Alterna Reviews: The Chair #2, Scrimshaw #2, Mother Russia #2, Trespasser #2 and The Wicked Righteous #1
Over the past two months and change Alterna Comics have been publishing comics on newsprint paper, which has had the effect of dropping cover prices on these bi-monthly titles to as low as $1 in the case of The Chair, but the majority have been priced at the still ridiculously low price of $1.50. Consequently, despite Graphic Policy probably receiving some review copies, the following comics were all reviewed from the print versions that were purchased at a physical location. This had the benefit of allowing me to have a multilayered experience not only reading the comics but literally feeling the newsprint between my fingers as the distinctive smell drifted toward my nose; yeah, it’s safe to say that these gems tugged at my nostalgia for a bygone era (and bygone prices).
As already mentioned, the following comics were all purchased, and took a grand total of $6 out of my pocket (closer to $8 Canadian dollars if you need specifics), and all are worth the money I paid for them. Now some of you may be wondering why I say $6 when there were five newsprint comics released this week, and the answer is that my LCS didn’t get The Chair, so I did read the review copy for that (were it not for this review roundup I would have waited for their order to arrive before reading).
Let’s start with the review copy, shall we?
Written, inked and lettered by Peter Simeti with art by Kevin Christensen The Chair will cost me $1 when I eventually buy it. This issue is in-fucking-tense. From what I understand prison is never going to be all sunshine and rainbows, but the prison in The Chair gives an entirely new meaning to the phrase “hell hole.” The dark and murky artwork is a little clearer than last issue because I didn’t read this on paper, but the grime and stark horror of the story stands out. The Chair #2 is a much more psychologically disturbing issue than the last, and the art and lettering are powerful and effective in allowing your brain to see what isn’t shown. For $1, this is a fantastic buy. Overall: 8.5
Up next, and in the order that my LCS put them in the bag, is Scrimshaw #2. Written by Eric Borden, with art by Dave Mims and letterer Spike O’Laochdha, this comic is a blend of post apocalyptic high seas adventure featuring a European samurai that blends science and sword play in way that technically shouldn’t work yet kind of does. I’ll be honest with you, Scrimshaw is the series that’s grabbed me the least out of Alterna’s newsprint comics for the same reasons that a lot of people will love it; where they may see a perfect blend of numerous genres, all I can see is a story that doesn’t quite know what it wants to be. Still, it’s worth picking up all the same. Overall: 6.75
Part two in a three part World War Two era miniseries, Mother Russia #2 by Jeff McComsey starts with the Russian sniper realizing that the man who just saved her and the newborn baby she seems to be caring for from a horde of zombies is a German soldier. This issue focuses on whether the two of them can learn to live together in a world that has ended, or whether old enmities are still worth pursuing. I love the art direction here, and with McComsey handling everything he’s able to lead you through the beats effortlessly whether it’s silently or with words. This short WWII zombie comic series doesn’t strive for the overly complicated action sequence driven story, but as with all great zombie stories it focuses on the interactions between the characters within the comic. Absolutely worth your time and money. Overall: 8.25
The next comic from the stack is the oddly chilling Trespasser #2 written by Justin M. Ryan with art by Kristian Rossi and lettering by DC Hopkins, the story is about a father and daughter slowly starving to death in the American south somewhere who come across an alien. What is essentially an almost psychological horror story with a healthy dose of E.T., Trespasser is a really interesting read – you feel that you’re missing something, that something isn’t quite right, but that’s not because Ryan has forgotten to tell us anything, but rather he’s able to effortlessly convey the sense of unease that the characters are feeling. There’s an understated terror here, and it makes for some uncomfortably exciting reading. Overall: 8
Finally this week there is The Wicked Righteous #1 by writer Terry Mayo, artists Lucas Romero, Colourist Christopher Hall and letterer Brandon DeStefano, this is actually a comic I reviewed for Graphic Policy earlier this year. You can read how I thought about the comic back then, but after reading it on the newsprint paper version in my hands I realized that I may have been a little harsh. Whether that’s because the price of this version is significantly lower, or it caught me in a different mood, I enjoyed it more than I did the last time hence the higher score. Overall: 8
As I said earlier all of these comics are worth picking up when you next visit your LCS which is why there’s no Buy/Read/Pass rating attached, so if you’re curious about a couple new series then you can’t help but love the affordable entry point.