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.
Christina Harrington is reading…
Written by Ryan North
Art by Erica Henderson
Colored by Rico Renzi R
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
“I just remembered that I have to go fight Kraven the…um, Kraven the…uh, college administrator? He messed up my course selections!”
Oh my sweet squirrels, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1 is a fun issue, and it’s a lovely start to what looks like an optimistic, colorful series. New college freshman Doreen “Squirrel Girl” Green has all the “proportional speed and strength of a squirrel” (complete with a big bushy squirrel tail) and spends most of her time fighting crime with her squirrel best friend, Tippy-Toe. The opening scene of this issue sets the tone for the rest immediately, with Squirrel Girl beating up a group of would-be muggers while singing her theme song–which is just the classic Spider-Man theme with squirrel-centered lyrics. As Squirrel Girl sings, she easily beats up the muggers, complete with vibrantly-colored sound effects like “Ka-Pow!” and “Swoosh!,” cementing the clever nature of the book, while the fight choreography and coloring add an extra dimension to the storytelling.
Ryan North’s writing brings humor to each page, and his characterization of Squirrel Girl as an odd but ultimately well-meaning and intelligent person makes her likable outside of the costume. North has a way with making characters seem so real, even in their weirdest moments. This is especially true in the resolution of the fight between Kraven the Hunter and Squirrel Girl, in which SG has a bit of a therapy sesh with Kraven and tries to reveal to him the real reason he’s so miserable. It’s a resolution that feels so true to The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, which says a lot about this creative team’s ability to form something so recognizable in so short a time. Erica Henderson’s art is on par with North’s writing, and is especially good during fight sequences, using lots of panels to create a fluid, tangible showdown between Squirrel Girl and her enemies. The details in Henderson’s work–Doreen’s acorn earrings, Kraven’s ridiculously voluminous lion mane collar–work in tandem with North’s words to bring this issue to life, and to firmly establish character and place. Rico Renzi’s colors are vital to the success of this book, and every unusual color pop that highlights Squirrel Girl’s fighting style is another detail molding the aesthetic of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.
This first issue has established that this series won’t be a typical “superhero struggles with maintaining a secret identity while pursuing a normal life” plotline that has played out so often in comic books. I’m seriously looking forward to how our protagonist handles being both a superhero and a new college student (majoring in computer science), and following along as Doreen figures out what being a superhero means to her. If anyone can handle refreshing this old premise, it’s the combined forces of North, Henderson, and Renzi.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Kathryn Immonen
Art by Rich Ellis
Colored by Jordan Boyd
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
“Don’t you dare tell me what’s good for me.”
With the debut of the Agent Carter television show, Marvel has put out an excellent comic for people who enjoyed the show to pick up to read the further adventures of Peggy Carter. Set in the early ’50s, Peggy has clearly grown bored with her post-war duties. After getting a unique invitation to a meeting with Howard Stark, Peggy is asked to join him on a mission to Moscow. Seeing a cure for her current boredom, Peggy agrees, but finds her own way there. Saddled with a Soviet government interpreter/handler, Peggy soon meets up with Howard and his contact in Moscow. They’re meeting to trade some alien technology he’s found. Howard, being a Stark, immediately starts tinkering with it and activates some kind of beacon, bringing all hell down upon them.
This is a really excellent comic, and is the kind of thing that I’m surprised Marvel hasn’t done more often in tying together their movie and comic properties. Rich Ellis’s art is really great for this book, straightforward but very expressive. I don’t want to call the art “simple,” because that expresses that it isn’t lush or detailed, which it is, but I guess it feels more like it’s just not f—ing around. The only bad thing about this comic is its title. I only read two issues (I think) of the Original Sin event from last summer, but I have no idea how anything here ties into that, which is a good thing. Along with that, there’s nothing on the trade dress that would inform someone browsing the shelves that this comic is a perfect complement to the television show. I give Marvel a lot of credit for getting this comic on the stands the same week as the show debuted, but it seems like they wanted to add an additional degree of difficulty for potential readers to find it.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils) and Cam Smith (inks)
Colored by Justin Ponsor
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
“Holy #@$*! He just killed the Captain Universe guy! We are so screwed!”
Alright folks, this is the big one. The issue of “Spider-Verse” everyone was waiting for. Spoilers follow, so if you’re gonna read this issue, do it now and come back. I’ll wait.
How cool was this issue, though? Japanese Spider-Man! WITH HIS GIANT MECHA!! It’s a trump card I’ve seen several people wonder about on Twitter, and it was great to see it finally show up (albeit mostly as a sacrificial lamb). Overall, this issue was still a little hampered by the need to summarize and tie into the various miniseries and one-shots going on, which has tended to slow the pacing to a crawl. I’ll be interested to see how that changes at the tail end of the event, once all the tie-ins are finished. As it is, what this issue lacked in plot it more than made up for in the kind of fun, clever cameos and gags that make “Spider-Verse” a solid read. Beyond Japanese Spider-Man, we had Mangaverse, a Japanese gag comic Spidey in black and white, a talking Spider-Mobile a la Speed Buggy, a cowboy Spider-Man with a Spider-Horse, SP//dr, and my favorite oddball, a Lizard Spider-Man in a Fantastic Five outfit.
All in all, this was a lighter issue, although some threads, like the prophecies driving the Inheritors’ actions, are beginning to be expanded. The Uncle Ben reveal at the end was interesting, although I’ve figured something like that was coming for a while. The absence of any incarnation of Norman Osborn is surprising, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he or a version of him ends up playing a role (otherwise I’ll be pissed that we didn’t see any Norman Osborn Spider-Mans). That’s it for this week, unless you’re following Spider-Man 2099, where the heroes appear to be conducting an autopsy on an Inheritor corpse. Not my bag, but if you wanna check it out, God bless you.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Roland Boschi
Lettered by VC’s Travis Lanham
“Can I interest you in a chakra massage?”
It seems unbelievable that it’s taken 23 issues for the groundbreaking all-female team in X-Men to finally have a female writer, but G. Willow Wilson (fresh from the success of Ms. Marvel) is here. Her X-Men arc begins with Gambit offering chakra massages at the Burning Ma—er, Burning Tree festival in Utah, where a powerful, unnatural, maybe even sentient storm attacks. Gambit calls the X-Men for help, but soon Storm is knocked underground by the rampaging weather. She must not only confront her overwhelming claustrophobia, but also her lingering grief for her deceased lover, Logan.
X-Men #23 is a promising beginning for Wilson. The comic feels tonally in-sync with what’s come before, and has few major shakeups (unless you count what’s happening with Krakoa), so if you’ve enjoyed the previous X-Men arcs, you’ll probably enjoy this one too. There are a few characterization hiccups, like Storm describing Rachel Grey as someone who wants to “talk about” problems rather than act. That seems way off base for this avowed Rachel fan, but then, the Storm/Rachel rivalry established by Brian Wood several issues ago never made sense to me. This is really an issue about Storm (and with a premise like “Storm vs. storm,” how can it not be?) so it feels a bit early to talk about Wilson’s handling of the X-Men’s team dynamic, but it looks like we’re in for some intriguing, character-driven material.
I wish I could be more positive about the art, but I found Roland Boschi’s blocky, angular style generally unappealing. Maybe I’m cynical about opening the issue with hot babes in bikini tops and fringed thongs, or the fact that Jubilee’s baby Shogo does not look like an actual baby, but I was left wanting. It’s too dry, too unspectacular. On a positive note, Boschi did give Gambit a wonderfully sleazy card-themed pants and sweatband outfit, and sleazy Gambit is my favorite Gambit. So bravo there.
G. Willow Wilson’s first X-Men issue is a nice new beginning for Storm’s X-Men team. It doesn’t fly above and beyond the 22 issues that came before it, and I wish it came with more dazzling art, but hopefully clearer skies are ahead.
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!