Aftershock is on a roll. They are publishing so many top-notch series. While there’s no uniform house style or shared universe, they have definitely carved out their own niche. Aftershock titles tend to be a little more adult, a little more edgy. There’s a thriller aspect to many of the series, often mixed in with a sense of dread and of foreboding.
I just read a Ray Bradbury short story, The Playground, this weekend. It had been years since I read Bradbury, and I kind of forgot how much I enjoyed his work. It’s a bit of a stretch, but one could argue that many of the Aftershock series have Bradbury baked into their DNA.
Descendent by Stephanie Phillips is another winner, but I might argue it owes more to Brad Meltzer than to Bradbury. Comics fans might remember him from his DC work on Identity Crisis a few years ago, but the rest of the world knows him as a thriller author. My favorite books of his entwine a mix of political intrigue and unsolved mysteries.
(There’s a bit of Harlan Coben in this comic too -and that’s high praise indeed from me. I think Coben is just fantastic.)
Descendent tells of a sinister conspiracy, dating back to the Lindbergh kidnapping, and then reveals a tale that is even creepier and more complicated. The gradual peeling of the onion follows the characters as they get in deeper and deeper. And as the reader, we’re always either just one step ahead or one step behind.
I was really impressed with Phillips’ character development. She’s able to sketch out interesting, fresh characters in very short order. As the principals are brought center stage, we quickly know who they are, what they are doing and, most importantly, why we should care about them.
It’s clear that Phillips keeps up with current events too. Several story elements impress upon the reader that this story takes place in the here and now.
Artist Evgeniy Bornyakov really shines on the covers, aided and abetted by colorist Lauren Affe. There’s a strong sense of design that made these covers stand out on the newsstand. And, of course, the covers are included in this collection.
There’s a lot about Aftershock to like. One of the coolest things are the creator spotlights included at the end of each comic. “About the Creators of Descendent” section tells just a little bit about each creator, providing the reader with context and appreciation. Traditional books have been doing this for years and years, so, in a way, it is perplexing that it’s not more of a common practice in comics.
This collection also includes “Behind the Scenes” pages with character sketches, variant covers and a glimpse at the process of turning a written page into a comic page.
The trade paperback (TPB) of Descendent, collecting the first five issues of the series, is on sale starting this week.
by Stephanie Phillips, Evgeniy Bornyakov, Lauren Affe and Troy Peteri
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Geek Girls Don’t Cry: Real-Life Lessons from Fictional Female Characters by Andrea Towers came out in April of last year, and I just stumbled across it at the local library. While probably not written “for me”, I was fascinated by it. Andrea Towers is able to pull out important life lessons from the trials and tribulations of characters like The Black Widow and the Scarlet Witch. There’s also quick mini-interviews with creators who specialize in female-focused fiction with these characters, like Samm Maggs , author of Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, and Margaret Stohl, writer of the prose Black Widow YA Books Black Widow: Forever Red and Black Widow: Red Vengeance.
Towers navigates the often-rebooted histories of the characters with grace and fairness, recognizing that more readers know these characters from their onscreen appearances than the source material.
Longtime comic readers may notice some minor mistakes. I can just hear my friends complaining that “Everyone knows that Hawkeye didn’t appear in X-Men #4”, but that should all be relegated to the land of minor quibbles. The fact that this exists, and that some 7th grade girl is enjoying it and learning from it, makes my heart swell with joy.
Geek Girls Don’t Cry: Real-Life Lessons from Fictional Female Characters
by Andrea Towers