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 Mark Russell
Art by Ben Caldwell (pencils) and Mark Morales with Sean Parsons (inks)
Colored by Jeremy Lawson
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“Ladies and gentlemen, we are still without a president.”
Prez continues to be, if not DC’s most daring new comic, certainly their funniest. Picking up from last issue, Beth “Corndog Girl” Ross has gone from being a joke write-in candidate for President of the United States to a real threat. Since no candidate got enough electoral votes to claim victory, the election moves to Congress, with each state being given one vote. From there we’re privy to the in-house horse trading that goes on while each Senator tries to get the most (and most ridiculous) benefits for their state in return for their vote. It’s a fun juxtaposition with the Senators behaving like stereotypical teenage girls, (“…and then guess what he offered me. NASA! *sigh* I think I’m in love”) while the actual teenage girl protagonist of the book deals with college and her terminally ill father. Beth has a lot on her plate and the last thing she wants to deal with is having to run the country, but she may just be the best person to do it.
The comic is a masterful piece of subtle world-building with most of the information about its near-future setting happening in the background of the art. From a zoo containing people displaced by global warming flooding to the politicians forecasting their returns on the Madden 2036 Electoral Simulator, this book is just rich with tiny details that help inform the story.
Ben Caldwell’s lovely art definitely helps keep this book as light as it is. While it deals with very heavy subjects, he keeps the book moving when the jokes aren’t coming at a machine gun pace. His character designs are varied and unique; there are probably 30 characters who get lines in the issue, and each looks varied and interesting. Plus his designs for the near-future setting of the book are fantastic. The tiny commercial holograms that pop up in the hospital or Carl, the End-Of-Life Bear are just so hilarious to look at and make this book something truly special.
Prez is at its heart a very daring comic, its vision of an America in decline isn’t too far off from what we see on the news today: an older generation that has tuned out concern for the future in order to get what they can for themselves today, with the only hope being the young people who still believe in the possibility of a future brighter than the present.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Sam Humphries
Art by Alti Firmansyah
Color by Jessica Kholinne
Lettered by Joe Sabino
“This song goes out to the best girl in the galaxy. It used to be our song.”
Following Gamora’s heresy last week, Secret Wars continues to poke holes in the religion of Battleworld in this fun but emotionally wrought new title. Kitty Pryde and Gambit the Collector have discovered some anomalies that suggest the gospel of Doom to be less than legitimate. These anomalies are remnants that have no point of origin, that don’t belong (for example: things that might have come on an ark from a completely different reality), and by coincidence, one of those anomalies happens to be the evening’s entertainment. It turns out that the Peter Quill first seen crooning in Blackbolt’s speakeasy in the first issue of Attilan Rising was the real Peter Quill, as in 616-Quill, meaning that this is the first Secret Wars spin-off title that focuses on one of the ark survivors and possibly signaling the beginning of the end for this Marvel event.
In a weird way, this comic feels very Disney-esque, and not just because Star-Lord is singing a song from The Little Mermaid. Alti Firmansyah’s lovely artwork is reminiscent of Disney princess movie-style animation, especially with the wide, expressive eyes and toothy side smiles. And speaking of princesses, Kitty looks positively royal in a low-cut gown glittering with stars, impeccably colored by Jessica Kholinne. I am totally on board with this current aesthetic of draping Marvel superheroines in cloaks and dresses that look like the Milky Way (see also: Black Vortex Gamora and A-Force’s Singularity).
Despite the hilarious premise of Star-Lord singing Disney songs as a way of going undercover, there’s a surprising amount of emotion in this comic. With all the immense happenings in the Secret Wars event, the surviving heroes from the destroyed world haven’t even had time to grieve or reflect on the fact that all of their loved ones are gone. Peter’s inner monologue about Kitty coupled with Firmansyah’s emoting faces and snapshot memories of the couple make this series heavier than I was prepared for. If Peter ends up singing “Once Upon a Dream” to Battleworld’s Kitty (who doesn’t seem to be an ally) while one of them dies or something, it may kill me.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Chris Burnham and Dennis Culver
Art by Ramon Villalobos
Colored by Ian Herring
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“We’re your worst nightmare, Ms. Frost. Five reminders of your former glory.”
In a lot of ways, Secret Wars has been an opportunity for supercharged What If? stories, picking various stories or runs as jumping-off points and going nuts. E is for Extinction is among the best, most crystallized examples of that approach, as a story that draws on all the best parts of the Morrison/Quitely run while still providing a unique voice.
Artistically, there’s nothing else like this book on the market. Villalobos is a great pick as a successor to Morrison collaborators like Quitely and Burnham, and he brings an eye for texture and detail that a group like the X-Men requires. The uniforms have a weight and mass to them, and the Cuckoos’ hair has never looked so good. It’s a story filled with the hallmarks of the original New X-Men run, from secondary mutations to double-crosses to sassy, mean banter, but it breaks away nicely for its own takes on characters like Magneto and Xorn.
I probably sound like a broken record at this point, but the key to Secret Wars, for me, is creators taking pieces of it, from old runs or alternate universes to bits of the premise like Thors, and making something new and clever. E is for Extinction continues in that path this week, and the event is better for it.
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!