Sponsor Plug: Special thanks to Michael Cholak, Owner of Yesteryear Comics, for sponsoring this week’s review books. Make Yesteryear Comics your first destination in San Diego for great customer service on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles at the best discounts possible. For a limited time, new customers can enjoy a promotional 25% discount on new releases, valid until September 30. After September, customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new books during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Blvd. in Kearny Mesa, or find them online at www.yesteryear-comics.com
Punk Rock Jesus #1 (DC/Vertigo): God bless Sean Murphy for giving me a reason to read a frickin’ Vertigo book now that DMZ, Northlanders, and Scalped (in one more issue!) have all wrapped. This is the one I was waiting for. The pitch of “cloning Jesus Christ” seems like cheap shock value vapid kitsch when you first hear it, but that dismissal is a sin. I always knew Murphy could draw like nobody’s business, just look at Joe The Barbarian or American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest. But who knew this cat could weave together such a compelling portrait of hyper-intense dystopian politics, media, science, and bold cultural implications? Murphy bares his soul about his own crisis of faith and you can almost see his mind working here in front of you, trying to work it all out, shades of himself in every one of the characters, the dutiful company man, the rogue agent, the person of belief, the person of science, the naïve one, the skeptic, they’re all here, amid IRA intrigue and a harsh black and white aesthetic that calls to mind the slightly tongue in cheek brutality of something like Joe Casey’s The Milkman Murders. Don’t miss this one, folks. It pulls no punches, all the way through to the last panel. Grade A+.
Wild Children (Image): It seems like in one fell swoop, Ales Kot and Riley Rossmo have created a sovereign youth anthem for the 21st century. It’s an uprising against generational control, it’s higher consciousness achieved via 9-panel grids. Superficially, it’s that old Columbine freak-out ditty about anarchist kids taking over a high school, and honestly on two occasions it risks getting lost in its own superfluous verbiage, but by the time the fourth wall breaks and you hear the line “We’re in a two dimensional sequential reality,” you’re having so much stylish fun, you could care less about some of the sophomoric pitfalls of craft. At times, this book feels like a cross between the youth power manifestation elements of Brian Wood’s Demo and Grant Morrison’s highly subversive The Invisibles. Or, maybe, it’s like Before Invisibles. You can almost imagine this as the origin story of the kids that grew up to be the Morrison wunderkind. The book is a transcendent experience that feels like sequential art LSD, self-referential about the medium it operates in: “The new aesthetic needs to get weirder.” Fuckin’ A, it does. That’s basically why I stopped reading company owned books in favor of paradigm shattering creator-owned swing-for-the-fences-and-don’t-be-afraid-to-strike-out shit like this in their stead. That line is like an artistic call to arms that challenges every creator to just do more, do different, do better. The book isn’t perfect, but that’s why you fall in love with it. “We’re a cultural trigger” is my new favorite line. Grade A.
Sunset: First Look One-Shot (Image): This is a $1 teaser for a larger hardcover graphic novel coming out… soon(?) I guess(?). Anyway, I’ve mentioned before how absolutely burned out I am on noir and crime noir and Ed Brubaker’s entire oeuvre and stuff like Parker and blah blah blah, but this was pretty good! It moves at an incredibly brisk pace and, without spoiling anything, introduces the proverbial guy with a mysterious past, one which quickly catches up to him with intense violence, who now literally has nothing left to lose. It’ll apparently jump forward to a showdown with the local mob boss in Las Vegas and the chilling, highly detailed art that’s somewhere in the inky nexus between Matthew Southworth, Jason Shawn Alexander, and Danijel Zezelj is totally up for the noir-charged task. Grade A.
Sparrow & Crowe #1 (Hermes Press): Man, I really don’t know why I bought this. It totally sucks. It’s trying to do some sort of paranormal investigator with the plucky female sidekick in a near-future PKD meets Warren Ellis Los Angeles bit, but oh god, does it not connect. The dialogue just sort of flits around with no causality linking it from scene to scene, the art makes things look like a lost barrio in 1970’s Bakersfield instead of anything resembling a futuristic LA and blah blah blah demons I think they said this used to be a radio show (maybe in the UK?). Wonky art and clichéd characters that seem like watered down copies of copies of copies lacking the original fidelity of Warren Ellis’ Apparat Singles Group. Grade C-.