Some weeks, I can’t find anything to write about for this column, and then in others, so many good books come out that I can barely find the space to discuss them all. This is a good comic week for sure.
The Book I Want to Buy:
Prince of Cats
by Ronald Wimberly; Vertigo, $16.99
Here’s the solicitation for The Prince of Cats, the new OGN from Vertigo:
This hip-hop retelling of William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet focuses on Tybalt (derisively referred to as “the Prince of Cats”) and his Capulet crew as they do battle nightly with the hated Montagues. Set in a Blade Runner-esque version of Brooklyn, PRINCE OF CATS is a mix of urban drama, samurai action and classic Shakespearean theater…all written in iambic pentameter! Don’t miss this original graphic novel written and illustrated by Ronald Wimberly (SENTENCES: THE LIFE OF M.F. GRIMM)!
I don’t really why people like to do ‘urban’ takes on Shakespeare so often (I’m thinking of the graphic novel Julius, the young adult novel Romiette and Julio, and of course the Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company. But still, I guess this works sometimes (I didn’t like Julius), and Wimberly is an interesting artist. I enjoy Sentences, despite not liking MF Grimm’s music at all, and am curious to see how he works when on his own.
At the end of the day, I just trust Vertigo.
The Books I Think You Should Buy:
Glory Vol. 1 The Once and Future Destroyer
by Joe Keatinge and Ross Campbell; Image, $9.99
I do not like Rob Liefeld’s work in comics. I remember being excited by his New Mutants, but that was more of a reaction to the moribund and bird-obsessed stint of Louise Simonson and Bret Blevins’s that preceded Liefeld’s first issue. The influx of new characters did excite me, until I caught on to how one-dimensional they were (MLF?), and then I noticed just how bad his art was. When he moved on to Image, I followed for a while, but quickly lost interest in everything he did.
For that reason, I never read a Glory comic before its recent relaunch, and then I only grabbed it because of the involvement of Ross Campbell, creator of the strangely addictive Wet Moon (a new chapter of which comes out today!). Glory is a Wonder Woman analogue, who became active as a superhero during the Second World War. Her parents are from two separate, warring races. I don’t know if there’s anything else from Liefeld’s days with this character that survived.
The true main character of the series is a young woman named Riley, who has been dreaming about Glory for years. She’s tracked her down to a small French island, and shortly after meeting her, things go nuts. It seems that Riley has a destiny, and there are a lot of questions as to whether or not Glory is a force for good, or the greatest danger the planet faces.
If you like bizarre monsters, comic book women that look more like women do in the real world, and a story full of adventure and some unexpected twists, then I suggest you give this a try. It’s not as ground-breaking as Prophet, the other Liefeld relaunch that I love, but it is a solid, good read.
Manhattan Projects Vol. 1 Science Bad
by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra; Image, $14.99
Jonathan Hickman has proven himself to be a high-concept man when it comes to writing comics. His early mini-series (such as The Nightly News and Pax Romana) showed his ability to take a fresh idea and examine it from a few different angles. When he moved to mainstream superhero comics, writing Secret Warriors and then Fantastic Four and FF, he showed that he excels at laying out a complicated, multi-faceted storyline that juggles a number of different elements.
Now, he’s returned to creator-owned work, and has given us The Manhattan Projects, which shows off all of his strengths as a writer. The idea behind this book is that the original Manhattan Project, which built the atomic bomb, was in fact a cover for a wide variety of other scientific endeavours being undertaken at the end of the Second World War. In Hickman’s world, there are Projects.
He’s filled this book with the real characters who worked on the Project – Einstein, Feynstein, Oppenheimer, and more, but he has taken a complete balls-out crazy approach to them. Oppenheimer has an evil twin brother. Einstein has visited other dimensions. President Roosevelt is the world’s first artificial intelligence, and Truman officiates over bizarre rituals involving human sacrifice. There is an unpredictability to this book that makes it a complete pleasure to read, as Hickman tries out a variety of strange ideas. At the same time, there is a pacing and sense of set-up to things that makes me want to keep reading this book for a good long time.
Nick Pitarra is excellent at providing reasonable caricatures of the various famous people involved, but is also able to handle whatever weirdness (such as clockwork samurai warriors) that Hickman throws at him. This book is an absolute delight to read.
Thief of Thieves Vol. 1
by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer, and Shawn Martinbrough; Image, $14.99
Looking at the three names involved in writing and drawing this book should be enough for you. Kirkman provides the story, Spencer scripts it, and Martinbrough draws the hell out of it.
Thief of Thieves is another entry in the classic heist genre, and it is just as good as The Sting or The Italian Job. Redmond is a master thief, but he’s feeling his age, and is ready to retire. He basically bows out of a huge job, leaving his crew in the lurch, but when he learns that his son is in jail, and is being targeted by the authorities for leverage against Redmond, he decides that he’ll need to put together one last job.
Kirkman and Spencer build the story in a slow, organic way, letting us know all about Redmond, his marriage, and his world in such a way that we begin to like and care about him, despite his being a career criminal. When things popped off in the back third of this trade, I didn’t see all the twists coming, which is always a nice thing to have happen.
So, what would you buy, Were Money No Object?
Tags: Glory, Image, Joe Keatinge, Jonathan Hickman, Manhattan Projects, Nick Pitarra, Nick Spencer, Robert Kirkman, Ross Campbell, Shawn Martinbrough, Thief of Thieves, Vertigo