Every week I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.
1. DEPT. H #1
By Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt
Dark Horse Comics
A murder mystery set at the bottom of the ocean, Dept. H (also read as “Depth”) is the latest pulp comic with a modern edge from writer/artist Matt Kindt (Superspy, Mind MGMT), and the first of two new books from him this week. When something goes wrong on a deep-sea research station, a special investigator volunteers to inspect the flooded crime scene. Mia, the no-nonsense investigator, shows up at the base and gets right to work, shrugging off her fear of the ocean and her complicated and personal connections to the victim and the crew.
Kindt’s loose, almost naive-looking art style belies his masterful storytelling and penchant for experimentation in form. Dept. H is a comic that will unfold in “real time” over a 24-hour period, with a “depth” chart running alongside each page, marking the progress through the day. Kindt is collaborating with his wife Sharlene, who provides watercolors over his drawings.
2. DIVINITY #1
By Matt Kindt, Trevor Hairsine, Ryan Winn and David Baron
In Matt Kindt’s other new release this week, he switches from mystery to science fiction with Divinity II, the sequel to his acclaimed 2015 Valiant Entertainment series. During the Cold War in the 1960s, Abrams Adams, a Russian cosmonaut, was sent on a secret mission to the farthest reaches of space and was never heard from again. In 2015, he suddenly shows up in the Australian Outback with seemingly omnipotent power and the ability to traverse time and space. The public views him as a god, but Abrams is tormented by memories of the wife and daughter he left behind in his old life.
In Divinity II, we learn that there were two other cosmonauts on that mission. Now a second one, Valentina (Miska) Volkov, has also returned to a world that is very different from the one she left, where communism is dead and Russia is no longer the super power it once was.
Valiant has been excelling at modern superhero comics that have a grounded, cinematic feel and a great sense of politics and world-building. Kindt and artist Trevor Hairsine balance all of that and add a Kubrick-ian sense of mind-bending, universe-spanning wonder.
3. THE GODS LIE
By Kaori Okazaki
Two eccentric sixth graders with troubled home lives find each other in this solemn and touching manga, originally serialized in Japan in 2013. Kaori Okazaki is an author of shōjo manga (Japanese comics aimed at a teenage girl audience), such as the eight-volume Immortal Rain series about a teenage assassin hunting an immortal target. With a title like "The Gods Lie," this new book sounds like another fantasy-based work, but it's a much quieter rumination on family and first love. It is a story of romance between two kids who are too young to fully understand what that even means.
4. THE RED HOOK
By Dean Haspiel
Dean Haspiel is always at the forefront of new comic frontiers. He was an early webcomic creator, having founded the influential ACT-I-VATE website in 2006. He's involved with all types of new ventures, like Archie Comics’ new superhero line and multimedia initiative Trip City. Now, Haspiel is one of the first big-name American comics creators to jump onboard with Korean webcomic juggernaut LINE Webtoon. Much of the U.S. comic-buying public have never heard of LINE Webtoon, but it is a very popular and forward-thinking innovator in the webcomics space. Their comics take advantage of the vertical format of web and mobile browsers to deliver a modern, digital reading experience.
With New Brooklyn, Haspiel introduces a series of interconnected superhero comics that will run exclusively on Webtoons. The first series, The Red Hook, is about a super-thief who is given something called “the omni-fist of altruism” and is transformed into a hero of Brooklyn, one year after the borough (which has somehow become sentient) secedes from the United States.
This is a loony, over-the-top superhero comic full of Brooklyn references and dramatic artwork that brings to mind the bold work of Frank Miller. New episodes of The Red Hook are published every Wednesday, and two new series by some of Haspiel’s friends and collaborators, The Brooklynite and The Purple Heart, will debut later this year.