Brendan Columbus, the son of director Chris Columbus, is making his comics debut courtesy of Heavy Metal. Along with artist Al Barrionuevo, Savage Circus is a story of a small mining town in Ohio descended upon by the most dangerous animals in the world after a train overturns and sets them loose.
The comic will debut in Heavy Metal #300 which is out this summer and continues through issues #309. It will then be collected into a graphic novel that will be out for San Diego Comic-Con 2021.
The debut marks a shift for the publisher Heavy Metal as they will increase the frequency of their magazine to a monthly release schedule from its current six times a year.
The change is part of an even bigger picture as it’s a “proof of concept” with the ultimate goal of turning Savage Circus into a film.
Columbus is the second name from Hollywood to join the Heavy Metal family recently. Actor and writer Dan Fogler will now be releasing his series through the publisher.
Canopus #1-2is written, drawn, colored and lettered by Dave Chisholm, with color flats by Dustyn Payette and production by Kurt Knippel; published by Scout Comics.
Helen wakes up marooned on a lifeless alien planet 300 light years from Earth with no memories beyond a hazy sense of extinction-level urgency to return to Earth. Joined by her robot companion, Arther, she explores the planet to find materials necessary to repair her ship. However, circumstances are not as straightforward as they seem: along their perilous path, Helen’s most painful memories return to her, as monstrous manifestations hellbent on her destruction. In this mind-bending sci-fi adventure, Helen’s story unfolds into her past and future, revealing a poignant conclusion that will leave you speechless.
Dave Chisholm is a creator who seems to always be pushing new boundaries. Always trying something new, or doing old ideas in new fashions; always trying new genres, and trying new things with his signature art style. More importantly, he always approaches each project with a thematic goal in mind. He’s not just trying to be all style. There’s always a substantial theme that every artistic and storytelling decision circles around in, exploring every corner that he can before bringing it all together in a satisfying conclusion. For Canopus, his first foray into science fiction, Chisholm delivers yet again, this time with the addition of colors and a theme of letting go of grudges.
Chisholm’s previous work, Instrumental, was black and white and took full advantage of that aesthetic by experimenting with linework, inking, and the whole plate of comic art basics. He did so much to push the boundaries of what black and white comics could look like that he created a unique, experimental, and surreal style of art that was far above and beyond even some of the great comics done in color. It would take too much time to describe it all, so I’m just gonna leave this image here. I think you’ll get the picture:
In Canopus, Chisholm decides to embrace color, and while the heavy amount of stylistic experimentation from his previous book is absent, he more than makes up for it by just how good the coloring is. I don’t know if these colors were implemented traditionally or digitally, but either way they bring an atmospheric layer to the setting. Purples, blues, and the impenetrable blackness of space pierced only by the blaring whiteness of stars really gives that sci-fi feel. This really becomes apparent when Chisholm does both establishing and long shots in his panels. You really get a real sense of scale and a surprising amount of detail on this mysterious, seemingly empty planet. I think a good chunk of credit also must go to Dustyn Payette whose flats keep the colors clear and distinct without losing its character.
Panel layout is probably the strongest element of Canopus. There are, on average, about 7-9 panels per page. However, never once does it feel cluttered. That’s because the dialogue is straight to the point and lettered in a thinner font than usual; Another aspect is the art itself. It’s kind of like European comics, particularly the works of Moebius and Herge, where panels are drawn so that environments, characters, and action are all able to coalesce without a detriment to any one of these elements. You really do feel like you’re on this planet, traversing it with Helen and Arther, and taking in all the wondrous, natural spectacles around you. It’s so much more absorbing than having an avalanche of mindless action and particle effects that clutter the page just to shove as many trademark characters as possible. At that point, you might as well stare at the sun until you’re blind.
Chisholm goes to great lengths to make his characters as visually unique as possible. Keep in mind, there’s only three so far and some dudes that show up in the flashback scenes, but I can’t help admiring how distinguishable they all are, particularly how looks match up with personality: Helen’s short, slightly spiky hair reflecting her headstrong attitude; Arther’s large eyes and sock puppet body that are characteristic of his childish sense of wonder. Even more detailed are the mysterious monsters that the duo encounters. These things are straight out of nightmares, packed with metaphor, symbolism, and repressed trauma; Freud and Jung would probably be huge fans. They’re scary, really scary. You’ll probably find yourself both terrified and unable to look away just because of how ingenious their designs are. Even if it doesn’t have the same level of madness as Instrumental, Chisholm still brings a lot of surrealism to Canopus.
Don’t let me forget the action scenes! Yes, even though Canopus is a highbrow sci-fi with a focus on atmosphere and character, that doesn’t mean our heroes don’t occasionally bring out the kung fu against their psychoanalytical foes. Thanks to Chisholm’s expert panel layouts, these scenes are very well-paced. Blows are satisfyingly delivered with close-ups used to build up anticipation, then pulling back for a medium shot when impact is made. Even though these action scenes aren’t the main focus, it is incredible how Chisholm can do just about any type of scene.
Probably the cream of the crop of art in this series are the two-page spreads. These occur whenever Helen finds a familiar-looking object that triggers a forgotten memory. It can be a doll, a pair of dentures, or even a pair of socks. From these objects, we’re open to the spread:
These flashbacks are all four pages long, starting with the object that triggered the memory, and ending on them as well. The spreads might seem like a mess, multiple panels of a particular object in descending order, all over the page like multiple packs of scattered cards. However, there is a deeper reason for this.
In my interview with Dave Chisholm, he told me that the biggest influence on the formatting for these flashbacks was the graphic novel Asterios Polyp by the legendary David Mazzuchelli. He described to me in a scene from that book where the main character has a flashback triggered by a blistered toe, then something in that flashback triggers another memory, and so on and so forth until the memories become a kaleidoscope of sorts. It’s a visual representation of how memory can be processed sometimes, where we try to put together in order seemingly random sights, sounds, smells, and whatnot into an order so we can recollect. Remember that Helen has amnesia, so every time she recollects a lost memory, it probably hits her so hard that she finds herself transported back to the past and relives an experience. It’s sort of like PTSD, although Chisholm also made it clear to me that such a serious mental illness does not dictate the layouts. He is not trying to visualize PTSD.
What Chisholm does visualize however, is a genius kind of layout to represent recollection of memory that puts the reader in Helen’s shoes. You might find yourself confused at first, trying to find a recognizable sequence of events.It does not take long though and, again, like Helen, you soon figure out what happened, why this memory is so important and even how these events both led Helen to where she is now and how they shaped her as a person. Another part of this is how each flashback has a unique color palette to it. These palettes are restricted to very few colors, usually with the prominence of two certain colors. I’m not sure there is a deeper meaning to these choices, but hey they look awesome and distinguish each flashback so much that the images will stick in your own memory long after you’re done reading.
Of course, fantastic art on this scale is nothing without a solid story, especially in comics right now where the science fiction genre has taken off so expediently that it can be hard at times to find the sweet bread amongst the stale white loafs. Chisholm gives us the best kind of sci-fi, or really any kind of genre fiction, where the genre is used to explore deeper themes beyond mere entertainment. Paraphrasing Chisholm, Canopus is about letting go of past hurts, and this all starts with the main character.
Helen Sterling is an obvious protagonist. She is intelligent, strong, courageous, and determined to save Earth from an unspecified armageddon. This makes her the most likely person to cheer for, however at times she’s not always likeable. She can be stubborn, easily angered, and has a tendency to hold onto grudges. The worst of her tendencies come out in her interactions with the only other person…well, “person” on the journey.
Arther is a highly advanced robot with a special kind of body. It’s not metal but something of a flexible substance that gives him a cartoonish appearance. The comparison that comes immediately to my mind is Fone Bone from Jeff’s Smith Bone. The difference between the two is that Arthur’s main power, at least so far, is the ability to turn his body from that of a toddler to that of freaking Flex Montello by blowing on his thumb.
Temperamentally though he is always like that of a child. I don’t mean that he’s constantly in need of attention or guidance. He’s actually surprisingly mature-minded in a lot of ways. It’s more like he has a sense of wonder to the world. He is programmed to look forward to learning new things and having new experiences. He is also intensely attached to Helen, so far as calling her “Mother”. Arther is loyal to Helen and will protect her from anything.
Which is why it seems odd that even with their very first interaction, Helen is hostile toward Arther. She will dismiss him, accuse him of slowing her down, and at one point yells at him furiously. Also, his reference to Helen as “Mother” annoys her to no end, so, honestly, it doesn’t shine Helen in a good light. At the same time, Arther is not all that innocent. He seems to be holding back a lot from Helen despite her amnesia. If he was really loyal, you would think he would tell her everything.
Also, it is revealed that Arther is tied to one of Helen’s memories, a pretty terrible one involving betrayal. Helen is someone that throughout her life has experienced heartbreak, loss, and betrayal at every stage in life. It’s no wonder she has issues with anger. In this way, the sci-fi/fantasy elements come to serve the purpose of Helen’s story, particularly the flashback scenes and symbolic monsters. Helen is not just trying to save the world, she is confronting her past. How this all plays out will have yet to be seen in the next two issues.
There is also an ongoing motif involving plant roots. Don’t know exactly what that is about yet, but definitely keep your eyes on it.
There are very few issues that I have with Canopus. One is the amnesia plot. I don’t think it’s bad. In fact, Canopus is one of those rare stories where amnesia is used as a proper story device and not a cheap trick. The only issue is how selective it is. Helen doesn’t remember where she’s at or how she got there, doesn’t remember anything about her life, and yet she immediately knows how to communicate with the ship using the correct terminology. Another issue has to do with the manifestation of an important person from Helen’s past. I won’t spoil it, but Helen, with all her intelligence, falls for it. At first, it seemed reasonable enough since she had no idea what was going on, but even after she deduces that the planet is somehow taking her memories and conjuring monsters from them, she still keeps this person around. She shows a lot more suspicion toward Arther. I’m still trying to figure out why she made this choice.
Whatever flaws there are in Canopus, they are small. This series is two issues in and already shows so much promise. Art full of atmosphere and color, panel layouts that take full advantage of these qualities, complex and characters that are both complex and uniquely designed. The two-page spread flashback scenes are by far the best part of the series, an ingenious art technique that I hope everyone will consider the highlight by the end. How exactly the theme of letting go of grudges plays is yet to be seen, but already the seeds have been placed, and I am confident they will grow into something spectacular.
Story: Dave Chisholm Art: Dave Chisholm Color Flats: Dustyn Payette Production: Kurt Knippel Story: 9 Art: 10 Overall: 9.5 Recommendation: Buy
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Twenty years in the future, Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham Asylum. Young. Sane. And… he’s never been Batman. So begins this sprawling tale of the Dark Knight as he embarks on a quest through a devastated DC landscape, featuring a massive cast of familiar faces from the DC Universe. As he tries to piece together the mystery of his past, he must unravel the cause of this terrible future and track down the unspeakable force that destroyed the world as he knew it… From the powerhouse creative team of writer Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo, the team that reinvented Batman from the emotional depths of Batman: Court of Owls to the epic power of Dark Nights: Metal, DC presents what could be the last Batman story ever told… Collects Batman: Last Knight on Earth #1-3.
Writer: Pablo Verdugo Muñoz Artist Name(s): Pablo Verdugo Muñoz (Pencils and Inks), Jose Expósito (Colors) Cover Artist(s): Pablo Verdugo Muñoz 128 pgs./ T+ / FC $5.99 Digital-First
The world’s most powerful crime organization – “The Twelve” – managed to evade justice for far too long and in desperation, the police reach out to the one individual who just might be able to turn things around. Enter special agent Mr. Beaver, returning to his hometown fresh from the Alpha Academy and itching to take down the dark underbelly… after taking care of his own rumbling belly, of course. In his confrontation with an old acquaintance, Richard, and his henchmen from “The Twelve”, a mysterious power known as ‘Theos Lampsi’, or ‘God’s Shining’, will come to light, requiring Mr. Beaver to dig deep in order to overcome his adversaries.
Writer(s): Jeffrey and Susan Bridges Artist Name(s): Walter Geovani (pencils, inks), Brittany Peer (colors), Ed Dukeshire (letters) Cover Artist(s): Natasha Alterici 30 pgs./ M / FC $2.99 Digital-First
It’s chaos on the comet exterior as Marcella and the Augurs make their final bid for freedom. Even if they succeed, they’ll have to deal with a society that hates and fears them, and that may be too much for them to bear… and not everyone makes it out alive.
Writer(s): Alexander Banks-Jongman Artist Name(s): Robert Ahmad Cover Artist(s): Robert Ahmad 25 pgs./ M / FC $2.99 Digital-First
Hank Kelly cannot die. With this revelation, his life is thrown into a world of fame and fortune. But can fame and fortune repair his broken family? Meanwhile, detective Rosalind Lovejoy makes a fateful discovery: Kelly’s immortality has a dark cost.
Humanoids’ Life Drawn has released a book that explores the end of our days. Little Josephine: Memory In Pieces by writer Valérie Villieu and artist Raphaël Sarfati is a moving and visually arresting memoir chronicling the relationship between a caregiver and her patient Josephine, who is living with Alzheimers.
Little Josephine is an account of the author’s experience caring for the elderly Josephine. Though vastly different in age, their connection is instantaneous—and despite the debilitating disease that Josephine faces every single day, they’re able to form a beautiful friendship that transcends the reaches of modern medicine. Equal parts heartwarming, whimsical, and chilling, Little Josephine charts the highs and lows of their relationship as Valérie attempts to care for, understand, and communicate with the loving and capricious Josephine in the face of her escalating dementia and an indifferent elder care system.
Sarfarti’s incredible artwork embraces what is unique about the graphic novel medium: panels scatter, disappear and loop just like Josephine’s mercurial memory.
As Josephine escapes the boundaries of the page in search of clarity, readers are forced to reckon with the same instability and uncertainty she faces daily—as well as reckon with the realities of an overburdened system that makes the lives of Alzheimer’s patients far harder than they need to be. This first-hand account of an unlikely friendship between a visiting nurse and her patient becomes a much bigger story as the author draws poignant connections to love, memory, society, and what we owe to one another.
Tapas Media refers to itself as the “YouTube of comics” and is “waiving all fees associated with direct support and ad revenues” through April 30. Tapas takes a 15 percent fee from the support program and 30 percent of advertising. Creators will receive 100% of the revenue.
Billed as the “InThisTogether” program its the platform’s way to help creators during this time.
The platform features more than 60,000 webcomics and serials from more than 50,000 creators. It has a monthly readership of over two million.
Marvel Unlimited, Marvel’s digital comics subscription service, offers members unlimited access to over 27,000 issues of Marvel’s classic and newer titles, delivered digitally through your desktop web browser and the award-winning Marvel Unlimited mobile app.
And, now you can follow Marvel Unlimited on Twitter and Facebook! Stay tuned in to weekly announcements, updates, articles, and more, all at @MarvelUnlimited. Follow us today to join the conversation with thousands of fellow fans and comic readers, and let us know what you’re reading and what you’d like to see added to the library!
This month, the Dawn of X rises, as a lineup of Marvel superstars pack all of mutantkind across the island nation of Krakoa. X-MEN (2019) and MARAUDERS (2019) mark the first series that expand on the world built in HOUSE OF X/POWERS OF X, with more to follow in May.
In addition to new monthly comics, Marvel Unlimited will also be offering iconic comic book stories, including complete events and critically acclaimed story arcs, for FREE! As announced last week, now-classic Marvel Comics featuring the Avengers, Spider-Man, Black Widow, Captain America, Captain Marvel and more, will be available for one month on the service until Monday, May 4!
To access Marvel Unlimited’s free comics offering, download or update the Marvel Unlimited app for iOS or Android at the respective Apple and Google Play app stores, and click “Free Comics” on the landing screen. No payment information or trial subscriptions will be required for the selection of free comics. To see the full list of free titles available this month, please visit marvel.com.
With classic and newer issues added every week, here are some of the other binge-worthy Marvel titles hitting MU in April.
Week of April 6
ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: IMMORTAL HULK #1 BIZARRE ADVENTURES #1 BLACK CAT #5 CHAMPIONS #10 SERIES COMPLETE! DAREDEVIL #12 DOCTOR STRANGE #20 SERIES COMPLETE! FANTASTIC FOUR #15 FUTURE FOUNDATION #3 GHOST RIDER #1 MAJOR DEBUT! HOUSE OF X #6 SERIES COMPLETE! IMMORTAL HULK #24 MARVEL ACTION SPIDER-MAN #11 MARVEL COMICS #1001 OLD MAN QUILL #10 RUNAWAYS #25 SPIDER-VERSE #1 STAR WARS #72 STAR WARS: DOCTOR APHRA #37 SWORD MASTER #4 THANOS: THE INFINITY ENDING THE PUNISHER #16 SERIES COMPLETE!
Week of April 13
ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: MILES MORALES #3 SERIES COMPLETE! AMAZING FANTASY #15 FACSIMILE EDITION AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #31 ABSOLUTE CARNAGE TIE-IN! DOCTOR DOOM #1 FUTURE FIGHT FIRSTS: WHITE FOX #1 GWENPOOL STRIKES BACK #3 IMMORTAL HULK DIRECTOR’S CUT #5 INVADERS #10 JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – ALLEGIANCE #1 LOKI #4 MAGNIFICENT MS. MARVEL #8 MILES MORALES: SPIDER-MAN #11 POWERS OF X #6 SERIES COMPLETE! STAR WARS: JEDI FALLEN ORDER – DARK TEMPLE #3 STAR WARS: TARGET VADER #4 THE UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #49 THE WEB OF BLACK WIDOW #2
Week of April 20
ABSOLUTE CARNAGE #4 ABSOLUTE CARNAGE VS. DEADPOOL #3 SERIES COMPLETE! ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: AVENGERS #1 ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: SCREAM #3 SERIES COMPLETE! AERO #4 BLACK PANTHER AND THE AGENTS OF WAKANDA #2 CAPTAIN AMERICA #15 CAPTAIN MARVEL #11 CRAZY #1 GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY #10 HISTORY OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE #4 JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – ALLEGIANCE #2 MARVEL ACTION CAPTAIN MARVEL #3 SPIDER-MAN #2 X-MEN #1 MAJOR DEBUT!
Week of April 27
ABSOLUTE CARNAGE: LETHAL PROTECTORS #3 SERIES COMPLETE! AGENTS OF ATLAS #3 AMAZING MARY JANE #1 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #32 AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: FULL CIRCLE #1 AVENGERS #25 FEARLESS #4 SERIES COMPLETE! FUTURE FIGHT FIRSTS: LUNA SNOW #1 GHOST-SPIDER #3 IMMORTAL HULK #25 IMMORTAL HULK DIRECTOR’S CUT #6 SERIES COMPLETE! INCREDIBLE HULK #1 FACSIMILE EDITION JOURNEY TO STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – ALLEGIANCE #3 KING THOR #2 MARAUDERS #1 MAJOR DEBUT! MARVEL ACTION AVENGERS #10 MARVEL’S SPIDER-MAN: VELOCITY #3 PUNISHER KILL KREW #4 STAR WARS #73 STRIKEFORCE #2 TONY STARK: IRON MAN #17 VALKYRIE: JANE FOSTER #4
Marvel Unlimited members have access to some of the greatest Marvel Comics featuring The Avengers, Spider-Man, X-Men, Thor, Hulk and more! With April’s update, Marvel Unlimited will also be expanding its back catalog with the following issues: PETER PARKER, THE SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN (1976) #32-41, SILVER SURFER (1987) #76-85, and much more! All of April’s back catalog comics will be hitting the library on Thursdays, so check back weekly to binge the throwback picks.