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Siskel and Ebert
The Two Guys with PhDs are back with another publisher spotlight, and this time the focus is on AfterShock Comics. This is a new publisher that began soliciting their titles back in the fall and then releasing their initial series in December 2015. With editorial oversight by two veterans of the mainstream, Mike Marts and Joe Pruett, AfterShock has been bringing in some major-league talent to write and illustrate their comics, which is something that Andy and Derek noted when they first caught wind of the up-and-coming publisher. They begin their spotlight by speculating on the possible direction and business plan of AfterShock, observing that some of the company executives have a lot of Hollywood and TV/film experience, and that the kind of titles they’re releasing (and the creators on them) are reminiscent of what readers have historically found at Vertigo and Image. Then they jump into the titles themselves, beginning with the first three issues of Super Zero, written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti and with art by Rafael De Latorre. The guys enjoy this series, a charming and realistic (at least for now) twist on the superhero genre, although they’re hoping that the storyline will soon depart its premise. After that, they look at the first four issues of Paul Jenkins and Andy Clarke’s Replica. This is a futuristic and humorous sci-fi procedural taking place at a nexus of alien cultures. The guys note that after a slow start with the first issue, the series successfully settles into its groove. Yet after finding a lot of critical common ground with the first two series, Andy’s and Derek’s opinions diverge dramatically on several of the remaining AfterShock titles. This is most apparent with Insext, a Victorian, entomologically tinged (and erotic) thriller written by Marguerite Bennett and illustrated by Ariela Kristantina. While Andy finds this one of the most compelling of AfterShock’s initial lineup, Derek feels that there are too many holes in the premise — moth-eaten, if you will — and that the first four issues lack narrative cohesion. They also disagree on Garth Ennis and Simon Coleby’s Dreaming Eagles as well as Brian Azzarello and Juan Doe’s American Monster. Derek believes these are two strong stories, although Andy feels they are just more of the same, nothing new, from Ennis and Azzarello. They do agree, however, on the promise found in the first couple of issues of Strayer, from the creative team Justin Jordan and Juan Gedeon. Finally, the guys wrap up with a discussion on AfterShock’s newest title, Second Sight, written by David Hine and with art from Alberto Ponticelli. This is one of Derek’s favorites from AfterShock, so far, although Andy is less enthusiastic and is waiting to be impressed. Before signing off of this publisher spotlight, the guys also anticipate the publisher’s next wave of new series — including Rough Riders (by Adam Glass and Patrick Ollie), Jackpot! (Ray Fawkes and Marco Failla), and Black-Eyed Kids (Joe Pruett and Szymon Kudranski) — and mention some of the other creators slotted for future AfterShock releases, including Mark Waid, Cullen Bunn, John Layman, Tim Seeley, and Frank Barbiere. In sum, the guys see AfterShock Comics as a new publisher worth watching.