11.15.2014

11.19.14 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

#PicksOfTheWeek is brought to you with generous support from my retail sponsor Yesteryear Comics. Make Yesteryear Comics your choice in San Diego for great customer service and the best discounts possible on a wide selection of mainstream and independent titles. Customers receive an attractive 20% discount on new titles during their first week of release. Yesteryear Comics is located at 9353 Clairemont Mesa Boulevard.

Here’s a mean little experiment I do with people down at the LCS. I’ll be chatting with a customer and they’ll say “I really like book x!” I’ll retort, “Cool! Who’s writing that now?” or “That’s great! Who’s doing the art on that?” even though 90% of the time I already know the answer. Now, an alarming percentage of the time, the person will say “I dunno, I just really like character x.” This makes me crazy. I was having this basic philosophical conversation with someone just last week, and said as an example: “I really don’t give a crap about Moon Knight as a character, but I’ve liked Brian Wood’s writing for years, and I was an instant fan of Greg Smallwood’s art since Dream Thief.” The point being, I follow creators and not characters, properties, or companies, and how that was actually quite liberating, not to be beholden to a book. It’s surprising that there are still Marvel Zombies and New 52 Loyalists who will just buy Spider-Man, or Aquaman, or whatever, out of sheer inertia, regardless of the talent. I’m always trying to shift the paradigm one customer at a time, toward creator loyalty, toward publishers like Image Comics, but cultural shifts traditionally happen slowly.

With that anecdote out of the way, it’s Moon Knight #9 this week, by Brian Wood, Greg Smallwood, and Jordie Bellaire, with covers by Declan Shalvey. This issue features an encounter with his psychiatrist, and I’m a sucker for this type of framing device. I’ll date myself with this reference, but I still consider Peter David and Joe Quesada’s X-Factor #87 a masterpiece, an issue in which Doc Samson came in to evaluate the team after a particularly traumatic mission, and the resulting personality profiles on display were just spot-on in terms of character archetype deconstruction. I’ve been dismayed by fans who enjoyed the introductory arc from Warren Ellis and promptly dropped the title on auto-pilot as soon as he left, thinking creative team change is an automatic signal of failure. It’s been a seamless transition in terms of structure, aesthetic, and voice. Moon Knight #8 also deserves an Eisner Award Nomination for Best Single Issue, so I’d urge you to stick with the series.

There’s creator owned comics inbound! There’s Astro City #17 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, continuing their exploration of the peripheral stories lurking in the hidden corners of a shared superhero universe concept. There’s Deadly Class #9 by Rick Remender and Wes Craig, which has steadily increased the intensity with every issue, and continued Remender’s thematic fascination with examining the parent-child dynamic from different angles in every creator owned book he’s writing. There’s Intersect #1 by Ray Fawkes, a writer/artist who has turned in some really thoughtful and experimental original graphic novels in the last couple of years. There’s also Winterworld #4, Chuck Dixon and Butch Guice’s return to the post-apocalyptic world that Dixon created with the late Jorge Zaffino. Dixon has taken some flak for his conservative political views (which I don’t agree with), even claiming that it lost him work at DC Comics via some form of professional retribution, but I’ve never really seen those politics seep into his work. As far as I’m concerned, he may not be the flashiest writer, but he’s one of the most reliable and consistent out there, notable for extended runs on several titles, and his Nightwing run with Scott McDaniel remains a nostalgic favorite.

As far as singles go, I’ll also recommend Multiversity: Pax Romana #1. I’m basically out on DC Comics, I’m out on The New 52, and I’m out on meaningless crossover event hype, but any project that reunites the Flex Mentallo and All-Star Superman team of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely is basically an automatic purchase.

It seems clear that the Christmas Season is upon us, judging solely by the spendy hardcovers that are coming out this week. They’d all make swell presents. There’s the Lazarus Hardcover Vol. 1 (the best Image book currently being produced, and something I’m eyeing as a gift for dad), the Saga Deluxe Edition Hardcover Vol. 1 (sort of an instant evergreen series, they’ll seriously be selling collected editions of this book for years), the Casanova Complete Edition Hardcover Vol. 1: Luxuria (a mouthful of a title, for a series which was an avant-garde work that was years ahead of the current creator owned renaissance at Image Comics, originally published in the experimental, lower-price point “Slimline” format along with Warren Ellis and Ben Templesmith’s excellent Fell), the new IDW printing of The Red Star Deluxe Edition Hardcover Vol. 1 (Christian Gossett’s once-hot series, at heart a sentimental time-spanning love story in a future sci-fi world that saw Russian Federation capital ships dueling in the skies, in the vein of Battlestar Galactica or the Honor Harrington novels), and the Mind MGMT Hardcover Vol. 4 (collecting Matt Kindt’s Dark Horse opus surrounding deep clandestine conspiracy, which will be wrapping up in just a few more issues). 

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