The Humble Bundle is a wonderful thing – it started off as games only, but they’ve since expanded into books and various other media. The short explanation is that it’s a charity, of sorts – you get a bundle of products, you choose your own price, and you choose the split between the creators of the products, a charity or charities, and a ‘Humble tip’ to help them keep their servers up and running.
I picked up the Humble Comics Bundle – Image, featuring Creators Own Worlds. Or whatever the correct capitalization of all that is supposed to be. Long story short, it’s a bunch of stuff published through Image that’s set in worlds created by the same people who did each comic – not part of, for example, the shared Marvel universe.
Now, I haven’t yet read everything in there, and I probably won’t read all of them for quite a while yet.1 But I’ve read a few, and I thought I’d share my thoughts here:
A violent little romp through Jamaica; it didn’t take too long to read, but told a nice short story. I’d put emphasis on the word ‘violent’ in that description.
Injection (vol. 1)
This one was really interesting, and I can’t decide if it felt like a TV pilot, one of the double-length ones that only ever airs as a ‘bonus content’ type of thing after the show got picked up, or if it’s more like the entire first season of a show. It’s a complete story, but it left a lot of room for sequels to follow up, and some prequels to fill in a bit. It’s dark and grimy and a lot mysterious, and I think it worked quite well. The art style fits the content very well, and I was left wanting more.
Nowhere Men (vol. 1)
Injection left me wanting more by dint of being a lovely self-contained story with plenty of room for expansion. Nowhere Men left me wanting more by being a tease with information. It’s set in a world where, rather than the Beatles taking over the world with their rock music, a group of four scientists rocketed to the global spotlight with their intellects. It’s a little bit unclear on when, exactly, everything is happening – a sort of smeary, always-now kind of setting is implied, so I think it’ll hold up pretty well – and shows off a lot of science-fiction going on in interesting ways. It’s also very mixed-media – the comic is interspersed with magazine interviews, book excerpts, and newspaper clippings that all help to fill in the world very well. Or, at least, from the public’s point of view – the actual story being told is a heck of a lot of dark-research and behind-the-scenes fighting going on. Very interesting, although the most aggravating plot twist in there is finding out that volume 2 isn’t out yet.
Jupiter’s Circle (vol. 1)
Oh my god it’s everything I’ve ever wanted in a superhero comic. There’s a reason The Boys was one of my favorites, in spite of the brutal nature of that comic. This is a little bit less ultraviolence-and-everything-is-awful than The Boys; it’s all wrapped in a lovely post-WWII-early-Cold-War aesthetic, but it’s the same sort of “yeah, there are superheroes, and yes, everyone sees them as upstanding citizens, but… they aren’t.” It was, actually, this one that convinced me to buy the entire Bundle – the ‘preview’ showed us a bit of those heroes, and then the first of their ‘issues’ cropping up – one of them is a closeted gay man. Being the 1950s or so, this is a bit of a problem. And it all got more interesting from there.
Trees (vol. 1)
There’s a sweet little love story, a bit of political intrigue, some scientific what-now, and a hint of geopolitics. This one’s clearly lining up for the rest of the series, and I’m quite annoyed at it because the single biggest “I want to know what’s going on” plot line of the whole thing ended on a massive cliffhanger. But oh, it’s an interesting world – intelligent life showed up from somewhere beyond the Earth… and didn’t notice that humanity was there. Thus, the Trees: alien megastructures that landed wherever they felt – including one that crushed wide swathes of New York City during its landing, and flooded the rest. They’re apparently indestructible, at least to anything humanity is capable of throwing at them, and they’re harder to get any information out of than they are to actually damage. I’ll have to keep an eye out for the rest of this series.
The background details of this one are fascinating – it’s set in some kind of alternate future, although apparently the difference here is that feminism never happened- or went horribly wrong, somehow. The patriarchy rules, quite literally, and does so with an iron fist. Most of the story takes place in an off-world prison, and you see things in the list of ‘crimes’ for which people (all women) were sent there that include “seduction and disappointment” and “bad mother.” It’s a scary thought.
I wasn’t sure what I was going to think of this one, but it turns out that I quite enjoyed it! The best case scenario.
Irish-Japanese girl moves from Ireland to Japan, from her father’s home to her mother’s. There, she starts seeing things, understanding patterns at a way that shouldn’t be possible. Plus there’s all the weird monsters attacking her. It’s just a fun little comic,2 with an enjoyable story, a pretty good ending to it, and a few lovely little hat-tips to manga.3
My favorite scene was a moment in the background – one of the characters is the Cat-Child, or something like that, which basically means ‘she can turn into a bunch of cats.’ The first time you see that is just a little burst of light and a bunch of cats flying all over the place. Basically I was sitting here giggling about the fact that she just exploded into cats.
The introduction to this one is the writer, talking about how he was trying to write an optimistic character for once. And he succeeded, at that, creating someone that, despite living in a doomed city on a doomed planet, continues to be hopeful that everything will come out alright. And I like her for that.
So I don’t like the writer, because he then proceeds to take everything from her – she watches her husband be murdered and her daughters kidnapped. Her son dies in front of her. Her daughter is found and lost again.
An engaging universe for things to be set in, but one that’s already coming to an end. Too depressing for my tastes.