Image slammed it this week.
They produced the three best comics in a pretty strong release day, and it has taken me a while to decide which comic to choose for pick of the week.
First though, honourable mention must go to Manhattan Projects #5 which is consistently one of the most intelligent, brain-twisting, absolutely insane books on the shelves. This week was no exception. Jonathan Hickman turns up the insanity and sickness way past 10 in this issue, which features Oppenheimer eating alien brains and a whole alien race being irradiated out of existence. The beautiful design of the book is always a joy and Nick Pitarra has excelled here once again.
Also getting a mention is Debris #1 by writer Kurtis J Wiebe and artist Riley Rossmo. The 1st issue in a four part min-series, this was a thoroughly enjoyable comic with a strong female lead character in a beautifully realised world where water is scarce and robot junk monsters provide a constant threat to survival. It was close to being pick of the week, so go check it out.
However, top spot this week goes to Near Death #10. I’ve enjoyed this series immensely but I had felt it dipped a little in quality a few issues back; only slightly but enough to notice from its strong beginnings. But, since the protagonist Markham relocated to Los Angeles, the pace and the quality have just been picking up each month. This month’s issue is the best so far and it is definitely the comic I enjoyed reading the most this week.
The action picks up from the previous issue’s botched mission in which Markham failed to prevent a hit on FBI agent Robert Knox. Markham takes Knox to the hospital but he’s got a gunshot wound to the head and the outlook is gloomy. Somehow Knox pulls through and is okay physically but the bullet has grazed his brain and appears to have affected his personality. After pushing Markham through a plate glass window, Knox leaves the hospital to find and kill slippery criminal Novak. Markham gets to Novak’s safe house just in time to intercept Knox, his gun pointing at Novak’s head. After a discussion about the morality of murdering the criminal Novak, Markham stands in the way of Knox’s gun, arguing that although Novak may not deserve to live, he doesn’t deserve to die either. The last panel of the book has Knox and Markham pointing their guns at each other, only a few feet between them. The final page of this issue indicates quite clearly that somebody’s gun has been fired. We’ll just have to wait until next month to find out whose.
This issue was perfectly paced, every panel moving the story along well. Jay Faerber’s script and Simone Gugliemini’s art really came together to produce a great looking and great reading comic. To top off the visual treat of this comic book we get a fantastic cover by Francesco Francavilla, one of my favourite artists.
s no secret that I like crime fiction and crime comics so it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of Near Death. The comic has a great concept – Markham is a hit-man who has a near-death experience, and comes back from the dead vowing to change his ways and save a life for every life he has taken – and Faerber has really been writing some great stuff month after month.
Another great thing about this comic is the extra content. There’s a great self-contained back-up story by the talented Ed Brisson; Jay Faerber’s monthly “Under The Influence”column, this month focusing on British TV crime dramas; and a short interview with artist Mike Norton. For $2.99 you get a lot of bang for your buck with Near Death, and in a comics market which is full of excellent titles vying for your attention, and your money, this is an important consideration.
If you like crime comics you’ll love Near Death. If you don’t, I’m sure there will be something here you’ll like. So give it a shot. You won’t be disappointed.