Deadshirt is Reading: Animal Noir and Superman!

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.

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David Lebovitz is reading…

Animal Noir #1

Written by Izar Lunacek and Nejc Juren
Art by Izar Lunacek
Edited by Ted Adams
Assistant Editing by David Mariotte
Book production by Robbie Robbins
Published by Ted Adams
IDW

“Look around: if selling the hunt’s filth, we’re all in it up to our necks.”
“Heh, even giraffes?”
“Even giraffes, Manny… even giraffes”

Animal Noir follows Manny Diamond, a brutally honest and bitter private investigator who is also a giraffe. Manny’s on the hunt for missing tapes containing “hunt porn,” the animal world equivalent of a (possibly staged) snuff film that’s in high demand for predators but a source of shame for those involved. The “noir” aspect, at this time, is minimal, but it certainly has all the trappings of a detective story—antsy police, a scandalous background, and a detective with a hinted dark background. The world contains a hippo mobster, dope-smoking monkeys, and an implied zebra underclass.

I must address the comic description on IDW’s website , where it says “just like the George Orwell classic [Animal Farm], Lunacek and Juren’s animals are an allegory for today’s world.” I see what they’re going for and it’s an easy selling point, but, uh, maybe don’t get so cocky.

Animal Noir has much in common with the underground comix scene, and it’s hard not to draw a line between Lunacek and Juren to R. Crumb and Gilbert Shelton. It’s cute animals who smoke, drink, and partake in any and all sorts of vice. The drawing style is crude but colorful – almost like a children’s book author decided to take out his stress on a pet project.

It’s clear from the get-go that this comic has some deep lore—every species seems to have a role in society, and many of the characters are acquainted in some way, shape, or form. The comic even ends with a Watchmen-esque excerpt from an in-universe newspaper. The problem is that we’re dropped into this universe enough to get a sense of that, but not enough to make our own connections, at least yet. Narration or a character guide in the front would have been helpful.

I’d recommend waiting for a few more issues to come out before committing to this one. It’s a solid concept, but it needs a little more world building before I can recommend making it a regular part of your pull list. I doubt it will live up to Orwell (I still can’t believe they’d START with that comparison) but it could be a fun little addition to your weekly reading.

David Uzumeri is reading…

Superman #18

Written by Peter J. Tomasi and Patrick Gleason
Pencilled by Patrick Gleason
Inked by Mick Gray
Colored by John Kalisz
Lettered by Rob Leigh
DC Comics

“You couldn’t keep us all! Someone got OUT! You hear me?! SOMEONE GOT OUT!”

It’s a rare and welcome rediscovered pleasure in the DC Universe for seeded plot developments to actually come to fruition, never mind in a timely way. Mr. Oz—a.k.a. The Hooded Dude With The Weird Scythe Everyone Thinks is Watchmen’s Ozymandias—and his creepy extradimensional prison take center stage at the beginning of this issue as we finally prime the pump for a series of long-awaited revelations.

Superman has been one of DC’s best titles since the Rebirth launch, and this issue—the first part of a four-part crossover with Action Comics that’s expected to clarify the relationship between the current and New 52 Superman and resolidify the character in the DCU—is no exception, as the beginning of a clear crescendo between the two books’ narratives. With Tomasi and Gleason writing Superman and Jurgens writing Action, this era of the character is the closest it’s felt to a unified whole since, well, the 1990s, and this is exactly the time for a big dumb old-school Superman crossover.

What’s it about, though? Well, the mystery Clark Kent from Action Comics has finally remembered his prime identity and is flipping the fuck out about our Clark, Lois, and their beautiful pure baby boy Jon (about whom I will brook no ill words) not being a creepy asshole like him, so he decides he’s going to fuck up Lois and Clark’s life. Superman gets pissed and presumably cosmic hijinx will ensue, but the best part is the welcome feeling of conclusion: it feels like it’s been so long at DC since we’ve seen a Superman book set up and resolve a mystery in a sane period of time by the same creative team.

And as for the art, well, Gleason’s as excellent as ever—considering he’s the co-writer, one would hope he’s sympatico with the script, and he absolutely is. He’s worked with Gray and Kalisz for a while, all the way back to Batman and Robin if not further, and that makes this issue one of those rare joys: an in-continuity superhero crossover event that still feels indelibly the result of a single creative team. With Jurgens and the always-welcome Doug Mahnke handling the other half of the crossover, this looks like it’ll be an absolute damn blast: a climax that comes at just the right time. If you’re not reading the Superman books and any of this sounds like your thing, you’re missing out.

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!

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