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.
David Uzumeri is reading…
The Black Monday Murders #5
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Art by Tomm Coker
Colored by Michael Garland
Lettered by Rus Wooton
“He was a good man destroyed by an industry of evil.”
After a short hiatus, The Black Monday Murders is back and, frankly, even better and more focused than it was before the break. It’s Hickman at his best: a patina of cynicism covering a core of optimism, driven by a good sense of humor and a strong moral core. It doesn’t hold your hand, and Hickman’s use of interstitial prose here is far more like the newspaper excerpts in a James Ellroy novel than the sometimes-laborious text pieces in Watchmen; they contextualize and complete the comics storytelling they’re interspersed with, rather than serving as per-issue addenda. It’s a strong mix.
What this issue brings that the series didn’t have before, though, is focus. With the primary worldbuilding out of the way in the first arc, Hickman and Coker are finally free to focus on specific characters and subplots. This issue’s focus is on former background character Michael Dane and his disillusionment with being the security guy for really shitty people, and the consequences of this newly developed conscience. This is a very angry book, and when the target of that anger is the international mega-banking industry, it’s real damn hard to punch down, so it’s hard not to get caught up in its righteousness.
Michael Garland’s strong color work does a lot to help this issue’s structure; each scene of sequential art (usually separated by prose document pages) has a distinct color palette, and combined with Coker’s always-excellent acting, linework and graphic design it makes for a visually compelling and unique package. The Black Monday Murders tells a story in an engaging, demanding way that makes you feel like, as a reader, you’re collecting and collating evidence yourself, drawing your own conclusions. It is, as the social media kids would say, Extremely My Shit.
It’s engaging, thoughtful, researched, incredibly competent and, as always, very clever. Very happy to see it back.
David Lebovitz is reading…
Night Owl Society #1
Written by James Venhaus
Art by Pius Bak
Lettering by Marshall Dillon
Edited by Bobby Curnow
Covers by Pius Bak, Valentin Ramon, Joe Eisma, and Tobias Morrrow
“Will you help us?” “What happens if I don’t?” “Nothing. Your life goes on as normal.” “That sounds horrible. Sign me up.”
Night Owl Society follows David (like me!), a student without much recognition at a religious school (nothing like me!) who assembles a team of diverse friends (maybe like me!) to track down a mob boss who has killed his mentor. He assembles a team of students, all of whom are high school stock characters with a distinct twist: a sensitive jock who longs to be a superhero, a computer expert arrogant to the point of deliberate cliche, and a chemistry-loving girl who just doesn’t have time for detention. They plan to hit the mob boss where it hurts – not by jailing him, but by damaging his assets so he has nothing to come back to when he gets out of jail. This is all juxtaposed with the aforementioned mob boss, who seems to run a tight operation, and isn’t necessarily proud of his work but is exceptionally good at it. The humor of the students presents a strong contrast to the mostly serious mob scenes, but somehow there’s never any narrative whiplash.
It’s a dialogue-heavy issue, with only one splash page—which, predictably, is the final page. The rapid pace of the dialogue and the simplicity of the art makes this a quick read. Note that calling the art simplistic isn’t a slag; it’s straightforward and easy to follow, which is pretty refreshing for something so fast-paced. The big reveal at the end is pretty predictable, but it works and will serve the story well going forward.
The biggest knock I have against this issue is that it throws so many characters at the reader at once. It’s an action-heavy first issue, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I can tell you next to nothing about any of the characters except for the aforementioned fact that they are slight variations of common tropes. I suspect this will be alleviated as the series goes on, and it’s certainly got the potential to be a strong addition to IDW’s creator-owned series.
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!