2.07.2015

2.11.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

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Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #5 is my primary book of interest this week, it’s IDW’s delightfully batshit insane pairing of 1980’s properties at the hands of Tom Scioli and John Barber, which manages to simultaneously play like an earnest nostalgia piece and a tongue-in-cheek send-up that subverts everything it purports to love all at once. It’s a joy to read, one of those books you’re amazed actually got made in the first place, chock full of obsessive knowledge porn, with plenty of backmatter commentary by the creators.

If you’re looking for another licensed property, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca are helming Darth Vader #1, the second offering in the new Marvel Star Wars era, and the first-ever ongoing series featuring this character. I’ve found Marvel’s iterations of the Star Wars mythos to sort of stretch continuity plausibility right to the point of breaking, but it’s nevertheless interesting to see what the property can withstand. Given the resurgence in this cultural phenomenon, we’ll be likely talking about “the new Star Wars” – book, film, game, whatever – for the next 100 years.

But, if you’re on this site, reading this column, then you’re probably smart enough to know that Creator Owned Comics are where it’s at! May I then recommend Southern Bastards #7 from The Jasons, Aaaron and Latour, following up an incredible cliffhanger/twist/prologue realization at the end of the first arc. For my money, Jason Aaron is at his best when he’s exploring misunderstood corners of the American Tapestry, so if you were a fan of the impressive Scalped, then this exploration of culture in the American South is where you should be spending your time.

There’s also perennial favorite Astro City #20 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, published by DC/Vertigo. Astro City has an interesting publishing history, surviving Image, Homage, WildStorm, and now Vertigo incarnations, perhaps a testament to the core premise of exploring the humanized peripheral elements of the shared universe concept. The older I get, the more I appreciate someone like Busiek, a writer with consistency of quality, longevity of career, and the ability to still play emotionally relevant, even when tinkering with the industry’s most prevalent genre.

I’ll also recommend The Sculptor, this is the long-anticipated 496-page hardcover tome by Scott McCloud, published by First Second. It looks to examine the very nature of creativity, and literal ruminations on life and death, all from the Godfather of the formal analysis of how the medium functions. It’s absolutely terrific to see an original creation from McCloud, one which will likely be poured over panel by panel in the wake of his seminal work Understanding Comics, and I expect to see it on many Best of 2015 lists come December.

If you wanted to check out a throwback gem, you could do much worse than DC: The New Frontier Deluxe Edition Hardcover. That’s a mouthful of a title, and if you’re anything like me, you already snagged the gorgeous Absolute Edition before it went out of print. But, if you didn’t feel like spending $75 on that, this new printing is a deal at $49.99, featuring Darwyn Cooke’s sweeping treatise on DC lore, depicting the liminal state between The Golden Age and The Silver Age, a generational transition that basically established the company’s outlook for the modern era.

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