Deadshirt Is Reading… is a weekly feature in which Deadshirt’s staff, contributing writers and friends-of-the-site offer their thoughts on a diverse array of comics, from name-brand cape titles to creator-owned books to webcomics.
Max Robinson is reading…
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Javier Pulido (pencils and inks), Muntsa Vicente (colors), VC’s Clayton Cowles (lettering and production) and Kevin Wada (cover art)
“I am neither bad nor good. I am simply Legal.”
She-Hulk is, for my money, the best female character Marvel has; a heroine with a great hook (Lawyer-turned-Avenger has to balance her day job with superheroics) who improves every story she appears in. Her solo outings under John Byrne and, later, Dan Slott are some of the funniest comics Marvel’s ever put out. So while I was anticipating this newest She-Hulk title, I have to say I was impressed by how strong this first issue was.
Writer Charles Soule, who manages an impressive workload of titles for both Marvel and DC, tweaks the usual She-Hulk formula by leaving her broke and aimless following her exit from a shady law firm. Soule, a practicing lawyer in New York City, does a great job of making the legal component of the story feel authentic alongside the more traditionally Marvel continuity porn elements.
Coming off some really remarkable work on Daredevil, Javier Pulido’s art in this issue seriously pops (especially with Vicente’s color choices). This issue by design is light on traditional superhero action and yet every page is a delight. From Pulido’s depiction of an impossibly long hallway in Stark Tower’s legal department to the way he depicts simultaneous foreground and background action in a lawyer bar, this is a great example of the kind of ambitious, non-traditional superhero art Marvel is nourishing in many of their “smaller” titles.
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips (pencils and inks) and Elizabeth Breitweiser (colors)
“He’s nothing! A fucking cripple!”
“Well…aren’t we all?”
The last arc of Brubaker and Phillips’ Fatale begins here and it’s a really good read. My major complaint with Fatale as a whole is that it’s been somewhat directionless. That can’t be said about this issue where everything snaps into focus on the modern day whereabouts of Jo, the cult that pursues her and Nicholas Lash, the man caught between them. This issue feels like the series as a whole in micro; Brubaker splits the POV between Jo and Nicholas and the tragedy of Jo’s centuries-spanning curse (and the horrors it inflicts) has never been clearer. Phillips’ art remains as brutal and creepy as ever, in particular a sequence where a young boy becomes enamored with Jo becomes skincrawlingly unsettling under his hand. With a clear end in sight, I can’t wait to see what horrors we’ll be treated to in these last few issues of Fatale.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Dan Slott
Art by Giuseppe Camuncoli (pencils), John Dell (inks), and Antonio Fabela (colors)
“You underestimate me, Osborn! I was Doctor Octopus. Now I am something far greater!”
It’s the beginning of the end for Superior Spider-Man. As we move into the last five issues, all of Otto’s oversights are coming home to roost. The confrontation with Norman Osborn that’s been teased for a while is finally here, and it’s great. The Superior Spider-Man premise has lasted far longer than I expected, and I think a lot of that is due to how well it’s been executed. Otto’s Spider-Man is reminiscent of anti-heroes like Walter White or Frank Underwood, and we take equal pleasure in watching their machinations succeed and in watching them occasionally fall victim to their own arrogance. Slott deftly keeps this balance, putting Spider-Man into corners and then having him solve his way out. Camuncoli’s pencils are top-notch, especially some cool Goblin Army designs that I’m sure we’ll be seeing more of in the coming months. I won’t be sad to see a return to a more classic status quo, but until then, Superior Spider-Man is going out with a bang.
Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Roland Boschi (pencils and inks) and Chris Chuckry (colors)
“I never know what to do when it’s time for the fist thing and I’ve got a cocktail in my hand.”
Sliding timelines are a funny thing. On the one hand, they’re an important and necessary element of keeping these shared superhero universes from collapsing under the weight of decades of stories. On the other, they tend to forget all but the most currently relevant runs, and the compress everything into a vague “recent” era. In the 1960s, Marvel was debuting most of their mainstay characters, but since that’s been pushed up to “recently,” the middle of the 20th century is now pretty barren. It probably sounds like I’m complaining, but actually, the newly vacated 1960s is a perfect backdrop for Winter Soldier, a fun spy fiction romp set in a pre-superheroic Marvel Universe. Remender weaves a story of Nick Fury in his field agent days, running up against Hydra in a secret base in the Alps. It has a very James Bond feel to it, especially when it’s following S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Ran Shen’s infiltration of a high-class Hydra cocktail party. The eponymous Winter Soldier isn’t actually the focus of the issue; instead, he’s depicted as a terrifying myth made real.
Boschi’s art is pitch-perfect. It has an old-school feel to it, like Darwyn Cooke’s work on DC: The New Frontier. The exotic locales and secret bases are a treat, and he stages action sequences with a good eye for movement and drama. If you’re a fan of spy stories and classic styling, Winter Soldier: The Bitter March is a must-buy.
Dylan Roth is reading…
Written by Joshua Hale Fialkov
Art by Joe Infunari
“The map is wrong. There is NO PLACE free from infection. NO PLACE free from death. There is no place that your icy fucking hand hasn’t turned to shit.”
The Bunker is the story of a group of five college friends who, shortly before graduation, discover an underground bunker from the future. Inside, each of them (or rather, all but one of them) finds a letter from his or her future self, and while each letter is different and secret, they all have the same overall message – the five of them are going to cause the end of the world.
While initially available digitally, the first 40 pages of the sci-fi/horror drama The Bunker was released for the first time in print this week. This first issue is heavy on every level – it’s packed with story, it’s grim and foreboding, and it delivers an emotional punch to the gut. The story and characters are complex right off the bat, and their relationships to one another are immediately rocked by knowledge from the future. For now, at least, it’s still less sci-fi thriller and more soap opera.
Artist Joe Infunari’s thin pencil style reminds me of Sean Murphy’s work on The Wake, and it carries that same great sense of dread throughout the issue. I will confess to occasionally having difficulty identifying the characters, some of whom don’t differ much physically from one another, plus there are multiple time periods to make sense of. On the whole, though, this first installment of The Bunker is solid, intriguing visual storytelling that is sure to unfold in some unexpected directions.
Written by Scott Snyder & James Tynion III
Art by Dustin Ngyuen (pencils), Derek Fridolfs (inks), John Kalisz (colors) & Sal Cirpriano (letters)
“Midnight in Gotham is the Bee’s Knees”
The core Batman title takes a month off from the eleven-part “Zero Year” epic and drops you smack into the middle of the upcoming weekly series Batman Eternal, which is set to begin in April. Batman #28 strikes the perfect balance between tease and spoiler, providing a peek at a dramatically different status quo for Gotham while giving you no explanation of how it came to be. This dramatic irony approach added a great element to DC’s finest weekly series, 52, which took place during a year all their other books skipped over, and should provide the same fun of “so that’s how that happened” to Eternal.
But there’s more to this issue than just a commercial for a comic you were probably already planning to commit $156 to read over the next year – the issue itself is a treat. The star of Batman #28 is Scott Snyder’s own Harper Row, who’s apparently set to become a much more involved member of the Batman cast in the coming year. Telling you much more than that about the story would spoil the fun, but damn is the art gorgeous in this book. Dustin Ngyuen in a veteran Batman penciller and provides some solid action, a gorgeous new costume design, plus a swiftly executed sequence of panels that shows off what could be my new favorite Bat-gadget.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written by Simon Spurrier
Art by Tan Eng Haut (pencils), Craig Yeung (inks) Jose Villarrubia (colors)
“I rule me.”
Perhaps the most unexpected title to emerge out of Marvel NOW! was the relaunched X-Men: Legacy, spotlighting the near-omnipotent mutant Legion as he struggles to find his place in the world after the death of his father, Charles Xavier. Legion/David Haller has existed for decades but, in the character’s own words, is “toxic” and “problematic;” he created the Age of Apocalypse and Age of X realities, but was little more than a deus ex machina with a gravity-defying hairstyle. Simon Spurrier’s greatest achievement in X-Men: Legacy is making David a person, with a strong, unique narrative voice. Plagued by splinter personalities who want to take him over body and soul, can David Haller ever live up to his father’s legacy? Or is it enough to be his own person?
X-Men: Legacy is a refreshingly strange book, surreal and cerebral like an illegitimate son of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men. (In one meta panel, David breaks the fourth wall to tell the reader, “Och, It’s fine.”) Tan Eng Haut’s art is perfect in its depictions of David’s fractured, perpetually-twisting psyche, and deserves praise along with Mike del Mundo’s fantastic covers.
But this isn’t just a book about a young man finding his agency; it’s also a love story. David’s romance with the precognitive mutant Blindfold reaches its crescendo, and they share an authentic, painful tenderness–because one of them may be fated to kill the other. In this final issue, David’s internal battle comes to an end, and he makes another potentially reality-warping choice. It’s a bittersweet, even frustrating ending, and will hopefully spur a lot of discussion. This incarnation of X-Men: Legacy is over, but it’s in no one’s shadow.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Writers: Rob Williams, Guy Adams, Dan Abnett, Pat Mills, John Wagner
Art: Henry Flint, Paul Marshall & Chris Blythe, Patrick Goddard & Abigail Ryder, Clint Langley, Carlos Ezquerra
Letters: Annie Parkhouse, Ellie De Ville, Simon Bowland
“Tell me Dredd — are you even aware that you’re a Judge right now?”
2000 AD manages to avoid the usual hit or miss quality of most anthologies by generally having high-quality stories and keeping the price (roughly $3 a week, DRM-free digital) cheap enough that even if one or two of the five stories don’t start your engine, you still have 20 some pages of content that are darn good. This week, 2000 AD goes four-for-five.
First off we have Judge Dredd‘s current Titan arc following Dredd and a team of marines’ failed attempt to retake the prison moon of Titan that is populated only by corrupt former Judges. Between his work on Judge Dredd and Zombo, Henry Flint is quickly becoming my favorite new artist and he has a kind of rough style that is great at getting across the frenzied action.
Next up we have Ulysses Sweet: Maniac For Hire. This story is basically a sci-fi Deadpool story and it’s appropriately stupid and funny with art from Paul Marshall and Chris Blythe that’s really evocative of Dave Gibbons’s black & white work.
Dan Abnett’s Grey Area continues its story of missionaries volunteering at the Earth’s extraterrestrial version of Ellis Island. There’s some cool ideas but the story doesn’t really do much other than detail a neat alien theology, past that there just aren’t the pages to flesh it out.
From there we move to Pat Mills’ long-running ABC Warriors story and this one I just don’t care about. The story keeps flashing from the current story to random flashbacks to see what each of the warriors were up to before and I just can’t keep track of where we’re at in the narrative or which robot is which.
Last up in this issue we have Strontium Dog by the 2000 AD all-star team of John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra. This is kind of a breather episode after non-stop battle for the last few progs as Johnny Alpha’s war against the norms moves from its most explosive stages into diplomacy. I’ve been enjoying this storyline and Ezquerra’s art is always welcome, but I’m sure I’m missing a lot since I just don’t know much about the history of Strontium Dog.
If you’re afraid of starting in the middle of any of 2000 AD’s current story arcs, go back a few months and start at Prog 2014 which kicked off some of the current stories and previewed some that are still to come this year.
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!