Comics Alternative, Episode 250: Reviews of The Death of Stalin, Moonstruck #1, and Kros: Hallowed Ground

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Monsters…or Others

This week on The Comics Alternative‘s regular review show, the Two Guys discuss three recent titles, all of which involve monsters….or outsiders, depending on your perspective. They begin with The Death of Stalin, written by Fabien Nury and with art by Thierry Robin (Titan Comics). This is a translation of a French text that is soon to be released as a major motion picture in the UK, and then eventually coming to the US. It’s the semi-historical account of the death of Joseph Stalin and the unusual circumstances surrounding that event. As Andy and Derek point out, Nury’s dark sense of humor is apparent throughout, while Robin’s art captures the grittiness of the context.

Next, the guys move on to Grace Ellis, Shae Beagle, and Kate Leth’s Moonstruck #1 (Image Comics). The story takes place in an urban setting, with young people going about their daily, and sometimes wacky, lives…sort of like something out of Seinfeld or Friends. However, what marks this series is its fantastical nature: everyone is a mythical figure of some sort. While Leth provides a bit of the art, the lion’s share goes to newcomer Shae Beagle, which is a stand out. And although both guys had wondered when they read the original solicit if this series may be a bit too “cute,” they find Ellis’s story mature in a way they hadn’t expected.

Finally, Andy and Derek do something they haven’t really done before: review a title that is only available through a Kickerstarter campaign. Tom Mandrake and John Ostrander’s Kros: Hallowed Ground takes place during the horrific yet decisive Battle of Gettysburg, but it’s more than just a war story. This is a landscape populated by vampires. And what better feeding ground for bloodsuckers than this battlefield? On it’s own, this narrative leaves open a few questions, but the guys sense that this is the first in a series of Kros tales that will flesh out a larger storyworld. They hope that this, as well as other future installments, might find its way to print in the future.

Comics Alternative Episode 130: Reviews of The Age of Selfishness, Lumberjanes Vol. 1, and Past Aways #1

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What the Junk?!

On this episode of the podcast, Andy and Derek review three new titles, each of which is a brief glimpse into a facet of our diverse comics culture. They begin by looking at the new book from Darryl Cunningham, The Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis (Abrams AgeOfSelfishnessComicArs). This work is an extended essay focusing on the life and philosophy of Rand, the contribution of her objectivist ideas to the 2008 financial crisis, and a general discussion on growing libertarian selfishness of Western culture. In fact, the book is divided into three parts, each of which is devoted to one of these three components. The guys discuss Cunningham’s structural approach when presenting his arguments. Andy feels that the three parts work fairly well together, although Derek isn’t as convinced that the book as a whole has the appropriate balance. For examples, the references to Rand’s philosophy in the second part of the book, “The Crash,” are sporadic and could have been more deeply ingrained. As a result, the transition from the first part of the text, a broad biography of Ayn Rand, to the discussion on the 2008 crash that follows seems to separate two different projects. Still, Cunningham is able to weave his points together through references to Rand’s disciples, the most prominent of which is Alan Greenspan. The Age of Selfishness is definitely an editorializing work with a left-leaning bent — which is OK with the guys — although at times the author tries almost too hard to be evenhanded. Next, Derek and Andy talk about a comic that they’ve been meaning to discuss for some time, Lumberjanes (BOOM! Box). LumberjanesJunkIn their first collected trade, Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, and Brooke Allen introduce the adventuresome girl team by plunging readers directly into the thick of things, involving yetis, animated statues, werescouts, a mysterious bearwoman, and the subtitular “kitten holy.” This initial volume collects the first four issues of the series, which began about a year ago. The guys wonder why it took so long to put out the first trade, and why this collection comprises only the first four comic books. Derek believes that issues #5, and perhaps even #6, could have been included in the first trade with it still retaining a coherent narrative. But the thing about Lumberjanes is that the storyline is tightly woven, to where it’s difficult to determine where one arc ends and another begins. That’s to the creators’ benefit, as it suggests that they have a solid story to tell and that they’re not merely writing with the typical trade cycle in mind. Finally, the Two Guys discuss the inaugural issue of the new series from Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins, Past Aways (Dark Horse). This is a time-travel  narrative, although one with a different twist. Five explorers from our future are trapped in the early PastAways1twenty-first century, and after a year of being stranded, they drift apart with each going his or her separate way. The opening event in this first issue is what draws everyone back to a common purpose, so in many ways Past Aways has a superhero-ish “getting the team back together” kind of feel. The prelude to this new series actually appeared a couple of months ago in Dark Horse Presents #6 — and the guys briefly discuss that story — but readers do not have to have read that introduction to get into this first issue. Kindt is one of Andy and Derek’s favorite creators, and they love Kolins’s mainstream work in titles such as The Flash. So this new series will be a no-brainer for the guys. They’re on board for the long haul and hope the haul goes on for some time!

REMEMBER: if you’re in the South Carolina area on
Saturday, April 11, check out the

Sumter Comics Art Symposium