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…
Justice League of America Killer Frost Rebirth #1
Written by Steve Orlando and Jody Houser
Art by Mirka Andolfo
Colored by Arif Prianto
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
“Are you ready for what comes next?”
Here we go with another batch of Rebirth titles re-introducing fan favorite characters not seen enough or perhaps missing entirely from The New 52 books. We already got a stealth Max Lord Rebirth title a few weeks back, but this next quartet of books written by Steve Orlando (Faith‘s Jody Houser is a co-writer on two of the four) are mostly here to set up the highly anticipated Justice League of America.
My favorite of the bunch is JLA Killer Frost Rebirth, which spins immediately out of the end of Justice League vs. Suicide Squad (which you should read first by the way) and also establishes Caitlin Snow’s character. Killer Frost is a minor Firestorm rogue I’ve come to really love after seeing her used well in animated movies like Assault on Arkham and live action TV shows like CW’s The Flash. Orlando and Houser have a good handle on her moodiness, portraying her as woman forced into supervillainy due to the vampiric nature of her temperature-sapping powers.
In the issue, Frost gets a roommate while in Belle Reve: Heatstroke, who is implied to have a romantic interest in Frost. Both Orlando and Houser are known for writing well-balanced queer characters so it’s intriguing to see exploration of Caitlin’s sexuality. There’s also a pretty goofy mob goon called The Sun who has a tattoo of the sun on his chest and says stuff like “The sun always rises” which I thought was pretty hilarious. The art by Mirka Andolfo is bright and colorful and I particularly love her penciling which has a sketchbook quality style that suits the tone. Pretty much all four of these Rebirth one-shots are winners and I’m immensely looking forward to Orlando’s JLA.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Nico Leon, Dalibor Talajic and Matt Milla (colors)
Lettered by Cory Petit
“It was a good day. It was a good day. Who cares?”
The Hulk has been a metaphor for a lot of things. I wrote last year about how Totally Awesome Hulk looks at the concept as a metaphor for masculinity and machismo. She-Hulk, historically, has been a lighter take on the concept. Jennifer Walters’ alter-ego is framed as a chance to cut loose, a wellspring of confidence and energy. With few exceptions, it’s less a Jekyll and Hyde transformation like her cousin’s and more like a traditional superpower. And it’s great! I love that take on the character.
Tamaki, Leon, Talajic and Milla’s new version is different. It frames the Hulk pretty explicitly as not just rage, but anxiety, depression and PTSD. It’s the opposite of breezy takes in the past, and it’s the most vital book I’ve read in months. This issue follows a day in Jen’s life, as she takes care of business for her law practice. It opens with bright, vivid colors, as Jen takes on catcallers and scummy landlords with aplomb. But a chance encounter with children playing in the park proves triggering, and the palette becomes dark and green. It’s a powerful visual metaphor for how quickly depression and anxiety can take hold, and how powerless you feel under them. A moment a few pages later, when Jen breaks her phone’s screen while trying to bring up a calming cooking video, felt so real that I caught my breath.
The Hulk has been a metaphor for stress before, but almost always in big, explosive ways. Jen doesn’t transform completely at any point in this issue, but the background threat of losing control is incapacitating enough. Afterwards, she’s quiet and embarrassed, as she tries to pull together broken office furniture and return missed calls.This issue is honestly kind of a rough read, but also a really important one. I’m glad that a Big Two comic is telling this kind of story, and the creative team is deftly handling the emotions involved with care and respect. I think this book can help a lot of people. Two issues in, and it’s already helped me.
David Uzumeri is reading…
Justice League vs. Suicide Squad #6
Written by Joshua Williamson
Art by Howard Porter
Colored by Alex Sinclair
Lettered by Rob Leigh
“The Main Man… ain’t really the team type…”
This is a DC Comics Event as they used to be done: bombastic, self-aware, sly, and unapologetically (for better or for worse) for longtime fans. JLvSS serves as the first major event of the Rebirth era of DC Comics, and it’s in the unenviable position of having to appeal to readers brought in with the Rebirth initiative, readers from 2011’s New 52 reboot initiative, and longtime readers of the entire DC Universe—all of whom have completely different preferences and understandings as to the history of the DC Universe. It’s a hard set of shoes to fill, but I can’t particularly imagine a story doing a better job.
This issue serves as the series finale, and—in the function of most events—exists not only to wrap up the narrative of the main series and set the tone for the DC Universe until the next main event. It acquits itself admirably here, reintroducing a number of major post-Crisis concepts—reassuring longtime readers that the DCU meta-narrative hasn’t been forgotten—while also taking advantage of the fact that, in this current version of history, this is the first time the Justice League and Suicide Squad have butted heads.
This last issue features DC stalwart Howard Porter (JLA, The Flash) on art with Alex Sinclair on colors, and it goes a long way towards aesthetically placing the event further in line with DC’s pre-Flashpoint creative lineage than the relatively brief, bizarre diversion afforded by the New 52. It’s like a TV show that fell off for a few seasons having a return to form: it’s welcome, but those seasons still sucked, and while it’s great to see that they finally remember what made the DC Universe so unique and compelling in the first place, it whets the appetite for something grander—which is less of a critique than it sounds, considering the book’s ending seems to aim intent right in that direction. It’s an obvious-in-retrospect but well-executed twist that recontextualizes the whole series and returns a character who’d gotten a bit of a raw deal over the past few years to a large amount of reclaimed glory, and I was smiling pretty hard when I put the book down.
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!