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.
Max Robinson is reading…
Gotham Academy Annual #1
Written by Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan
Penciled by Adam Archer, Msassyk, Michael Dialynas and Chris Wildgoose
Inked by Sandra Hope, Msassyk, Michael Dialynas and Chris Wildgoose
Colored by Serge LaPointe, Msassyk and Michael Dialynas
Breakdowns by Bob Haynes
Lettered by Steve Wands
DC’s Batman-by-way-of-Tumblr kids in school comic Gotham Academy is an underrated gem of a title, and this annual may be Fletcher and Cloonan’s crowning achievement as the book’s lead creative architects. Simply put, “Broken Hearts” is an oversized comic where A Dracula fights A Radioactive Skeleton and also there’s time travel.
The appeal of Gotham Academy has been the book’s kitchen sink approach to Batman continuity, as anchored by the emotionally grounded adventures of plucky and likable teen protagonists Olive, Maps, Pomeline, and Colton. Here, ostensible main character Olive takes a backseat while the rest of our young heroes investigate a strange illness that’s overtaken the student faculty and staff. While Pomeline and Colton bicker over whether the cause is supernatural or super-scientific in nature, the joke is that it’s, uh, both. Gotham Academy tends to keep appearances from Batman himself somewhat limited, so it’s fun to see Fletcher, Cloonan and a host of guest artists just go wild with a crazy vampire story that is simultaneously involves major plot points from Batman Beyond.
The art team of Archer, Msassyk, Dialynas, and Wildgoose gives the annual the vibe of a jam session between four friends (although little Warren McGinnis’ hair changing color from page to page is my one pointless but infuriating nitpick). The cool effect of this is that the Team Pomeline and Team Colton halves of the story are fairly visually distinct for most of the story, almost like they’re being recounted by different narrators. It’d would’ve been nice if this felt like more of a deliberate stylistic choice rather than a necessity of putting out an oversized Big Two comic, but what can you do? This is still an extremely enjoyable book and a great jumping on point for Gotham Academy.
Suicide Squad Special: War Crimes #1
Written by John Ostrander
Art by Gus Vasquez and Carlos Rodriguez
Colored by Gabe Eltaeb
Lettered by Nate Piekos
“Don’t mind Boomerbutt. He likes to make up words and phrases and pretend they mean something in Australian”
Way before Suicide Squad was more popularly known as a lucrative Warner Brothers boondoggle/vehicle for Cara Delvingne’s hypnotically swaying hips, it was one of DC’s best comics from the 80s. After pronounced absence, original series creator John Ostrander is back to deliver a really fun done-in-one Suicide Squad adventure where our gang of no-goodniks have to go save a thinly veiled Dick Cheney from prosecution in The Hague.
The one-shot itself is a fascinatingly odd mish-mash of Ostrander’s story signatures (a tense, straightforward mission with plenty of bloodshed, Amanda Waller introducing characters with a slideshow, heads exploding) with occasionally jarring current DC aesthetic. It’s not bad necessarily, but it’s somewhat surreal seeing the Jay Hernandez-inspired version of El Diablo call someone “Boomerbutt.”
The art team of Vasquez and Rodriguez offer competent, no-frills pages with plenty of solid action but obviously the real draw of this comic is Ostrander. “War Crimes” is the platonic ideal of a good Suicide Squad story: a very simple story boasting some really fun twists and turns with just an inkling of a political edge. This comic feels like an action movie but more specifically like one of those cheapie Jason Statham flicks made in Romania you’ll stumble across on Netflix and be surprised to discover is really good. That’s not a slam on any of the creative team, it’s just to say that War Crimes is an exquisitely lean and dirty Suicide Squad comic.
Joe Stando is reading…
Future Quest #4
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Doc Shaner, Jeff Randall, Jeff Parker and Hi*Fi (colors)
Lettered by Dave Lamphear
“Yeah, we like to go to places really fast, with a laboratory. That’s the kind of thing we tend to do a lot.”
For my money, Future Quest is the best bargain in comics right now. Every month, Parker, Shaner, and Randall squeeze so many characters and plot threads into a single issue, it’s almost unreal. It’s like a well-done event comic, and this keyhole look into the Hanna-Barbara universe is a wonderful approach.
This month, we’re introduced to Mightor, the superhuman caveman, and he’s presented with the level of sincerity the book gives to all its characters. It’s not that Future Quest isn’t a funny book, or occasionally a very silly one, but there’s a genuineness to Mightor that’s reminiscent of Superman. It’s engaging and refreshing.
This issue also balances its main story and backups well, building out the universe without slowing down the primary conflict. Parker and Randall’s art is a great fit for the classic designs, and the seeds for future stories are planted organically. While I’m excited to see Space Ghost finally burst fully into the scene, I’m more than satisfied with the story 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!