5.22.2015

5.27.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

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There’s a lot of great Creator Owned Comics out this week, but none more special than Pat Aulisio’s indie masterpiece Infinite Bowman (Alternative Comics). Originally published in mini-comics installments by Matt Moses’ Hic & Hoc Publications, the second of which – Bowman 2016 – made my Best of 2012 list, it’s the story of wayward astronaut Dave Bowman (“I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.” Yes. THAT Dave Bowman!). It’s a psychedelic misadventure that I compared to having sex with Jennifer Lopez and then alternately described as the homoerotic lovechild of Gary Panter, Jack Kirby, and Stanley Kubrick. It’s something else. Aulisio’s claustrophobic scraggly line is really something to behold. The best examples are probably the shots of the bustling city, where he generously fills every nook and cranny of every panel with life and detail, providing depth, texture, and vibrating potential. It’s not mindless mania though, he perfectly controls the reader’s eye in calculated fashion, pushing you in and out, in and out, zooming in for close-ups, and pulling out to widescreen shots, in and out, in and out, in an almost sexualized hypnotic experience. At times, there’s an unabashed pop culture glee to the whole thing too; Bowman almost looks like a guy wearing a Skeletor mask riding an emaciated Garfield. Let me repeat that; it’s a reappropriated and recontextualized Dave Bowman from 2001: A Space Odyssey, in a Masters of the Universe Skeletor mask, riding Garfield the cat. On top of that, it’s hard not to enjoy the unrestrained enthusiasm for the form that Aulisio seems to be reveling in, with lines like “I am David fucking Bowman.” It’s fun sci-fi adventure with heaps of attitude. Bowman is briefly imprisoned by “dumb bastard” aliens, just so that we can get one immaculate prison break sequence that takes us further down the rabbit hole. It’s some sort of wormhole/teleportation/crude volcanic Boom Tube thing, which culminates with the arrival of what looks like Space God Reality Cops straight outta’ some lost Kirby Kreation. Even when Bowman is getting his ass kicked, he admits in adrenalized self-aware glory that “this is the coolest beat down I have ever seen,” which is exactly what the audience must be thinking with this transformative reading experience. If you don’t seek this out, I don’t think we can be friends anymore, it really is one of my favorite indie comics.

Moving right along, fans of Rick Remender should take note of two big releases this week, Deadly Class #13 (Image) with artist Wes Craig, and Black Science #13 (Image) with artist Matteo Scalera, both fantastic world-building, both honing in on Remender’s go-to theme of choice connecting most of his works, the parent-child dynamic, the former being an 80’s culture clash examining what happens in the absence of strong parental figures and kids seek out an alternative family unit, the latter perfecting the FF concept of dimension-hopping science geniuses desperately trying to repair years of familial damage. I go back and forth considering which of them will be appearing on my Best of 2015 list, so getting them both in the same week might be a fun little test.

I’m also super-excited for They’re Not Like Us #6 (Image) by Eric Stephenson and Simon Gane. This, and books like it (I’m looking at you, We Can Never Go Home) owe a great debt of gratitude to Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan’s seminal work Demo in terms of it paving the way for an updating of the X-Men paradigm, that’s latent adolescent power manifestation grounded in an indie art style with more contemporary and relatable social issues at its core. I’m continually amazed at the amount of clear and readable detail that Gane is able to squeeze onto the page, and Stephenson has been able to build an engaging cast of characters that already feel like they’re operating with very high stakes we actually care about.

I’ll probably also check out Outcast #9 (Image), mostly for the Paul Azaceta art tutorial happening in every single issue, what a master of mood and staging, Invisible Republic #3 (Image) by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, which has a level of political depth and complexity you don’t often see in sci-fi, as well as Material #1 (Image) by Ales Kot and Will Tempest. Kot is a writer that interests me, but I’ve never been quite able to warm to the writing I've sampled, he also has a very opinionated Twitter presence I’m fascinated by, but the inclusion of the “Season’s Greetings” cover image from Ferguson has definitely grabbed my attention. It’s an instantly iconic bit of viral media that defines a lot of current social problems surrounding the militarization of police, the surveillance state in a post-9/11 world harshing the security/privacy balance, and obviously a lingering racial divide in this country, certainly the image of the year as far as I’m concerned, so I’ll check it out.

I may also take a voyeuristic peek at Sex #21 (Image) by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski, a book I still sort of have a, I don’t know, pre-coital relationship with. It’s a fun set-up with cool characters that shoot off from a post-shared superhero universe concept, obviously lots of genre mileage there to play with considering all the archetypes in tow, but it never quite seems to get to where it wants to go. It’s basically been 20 issues of foreplay and I’ve been ready for the narrative act to finally go down since the first 12 issues were put to bed.  If you perceive these pointed puns as painfully penile pap, then now you know how I feel reading this book, either make it stop or just do something already. I’ll also poke my head into (sorry!) Providence #1 (Avatar) by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows. It’ll sound blasphemous, but I’m not a huge Alan Moore fan, and the genre he now likes to work in doesn’t do much for me, but I recognize his import and influence on the creators I do like, so I try to give his work its due and at least expose myself to it (that last pun honestly not intended). 

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