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.
Joe Stando is reading…
Marvel Tsum Tsum #1
Written by Jacob Chabot
Art by David Baldeon (pencils), Terry Pallott (inks) and Jim Campbell (colors)
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“I… I don’t know what to say. My mind has died and gone to heaven. Rest in peace, mind.”
This is the cutest book in the world.
“Small round figurines shaped like Marvel characters, hanging out in the Marvel Universe” is a pretty hard sell, even in the age of Contest of Champions. But damned if the team on this tie-in didn’t knock it out of the park, delivering a funny, charming series that’s both accessible and referential.
The key here is the art. Tsum Tsums are a strange concept, and their look (akin to humanoid grubs) can easily become uncanny if not handled well. Baldeon and Pallott render them with just the right balance of cuteness and alien aesthetics, something fundamentally odd even in a superhero universe but appealing nonetheless. The charismatic batch of kids who get wrapped up in their hijinks are gorgeously designed as well, and Campbell’s vibrant palette lends a vivid splash of color and energy.
Baldeon also deserves a nod for coming up with a seamless premise for integrating the creatures into the universe. An errant shipment of alien creatures diverted by the Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel Tsum Tsums are blank slate alien creatures who take on attributes of those around them. Exposure to a battle between the Avengers and Ultron causes superpowers to spread like a virus through the batch, imbuing them with great power and a great responsibility for their human caretakers, a likeable gang of superhero fans.
I picked this book up mostly on a lark because I liked the Chris Samnee cover. It’s instantly one of my new favorites. Skip Civil War II, buy this event instead.
Andrew Niemann is reading…
Moon Knight #5
Written by Jeff Lemire
Art by Greg Smallwood, Wilfredo Torres, Francesco Francavilla, and James Stokoe
Colored by Jordie Bellaire, Michael Garland, Francesco Francavilla, and James Stokoe
Lettered by Cory Petit
“You know who I am. You’ve always known.”
Jeff Lemire’s Moon Knight has the unfortunate position of standing in the shadow of Warren Ellis’ previous run. Lemire’s set-up—in which Marc Spector is committed to an insane asylum—is interesting in scope, but overall doesn’t quite work. The fifth issue closes this first arc but ultimately raises a lot more questions than it actually answers. What I like about this issue, however, is its gimmick of having multiple artists draw the different lives/worlds that Spector is transported to in his mind. My particular favorite is the 70s Marvel noir section of the book, where characters are displayed only in shades of neon blue, magenta, orange, and yellow. I would probably read an entire Moon Knight book in that particular style.
There’s also an interesting section where Spector is an astronaut on the moon being chased from what appear to be…werewolves, I think? Any of these sections could be a pitch for a really good Moon Knight book and I think all of them are more exciting than the current main story, sadly. The reveal of just who’s been antagonizing Spector (because obviously he’s not ACTUALLY losing it) is a bit too predictable if you’ve read the Ellis run, and I would have preferred a different villain instead of relying on old standards. The conclusion gives me hope that Lemire is taking this book to newer territory and will continue looking into Spector’s twisted psychology.
David Lebovitz is reading…
Kill or Be Killed #1
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser
“And let’s face it…I’ve become pretty good at this. Killing people.”
Ed Brubaker, I will always love you, but not only are you repeating yourself, you may be regressing. Kill or Be Killed is the newest work by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser. The central conceit of the story is that a man must kill someone every month to stay alive after a demon stopped him from dying during a suicide attempt. Stop me if you’ve heard this one—guy’s who is a wimp and a bit of a jerk has bad things happen to him and feels sad about it.
The comic opens with Dylan, the protagonist, explaining how he got where he is by unleashing his thoughts on how the world is a terrible place, how anyone who watches the news should know this, and how we have no right to judge his actions. It’d be novel if I hadn’t read it all before on Facebook from all the jackasses I went to high school with. It’s not novel, it’s not interesting.
Several times, Brubaker finds himself on the verge of some novel territory before steering off into Cliche Valley. A prime example: Dylan developed a lot of resentment towards his roommate Mason when he started dating Dylan’s best friend, Kira. He specifically resents Mason because Kira comes over to their apartment to spend time with Mason, not him. A solid idea—he resents his roommate because he stole his female best friend, who happens to be a woman. We’re not expecting a treatise on platonic friendship, but it’s something…at least until the next page where they reveal Dylan and Kira are having an affair behind Mason’s back. Way to tank an interesting dynamic by shackling it to an unnecessary low grade noir trope. Why can’t we have nice things?
It’s not all a loss. The art is pretty, detailed, layered, and it must have been a lot of work putting all the snow there. The coloring is dark but always clear. The lettering is crisp. But the story just feels bad. About a decade back, Brubaker had one of the strongest runs on Daredevil in recent memory, but it feels like he learned all the wrong lessons working on it. Maybe Kill or Be Killed will blossom into something special. It probably won’t.
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!