Comics

Cooney, Gamma, Wastelander Panda, and More! $10 Worth of Comixology Submit

Comixology Submit 9-2-15

Every week, I buy $10 worth of comics from Comixology Submit, Comixology’s wonderful self-publishing platform. I know nothing other than what’s available on the Comixology website. Then I review them.

Comixology Submit a great way for independent comic book creators to get their books out to a wide audience without having to pay for printing or shipping, and it’s an excellent place for readers to find titles that are fresh and different. Check it out!


This Week’s Haul:

Cooney, Vol. 1: Gang Buster #1 ($0.99)

Cooney #1

Writer: Robbie Puzzitiello
Art & Lettering: Gemma Moody

Cooney is a frustrating comic. There’s clearly the germ of something interesting at play: the main character, Marty Cooney, is based on Puzzitiello’s real-life great-grandfather, “an American folk hero who slipped through the cracks of time.” After serving in World War I, Marty Cooney was hand-chosen by Eliot Ness, and spent years working for the Cleveland police. That’s some fascinating stuff, and as Cooney’s back matter reveals, Puzzitiello’s got a scrapbook full of newspaper clippings that tell the whole story.

Unfortunately, the comic doesn’t do the real-life Cooney justice. Spiritually, Puzzitiello’s storytelling owes a lot to 1940’s pulp novels, but Cooney’s characters never gel, and Puzzitiello’s dialogue lacks the pulps’ blunt wit. Moody’s environments evoke classic noir films, but the figure drawing is stiff and awkward, and the characters never really come alive.

Worst, though, there’s just not much story. We get a little bit of Cooney’s backstory, the first hints of a murder case, and a lengthy introduction to Cooney’s family (including his scrapbooking wife), but everything lacks conflict. Nothing’s difficult for Cooney; he moves from place to place, but he doesn’t really do much. This is a decent beginning, and Puzzitiello’s clearly passionate about the subject matter, but future issues are going to need a lot more to make Cooney’s worth following.

Gamma #1 ($1.99)

Gamma #1

Writers: Ulises Farinas, Erick Frietas
Art & Lettering: Ulises Farinas

Dusty Keztchemal used to be the best monster trainer in the world. Now, he’s a whore-mongering burn-out. Trapped in a loveless marriage, Dusty makes ends meet by charging strangers $50 to punch him in the face. When a harried young woman enters the saloon where Dusty “works,” Dusty agrees to take out her abusive boyfriend, but it’s not until Dusty reunites with a Pikachu-like Thunder-Jeroba that the fallen hero truly comes to grips with his past.

As far as first issues go, Gamma does a good job with the heavy lifting: there’s a lot of backstory here, but it never feels like an info-dump. While the ending leaves the story open, Dusty grows considerably during Gamma’s 24 pages. Farinas’s art works well with Gamma’s gritty, comedic tone, and the monster designs are Pokémon-like, while still maintaining their own style. Ultimately, it’s not clear whether this title can outlast its premise—the “joke” of a washed-up Pokémon trainer trapped in a post-apocalyptic hellscape runs its course by the end of the first issue—and the team’s going to have to work pretty hard to make issue #2 as fresh as this debut. Still, so far, so good.

Scare Tales #1 ($0.99)

Scare Tales #1

Writers & Artists: Kyle James Smith & Gabe Sapienza

I like anthologies, and I like horror stories, so Scare Tales immediately caught my eye. It’s an average size comic (22 pages), filled with two stories, and topped with a good-looking, monster-filled cover. It’s easy to see why this one stood out.

The first short, “Bedtime Story,” is pretty standard: a young boy fights with his stressed single mother (medical bills are eating through the family’s finances) on Halloween night. Mom wants the kid to go to bed; the boy wants more candy. Once the lights are out, a monster sneaks out of the boy’s closet, demanding sweets. Things get weird. “Bedtime Story” is a rote affair, with artwork that’s moody but unpolished (it’s very flat, and clearly made by computer), and the twist ending that doesn’t pay off because we don’t care about these characters. They’re types, not people. It’s not exactly a bad story, but it’s not special, either.

The second piece, “The Black Pond,” fares better, thanks mostly to Gabe Sapienza’s fantastic art. Again, it’s a pretty slight plot (a man ditches his girlfriend for a group of sexy water nymphs, with predictably nasty results), but the ethereal tone and dream-like seduction scenes do a good job of implying menace even when there’s nothing dangerous happening on the page. The ending could be clearer, but this is a fun, if disposable, ghost story.

Wastelander Panda Vol. 1: Exile ($5.99)

Wastelander Panda

Writers: Victoria Cooks (Written By) & Wolfgang Bylsama (Adaptation)
Art: Skye Ogden

This is a weird one. After killing a young girl, Isaac is cast out into the Wasteland, forbidden to return until he and his family find a replacement child (they need those things for, y’know, breeding purposes). Alongside a family of bounty hunters, Isaac hunts down a young girl, but the bounty hunters have no designs on letting Isaac return home. Before long, Isaac and the girl (Rose) are on the run. Violence and mayhem follow. Oh, and Isaac and his family are all panda bears. Everyone else is human. This is never explained.

It sounds like the comic is meant to be funny, but Wastelander Panda plays everything straight. Don’t be fooled: this is a dark and violent survival story through and through. Apparently, Wastelander Panda is based on an Australian webseries; with the post-apocalyptic background, stoic main character, and cinematic visuals, it’s easy to compare Wastelander Panda to this summer’s Mad Max: Fury Road, although it’s really closer in style to Lone Wolf & Cub. Given the bleak setting, Ogden’s rough, sparse art seems appropriate. Action scenes get a little confusing (especially when there’s more than one panda involved), but otherwise, this is fine work.

How I Choose What to Review:

  1. I’ve got $10 to spend. That’s it. Most of the time, I’ll try to split that money betweend ifferent titles, so that $9.99 collection has to be pretty darn special if I’m going to spend the whole week’s allowance on it.
  2. For this experiment, I try to stick to #1 issues or one-shot stories. You might be telling the greatest story ever, but I don’t want to start in the middle.
  3. Unless the hook is amazing, I don’t buy superhero books. Don’t get me wrong, I love superheroes. I read ’em all the time, and that’s the problem. DC and Marvel already meet all my superhero needs. When I come to Comixology Submit, I’m looking for something different.
  4. I take recommendations, although I don’t always follow them. You think I might like your title? Hit me up.
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