Introducing a new (hopefully) weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff offers brief recommendations for a diverse array of comics, from name-brand cape titles to creator-owned books to web comics.
Max Robinson is reading…
Sex Criminals #1
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Chip Zdarsky
I’ve been looking forward to Sex Criminals for a good few months now and this first issue, part sci-fi mystery/part coming of age character exploration, was really solid. Fraction does an incredible job capturing the confusion and shame that comes with post-adolescent sexual awakening through series lead Suzie and I absolutely loved how Zdarsky portrays the euphoric “Quiet” zone the book’s heroes tap into on-page. There were a few moments of cutesy dialogue that didn’t jibe with me but overall I was left wanting more and I’m excited to see where this goes. Special props to the gorgeous front/back cover design, Image has been really delivering on that across the board. (See also: East of West, Fatale.)
King’s Watch #1
Written by Jeff Parker
Art by Marc Laming
Friend Of Ol’ Deadshirt Jeff Parker pairs up with Marc Laming (Planet of the Apes) for the first issue of Dynamite’s newspaper-adventure-heroes-as-Justice League series King’s Watch. The first issue re-introduces us to modern incarnations of Mandrake The Magician, Flash (AHH-AHHH!) Gordon and The Phantom as their world becomes plagued with foreboding skies and global nightmares. The issue breezes by but we’re given a good bit to chew on; the absolute highlight of the issue is an extended sequence featuring a grizzled older Phantom facing off against a lizard monster in the jungles of Bengalla.
Jen Overstreet is reading…
House of Orr
Written by Richard Zayas, Riley Dutton, and Nolan T. Jones
Art by Victoria Grace Elliot
The latest installment of House of Orr wraps up the first major arc of this anthropomorphic high fantasy romp. The webcomic continues to offer a fresh take on the Guild, putting an emphasis on community and the dynamics of diverse personalities cooperating, rather than individual heroism, and offering missions that are refreshingly esoteric compared to your standard monster-punching affairs. The latest installment introduces the unique political structure of the House of Orr world, and there’s a party! Victoria Grace Elliot’s earthy colors and linework are the perfect complement to the warmth of the storytelling, and the individuality of the characters shines through her work.
Dominic Griffin is reading…
Wolverine & The X-Men #36
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli
I learned how to read from reading X-Men comics and twenty some odd years on, these things still don’t make any fucking sense. Binge reading half an X-crossover is to marathoning Breaking Bad what rectally imbibing moonshine is to eating an entire box of Parmesan Garlic Triscuits. Battle of The Atom, Marvel’s latest excuse for you to buy seven different titles about essentially the same thing, is a kind of parodic, Chinese puzzle box of self referential cape comics, like a Turducken of reliable tropes from the high watermarks of X-Men lore, slow roasted in the sort of self satisfied, George Clooney headbob storytelling Brian Michael Bendis has become so comfortable penning. Explaining the plot would come off like a viral video of Michael Shannon reading Cable’s Wikipedia entry, pretzel logic time travel warts and all.
This issue is the first installment Jason Aaron’s gotten his scripting mitts on, and his infectious joie de vivre is on display, artfully subverting some of the event comic touchstones we’ve all grown tired of, ie, scores of undercooked supporting characters standing around in a line like a filler episode of Dragonball Z, silently waiting for their turn to deliver a vital plot point. Giuseppe Camuncoli, an artist who’s work I usually enjoy, is clearly playing fill-in on this issue, so his lines are more erratic and less sure than some of his stellar Vertigo work. Aaron has long since won me over with his Sauce Boss-y, add-bacon-and-Jack-Daniels approach to making the X-Men actually fun again, so seeing his style shine through this otherwise hilariously ludicrous exercise in confusing new readers was a blast.
Written by Ales Kot
Art by Michael Walsh
I think I might have a favorite new series. After Wild Children, a well-reviewed debut that owed too much to his influences, Change, a dream-like, semi-autobiographical LA buddy movie on barbiturates and a Suicide Squad run that lasted roughly as long as a Rihanna single, hot shit tyro Ales Kot has finally found his calling card. His new spy-fi ongoing from Image is set to follow an exciting, one-and-done approach, each issue telling the tale of a singular mission from the spirited life of it’s titular operative.
This thing moves. Michael Walsh’s clean, deceptively simple layouts call to mind Aja, Lark and Mazzuchelli, each panel a cinematic snapshot, angles carefully chosen to impart the most impact. The tone reminds me of Global Frequency if it had been adapted by Melville. Kot keeps the dialogue curt, like efficient jabs setting the pace for the body blow action moments that explode off the page. It’s a hell of a ride, and as assured and effective a pilot as you’re likely to read this year.
David Lebovitz is reading…
The Lone Ranger #18
Written by Ande Parks
Art by Esteve Polls
I picked this up on something of a whim – largely because I am a second generation Lone Ranger fan – but based on what I see I may stick with this title. In many ways, it follows the age-old Lone Ranger formula but the content is updated. It features rampant political corruption, blood, violence, and themes of loss, remorse, and helplessness. This particular issue is the tail end of a story featuring the Ranger and Tonto in corrupt 1870 Chicago, in which they are decidedly fish out of water and realize it. It’s not a perfect comic – the morals are a bit heavy handed and there is at least one instance of a missing word in a text bubble – but it’s a novel yet loyal take on a classic hero.
We’ll be back next week with a slew of suggestions from across the comics spectrum. In the mean time, what are you reading? Tell us in the comments section.