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.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Kevin McCarthy
Art and Letters by Kyle Baker with Mindy Steffen
“Nowadays all PDAs are made with PDAs, but still no love for robots.”
Image’s newest creator-owned miniseries blends old timey illustrations with Japanese futurism to create one of the cuter robot uprisings you’ll ever see in a comic. Kevin McCarthy’s story is a familiar one: humans build robots to fight their wars until robots start to wonder why they are treated as second-class citizens. Japan is the only country who does not get rid of their robots at the end of this particular war, meaning all the “refugee” bots end up on one island, which only magnifies the problem. The kindly engineer who invented some (or all?) of the mechanical fighters builds one final creation who can pass as human to act as a kind of ambassador/soldier to end it all, but the outcome may not be a win for mankind.
This first issue is a mishmash of story ideas and art styles that never really seem to find cohesion. I got a grasp on the general plot but was distracted by some of the odder details that lacked explanation, such as why the robots are responsible for erasing the culture of Japan or why they speak like Marvel’s Thor. McCarthy takes the time about midway through the issue to expand on the robot war backstory but doesn’t give the same detail to his heroine, whose day-to-day life is still very unclear.
Likewise, Kyle Baker’s art style is messy without ever feeling intentional. Taking inspiration from vintage animation for his characters was an interesting choice, but in the last pages it almost starts to feel like distasteful caricatures. His color palette, however, definitely fits the bill of a kind of cute, cyberpunk Tokyo.
Despite the missteps, there are a few great concepts here. The idea of the main robot heroine (who seems to have a half dozen names) “passing” as human while the rest of her kind suffers unjust treatment is ripe with social metaphors to explore in this universe, especially since “coming out” may have cost her a friendship. With four remaining issues, there’s definitely room for this story to evolve into something stronger, but I don’t exactly feel inspired to read them after this first installment.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Chuck Wendig
Art by Nik Virella and Romulo Fajardo, Jr. (colors)
Letters by Joe Caramagna
“Are you going to hurt them?” “No. I’m going to teach them.”
I loooove Hyperion. Marvel’s oldest, best-known Superman pastiche is an interesting tool that writers have used over the years to tell various twists on the core concept. Judd Winick wrote a corrupted, power-mad version in Exlies. J. Michael Straczynski looked at a Hyperion raised by the military without empathy or love in Supreme Power. Jonathan Hickman told classic Superman-style stories with the character in Avengers, at a time when DC was caught up in hard to follow editorial mandates. He’s harder-edged than the Man of Steel, but malleable enough that you can do a lot with him.
Which leaves this issue slightly underwhelming, as he doesn’t do much at all. The issue focuses a lot on viewpoint character Doll, who’s seeking out Hyperion’s help as she evades a family of villainous, superpowered carnies. I’m already sold on a spooky clown described as being “full of bees,” but Hyperion himself isn’t given a ton to do. He’s in his secret identity as a long-haul trucker that he picked up in James Robinson’s Squadron Supreme, and there’s some initial tension on whether or not he’s actually who Doll believes him to be. The art is great, and there’s a couple cool Superman homage panels, but all in all it’s a lot of talking and alluding to things without a ton going on. Hickman and Nick Spencer told some great done-in-one Hyperion stories in the last year, and this isn’t on that level.
Still, Wendig has a good grasp of this incarnation of Hyperion, as he’s essentially a straight Superman expy. Gone is the brutality of Robinson’s Squadron Supreme, as he emphasizes his “no guns, no killing” policy. And Wendig and Virella are a dynamic enough team that I’m willing to wait a minute for a slower burn. Maybe it’s just my fannishness, but I’m sold thus far.
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!