Deadshirt is Reading: Snotgirl, Faith, Contest of Champions, and Casanova!

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.

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Sarah Register is reading…

Snotgirl #1

Written by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Art by Leslie Hung

Color by Mickey Quinn

Letters by Maré Odomo

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“People can change! This selfie proves it!”

My beloved Bryan Lee O’Malley returns to the writer’s side of the sequential arts with another story about a selfish yet fashionable twenty-something, but this time with an especially selfish yet fashionable twenty-something. Lottie is your typical It Girl on the surface—a beautiful, savvy fashion blogger with the squad to match her impeccable style. Underneath, however, she holds a deep dark secret: allergies. Not just your typical allergies, though, but the kind that make all of your facial orifices ooze goo constantly without hardcore medication. Lottie gives all of her acquaintances cutsie, somewhat demeaning nicknames, but if they ever found out about her one fatal flaw, would they dub her…Snotgirl?

It’s difficult to enjoy reading a comic with a protagonist like Lottie—she’s obsessed with herself, is only able to see people through the lense of how they see her, and is frankly a little sociopathic. The reason it’s so difficult to read, though, is because a lot of us can identify with that kind of horribleness in one way or another. Just as with Seconds, O’Malley creates another main character who is inherently selfish, self-absorbed, yet eerily relatable. Of course, the only way to keep readers on the line for such a story is an inevitable twist, and boy howdy do the last few pages deliver a shocker.

Handing over the art reins to Leslie Hung was a great choice for this comic. Hung’s doe-eyed, Lolita-styled girls are perfect for a story about young fashion bloggers, and her slightly more “grown up” way of illustrating bodies fit a little better than O’Malley’s style would for a more murderous ending. To top it off, Mickey Quinn’s color wheel, which avoids harsh primaries altogether, gives the story a bright, modern feel.

Snotgirl is a lighthearted millennial dramedy that takes one hell of a dark turn, and frankly doesn’t quite feel like an O’Malley story until the last few pages when it (finally) gets weird. I’m definitely on board for issue #2, but I also have to wonder of this story wouldn’t translate a little better if read in a single volume. Maybe that just my millennial, media binge-consuming side talking.

Lisa Cohen is reading…

Faith #1

Written by Jody Houser

Art by Pere Pérez, Marguerite Sauvage, and Colleen Doran

Colored by Andrew Dalhouse

Lettered by Dave Sharpe

Valiant

“I have a great costume. They’re crazy.”

It’s easy to understand why Valiant is incredibly eager to push Faith, both as a book and a character. National media attention for the pilot miniseries earlier this year focused on everything she is at first sight: a proudly plus sized superhero who isn’t the butt of fat jokes (which she unfortunately was during the original early 90s Harbinger run.). Add her origin story as a comic-loving geek who got superhero powers of her own and you have a potent recipe for resonating with your base.

Which is why you have to give Jody Houser credit for making her feel even more relatable in Faith #1 and its preceding miniseries. Faith’s been raised on the stories of Uncle Ben talking about power and responsibility, was part of a war with the most powerful psychic in history, and briefly joined Valiant’s own super-team Unity (a series of events beautifully recapped by Colleen Doran’s art) before moving to L.A. with a secret identity and a job at a BuzzFeed analogue. She’s been through a lot, what with her former Renegade friends either dying, going into exile, or never wanting to talk to her again, yet she maintains a winning, positive outlook on life and people and a great eagerness to protect her new home.

Houser does great work contrasting Faith’s fantasies of life as a Hollywood superhero with the reality, but the real work in this issue comes from artist Marguerite Sauvage. The DC Bombshells artist illustrates Faith’s daydreams with a really enjoyably goofy flourish, always drawn perfectly made up whether fighting a Cave Troll or meeting a A-List celeb. Pere Perez, handling her reality, also does a perfectly fine job, even if his art feels a bit too plain compared to the other artists on this book. Houser also deserves credit for portraying Faith as well, incredibly real. She’s geeky to the point of sort of annoyingness (a “the cake is a lie joke” she makes on the first page admittedly almost made me put the book down.), She’s unsure of how to thread the needle between work, super work, and life. Hell, she even has to deal with the tension that comes with her not-quite-boyfriend-yet Obadiah Archer (of Archer and Armstrong, which this week dedicated its fifth issue to their first date).

Faith deserves to be even more than just a symbol of body acceptance in comic books, and Valiant’s own Book Of Death event surmised she would end up being the most beloved superhero in American history come the time of her passing. If Faith keeps up this level of quality through it’s run, there’s a possibility, however minute, of that being true.

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Joe Stando is reading…

Contest of Champions #10

Written by Al Ewing

Art by Rhoald Marcellius and Andrew Crossley (colors)

Lettered by Joe Sabino

Marvel

“How do you think it ended? We had a fight.”

The final issue of Contest of Champions is upon us, and the book dies as it lived: with a bunch of fights and jokes and deep-cut references. CoC was a strange series from the beginning, a video game cross-sell that Ewing and a crew of artists hammered into a zany multiversal brawl. As premises go, it seemed both very limiting and filled with promise.

This finale pits our heroes against two teams of Civil War survivors from another world. It’s an odd note to end on, focusing so much on one-off takes on an old event, but this is an odd book. President Stark’s Avengers clash with Steve Rogers’s Thunderbolts until half the cast is blown up. Marcellius is perfect here, with a cool, chunky aesthetic that feels like an action figure fight. There’s twists, turns, and ultimately the pieces, for the most part, go back in the box.

I’m sad to see this book go because it was full of fun concepts, and three Ewing books a month is an embarrassment of riches. On the other hand, I’m amazed it lasted as long as it did, and I’m sure the surviving characters will show up soon in USAvengers or another Ewing title. It was a fun book that ran its course, and I’m excited for what the talent involved will get up to next.

Adam Pelta-Pauls is reading…

Casanova: Acedia #6

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Fábio Moon

Backup story written by Michael Chabon

Backup story art by Gabriel Bá

Lettered by Dustin K. Harbin

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“Oh, I have…a room of people working on you…”

“A room! Shit, I just have two douchebags in a David Hockney painting.”

When people ask me about my favorite comics, I always talk about Casanova. When they ask me why, though, I can’t always tell them. This book is complicated, and frankly not for everyone. It can be completely impenetrable sometimes, and on the occasions you feel like you’ve finally got a grasp on it, Casanova tends to pull the rug out from under you. But if you stick with it through all that, through the pretzeled, nesting-dolled plot and blizzard of brilliant, Pynchonian names (my girlfriend staunchly refuses to let me name a future pet cat ‘Fabula Berserko’) this becomes one of the most rewarding stories ever to be put to sequential art.

I think the thing I like most about Casanova is that the individual issues always feel like little works of passion on their own. Matt Fraction’s been working with this character for more than ten years now, and each issue is so finely wrought, so layered and carefully choreographed, that they read like filigree on a dagger you’ve just been stabbed with: you want to lean closer and figure out what it is, but you’re too busy trying to comprehend what’s happening to you.

Casanova is best when it takes its super spy roots and re-contextualizes them in terms of comics. Good spy comics leave you doubting who to trust; in a Casanova comic, you can’t even trust your own eyes half the time. The Moon/Bá twins are at their best in this series, and the combination of occult imagery and James Bond action is finger-kissingly great. You really need to see this comic, but I can’t tell you much more than that about it without spoiling something.

With all that said, let me tell you what this issue, specifically, doesn’t give you: answers. We still don’t know why Cass can’t remember anything. We still don’t know why he’s stuck in this version of the universe, or why he’s been tasked with killing its Amiel Boutique. Instead, #6 deepens all these mysteries with quiet, introspective scenes that focus on the isolation of its main character. It’s a low-key issue with some high-octane emotional moments, and the sense of dread that this series has built up only continues to climb here.

If you’re just getting into Casanova now, first of all, where have you been?! Second, Acedia might not be the best place to start. If the rumors are true, this is only the fourth of seven volumes, and it’s only volumes 5-7 that contain the original story idea Matt Fraction pitched. Which means that everything up till this point is crescendo.

If that’s the case, what the hell will the climax look like?

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!

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