Top Cow Productions/Image Comics 2016
Written by Kelly Bender, Camilla Zhang & Paul Penna
Illustrated by Francesca Aureli & Jim Towe
Coloured by K Michael Russell & Chris Northrop
Lettered by Troy Peteri
One of the things that Matt Hawkins does at Top Cow that I wish other large companies would do is their annual Talent Hunt. Here are three stories that introduce a larger mainstream audience to them, what they are capable of and why you should sit up and learn who they are and what they’ve worked on.
First up are Kelly Bender & Jim Towe in an Aphrodite IX adventure. Kelly is definitely a writer you need to know and this short story showcases why. As Aphrodite has to travel to once possible future to stop a rogue Aphrodite from becoming a despot. The Iconic Aphrodite demonstrates that it doesn’t matter if you have augmented parts or not it’s about who you are and what you represent and believe in that matters.
Kelly manages to bring us everything about the character that we know and love here. She’s smart, resourceful and determined and it’s those qualities that make her the kind of heroine we love to read about. With clear concise writing and narrative his take on this character is one I hope we see more of in 2017.
Camilla and Francesca take on a grieving Velocity. The death of someone close to us, or estranged but family, is never something easy to deal with. Emotions cloud judgment and make us think crazy things and do even crazier actions. That we see Velocity so consumed in her own emotions and that she understands them as well as we do is a nice bit of writing. Everyone grieves in their own way and sometimes someone’s death can hit us in ways we never expected and that they manage to demonstrate that so fully here is great. Plus anyone who’s lost someone can relate to this and that is an even greater feat, making death and loss that the character feels so relatable to readers who might not know the character.
While the artwork by Francesca is a little more cartoon all-ages for my tastes she does a marvelous job with faces, facial expressions and body language to really hammer the emotions home.
Last up is another Aphrodite story this one focusing on Aphrodite IV by Paul Penna and Jim Towe. I think what this one did for me was make me want to see more, more of the man known as Lord Sengh that is. I like that Aphrodite manages to take the “direct” approach and let herself get caught so that all her targets are lined up neatly in a row. The way this is told is surprisingly fun and gives this Aphrodite her own unique personality. It left me wanting more of this story as well a continuation would be something I’d love to see!
Jim’s interiors on the first and third story are very well done. His use of page layouts through angles and perspective show off the action beautifully. His almost classic comic style art really does the characters and situations justice and it’s plain fun to see.
Here’s hoping that Top Cow is going to utilise these creators in the coming year so we can see how they continue to grow and impress and if this sneak peek is any indication then the future indeed looks bright.