Happy Canada Day Part 2, everybody! Yankees, prepare your flying explosives, because it’s time to get crazy like William Lyon Mackenzie King.
Don’t worry, we’ll wait while you look it up.
Whether you’re enjoying either your day off or your day at work, depending on where you live, we felt we shouldn’t leave you out in the cold. After all, that wouldn’t be very neighbourly of us, would it? Why not read about the comics we thought were the best of last week?
Just don’t blow your arms off.
WITCH DOCTOR? I HARDLY KNOW HER!
I’ve got documented issues with needles. I don’t like ‘em, don’t like getting ‘em, don’t like seeing ‘em. That said, when push comes to shove, I’ll grit the hell up and take one for the team – and by team, I mean my limbs and organs – by taking a needle with my eyes tightly closed. Much like sex, as long as I don’t see if going in, I’m mostly okay – even if there’s always, always weeping afterwards.
What was I talking about? Ooooh right. Comics. Specifically Witch Doctor from Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint over at Image. Witch Doctor is the first non-Kirkman helmed book for the line, and I have to say, if this book is any indication of things to come, we’re in for a treat. The premise is pretty simple: this one guy named Vincent Morrow is a doctor dealing with magic medical maladies. He’s a little brilliant and kind of a dick – which is probably why they described the book as Dr. Strange meets House in the solicitations – but he’s a dick that gets results. Unlike my various sexual encounters.
Look, what do you want from me. I’ve just come off Canada Day weekend and I’m still fucked up on poutine and maple syrup. Deal with it.
Troubling and irrelevant insights into my personal life aside, this book was pretty fantastic. Not only did it deliver on the high concept, but it did so with a brisk pace and some fantastically detailed art. Inside the first issue, you learn all about the premise, the main characters and you’re given a complete “case”, from beginning to end. If you’re looking to sample something new, you could do worse than picking up this book and giving it a read through – at the very worst, you’ll get a complete story and at best, you’ll end up having a great new book to look forward to month in and month out.
And so for their efforts, we here at Comics! The Blog award the creators of Witch Doctor the Got a Fever of A’Hundred and Three Award for hot-blooded vaguely medicinal action. Take two in the morning, blah blah blah. (B)
Damn, amirite? This is just another comic that proves that DC giving Scott Snyder and Jock money is one of the best decisions they’ve made in years. I’ll be honest: when Dick Grayson became Batman, I wasn’t sure what I’d think of it; I was definitely open to the idea of a non-Bruce Batman and, later, to Batman Incorporated, but execution is something else entirely.
Apparently, I was worrying for nothing. Over the course of his run on Detective Comics, Snyder has proven repeatedly to be one of the best writers in DC‘s stable, especially when paired with fantastic artists like Jock. Take this finale to “Hungry City”. The idea of Gotham being a twisted entity all on its own is nothing new, but with the two having this play out not only with a member of an ancient seafaring race – who have been behind mankind’s greatest civilizations – who is also a crime boss who feeds interlopers to his pet killer whales (sue me, Sea World), but with the added plot points of children of the Zucco and Gordon families who may or may not be up to illegal shenanigans? It becomes something more entirely. We don’t want these people to be up to no good. We want them to escape from the jaws of Gotham and become something better. It may be too late. Finding out is comics at its best.
For this and those final, amazing James Gordon Jr. pages of the issue, C!TB gives Detective Comics #878 our prestigious Old Friends, Aren’t They the Dickens? Award. (J)
We’re spoiled. There’s just no two ways about it. There are so many phenomenal comics out there right now… just such an embarrassment of riches, that this section we do on Mondays seems to get harder and harder to complete. There were so many books in the running for Best this week – two have been mentioned above, of course, but that doesn’t account for Batman Inc., THUNDER Agents, Amazing Spider-Man, FF, Uncanny X-Men, and a handful more that I can’t be bothered to look up right now (the feature is already a touch late).
Anyway, this week’s pick was made because the book in question was damn near perfect, and featured something you probably didn’t see in any other single comic book you picked up this week: hand lettering.
Even beyond the fact that regular series artist R.M. Guera hand lettered the shit out of his art this week (more on that in a bit), this issue of Scalped was a piece of art rarely seen on the stands these days. Simultaneously a celebration of the precious 49 issues and a brief lesson regarding the horrific process, nature and history of scalping in general, the comic somehow manages to read as a complete story unto itself, and as a foundation or touchstone for the entire series. If you wanted to check the book out, you could drop in on this issue – and while you might not get to spend a lot of time with the main characters of the series, you’ll be able to leave with a sense of what each character is trying to accomplish, in their own, deeply broken ways.
Now – the hand lettering. While there’s a lot to be said for how digital lettering changed the face of comic book production, there’s still something special about hand lettering. The way it interacts with the art, becomes a part of the page, and has the capability to vary its cadence and style often brings a touch of something special to the proceedings – and this case is no exception. Lettered in a more European style (squared speech bubbles, stylized lettering) Guera’s sense of placement and style really pushed this book from being amazing to a piece of finery. Noting his history with the medium overseas, its no surprise that Guera has a nack for this sort of thing – but seeing it on a book over here is just… it’s different and its special, and man, does it look great. If only the American style of comics could do with a bit of a looser schedule – I’d love to see what a series like this would look like, all hand lettered and what not. But really, when you come right down to it, everything is on a tight enough schedule without adding some time for hand lettering to the mix -a nd so we’ll probably have to do with the occasional issue like this. And Casanova. God bless Matt Fraction and Dustin Harbin for fighting the good fight with Casanova.
But uh, yeah. Buy this book. (B)
This is Comics! The Blog. We now commence our broadcast week.