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.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Peter David
Art by Will Sliney
Colored by Antonio Fabela and Andres Mossa
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“The Avengers protect people, we don’t hurt people during battle. No collateral damage.”
Secret Wars 2099 is a cool opportunity to reimagine the 2099 setting, which itself is over twenty years old. This possible future where corporations own the world is sort of depressingly prescient, but also stylistically dated, with a big focus on nineties edginess and ‘tude. Secret Wars 2099 dispenses with that in favor of an Avengers team that explores some cool concepts.
The most compelling part of the book, for me, is the 2099 Captain America, an Alchemax employee who is unaware of her programmed alter ego. Captain America as a soldier is a concept that’s been explored at length by more writers than you can shake a stick at, but the concept of being drafted or used for the role is one that resonates with the reality of military operations in a meaningful way. As Captain America, she’s a heroic, professional Avenger, but in her civilian identity, she’s disgusted by the violence and danger the Avengers represent. It’s an interesting, complex idea. The use of Thor as Doom’s enforcers in Battleworld also frees up a spot for Peter David to tell another Hercules story, which is always a treat. Sliney’s designs are great, balancing between futuristic and accessible in a way that the original 2099 line often missed. Special points to the huge, Cyclopean Iron Man design, which is what sold me on the book.
Like Planet Hulk, this is a book that so far relishes the opportunity to tell a general What If? story without getting bogged down in event stuff. It’s a refreshing look at an aging concept.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by Andrea Sorrentino
Colored by Marcelo Maiolo
Lettered by Cory Petit
“You should let it go. Live out your days.” “Tried that. Didn’t take.”
What’s black and white and red all over? The ultraviolent splash pages of Old Man Logan! Readers don’t have to wonder if or when Wolverine will pop his claws in this new arc, because as satisfying as that much anticipated two-page “snikt” was six years ago, even better is the instant gratification to be had as a geriatric Logan rampages through a sea of detached appendages and bad people wearing the costumes of his dead friends. After losing his family and defeating the Hulk in Miller’s original arc, Logan sets out to make his dire world a little better by eliminating one gang and at time. It’s awful, bloody work, and the art team delivers some incredible panels that occupy pages strategically to bring the point of view up close to the hand to hand and then broadened for the wide shots of the desolate landscape. The limited color palette and the protagonist’s constantly shadowed face gives a rogue samurai feel to the comic as the old man wanders the expanse of a dessert alone. Many pages lack dialogue altogether, and the artwork does a phenomenal job furthering the story.
The storytelling transition from Mark Millar to Brian Michael Bendis is more or less seamless. Bendis takes the time to nod at some of the highlights of the first series (Hammer Falls, the roaming T-Rex, jerks wearing the symbols of deceased Avengers), while at the same time letting the story move on and giving Logan a purpose before he inevitably joins the Secret Wars event. I enjoyed this first issue, especially Logan immediately raging out on some bad guys, but I’m wary of how the story will mesh with Secret Wars. Some of OML’s plotlines feel contradictory when tied to the event’s recurring themes, such as the Thors, but I’m not quick to take issue with it as the story is compelling enough. I would have preferred that this new series take place after that baby hulk came of sidekick age, but Logan, as usual, is going solo, all the way over that wall.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Russ Braun
Colored by Dono Sanchez Almara
Lettered by Rob Steen
“For god’s sake, what’s the matter now?”
Though ostensibly part of Marvel’s Secret Wars event, Where Monsters Dwell thankfully avoids anything that’s going on with the superheroes and centers in on telling one hoot of a throwback adventure tale. World War I flying ace Karl Kaufman finds himself fallen upon hard times, penniless and on the run from both his pregnant girlfriend and a crime boss No-Balls Tong (whose name Karl is responsible for). He gets some luck when a naive young lady hires his airplane. Soon they find themselves lost in a storm and, later, in a lot more trouble than that.
Garth Ennis reviving Marvel’s WWI hero Phantom Eagle is a perfect fit. Ennis’s Kaufman is a much bigger asshole than he has been portrayed previously, but it makes this book a lot more fun. Cheating his way across Asia, Kaufman sees his salvation (read: a lot of money) in the young lady who has landed on his doorstep, but she proves to be a lot more formidable than she seems, which is helpful when they later have to fight off a bunch of dinosaurs.
Russ Braun (who worked with Ennis on The Boys) supplies some great art for this book. Detailed yet reminiscent of Golden Age pulp comics, Braun makes the book seem as much a throwback as the writing. There’s a lot of comedy in this book and Braun’s facial work, especially on Kaufman’s “trust me” grin sell a lot of the jokes in the dialog. The aerial action scene when our heroes are beset by pteradons is smart and kinetic. Plus, he can draw a mean dinosaur.
Garth Ennis’s war books are always a treat, and adding dinosaurs into the mix here makes this comic positively sublime. Full of action, adventure, and humor, Where Monsters Dwell is a great addition to the Marvel Universe.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by Dennis Hopeless
Art by Javier Garron
Colored by Chris Sotomayor
Lettered by VC’s Joe Sabino
“My name is Kurt Wagner. You remind me of my father. Prepare to die.”
Secret Wars seems to have a tie-in ready for every nostalgic X-Men fan. Did you love the 1990s animated series? Here’s X-Men ’92. Missing the doom and gloom of the Age of Apocalypse, or the Rob Liefeld-infused X-Tinction Agenda? Marvel has books for you too. And then there’s Inferno, one of the earliest and oddest X-Men crossover events, which pitted the X-Men not against Sentinels or evil mutants, but rather demons from the hellish dimension of Limbo. I have a lot of affection for the original Inferno story, and I was curious to see how Marvel would approach a return to this world—would the comic be a retread of a classic, or would it use the setting as a framework for a new and original story?
Of those options, Dennis Hopeless and Javier Garron picked Door Number Two, and Inferno #1 is presented basically as an extended What If? issue. In a world where the X-Men and X-Factor failed to save Manhattan from the demonic clutches of Jean Grey’s clone, Madelyne Pryor, Colossus undergoes a yearly mission to try to save his sister Illyana from the evil heart of the city. But Illyana isn’t a princess locked in a tower, waiting for her brother to save her; instead, she’s become the Darkchild, ruler of Inferno. Even after being confronted with his sister’s evil firsthand, Colossus and a special team of X-Men go on one last mission to save her soul from damnation.
Right away, this feels like a different comic than the original Inferno. In the original story, Colossus played a surprisingly small role in his sister’s redemption, and in some ways this book feels like a spiritual sequel to Hopeless’s Cable and X-Force, which also featured Colossus, his lover Domino, and Boom-Boom. Hopeless puts enough snappy banter in the characters’ mouths to keep the story from seeming too dark and ponderous—a wise move for a superhero comic about literal hell on earth. Javier Garron’s artwork is bright and engrossing, and his sequence where Illyana transforms from a passive, doll-like figure into the horrific Darkchild is beautifully, scarily done. What’s fascinating about the Battleworld concept is seeing how artists convey the twisted new domains, and Garron’s art feels like a fully populated dimension of demons and mutants. (My favorite details included a certain character’s wheelchair, and the words “Sayonara, Baby!” inscribed on Domino’s big honking gun.)
But it’s hard not to think a bit more about the original Inferno. What could have easily been another well-worn story about two women corrupted by power they couldn’t control was mitigated by the fact that it was two other women, Jean Grey and Wolfsbane, who tried to save them. Inferno was a huge event, but it was a story driven by women, and centering the new Inferno on Colossus changes that. I wouldn’t want this book to just be a retelling of the original, though, and luckily there are some big changes in Inferno that throws the gates of hell wide open so that anything can happen.
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!