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.
Andrew Niemann is reading…
Written by Francis Manapul
Art By Francis Manapul
Colored by Francis Manapul
Lettered by Steve Wands
“Together they can break down any wall”
DC’s Rebirth is going along pretty swimmingly, establishing a new status quo for its main heroes while also recognizing the legacies of these characters prior to the reboot. Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman really feel like evolutions of the characters we’ve grown up with, and this is particularly evident is Francis Manapul’s Trinity #1.
Serving as a follow-up to the first arcs from Action Comics/Superman, Batman and the current-era story from Wonder Woman, Trinity is a story about family. Clark’s wife, Lois, invites Bruce and Diana over for a nice dinner with friends. Of course, this isn’t exactly the Superman THIS Bruce and Diana especially know and love but one from an older age of comics history. There’s a humorous bit where Superman recalls a Silver Age Batman story where he dresses up in a rainbow bat suit to protect Robin from harm, of which Bruce has no recollection. There’s some heartbreaking dialogue between Diana and Lois where she reaffirms to Lois that HER Clark is long gone, and she accepts that this other Clark will never replace him romantically. This comic is chock full of moments like this, and it’s a much needed story to rebuild three of the most important relationships in the DC universe.
The art by Francis Manapul is absolutely breathtaking. His use of color and shadow can convey everything from warm, friendly atmospheres to anxiety-ridden awkward moments between characters. Trinity #1 is an example of how superhero comics can be engaging with almost no action or violence. It’s an essential start to a beautiful story about friendship. It’s also perfect that Manapul makes Lois the narrator who brings these characters together. She’s the underrated glue of the DC Universe and a much-needed character who’s more than just Superman’s wife. Manapul’s Trinity promises to be a wonderfully artistic outlet for deep explorations of DC’s Big Three characters that will be overshadowed in the spectacle of the other books, and for that I am grateful.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
The Wicked + The Divine: 1831 AD
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Stephanie Hans
Letters by Clayton Cowles
“Look upon my works, Woden! Look upon my works and hope!”
According to the gospel of The Wicked + The Divine, there is no such thing as a happy ending. In the present day, Laura Wilson paid a terrible price for power and fame when her transformation into the goddess Persephone directly led to the death of her family. Two hundred years earlier, in a different pantheon, Claire Claremont’s desire for godhood also came at a high cost, the truth of which is revealed during a fateful stay on Lake Geneva, in a year without summer…
The Wicked + The Divine: 1831 AD is the first in a planned series of one-shots examining past pantheons, and here Kieron Gillen trades pop stars for the Romantic poets of the Nineteenth Century. Lord Byron, Percy Shelley, Mary Shelley, and Mary’s stepsister Claire are re-imagined as Lucifer, The Morrigan, Woden, and Inanna, and the one-shot presents an ominous and distorted view of the famous gathering that inspired one of the greatest horror stories of all time: Frankenstein. Stephanie Hans’s elegant artwork beautifully creates a Gothic atmosphere dripping with sex and dread. You don’t need to be an English major to follow the story, as Gillen plays with dates, facts, and deaths, though fans of the Romantic poets will probably smirk at details like Lucifer’s single cloven hoof or wonder what the atheist Shelley would have thought about being portrayed as a god. (But, lest you think Gillen has completely abandoned pop music, there’s one scene that practically blares Kate Bush from its speakers.)
Centering the one-shot on Byron and the Shelleys was a creative gamble; is it possible, in 2016, to write a Frankenstein story that doesn’t feel like it’s been stitched together from corpses? Even the story about Frankenstein‘s inspiration has been adapted multiple times, from Elsa Lanchester’s plucky Mary in Bride of Frankenstein to director Ken Russell’s brooding Gothic. Yet by focusing on the writers as gods, Gillen and Hans reveal interesting new layers to the characters. Mary, made cold and stoic by the loss of her children, is far more sympathetic than the current-day Woden, while Claire’s poisonous jealousy is a stark contrast to the kind and openhearted Inanna we thought we knew. Questions continue to swirl about the recurrence, but by loosely rooting the story in historical events, the creative team successfully explores the dark passions of the Romantic poets and the forces that drove them to create. The gods may die, but through Frankenstein Mary Shelley achieved immortality.
Patrick Stinson is reading…
Written by Cullen Bunn and John Barber
Art by Fico Ossio
Colored by Sebastian Cheng
Lettered by Tom B. Long
Scarlett: “Robot invaders from space are exactly the sort of thing G.I. Joe was born to fight.”
Mainframe: “This might be a little awkward, Ma’am, but the robots seem to be engaged in humanitarian efforts.”
IDW’s Revolution gets off to a promising but bumpy start here. The premise is that IDW’s VERY long-running Transformers series is part of the same universe as IDW’s previous G.I. Joe series (via blatant retconning) and a couple of new titles based on old Hasbro/Marvel properties like the converting vehicle series MASK and the cult favorite space robot Rom the Space Knight. Being just a Transformers fan myself, I can’t rate the book on faithfulness to the other properties, but despite its ambition it feels like a natural evolution of the years of Transformers continuity before it.
The opening status quo of the book is that an Autobot-Decepticon alliance led by Optimus and newly-repentant Soundwave (who has potential to be the breakout character of the book) has established a colony on Earth to protect it from other Transformers who want Earth’s valuable energy source Ore-13. The president of the U.S. and G.I. Joe have not consented to this and are trying to kick the ‘bots off the planet. But no one has considered that other extraterrestrial critters have plans for Ore-13, nor that some completely different alien robot is ruthlessly hunting them down.
While the delicious potential for ongoing mayhem is clear, this book unfortunately succumbs to a bog-standard Idiot Plot where G.I. Joe leader Scarlett misinterprets everything the Transformers say and do as cartoonish supervillainy. It shows that Revolution has not transcended the ongoing problem of IDW’s Transformers series in that all of the Transformers are far more complex and interesting characters than any of the humans, who are just violent anti-robot reactionaries. It’s a particular shame because John Barber is late of the fantastic Transformers vs. G.I. Joe, which never failed to show the Joes as more naturalistic and human than the Transformers.
Still, this is a beautiful issue with lots of fantastic moments. Ossio and Cheng create a vibrant, detailed world that pulls off both Joe and Transformer in a realistic style, something that hasn’t been done since…EVER. But they also pull off sight gags flawlessly, including a brief duel between Beachhead and Optimus Prime that’s a genuine laugh-out-loud moment. Tonally, artistically, this book is dead on, and I can’t wait for it to spread its wings a little more in future issues.
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!