Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff offer brief recommendations for a diverse array of comics, from name-brand cape titles to creator-owned books to webcomics.
Dylan Roth is reading…
The Private Eye #4
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Marcos Martin
The Private Eye is this year’s most exciting comic, not only because of its intriguing story and gorgeous art but for its unusual method of publication. It’s available exclusively online, DRM-free, in a slew of languages, for whatever price you want – even for free. A critical darling and apparently a commercial success, The Private Eye may prove a trailblazer in the vein of Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, proving that small, privately-funded online content can make the same impact (and the same profits) as a large corporate effort, providing you start with name-brand talent.
The series itself is a strikingly original concept, set in a future where, in a complete rejection of today’s transparent, webcast lifestyle, everyone uses a secret identity. The plot is a textbook noir-inspired detective story, as a young P.I. (actually called “P.I.”) tries to solve a case that’s much bigger than it seems, but Vaughan’s snappy dialogue, Martin’s stunning and colorful designs, and the questions the setting raises about our own present-day society make it a uniquely fascinating read.
This issue is not an ideal jumping-on point, but I didn’t want to waste an opportunity to recommend this book. All past and present issues are available at panelsyndicate.com, and if my review hasn’t convinced you to lay your money down, download the first issue for free and see for yourself – I promise you, you’ll happily pay $3-5 for each of the next 3 issues, even though you don’t have to.
Max Robinson is reading…
I’ve been a fan of Brubaker and Phillips’ comics collaborations since I discovered Criminal, one of the best crime comics of the last few years. With their current series, Fatale, the duo spice up their tried and true formula of guns and bloodshed with a sprawling Lovecraftian take on the male gaze.
Although I dug the series of flashback stories that preceded this arc, it’s been nice to see this team really get going with a story set in 1990’s Seattle where titular bad news Josephine becomes entangled with would-be rock stars/bank robbers while a sadistic policeman hunts her.
Brubaker writes desperate, dangerous characters better than anyone else around and Phillips’ pages whiplash between unsettling and sexy, heavy on shadows and thick lines. The only real bummer about this issue was the lack of text backmatter (usually an original essay from contributors like Jess Nevins that isn’t collected or included in the digital version of the issue).
Still, Fatale remains one of the few comics where it’s worth your time to read it month to month, especially if you like your horror comics on the seedier side.
David Lebovitz is reading…
Most of this book is just pretty pictures – and by pretty pictures I mean large images of a guy killing a bunch of zombies with a chainsaw on a rod in the desert. There’s little story in this, and the little story that there is is easy to skip.
The real reason to read this is the two page long small print preface of “THE STORY SO FAR.” I doubt most if any of this ever happened in any continuity, but holy hell it is it hilarious. It’s politically incorrect, full of pop culture and political references and often just hilarious nonsense. There are jokes about an large Asian family with the last name Mahn with 30 brothers (including I Ron Mahn and Hung Ree Mahn), a journey through the Trump Desert, and a meeting with the greatest dancer in the known world – Twerk Douglas. At one point it says at the height of his fame, “TwerkJoints [were] popping up all over American faster than opposition to gun control[.]”
If you don’t want to read a list of fizzled pop stars who joined together to become a human centipede and become the most successful touring pop group of all time, I don’t know what to tell you. (Hint: one of them is Bieber.) Read this.
Dominic Griffin is reading…
Scott Snyder’s best-selling, much lauded run on Batman took a noticeable dip in quality during his underwhelming Joker arc, but he’s rebounded quite nicely with this prequel story, “Zero Year.” Detailing an exciting side of the infamous origin story without retreading the best parts of Year One or Batman Begins, he presents a smart, action oriented, and witty yarn starring a younger, more fallible Bruce Wayne, smartly tempering the pathos and darkness of Gotham City with a sharp sense of humor and a penchant for recontextualizing a lot of the beats we’ve come to expect from this kind of story without the reeking stench of pointless fan service. It calls to mind the best stories from the beginning of Marvel’s Ultimate line, something I am endlessly shocked isn’t emulated more elsewhere in the nu52 universe.
The double-sized issue is filled to the brim with brisk pacing and some of the best art Capullo has done in this series thus far. The issue’s climax features a fun twist on a pretty pivotal moment in the Dark Knight’s history that is telegraphed in an earlier reveal, but, man, it is a blast when that particular fuse is finally lit. A meaty and engrossing read, it may not be the Batman book we knew we wanted, but it is definitely the one we deserve.
Everyone hates crossovers at the Big Two, or at least they claim to as they grumble and rifle through their pockets, begrudgingly parting with hard earned dead presidents to pick up each and every meandering tie-in necessary to follow along with this year’s excuse for solicitation copywriters to excitedly type “everything changes!” in all caps. Jonathan Hickman has figured out how to present a widescreen, space opera event comic with a scope as large as its reading checklist is manageable. You can read this six-issue miniseries and the issues of both major Avengers titles it connects with and be totally fine. The other tie-ins are fun, but you can comfortably ignore them and still come away with a fun experience. It’s good to see Marvel learning from the outsize mess that was AVX.
Thus far, Hickman’s Avengers run has been less well-received than his amazing work on Fantastic Four, largely because his “everything and the kitchen sink” mega-plotting makes Grant Morrison’s JLA run seem like a Harold Pinter one-act, but it’s great to see it was all building to an epic series like this, with grand themes, comprehensible stakes, and a bevy of excellent moments, gorgeously realized by complementary artists Opena & Weaver. The latest installment features one of the most unapologetically badass Avengers moments since Kurt Busiek typed “Ultron, we would have words with thee…” into Thor’s dialogue bubble. I love that Hickman and Jason Aaron in particular have taken to writing Thor with Chris Hemsworth’s movie voice. It is the mead infused icing on this ridiculous layer cake of galactic proportions.
Thanks for reading about what we’re reading! We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the meantime, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section or on our Facebook Page.