The Queen of England Is an Occultist and Blue Collar Workers Own Space in This Week's Best New Comics

Sir Edward Grey meeting the Queen of England.
Sir Edward Grey meeting the Queen of England.
Illustration: D’Israeli (Dark Horse Comics)

Our perceptions of the ways things are in the real world often make it difficult to buy into the premises of comics set in worlds that, while like ours, are distinctly different. When you think of words like “occultist” or “space explorers,” you don’t immediately associate them with the Queen of England or working class laborers, but that’s what this week’s best new comics both want you to do.

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Crew members of the Delta 13 contemplating what they’re about to do in response to the mysterious asteroid.
Crew members of the Delta 13 contemplating what they’re about to do in response to the mysterious asteroid.
Illustration: Nat Jones (IDW)

Delta 13

If you’re a fan of movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Prometheus, then you’ll feel right at home in the pages of IDW’s Delta 13, a comic about a group of working class space explorers who want nothing more than to get back to their lives planetside. Little is revealed about the character’s lives in the very first issue aside from their last names, as well as the fact that they spend the bulk of their lives moving through space in the eerie darkness of their ship, bathed only in the dim glow of their on-board computers.

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In the world of Delta 13, space travel is less of a luxurious perk of the crew’s job and more of a boring, depressing, necessary evil in order to make ends meet. Much to the crew’s relief, they’re nearly done with their latest assignment and preparing to head back when their navigation systems suddenly pick up a gargantuan asteroid that doesn’t appear on any of their star maps. They know better than to mess around and actively try to get sucked into whatever mysteries the asteroid may contain, but an impending collision course with it leaves them no choice but to fly into the labyrinth of huge tunnels that crisscross throughout the rock.

What the crew discovers inside the asteroid isn’t what will initially leave you feeling unsettled about Delta 13—the book’s overall atmosphere of thick, foreboding silence and darkness handles that. This first issue is all about tone; it does an effective job at setting the stage for a horrifying story. (Steve Niles, Nat Jones, IDW)

Sir Edward Grey learning of the latest paranormal activity going on in London.
Sir Edward Grey learning of the latest paranormal activity going on in London.
Illustration: D’Israeli (Dark Horse)

Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven

Though the roles of England’s modern monarchs are largely ceremonial at this point, the royals serve the important (if dated) function of acting as a kind of public symbol of the country’s strength. England’s monarchs are responsible for reminding their subjects of their nation’s resilience in times of need and Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven, the queen finds herself tasked with handling the ever-growing threat of the supernatural.

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Having survived multiple attempts on her life and the country’s political system by all manner of witches and demons, Queen Victoria’s no stranger to tangling with adversaries from beyond the veil. But because she’s the queen, there’s only so much that she can do herself to fight without risking exposing the existence of the supernatural to her people, something that would surely plunge the country into chaos. So, Queen Victoria does what queens do best—she delegates her paranormal duties to someone with the knowledge and skill set necessary to handle the latest batch of ghost sightings that are beginning to send murmurs through the public.

When specters across England begin manifesting in order to steal valuable, potentially magical items from their storage facilities, the Queen calls on Edward Grey, a knighted occult investigator, to take on the case. Like the queen, Edward’s more than comfortable slipping into the shadows to uncover things that go bump in the night. But as he begins to delve into the string of mysterious thefts, he soon realizes that for all of his talents, he’s barely begun to fully understand just how vast and wild the world of magic truly is. (Mike Mignola, Chris Roberson, D’Israeli, Dark Horse Comics)

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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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DISCUSSION

lordoftheducks
Lord of the Ducks

Delta 13 #1 - This one is a space mystery that seems like it is going for an Aliens vibe. The blue-collar crew of a ship encounter an asteroid that isn’t what it seems and their curiosity will likely lead to bad stuff. This first issue is slow. The art fits the story, but isn’t my favorite. The use (or lack) of color in the panels works well. Use of textures and shades over a wide color pallet sets the mood quite well. Story is so-so. Nothing ground breaking or really surprising here. They make the typical stupid decisions that propel the plot of these types of stories. The better of the two books reviewed this week.

Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven #1 (of 5)- This is the fifth installment in the Witchfinder series. Set in Victorian London, paranormal investigators race to stop a mad scientist from destroying the city in his pursuit of mystical power. Kinda dry. Kinda British, but more like an American trying to write British people. If you’re a fan of the Witchfinder series, check it out. Not my cup of tea; an easy pass for me.

Other #1's this week:
Executive Assistant Iris Vol 5 #1 - A deadly assassin must choose between remaining a freelancer or joining a mysterious corporation that has acquired nearly every private security firm on the planet. This is volume 5 of the line. So a no-brainer for fans of the comic series. New readers, the story is okay and the art is good. If you like spy/assassin stories, it worth a look.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Urban Legends #1 - IDW is basically colorizing the entire Image Comics TMNT run (a.k.a TMNT Volume 3) and is going to add a few new issues to the end of the run. Nothing new but the color in this first issue. Fans of the original run or the heroes in a half-shell will enjoy the book.

Hunt For Wolverine: Mystery In Madripoor #1 (of 4) - Another group, and another book, looking for Logan. Kitty, Storm, Rogue, Psylocke, Domino, and Jubilee are the ones doing the searching this time. Not digging the art on this one. Those into these characters or into this whole arc will dig it. Everyone else can skip it.

Infinity Countdown: Darkhawk #1 (of 4) - The latest installment in the latest infinity stone related event. If you’re into the Darkhawk character (last seen in a one shot last year) or curious who that is, check it out. Others can skip it. Not a bad read. Kinda makes we want to see a rebooted Darkhwak doing street level stuff.

Black Panther #1 - Space Wakanda, probably in the future, but maybe not. The book is trying to set up a bunch of mysteries (like who is the main character and when and where is everything happening and how did it all get like this). If you read this, skip to the glossary at the end so you have a better idea who is who (they are apparently going to have one each issue). The story really doesn’t feel like it had to be a Black Panther book, but time will tell. The writing leaves a lot to be desired. Removing the BP elements would actually make this first issue a lot stronger as it just comes across as cheesy and forced. The art is on point and the broad concepts are good. This almost seems like one worth waiting for the TPB.

Worth a Read:
Super Sons #16 - The final entry in the adventures of Robin and Superboy (Damian and Jon). A sweet ending until their adventures are continued in graphic novels down the road.

Shadowman #3 - So far the story is still going strong. I would much rather read this over Witchfnder or recent run of Hellblazer. The recent #1 is an easy jumping on point.