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!
Joe Golem #1
Written by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Art by Patric Reynolds and Dave Stewart (colors)
Lettered by Clem Robins
Dark Horse Comics
Joe Golem initially sold me due to Mike Mignola’s involvement. His noir novel set in a supernatural, half-flooded New York is intriguing, and this new side story seemed like an easy way to check it out. Once I actually dug in though, there was a lot more to keep me there, namely the gorgeous art by Reynolds and Stewart.
Joe Golem follows its eponymous private investigator through “the Drowning City,” an alternate 1960s New York that’s slowly sinking, like Venice. Joe is working on a case involving the disappearances of multiple children, pulled underwater by some sort of monster. It’s a good hook that’s written around the setting, and it evokes old pulp stories or weird fiction well. There’s also a lot of background magic to the setting, like Joe’s nightmares/flashbacks to a giant golem fighting some witches. It’s similar to Hellboy in tone, but definitely its own animal.
Visually, it can’t be beat. Frequent Mignola collaborators Reynolds and Stewart craft a look similar to classic Mignola works, but with a roughness and weight that suits the story. Stewart’s palette transition from the “prologue” of the issue to the story is clever, and the look of the book is immersive and deep. Overall, it’s a solid first outing from some comics veterans, familiar in a lot of good ways but still an distinct story itself.
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Written by Grant Morrison
Art by Dan Mora
Lettered by Ed Dukeshire
Like basically everyone else alive, I thought the announcement that Grant Morrison’s long-teased Boom! project would be a six-issue origin of Santa Claus was, to put it lightly, a tad out of left field. He’s not a newcomer to Christmas stories, but they tended — like his Happy! with Darick Robertson — to involve more child abduction and serial murder than good cheer and gift-giving. So it’s with considerable joy that I can confirm that Klaus is not only a really fun comic with a surprisingly compelling eye to detail to incorporating the different details of the Christmas myth, it’s also incredibly, supremely Grant Morrison.
Here at the beginning of the Santa Claus myth, Father Christmas isn’t the jolly, roly-poly gift-giver of the Coca-Cola commercials, at least not yet; he’s a fur trader with a sled, a badass pet wolf and an inherent sense of nobility. He comes upon the town of Grimsvig, that he remembers as a chill place where peeps took Yuletime-not-yet-Christmas off to get drunk with their pals and play with their kids, finding instead a joyless totalitarian dictatorship where toys are forbidden and the populace is forced to work the holidays for coal. I think you can get where Morrison’s going with this. I won’t spoil the reveal of what Santa’s elves really are here, but: when I finally figured it out, I literally yelped with delight.
As impressive as Morrison’s work providing a bizarre All-Star Santa Claus Year One is, what really blew me away in this issue was the absolutely fantastic art of relative newcomer Dan Mora. As far as I can tell, he has twelve issues of Boom! and Michael Alan Nelson’s Hexed, with a single issue of a book called Quixote written by Batman #44 letterer Deron Bennett. Mora’s work here is incredibly reminiscent of that of Francis Manapul; the majority of his work is incredibly attractive if straightforward storytelling, but when Morrison asks Mora (who colors his own line art here) to get weird in that way only Morrison comics can, he steps up to the plate fantastically.
I’m tempted to go on at length about everything else I loved in the issue and why I thought it worked, but I’d rather you discover it for yourself. It’s only November, but McDonald’s gave me a goddamn winter coffee cup yesterday, so it’s basically Christmas. Give yourself a present.
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