The Books I Think You Should Buy:
Pigs Vol. 1 Hello Cruel World
by Nate Cosby, Ben McCool, Breno Tamura, and Will Sliney; Image, $12.99
Pigs is an interesting series. I’d like to say that it’s a great series, but so far, the storytelling has not exactly lived up to the promise of the concept. I have hope for it though, as the writers claim to have a detailed plan in place for this story; it just feels like they are taking a little too long to get there, when one is reading the comic on a monthly basis. In a trade? It should feel more substantial.
Pigs is about a group of KGB agents who were planted in Cuba as sleeper agents back around the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. They’ve been waiting ever since for their activation, and have passed their mission on to their children, raising them and training them to complete whatever task never came their way. When the series opens, the patriarch of the group has just died, and the order is finally given.
The sleeper agents travel to the US, and begin to go about their mission. First, they must bring back the ‘White Russian’ into the fold. He was one of them as a child, but had subsequently moved to the States, married, and settled down. We still don’t know why he’d left, but that provides much of the tension in the first handful of issues. Also, as readers, we are kept somewhat in the dark about the mission the agents are one, but that we know it will somehow end up with some police having possession of the President of the United States’s arm.
Like I said, there is a lot of promise in this series. It’s worth checking out.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man by Brian Michael Bendis Vol. 1 HC
by Brian Michael Bendis and Sara Pichelli; Marvel, $24.99
Surprised to see this recommended in this column? Me too, to be honest. At a time where I find myself dropping just about every other Brian Michael Bendis book on the stands, this series came along, full of an optimism and charm utterly lacking in most mainstream comics. I’ve never read any of Bendis’s other two Ultimate Spider-Man runs, and hadn’t expected to be interested in this book in the least.
Then I started hearing good things about it, and finally decided to check it out when I found the first four issues in a sale for a reasonable price. Now, this series is on my pull-list.
When the news broke that Miles Morales, a young black and Latino kid was going to be taking over the guise of Spider-Man in the Ultimate line, the press used it to create any number of race-baiting ‘comics aren’t what they used to be’ stories, and among all the noise and outright racism (I’m looking at you Fox News comment section), few people realized that in Miles, Bendis had created a great new character. Miles is a nice kid with a sense of responsibility. He lacks the traumas of Peter Parker, having been raised by his parents in a safe home, and attending a magnet school for bright children. The worst thing in his life is that his uncle is the Ultimate Prowler, and his dad used to be a crook, both of which were secrets kept from him before the series started.
So what drives Miles? Nothing more than a genuine desire to do what’s right in the world. It’s refreshing to see the opposite of grim’n’gritty comics, even if it takes five issues for Miles to get the costume that was on the cover of the first issue. Sara Pichelli’s art is stupendous, as she manages to make Miles look like a normal kid. This is a terrific series.
by Joe Casey and Nick Dragotta; Marvel, $24.99
For a while now, Joe Casey has been working on becoming his own comics genre, much in the way that Jack Kirby and Grant Morrison have become theirs. Works like his The Last Defenders, Dark Reign: Zodiac, Final Crisis Aftermath: Dance, Youngblood, Butcher Baker the Righteous Maker, and now Haunt and Vengence fit better together than they do in their respective comics universes. With a Casey book, the reader can expect to find media conscious, media savvy individuals with questionable morals going through the motions of superheroism, but for their own ends as much as for the ‘common good’. His books are always interesting, and usually more than a little madcap. He’s usually accompanied by artists that are as crazy and madcap as he is, although not always.
Vengeance fits nicely in the Casey genre, and it follows up on a number of plot lines that he’s sprinkled through his earlier Marvel work. The mini-series was not well marketed by Marvel, so that people believed it was about Magneto, which isn’t true. Instead, it’s about the latest incarnation of the Teen Brigade, and it stars new characters The Ultimate Nullifier and Ms. America Chavez, as well as old favourites Beak and Angel from Morrison’s X-Men run. It also features the new Masters of Evil, who are going around trying to prove themselves.
The two teams clash, there are some demons and a plotline that has to do with a young emo version of the In-Betweener, and the Defenders team that Casey wrote about in his Defenders series show up. So do Magneto, Doctor Octopus, The Red Skull, Loki, and the corpse of Bullseye. Also, Casey’s lasting contribution to the X-Men, Stacy X, the super-powered mutant prostitute makes an appearance.
I’m not going to lie, this is a strange comic, but I found it the most entertaining thing Marvel published last year. I love Nick Dragotta’s art; he uses an approach completely different than his recent work on THUNDER Agents, and it looks very modern and sleek. Get this series, and support the stranger side of Marvel. The alternative is weekly issues of Avengers and Spider-Man, while nothing else gets published one day.
So, what would you buy Were Money No Object?
Tags: Ben McCool, Brian Michael Bendis, Image, Joe Casey, Marvel, Nate Cosby, nick dragotta, Pigs, Sara Pichelli, Ultimate Comics Spider-Man, Vengeance, Will Sliney