Dark Horse

Current comic obsession: Spell on Wheels

Writer:Kate Leth
Artist:Megan Levens
Colorist:Marissa Louise
Published by Dark Horse Comics

I’ve been waiting for a new comic book series to become obsessed with, so Spell on Wheels came at exactly the right time. When I saw Dark Horse promoting the new miniseries, I knew in an instant that it was something I absolutely needed to read.

Jolene, Claire and Andy are three witches that live and work together in Boston. When their house is robbed of some important magical instruments, the girls head out to try and track down what has been taken – and to discover who the mysterious person is who has robbed them. The road trip story takes them throughout the upper East Coast, and straight into a lot of trouble.

The story is a lot of fun. Plus it stars three totally badass ladies who are honest-to-God witches (helloooo magic). The ingredients are exactly that I would throw into my dream story: feminism, magic, mystery, road trips, diversity and fabulous art.

Megan Levens is probably my second favourite Buffy artist (after the great Karl Moline, of course, who is probably my favourite comic book artist full stop), and her art was key to what I think was a much-improved season 10. She really brings out the personality of each girl, whose personalities are already different and totally fleshed out by writer Kate Leth.

It is, unfortunately, just a miniseries and is only planned for five issues. But I would totally dig in a second series. With the success of other short-run series at Dark Horse like Lady Killer, I’ll be keeping fingers crossed.

Spell on Wheels issue #3 will be in comic shops on December 21st.

Lady Killer 2 Issue #2


Story and Art: Joëlle Jones
Colours: Michelle Madsen
Letters by: Crank!
Cover by : Joëlle Jones and Michelle Madsen 

I don’t know why I didn’t re-read the first five issues of Lady Killer before the sequel miniseries came out, but as soon as I opened issue #2, I regretted not doing so.

As soon as you reach page one, you are re-introduced to Irving Reinhardt, an ally of Josie’s found in issues #4 and #5 from 2015’s run. Good ol’ Irving has been looking for Josie, and has a new proposition for her. Since he’s old and “retired” – he wants Josie to do all the, er, laborous work while he helps her out with the cleaning up (which for a 60’s housewife, is ironically the one thing she’s really horrible at as seen with last issues tub troubles). Despite her hesitation, she eventually agrees.

After accumulating a business partner, Josie returns to her average life and goes to a Christmas party at the beach for her husband Gene’s work. All at the party is Gene’s super sleazy boss, whose dressed like a rather sun-caught Santa, and his wife from last issue. In a rather sweet move, Josie wears a rather unfashionable suit to the party. She’s self-conscious that all the other ladies are donning their new bikinis.

But of course the party wouldn’t be any fun if something potentially dangerous happened to Josie, and Irving shows up and throws himself into her family life. He knows the twins by name and introduces himself to Gene as Josie’s Uncle Irving. And Josie’s partner has officially muddled in her personal life in a big way. But at the party, Josie finds a note telling her to go to the Surfside Playhouse.

Awaiting her is an unnamed man playing bingo. He knows all about Josie and her work – and what happened at the World’s Fair. He also has a proposition for Josie, which I guess that’s what happens when small businesses start to become successful. He tells her that he can provide her with the type clients that will be more of a challenge than the current work she’s been doing on her own.

He does warn her that there are “dues to pay”, but without telling her what those dues are, Josie agrees.

Josie’s rule #7 is to trust her instincts. It’s plenty obvious that going into business with Irving isn’t going to make Josie’s life and easier. And that’s not even taking into account the mysterious bingo-man’s ominous warning. Safe to say that Josie Schuller has once again got herself into a bit of a bad spot. Shame she didn’t following her own rules, though it is a bit more fun for us.

On a final note, it goes without saying that Jones’s cover art is also on-spot, but I do with there were some variants to pick up. Issue one did, but it wasn’t a particularly interesting one. This is a series that pretty much sells itself on style, and how I wish it would exploit that more.

Lady Killer 2 Issue #1

Art and Story: Joëlle Jones
Colours: Michelle Madsen

Josie Schuller is back, and I haven’t felt this giddy to go to the comic shop in a while.

Lady Killer 2 returns after 2015 successful five-issue run. Joëlle Jones and Jamie S Rich created a great little world for the 60’s housewife/assassin Josie to run around in. It was nominated this year for four Eisner Awards, including best limited run. It was a fun series, despite the fact that I wanted to much more out of the story (if Jones ever wants to revisit Josie’s backstory, please do).

But it’s immediately clear that Jones is trying something a bit different this time around. Things are a lot more personal with Josie. We get to read her thoughts as she begins her venture building a business of her own. Of course that is the business of being a paid assassin.

The Schuller family have made the move from Seattle to the city of Cocoa Beach. Here Jones’ style absolutely pops off the page. The art is filled with the same graphic, bloody imagery of the first series, but within the much more romantic-looking setting of mid-60s Florida. Despite this new setting, Josie is very much up to her old habits (instead of Avon products, she’s switched things up to Tupperware).

Josie meets with her husband’s boss and his wife, and still has her battle with her awful mother-in-law. But she’s a woman of many talents and still achieves being both the perfect wife and assassin. Though Jones manages to throw in some subtle looks of the unrest that’s bound to occur in following issues. Hopefully this means there will be development for Josie as a character as she continues on a much more independent path than the one she had in Seattle.

I’m really excited for Lady Killer 2, and though issue 1 offers some familiar ground, there’s already a taste of how exactly this series is going to develop in a different way going forward. I love Jones and believe in her wholeheartedly. Whatever happens to Josie, it’s going to be fantastic. It’s really great to have these two ladies back.

Wicked Wednesday: Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In


Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In is a one-shot comic from Dark Horse is that both creepy and exciting.

The Beasts of Burden series has won both the Eisner and Harvey Awards. What the Cat Dragged In is the first installment since 2014. The series is about a group of cats and dogs that protect their home of Burden Hill from the paranormal. Writer Evan Dorkin and artist Jill Thompson return with Sarah Dyer co-writing.

The newest story opens with Scout and Orphan as they investigate Dymphna, whose coven was taken out by Orphan and the wise dogs destroyed them. Dymphna surprises them and explains that she has been trying to get access to the house where her familiars used to live, but has been unsuccessful.

The three cats seek the assistance of Hoke, a raccoon who will be able to open the door for them. Hoke is a fantastic, light comedic relief in a darker story of magic and witchcraft. Plus he’s a raccoon. Hoke eventually gives in to their requests and helps them enter the home where Dymphna’s familiar and her partner lived.

Inside they find the house in a poor state; it’s covered in mold and rot. But they proceed down into the depths of the home where Dymphna faces two cats who were a part of her coven. They are alive only in the fact that the Harrow she summoned are making them suffer. They kill themselves only to be brought back every time.

Dymphna has to face the choices she’s made and pay the consequences. While her friends are spared, she makes a deal with the harrow that finally breaks the hold it has over the other members of her coven. While she survives, they finally move on. Her quest for vengeance eventually leads her to loss.

What the Cat Dragged In is my first experience with this series, but it seems to be a pretty great entry point. The premise certainly sounds a bit silly, but it’s treated with a dark and mature flair that makes this story rather good. The best stories are layered with lessons and pain, and What the Cat Dragged In manages that in only a few pages.

I love Thompson’s artwork as her painting style seems to capture the emotions of these animals and gives them genuine personalities. This one-shot really perked my interest in this world that Dorkin and Thompson have created. I’m hoping to be able to pick up some collected editions in the near future.

Pointless side-note: I love seeing the vintage Dark Horse logo on these comics this year for their 30th anniversary. I need to pick up some of the variant issues, especially Joelle Jones’s cover for the first issue of Tomb Raider. Not that I’m into Tomb Raider. But still. It’s gorgeous. Also speaking of Jones, the next series of Lady Killer has officially been announced for August! Wahooo!!

Archie vs Predator issue #4 review


Script: Alex de Campi
Pencils: Fernando Ruiz
Inks: Rich Koslowski
Colours: Jason Millet

This Cover: Faith Erin Hicks variant cover 

The bad idea was relying on boys to do things for us. Boys never do anything right.” – Veronica Lodge

Issue #3 left Betty, Veronica and Archie in grave danger – face-to-face with the Predator. Dilton’s Archie-bot invention malfunctioned leaving Archie in peril – not like things were going well to begin with. Nearly all of their friends are dead and the end of Riverdale seems to be looming overhead. Things really did not look bright for the heroes.

The predator leaves the three kids alone, but not without the hunter seemingly called Veronica by Betty’s name. But clearly Predator is catching on to things, and he might even have a crush on Riverdale’s most popular blonde. With Archie pretty much left incapacitated, the two ladies need to join together to win. There is, of course, still that looming jaguar dagger curse left to finish off. But of course, the two struggle to work together. Betty doesn’t believe they have a hope without Archie, and Veronica is ready to take her destiny into her own hands.

“If I’m going to die, you can bet it’s going to be in couture.”

The girls can’t bare to live without their Archie so they hook him up to one of Veronica’s father’s machines. Of course Veronica being a supreme woman of science, she turns the dial up to 11 – much beyond the suggested level of 4. “Veronica Lodge ain’t got time to read.” What does this machine do? Who needs explanations? No one, and it’s best if you laugh instead of asking questions.

But before they head into the panic room that was installed by Veronica’s father, the two girls attempt to take on the predator themselves. This is where things go south pretty damn fast. But would it really be a Predator book if there wasn’t intense and gross violence?

Also, there is a scene that I HAVE to mention where the predator is wearing Betty’s lucky scrunchie. Um. This is probably the best part in the entire series. If not, it at least sums up this whole cross-over in one panel: utterly insane.

But will the kids make it out alive? Well, things definitely don’t go to plan. The ending is so weird. So wonderful. So off-the-wall. So zany. There really couldn’t be any other way to end it (and there will be no spoilers here – the ending is so worth reading yourself).

This particular variant cover was one that I was really looking forward to since the day I first saw a preview of it on Dark Horse’s website. Faith Erin Hicks (The Last of Us) did an amazing job. The great covers and variants were half of the fun buying this series. Dancing Predator has me pissing myself every time I look at this cover. Poor Archie.

There are a lot of mashups out there right now. Probably too many, and a majority of them are really awful and/or completely unnecessary, but AvP is a bit cheekier and smarter than many of its counterparts. Alex de Campi’s writing is SO on point with this issue. There were several moments that were pretty damn hilarious (if brutal over-the-top violence is your thing), and as usual, she made plenty of remarks about the relationship of the two teenage girls.

Archie vs Predator was a great short series. Was it really one of the best things to come out this year? Well, probably not. But it was worth a read. The writing was really great throughout. The covers and art were above and beyond. If b-movie or slasher horror if a delight to you or you enjoy watching worlds collide, this is definitely a series to check out. And who really would pass up a chance to see two icons on the page together? If you would, then well – you’re no friend of mine.

Missed out on buying the series? Can’t be bothered to look for back issues? Still want in on the fun?  The Archie vs Predator deluxe hardcover will be on sale at comic book stores on November 4th.

Lady Killer issue #4 review


Lady Killer Issue #4

Story by: Joëlle Jones and Jamie S. Rich
Art by: Joëlle Jones
Colours by: Laura Allred

Last time readers saw Josie, she was in a bit of a bind. Not hitting her last target finally put her in big trouble with the big boss – and the price is not just a slap on the wrist. More a ‘bullet in your head’ type. Josie and Peck are not particularly on friendly terms anymore. With a hit on her, Josie is on the run from her former coworker, and the resulting car chases are gripping.

This issue also introduces an important new character, Ruby. She’s as much of a sultry badass as Josie is. Without giving too much away, their new partnership promises to be a really great one. What is done really well in this issue, is the really interesting juxtaposition between the blatant mid-century misogyny and the pure strength of character of these two women. That’s what helps really push this comic to a different place. Jones and Rich give their message, but it never feels preachy – it only enhances the colour and story of each character.

The tone is certainly different than the previous three installments. It’s darker, more of a revenge plot, but it definitely hasn’t forgotten about the thrills. There was a bit less dialogue (and thus less quips, unfortunately) than usual, but this was definitely the most fun issue to look at. Jones’ artwork, as always, was a massive pleasure to enjoy. The action moves quickly and it’s difficult to turn the pages fast enough.

Next month’s issue #5 is the last, and it has definitely gone by way too fast. The story line was probably a bit too much to have in just five quick issues. Hopefully this won’t be the last anyone sees of Josie because this story has been a whole lot of fun. The concluding issue can’t come soon enough.

Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Issue #1: Bee Vixens from Mars


Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight Issue #1 – Bee Vixens from Mars

Script: Alex De Campi
Art: Chris Peterson 
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Cover art: Francesco Francavilla

This weekend Dark Horse had a “women in comics” sale where women-created or women-centric comics were all 99 cents. So of course I went mad and bought the entire series of Grindhouse: Doors Open at Midnight. I’ve long been a fan of the gruesome and gory. And what this first issue delivers is definitely gruesome. The entire series is eight-issues long, split into several different stories arcs.

The first issue opens with a series of…voluptuous drawings by Chris Peterson. The honey and bee motif is definitely strong throughout the panels. It’s over the top and dripping with sensuality.

The story follows police officers Jimmy and his eye-patch wearing, motorcycle-riding partner Garcia as they investigate a dead body they found in a car by the road. The boy’s body is torn apart by something, or rather, someone and not much of him is left other than some suspicious lipstick marks. While investigating the scene, Jimmy is attacked by what appears to be a giant bee-woman. Although he survives the attack, Jimmy goes missing later that night and neither his wife or partner know where he’s gone.


There are police protocols to be followed, but Garcia isn’t a woman to sit around and wait. Garcia decides to take matters into her own hands, taking the hive out herself, but will she survive the wrath of the killer bees?

Grindhouse theatres usually showed exploitation films, and in the 70s that often meant slasher films. That is what this Dark Horse series captures, and with plenty of style. It feels like an old school horror film with explicit yet cool visuals. This is a niche comic that will likely only appeal to fans of the genre (or those at least curious about B-moves).

Garcia is definitely a cool character, and this is a great first book when it comes to suspense – not much is given away as to the villain yet but there are not-too-subtle hints being dropped about what’s going in the hive. But thankfully this is just a short-form horror comic because there isn’t enough to love to keep it going beyond four issues. If possible, get Officer Garcia her own comic – now. Because eye-patches and motorcycles are cool.

The story is not terribly cutting edge, but it’s definitely fun for those who really dig this specific style. A word of warning: not to be picked up by the faint of heart.