The Best Comic of the Week:
Days of Hate #2 – Ales Kot’s new series with Danijel Zezelj really has my attention. A pair of terrorists blew up a restaurant full of alt-right types in retaliation for the firebombing of a gay club, and now we get to know those two a lot better. The ex-wife of one of them continues to struggle with her life, while the agent that interrogated her last issue gets to visit his family. Kot is playing the long game with this series, which is always a danger for him (as he’s not known for actually finishing things well), but since he’s writing to Zezelj’s atmospheric strengths, I’m very happy to watch this story slowly unspool. It feels like it’s a pretty necessary comic for the current moment, as it seems to be questioning why people need to move to such extreme viewpoints. It’s good stuff.
Black Panther #170 – I’m not all that excited to learn this week that Marvel is already abandoning its Legacy numbering and relaunching this title in the coming months. Ta-Nehisi Coates’s story keeps moving along, as our hero and his various allies get closer to the truths behind their current foes in this issue, and make a strange discovery. This is another very solid issue of a solid run. This is the first regular issue of the Panther’s book that I’ve read since seeing (and loving) the movie. It’s interesting to see how differently Coates portrays Wakanda than Ryan Coogler did in his film. There, Wakanda is a virtual Utopia brought about by uncolonized isolation. In Coates’s hands, the questioning of tradition and the role of the monarchy makes me think he might (as I found I was) be more sympathetic to Killmonger’s point of view. It’s cool that we now live in a world where comics and comic book movies debate issues like this, and I love that the comic and the movie can be so different from one another and stay enjoyable.
Calexit #2 – After waiting months for this to come out, my copy is a mess of duplicated pages. Frustrating…
Darth Vader #12 – Having survived one attempt on his life, it’s time for Vader to face another, as it becomes clear that ambiguities surrounding his place in the Imperial hierarchy are causing him problems. Charles Soule is doing a fine job of exploring Vader’s early days in that guise, and it’s all pretty interesting. I’m not sure we need the long sequences of him meditating, but otherwise, I’m happy with this run.
Detective Comics #975 – This issue, which has the Bat-family meeting to discuss what to do with Batwoman after the events of two issues back, is probably the apogee of James Tynion IV’s run on this title. He shows real insight into these characters, especially Bruce and Tim, and reveals why Batman went along with Tim’s ideas in the first place. At the same time, Kate is coming to grips with what she has done, and is trying to figure out where she should go from here. I’ve really liked Tynion’s work on this title, and am unhappy to hear that he’s likely going to be leaving it as DC shakes up their line soon. I can’t help but wonder what the point of the Batwoman ongoing title is, since all this character work is being done on Kate in this title.
Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #1 – Jeff Lemire returns to the Black Hammer universe with yet another prequel series – this one featuring Doctor Star in the 1940s, framed with sequences set in the modern day. Doctor Star is basically the Golden Age Starman – he’s even named Jim Robinson, a nod to comics writer James Robinson who did such wonderful work with the Starman family in the 90s, and we see his origin and his decision to join other heroes in taking the fight to Hitler during the Second World War. It’s all pretty basic nostalgia stuff, with some very nice art by Max Fiumara. Lemire can do this kind of thing for days, and while there’s nothing wrong with it at all, there’s also nothing particularly special here. I think I got this comic early somehow, as it looks like it’s supposed to be coming out this coming Wednesday. Weird…
Justice League of America #25 – It really feels like Steve Orlando is working to wrap up his run (just as the team is rebuilding their headquarters). We return to the first story arc, as Batman and Black Canary travel to Angor to try to revive that dead world (universe?), and confront a cosmic being called an Adjudicator around their plans. I don’t know – Batman is not the kind of character who should be debating cosmic principles with omnipotent beings – it just doesn’t work for me. Orlando’s had good intentions for this run, but the execution has never quite been right.
Motor Crush #10 – It’s a very action-filled issue as Domino goes to rescue her father from the Producers just as one of the illegal biking gangs makes it move to take over Nova Honda. This story is really speeding up, and more and more crazy things keep happening, while most of the answers to questions we’ve been asking since it all began are being withheld. It feels like this book is moving towards a finish – how many more arcs are expected after this one ends next issue?
Royal City #10 – Jeff Lemire continues his examination of a small town 90s family with this issue, which has Tommy experience a couple of firsts. Anyone who has read the first arc knows what’s going to happen to Tommy soon, which adds poignancy to this arc. It’s beautifully written and drawn, and appropriately steeped in nostalgia without letting it get out of hand. I really love this title.
Saga #49 – The family is all back together, although still being hunted, and it’s time to explore some options. The two reporters make Marko and Alanna an offer that can provide them with new lives, but it looks like it might be Prince Robot who is more interested in arranging something similar. It’s easy to see where the cracks that will divide the group are coming from. This series continues to enthrall.
The Terrifics #1 – Okay, I’m the first to admit that aside from Batman, I know very little about what’s going on in the DC Universe these days, and even there, I can easily get confused by post-Flashpoint, post-New 52, post-Rebirth continuity. I haven’t been reading Metal, and don’t know the first thing about it. I picked up this new debut on the strength of Jeff Lemire’s name (despite his not having the best track record for corporate team books), and the inclusion of a new Phantom Girl. Really, I’m kind of lost as to what’s going on here. Mister Terrific (the former JSA chairman, or another version) goes to see Simon Stagg, who has opened a portal to the Negative Zone (sorry, Dark Multiverse), which is a problem somehow. Terrific, Metamorpho, and an inert Plastic Man do some exploring, sort of, and find a new friend and a mystery to solve. I hate that this book includes Alan Moore’s Tom Strong (that’s not a spoiler, since he’s been in all the promotional stuff for this title). Moore’s characters should be left alone, not just because he should get to decide how they are used, but also because they are kind of done at this point. Anyway, I know that this title has been getting a lot of press as DC’s version of the Fantastic Four, and I think that Lemire is leaning into it a little too much. Metamorpho, Terrific, and Plas all seem to know each other pretty well, but how is not referred to or established. The Dark Multiverse stuff is not explained very well either. Ivan Reis’s art is perfectly serviceable house style stuff, but doesn’t seem to deserve the level of praise that the “New Age of Heroes” line, which is supposed to be an artist-focused thing, has been heaping on it. I’ll give this an arc, because I trust Lemire, but I already think I’m going to stop preordering it, and just pick it up off the stands if I like it.
Twisted Romance #4 – I’ve really enjoyed Alex De Campi’s weekly series, which has been made up of four stand-alone issues written by De Campi and drawn by various female collaborators. Each issue has also had a prose story from four different writers, and a back-up piece by different cartoonists. In a lot of ways, this last issue is the weakest, as De Campi plays with the fairy tale genre to give us a twist on the typical story of the princess that has been trapped by a dragon. It’s still very well written, and Trungles’s cartoonish art suits it perfectly. I just found that I wasn’t as grabbed by the story as I was for the first three issues. Still, as an experiment in anthology storytelling (and weekly comics), Twisted Romance was a big success for me. Sure, it’s definitely a niche project, but I enjoyed it a lot. It was always unpredictable, and serves as a perfect showcase for De Campi’s wide range of talent and comfort in different genres. I hope to see her do something like this again soon.
The Wilds #1 – I’m willing to give just about any book from Black Mask a shot these days, so I figured I’d check out this new title from Vita Ayala and Emily Pearson. The setup is kind of typical – there’s been a virus that has left the infected as more or less zombies, and it seems that the survivors have set up a network of fortified zones, with people designated as runners moving back and forth as contracted couriers. This series focuses on one of these runners, Daisy, who works as much out of a sense of obligation and devotion to improving the world as she does for her status in the community, despite her girlfriend’s objections. It’s a strong debut, setting up the whole scenario well, and suggesting that something big is going to happen in the next issue. I like Pearson’s artwork. It reminds me a lot of Tula Lotay’s, without all the colourful swirls, and it’s kind of interesting to see a predominately pastel post-Apocalyptic world.
X-O Manowar #12 – Aric has to face the people who have deposed him, and the alien bounty hunters they brought to his planet. It’s another very nice looking issue, thanks to artist Ryan Bodenheim. I’ve liked the way that Matt Kindt has dropped Aric into such unfamiliar settings; it’s done a lot to refresh the character.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
All-New Wolverine #31
Doctor Strange #386
Invincible Iron Man #597
Jessica Jones #17
Moon Knight #192
Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #300
Victor Lavalles Destroyer TP
X-Men Blue #22
The Wild Storm #4-9 – There’s a lot to like about Warren Ellis and Jon Davis-Hunt’s revamp of the Wildstorm Universe, but this really is designed to be read in trade or larger chunks. Very little happens in each issue of this series, as we slowly learn of the turf war between IO and Stormwatch, and where most of the main characters fit within that. Davis-Hunt’s art is wonderful, and the new character designs are great. There are a lot of things that I realize I should recognize as references or something, but my Wildstorm memory is not all that great, and I think a lot of this is going over my head.
The Week in Graphic Novels:
Written by Steven T. Seagle
Art by Mads Ellegård Skovbakke, Fred Tornager, Thorbjørn Petersen, Sim Mau, Rebekka Davidsen Hestbæk, Emei Olivia Burell, Andrada-Aurora Hansen, Erlend Jhortland Sandøy, Ingvild Marie Methi, Thomas Vium, Christoffer Hammer, Aske Schmidt Rose, Silja Lin, Angelica Inigo Jørgensen, Tina Burholt, Hope Hjort, Bob Lundgreen Kristiansen, Cecilie “Q” Maintz Thorsen, Patricia Amalie Eckerle
As I’ve mentioned recently, I’ve long been a fan of Steven T. Seagle’s comics work. Also, confession time, I love a nice soak in heated water, and don’t often care if there are other people around while I do it. Therefore, Get Naked, Seagle’s new book of “graphic essays” about coming to terms and experimenting with social nudity appealed to me.
Seagle has described this book as being in the style of Spalding Grey or David Sedaris’s autobiographical essays, and while that’s a fair comparison, what makes this book incredibly interesting is the way in which his massive list of mainly Nordic collaborators have chosen to interpret and present his words visually.
Every essay in this book is set in a different city, and concerns a time when Seagle ended up getting naked in front of other people (mostly physically, but occasionally emotionally). We see him have touristic mishaps in a small Czech town, find his way into a mixed-gender nude swimming complex in Berlin, enjoy a nude celebrity encounter in a Korean spa in LA, and stress out about having to get naked with some comics fans in the showers after a soccer game in Spain.
Many of these stories are pretty funny, especially as they deal with a very common form of neuroses that just about everyone can relate to at some level. It’s interesting that Seagle is determined to become more comfortable in his own skin, despite some awkward experiences. For a while, I was confused as to why he keeps returning to his fear of nakedness, but then it’s revealed that he has to take up swimming for health purposes, and things become a little more clear.
In the final analysis, this book can also be seen as an exploration of one of the ways in which America is so different from the rest of the world, in terms of its discomfort with nudity. In the countries that Seagle visits (Japan, Korea, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Australia, Estonia, Czech Republic, and others), no one is too hung up on their appearance, nor are they as terrified of having someone catch a peek at them as Americans (and, often, Canadians) seem to be. Seagle, who travels extensively for his animation work, and to appear at conventions, never seems to miss an opportunity to experience local customs, and that’s pretty cool.
This book feels liberating in a number of ways, and features some terrific artwork by such a large number of collaborators. Some of the chapters are very detailed artistically, while others are loose and very cartoony. At times, the writing and art styles didn’t exactly match, but in most cases they were very complimentary to one another. Each chapter opens with a “travel poster” by Emei Olivia Burrell, and these were gorgeous. I could easily see them framed and hanging in spas all over the world.
Tags: The Weekly Round-Up