Last year, small press comics publisher Alterna Comics began publishing a line of cheap comics. Printed on flimsy newsprint, these books sold for $1.50 a pop — about half the price of the cheapest monthly comics published by the big two mainstream publishers.
Unfortunately, most of what I've seen from Alterna Comics hasn't blown me away. One comic, Amazing Age is clearly playing for a noxious kind of superhero nostalgia. It reads like a Marvel Comic from the 1980s with worse art — full of self-referential superhero action with no depth or consequences. The comic appeared to be designed to appeal to the grown men who remember spending $1.50 per issue on comics, and really nobody else.
But at least one of Alterna Comics's line has very much impressed me with its wicked sense of genre fun. Written by Jordan Hart and illustrated by Emmanuel Xerx Javier, the four-issue miniseries titled Doppelgänger tells the story of a bland computer programmer named Dennis who finds himself copied by an ancient, evil magical creature. The Dennisgänger takes over Dennis's suburban life, sleeping with his wife and playing role playing games with his friends.
The second issue of Doppelgänger landed yesterday, and it's everything you'd want in a second issue. The book doesn't waste any time spinning its wheels, instead launching forward into Dennis's plan to take his life back. Meanwhile, the Dennisgänger begins to assert himself in dynamic ways at Dennis's job. The two are hurtling toward each other, and it's a real pleasure to know that the storytellers aren't going to waste their readers' time in the telling of the tale.
Doppelgänger is fantastic, pulpy fun — a dark fantasy thriller that seems to be hurtling toward a conclusive ending. I'd be thrilled to buy it at three times the price. At a buck fifty an issue, I'm not sure why it's not on the bestseller charts.