The Comics Femme Pull List: The New World, A Walk Through Hell, and House Amok
It’s New Comic Book Day buddies! Every Wednesday, I pick up a handful of newly released comics at my local shop (shout out to G-Mart Comics in Chicago.) I always have a list of what I think I want, and I always end up grabbing something unexpected. This is my favorite part of heading to buy comics in person. After getting to know the welcoming folks at G-Mart, the intimidation of asking questions melted away. Now, going to the shop weekly is not only routine, it’s ritual.
There are a lot of pull lists online, so why should you read mine? My list is for people who are new to comics who may feel at a loss about how to access this rad medium, feminists of any gender looking for powerful stories, and people of color who want to learn about the range of stories out there for and about us. This list is not a preview of upcoming issues since I will not have read the comics prior to writing, but I hope to provide insight into why comics are such an important cultural medium. As your reading, imagine we're in the comic book shop together and I’m sharing my perspective on the things I’m definitely purchasing and the things I want to try. Some comics may fall flat (looking at you #1s) and others may be phenomenal. Only time will tell. This is the beauty of comics, it’s all about the discovery.
Check out the comics I’m excited about this week below. As always connect with me on instagram, twitter, or email to share your thoughts, questions, and feedback!
House Amok #1 (IDW)
Written by: Christopher Sebela
Art by: Shawn McManus
Colors by: Lee Loughridge
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
House Amok caught my attention while looking at the upcoming #1s this week. The cover is what convinced me to try this one out. It features Dylan, a 10-year-old girl with her back turned to us, holding onto her backpack straps. She is heading into what looks like the mouth of a gnarly monster with a million sharp teeth. I loved this cover: it reminded me of the animation from Korn’s “Freak on a Leash” video.
This comic is about a family that includes our young protagonist (also a fraternal twin) that have folie a deux, a shared psychosis that causes delusions among a group of people. Apparently, this madness will cause them to harm to others in order to survive, taking them down a dark path filled with mysteries and conspiracies. Ultimately, the story is about Dylan’s role in saving her family. It’s dark, dude... and, I’m all in! Here’s hoping this first issue sticks.
A Walk Through Hell #4 (Aftershock)
Written by: Garth Ennis
Art by: Goran Sudžuka
Colors by: Ive Svorcina
Letters by: Rob Steen
A Walk Through Hell is a story about two detectives, Shaw and McGregor. While investigating a convoluted case, they head into a strange warehouse where strange things are happening. Other detectives and police officers who have entered this building have not returned, or if they have returned, they have the impulse to kill themselves. Those are my conclusions at least though I’m not 100% sure. It’s this mysteriousness and the amazing writing keeps me buying the issues.
So far, our main characters (including Shaw, a nearly 40-year old no-bullshit woman) are inside the warehouse encountering terrifying scenes. As they contend with what they’re experiencing, they think back to events leading up to this moment. In issue #2, Shaw and McGregor find a fellow detective shooting himself in the head, over and over, each time blowing away chunks of his skull, yet not dying. They question their sanity and the validity of what they are seeing, attempting to put together the puzzle that is their last case.
Garth Ennis’ phenomenal writing, paired with Goran Sudžuka’s killer art, is a slow burn that over time intensifies, building up each ominous scene. It is the creeping pacing that gives readers a disorienting feeling, similar to that of navigating a space in the dark—not fully knowing where you are going but having a limited understanding of the current surroundings. This comic embodies the sense of dread, though a slight exaggeration, that is present in society—a reminder of the extreme harm humans inflict and the people that standby watching.
The New World #2 (Image)
Written by: Ales Kot
Art by: Tradd Moore
Colors by: Heather Moore
Design by: Tom Muller
When I picked up the first issue of The New World last month, I wasn’t super convinced I was going to like it because the two main characters were described as a “hedonistic cop” and a “straight-edge anarchist,” not only complete opposites, but extreme representations of someone who upholds the power of the state and someone trying to dismantle that power. In a time of deep political and social divisions driven by media representation, the idea of this book, which also takes place after a second Civil War, exhausted me. I took a chance though and picked up the book because a woman of color in full armor was on the cover (#RepresentationMatters).
The New World exceed my expectations. Set in the year 2037, after nuclear devices across major U.S. cities exploded and completely destabilized the country, the story takes place in The New California, a nation-state that continues to uphold American values and traditions. Some of these traditions include reality television and the spectacle of law and order, which is where the story begins. Stella Maris, our lead femme, is the #1 cop on “The Guardians” a live show where cops seek out perpetrators, arrest them, and the public, who is watching, has one minute to vote either “live” or “erase.” Even if the public votes to “erase,” which is a lot of the times, Stella refuses to kill people, unlike the other cops on the show. Her character faces critique from the public and from “America’s number one” show, when she’s can’t perform “her one job.” Meanwhile, Kirby Shakaku Miyazuki, our vegan hacker anarchist with many cargo pant pockets, is at “The Guardians” headquarters, where after sneaking past tons of security safeguards, he disrupts the live broadcasting of the show and instead displays on everyone’s screen “SMASH THE POLICE STATE.” This is only the beginning.
The rest of this first issue brings these characters together and the true art of the story occurs in the moments with no action when these characters go home. Just like most of us, they have to stop performing and deal with their own reality. For Stella, it’s a fancy penthouse with a nagging Siri-like home robot, a loving overweight cat, and piles of dirty clothes and stinky food on the floor. She’s a mess with seemingly no personal life. Kirby goes home to a small apartment he shares with his alcoholic father, and through their dialogue, we understand that his type-A personality and idealism is driven by his father’s lack of discipline and laissez-faire attitude. Eventually, they meet each other at a huge party and dance together in a beautifully drawn and colored panel, where they are electric and magnetic. They have casual anonymous sex, a euphoric break from their strict personas, and the next day, Stella finds out her next target is Kirby, and this is where issue two will pick up.
Off the bat, I could relate to the characters’ shared isolation and loneliness, but also the way they gave in to their impulses—a taste of the freedom they don’t afford themselves usually. Stella and Kirby are just trying to emotionally survive in a society driven by the pressures of the state. Although this is a dystopian world that resembles our own, the story itself is not dystopic or dreadful. The New World guides readers through scenes that shift in tone, drawing our attention to the humanity in this world and focusing on the ways we endure and expand hope.