Skip to Content

Alternative Comics Beat: Strange Nation #1-6

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

Strange Nation #1-6


Written by: Paul Allor

Art by: Juan Romera

Published by: Monkeybrain Comics

Terror in the tabloids

If there’s one secret delight I had as a child it was looking at the covers of The Weekly World News and seeing images of creatures and characters like Bat Boy. Sadly, I found out too early that these stories weren’t real. Trust me, I had some genuine worries about Bat Boy coming to my house until I was set straight. But afterwards I never stopped to consider what the world would be like if those images and stories weren’t made up, but instead were some of the most important and dangerous reporting any journalist could embark on.

That’s where Strange Nation comes into play.

Norma Park is a journalist for Strange Nation, a tabloid dealing in the very bizarre and weird. While it’s not Norma’s first career choice, she soon discovers a strange plot involving an intelligent sasquatch named Joe, aliens, and doomsday cults. She might not have her prestigious news job any longer, but Norma is following the story of her life.



Comics should be fun

It’s a point that I’ve driven home so many times it’s split my word processor like a nail in a board. Strange Nation is one of those comic books that’s just plain fun. Each issue offers character-building moments from the cast, including Norma, Joe, or Norma’s hawaiian shirt wearing friend Jesse.

And if there’s one thing that will creep you out about this comic book, in the most fun way possible, it’s the mascot-headed thugs. If anything check this book out for the mascot-headed thugs. Seriously, I mean it.

Why it’s a great alternative

Allor and Romera have an original premise that’s got lots of flexibility in terms of story and visuals. While I’m not sure how many issues this series is supposed to be, it could easily move into an ongoing with all of the crazy concepts, stories, and characters that Norma could explore.

It has the same kind of open-world feeling that Futurama had when it started. There’s a solid premise, with rules, but the characters can be put into any situation and it works.



Who would like this

Fans of comics like Skullkickers, Chew, or the new adaptation of The X-Files would enjoy Strange Nation quite a bit. There’s plenty of humor, action, and cool visuals to draw people in from multiple areas of comics. Or, if you’re looking to introduce someone to comics, this would be a good starting point for fans of shows like Futurama, where the premise can lead to just about any crazy kind of stories or characters. The issues are only 99 cents a piece, and all six can be found on Comixology’s website or app.

If this sounds like it’s up your alley then pick up Strange Nation today and get ready to believe the weirdest things the world has to offer!

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic booksincludingInk Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: Strange Nation #1-6

Alternative Comics Beat: Batman: The Jiro Kuwata BatManga #1

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata  BatManga #1


Written and drawn by: Jiro Kuwata

Published by: DC Comics



Batman for Japan

Jiro Kuwata adapted the American superhero Batman for Japanese audiences decades ago. Now DC Comics is re-releasing the manga in digital issues for American audiences to enjoy. I assure you, it’s worth checking out. I didn’t know what to expect from this manga, but I had seen the short animated film on Batman: The Brave and the Bold where they did an interpretation of Kuwata’s incarnation of Batman. That interpretation was fun, lively, and had a fantastic animation style. That style is clearly based on Kuwata’s artwork, which still shines even to this day.


A different kind of tone

What makes this a big alternative from the usual Batman comics are the tone and style in which Batman is presented.

The story is structured and paced like traditional Japanese manga, and they’ve even kept the right-to-left reading style for the digital release. But what really captured me was the blending of the campiness and fun of Batman ‘66 with the violence of modern Batman stories. Kuwata didn’t pull any punches for the Japanese audience, and even includes a murder in one of the scenes.

Lord Death Man

The villain in this version of Batman is truly different from the others. Let me just throw it right out there — his ability is that he dies. That’s what Lord Death Man does. He dies and comes back to fight another day. Which would seem like a lame concept, but the fact that his outfit is attached to his skin and that he walks towards death with such a carefree attitude makes him creepy.

Why this is a great alternative

Most Batman comics lean towards the dark, detective-like stories that have made him popular. Kuwata’s BatManga is more of the swashbuckling and fun-loving Batman from the 60’s TV show, while still being edgy, action-packed, and much more violent. It’s a series that I wish was still going on now, and reminds me how much I loved the Batman Japan storylines in Grant Morrison’s Batman Incorporated.


Who would like BatManga?

Obviously fans of Batman will want to check this out. But I think that, aside from long-time fans of manga, new people might be drawn to this type of sequential storytelling from Japan. With an entry character like Batman it makes it much easier to step into a different world of comics.

What’s even nicer is that there’s a “How to Read Manga” page before the story starts, so if you’re not familiar with how to read from right-to-left you get a little crash course.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to check out or try manga, but haven’t found an entry point, maybe BatManga is for you. It’s a different kind of Batman story that might add some zest to your digital pull list.

Ken Porter is presently interning with Cosmic Book News and also writes comic books including “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics. Ken was also the winner of last year’s Top Cow Talent Search contest and was recently published in “Artifacts” #33.

Read More about Alternative Comics Beat: Batman: The Jiro Kuwata BatManga #1

Review: Eleanor – Prologue and Chapter 1

Independent creator Jason Gurley gives us the first two installments of this wonderful story of faith, dreams and self discovery in Eleanor, The Girl Who Never Stops Falling.  

The Prologue opens with our 14 year old Eleanor leaping gracefully from a cliff for reasons yet unknown, having it only fall into tragedy. Surviving the horrible fall, our young girl finds herself in a coma. The reader then follows Eleanor’s journey of dreams as she meets somebody…something…a simple voice that seems familiar, but just out of reach. She then awakens from her long dormant struggle having to rehabilitate and rediscover herself. This first installment sets the stage for Eleanor’s journey of self discovery, continued dreams and her quest of faith to possibly find who…or what she met in her comatose state.
Chapter 1 takes us back to the beginning, the very beginning. We meet Eleanor’s young parents and discover that Eleanor may have inherited something from her newly pregnant mother, recurring vivid dreams. But, we do not get the colorful and enchanting dreams of Eleanor’s. Her mother’s dreams are very dark and foreboding, providing insight into her psyche that I’m sure will influence Eleanor life as this story progresses. We also see Eleanor’s first fall.
Overall, the quirky and unique art style really enhances the story and almost blends perfectly into the background as you partake in all of the great inner character dialogue this books provides. 
Eleanor is a digital only comic available in weekly installments at the creators web site or via Graphically. This book is a great example of the new digital comics medium. The unique page layouts coupled with the dreamlike color palette really pop off the screen via your electronic tome of choice. An iOS app will soon be available for $2.99 that will provide the reader access to all of the current content as well as all new issues at no additional charge. A real deal in this world dominated by $4-5 monthly mainstream comics.
So go on, give this book a try. I guarantee if you take a leap of faith, your inner voice will tell you to read on…
Read More about Review: Eleanor – Prologue and Chapter 1