Punk Pages #1

By Maryam Hassan

Welcome to the first installment in Punk Pages, our new biweekly feature focusing on punk friendly and socially aware comic books. This week’s feature will be an extra long one so we can bring you up to date on the series that we’re currently loving.

If you’re new to the world of comics and graphic novels then check out The Runout’s fantastic introduction post:


That’s enough chitchat, let’s get on with the reviews!


Bitch Planet #1 (Image)

In Stores Now

Cold and unflinching, Bitch Planet tells the story of a dystopian age where women who are not deemed compliant could be sent to an off-world prison known as – you guessed it – Bitch Planet. Within the first chapter we see the unrestrained brutality of the prison guards, the manipulative nature of the powers upstairs and just how easily the system can be bent to suit the whims of those who can grease the right pockets. Needless to say, Bitch Planet does not make for light reading.

Whilst the notion of a physical prison planet is undeniably futuristic, the inmates themselves are firmly grounded in reality. In the states African American women are three times more likely to be incarcerated than white women, a fact that is well represented here. Each of the main characters are introduced alongside their so-called sin whether that would be gluttony or pride, weakness or wickedness. The artwork reflects this exploitative environment with harsh shadows and dull colour palettes, a stark contrast to the garish neon tones employed by the powers that be. This is social commentary at its best, using science fiction to hold a mirror to the issues women face within both the media and the larger world today.

This is essential.

One for the pull box? Definitely.

Bitch Planet #2 (Image)

In Stores Now

If the goal of Issue #1 was to immerse the reader into the world of Bitch Planet than Issue #2 is where they set the groundwork for the upcoming story. Each year the ‘Fathers’ hold a series of games (called the Megaton, or Duemilla, depending on which you prefer) using the inhabitants of Bitch Planet as participants. The games aren’t compulsory viewing but in the way of most things in the Bitch Planet universe, non compliance isn’t recommended. I don’t want to give too much away for those of you who haven’t read it yet but I feel that this may be setting the scene for a Hunger Games-esque uprising and eventual civil war.

Whilst a lot of time is spent setting up the bigger picture, Issue #2 doesn’t hesitate to further develop the main characters with each one revealing a little more about their pasts and skill sets as Kam prepares to pick her team for the upcoming games. It’s becoming clear everyone has their secrets although only time will tell who can really be trusted.

One of this issues more striking scenes finds Kam being berated for her role in the death of Marian at the end issue #1. It’s clear that she wasn’t seen to be important to society as an individual, only as a mother figure to her children, an issue that’s more than prominent in the modern day representation of women than we’d probably like to admit. If Bitch Planet can continue this level of social commentary through its planned 30 issue run then we may have a genre defining series on our hands here.

One for the pull box? Definitely

Bitch Planet #3 (Image)

In Stores Soon

So here it is, the first special issue of Bitch Planet! Every third issue is going to focus on one particular character, revealing more about their back story and how they found themselves upon the ominous prison planet. The first in the run of special issues focuses on the physical powerhouse of the group, Penny.

Her story is one of confusion and contradictions – despite loving herself and her background, she’s constantly told that she has to change to be ‘right’. Whether it’s the Fathers criticising her weight or an old school teacher repressing her identity by restraining her natural hair, it becomes clear that Penny has been socially imprisoned long before finding herself on Bitch Planet. The last few pages really drives home how much Penny has grown to love herself and just how much that scares the powers that be. We all love a character who’s willing to raise a middle finger to authority and Penny is definitely that character.

After all, how can you not find yourself rooting for someone who’s issue ends with ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. I ain’t broke, and you bastards ain’t never gonna break me!’.

One for the pull box? Definitely

The Humans #3 (Image Comics)

In Stores Now

The Humans

What happens when you mix Sons Of Anarchy with Planet Of The Apes and send them off to a punk rock Woodstock? That’s right, you get Image’s latest tribute to the meanest heavy drinking, law breaking, Harley riding primates to set up camp in America – The Humans! Alright, it’s clearly pure fiction but sometimes it’s more fun to suspend judgement and go with the flow. Whilst the series started off on a relatively light note (Issue one contains a fantastic double page spread showing the debauchery of a Humans funeral party) things very quickly takes a darker turn with the return of a long lost from Vietnam. Make no mistake, there’s still a fair amount of humour in both the dialogue and the Thrasher-esque art but it feels like shit is about to get real for the newly reconciled gang.

One feature worth noting is The Human’s soundcloud account. That’s right, every issue comes with two news songs by relatively unknown bands, written and recorded especially for the comics. Some tracks are better than others but overall it’s a nice touch.

Issue Three is out now with #2 readily available and a large reprint of #1 filling the shelves.

Download the soundtrack from

One for the pull box? Definitely.

The Humans #4 (Image Comics)

In Stores Soon

So far we’ve only met two gangs within the Human’s universe – the comics namesake and their homegrown rivals The Skabbs – but the world is set to expand massively as our hairy antiheroes ride up to the skin cage. What is the skin cage I hear you ask? Imagine dog fighting but with feral humans instead of canines. Make no mistake – this really is a monkeys world.

As the gangs prepare their prize fighters for the days entertainment we’re introduced to a number of different biker gangs who are poised to play an important part in the upcoming issues. There’s Flex Trucking, run by Abe Simian, who controls the regions drug flow, the Black Panthers-esque Haterz, the acid loving Thrill Killers and the Madfuckers (heavily based upon the Hells Angels chapter that Hunter Thompson joined in the mid 1960s) amongst others.

I don’t want to give too much away but some of the fight scenes from the skin ring left me saying ‘Ah fuck!’ at how brutal it all is. For every drug feulled love-in is a panel of brutality to remind us that this isn’t an easy world to live in. The end of this issue see’s The Humans taking to the road with the Madfuckers as they cross the country for Flex Trucking in what looks like the start of a truly Mad Max-esque adventure, starting in May.

One for the pull box? Definitely, but if you’d rather buy them all at once then keep an eye out for the trade paperback dropping around March/April time.

Toe Tag Riot #1 (Black Mask Studio)

In Stores Now

Do you remember Send More Paramedics, that thrashy crossover band that really ran with the whole horror movie thing? If that was your bag then there’s a good chance that you’ll enjoy Toe Tag Riot, the new LGBTQ friendly comic from Black Mask Studios. It’s amazing what a little bit of the ol’ undead curse will do for a down and out punk band’s popularity but it doesn’t come without its drawbacks, and for Toe Tag Riot that includes both an increasing hunger for human flesh and a noticeable difficulty in turning back to normal.

Toe Tag Riot isn’t without its flaws but let’s look at the positives first. Black Mask Studio are definitely one of the better studios when it comes to minority representation and It’s great to see a strong interracial queer couple sharing the spotlight in a largely hetero-male orientated medium. Andy Hurley (of Fall Out Boy / Vegan Reich ) has a brief cameo and to be honest, I’m never going to say no to seeing homophobic/racist skins getting their just deserts. It’s just a shame that the artists behind Toe Tag Riot didn’t embrace the harder edged style commonly found in punk comics and low budget B movies. Whilst this issue does a good job of introducing the readers to our cursed ‘heroes’ I can’t help but feel like we’ll have to wait for issue #2 to see if the overall story can live up to the premise.

One for the pull box? Time will tell.

The Lil Depressed Boy: Supposed To Be There Too #3 (Image Comics)

In Store Now

I’ll get this out of the way first – if you like your comics fast paced and full of violence then Li’l Depressed Boy probably isn’t for you. The beauty of LDB is how relatable it is to anyone who’s found themselves working in a dead end job or struggling to make sense of the world around them. More than anything this is a story about relationships and how they shape our lives. If The Humans is Image’s shot of hard liquor than The Lil Depressed Boy is very much their comforting cup of warm tea.

Issue three opens with LDB and Spike facing the reality of having to find employment in the aftermath of being suspended from work after an altercation with a jealous coworker. It isn’t all doom and gloom though as Lemuria make a much anticipated cameo which leads into a double page spread about supporting your favourite touring artists. This isn’t the first time Struble and Grace have incorporated bands into the story – the first run featured cameos by both Andrew Jackson Jihad and The Like – but it does show a reassuring connection to the scene we inhabit. Things seem to be looking up for our unlikely heroes but that could all change as Spike is left reeling after receiving an as yet unexplained letter.

One for the pull box? Definitely, if you enjoyed The Eternal Sunshine Of A Spotless Mind and High Fidelity.

Teen Dog #5 (Boom)

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It’s easy to forget that comics can simply be fun for fun’s sake when your pull box is full of titles like Critical Hit, Bitch Planet and The Humans. Luckily, Teen Dog #5 is here to remedy that with a big ol’ dose of small town adventure. There’s nothing too serious about Teen Dog – imagine Bee And Puppycat but with a leather jacket wearing rocker dog as the main character – and that’s reflected with the bright, bold artwork found within.

Issue #5 revolves around Teen Dog and his friends forming a band for the schools talent competition and includes nods to some of the trends of today such as shoegaze bands trying to be euphoric and the Kanye West mic drop amongst others. It’s all very innocent and really taps into that brand of childlike storytelling championed by Adventure Time that can be enjoyed by adults and kids alike. I mean, come on – who can’t help but smile at a one man (dog?) saxophone band called The Thug Pug Experience?

One for the pull box? If you’ve got a couple of quid spare, sure, otherwise I’d wait for the trade paper back and binge the whole series in one sitting.

Punks: The Comics #1-4 (Image)

In Stores Now

Do you miss The Young Ones? Did you cry a little when they announced the death of Rik Mayall? Well sadly none of that is going to bring either of them back so if you’re craving a dose of anarchistic slapstick entertainment then you might want to check out Punks: The Comics.

Despite each issue contributing to a very loose ongoing story, Punks: The Comics really is a case of style over substance. Normally this would be an incredibly damning criticism but in this case it isn’t as the looseness of the story actually compliments the cut and paste aesthetic rather well. The deliberately rough style suits the crass content beautifully and occasionally becomes the punch line of a joke itself. Characters with often break the fourth wall and show an almost Deadpool level of self awareness yet fail to use these skills in any practical way – well, what’d you expect from a reincarnated president, a living skeleton, an angry man/dog hybrid and, bizarely enough, a sentient hand sitting atop an entirely functional body?

One for the pull box? Wait for the TPB (Out soon) and pull it out whenever life feels a little bit too serious.

Critical Hit #1-3 (Black Mask Studio)

In Stores Now


I’m going to start off by saying that one of my favourite comics of 2013/14 was a little known series called Liberator. Sold with the tagline ‘Real heroes don’t wear capes… they wear ski masks’, the first four issues followed the adventures of Jeanette and Damon as they fight against the cosmetic industry in the name of animal liberation. A few months passed and Black Mask Studio teamed up with hardcore legends Earth Crisis to release a short two issue run to accompany their newest album, introducing us to lab assistant Sarah Mann and chronicling her turn from abuser to activist.

It isn’t long before Sarah reappears in Critical Hit, the spiritual sequel to Liberator. Whilst Black Mask previously focussed on the cruelty committed by the cosmetics industry, this time they turn their attention to the hunting community as our grass root heroes wage war against a local lodge.

What surprised me about Critical Hit was how much the writers focussed upon the relationships formed within the main group compared to Liberator. Whilst these stories still play second fiddle to activism story line, it’s really great to see these characters pasts fleshed out and their motivations explored. As you’d expect from a series tackling such a stark subject matter, the punches aren’t held and it can be a little distressing at times, especially when they start talking about abusive relationships and the hardships of living with a functional alcoholic.

Issue three ends with Jeanette and Sarah attempting to escape a shipping-container-come-torture-chamber owned by the local hunters whilst they drunkenly hover by the door. With only one issue to go, things do not look promising for our heroes and blood is promised to be shed although I’m not entirely convinced that it’ll belong to the hunters.

If you’re looking for a comic that’s both grounded and gritty than I strongly recommend that you check out both Critical Hit and Liberator – not only will you be supporting a great publishing house (founded by Brett Gurewitz of Bad Religion) but a cut of every sale goes to a worthy animal rescue effort.

One for the pull box? Definitely.

Many thanks to Travelling Man in Newcastle for helping us with contacts and filling in the holes in our back catalogue.
Support your local comic store – we recommend:

Travelling Man (Newcastle)
Orbital Comics (London)
Piranha Comics (Kingston)

If you have any independent comics that you’d like mentioned, please drop us a line at Richard.Heaven@punktastic.com