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.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrian Alphona
Colors by Ian Herring
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna
“And that’s how I ended up running across the rooftops of Westside Avenue…with Captain freaking Marvel as my wingman.”
What would you do on the last night on Earth? Would you party, panic, or race to be with your loved ones? Would you try to save the world? The end of the Marvel Universe is nigh, but in Ms. Marvel #17 Kamala Khan can at least cross one thing off her bucket list—teaming up with her hero and namesake, Carol Danvers, a.k.a. Captain Marvel. Kamala enlists Carol’s help in finding her kidnapped brother, Aamir, but even if she can save him, she’s quickly learning that she can’t save everyone…
Ms. Marvel successfully juggles a strange mix of tones; the comic is vibrant and tense, exuberant but ominous. Kamala’s joy at meeting her hero is infectious (“Everything sucks except for you!”) and it’s hard not to smile when Carol gives Kamala a much-needed pep talk, or when the two women named “Marvel” race across the skyline to save Aamir. But the incursion event hangs over the issue like an apocalyptic storm cloud. Even though Kamala is trying to be the best superhero she can, the world really is ending—as the panicking citizens already dressed like Lord Humongous from The Road Warrior can attest. Wilson’s Kamala Khan is such a big-hearted, idealistic character that it’s painful to see her shaken in the face of Armageddon.
Adrian Alphona’s art delivers apocalyptic mayhem. Read this issue closely, lest you miss details like the people on the rooftop with “HLEP” painted on their chests, or the bystander inexplicably carrying a pig under his arm. Kamala’s elastic expressions and stylized body language are also incredibly charming, and Alphona’s take on Captain Marvel is a striking, epically powerful figure. No wonder Carol Danvers is Kamala’s favorite superhero. Ms. Marvel #17 is a surprisingly heavy issue, with at least one scene that hit me like a swift kick in the stomach, but Kamala Khan’s “Last Days” are touchingly heroic.
Adam Pelta-Pauls is reading…
Written by Tom King
Art by Barnaby Bagenda
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Lettered by Pat Brosseau
“Wonderful people, these Omega Men.”
The Omega Men are basically DC’s Guardians of the Galaxy, or at least they occupy a very similar spot in the DCU: They’re space adventurers, gallivanting around the Vega System (which Green Lanterns aren’t allowed to patrol) fighting the evil Citadel and helping people in need here and there. The lineup is usually Tigorr, a tiger-man, Broot, an exiled Changralyn, Doc, a robot doctor, and some combination of other members (seriously, the list is long). I first came across them when they helped Adam Strange find the planet Rann during his Planet Heist arc, but they’ve had a hand in most if not all major events in the DC Universe since the eighties.
Tom King’s Omega Men aren’t at all what you’d expect. Gone are the heavier Kirby influences, the eighties styling, and the jokey banter. These guys are outlaws, in the modern sense. What does that mean? Well, they seemingly slit long-time Green Lantern Kyle Rayner’s throat on live television. And that was how this series started.
But first, the art. The covers are actually what made me pick up this series in the first place. Trevor Hutchinson’s covers are framed as Citadel propaganda posters, defaced with the title of the book. The slogans on the posters are like canted versions of the events in each issue. This one says “Save the princess,” and far be it from me to spoil what that half-truth means.
Good as the covers are, though, the real star is interior artist Barnaby Bagenda. His art is unlike anything else happening in DC’s offerings right now. There’s a beautiful flow of action from panel to panel, and the fights are choreographed to maximize that. His art is complemented by colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr.’s work, which adds layers of life to it. This issue features an eighteen-panel fight scene that spans two pages and is one of the most gorgeous and minimal things I’ve seen in comics this year.
Seriously, this series is like the best summer blockbuster we’re not seeing in theaters. Writer Tom King has clearly put all his experience as a CIA counterterrorism operative (yes, really) into this book, and it shows. He’s pushing the “one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter” envelope as far as it will go, and the result is some truly chilling stuff. More than that, though, King is also drawing on the vast backlog of Omega Men and DC history for this series. Longtime Omega Men readers might recognize this issue’s twist far before it happens, but that doesn’t take away from its power at all.
This is a brave and different series. From the first pages to the William James quotes that end every issue, Omega Men doesn’t take prisoners. It’s shocking and thrilling, and you don’t know who to trust, or who the real “good guys” are from page to page. But isn’t that just real life?
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Christos Gage
Art by Paco Diaz
Colored by Frank D’Armata
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“Once I had two fists that could become like unto a thing of iron. NOW I HAVE SIX!”
Spider-Island is almost a misnomer for this weird, fun Secret Wars tie-in. Sure, it uses that event as a jumping off point, setting the story in a dystopian zone ruled by the Queen and her horde of mutated spider-people. But as the end of the first issue revealed, it’s more like a monster squad book, with Agent Venom leading a cadre of superheroes who have been DOUBLE-mutated to free them from the Queen’s control. We’ve got a vampiric Captain Marvel, a Lizard Hulk, and the return of Capwolf, for starters. It’s all very silly and very fun, which is a nice change of pace from the other, somewhat dour Spider-based tie-ins. Diaz’s art runs the gamut from funny and cool (Iron Goblin, Lizard Hulk) to pretty gross (the arachnid faces of the Queen’s horde) without ever missing a beat, and the whole story feels like a fun way for the talent involved to flex their muscles.
I’m a little less wild about the MC2 Spider-Girl backup story, by Tom DeFalco, Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema. While on the one hand, it’s nice to see some follow-up for Mayday Parker after Spider-Verse, this doesn’t exactly feel like the proper time or place for it. See, Marvel generally treats “stories” and “universes” as being interchangeable, and having an alternate future story that’s more an epilogue to a previous event than connected to the current one is a bad choice. This back-up’s presence draws attention to how kayfabe the whole “all the universes died” element of the Secret Wars premise is, and it’s not really strong enough on its own to be worth that. The Spider-Girl book has always strived to emulate the early nineties comics from which it was spun off, and while it does a good job, that also feels out of place.
But when you’ve got a main story as strong as this one, splitting hairs over a backup feels petty. Spider-Island is a fun, offbeat book that I’m having a great time with.