Deadshirt is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff offer brief recommendations for a diverse array of comics, from name-brand cape titles to creator-owned books to webcomics.
Dominic Griffin is reading…
Hey, if you can think up a better logline than “Moneypenny is framed for James Bond’s murder” then, by all means, kudos, because the two gents that gave us “The Death of Captain America” just came out of the gate with one of the best spy comics in a long time. Velvet Templeton is the secretary to the director of ARC-7, a super clandestine espionage agency whose operatives all go by “X-” callsigns. When their best and brightest, X-14, aka, Jefferson Keller, is killed on an op, Velvet takes it upon herself to help find out what really happened, and finds herself on the run.
Brubaker is writing the kind of brutally efficient noir he’s made his name crafting and getting to see longtime Marvel exclusive artist Epting cut loose in this world is truly a blessing. The world of Velvet is like a fully fleshed out extrapolation of the crime fiction they were churning out for Captain America, but with all of the spandex and capes slashed away and burned off like scorched Earth excess fat. What’s left is a trim and smart narrative built around secrets, a spook story turned murder mystery that reminds us not to judge books by their covers and that you never truly know anybody. In Velvet, we find a great female protagonist and the promise of many layers of character complexity, rather than the usual “Girl In Heels Who Kicks Butt, A Lot” trope. This is a great opening salvo for what is sure to be a great series.
Kieron Gillen’s Iron Man run thus far has had its fair share of obstacles: Greg Land, playing second fiddle to Guardians of The Galaxy, uh, Greg Land. Still, the Brit perseveres. After a fun, video game-y arc reintroducing the Extremis problem and an exciting jaunt into the wonderful world of space, Gillen’s “Earth shattering” arc “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark” comes to it’s “startling” conclusion here. It’d probably startle more people and shatter more Earth if, you know, USAToday hadn’t published those Marvel-sanctioned heavy spoilers, but this is still a fine comic book. This story gave us the idea of Tony Stark being genetically messed with in the womb by 451, an alien robot who wanted to breed Tony to pilot a Giant Mech Designed To Fight Eternals. That nugget alone makes it worth your time. Well, that and Dale Eaglesham drawing Howard Stark’s version of Ocean’s 11.
The fact that Gillen’s uses that original swerve of a retcon to misdirect you from this issue’s big twist is very impressive. If you’re not a big fan of revisionist continuity, then your mileage may vary, but for my money, Gillen is doing an amazing job following up Matt Fraction’s run. The art is inconsistent and the book would greatly benefit from having a stable team of artists who were into drawing big, broad science fiction, but even Land avails himself admirably in his issues. The end of this arc sets up some interesting new story threads, so now is as good a time as any to jump on.
Dylan Roth is reading…
Monster Pulse Chapter 11: “Phantom Limbs”
By Magnolia Porter
This week the webcomic Monster Pulse completed its eleventh chapter, which has proven to be the most emotional and character-driven yet. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, Monster Pulse is a play on the “kids with fighting monsters for pets” genre (i.e. Pokémon or Digimon) in which the monsters are actually anthropomorphic organs and body parts removed from peoples’ bodies through mad science. (For more detail, check out this early Deadshirt article about the series, complete with an interview with creator Magnolia Porter.)
This was a cool-down chapter, short on action-adventure elements but big on exploring each character on her/his own. We’ve seen the main characters, all pre-teen schoolkids (well, one of them’s a truant) deal with life-or-death struggles, fighting an evil brain trust together, but now we get to see how these adventures have affected their everyday lives, their previous friendships and relationships, and their personalities. The one hit hardest is lead character Bina, who can’t seem to shake the feeling of dread that’s been building since her heart was transformed into her monster companion “Ayo.”
David Lebovitz is reading…
The best way to describe this issue is “funny with substance.”
The story features Daredevil continuing to track the Sons of the Serpent – a white supremacist group responsible for infiltrating the justice system. This issue sends him on a quest to track down a man familiar with an ancient spellbook that may be connected to their origin.
There’s a lot of humor here, but it moves the plot forward – maybe not as much as it should, but I was too busy smiling just enough to overlook it. Waid and Samnee have a good grasp on Daredevil’s strengths and weaknesses, and they use them for comedic misdirection more than a few times in this story. At one point he walks into his room to a big gaseous cloud – you might initially expect it to be knockout gas of some kind, but it turns out it’s just Foggy eating preservative-heavy junk food. Perhaps my favorite moment in the story is when Dr. Strange sends Daredevil on a quest “to a distant land where old ways are practiced…” which turns out to be a small town in Kentucky. To answer the question you didn’t ask: yes, there is a joke that involves Daredevil mistaking southerners chasing monsters for a racist lynch mob.
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 or on our Facebook Page.