6.12.2015

6.17.15 [#PicksOfTheWeek]

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It’s another pretty big week for me. At the top of the list is Lazarus #17 (Image) from Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, which I still tell people is all-around probably the best comic being published right now. I’m also excited for Manifest Destiny #15 (Image) by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts, which was also on my Best of 2014 list, Low #7 (Image) by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, Southern Bastards #9 (Image) by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, Tales of Honor: Bred to Kill #1 (Image/Top Cow) by Matt Hawkins and Linda Sejic, Trees #10 (Image) by Warren Ellis and Jason Howard, as well as the debut of Jason Shawn Alexander’s new Empty Zone #1 (Image). Alexander is one of my favorite fine artists working today, occasionally dipping his toe into comic book waters with projects like the murky Luna Moth sequences in The Escapists or a particularly voyeuristic arc of Queen & Country.

Over at Oni Press, I’ll be picking up Letter 44 #17 (Oni Press) by Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque, as well as (the now ongoing) Stumptown Volume 3 #6 (Oni Press) by Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood. Rucka is what I’d call a seasoned veteran in the industry, and Greenwood is a talent whose star is certainly on the rise, so I’m always interested to see what happens when you make a creative pairing like that. I’ll probably also check out Blackcross #4 (Dynamite Entertainment) by Warren Ellis and Colton Worley (with covers by another rising star, Tula Lotay), Astro City #24 (DC/Vertigo) by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, as well as Astronauts in Trouble #1 (Image) by Larry Young and Charlie Adlard, which is a series I’ve not thought about in literally years, originally a black and white offering from Young’s own boutique small press concern in San Francisco, AiT/PlanetLar, Young is one of those figures people either tend to love or hate, and I’m not sure if this is new material or color reprints, but the series certainly had its fun moments. 

If you’re reading this column, you may recall that I basically stopped financially supporting both Marvel and DC Comics back in 2012 and largely tuned out of their entire lines, with some rare exceptions. I mean, if Warren Ellis or Brian Wood is gonna’ write Moon Knight, well sure, I’ll be first at the LCS to check that out. I do pick up Astro City, which is technically a DC Comic under the Vertigo imprint. But, after the debacle that was The New 52, I essentially just quit the mainstream cape comics at both companies because I was totally burned out of the churning cycle of relaunch-event-stagnation-relaunch-event-stagnation-relaunch-event-stagnation. But, for some reason it’s been amusing to me to sample the new DC books post-Convergence to see what the move from NYC to Burbank and subsequent induction of many new (sometimes relatively green) creators and editors hath wrought.

For example, I looked at the recent Omega Men #1 (which I found to be a boring confusing lazy mess leaning too hard on alien speech tropes), Midnighter #1 (which I think has lots of potential, it certainly feels like something well-constructed and organically progressive, successful not only due to my fondness for old WildStorm characters, but because of inherent quality), Constantine #1 (which was nearly unreadable, terribly overwritten, with generic demon nonsense punctuated by an apparently bisexual lead, which didn’t feel organic at all in the way Midnighter does, but a desperate grab at diversity. Are you ready to #Hashtag that? I’d sooner read a book about Nick Lachey as the new Hellblazer, using his Twix wand of Ad Interrupta Kazam! to summon magical forces), and Starfire #1 (which was another hot mess, with really crappy instances of Newton defying gravity planes, and featured the titular character with covered boobs – kind of – until she just buys more revealing clothes to replace her costume which replaced her scantily clad digs in the first place whaaa? and then she moved on to throw herself at random dudes and drink beer wait how old is she supposed to be is this comic for a younger demo or not why is she talking like the totes adorbs naïve but well-intentioned version in Teen Titans Go! while still kinda’ appealing to lecherous old men help me I’m so confused by this book).

Simply put, I liked only 1 of the 4 new titles I sampled, a 25% success rate. All of that said, I might actually check out the melee of new material being flung at the wall to see what sticks this week, including Black Canary #1, Dr. Fate #1, Harley Quinn & Power Girl #1, Justice League of America #1, Martian Manhunter #1, Prez #1, and Robin: Son of Batman #1 out of, let’s call it morbid curiosity, just to see which editors have managed to muck up which books, and which rookie creators have managed to land once elite titles, all while continuing this silly diatribe and seeing if the metrics continue to stack up in support of my ongoing reluctance at engaging with anything in the superhero lines of the two most well known publishers. Whew!

Justin, shut up and recommend some trades, will you!? Ok! I will direct your attention to Drifter Vol. 1 (Image) by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein. There’s a lot of quality sci-fi coming out of Image at the moment, but this has a certain tone to the writing and a richness to the technology aesthetic that really holds my interest. I’d also like to point you to the Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland TPB (IDW) by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez. Most people will recognize Rodriguez’s robust lines from Locke & Key, but he absolutely pushes himself here, and succeeds, at capturing the magical wonderment and ethereal whimsy of the original, while modernizing the lessons and looking absolutely aces with IDW’s lush production values. It’s great!

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