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.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer
Art by Stefano Caselli (pencils and inks) and Frank Martin, Antonio Fabela and Edgar Delgado (colors)
“Who desecrates my holy temple?”
“I am Shang-Chi. Apologies for the desecration- they looked like common gangsters to me.”
There are a lot of Avengers books coming out right now. Off the top of my head, I can think of almost a dozen monthly titles, and that’s not including various one-shots or tie-ins. Clearly, this is due to the success of the film franchise, and I don’t begrudge them capitalizing on it, but my point is that Avengers World, a sprawling title that serves mainly to flesh out side stories in the main books, probably isn’t on most people’s pull lists.
And that’s a shame, because it’s one of my favorites. It’s a workspace that allows Hickman to elaborate on characters in meaningful ways. The first two issues followed recent Avengers recruits Cannonball, Sunspot, and Smasher, in a cool little bit of worldbuilding and follow-up to Infinity. Issue 3 breaks from that story and instead focuses on a martial arts fight between Shang-Chi and the Gorgon (and some quickly dispatched Hand ninjas). It’s almost all one long fight sequence, but it might be my favorite fight sequence I’ve ever seen in a comic. Caselli’s compositions are dynamite, and he never tries to squeeze too much action into a single panel or page. It’s deliberately, methodically paced, so every hit hurts and every move counts. There’s also a neat color trick coupled with some full-page spreads about halfway through that blew me away. It’s not a story that’s integral to the universe at large, but if you like tight, well-scripted kung fu action, Avengers World #3 was written for you.
Written by Christopher Yost
Art by Marcus To (pencils and inks) and David Curiel (colors)
“I am Faira Sar Namora of Atlantis… and I seek heroes.”
Civil War has become kind of an albatross for the New Warriors. After a fun, reality TV-parodying miniseries, the team was used as part of the inciting events the led to the superhero civil war and the S.H.I.E.L.D.-backed Initiative. It was an interesting status quo, but it didn’t help the teams clout any, especially with a revived series painting them as anarchist punks. This new revamp gets back to the roots, with only a passing reference to the events of the last decade. Instead, it focuses on the team’s core aesthetic: a bunch of young, interesting B-list heroes, battling against weird, distinctly comic book-y threats. Yost’s roster includes a couple of classics (Justice and Speedball) and a slew of relatively new characters and new takes (Kane shows up as Scarlet Spider, new Nova helmet-bearer Sam Alexander appears at the end).
There’s a lot of set-up in this issue, but plenty of action too, and you get a good sense of the various personalities and dynamics of the characters who do interact. Using the High Evolutionary as the villain is a strong callback to the teams heyday fighting weird 80’s threats, as well. I would like to see a couple more characters from the last ten or so years who have fallen by the wayside join, like Gravity or Scorpion, but it seems like a solid group with plenty of potential. The key to the New Warriors is using them to explore interesting ideas that don’t get the spotlight of the Avengers or X-Men, and between the premise of New Salem and the cool designs of the High Evolutionary’s henchmen, this comic has “interesting” in spades. I’m glad to see Yost and To forging a way forward for the team, and I’m excited to see where it takes them.
Dylan Roth is reading…
Written by Mike Johnson
Art by David Messina (pencils), Giorgia Sposito (inks), Claudia ScarletGothica (colors), and Neil Uyetake (letters).
“‘John?’ Must we persist with this charade? You know who I really am. More to the point, at long last, I know who I really am.”
IDW’s Star Trek comics are often tasked with filling in story gaps and plot holes in the feature films, a task that would seem tedious if they weren’t kinda great at it. The five-part Khan miniseries tells the tale of Khan Noonian Singh’s rise and fall as a ruler in 20th century Earth (an untold history that works both in the new and original Trek continuities) and how he became involved with Admiral Marcus and Section 31 in the months preceding Star Trek Into Darkness.
Like its spiritual predecessors Star Trek: Countdown and Nero, the prequel and midquel to 2009’s Trek film, Khan is meant to enhance the viewing experience of the movie by fleshing out elements that the filmmakers brushed over too quickly. A bunch of common audience questions about Into Darkness are answered here, particularly in this final issue. (“What was the point of the whole “John Harrison” mislead?” “Wait, who put who in those torpedoes when? Why?” “Why’s Khan a white dude now?” Seriously, they even do that one, although it’s hard to decide whether it makes the choice seem more or less racist.)
Khan may be based in part on unused story notes from the film, as screenwriter Roberto Orci serves as a story consultant, or it may be a purely reverse-engineered story meant to patch up the holes in the film, but either way it makes for a pretty entertaining comic. It doesn’t stand terribly well on its own and leans pretty heavily on Khan’s narration, but it’s a very cool sort of bonus feature for fans of the movie, or of the old series. The art isn’t amazing, but the action and storytelling are clear, as are the character likenesses. I’d strongly recommend Khan to any Trekkie, less so to the casual fan, and not at all to the uninitiated.
Christina Herrington is reading…
Written by Ryan North
Art by Dustin Nguyen, Jess Fink, Jeffrey Brown, Jim Rugg, Shelli Paroline, Braden Lamb, Chris O’Neill (additional colors), and Steve Wands (letters).
“This is Chewie calling Hemogobbler! Come in Hemogobbler!”
Adventure Time takes a break between arcs with this one-shot, an epic story about friendship and kicking butt called “Carl the Gem: A Love Story: That Also Features Rad Fight Scenes Too: Obviously It Would Do That”. “Carl the Gem” opens with a meteor falling to Earth during some prehistoric era, with Carl narrating and providing voices for dinosaurs as he sees fit. This story is Carl’s story and we follow him as he becomes a red, magic gem in a volcano (there is a handy diagram) and is eventually dug up by Princess Bubblegum. From there we’re given peeks into the friendship of Marceline and Bubblegum before and during the creation of the Candy Kingdom, leading up to the discover of Carl by none other than Finn and Jake. I’d tell you more about the plot after that, but there are a few surprise turns that I wouldn’t want to ruin for you.
It’s a fun story with the requisite silly jokes, grimace-inducing puns, and beat-em-up action you’d expect to find in an Adventure Time story. There are some things off: I’m not a huge fan of some of the art in here, for instance, and Bubblegum and Marceline’s voices don’t seem quite right. But for something that starts off so goofy this issue tugs at the heart strings. It made me kind of teary at the end. If you’re hungering to see more of Ooo before Finn and Jake’s time, then this issue is pretty satisfying. For anyone looking to jump onto the main Adventure Time comic, this would be the issue.
Written by Ryan North
Art by Braden Lamb
“You’re the best at what you do, and what you do is slice fingers off of corpses.”
In this week’s second North/Lamb collaboration, we catch up on The Midas Flesh, a sci-fi comic that presupposes that the Midas legend (the king that turned everything to gold) was real and thousands of years later a small spaceship crew sought out the frozen-in-time planet that is Earth in search of a weapon that could take out a Firefly-esque evil Federation. There’s a lot going on, but the main focus is on Joey and her crew, Fatima and Cooper, as they investigate the gold world that is Earth. Did I mention Cooper was a dinosaur who wears a cute space suit? Because he is. And it’s adorable. In issue three, Joey, Fatima, and Cooper continue searching for the thing that has transformed Earth, blind to the fact that the Federation is on their tail.
Midas Flesh isn’t without its faults. For instance, everyone (including Joey’s crew *and* King Midas) speaks with the slang of today, versus the slang appropriate for their time period. This comes off as easy and unimaginative. But Midas Flesh redeems itself in little details like the design of the spaceship — splashes of red, of story-appropriate golds and yellows — and in the way the characters speak to one another, in their jokes, in the way Fatima protests at having to cut some dead guy’s finger off (for an experiment) and ultimately finds it fascinating. Problems arise when this fun book takes itself too seriously, and we find ourselves with mood whiplash. Luckily, this doesn’t happen often and we can enjoy this book as the fun adventure it is at it’s heart.
David Lebovitz is reading…
Written by Mark Waid & Chris Samnee
Art by Javier Rodriguez
“No one on the white-hat side has ever hidden his or her identity with less than noble intent: to make the fight about something bigger than us.”
This issue not only serves as the “last” issue of Waid/Samnee’s Daredevil (it relaunches with the same creative team in a new number one next month), it finishes up a storyline they’ve been running since last fall. The story got off to a strong and topical start, but dipped into supernatural silliness for a few issues too long. I was disappointed and was almost ready to give up on Daredevil – but Matt Murdock is back where he belongs: in the courtroom. The results are everything you’d want out of a so-called final issue.
The story starts Matt Murdock in a courtroom, proclaiming under oath that he is in fact Daredevil. We’ve seen heroes reveal their identities before, but it was done so in a novel context here: he didn’t do it because of any moral obligation (at first) or because he wanted to make a point – he did it to take power away from a villain threatening to reveal it. The story features some excellent interaction with an emotional cancer-ridden Foggy, giving his honest opinion of Matt Murdock. What he says might seem cliched, but given the context of Foggy’s condition, it’s powerful. Perhaps the highlight of the issue is Matt’s monologue about why heroes lie to keep their identities secret – and how it goes beyond just protecting loved ones.
This is a fully realized issue of Daredevil. It showcases Matt’s integrity, his brutality, his intelligence, and his athleticism. Waid and Samnee’s seamless blend of drama, humor, and political commentary is at full strength and we’re left with the promise of a brand new status quo in the life of Matt Murdock.
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!