It’s Wednesday, and that means new comics. Let Deadshirt steer your wallet in the right direction with reviews (and preview pages) of titles out today from Image, Dark Horse, IDW, BOOM! Studios, Archie, MonkeyBrain, Oni, Fantagraphics, Top Shelf, Action Lab, and more!
Written by John Arcudi and James Harren
Art by James Harren
Colored by Dave Stewart
Lettered by Chris Eliopoulos
The first arc of this offbeat, compelling myth wraps up in rare form. Arcudi plays with a lot of different tropes here, both in terms of humor and action, and they all land pretty well. Even a take on the old “shoulder angel/shoulder devil” warhorse pops up, and it’s actually pretty funny. I’ll never tire of Harren’s monsters, which are usually an ugly, scary pile of teeth and eyes. In its own weird way, Rumble still feels very much like a post-modern take on Spawn, with the latter’s noir take on Christian eschatology traded for a more fanciful creation story and then cranked up to eleven.
The most interesting part of the issue is how it frames violence and killing. Rumble is not a series that has shied away from death and dismemberment, but its exploration of taking a life for the first time is both poignant and darkly funny. Even the previously mentioned monsters are sometimes just people, and giving their lives and deaths weight is an insightful thought.
It’s not an end to the story by any means, but it’s a solid payoff to the introduction of Rathraq and this universe. Rumble is still probably my favorite indie ongoing right now, and it’s good to see that it’s not losing any steam.
– Joe Stando
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Garbage Pail Kids: Fables, Fantasy and Farts #1
Written by Shannon Wheeler, Zapata, Joe Simko, Phil Elliott and Bill Wray
Art by Shannon Wheeler, Zapata, Joe Simko, Phil Elliott & Robert Wells and Frank Reynoso
Colored by Martin Thomas
Additional Lettering by Shawn Lee
I have fond memories of, as a kid, riding my bike down to the White Hen to buy packs of Garbage Pail Kids. The key was to buy them one at a time because at 75 cents a pop, they were cheap enough to avoid sales tax, but only if you bought them individually. The cards hit that perfect zone of just offensive enough that they grossed out your mom, but didn’t go over the line so that she dumped them into the trash. Back then I would have been super-into a comic book spin-off, and I am happy/sad to report that 30 years later I’m still pretty into their new comics iteration. This one-shot is an anthology adapting several of the card concepts into short stories with a fantasy spin.
The lead tale by Too Much Coffee Man creator Shannon Wheeler is a hoot. Fantasy Felicia is on a quest/murder spree searching for the most important thing to any lady adventurer. Of course she kills anybody she comes upon, and it’s a very dumb, one-joke premise, but Wheeler does it perfectly, and it had me laughing all the way to the final joke.
After that, we get a bunch of spins on different fantasy-inspired characters from the card series. Potty Scotty travels through dimensions using toilets like Mirror Master uses his namesake, looking for an object of incredible importance There are some gross, fun spins on Rapunzel and Pinocchio, plus a lovingly painted take on Conan by Zapata. The stories all walk that perfect balance between being overly gross and not being outright inappropriate for an immature 13-year-old.
The biggest problem with anthologies like this is that there’s usually a bum story in the bunch, but everyone here definitely brought their A-game to the book. Disgusting and fun in equal amounts, if you have any love for Garbage Pail Kids, this is the comic for you, even if you’ve been waiting 30 years for it.
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Steven Universe: Greg Universe Special
Written by Jeremy Sorese, Liz Prince, Chrystin Garland, Grace Kraft, Coleman Engle and Kevin Panetta
Art by Jeremy Sorese, Rachel Dukes, Chrystin Garland, Grace Kraft, Coleman Engle, Jared Morgan and Kelly Turnbull
Greg Universe isn’t the Steven Universe character I would have expected to receive a special one-shot spotlight. The sunburned, burned-out human father to magical boy hero Steven Universe, Greg is the type of supporting character that could be easily overlooked amid the show’s magical adventures. Luckily, recent episodes such as “Story for Steven” have expanded on Greg’s role, portraying him not only as Steven’s often bewildered father, but also as a lovable dreamer who was the Crystal Gems’ first significant human contact. The short stories in The Greg Universe Special wisely use Greg not only as a protagonist, but as a point of view character who sheds light onto the Gems’ mystical, sometimes mischievous adventures.
In Jeremy Sorese’s “Universe and the Moon,” Garnet and Greg have a philosophical conversation while Garnet’s shapeshifting abilities turn her body into silly putty. “Pink Elephant in the Room,” by Liz Prince and Rachel Dukes, is a cute story about Greg’s car wash—though the surprise ending is easily guessed. Chrystin Garland’s “Now in 3-D” is about Steven and the gang at the movies, and features several fun visual gags (note the special 3-D glasses Garnet wears to cover her third eye). Grace Kraft’s “By Heart” beautifully captures how Greg’s music connects with his memories of his lost love, Rose Quartz. “Gregarious Gamers” by Coleman Engle taps into Steven Universe’s video game influences. “BCUW Slam Buddies” by Kevin Panetta and Jared Morgan is a fun shout-out to the “Tiger Millionaire” episode, and the book fittingly ends with touching father/son bonding in “Snapshots” by Grace Kraft and Kelly Turnbull.
The Steven Universe: Greg Universe Special is a cute collection of short stories; there isn’t a single bad strip in the issue, and “By Heart” and “Now in 3-D” are both particularly memorable. It’s a treat to read different creative teams’ interpretations of the colorful world of Steven Universe, and while Greg was a surprising choice for a star, the quality of this comic has me hoping that more Steven Universe specials are in the future.
– Kayleigh Hearn
The Order Of The Forge #1 (of 3)
Written by Victor Gischler
Art by Tazio Bettin
Lettered by Nate Piekos of Blambot
Original character design by Ernesto Ochoa
Created by Donn D. Berdahl
1753 in Virginia. A young George Washington is caught lying to his father. Sick of being lectured, George goes to their yard to cut down their cherry tree in a fit of anger. While cutting, the axe slips out of his hand and hits a Native American totem pole nearby in the woods and infuses it with some kind of power. George runs away. Six months later in Philly, George – who has developed a seemingly supernatural inability to lie – and Paul Revere are now working as servants for a local lord. When a visitor overhears that the man George works for is planning to overthrow British colonial rule using some sort of secret weapon, things somehow get crazier.
Is it historically accurate, supernatural aspects aside? Not even a little. Army Of Darkness was a more accurate take on the Arthurian era than this book is of colonial America. Does the villain do an overly revealing monologue while an unsuspecting party listens on? Very yes. This is a fluff comic – there’s no substance, no deeper meaning, not much in the way of character study. You know what else it is? Fun as hell. It’s a bit lowbrow at times – see: every scene involving ladies’ man Ben Franklin – but it’s also quick, full of wisecracks, and has some neat action sequences that don’t take up too much space. It’s just a fun comic, and really, what’s wrong with that?
– David Lebovitz
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