cover image Sacred Band

Sacred Band

Joseph D. Carriker Jr. Lethe, $22.50 trade paper (408p) ISBN 978-1-59021-520-3

In this thoughtful take on comic book tropes, queerness and superpowers intersect. Game designer Carriker (Mutants & Masterminds) depicts the rise of a loose-knit team dedicated to helping those who fall between the cracks. After an online friend vanishes in Ukraine, magnetic hero Gauss recruits the retired legend Sentinel to help investigate. When they run into more trouble than they can handle, they call for backup, including the elemental Deosil and the former military operative Optic. Their quest for information takes them around the world, and they uncover a bizarre secret linked to one of the world’s greatest heroes. The meat of this story and the worldbuilding look like standard superhero fare at first glance, but Carriker spices it up with the intelligent use of powers, keen descriptions of combat, and a diverse cast. The majority of Carriker’s main characters are gay—there’s a lovely chemistry between the world-weary Sentinel and the younger Gauss—and he also touches upon trans and bisexual concerns without it feeling forced or preachy. Everything comes together to create a real page-turning adventure in a setting that begs for further exploration. (Apr.)