By Jason Delgado
Humans are strange creatures. If the show The 3rd Rock From the Sun taught us anything, It’s that many of our customs and behaviors are odd, especially when viewed from an outside perspective. Wacky aliens aren’t the only weirdos, like the band Pennywise sang, “We’re the aliens.”
Case in point: faced with a worldwide pandemic, the movies Outbreak and Contagion are hugely popular right now. The apocalypse was in vogue before all of this current madness in the world, with mega hits like The Walking Dead and The Hunger Games, but it seems like this is true even more so now. One theory is that folks like to be aware of what the worst case scenario is. It may be comforting to know that with all that is going on, at least we don’t have flesh-eating zombies chasing us, 28 Days Later style.
AWA (Artists Writers Artisans) Studios Upshot comics line doesn’t shy away from the real world, by dealing with zeitgeist issues like a worldwide pandemic, zombies (we don’t have any yet, that we know of, but would it be that surprising?), and illegal immigration. It’s a shared universe of creator-owned comics, but that doesn’t mean it’s required for readers to buy all of the books to know what’s going on in each series. If you’re looking for something timely, dark, and horror-filled, then AWA has got you covered.
The comic Red Border deals with a young Mexican couple fleeing across the Texas border in order to escape a cartel, but they end up in even more trouble than they bargained for. The style of this comic is The Punisher meets House of 1000 Corpses, which is fitting, considering that writer Jason Starr worked previously on Punisher Max over at Marvel. Artist Will Conrad does an excellent job of making the pages pop, and I look forward to the twists and turns that this team takes during this limited series. Disclaimer: AMA comics feature mature content, and are not suited for anyone underage. Check out a free preview of Red Border here.
Year Zero may be mistaken for a Walking Dead clone, simply by virtue of being another zombie book, but the style and story is what separates the two (besides Year Zero being a five issue limited series). Year Zero follows five protagonists from around the globe, switching back and forth between their stories while posing questions on the nature of life. The characters created by Benjamin Percy are all interesting and worth following on a journey against the undead, as well as their own inner demons. Artist Ramon Rosanas excels at capturing the humanity of the protagonists, while conveying the soulless features of undead. Catch the beginning of the possible end of humankind with this free preview of Year Zero.
The Resistance deals with a devastating virus nicknamed “The Great Death,” which has wiped out many people worldwide, but it’s also bestowed the survivors with superhuman powers. An upcoming issue features a funny and inspired parody of The Boys, then veers in a different direction so as not to be a mere knockoff series. The highly talented and prolific J. Michael Straczynski (The Amazing Spider-Man) writes this series (free preview here), and its spinoffs, such as The Resistance: Reborn.
AWA Chief Creative Officer Axel Alonso (former Editor-In-Chief at Marvel) has assembled a talented line-up of both writers and artists, such as: writer Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Boys), writer and illustrator Frank Cho (The Hulk, Savage Wolverine), and writer Margaret Stohl (Captain Marvel) to be part of the creative council for the company. Some books hit, while others miss, but I’ll let you be the judge with these free previews:
Devil’s Highway – Writer Benjamin Percy and artist Brent Schoonover tell the tale of a strong female who is on the hunt for the serial killer who murdered her father. The killer’s calling card is leaving a live snake inside of the victim’s body, but is this grizzly murderer part of a bigger network of evil? How far will one go to deal with evil incarnate? There’s only one road to take to find out, and it’s down the Devil’s Highway.
Old Haunts – Writer: Ollie Masters Rob Williams. Artist: Laurence Cambell. Three retirement age mobsters are haunted by the ghosts of their past, both literally and figuratively. These old-timers only wish that they could “fuhgeddaboutit.”
Archangel 8 – Writer: Michael Moreci. Artist: C.P. Smith. There are seven known archangels within biblical text, but there’s a lesser known eighth, and he’s out to punish the wicked. The war between Heaven and Hell isn’t always so black and white. This is another book with an intentional Punisher-like flavor to it.
Hotell – Writer: John Lees. Artist: Dalabor Talijic. Strange things are afoot at this creepy hotel off of the historic Route 66. Murder, mystery, maniacs, mystical magic, mayhem, and more!
Don’t look a free comic book gift horse in the mouth!. Check these AWA stories out, and support some creator-owned books in the process! Continue the discussion in our forum here.