Brian Sheridan

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    Dept H. Blends Murder Mystery With Disaster Movie

    It can be difficult to classify a comic like Dept H. One part murder mystery, one part disaster movie, one part “ragtag misfits out to save the world,”. The story takes you through a labyrinthine saga that proves just as deep as the very ocean the characters are exploring.

    Dept H. #14 at TFAW.com

    The best thing to do is to simply say it’s great.
    The story itself isn’t terribly unique – taking obvious cues from movies like Deep Blue Sea and/or The Abyss. What makes it so enjoyable is how Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt tell it. The characters are fully realized, and in issue 14 we finally learn just how deep (pun intended) Jerome is. He’s either not as insane as we thought, or he might be a good deal more. Genius tends to have that effect on people. Yet Matt and Sharlene’s storytelling makes him so relatable to the point where we, the readers, understand why he does what he does (I won’t reveal it here, for fear of spoilers).

    By issue 14, we already know that Dept H was initially formed to explore space. But was changed to head to the bottom of the ocean (an equally unexplored void). Issue 14 gives the readers a terrifyingly relevant, and believable, reason why that gives so much more gravity (pun intended) to the characters and their actions. Hari’s kindness may have been his own undoing, but until the killer is finally revealed, we’ll never know if it was Jerome (who is the obvious suspect) or any of the other characters with a reason to sabotage Dept H.

    As far as the art is concerned, I’ll be honest, at first threw me off because it doesn’t fit into the standard superhero style. The lines aren’t always clean, the colors can be muddy and washed out, and there’s a lot of sheer darkness. This is, I realize, all on purpose. After all, how else would you illustrate a murder mystery that takes place on the sandy floor of the ocean itself? If some of the panels weren’t drab, how else would the gorgeous colors stand out? Pages 19-22 alone are a class in color and scope, and my early fears about the artwork are obliterated. Matt’s pencils are good, but it’s Sharlene’s colors that take the images and makes them fascinating.

    Dept H. blends genres in an enticing way that makes it more approachable than a lot of comics. It’s one of the best things about this series. Fans of serial adventure, exploration, mystery, character-driven plot, and realistic intrigue are going to be sure to find Dept H. a solid read that’s well worth their time.

    If you haven’t been following it so far, pick up Vol. 1 and 2 and you’ll be ready to dive right in (pun intended).

    Dept H. #14, Dark Horse Comics, Released May 24th 2017, Written and Drawn by Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt, $3.99

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    It’s the True King of the Jungle

    It’s interesting to try and imagine what other people think, especially if that someone is famous. For example, you can’t help but wonder how George Lucas feels about the universe he created with his films or how Walt Disney felt when Disneyland opened.

    Reading Predator: Hunters #1, I wonder how Shane Black feels, knowing that he created one of the most iconic monsters in film history, and that his horrifically beautiful creatures inspire such wonderful stories like this.

    Predator Hunters #1 Cover A
    The first thing that really struck me about this comic was that, yet again, we’re introduced to a new style of Predator; one that is wholly unique to this comic, and stands out in its primitiveness. It wears armor, but the plates are tortoise shells and bone, and it wields a terrible weapon, one that is very obviously hand-hewn (and no less lethal than anything else you’ve ever seen them carry). More so than any other Predator we’ve seen yet, this one stands out as the deadliest and truest king of the jungle.

    The next thing that I noticed was that there are good guys, bad guys, bad bad guys, and good bad guys. It really speaks to the talents of the writer, Chris Warner, that, in the space of 12 pages, he wastes no words but paints a perfectly clear picture of who and what every character is. It’s like watching a puppet master at work, but you, the reader, are the marionette, and he gets you to love or hate the characters he wants you to love or hate.
    Predator Hunters #1 Cover A
    From an artistic perspective, Francisco Ruiz paints a great picture…quite literally. Not every penciler can make still pictures look like they’re in motion, and Ruiz makes the panels feel like they’re flying during the high action; however, he also keeps you drawn into the still moments with subtle changes. As your eye drifts over the page, you’ll feel camera motion and see the characters move from panel to panel and page to page at just the right pace. It’s like watching anime – full speed action at a thousand miles an hour transposed against subtle direction and camera angles.

    Of course, no art is complete without colors and inks, and the subtlety of both throughout the book only add to the depth created by the writer and penciler. Good colors make readers feel something, and throughout this book every shaft of sunlight was warm, and the depths of the jungle were fascinating.

    Whether you’re a long-time fan of the Predator universe, a fan of action comics, or just someone looking for a good read, this one is definitely worth a pickup.

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