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.
Jason Urbanciz is reading…
Written by Quentin Tarantino and Matt Wagner
Illustrated by Esteve Polls
Colored by Brennan Wagner
Lettered by Simon Bowland
“It appears we are about to encounter a bit of unexpected trouble.”
“Trouble…I can handle.”
As a fan of both Matt Wagner and Quentin Tarantino, I was interested in what their collaboration would end up being. Django/Zorro #1 very much feels like a Matt Wagner comic, which is great, but it misses the spark I thought Tarantino would bring to the dialogue.
While traveling through the Arizona desert, an elder Don Diego de la Vega comes upon a stranded Django and gives him a ride. The two hit it off and soon enough de la Vega hires Django to be his bodyguard while he does some (presumably unsavory) business in Phoenix. The biggest contribution from Tarantino here seems to be to the character of de la Vega, who’s written similarly to Christoph Waltz’s Django Unchained character, Dr. King Schultz. That said, Django/Zorro is afraid the reader may not get this similarity so it makes sure to have Django tell us about it twice. Django doesn’t get a lot to do here except ask questions so the rest of the plot and characters can be explained to him. It all sounds pretty clumsy but it works well enough that it doesn’t kill the book.
I was surprised that the art was the real star here. I was initially surprised that Dynamite would team two star writers with an artist I’d never heard of, but Esteve Polls is like some wicked combination of Carlos Ezquerra and Russ Heath. The art feels like a classic DC western comic, but doesn’t come off dated at all. While the story may not have put me over on picking up the next issue, Polls has me sold.
I’m really hoping that the clunky writing on this first issue was just a case of trying to rush to put these two characters together and jumpstart the plot, so maybe things can really sing in the next installment.
Sarah Register is reading…
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Stuart Immonen and Wade Von Grawbadger (inks)
Colored by Marte Gracia with Eduardo Navarro
Lettered by Joe Caramagna
“I gotta show ‘em a little of what the new Cap is made of.”
Sam Wilson dons the most respected mantle in the Marvel U in his brand new title series, Captain America. Steve Rogers has recently come down with a case of senior citizenship, and chooses his best bud and long time partner to fill his shoes. Sam doesn’t focus too much on the fact that he’s Captain America, however. He’s got a job to do, and I have a feeling he’d be doing it no matter what costume he wears.
Speaking of the costume, this new one is a harmonic blend of the Falcon suit and Cap’s traditional symbolism. He’s still got his wings and predominantly red color; in fact, Falcon’s red infiltrates nearly every panel of this issue, making this very much Sam’s story. He looks powerful but nimble, a strong Avenger in his own right, though he hasn’t quite gotten the hang of throwing the shield. Allies and enemies alike question if Sam’s the right man for the job. Nomad, the guy raised by Steve in a different dimension, feels like it should have been him as the new Cap, he’s even better with the shield. But Nomad has a different spectrum of morality that makes Sam the clear contender.
There’s a gorgeous splash page when we first see him as Captain America in this issue, flying across the page as he finishes a thought with, “…the American Dream”. It’s beautiful timing and imagery, emphasizing that, while Sam is pretty stony on his feelings about his new title, it’s still significant for a lot of comic book readers out there. Whatever qualms readers had about this new Cap should be quelled by Remender’s writing direction, which has already been developing in the previous Captain America series and has thus far given this “All-New” series a stellar liftoff.
Patrick Stinson is reading…
Written by Jason Aaron
Art by Russell Dauterman,
Colored by Matthew Wilson
Lettered by Joe Sabino
“No offense, lady, but…I’ve met Thor. I’ve punched Thor. You’re no Thor.”
“Never did I say I was. But I do hold what once was his. Now stand ye back.”
This is a strange second issue, because it feels like it should have been the first! Thor #1 was full of stone-faced exposition, while this is the first adventure of a new(ish?) hero. Right off the bat we get a brilliant gimmick: we see the thought bubbles (remember those?) of the “mysterious woman” who picked up the hammer, but her speech, on the very same page, always comes out in Thor’s Ye Olde Dialect. What becomes apparent is that, rather than simply giving her power, the hammer has essentially created a new personality to direct her body. This “Goddess of Thunder” combines the memories and attitudes of Thor with the goals of the mysterious woman. This is a throwback all the way to the Donald Blake days, when the hammer transformed its wielder thoroughly in both body and mind. While the two personalities are currently in accord, I think there is a lot of future storytelling potential to be mined from conflict between the woman and Mjolnir.
I hope that we get to learn the woman’s identity in Thor #3, and the events of this issue strongly suggest that we will. I don’t think it works to drag these things out for too long. However, trying to piece together what we know about her is a fun game in this issue. She knows Thor and the CEO of Roxxon, but her speech patterns, revealed in her thought bubbles, are contemporary. She’s also not overly familiar with her foes, the Frost Giants, relying on the hammer’s own knowledge of them. I’m much more pleased with this than if an Asgardian had picked it up, which was a popular (boring) theory before this issue.
The villains are pretty much there to get smacked around. Malekith is directing the Frost Giants against Roxxon, which is basically the Thor-iest sentence that has ever been written. So we get to see the Goddess of Thunder explicitly earn bonafides by holding her own against baffled foes who remember Thor as being a lot more of a dude.
The issue artificially raises the the stakes by having the giants commit some truly improbable villainy off-panel between Thor #1 and Thor #2. What is it with Marvel and cameo abuse? I think we all already believed that, as the woman said last issue: “There must always be a Thor.” Still, this issue was fantastic just as a standalone Marvel adventure.
Kayleigh Hearn is reading…
Written and Drawn by Jake Lawrence
“Hey, Teen Dog! Reach true enlightenment!” “Fine.”
Teen Dog! He’s a teen, who’s also a dog! (Or is it the other way around?) Teen Dog #3 is another fun, cynicism-free issue featuring Teen Dog and his friends hanging out, going to school, and just being radical. I’m tempted to end every sentence in this review with an exclamation point, because that’s just the kind of comic Teen Dog is. A sports-themed issue, #3 begins simply with Teen Dog and his friends watching a football game, but their adventures become increasingly hopped-up on adrenaline and absurdity. Teen Dog is soon playing basketball against robots, breaking the time barrier with his skateboard, and, oh yeah, reaching true enlightenment.
(“Wait!” you say. “A comic book about a dog playing basketball? There better damn well be an Air Bud reference, Teen Dog!!!” Let me say, hell yeah, there’s an Air Bud reference!)
But being Teen Dog is both a blessing and a curse. This comic is devoid of cynicism and irony, but it’s also without subtext and character development. Whether that matters probably depends on the reader’s personal taste. Teen Dog is simply Teen Dog. Teen Dog is a colorful, energetic comic that exists in the same universe as Lisa Frank trapper-keepers and Surge soft drink commercials; its aesthetic isn’t for everyone, but it’s a fun ride.
Max Robinson is reading…
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Javier Pulido
Colored by Muntsa Vicente
Lettered by VC’s Gus Pillsbury
“Not only that but it’s stolen. How do you think you’ll introduce that in court? There’s no Hellcat exception in the F.R.E. that I’m aware of.”
“Well, maybe there should be, Rocks.”
Just as She-Hulk heads towards its last couple issues (the cancellation gods are cruel), it gives us the book’s best issue to date. Concluding a three-part story that finally delivers on our collective desire to watch Marvel’s two lawyer superheroes (the other being, of course, Matthew Murdock, AKA Daredevil) face off in court, Jennifer Walters is at the edge of sanity trying to keep a recently hyper-aged Steve Rogers from losing a wrongful death suit that could tarnish his heroic legacy. The bulk of this issue is really a Captain America comic, possibly the best Captain America comic Marvel’s published in years. Soule’s decision to slowly reveal more and more details about the case over the course of three issues makes for really intriguing storytelling and it’s in this issue that we finally get Steve Rogers’ version of how his friend came to die in a Los Angeles warehouse.
Muntsa Vicente does a terrific job distinguishing the issues’ two different timelines with grey and brown tone flashback colors to contrast with the book’s usual bright pinks and greens in present day. It’s not a reinvention of the wheel or anything, but it’s a nice detail that adds even more character to Pulido’s already stunning layouts. Speaking of, Pulido’s depiction of a young, gangly Steve Rogers standing up over three agonizing panels is powerful. This issue has a ton of dialogue and it’s a credit to the chemistry and skill of She-Hulk’s creative team that it doesn’t feel overly talky.
The issue’s climax, a two page spread of Murdock and Walters imposed against a blank background giving their closing arguments is visually mesmerizing and beautifully written. Soule’s real-life legal experience has always given this book a little extra something and here he’s able to come up with two pretty compelling cases for and against Rogers’ innocence. Wrapped up with a wry “hey this is a superhero comic, remember?” ending and a solid stinger that sets up next month’s penultimate issue, this month’s She-Hulk was a great comic in a week with no shortage of them.
Joe Stando is reading…
Written by Dan Slott, Skottie Young, Robbie Thompson, and Katie Cook
Art by Humberto Ramos (pencils), Victor Olazaba (inks), Edgar Delgado (colors); Jake Parker, Andrew Crossley (colors); Denis Medri, Paolo Francescutto (colors); and Katie Cook and Heather Breckel (colors)
Lettered by Travis Lanham
“What a sweet and succulent soul you have! The greatest snack of all!”
The Spider-Verse event continues to unfold, and this week is the first installment of anthology title Spider-Verse. Continuing from last week, I’m taking a look at the broad strokes of the event, as well as this specific issue.
Continuity-wise, we’re in the same basic place we have been for the last month or so, with the opening threads (heh heh) of the story. All of the stories are similar to the Edge of Spider-Verse stuff we’ve seen before, with some incorporating Morlun and others, the growing Spider-Army, but also just focusing on quick snapshots of various Spider-folks. In terms of the actual stories, though, this book is a delight. It’s exactly the kind of varied, fun stories that make an anthology pop, and I’m glad Marvel is continuing the trend they started back in Original Sins.
There’s almost too much good stuff in the book to describe. Marvel Mangaverse was an odd, uneven book/event, but I give it a lot of credit for getting me back into superhero comics, due in no small part to its stylish, fun take on Spider-Man. It’s good to see him again, and Skottie Young and Victor Olazaba have a perfect feel for him. I’m excited to see more of him later in the event (and hopefully he doesn’t just end up as a redshirt).
I wasn’t quite as into the next story, being pretty over all things steampunk by now, but there were some clever bits to it, particularly this universe’s Lady Spider being a young Aunt May. It was also a treat to see Denis Medri’s art and designs in an official Marvel comic. I’ve followed Medri’s redesign work on Project Rooftop for a while, and his takes are inventive without being trite. While I don’t expect to see the Six Men of Sinistry again, it was a fun enough story.
Penelope Parker, Spider Girl was maybe my favorite story in the book? It was adorable and all-ages without being condescending or saccharine. Honestly, I don’t understand why anyone wastes their breath defending Yale Stewart when Katie Cook exists, and can do the same kind of stuff better. My only issue with this story is that it’s almost too cute for the greater event, and I can’t see Spider Girl being involved with the kind of high-stakes, lethal combat that is certainly coming. It’s entirely possible that this is the last we’ll see of this or any of these anthology characters, but the next few issues and tie-ins will make that clearer.
Slott himself tends to stay in the fringes of this issue, not overpowering the shorts with his own contributions. Still, the one and two page gag comics he wrote steal the show, especially the one set in the universe of the Spider-Man newspaper comics. That joke is pitch-perfect. I’m excited that the event has room to be fun and silly, even in the face of Spider-Men being eaten alive.
Overall, not a lot to report this week in terms of greater arcs, but this anthology is a great spotlight for all kinds of creators. I’m glad events like this provide this sort of platform, and I would definitely be down for a monthly or even weekly series with indie or up-and-coming creators jamming on Marvel properties.
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!