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. For more of our thoughts on this week’s new comics, take a look at Wednesday’s Deadshirt Comics Shopping List.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Charles Soule
Pencils by Steve McNiven, Jay Leisten (inks) and Juston Ponsor (colors)
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
“What did you ever do but kill people? What did you ever do?”
Here we are, folks. The culmination of months of Wolverine: ___ Months to Die, a handful of series tie-ins, a four issue death run, and we finally lay to rest one of the most prolific comic book characters in the Marvel U. Lover of red-haired ladies and brown liquor alike, and sufferer of knee-jerk team-up syndrome, Logan (aka Wolverine, aka James Howlett, aka some really cool Japanese names I can’t recall) will be remembered as a friend, a good man, and a bit of a bastard.
Your feelings (and mine especially) aside on the idea of killing off comic book characters these days, the Death of Wolverine mini series was visually stunning. Every single issue featured gorgeous iridescent, high quality covers along with variants from dozens of big name artists. The main cover by Steve McNiven for this issue alone already seems iconic with Death himself holding a bloodied Wolverine over strands of wheat, an image that harks back to the art of Andy Kubert and Joe Quesada in Origin. McNiven’s visceral and violent style when it comes to Wolverine, seen before in the Old Man Logan series, gives a perfect send-off to the feral, furry character.
With such an expansive buildup to this final issue, I was expecting an emotional whopper, but it all fell a little flat. The series did itself a bit of a disservice by spreading the story thin throughout so many tie-ins, and also by using this issue to set up the upcoming Death of Wolverine: The Weapon X Program instead of focusing on the title character, you know, DYING. What we get is a mere two-page spread highlight reel of Logan’s lengthy life before his timely demise that, while slightly over-dramatic, feels appropriate.
For those readers who feel hopelessly lost after this tragedy, fear not, you’ve got all kinds of fallout series and new characters coming your way to fill the Logan-shaped hole in your heart. In the meantime, grab a cold one (preferably Canadian), read this issue, and pay your respects to the man who’s best at what he does.
Dominic Griffin is reading…
Written by Robbie Morrison
Art by Dave Taylor and Hi-Fi with Dave Taylor (colors)
Letters by Richard Starkings and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
“Doctor who turns up in the nick of time to save the day, though sometime wonders why he bothers! Doctor who’s quite possibly your only chance of getting off this world alive! Doctor who advises you to do exactly as he says and stop attacking him with dull, boring pointless questions!”
Now that Peter Capaldi is the new Doctor on BBC’s long running science fiction show, it only stands to reason that the tie-in comics get a makeover as well. The first issue featuring the new Doctor in the funnybooks is rollicking good fun, capturing the simple, JJ Abrams-y wit-spectacle approach that has characterized much of showrunner Steven Moffat’s tenure with the franchise. 2000AD vet Robbie Morrison avails himself quite well, putting some of the television series’ current writers to shame with his efficient characterization, clever dialogue and comfortably sharp pacing. Knowing he must not have gotten to see much of the new season’s episodes before scripting this book, the way he presents Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor is astonishing. The character already feels fully formed in a way new Doctors generally don’t for several episodes on TV.
Dave Taylor’s art is reminiscent of George Jeanty’s work on Buffy: Season 8, where photorealism is smoothed down to the broadest of strokes, ie, Capaldi’s eyebrows, the general roundness of Jenna Coleman’s face, to get across what you recognize as being based on real people without devolving into something that feels like Greg Land traced it from an issue of US Weekly. The set-up and threat in the plot, as with a lot of Doctor Who stories, are kind of inconsequential? Honestly, you’re here to see The Doctor be charming and amazing and for he and Clara to play off of one another. The stakes (the fate of a newly terraformed planet) are suitably high, even if the particulars (evil reprogrammed robots and curiously malicious businessmen) aren’t of much consequence or originality. The book is a breezy read and feels like the first part of one of the television show’s many two-parters, so let’s hope they can keep it up.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Pascal Alixe, Diogenes Miguel das Neves, Marc Deering and Cliff Richards
Colors by Ulises Arreola
Letters by Rob Leigh
“I’ve got a feeling you don’t know what you’re capable of yourself.”
This week’s Batman/Superman winds up its latest arc: chaos demon Kaiyo has robbed the two heroes of their memories. They’ve managed to learn the basics of who they are, but without the lifetime of experiences that go with that knowledge, are they really the same people? Life experience and relationships molded Batman and Superman into the people they are, so while at their heart they are still the same good people, without their memories and with different influences they can turn out angrier (or happier) than they are normally.
The issue starts with Batman asking Lois on a date to follow a lead with him because what else would you do if you suddenly wake up to find you’re a billionaire superhero and have no emotional knowledge of your tragic history? You’d give a pretty lady a batsuit and a batcycle and hit the town to drop kick some bad guys. Meanwhile Catwoman’s got Superman with her and while he’s still good at heart he doesn’t have his parents’ influence to help his temper his anger at injustice. In the end they all wind up in conflict with our heroes deciding whether to regain their memories or continue in their new ,possibly happier, lives. Pak and co. do a great job of exploring what exactly makes both heroes who they are and how easily they could be nudged just slightly into being something much different.
However, the art here just isn’t up to snuff. As you can see by the artistic line-up above, the pages in this issue were handled by a lot of folks and it sure looks like it. Coming only two weeks after the previous issue, everyone here sure seems to try hard, but they’re too busy trying to ape regular artist Jae Lee’s style than to deliver the best they can. It’s especially noticeable in Superman’s face, which seems to be a roughly pasted CGI render over whoever was handling the rest of the art on that page. While it doesn’t spoil the issue as a whole, with each reading of the issue the faults become more clear. I wish DC could’ve waited for Jae Lee to catch up, or at least allow an artist enough time to draw the whole comic themselves.
This has been a good arc and slots well into the Superman line’s creative renaissance since Pak came on board this comic and Action, but I wish it was able to maintain Lee’s level of artwork or at least give him more time to complete entire arcs himself so we’re not left with mish-mashes like this.
David Lebovitz is reading…
Written by Peter David
Art by Scott Koblish and Val Staples (colors)
Letters by VC’S Joe Sabino
“Loki’s a kid?! Whose bright idea was that?!?”
“Well, that’s no good! That’s not the Loki we need!”
After Deadpool gets his hands on Sun Tzu’s original copy of The Art Of War, he decides to adapt it and make a ton of money off of it, but the publisher refuses to hear about it unless he comes up with a new angle on it. His new angle: put the world at war, and make knowing his version of The Art of War the only chance for survival. The best way to accomplish this is by having gods fight, because it always spills over into the mortal world, so he begins a war between Loki and Thor–classic versions, because “screw continuity… and the fans can just deal with it.”
The plot is Pure Deadpool: cause maximum chaos for no other reason than personal amusement and gain. There’s some great Deadpool moments, including name checks of Matt Fraction and JMS and an “aye vs. I” Who’s-On-First-type bit with Loki. That said, I’m not entirely sure Peter David was the correct person to write Deadpool. While he has so far done an admirable job on this book, there have so far only been a handful of the goofy, self-referential moments we know and love from the Merc With A Mouth. David’s a seasoned writer, but he’s not exactly the zany type usually attached to this kind of product.
The true star of this issue is the coloring–Koblish’s art is solid throughout, but Staples’ colors add an amazing extra dimension. Almost the entire issue has a rustic look to it, as if it were a portrait depicting an ancient time, and it fits perfectly with the environment portrayed.
This is certainly a clever idea for a story, but it’s clear that this issue is more set-up than actual substance. Now that we have the exposition out of the way, it will be interesting to see how the series will play out. Certainly worth an examination.
Max Robinson is reading…
Written by Marguerite Bennett
Art by Jorge Coelho and Tamra Bonvillain (colors)
Back up story by Noel Stevenson
Letters by Jim Campbell
“It’s a miracle.”
“It’s a cake, Crane.”
Sleepy Hollow, hands down the craziest show on television, the weird little show that shouldn’t work but does oh so beautifully, presents some unique challenges when it comes to adapting the series for a comic book mini-series, as BOOM! has done here. Mainly, much of the show’s charm is from its surprisingly dense “everything you heard about history is a lie” mythology and the charming chemistry between lead actors Nicole Beharie and Tom Mison. For the most part, this first issue does a very nice job navigating those pitfalls with a fun done-in-one that sees Ichabod and Abbie investigating a series of accidents that find the towns people of Sleepy Hollow manifesting strange super powers (spoiler: it’s witches).
Bennett wisely chose to make her mini-series occur off-screen during the first season of the show and lets main series antagonist Moloch sit on the sideline as America’s Favorite Man Out Of Time Revolutionary Folk Hero and Police Detective are pitted against some characters largely only alluded to in the actual show. Given the nature of the show, it’s weirdly appropriate that the amount of research Bennett put into her script really shines; she demonstrates a deft understanding of the show’s underlying conflicts (Abbie’s guilt and sadness over her mentor’s death) and even manages to use the show’s best running gag (Ichabod’s obsession with bottled water) as a major plot point. Ichabod and Abbie’s voices are captured pretty well here, although the banter at times begins to feel like an impression of an impression. My biggest gripe is that it felt maybe a little too condensed; Bennett packs a ton of story into a single issue that might’ve been better explored over all four issues.
Coelho’s angular art pairs nicely with the kind of story Bennett lays down and thankfully forgoes attempting any kind of hyper-realistic actor likeness, instead opting for distinct caricatures. When the script calls for creepy moments both big and little, Coelho definitely delivers, like in the issue’s sequence leading up to the girl getting hit by the truck. Bonvillain gives the book an overarching orange tone, resulting in a comic that feels very Fall. There’s also a brief backup at the end of the issue, “Movie Night,” from Noelle Stevenson that’s largely just a quick joke but it’s cute enough.
Whether this comic will do much for you if you’re not already a fan of the Fox series, I can’t say, but you could do a lot worse if you’re trying to satisfy your October horror jones than a comic where a man invokes the name of Benjamin Franklin to kill some undead ghouls. (For more on Sleepy Hollow, be sure to check out Deadshirt’s interview with Marguerite Bennett!)
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!