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…
Power Man and Iron Fist: Sweet Christmas Annual #1
Written by David F. Walker
Art by Scott Hepburn
Colored by Matt Milla
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Clowes
“I had a stick. It was kind of a toy.”
David Walker and Sanford Greene’s Power Man and Iron Fist title is caught up in the midst of “Harlem Burns” right now, but it’s nice to get this Christmas one-shot from Walker as a nice bonus. “Sweet Christmas” is a fun done-in-one in the spirit of old Marvel Team-Up/Marvel Two-in-One books: The Heroes for Hire team up with Spider-Woman, Damion Hellstrom and A SURPRISE GUEST STAR (it’s Santa) to fight off a global invasion from Krampus and his army of demonic
Scott Hepburn takes over art chores from Greene for this one-shot, and it’s a pretty smooth transition. Hepburn’s style feels a tad less polished than what readers are used to from Greene, but his hyper-exaggerated fight scenes feel really at home in this pretty weird comic. That’s to say nothing of how Iron Fist’s hilariously practical “winter suit” looks here.
There’s a lot to like in Walker’s script — Luke and Jessica Drew real-talking about parenting, the Punisher blowing away demonic imps, even Walker’s strange warrior monk take on St. Nick — that the annual pretty much just skates by on charm alone. The comic’s message is a little corny (WE’RE ALL TOO CAUGHT UP IN OUR SMARTPHONES) but the preachiness of the whole thing feels mostly earned once Santa Claus shows up to drag Krampus back to Hell. After the year this has been, maybe we all need a dopey superhero comic that ends with an affirmation of love and goodwill towards people of all faiths and beliefs.
Andrew Niemann is reading…
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #1
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Jason Fabok
Colored by Alex Sinclair
Lettered by Rob Leigh
“See you in hell, Amanda Waller.”
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad begins with a quote by John Steinbeck that discusses the relationship between fear and power. In a world where superheroes are a major authoritarian presence and where the government monitors another team of supervillains to clean up foreign threats, this quote takes on a whole new level of relevance. Joshua Williamson thankfully wastes no time in setting up hostilities between the two teams in the debut issue of this event.
The comic begins with the current roster of the Suicide Squad (taking out Rick Flag and adding Killer Frost) fighting some occultists who stole a STAR Labs device that causes earthquakes. The interplay between the bad guys in this sequence is fast and funny, and it’s great to see Killer Frost build solid chemistry with the team. The issue also works as a great introduction for someone who isn’t yet familiar with the Squad, explaining how their boss Amanda Waller controls their allegiance by implanting explosives in their neck.
Meanwhile, Batman is informing the Justice League about Waller’s little project to their complete outrage. Unchecked villains working for the government? Absolutely not! The Justice League makes their way to the Squad’s location, where Deadshot, quite humorously, has already easily dispatched the target with a single bullet. There’s a great sequence where Deadshot thinks he’s about to die and says goodbye to a picture of his daughter before leaping into oblivion to his death….before he is saved by Superman at the last minute. Williamson’s writing is especially strong when reading the exchange of insults between teams. I especially like Simon Baz making fun of Captain Boomerang to his complete indignation.
The art by Jason Fabok is super crisp and shiny, particularly when paired with Alex Sinclair’s use of bright colors on the characters. The comic’s most cinematic moments come from the extensive use of splash pages, each one showcasing a large amount of depth and action. There’s a big reveal at the end I won’t spoil that’s incredibly exciting for fans of obscure supervillains from DC’s past. Overall, this event looks to be extremely fun and continues the strength of DC’s current slate of titles.
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!