"It’s the kind of book people on Tumblr & Twitter always complain never gets published, but now totally is!"
A comiXologist Recommends:
Eric Arroyo recommends Boss Snake - Cold Blood, Cold Streets
Gate City’s underbelly is home to more than enough crime lords and cults for a single pulp action hero to take on. Covered in foreboding geometric spot-blacks and brought to life with ink wash textures, this post-WWII setting recalls the first decades of the superhero genre, with all the mobsters, mysticism, and mad science to go with it. But unlike Doc Unknown, the heroic pulp-revivalist adventure comic that introduced Boss Snake, Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets turns its snake-eyes on the story’s villain and explores his rise to power.
In Doc Unknown #1, our hero summed up Boss Snake’s life as a brutal rags-to-riches story. But this embellished tale shows that on the road to controlling Gate City’s underworld, Snake lost much more than he could ever gain. Unlike Doc Unknown’s more whimsical adventures, Cold Blood, Cold Streets is a down-to-earth, Depression-era tragedy, with the most fantastical element being Snake’s own reptilian mug. Artist Ryan Cody and writer Fabian Rangel Jr. craft a world that’s out to get Snake, with deep shadows and gritty brush strokes lurking even in the corners of Snake’s happiest moments. The slick, contrast-rich art style couples design sensibilities that recall the time period with contemporary storytelling sophistication. Cody suggests time and place with specific and iconic details, making Gate City feel fully realized with just a few marks of the pen.
Cold Blood, Cold Streets doesn’t set out to reveal that Boss Snake deep down has a heart of gold. Instead, it builds his worldview, showing what happens when a man who’s hardly given a chance has to take everything that life refuses to give him. Boss Snake is a villain you learn to respect, but never forgive.
If you ever wanted to see the dark side of pulp adventure like The Rocketeer and The Spirit, coupled with a classic mob story, look no further than Boss Snake: Cold Blood, Cold Streets. And if you’d rather stick with the high-flying adventure, read about Doc Unknown’s exploits in his own title.
Eric Alexander Arroyo is a Brooklyn-based cartoonist and a Digital Editor at comiXology. He’s probably drawing giant robots or listening to ABBA.
A comiXologist Recommends:
Harris Smith recommends Low #1
The best science fiction is a measured balance of concept and idea. The concept is the hook, it draws the reader in with its inventiveness. The idea is what gives a good science fiction story resonance. Planet of the Apes, Logan’s Run and X-Men all have great sci-fi concepts: a future where apes have evolved beyond humans, a futuristic society that kills off anyone over the age of 30, a group of teenagers born with metahuman abilities. No doubt these clever stories are what initially drew readers and viewers in, but these three concepts have strong ideas behind them that have continued to reverberate with readers for decades: a treatise on evolution and man’s inhumanity to man, an indictment of youth-obsessed culture, an allegory for racial prejudice.
Rick Remender's new comic, Low, has both concept and idea. The concept is overflowing with imagination (would we expect anything less from the creator of Franke-Castle?): in the future, an expanding sun has doomed the human race and driven them underwater, where they live in an encapsulated city besieged by “Road Warrior”-esque pirates and scavengers. The idea, meanwhile, is universal- how do we find hope in the face of the inevitability of death, in this case the knowledge that the sun will soon engulf the Earth? Remender sets this heady existential question, one that’s plagued philosophers from Kirkegaard to Ernest Becker, within an exciting, colorful universe, a world replete with majestic fantasy landscapes and riotous underwater battle sequences. It’s a perfect blend of concept and idea tied together with the vision of a true artist and highlighted with masterfully evocative artwork by Greg Tocchini. High-minded ideas and aristry aside, Remender really knows how to tell a story and this first issue left me genuinely excited, maybe even a little anxious, to find out what happens next.
Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Neagtive Pleasure on Newtown Radio.