What I enjoy about independent comics is the amount of freedom writers have to explore different genres or bring them together. History and fantasy are two of my favourite subjects, so any story that combines them gives me something to invest in. It’s why I was interested in reading Donnie Souza’s Untold #1, which is set in a World War 2 era world where humans, elves and other fantastical creatures are fighting side by side. Untold deals with themes of patriotism, post-traumatic stress disorder, racism and what it means to come home after a long time fighting. Souza sent a copy of Untold #1 to The Comic Vault in exchange for an honest review.
“Chefs are primal creatures. Always have been. When you see puffed up fools bellowing at their kitchen staff on the cooking shows, this is what I mean, so you tell me: isn’t a bit of intramural kicking far more sane than screaming obscenities at some hapless underling? You recall that one chef on TV who does that? About ready to pop an artery? And when he does and there’s a funeral, who’s going to show up? No one. Because he’s an asshole who shouts at his employees.” – Gavin Cruikshank
We live in a world where reality TV is a popular form of escape for many people, with it extending to the cooking industry as well. Celebrity chef programs are enjoyed by billions because of the competitiveness and the emotional trauma that it causes among the people involved. Some shows are just for fun, while others are designed to push chefs to the edge for the entertainment of the audience. Not only does that say a lot about society as a whole, but it forms a large part of STARVE: Volume 1. Created by Brian Woods, Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart, STARVE is about the world’s most famous chef, Gavin Cruikshank, who created a reality cooking show that turned into a morally corrupt arena for the wealthy to dine on illegal cuisine and bastardise the industry. The graphic novel contains a multitude of relatable themes that will appeal to chefs and cooking enthusiasts.
Food and comics are two of my biggest interests, so I’m always looking for an excuse to combine the two together. It’s why I’m kicking myself for only recently discovering the Chew series created by John Layman. The series follows Tony Chu, a Food and Drugs Administration agent who solves crimes by getting psychic visions from the food he eats. His power puts him a variety of messed up situations that involve cannibalism, gun fights and murder all in an effort to uphold the law. Chew: Volume 1: Taster’s Choice introduces the character’s world and it’s one of the most original, entertaining stories I’ve ever read.
Some of the most interesting stories feature strong POC protagonists, which is why I’ve enjoyed reading Saladin Ahmed’s Abbott series, which features tough as nails reporter Elena Abbott. Set in 1970s Detroit, Ahmed’s comic weaves together occult and noir themes to create a political thriller with memorable characters. Abbott #2 picks up from where the first issue started and it’s safe to say there’s a mystery that needs to be solved.
Doctor Doom is one of the greatest villains in the history of comics. He’s taken on The Fantastic Four, Avengers, battled aliens and monsters and even ruled the Multiverse as an all-powerful god. So, what happens when he tries to make up for all the wrong he’s done in his life? You get Infamous Iron Man Vol 2: The Absolution Of Doom. Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the graphic novel follows Doom as he takes on the Iron Man identity to make the world a safer place. The second volume feels like it has higher stakes than the first because of the introduction of the evil Reed Richards from the Ultimate Universe. Traditional roles are flipped and Doom finds himself in a situation where even he doesn’t have all the answers.
Elektra is a character that’s known for her connection to Daredevil, but her backstory allows her to fit into other parts of the Marvel Universe. Elektra: Always Bet On Red, written by Matt Owens, sees Elektra go to Las Vegas to try and escape her past and start over. But Sin City is a place of criminals looking to leave their mark, and picking a fight with one of Earth’s deadliest assassins is a way to do it. Elektra finds herself caught in a twisted game that pushes her to the limit, making her question whether killing really is the answer to creating a better world.
The desire to earn more money is felt by many people, whether they want to become successful or afford new things. Currency makes the world go round and it could be argued that money is the root of all evil, but what if money was the root of all power for some? What if the urge to accumulate more wealth became a visceral need to dominate your fellow man? Such questions form the basis of Jonathan Hickman’s The Black Monday Murders Vol 1: All Hail, God Mammon. Money and blood go hand in hand and no price is too high for the characters of this dark and disturbing graphic novel.