It’s Wednesday, and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Judge Dredd #1
Written by Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas
Art by Dan McDaid and Ryan Hill (colors)
Lettered by Chris Mowry
I’ll admit I was a little nervous before reading this first issue. Judge Dredd has always been satire, sometimes almost farce, and that’s a lot of why it got away with some of the stuff it did so well. While I enjoyed the film Dredd quite a bit, it didn’t always nail the satire, and with so many stories tilting toward ultraviolence and broad fascism and military states, intentional or not, I wondered how well the book would hold up. What is a Judge Dredd comic going to go after in the year 2015?
Turns out, it goes after me. Me and you and all of our friends online.
Judge Dredd #1 opens with an amnesiac Dredd waking on a lush, seemingly deserted plain. Compared to Mega-City One, it’s almost a paradise, but Dredd immediately seeks to impose the Law. He runs across a gang of orphans, who seek entrance into the legendary Ang Avi, a derelict megastructure in the center of the wild. They face off against robotic Judge-like Gatekeepers, as well as a herd of hysterical, ranting strangers who fling themselves against the gates of Ang Avi.
As the issue unfolds, it becomes crystal clear that the characters are a metaphor for social media, and not a particularly charitable one. Both the orphans and the herd constantly spout opinions, with everything from MRA “nice guy” defenses to statements about the burden of children and how eating them to reduce carbon footprints is a good call. Everyone constantly trumpets themselves as important cultural influencers. Panels are packed with signs and sight gags about echo chambers and being right. And if this is all too subtle, one of the leaders of the herd has a bird head, to clue you in on exactly what social media environment is being targeted. It’s all very broad, very cutting, and pretty funny.
This isn’t to say that divorced of that context, it’s not still a good comic. McDaid’s art is both a lush pleasure to look at and a perfect fit for Dredd. There’s some good action, a solid mystery and setup, and a nice sense of pace. But as Dredd is primarily a satirical character, the embodiment of violent excess and moral absolutism, he needs this hook to work. The team behind Judge Dredd have found a new, interesting angle, and the book is better for it.
(Click thumbnails to enlarge)
Klaus #2 (of 6)
Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Dan Mora
Letters by Ed Dukeshire
I may be one of the few people who bought the first issue of Klaus because of Dan Mora and not Grant Morrison. I fell in love with Mora’s strange and gorgeous illustrations with his work on this year’s run of Hexed, another BOOM! title. He’s really got a knack for creating a beautiful page and then jarring readers with unsettling imagery–like a bouquet of eyeballs. So basically he’s perfect for a Santa Claus tale penned by Grant Morrison, known master of left field comic book stories.
If you’ve been keeping up with the issues thus far, you’ll remember that this is an origin for a young (hot) Mr. Klaus that takes place in a picturesque, Northern European kind of town with pointed wooden roofs blanketed with snow. It’s a place that looks so lovely on the page that I actually want to live there, evil baron and all. Part of the beauty Mora brings to a comic comes from his impeccable choice of color. With Hexed, he utilized the entire spectrum of pink to emphasize the witchiness of the heroine, but with Klaus, greens and reds are incorporated onto every page, which, combined with the snow piling in the corners of each panel, convey a very festive feeling overall.
Of course, not everything about this Santa origin story is merry and bright, but the surprising thing about this comic (for me, at least) is the all-agedness of it. After all, this is a story that emphasizes the evil of denying children imagination and playtime in an extremely literal way. Morrison could have really gone off the rails (and sure, Klaus kind of had a drug trip in the first issue, but it ended with toys!), but instead we get a sensitive, beefcake hero that knocks out the bad guys and then dresses them up like snowmen.
Hopefully the upcoming issues will give us a little more insight into Klaus himself, so far characterized as an all-around Good Guy who also happens to violently murder elk with his best friend, a wolf, but in the meantime I’m really enjoying this legend as it unfolds. Mora’s gorgeous artwork and the mass-appeal of the storytelling could potentially make this Grant Morrison comic book Santa Claus canon.
(Click to enlarge thumbnails)