Can’t Wait for STAR WARS? Try SAGA.

Hey you.

How’s it going?  Maybe you’re new to this site.  Maybe you’re here because you saw Brandon on the local news last Monday  [Ed Note: and if not, catch it here!] and there was this giant, super sexy logo behind him.  And realistically, you probably tried to google that name and discovered it’s the least SEO-friendly name in the world.  I want you to remember that, because it’s going to come up a lot here.

Best of the Week // A Fear of Penises

The Best

by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey and Jordie Bellaire
by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey and Jordie Bellaire

The presence of a penis in a comic will tell you a lot about a man’s maturity level. For some, it’s just another image, another fact of life. For others, the reaction varies from the shocked to the slightly uncomfortable to the blatantly homophobic and beyond. What I’m saying is, a lot of men react to cartoon penises differently, and that’s a strange thing to know. Such is the life of a comic shop manager.

Best of the Week // Pulling the Trigger

Award 02

Men of Wrath #3
by Jason Aaron and Ron Garney

While Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips diligently populate the industry with crime comics influenced by pulp novels and old Hollywood, Jason Aaron’s been putting together a solid string of tales himself in a slightly different arena. When you hear Aaron talk about his influences, you can sense a certain amount of cowboy in them. I’m not just talking southern influence (though clearly, that is there), I’m talking about tough-as-nails stoic protagonists and tension ratcheting silent stand-offs.

Men of Wrath approaches this type of crime from a decidedly wrong side of the law. It concerns the Rath family, and the seeming fact that the family has just gotten meaner over the years. Aaron and series co-creator Ron Garney take great pains to depict a generational souring that culminates in a confrontation between Ira Rath and his son, who put himself in a bad position by making the right choice at the wrong time. The tension in the comic not only comes from the situation that’s currently unfolding, but from the history of shocking actions the various generations of Raths. You’ve already been shown depictions of men doing the unthinkable, and so you’re left waiting for that trigger to get pulled. In equal measure, you’re wondering what this inherent meanness means for Ira’s son, and if that part of his family history will take root in him in order to survive. A hard crime story about being caught between a choice to be good vs. a history of evil. This series has earned itself our Crime Me A River Award for this week, as I eagerly await the final two parts to get into my hands.

Soon.

Best of the Week // Your Weekly Batmans

Award 01

by James Tynion IV and Fernando Blanco w/ Scott Snyder, Raw Fawkes, Jyle Higgins & Tim Seeley
by James Tynion IV and Fernando Blanco w/ Scott Snyder, Ray Fawkes, Kyle Higgins & Tim Seeley

We stopped doing Best of the Week posts right around the time that Batman: Eternal started hitting the shelves. In hindsight, that was probably for the best, as I’d probably be talking about it every week (in some capacity), and I would have lost steam at this point.

Batman: Eternal is one of DC’s best books right now. While it remains mired in an aesthetic that doesn’t suit me personally, the storytelling has been incredible, and resembles something close to my platonic ideal for a weekly comic series. Over the past 35 issues, the writing team (and the ever-rotating series of artists) have taken the monthly serial and optimized for a swifter pace of release. What you get isn’t a typical monthly comic – it’s a story that lets plots bubble for issues at a time without having to wait six months for payoff. It lets different plots come to a boil at different moments, ramping pressure as each week offers progression and payoff. As a result, you get something like this issue, where a perceived victory mingles with some of the book’s slower moving plots in order to produce a bit of a nightmare for the titular character. So far, Batman’s been winning, but it’s cost him each time, and the price is starting to strip everything away from him. It’s gotten to the point where I am deliriously happy to read the Batman stories to come after this book concludes, as I’m sure the paradigm will have shifted. With the amount that’s happened in here, things can’t help but be different – and even though we all know things will go back to an equilibrium at some point in the future, for now (and the very near future), we’ll be getting some pretty strange and wonderful tales.

This is great. This is what superhero comics should be doing, experimenting with the form and building something interesting. A great job by the whole team, who has earned their Crazy Like A Fox award.

They know why.

Recommendation: Batman – The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga

by Jiro Kuwata
by Jiro Kuwata

The Pitch: Batman ’66 by way of Japanese pop influence

What It Is: This series of Batman stories ran for just over a year across the Pacific from April 1966 to May of 1967 in an attempt to capitalize on the big Batman craze that had hit during that time. While the series didn’t last long, it’s filled to the brim with crazy Batman stories that are quite unlike those we are used to today. Hearkening back to the period they were created, these stories reflect the crazy style of silver age comics (and the Batman ’66 TV show) while retaining the clear influences of a different style of comics entirely.

Recommended if you like: Fun Batman stories, B-movies, and absurd humour.

Currently Available:

  • This series is being serialized on ComiXology in single issues (the first issue is just 99 cents!)
  • Three collections are currently planned, with the first on the stands right now for just $14.99

More Information:

(If you’ve read Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga and would like to give your personal recommendation or help populate our “Recommended If You Like” section, please comment below!)

Weekend Reading: Multiversity – The Just #1

What a ridiculously awesome read.

Grant Morrison has long said that Multiversity is “the ultimate statement of what DC is”, and this issue really punches things into gear. Or at least, this issue is where I’ve started to notice more of the connective tissue. The main thrust of the book deals with an earth where the heroes of DCs 90s era have won the day, and the current batch of supers has nothing to do. The earth (designated 16 here) is a wonderful mix of dour inevitabilities – if the heroes do in fact win the day, and our current reality’s fascination with celebrity life and culture continues unabated, this is the kind of world that would emerge. Power and responsibility steeping in boredom ’til the point of breaking.

As for the overarching plot, this issue brings the idea that the Multiversity comics that have been, and will be, are missives from other realities, bleeding into existence as a dire warning and/or mysterious doom. This simmers all through out the book as various superheroes pick up the comics and have a myriad of opinions on the ridiculousness of the superhero genre and comics in general. The whole thing is a joy to read, and will be a further joy to go back and parse when all is said and done. A great part of a whole, and a great single issue read, I’d say anyone could pick this issue up and have fun.

Weekend Reading: Catwoman #35

Emerging from the pages of Batman: Eternal, Selina Kyle assumes her role as the queen of Gotham’s crime families in the newest issue of Catwoman.

Since the launch of The New 52, Catwoman has been an interesting book to follow. The first issue kicked things off with a story called “…and most of the costumes stay on…” which started with Selina flying out a window wearing only half of her costume, and ended with her having sex with Batman… also with half of her costume on. For reasons, I guess. Anyway, the title has had some weird ups and downs since then, and has now received a new status quo.

The book sees Selina taking control of the entirety of Gotham’s organized crime scene, something her father had once done. In this capacity, you see her balancing a life of good and bad intentions, just like she always had. Much like Carmine Falcone claims in the first episode of the Gotham TV show, she’s setting out to do right by Gotham – because without a thriving Gotham, there’s no way to make money. She attempts this while dealing with challengers on all sides, from different crime families and from within her own ranks. It’s a phenomenal story by comics-newcomer Genevieve Valentine and accomplished artist Garry Brown, who take a series largely known for weird stories and salacious costuming and build a phenomenal crime book. For the first time in a long time, I’m interested in seeing where this series goes, and will keep checking it out (rather than just checking up on it for time to time for work purposes.) Highly recommended.

Weekend Reading: Lazarus #12

 

The meticulous world building inside Lazarus continues with this issue, wherein the families in power all meet for the first time in years and manoeuvre against each other.

tale as old as time

While each issue of this title has featured a hefty portion of world building, it’s taken me until now to realize just how well thought out this work actually is. Rucka and Lark have taken something that doesn’t exist, and have built it into something that could. Motivations are informed by the temperament of the characters, as well as the location and resources that character (or family) has at their disposal. While the setting bends reality slightly, there’s enough reason involved in the plotting and images that it doesn’t break, creating a story that you feel comfortable with existing, never once pulling on the suspension of disbelief. This makes the book equal parts entertaining and horrifying, as you find yourself lying in wait for this world to arrive, an inevitability more than a dismissible possibility.

Incoming // Empty Men, Young Avengers and Potential Robots

Happy Tuesday everyone! As always, we’re taking a look at this week’s haul of comics before it hits the stands, so you can make a more informed choice when you’re perusing the shelves.

Brandon’s Pick: The Empty Man #1 (Boom! Studios)

art by Vanesa R. Del Rey
art by Vanesa R. Del Rey

If you’re in the mood for a creeping horror book this week, Boom! Studios has you covered. The Empty Man is a slow burning horror in that – according to press materials – draws upon some disturbing J-horror imagery and storytelling. My experience with J-horror is fairly limited (my nearest approximate experience with the genre would be Naoki Urasawa’s Monster), but the comparison stands. Cullen Bunn infuses the story with a slow burning mystery and Venesa R. Del Rey draws out creeping bits of affecting imagery that sticks with you long after the book is put down. There’s very little “show” in this issue, which lends to the creeping elements, but still, what is shown is strange and gorgeous – and Del Rey’s wonderful brushwork style is a great fit for the subject matter and the story. A great read, if you get a chance to put your hands on it. Seek it out!

Original Sins #1 (Marvel Comics)

This week’s biggest Marvel tie-in comes in the form of one of their anthology series, which they are loading up with interesting voices and characters. First up, Nathan Edmondson and Mike Perkins bring Deathlok front and center in a spotlight story that’s sure to lead to bigger things in the coming months. Then, Ryan North (!) and Ramon Villalobos (!!!) begin their Young Avengers tale that will run through this five issue series. Both of these creators are a great fit for a team that has always functioned well with a fresh and almost independent style of comic making, and it’s great to see their take on the team. And then hey, to close the book, they have a quick Lockjaw story by Stuart Moore and Rick Geary. RICK GEARY. This is a dude I didn’t expect to be making Marvel Comics – not due to lack of talent, but more-so a lack of congruous style. Anyway, that happens – and looking at future solicitations, it’ll happen again with folks like Chip Zdarsky. Yup, the dude who made this Marvel Ideas Journal will have work published by Marvel this year. Amazing.

Meanwhile…

  • Dan Didio and Keith Giffen are taking another crack at Kirby with Infinity Man and the Forever People. I fear that this book isn’t going to last long, which is a shame, as it appears to be one of the few small attempts the company is making to diversify it’s line – and I’m afraid that a failure might produce means to continue in a homogenized direction. Which is not good. Anyway, I’m pretty excited for this, as their previous collaboration on OMAC was stellar. More of this, and just… other things, DC. Please.
  • That’s Because You’re A Robot is another weird book from the mind of Shaky Kane, this time with David Quantick on board as a writer. The book definitely feels like a straight forward fever dream in which two buddy cops try to figure out which one of them is a robot while solving crimes. It’s strange and wonderful, but if you look at the book and find yourself not enjoying the art, give it a skip. It is a book that knows what it is and what it wants to do, and makes no apologies, so don’t expect it to bend towards your tastes.
  • A couple of quick mentions for Armor Wars #1 and Wolverine #8, out from Valiant and Marvel respectively. Both kick off huge stories, and both can be read with zero prior knowledge as to what has gone before. Buy with confidence.

That’s all the time and space I have for this week. Stay tuned to my twitter as I have time to peruse more, and come back to the site through the week for my thoughts on this week’s haul in some more depth.

This Is Why You Shouldn’t Go To Canada

I was really worried about this comic.

art by Ed McGuinness and Marte Gracia
art by Ed McGuinness and Marte Gracia

Writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost officially take over Amazing with this issue, and while I know them as great writers, the bulk of their work together has left me cold. I want to make this clear: this is not a slight to their talents. Their runs on New X-Men and X-Force sold quite well, and had their fans – but their stories edged toward the bloody end of things, and I’ve never been a fan of violence for the sake of violence. Anyway, suffice to say, I was worried that Amazing would go from a generally easy-going story style, and jump right into the gore. While the opening of this issue did very little to assuage my fears, the bulk of the comic retained a lot of the style Jason Aaron had given it. The characters still have fun with one another (Nightcrawler’s “How exciting!” comment pulled a big smile on my face), and the danger encountered in this issue never goes to gratuitous lengths, which I appreciated.

The bulk of the story concerns a trip Wolverine takes to Canada, and what he finds there. There’s a bunch of Alpha Flight stuff that I know a few folks are going take a liking to – although some of the bits near the end send off some alarm bells. I can’t really give much more detail as to what, but suffice to say, there’s some danger at play here that involves the Wendigo. Or Wendigos. Which is not a spoiler. I mean, the storyline is titled World War Wendigo. So.

This issue will be the last we see from Ed McGuinness on the title – at least for the foreseeable future. He’s moving over to Guardians of the Galaxy for a spell and will soon be replaced with Carlo Barberi – known for quite a library of work on Deadpool. While it’s sad to see him go, we get a lot of great imagery, with inks by Mark Farmer, who gives McGuinness’ line quite a different feel than his regular collaborator, Dexter Vines. It was really neat to see that, and I would love the chance to see more of this team together – again, not that Vines is not a good inker (he is), but it’s just neat to see something a bit different from McGuinness.

Amazing X-Men #8 goes on sale tomorrow at fine comic stores across the world, and at ComiXology.