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.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by John McCrea
Colored by John Kalisz
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
“You know, this is some real ******** right here.”
Along with reinvigorating their line with all kinds of new concepts and retoolings, DC is also returning to the world of one of their best comics of the nineties, Hitman. Section Eight is a superteam full of losers and drunks, they mean well, but their best quality is that they fail in the most hilarious and spectacular fashions. Towards the end of Hitman, most of the team was killed by demons, with their leader, Six Pack, sacrificing himself to end the threat. Now, years later, Six Pack is back and he can’t remember how, but that’s just the alcohol doing its work. He knows a new threat is on the horizon, so he puts out the call to recruit new members—and then Batman shows up across the street.
This book is as refreshing as a shot of cheap whiskey—it’s kinda gross but it does its job very well. I don’t think I’ve laughed this hard at a comic in a long time. While Garth Ennis’s takes on superheroes almost always boils down to parody, nowhere is it more loving than in Hitman and Section Eight. While the team he assembles is equal parts stupid and disgusting, you get the feeling that the creators genuinely like their creations here (except for Bueno Excellente; that guy scares the shit out of everybody). After illustrating nearly every Hitman story, it’s great to see John McCrea back here. While his art has evolved to be a little scratchier than back in the day, he still does wonderful work. His work on the Batman pages is just stunning. He reproduces some of the character’s most famous poses as hilarious parodies of their original context, and it’s just an amazing example of technical skill used to comedic effect.
While never Ennis’s most popular comic, Hitman may very well have been Ennis’s best work at DC Comics, and it’s great to see him and McCrea returning to these characters. Section Eight is completely unlike anything coming from either of the Big Two comics companies right now. Dumb, disgusting, and irredeemably hilarious, this book is going to sit comfortably on the shelf with the rest of Hitman as a worthy successor.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Charles Soule
Art by John Timms (pencils) and Roberto Poggi (inks)
Colored by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“Some say patience is the heart of diplomacy. And maybe so. But I think one hell of a glass of champagne doesn’t hurt.”
I first picked up Attilan Rising mostly out of interest in keeping up with the overall arc of the event, since a line from Doom in Secret Wars #2 seemed like it could be a Black Bolt reference. The first issue was a very pleasant surprise, with everything from a Hulk vs. Hulk fight to an old-school gangster Ghost Rider. The conflict introduced—with Queen Medusa going up against a rebellious, suave, and seemingly-depowered Black Bolt—was intriguing, and I was looking forward to this issue.
This second issue opens with Blackagar giving one of Medusa’s agents a tour of the fancy club he runs, with layered explanations of his philosophies of management and life in general. If any of you are ever wondering the quickest way to my heart in a comic book, it’s by casually dropping back-of-house restaurant talk into it. I’m dead serious when I say I fucking love that shit, as both a fan and a bar employee (I’m the guy who’d be kicking Hulks out at The Quiet Room). Timms’ designs come together with the inks and colors to create another of my favorite comics things: big, vibrant characters who look like really cool action figures. This comic is like candy for me.
Soule is doing a couple very interesting things in this issue, too. First is the use of an alternate Kamala Khan who’s more mature, professional, and lethal. While I don’t think anyone wants this as the direction for mainstream, ongoing Ms. Marvel, it’s exactly the kind of take that punches up alternate realities like this, and I liked it a lot. Another thing I’m enjoying is Attilan Rising sidestepping the provincialism of almost all other Secret Wars books thus far by telling a story that weaves through multiple zones. A crossover/influence on Soule’s other tie-in, Civil War, isn’t out of the question, and while at the end of the day, the main Secret Wars book will probably be mostly self-contained, this book is doing a great job of telling a compelling story on its own.
Written by Felipe Smith
Art by Juan Gideon
Colored by Tamara Bonvillain
Lettered by Cory Pett
“You’re the best, Robbie! You’re my hero!”
Ghost Racers is the kind of comic that Secret Wars was made for. A death race between all the Ghost Riders for the entertainment of the citizens of Battleworld, it’s simple, effective, and above all, cool.
Smith and Gideon have reimagined the characters in ways both measured and clever, as well as straight-up jawdropping. Danny Ketch as a Sons of Anarchy-style biker is a nice touch, as well as Carter Slade’s Ghost Racer form, a zombie cowboy centaur with Gatling guns. Even in this transformed world, Smith holds on to what made the last run on Ghost Rider so compelling: the bond between Robbie Reyes and his brother, Gabe. It’s ironic that an often brutal world created and ruled by Victor Von Doom allows Robbie the means to provide for his brother better than ours did, but it’s heartwarming to see the brothers on top for once.
Obviously, this can’t last, as both Ketch’s warnings of “the curse of the Ghost Rider” and Arcade’s backroom plans threaten Robbie, but the series is so kinetic and explosive, I can’t wait to see what’s next.
Dominic Griffin is reading…
Written by Scott Snyder
Art by Greg Capullo (pencils) and Danny Miki (inks)
Colored by FCO Placencia
Lettered by Steve Wands
“Why don’t you slap an ad on it and call it a day…because none of this is Batman, Geri.”
The danger inherent in milking long-running superhero properties for decades is the ongoing struggle to evolve over time (to attract new readers) while remaining stagnant enough not to disenfranchise the old fanbase. Some changes connect so well with both halves of the audience they stick around as accepted parts of the mythology, while others are clearly meant to be transitional shifts designed to garner interest before waiting to be retconned back to square one. In the tradition of Lady Thor, Black Captain America, and your newfound Buzzcut Superman, Snyder and his team give you…Robot Batman.
Jim Gordon buzzing his hair, getting LASIK surgery, and fighting crime in an Iron Man-esque Batsuit is an inoffensive enough hook for a hype-building, marketing-influenced paradigm change. Reminiscent of the premise of Batman Beyond, but in reverse, it’s a straightforward action story finding contrast from what we typically expect from the Dark Knight. Gordon isn’t a master detective, but he’s gutsy and wizened. He’s no martial arts expert, but he’s a former Marine. Taking a capable, endearing and constant supporting player like Gordon and shoving him out center stage creates enough questions to explore creatively that it’s hard to make complaints about the aesthetics of the suit or the direction of the arc. Hell, Snyder goes out of his way to poke fun at any and every thing you might dislike about the issue (including that Nick Lachey ad), crafting a disarming tone that paves the way for a pretty brisk, entertaining read.
Snyder’s run, the bold departure of “Zero Year” aside, has been built on status quo-shattering reimaginings, from Bruce’s Evil Brother to two very ambitious but ultimately misguided takes on The Joker. Given the history, a well-intentioned jaunt on the wild side that challenges the tiresome brooding of most modern Bat tales should be welcomed with open arms, especially as it gives this title’s consistently exciting art team so much room to stretch their wings. There’s a fucking movie with Bruce Wayne in it next year. It’s not like Robot Batman is going to stick around. We might as well have some fun with this winsomely toyetic diversion while it lasts.
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!