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.
David Uzumeri is reading…
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Ramón Pérez
Colored by Ian Herring and Ramón Pérez
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
“No time for aiming, Kate. Only time for running!”
With the last issue of Matt Fraction, David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth’s run on Hawkeye—#22—still coming, it’s less weird plunging headlong into the “All-New” Hawkeye than you’d expect, which goes a long way towards illustrating just how divergent from the previous volume it is.
The Fraction/Aja/Wu/Pulido/Francavilla/Hollingsworth/Bellaire/& Co. Hawkeye was a completely different beast from the rest of the Marvel line, a street-level title that, for much of its run, managed to be actually street-level, with a version of the character so utterly unique to Matt Fraction’s vision that the most common complaint about the series was that, while great, it basically starred a different dude with the same powerset and backstory as the Hawkeye who’d populated the Marvel Universe up to that point. Of course, the book’s runaway popularity basically led to that version of Clint Barton taking the place of his previously extant doppelganger. Now Hawkeye is the Marvel Universe’s resident good-hearted slacker fuck-up, and this is the version of the character Lemire, Pérez, and Herring have inherited.
This long lead-in is to illustrate just how weird their twist on the character is, basically taking this iteration of the character built for comics about tracksuit bros, Bed-Stuy apartment buildings, and not being able to keep your dick in your pants and sticking him in a standard superhero story. It’s Clint and Kate (Bishop, also Hawkeye, don’t call her a sidekick), with their ball-busting back-and-forth routine from the previous volume intact, in a S.H.I.E.L.D./Hydra adventure intercut with childhood flashbacks that mirror (literally) the running-and-shooting action. The flashback art is watercolored and absolutely gorgeous, and the present-day art perfectly pleasant (and gorgeously colored), but it ultimately lacks the out-the-gate holy-shit I-haven’t-read-something-like-this vibe which practically bled from the page back in mid-2011 with the last #1.
It’s one issue in. It’s a really good, beautifully drawn, bespoke superhero comic. It just doesn’t feel as thoroughly owned by the creative team…yet.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson (inks)
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“What is my alternative? To collapse in grief, as everyone seems to wish? To keep my head down and hide? To rule over nothing? I reject that.”
Princess Leia #1 picks up with the final scene of A New Hope, right after Leia awards medals to Luke and Han (but NOT Chewie or Wedge—screw those guys). After the celebratory applause dies down, Leia honors a planet-sized population of people who were murdered by the Empire with…a brief moment of silence. This leads to a lot of people around Leia being upset with her, especially when she begins asking them to tell her what to do. Leaders want her to lay low, the Rebels want her to visibly mourn, Luke seems to want her to ask him for comfort (awkward), but Leia just wants a purpose. When no one assigns her an actual task besides crying or hiding, a new ally helps her stumble upon a worthy mission, however the details leading up to it are…frustrating.
Everything just feels a little off about this book. The writing and dialogue don’t seem like products of either Star Wars or Mark Waid, instead coming off a bit stiff and unclever, and this carries over into the familiar characters. Leia was very recently tortured by the Empire and made to watch her planet be destroyed, but was still fierce enough to throw shade on Han and Luke’s mess of a rescue and complete her mission of delivering intel to the Rebellion. This makes it difficult to accept that she wouldn’t hit the ground running, and the reader never really gets to see what Leia herself is feeling to explain otherwise.
Leia’s motivations become even more muddled when confronted by newcomer Evaan, an Alderaanian rebel pilot and self-proclaimed royalist. Evaan does not like Leia because Leia doesn’t act like a princess, meaning she allows people to be candid with her and doesn’t emote sadness about her parents dying. Evaan has great potential, and this universe could definitely use more leading ladies, but putting her on a high horse so she can tell Leia to “act more royal” has thus far made her only a weak foil.
The artwork for Leia is probably the prettiest and most stylized of Marvel’s current Star Wars titles. It’s most successful on the first few pages with Han, Luke, and Leia recognizable as the actors who played them but still dolled up with the Dodsons’ flair. Later, however, faces come off as nonspecific, especially when Evaan and Leia are together in one frame. As far as character design is concerned, I’m loving Leia’s getup: a jumpsuit in her signature color paired with a vest, boots and gloves and topped with a messy hair style that nods at her iconic buns. It’s modern, but very reminiscent of her film fashion.
Leia is a beloved character who deserves her own story, and I’m glad that this new expanded universe is putting more focus on her. This could potentially be a great comic that just had a rough start and I can’t imagine (and don’t envy) the immense pressure this creative team must have felt to hit a home run on the first issue.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Frank Barbiere
Art by Marco Checchetto
Colored by Andres Mossa
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“Long live the A.I.M. Empire.”
Let’s get this out of the way first: I love the current run on Avengers. I love the meta-series Hickman has been building, alongside a wealth of talented writers and artists. I’ve particularly loved the “Time Runs Out” arc, which flashes forward eight months to a civil war between the Illuminati and S.H.I.E.L.D. that’s roughly a dozen times better than the “Civil War” event from almost a decade ago. So when I saw that Avengers World was filling in the gaps from the time-skip, I was skeptical. I didn’t think we needed to see what happened in those eight months, especially since so much had already been revealed.
But after reading the last two issues, I think it was a good call. Last week’s issue was a Cannonball/Smasher rom-com that was extremely my jam, and this week builds a little more of an arc. It’s a wise choice to focus on Sunspot, Smasher, and the other newer additions to the roster, because despite the deep bench, the main Avengers books have still mostly focused on Iron Man and Captain America. Catching up with the second string is a solid area that hasn’t been hugely explored in “Time Runs Out,” and it’s paying off. Similarly, It’s nice to see the Cabal, who were introduced as a team just prior to the arc and haven’t been spotlighted quite enough. It’s sort of odd that, despite being fundamentally about the multiverse, Avengers and New Avengers haven’t delved very deeply into the sort of crazy alternate universes we saw in, say, “Spider-Verse.” The opening bit with “Castle Fantastic” and the techno-armor designs (beautifully realized by Checchetto) is a nice reminder of the specific nature of the playing field the Incursions are occurring on.
I’d say the only complaint here is that we necessarily have a pretty clear idea of how these characters end up in the present, so it kills some of the dramatic tension. Still, it’s never a bad thing to inject some color and character-focused bits into the intricate clockwork of the Avengers meta-series, and this arc is doing a great job with those threads before the big finale.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading….
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Fiona Staples
“In another life…I think you and I could have been very good friends.”
For certain generations of sci-fi fans, the word “rebel” conjures up images of colorful and heroic rogues like Han Solo and Princess Leia. (Wouldn’t be funny if a comic about Princess Leia also came out this week? *sparkle wink*.) Without Star Wars, we’d probably never have Saga, so when issue #26 introduces us to a mysterious captain and his rebellion dedicated to ending the ugly, pointless war between Landfall and Wreath, they’ve got to be heroes, right? If you’ve been paying attention at all over the last 25 issues, you know the answer to that—Saga is a demonstrably anti-war book, and no one who enters the fray leaves without blood on their hands. Not even the characters we know and love.
Brian K. Vaughan’s writing remains sharp and devastating, and he doesn’t let the wild sci-fi setting keep him from digging into heavy topics like PTSD and drug use among veterans. But at times his writing gets repetitive—Prince Robot IV’s sexual nightmare about his late wife feels very similar to a previous dream sequence about The Will and The Stalk. I’m kind of concerned about Saga, which is otherwise fantastic with its female characters, dipping into the “sexy dead girlfriend” well again. Besides being repetitive from a storytelling perspective, there’s a long, unpleasant history of comics using murdered female love interests as a source of pathos for male characters. It’s also a sharp contrast to, say, Klara, who’s lost men that she loved but hasn’t yet dreamt about their sexy corpses.
As always, Saga is a gorgeous book to look at, and Fiona Staples knocks it out of the park with her character designs for alien races and terrifying beasts. It’s not an easy trick to make alien characters with inhuman features seem different and unique, with their own recognizable identities, but Staples succeeds. I hope there’s more to Julep than meets the eye though, because a mesh bikini? On snow-covered planet not!Hoth? Damn, girl. Saga #26 is another intense, thought-provoking issue despite some questionable moments. Until next time, rebel scum.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Art Adams
Colored by Paul Mounts
Lettered by VC’s Cory Petit
“We seem to have lost them.” “You had one job.”
Guardians Team-Up is a great intro to the Marvel comics universe for people who watched the Guardians of the Galaxy movie and are interested to see what’s up. Arriving on Earth for a visit, the Guardians find themselves under attack in the skies over New York City by a mysterious spacecraft. Quickly attracting the notice of the Avengers, both teams find themselves in a pitched battle with a legion of Chitauri warriors led by a familiar villain.
The story is pretty bare in the plot department, but Brian Michael Bendis gives it some fun dialogue to liven it up. Since the Avengers in the current comics are wildly different from the movie team, Bendis wisely pushes Hawkeye to the front. While I’m not the biggest Bendis fan, quippy dialog is one of his strengths and the comic benefits from him doing that and getting out of the way of the art. Speaking of, Art Adams is the real star here. It’s rare for him to do interior art these days, and his work here is very…interesting. Marvel colored the book straight from his pencils, so while characters and elements in the foreground are at his usual level of detail, anything in the background is really undefined. That said it, it’s kind of charming? It reminds me a lot of the effects that Tom Scioli achieves in his Transformers vs. G.I. Joe work, but here it’s by accident. Adams’ work has always been inspired by Jack Kirby and that’s definitely present here, especially in Groot, who looks more like his old-school Marvel monster days than his current look.
This is a fun issue, a great gateway for people who have seen Guardians Of The Galaxy and/or The Avengers and want to take a peek into the world of the comics.
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!