Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers, and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on Big Two cape titles, creator-owned books, webcomics and more. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Cameron Stewart and Brenden Fletcher
Art by Babs Tarr
Breakdowns by Cameron Stewart
Colors by Maris Wicks
Lettered by Jared K. Fletcher
“I swear if this is some super-villain thing, you’re helping me with it.”
Batgirl gets a different creative team and a makeover in this delightfully illustrated new issue. Barbara’s dealt with a lot lately and decides she needs a fresh start, so she moves in with yet another hip roommate across town only to find that trouble seems to live everywhere. Babs feels somehow younger as she tries to focus on college and suddenly begins acting more college-aged. All of the hype over this title’s new direction misses the mark for me, but the art really shines through, though I still have my qualms.
The thing I really truly love about this comic is everything Babs Tarr touches. The art is absolutely delectable, and every character is fully realized, distinctive, and cool. This story feels like it could be happening right now in any big city because of how identifiable I find even the smallest details; tattoos are clearly illustrated, clothing and hairstyles are trendy, and Barbara’s roomies are glued to their bunny-eared iPhones. The new costume design by Tarr and Cameron Stewart is my favorite Batgirl since the classic black and yellow ensemble that Barbara sported back in the day (pre-The Killing Joke). It seems realistic, functionable, highly cosplayable, and does not even remotely feel the need to be sexy.
While a fan of Gail Simone, I had high hopes for a fresh take on Batgirl. Like the rest of the internet, I gushed over the new costume design and Tarr’s gorgeous art style, and I really wanted to love this new storyline. Maybe my tastes just fall slightly left-of-center on the venn diagram of comics and ladies, but I’m slightly disappointed in this first issue that has been lauded as extremely girl-aimed. I’m totally fine with Babs making out with dudes and being super cute (do you, girl), but I was taken aback when the issue ended on Barbara giving a friend a half-assed apology for a serious infraction. I’m hoping the story will continue with its timely and relevant (though maybe not so heavy-handed) themes but also have Batgirl live up to the hero I’ve been looking up to since middle school.
Adam Pelta-Pauls is reading…
Written by Ann Nocenti
Art by Trevor McCarthy
Colors by Guy Major
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
“I’m Beelzebub, your friendly neighborhood barber. Come see me for a close shave sometime.”
“I don’t shave.”
What’s blue, about 4’10”, has hair like devil horns, knows magic, and keeps a cat named Teekl in a jar as a familiar? If you answered Klarion the Witch-Boy, you’d be right! Klarion is back with a vengeance as part of DC’s New 52, headlining an ongoing series of his own for the very first time.
Originally created by Jack Kirby as a nemesis for Etrigan the Demon (though he’s also crossed paths with Batman and many others), Klarion has gone through many incarnations as the character has changed hands over the years, however, he hasn’t been seen much since DC began the New 52. Now, with Ann Nocenti and artist Trevor McCarthy at the helm of his titular series, Klarion’s comic has a wonderful flavor all its own.
Klarion #1 is super-atmospheric, and you get that sense as soon as you turn over the first page. The layouts are especially striking and full of beautiful detail that sets this comic well apart from other books on the shelf this week. An early sequence takes place entirely within a spiral of magical car exhaust; another introduces a girl with magic hair by draping it all over the borders on a page. Even the more conventional layouts contain little visual treats, so keep a keen eye on your panel borders as you read.
The plot sees a wandering Klarion, kicked out of his home for his unorthodox spellcasting, moving into a hangout for wayward magic-users in New York called the Moody Museum. The Museum’s residents often find themselves at odds with the technomancers who run the Necropolitan Club down the road, whose social media-infused magicks promise power, but not without cost. I’m thoroughly excited to see where this series leads. This first issue has some really neat ideas, and I can’t wait to see what comes of them.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV (back-up only)
Art by Greg Capullo and Kelley Jones (back-up only)
Inks by Danny Miki
Colors by Fco Plascencia and Michelle Madsen
Lettered by Steve Wands and Dezi Sienty
“…it’s actually sort of…funny.”
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman has been the high point of the New 52 relaunch since its beginning and they are coming off their best story arc yet, managing a new and exciting take on Batman’s origin. So with that all in mind, this issue is doubly disappointing. Flashing forward from Batman’s starting days, the series is now set after the currently-running weekly book, Batman Eternal. Since I haven’t been reading Eternal, the opening bit between Bruce, Alfred and Alfred’s daughter (I think?) is confusing, but it would probably feel that way anyway since they’re referring to the aftermath of a series that is still running for a few more months.
Then the ruckus begins, as the Justice League shows up one-by-one out to kill Batman. Capullo gives this sequence his all, and it’s super-kinetic, but it’s still something we’ve seen almost yearly at this point. I don’t know if there’s something about Batman having no powers that gives his writers an inferiority complex, but they always have to show him beating the snot out of his superpowered comrades to prove his virility at some point. He’s the best, we get it. Then there’s the reveal, (SPOILERS COMING) that they are all under the thrall of the Joker, and it just fell flat for me. We’ve seen the “Joker controls superheroes” plot a few times (best in “Emperor Joker,” in my opinion), but I guess I just don’t need to see it done again. Actually, I would be happy if they just forgot about the Joker for a good long time. That said, a year ago I would’ve told you I never needed to read Batman’s origin again and Snyder and Capullo proved me way wrong, so the following issues could prove me wrong again, This issue, however, didn’t make me hopeful.
Most of this comic is one long fight scene, and much like in the last thirty minutes of today’s action movies, after a while it’s just metal crashing on metal. Capullo’s art is still well drawn and full of motion, but while Fco’s colors for “Zero Year” were bright and day-glo, here they are just shades of gray. They’re a metaphor for the whole issue to me. It’s dull.
There’s also a backup story from James Tynion IV and Kelley Jones about five inmates who have escaped from Arkham and take their doctor captive in their home. They explain that the Joker set them loose, and one tells his story of who he believes the Joker to be. It looks like going forward each inmate will be telling their own “origin” of The Joker, kind of like the kids in “The Batman Nobody Knows” from Batman #250. It’s an interesting little horror tale and Kelley Jones is the perfect artist for it. I’ve never been a huge fan of his work, but his style is what it is and if you’re into it he’s at the top of his game. I don’t know if he’s doing art for the rest of the stories in this series, but I hope they switch the artist for each.
Batman’s always been a highlight every month and this is the first time I’ve come away disappointed. Snyder and Capullo have definitely earned my trust so I’m going to stick with it.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Stefano Caselli
Colors by Frank Martin
Lettered by Cory Petit
“You understand, right? There’s no coming back. You’re all going to die out there.”
Avengers is sort of in a weird spot. Marvel’s continuity is a little convoluted right now, with AXIS kicking off right on the heels of Original Sin, but also with the recent runs and events in other ongoings being slotted in. The eight month flash-forward in Hickman’s Avengers book is a nice way to work around it by throwing us into a new situation and showing some fallout from the last few arcs, but it’s also forced to dance around the new developments for characters like Iron Man or Captain America, which will be revealed in their own books in the coming months.
The end result of all of this is an issue that’s mostly downtime and setup, but one that focuses on some of my favorite characters. I’m overjoyed to see Sunspot, Cannonball and Smasher back in the fray, after being mostly relegated to appearances in 3rd tier book Avengers World. The idea of a couple of former X-Men trainees proving their worth and rising to become full Avengers is really impressive, and it’s good to see them playing a larger role going forward. Similarly, the return of Ex Nihilo, Nightmask, and other characters from early arcs increase the stakes and help to build towards the coming climax.
The other highlight for me is the prominence of Thor (well, the former Thor) and Hyperion. Both of them have clearly been through the ringer, Thor (here called “Odinson,” interestingly) in his own book and Hyperion through the various events of his tenure with the Avengers. Their beards and grizzled appearances could be cliché, but artist Stefano Caselli imparts a strong sense of dignity and loss in both of them. They’re both gods who have lost their kingdoms, and the parallels between their two stories are deftly mirrored visually.
The Marvel Universe is in a state of flux right now, both within the universe and in terms of publishing and continuity. I’m not sure how closely I’m going to follow AXIS or the various tie-ins, and it’s getting harder and harder to keep track of where various stories line up. Even in the face of all that, I’m enjoying Hickman’s work there more than ever, and I’m glad to see Avengers is telling strong stories even under the most convoluted circumstances.
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, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!