazing meta-narrative and that this is actually part of the third season. Amazing, if true.

As I write this, I’m sitting with an “I Want To Believe” poster on the wall adjacent to me. It’s a credo that I try to apply to most aspects of my life. The OA was originally pitched as having a five-season arc, which makes its alleged cancellation sting quite a bit for most. Is it possible that the story isn’t really over and that we’re all currently in the dimension where it’s actually happening? I want to believe it is. 

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