Your Deadshirt New Comics Shopping List for: December 9th, 2014

It’s Wednesday and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!

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Bitch Planet #1

Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick

Art by Valentine De Landro and Cris Peters (Colors)

Lettered by Clayton Cowles

Image

$3.50 (print)/$2.99 (digital)

Bitch Planet #1 is pulp-y goodness with a sharp, satirical center–which matches perfectly with the most recognizable part of Kelly Sue DeConnick’s newest feminist manifesto, its attitude. That attitude sneers at you from the front cover, its easy confidence on display even in the book’s tagline: “Are you woman enough to handle Bitch Planet?” I’m in love. This is what you need to know about Bitch Planet #1: that there’s a prison planet made specially for “non-compliant” women, that the women sent to this planet are as varied in their transgressions as they are in their appearance and personality, and that the society that created and perpetuates this “Bitch Planet” is not as an extreme exaggeration of our own as you might think.

This first issue of Bitch Planet (I just can’t stop saying this title, it’s too damn fun) introduces us to the rigid social structure that makes such a prison planet a necessity, mostly by using language (The Council of Fathers, Father Earth, etc.) and signage for advertisements geared towards women that reinforces patriarchal messages that are otherwise more subtle in our own society (namely, that masculinity is default and femininity is “other”). By the issue’s end, however, we still don’t know many specifics about what exactly being “non-compliant” means–which, I think, is the point. Anything can get you sent to Bitch Planet, or, at least, anything that a man deems “non-compliant” behavior. This is essential to the feeling of helplessness conveyed by the ending, and though I’m afraid the overall “message” of Bitch Planet will be favored in terms of storytelling in future issues: 1. The story in this issue is cohesive and driving, especially for a debut issue for a new comics series, and 2. The message Bitch Planet conveys is especially important in the context of mainstream comics. It’s a fine line DeConnick and De Landro are walking, and they cross it with the skill of seasoned tightrope walkers in this first issue.

While I could get lost in the meta-storytelling and the satirical undertones in this first issue, it’s the female leads that are driving my interest, and having me wonder what will happen in issue two. We’ve seen very little of these women so far, only enough to know that some of them are killers and that one is a volunteer, but their attitudes seem very much on-brand with the overall attitude of the book. They’re angry, and they’re ready to fight. Patriarchy, prepare to get your ass kicked. Two for flinching.

– Christina Harrington

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East of West: The World (one shot)

Written by Jonathan Hickman

Art by Nick Dragotta

Colored by Frank Martin

Lettered by Rus Wooton

Image

$3.99

I should probably learn to manage my expectations.

For some reason, the idea of a Jonathan Hickman-written-and-designed sourcebook for his and Nick Dragotta’s superlative western apocalyptic sci-fi epic East of West conjured to mind a meaty document filled with new details, fake primary documents, convoluted charts and lines of succession and innovative maps. I was expecting a good old Dungeons & Dragons sourcebook, basically.

I’m not saying that isn’t what we got, but something about the execution is just…less calories than I expected. There are forty pages in the book, and it’s led off with a wonderfully mean short story by the book’s regular team featuring the three villainous Horsemen of the Apocalypse being unimaginably cruel dicks to people (as is their calling and wont), but the rest of the sourcebook doesn’t really give us much we wouldn’t have been able to extrapolate from the series on its own. Rather than provide new insight, it simply restates and reframes many of the background details revealed thus far, making it less of a revelation and more of a forty-page, $3.99 recap page to whet our appetites for the series’ upcoming second act. It does a great job of this–I’m just as excited to read the next stage of East of West as I was before–but it feels more like a marketing tool than a rewarding information bomb for readers.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fantastically designed and I’m glad it exists, with excellently laid-out maps and a multi-page timeline, but it took a surprisingly short time to read and I wasn’t left with any real new insights about the world. It takes everything we know and puts it in one place, but it doesn’t really extrapolate past that. It’s good, and chances are anyone reading the book will be getting it anyway, it just felt more like a chicken breast than a steak.

– David Uzumeri

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The Valiant #1

Written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt

Art by Paolo Rivera and Joe Rivera

Lettered by Dave Lanphear

Valiant

$3.99

For thousands of years, the Eternal Warrior has been tasked with guarding each era’s Geomancer, the Earth’s guardian. Every era he fails. His unkillable ancient enemy taunts him through the years, scarring his face with each failure. While the warrior recounts his story, the current Geomancer discusses how much she doesn’t want the job with a drunken Armstrong who advises her to get on with it anyway. Also, Bloodshot kills a lot of bad guys on an island while hunting down a package that ties into this all somehow.

This is a good start to the series, introducing anyone who hasn’t been following the individual Valiant titles to what’s happening and to who each of the characters is. Lemire and Kindt to a fine job of displaying everyone’s character and motivations in just a few pages each. Paolo Rivera’s art is the real draw here, while he doesn’t do anything really flashy, his strong line and beautiful colors just add so much depth to the book. He doesn’t get a chance to cut loose with crazy page layouts like he has in Amazing Spider-Man and Daredevil, but since there’s a lot of dialogue here, that just may not have been in the cards. I also love the design of the monster; while it changes form in every era, he gives it a (pretty gross) characteristic that ties them all together. If you’ve been looking for a place to jump into the Valiant Universe, this is a great place to start.

– Jason Urbanciz

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Eternal #1

Written by William Harms

Art by Giovanni Valletta

Colored by Adam Metcalfe

Lettered by Jim Campbell

BOOM! Studios

$3.99

Eternal plays with a premise that’s been explored in a number of ways in sci-fi: What if you didn’t have to die? Everything from films like In Time and Surrogates to video games like BioShock have delivered different takes on immortality and freedom from the fear of death. In Eternal, human cloning and consciousness transfer have been perfected to the point that immortality is not only an elective option, but a cultural norm. In this new world, an oppressive government is hunting down a small band of rebels, who have only recently begun using the cloning process to fight back as suicide bombers and escape artists.

Eternal has a grounded, realistic aesthetic that sets it apart from a lot of other sci-fi comics. There’s cloning, sure, and some futuristic guns and helicopters, but other than that, technology reads like the not-too-distant future. Metcalfe’s color palette is subdued, and the general designs Valletta has come up with are gritty and believable. An apartment looks like an apartment, rather than a set. I think that sometimes there’s an impulse in comics to constantly realize your ideas as these enormous setpieces that could never exist in real life, but that’s not always the best route. Here, the creative team understands that doing things “low-budget,” as it were, helps to keep the conflict relevant.

There’s a lot of room for different musings in Eternal, even if the first issue is mostly action-oriented. A scene early on about “death parties” thrown by high school kids is especially interesting, as a mirror to real-world moral panics on cable news. The team behind Eternal has taken a pretty thoroughly explored idea and injected new life into it.

– Joe Stando

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Be sure to let us know what you picked up this week in the comments below, on Twitter or on our Facebook Page!

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