Indie Comics Spotlight: Day Men, Rage: Bane of Demons, Blood Brothers
by Jonathan Pilley (@omnicomic)
Day Men #1
“Impressive. That penchant for adroitness bodes well for a Day Man. We’ll be needing that in the coming days.”
Vampires are sort of the inverse of humans. They live in the night and sleep during the day. They’re fond of gourmet food, but not big on garlic. They do share one thing with humans in that they both thrive on blood and they rely on humans to get them through some tougher times. That’s a scenario in Day Men #1 BOOM! Studios. The issue is written by Matt Gagnon and Michael Alan Nelson and illustrated by Brian Stelfreeze.
For thousands of years, the world has been controlled by the “50 Families” — a secret network of vampire covens engaged in a timeless struggle for power. But when the sun rises, the vampires are forced to employ the services of a human who acts as their daytime fixer and protector: a Day Man. Trained for centuries to be the mortal soldiers of their vampire employers, the Day Men go forth at sunrise, alone into the world, to do the bidding of their sleeping benefactors.
David Reid acts as the main protagonist and Gagnon and Nelson run the story through him. The opening that pits him against a more seasoned vampire shows that he’s not a rookie when it comes to this type of work. In fact, David deals with rival vampire houses, daylight slayers and vampire politics mixed in for good measure. The story itself is a slight twist on the vampire in modern day tale, except that it relies a little too much on narration. Narration boxes flood the panels, giving the reader probably a little more inner monologue than is actually needed for the book to succeed.
Stelfreeze’s art is pretty freaking awesome. It’s been close to a decade since he’s put his talents on display and his sharp art in Day Men #1 is accented well by some harsh shading. David is illustrated with authority and visually proves to the reader that he’s more than capable of handling his own when dealing with the vampires. He really pays attention to all aspects of the art, breathing life into the settings and helping the characters to stand out even better.
Day Men #1 is another vampire tale, but it’s one that offers a new look at the vampire/human dynamic. It shows that vampires need humans more than they’d like to admit and it’s a relationship that could work out. The world being built up is so in-depth and is unfolding in a manner that the reader can really enjoy. There’s a lot of inner monologue boxes, which does slow things down a bit, but there’s room for improvement in the second issue.
Day Men #1 is in stores now.
Rage: Bane of Demons
“Yes…even from here, I can feel his power. Gods, I wish I wouldn’t be forced to free such a calamity on men!”
In humanity’s darkest hour, we often turn to the unlikeliest of allies. Sometimes, those allies include a force so unstoppable that it must be contained for the safety of everyone. Releasing that force for protection is never the best of ideas, but sometimes it must be done and is the story behind Rage: Bane of Demons. The work is written by Eric Peyron, illustrated by Thony Silas and lettered by Steve Wands.
As demons are wont to do in times of yore, many of them have been released from the depths of Hell to conquer Earth and dominate humanity. Watching this war, the Gods decided to make divine creatures to intervene, starting with Raaj. Raaj slaughtered every demon he could find without mercy. Then, seeing no more demons to fight, Raaj began to slaughter humans too. Appalled by the acts of their creature, whom humans came to call “Rage,” Gods descended to Earth and imprisoned him in the heart of a mountain.
Thousands of years have passed, and demons have now begun to reappear on Earth. Master Demon Torg has conquered one of the fortresses of King Kothas, Lord of the Kingdom of Arthkan. After having slaughtered entire armies, Torg is asking for supplies and sacrifices. Knowing about the Legend of Rage, King Kothas orders High Mage Nicodemus to mount an expedition to the mountain where Rage has been imprisoned. And to free him.
At the start, it’s made pretty clear this book will go to some fairly far-out places. Peyron has written what amounts to a Conan tale with some Greek mythology and Arthurian magic mixed in for good measure. The result is a journey book that takes all the key players through some fairly rough terrain right into the heart of the demon’s lair. It’s a tale that’s not exactly original, but Peyron manages to spice it up by presenting Rage as an immensely powerful (and feared) character being held in check by an aged wizard. There’s some inherent suspense in wondering whether or not Nicodemus will manage to maintain his control on Rage or not.
Silas’ art is very well done. His work looks like chalk drawings, yet despite that all the characters are properly scaled to one another and showcase a fair amount of detail. Settings are there for context, but they’re not given complete attention. This affords the reader the chance to take in the characters in all their glory, including an incredibly mountainous Rage. Demons are sufficiently hellish and the all the other character fit their descriptions very well.
Rage: Bane of Demons is a throwback to fantasy books of the past. It offers up a story that is enjoyable enough to read through and characters who–while fitting traditional fantasy stereotypes–still manage to evoke some emotional investment on the part of the reader. Rage is an utter beast, content to wreck shop where the situation calls for it. Placing such an incredibly powerful asset under the charge of a frail old man presents a rather intriguing dichotomy of power that helps move the book forward.
Rage: Bane of Demons has a Ulule page up for a rapidly approaching deadline. Check out the Facebook page here. It’s currently available on multiple platforms via the Rage website.
Blood Brothers #1
“Rise and shine.”
Vampires walk among us in the dark. It’s helpful for them to inhabit a city like Las Vegas, where they can be up all night and not have anything look amiss. Two vampires up all night and chasing bounties in the city that never sleeps is good for business. Blood Brothers #1 from Dark Horse Comics presents lots of good business. The first issue is written by Mike Gagerman and Andrew Waller, with art by Evan Shaner, colors by Dan Jackson and letters by Nate Piekos.
Vampires living in Las Vegas makes perfect sense, considering the all night aspect of the city. And it makes perfect sense for Nick and Tree, two vampires living there and making a living as bounty hunters. The two have endured for centuries, rubbing elbows with everyone from Genghis Khan to Michelangelo. They’ve also made a go of it in the big city, with Nick in love with a mortal woman and a vampire hellbent on bringing the apocalypse, with Nick’s unknowing help.
Placing vampires in modern day society isn’t really new, but giving them legitimate employment is fairly novel. It makes even more sense that vampires would be bounty hunters and Gagerman and Waller does a great job recounting their experiences as vampires throughout the years. It’s entirely convincing (and somewhat lighthearted) that they’re living it up in Sin City. Adding in the world destruction twist makes the stakes a little greater and it remains to be seen whether their freewheeling ways will help them fight off the eminent evil.
Shaner’s art is somewhat gritty, not really focusing on characters or settings in particular. Panel layouts are fairly simple, but the art does an effective job of showing the past histories of the vampires in question. There are some action sequences and not really a lot of vampires in the full form. The depiction of Las Vegas doesn’t really seem too vibrant and most of the action seems to take place in locales that aren’t really indicative of the city itself. The art just seems simplistic and looks fairly static.
Blood Brothers #1 is an interesting concept. Clearly, the two brothers are destined for something more than just bounty hunting and how they react to that matter of destiny remains to be seen. Nick is the more relatable of the two vampires and that’s something that sort of takes away from the first issue. The work overall though has a very lighthearted and jovial feel to it, making it a rather enjoyable read in certain aspects.
Blood Brothers #1 is in stores now.