by Rob H.
Welcome back, once again, to the Splash Page Spotlight. It’s been far too long since we shined the spotlight on some comics, and for that I do apologize. So, let’s knock the dust off of the ol’ keyboard and get to work. If you’re new to this feature, or maybe you’ve forgotten how it works since it’s been so long, I choose three comics with a common theme and give you a quick review/preview of what they have to offer. I’ll post links to their pages at Comixology, so if you see something you like, your shopping will be a little bit easier. Sometimes it’s three books by the same creator, or books starring the same characters, or whatever crazy theme I can come up with.
For this installment of the Spotlight, we’re turning to Monkeybrain Comics. Founded in 2012 by Chris Roberson and Allison Baker,Monkeybrain’s primary focus is presenting quality digital at a super affordable price. As far as I’m concerned, the Monkeybrain logo has become a symbol of excellence, presenting a low risk/high reward brand of comics. As all comic fans know, trying out new books, especially ones by new or unfamiliar creators, can be a bit daunting. At three or four bucks a pop, trying out new titles can get expensive. Monkeybrainhas got you covered there, my friends. Most of their digital issues are priced at $.99, with a few going up to $1.99, so trying out new titles isn’t too big of a risk. I’ve covered a Monkeybrain comic before, when Edison Rex was a part of the Villains’ spotlight, but this time, I’m picking three more comics from their roster. Now, enough with the small talk. Let’s get to the good stuff, and take a look at the world’s greatest (and cutest) thief, a sister superhero act with a few twists and turns, and a terrifying trip up Mount Everest.
Written by Paul Tobin
Art by Colleen Coover
Bandette is a teenage thief, roaming the alleys and rooftops of Paris, stealing priceless valuables and a kiss or two along the way. Aided by her army of helpers she affectionately calls the Urchins, Bandette leaves a trail of empty safes and discarded candy wrappers in her wake. Bandette was the winner of the 2013 Eisner Award for best digital comic and is nominated for three more Eisners this year.
Bandette is a thief with a heart of gold, relieving crooks, gangsters, and generally disagreeable people of their own ill gotten gains. Tobin and Coover strike a perfect balance of wit and charm with this book. Bandette is instantly lovable, singing lullabies to guard dogs and comically tiptoeig down empty hallways and past open doors.Bandette is so lovable, even the police call her for help against the truly nasty criminals in town, despite the protests of B D Belgique, the local police detective who has sworn to arrest the elusive young lady, someday when he gets around to it.
The best word to describe Bandette, both the character and the title, is charming. Each new issue is like a breath of fresh air. Tobin and Coover consistently deliver a comic that’s an absolute steal at $.99. Coover’s art and the facial expressions of the characters create a warm, inviting look into their world. Joining our young hero is a cast of characters (almost) as colorful as she is. Bandette has a friendly rival in the form of Monsieur, a distinguished older gentleman thief who’s bound and determined to keep her from claiming, or more appropriately stealing, his status as the greatest thief alive. Her Urchins include young Daniel, a delivery boy who carries quite a crush on his fearless leader. The aforementioned B D Belgique and his police force are a lot of fun too, and seeing the poor inspector having to deal with this ragtag group of thieves to keep his city safe is a blast. I’m not going to get into the villains of the book, because they’re too good at being bad to spoil for you here, but they fit in perfectly with the rest of the cast.
Bandette currently has ten issues available, and the first issue is temporarily free while the Eisner awards are being decided. Even if you miss the opportunity to get it for free, the usual retail price is under a buck, so you have next to nothing to lose. Bandette goes to the top of my to read pile, digitally speaking, each week it comes out, and it’s a book I’ve read multiple times while waiting at doctor’s offices or on a break at work. It’s a fun, light hearted book and it’s a great change of pace from some of the darker comics on the stands lately. It’s fun, it’s funny, and above all, like I said earlier, it’s just really charming. If you’re a fan of print over digital, you can get the first two story arcs collected in Bandette volumes one and two for $15 a piece, available through Dark Horse comics.
THE DOUBLE LIFE OF MIRANDA TURNER
Written by Jamie S Rich
Art by George Kambadais
Miranda Turner is an actor by day, and by night she’s following in her sister Lindy’s footsteps as the latest superhero to operate under the guise of The Cat. After Lindy was attacked and killed by an unseen assailant, her ghost appeared before Miranda and (according to Miranda) asked for help catching her killer. As the Cat, Lindy had a mystic medallion that gave her superpowers and she has years of training in the art of crime fighting. Unfortunately, when her killer took her life, he also took her medallion, so Miranda is just kinda winging it out there, figuring out the rules as she goes.
Miranda is trying to adapt to being a superhero, with her sister Lindy being a backseat crime fighter along for the ride. Miranda is trying to avoid Lindy’s superhero pals in the Alphabet Guild, because she’s not quite ready to face up to the professionals. So after she takes down the Blockheads in issue one, she leaves the clean up to the Zebra.
The Alphabet Guild is a superhero team with 26 members, each representing a different letter of the alphabet. That’s brilliant. So far, we’re up to issue seven, and we’ve only seen glimpses of four members of the Guild, so there’s still a lot of fun in store. Even with characters like the Zebra making cameo appearances, the real star of the book is still Miranda. I got to read all seven issues for the first time in a row, and came away from the book really liking her. She’s been thrown into the deep end of the pool, still reeling a bit from learning her supermodel sister was secretly a superhero and trying to fill Lindy’s shoes and catch her killer too. Miranda is very much cast in the role of the eager young hero, and it’s a role she plays very well. I’m a big fan of this book, and can’t wait to see Rich and Kambadais continue to fill in the details not only on the central mystery, but also to see them further define the superhero world around them. The Double Life Of Miranda Turner is a lot of fun, and definitely stands out from the pack of other superhero books with it’s humor and lighter tone. Sometimes, no matter how much I love heavier tones and big reality shaking superhero comics, I need a change of pace, and The Double Life Of Miranda Turner scratches that itch.
Now we transition from the lighter fare of Bandette and Miranda to the darker tones of the grimmest title I’ve read from Monkeybrain so far.
Written by Christopher Sebela
Art by Ibrahim Moustafa
Zan Jensen is used to being woman on the run. After being told she’d have to forfeit the Olympic medals she won in snowboarding after failing a drugest, Zan ran, taking her medals and drugs with her when she went. She trekked across the globe, and ended up at Mount Everest, working with Haskell Price, guiding tourists and thrill seekers up the mountains peaks. Behind the backs of their paying customers, Zan and Price conduct their second job: grave robbing.
Not everyone who attempts to climb the mountain makes it to the top, and some don’t survive the trip back down.Zan and Price find Everest’s victims, and after removing hands or fingers to identify the bodies, they contact the deceased’s family and offer to bring their bodies down from the mountain for a proper burial, for a price. It’s a grim business, and one that puts both of them in the cross hairs of some very dangerous people. The latest fingerprint they try to identify belongs to someone of great interest to a black ops group back in the United States, and whenZan and Price try to access his identity, it sends shock waves throughout their lives. Now under attack and being pursued by the government operatives who want to recover their latest find, the pair of mountain climbers are desperately trying to keep themselves alive.
This book is intense. From the chase scenes to dealing with Zan’s addictions and self destructive nature, this book is a heavy adrenaline rush of a comic book. I don’t know if I ever would’ve went out looking for a ‘Mountain Climbing Action Noir” title, for lack of a better phrase, but I have enjoyed the hell out of this book. Sebla writes Zanas an incredibly believable character. One minute she’s a compelling and sympathetic character, the next she’s completely infuriating, but readers have to see how she gets herself out of one jam and into her next. Moustafa’sart is the perfect compliment to the script. His transitions from scene to scene are seamless, and the bleached white colors of the snow and mountains give the art a chilling, isolated tone. This book doesn’t have cute thieves or superheroes, but when I needed a third choice for this Monkeybrain edition of the Spotlight, picking High Crimes was a no-brainer. Like Bandette, High Crimes is being collected in print by Dark Horse, available July 8th, so if you’re an old school fan and prefer your comics on the page instead of the screen, they’ve got you covered.
Confession time. If it wasn’t for Monkeybrain’s pescense on Comixology and their super affordable price points, I doubt High Crimes would’ve caught my eye. I wasn’t familiar with the creators and there’s an abundance of thrillers on the comics scene right now. If I hadn’t been browsing the company’s page on Comixology, I would’ve overlooked this book, and that would’ve been entirely my loss. This is a fantastic series. I gave it a shot and picked up the first four or five issues, because at $.99 an issue (Yes, I’m going to bring up the price point again, because it’s insanely low) I didn’t have much to lose, and I’m so glad I did.
So, that’s it for this installment of the ever-lovin’ Splash Page Spotlight. I hope you saw something that piqued your interest, because I highly recommend all three of these titles if you’re looking for something new in your comics diet. And like I’ve said before (last time, I promise, the article’s almost over) at NINETY NINE CENTS a piece, you could pop over to Comixology’s site and grab up the first three issues of all three titles for less than ten bucks. If these titles didn’t grab your interest, browse the rest of Monkeybrain’s titles. I’ve already recommended Edison Rex, and Henchmen Inc is a lot of fun too. I’ve read the first two issues of The October Girl, and I fully intend to go back for more too. If you try out one of these titles and enjoy it, drop us a comment or find me on Twitter and let me know. Let the creators know. Tell all your friends and family too. Until next time, where hopefully things get STRANGE like I said they would last time, thanks for reading and have fun with comics.