Comics That Keep Me Awake at Night – by Renee Thompson
Through my years of shuffling through yard sales, swap meets and comic store clearance bins, I’ve found several interesting titles that are near and dear to my heart. I think that underestimating the potential of buying comics in this way is one of the biggest mistakes traditional comic consumers can make, as they are anxious to stay up to date on current favorites. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find the following issues, leaving me faithful to the clearance bin and hoping to catch the issues I have missed, which have kept me up at night sometimes. But I urge you to go outside your comfort zone and try buying a cheap comic for the heck of it. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Reviews contain some spoilers.
1. The Atlantis Chronicles, Issue One
Debuting in March of 1990, The Atlantis Chronicles is a seven issue series depicting the magical metropolis of Atlantis, which has been abandoned by its patron, Arion after the seas destroyed a large part of the city. Created by Peter David and Esteban Maroto, the series main characters are the King of Atlantis Orin and Shalako, a high priest and brother to Orin, and Rajar, a prophet and friend to Orin. Rajar foresees great pain and destruction coming to the peaceful city, but none listen until his prophecies begin to come true. The main conflict of the first issue is a mix of combatting fate, invaders, and the dark corners of humanity. The use of primary colors seems a bit out of place for a serious fantasy comic, but I feel that the color scheme adds a brilliant contrast to some of the darker topics discussed in issue one.
2. Sky Doll: 4 Sudra, Issue One
Set in the futuristic metropolitan planet of Sundra, and released by Titan Comics, Sky Doll focuses around the character Noa who is a cyborg-type life-form that contains the remnants of the goddess of pure love: Agape. On Sundra, all religions from the known universe are practiced making it a hub of acceptance and diversity, but social disparity is still seen throughout the planet. Making it a perfect environment for Noa to escape the oppressive government that wishes to experiment on her. Noa still has some of Agape’s magical powers, and is able to build a reputation as someone who can revive things from the dead. Noa is seeking refuge with some friends, Jahu and Roy, who are also in hiding. I personally enjoyed the unique alien character designs, as well as the cityscapes.
3. Heartthrob, Issue One
Set in America in the 1970s, the series opens with the heart transplant of the main character Callie who enjoys dating and drinking. Shortly after completing her physical therapy, Callie finds out her boyfriend has been cheating on her, and that her job refuses to pay for her surgery due to her pre-existing heart condition. Let alone and angry, Callie meets blond haired Mercer. Callie becomes increasingly angry at her dull day-to-day life and decides to leave it all for a life of crime with Mercer. Things turn out fairly okay, until Callie discovers that Mercer is the spirit of her heart donor making her question her new career field. The setting, music and clothing is very reminiscent of the ‘70s and the illustrators do a great job of representing that time period.
4. Limbo, Issue One
When Clay wakes up in the middle of town, he’s not sure which one but then again neither are the other citizens. They all randomly awaken in the city and fall into place, because what else are you going to do when you’re a ghost in purgatory? Clay starts up a private investigation business and begins solving mysteries throughout the town. One night, he is approached by a singer in a popular night club who believes the gang leader and owner wants to kill her after she witnessed some shady business. Clay takes the job, not knowing he will face more mysterious spirits and trials.
5. Geisha, Issue One
Jomi is a young android who is trying her best to make on her own as an artist. She is the only one of her kind to have been raised as a human. Although her adoptive family doesn’t think much of her being a robot, the rest of the city is quick to stereotype and discriminate her. Even the art critics believe she is incapable of creating art since she is not human. After seeing her brother doing well as a musician at a local night club, she decides to give the family security business a try in order to pay rent. Geisha is a wonderful example of comics comment on the status quo and how dominant society can ignore genius simply because it is different.