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Barbarella – Alternative Comics Beat

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter



Written by: Jean-Claude Forest

Collaboration with: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art by: Jean-Claude Forest

A Dose of Cosmic Sensuality

Barbarella has been one of those characters that I’ve heard about for years but never really experienced. I knew a little about the movie with Jane Fonda, but had never dreamed that the sensual space adventuress first graced comic book pages in France. When I saw that this collection was being released with Kelly Sue Deconnick on board I knew that I had to give it a try.

What I found was a classic adventure-style comic book with a sexy atmosphere, but not in the way I was expecting. Barbarella might be a character that spends most of her time half naked, but it isn’t out of being helpless or incapable. Far from it. If anything she’s someone who could stand toe-to-toe with James Bond. Not as a female lesser version, but as a solid character with just as much know-how and sexual charisma.



Boundless Space Adventures

This collection follows our space heroine as she encounters a vast array of landscapes and characters. Each story plays on some fun science fiction tropes or backdrops, like underwater cities or perilous mazes, but succeeds by putting them through the lens of our main character and putting her spin on it. Not only does Barbarella go in guns blazing to a new challenge, she often plays both sides and finds a way to do what she thinks is right no matter the cost. Sort of like a space-faring version of Yojimbo.



Why It’s a Great Alternative

I can assure you that you’re not going to get something like this from a big publisher right now. Between the nudity, innuendo, and sexy adventurer tone of the series there’s really nothing that you can compare it to at one of the big two companies. Which is fine, because this is definitely for mature readers.



Who would like Barbarella?

Fans of classic science fiction will eat this series up. I’ve never seen the movie, but I imagine fans of Jane Fonda’s film will want to jump in and take a look at this as well. The artwork and imagination are worth the admission alone, and if you don’t mind some sexiness in your comic books then I’d recommend this to fans of Saga, Sex, Satelitte Sam, or other books pushing the boundaries of sex and adventure in comics.

Not to mention the beautiful presentation and packaging for this volume.

Ken Porter 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 Barbarella – Alternative Comics Beat

Bramble – Alternative Comics Beat

Alt Beat


Ken Porter



Written by: Jean-David Moran

Art by: Nesmo

Published by: Humanoids

A very different world

One thing that keeps bringing me back to comics as a medium is how inventive a writer and artist can be with the world they create. When I pre-ordered Bramble I had no idea what I was in for, but I was pleasantly surprised as soon as I started reading. Not only did the visuals strike me, but the world building that went into the characters and the landscapes they inhabit was just as striking during my first readthrough. I say first because I intend on reading it again as soon as my class schedule permits.

Bramble is a story about a mysterious giant that travels to a steampunk inspired city of burgeoning technology. As violent murders pile up around the giant, a depressed and lonley police detective is forced to put the pieces together. Along the way a whole world of strange ecological magic is unearthed, and a battle for humanity and nature’s souls unveils itself.



Astounding visuals

The artwork is nothing short of breathtaking. It was one of those books I read where I wanted to post each and every panel to Twitter or Instagram as soon as I looked at it. I especially enjoyed the trippy panels that gave the reader a view into the world of technology and the world of nature. I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone, so I won’t go into detail, but these shifts in point of view offer some intense and striking panels that aren’t to be missed.



Why it’s a great alternative

Bramble is an unconventional story. Halfway through the narrative I started to question my feelings towards the protagonist, and by the end of the story I didn’t know what side I wanted to be on. Having a story challenge you as a reader is a rare treat. It’s something that many American comics don’t do often. They don’t have to, sometimes it’s just as fun to read something completely action-oriented. Heck, I do it every week. But sometimes you just want to sink your teeth into something with some real substance. It’s the same reason why I’m so excited to go back and read the book again.

Who would like Bramble?

Fans of trippy comics like The Incal or high-concept manga will really enjoy this hardcover collection. The story feels like something out of a very stylish anime, and the storytelling feels like a foreign film. Or, if you’re just in it for beautiful artwork and well-made hardcovers, this collection has that in spades.

Ken Porter 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 Bramble – Alternative Comics Beat

Scooter – Alternative Comics Beat

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter



Written and Illustrated by: Brent Boates

You can park them anywhere

Scooters are one of the least likely modes of transportation for something out of the ordinary. Aside from the spotlight in FLCL, scooters are vehicles that blend in, don’t attract attention, and can be seen just about everywhere.

That’s what makes it so perfect for a creepy infiltration science fiction story.

In Brent Boates’ new comic Scooter, a strange being makes its getaway from a group of mysterious officials. While the entire comic book is silent, there’s a lot of motion and action felt through the artwork and the strange narrative that unfolds.



Not your usual sci-fi comic

I love science fiction comics. One problem with anything in the speculative fiction genre is that it tends to be a little heavy on exposition or setting up the circumstances that brought you to the scene currently being enjoyed. Scooter throws you right into the action. Not only is there no exposition, there’s no dialogue period. It’s a silent comic that reads completely fine without the addition of narration, captions, or comments from the characters.

Why it’s a great alternative

If there’s one thing we don’t see often it’s a silent comic. I’ve talked about similar work by Jason on Cosmic Book News’ website before, but this book by Boates is a true silent story. It’s the kind of story that can make readers appreciate the sort of storytelling that only comics can achieve. The use of still images in a sequential format that builds a narrative from one panel to the next.

It’s a quick read, but it’s definitely different than anything that was put out by the big two this week.



Who would like Scooter?

Fans of digital comics, creator-owned projects, and science fiction will really enjoy this little volume. It’s 72 pages of single panel storytelling, and it’s right in the same vein as stories like The Thing or Blade Runner. Anything that has to do with infiltration stories about the “other” taking hold in human society.

I don’t want to talk about the plot too much, but I recommend it to anyone looking for a great visual read during a cup of coffee or while enjoying another tasty beverage in their favorite reading chair.

Ken Porter 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 Scooter – Alternative Comics Beat

Sanctum – Alternative Comics Beat

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter



Writer: Xavier Dorison

Art: Christophe Bec

Published by: Humanoids

Terror Below

If there’s one kind of story I love it’s the setup where a crew on a ship finds a mysterious location and then horrible things happen. I know, kind of cheesy, but movies like Alien and John Carpenter’s The Thing were really influential during my childhood.

Sanctum is a story that taps into that similar vein, putting the crew of an advanced submarine in 2029 called the USS Nebraska into uncharted waters. The ship investigates a mysterious beacon that leads them to a gigantic underwater temple. As they uncover the mystery the crew starts to fall ill, and strange visions start to send people into madness.



Classic Horror/Speculative Fiction

Sanctum has a mixture of the best parts of science fiction and horror. It’s got a classic horror premise, a realistic science fiction flare, and plays with the reader’s expectations as they move through the story. It doesn’t lean completely one way or the other, and there’s something in the book for fans of both genres that usually enjoy those story aspects separately.



Why it’s a great alternative

This three-part collected story builds tension without going too far off the deep end. Sorry, I realize the horrible pun now that I’ve typed it out. But all kidding aside I was honestly worried while I started to read Sanctum. Worried that I would be able to predict the ending, know who was going to live and die, or figure out what was going on.

That’s not the case.

This book keeps you guessing right up until the end, which I honestly didn’t see coming.



Who would like Sanctum?

Fans of the Alien franchise or horror stories involving ancient monsters or curses will eat this story up. I’ve read that there’s actually a few more stories related to this one that are being put out by Humanoids, so I’ll share my thoughts on them as soon as I can grab them. In the meantime throw on your scuba gear and get ready to grip your flashlight for dear life.

Ken Porter 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 Sanctum – Alternative Comics Beat

Alternative Comics Beat: Trees

Alt Beat

By Ken Porter



Written by: Warren Ellis

Art by: Jason Howard

Published by: Image Comics

Creepy and engaging speculative fiction

Warren Ellis is known for his original concepts and tight storytelling. When I went to check out Trees for the first time, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t read a promo or a preview. I did see the striking cover in an image before, but aside from that I just knew that the word “Tree” was involved.

After reading the first two issues I’ve realized just how enamored I am with speculative fiction. Now I know that it’s more commonly known nowadays as science fiction, but that name has taken on a stigma. We dub anything with laser guns or fantastical action as “science fiction,” when really the routes are in speculating things that could happen and how people would react to them.

In Trees issues one and two, we get to see a world where intelligent life forms have landed, but don’t know how to interact with us. They show up as giant trees, planted all over the world. The series follows a number of characters, including scientists and politicians involved with the trees, and each scene builds to the mystery around the living structures.



Why it’s a great alternative

Like I said, most science fiction relies on action and explosions with high-tech gear or superpowers. While there are action scenes in Trees, the story focuses more on the mystery and how this would affect human life on Earth. Don’t get me wrong, I love action and explosions as much as the next sci-fi fan, but sometimes I just want a good, creepy story about futuristic or fantastical settings. Many of the first science fiction books were also horror, like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. This comic book captures that same kind of wonder and puts it in a modern day, global setting.

The book is far different from other comic books I’m reading right now, even if they are science fiction stories. It’s something I look forward to now each month, even after two issues.



Who would like Trees?

If you’re a fan of Warren Ellis or Jason Howard’s work, then this book is right up your alley. You get some of Ellis’ best storytelling and Howard’s best artwork. I think people who enjoy creepy science fiction stories like Who Goes There? (also known as The Thing) would really eat this up. I’m also reading Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and soon to be released Acceptance) and it has that same kind of science fiction or speculative tone.

If any of those sound like fun reads to you, or if you love Ellis and Howard’s work, pick up the first two issues of Trees and start diving into the mystery behind the extraterrestrial flora.

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: Trees

Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 29th, 2012

Hello, Cosmic readers! Welcome to another edition of Alternative Comics Beat. I hope that everyone had a great holiday and that you try not to party too hard this New Year’s Eve.

With that being said, let’s jump right in!

It’s All About Sponsorship

The comic book that I decided to choose for this week’s article was one that caught me by surprise. I had planned to do a completely different series until I picked up a new title from Image Comics on a whim. This new series by writer Brian Wood (DMZ) and artist Ming Doyle combines a look into the future with an interesting combination of the military and professional sports world.

Mara #1


In a future where the world is obsessed with military and sports culture, Mara Prince is more popular than religion. She’s one of the world’s greatest athletes and is constantly in the spotlight. But things go horribly wrong for her when a supernatural event takes place during a live broadcast.

Why It’s A Great Alternative

Futuristic stories are a dime a dozen. It’s really rare to see anything where a writer is willing to take a chance and take the human race in a new direction. The concept of the military and sports being interrelated makes so much sense that I’m amazed I’ve never read anything like it before. I’m not saying that it doesn’t exist, but personally it’s a bold new take for me.


Brian Wood has been known for developing great characters. He’s been doing a lot of work with Marvel’s X-Men, but this new series from Image allows him to spread his wings from the strict rules of franchise characters.

This comic book is a prime example of what this column is all about. It a new and exciting concept and delivers it in the form of a thought-out and incredibly produced comic book. Ming Doyle and Jordie Bellaire deserve just as much praise as Wood for putting together a beautiful issue.

Why You Should Read It


I’m aware of the fact that Marvel has some wonderful superhero stuff going on with Marvel NOW! In fact I’d have to be hiding under a rock not to notice it. But considering that last week we were dumped with a million comics because of the holiday, now would be the time to pick up something different if you’ve got a light week. Mara has the potential to be one of those deep character stories that people could talk about for years to come. I suggest you get in on the ground floor while the getting is good.

After the first issue, I know that I’m hooked.

Ken Porter also writes comic books with his latest being “Ink Ribbon” from Visionary Comics.

Read More about Your Alternative Comics Beat For December 29th, 2012