I’m hoping that the quality of comics this week outshines the missed quantity. And if you enjoyed the nudity from last week’s Black Magick, Image is keeping their gratuitous flaccid penis streak going strong this week. But which hyperlink will reveal the hyper-genitalia? I know you can’t wait.
Let’s find out together!
Comics to Look Forward to This Week
Twilight Children #2 (of 4) by Gilbert Hernandez, Darwyn Cooke and Dave Stewart (Vertigo)
Issue one of this super-group comic definitely delivered on the hype. Taking place in a small Latin American town, we meet a small group of kids messing around in a beach side cave, an adulterous couple fooling around behind the back of an unsuspecting husband, and the town drunk who has spotted a glowing sphere just offshore. The sphere affects each of them differently in the first issue, but I don’t want to spoil the story too much. Just take my advice and track down it down and read these two in one sitting.
Cooke’s almost animation style of art and Stewart’s muted colors perfectly complement each other through Hernandez’ unfolding magical realist story. There will be only four issues total, so Children won’t be a long reading investment, but it will definitely be worth your time.
Autumnlands #7 (Tooth & Claw) by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, Jordie Bellaire and Comicraft
Autumnlands’ first six-issue arc just wrapped up a few months ago, and you can pick up the first trade for less than $10 (as part of Image’s genius policy of selling almost every first trade for $9.99 retail) which is a great deal for six issues worth of story. Busiek’s story starts on a floating city of anthropomorphised animal wizards. Soon, disaster strikes the city and the animals cast one desperate spell to call forth a mythical hero from their legends. The tone of the story quickly melds fantasy with classic Sci-Fi.
Ben Dewey’s art has an extremely heavy inky feel to it, almost like watercolor, and the first issue is beautiful. His detailed work starts to crack under the constraints of a monthly comic in later issues, with a lot of his backgrounds looking rushed or unfinished in places. But I’m hopeful that the break the whole team took will bring some of the magic (was the pun intended? Yes.) of his early pages. Regardless, it’s a fun comic that straddles a few fun genres.
Birthright #11 by Joshua Williamson, Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas
Birthright starts off as a straightforward story of a boy named Mikey who goes missing in the woods; and showing the effects on his his family while they search for him, before eventually giving up after several months. The story then goes off the rails as a completely ripped, bearded barbarian of a man shows up out of nowhere claiming to be the missing boy and spouting claims of a terrible evil coming to destroy the Earth.
There’s an interesting mix of themes going on in this comic. One the one hand, you have an almost run-of-the-mill fantasy of fighting the ultimate evil in our world with an almost invincible warrior confused by modernity. But Williamson added the missing child element. How would you react if you lost your child, only to have them show up again fully grown and seemingly crazy. If you knew it was your child, would you believe him even though he sounds completely insane? It’s an interesting hook and the story has kept me coming back each month beyond that.
Descender #7 by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen
I have to constantly juggle my time between reading books and reading comics. If I settle into a good book, I’ll sometimes set my comics reading back a couple of weeks. I then try to catch up on my pile of comics so I can stay ahead, which then leaves my book stack slowly piling up. This was a long way of saying I love books as much as I love comics, and usually I will gravitate towards a story even in the art is lacking.
However, there are some comics that I will read mostly for the art, and of course this is the case with Descender. Dustin Nguyen was an interesting artist when he worked on a lot of Batman titles back in the mid to late ‘00s, but I fell in love when he started working in watercolor. He produced a digital-first DC comic called Batman: Li’l Gotham, which was an all-ages chibi-style out of continuity stack of one-off stories in this gorgeous bright watercolor.
Nguyen continues to develop this style in Descender. Descender is a Pinocchio story of an android trying to escape destruction after mostrobots have been destroyed in retaliation for an AI attack. The story hasn’t really grabbed me like a lot of other Image books, but I do love looking at Nguyen’s art whenever possible.
Southern Bastards #12 Jason LaTour and Chris Brunner
Southern Bastards’ regular interior artist takes the writing reins from Jason Aaron this issue in an arc that continues to take a deeper look into the individual characters that were introduced in the first two trades. This comic follows the residents of Craw County, Alabama, most of whom are ruled by the county’s high school football coach Euless Boss.
The first four issue arc focused on the return of Earl Tubb to Craw County, and what can happen to anyone who crosses Coach Boss. The second arc focused squarely on Euless himself and how he came to run Craw County. Each issue after #8 has been about the lesser characters that surround Coach Boss and his world and I’m really digging this comic’s ability to tell a one-shot story that also ties into the overall narrative.
The Walking Dead #148 by Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Stefano Gaudiano and Cliff Rathburn
The Walking Dead has had some lulls during its long run of almost 150 issues. Some of my friends have given up on the series after a cycle seemed to present itself: Rick and company find a seemingly safe place to stay, they stay for a while with some terrible human shit happening within the walls, zombies break through their defenses, an important character that people loved dies, and Rick and the rest move on. It was a cycle that allowed Kirkman develop his characters in a fairly stagnant world, but even I was getting ready to move on.
But then Kirkman decided to jump two years into the future starting with issue #127 and I was instantly back in. Instead of just trying to survive, Rick and the remaining characters get a chance to try and rebuild civilization with all of the different problems inherent to that process. I guess it helps that I’m a bigger fan of post-apocalyptic world-building than I am of zombie apocalypses. I think this was the perfect way for Kirkman to continue his story while still breaking out of the cycle, and I’m happy to give him another 100 issues or so to keep things fresh.
New Comics to Try This Week
The Goddamned #1 by Jason Aaron, R.M. Guera, and Guilia Brusco
This is hands-down the comic I’m looking forward to reading the most this week. Aaron and Guera first collaborated on a Vertigo title Scalped (which is an excellent crime series set on an Indian reservation) and I loved every issue of that series. The Goddamned looks to take the same criminal focus and transplant it into the world of the Bible before the flood that spared only Noah and his family.
Aaron isn’t interested in retelling the story of Noah’s ark, however. He’s interested in the world and the people who inhabit that were so terrible that God decided to just wipe them out. And because that world was completely wiped out, Aaron is giving himself free reign to populate this world with whatever crazy creatures and prehistoric people he pleases. The preview art really has me excited as well, and not just because of the unabashed violence and nudity. The world looks so muted and hellish and I can’t wait to see what kind of story Aaron creates in this totally unique world.
All-New Hawkeye #1 by Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez (Marvel)
Calling this Hawkeye a new number one is a bit of a misnomer. Not only does this issue continue the story of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop from Lemire and Perez’ short run before Battle World, that story was a continuation of the team dynamic set up and explored in Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run.
I know that all sounds exactly like the last thing you might want to try and delve into if you’re interested in Hawkeye. I’m sure Lemire has set this up to stand on its own. This “All-New” story takes place simultaneously in the present and 20 years in the future. It’s an interesting angle after their last run took place in the present and past. I can’t say I’ve been in love with this run like I was with Fraction and Aja’s story, but when creators (especially at Marvel or DC) decide to try new ways of telling stories I’m willing to give it a shot.
Trade Waiting is the Hardest Part
The Goon Library Volume 1 Hardcover by Eric Powell (Dark Horse)
The Goon is a weird comic. It’s listed as an Action/Adventure as well as a Horror comic, and it’s definitely filled those niches in its 15 years of getting published. This is especially true in the comic’s last arc, which may or may not be the end of the series altogether. But first and foremost, The Goon has always been funny. It is a fucking hilarious comic. Ostensibly, the Goon is an enforcer for the gangster Lobrazio with his sidekick Frankie. But the comic is really just an excuse to set up some ridiculous monster to try and fight the Goon, who just wants to drink. Here are some of the villains the Goon has had to face:
There’s nothing scary about these guys, but Lord help me I laugh every time I think of the Psychic Seal. He may be one of my favorite gags in this comic. You should notice something else about these characters. Every one of them is gorgeously drawn. Powell works with pencils before adding a watercolor wash over the pictures. Everything remains detailed while still having that distinct subdued effect of watercolor. Unfortunately you won’t see as much of this style as his later goon issues in this volume, as he’s just starting to try out these techniques in this Library Volume, which collects Dark Horse’s first three volumes of The Goon. However, the strength of his line-work is still on full display, as you can see below.
The Goon is one of the few comics that I actively try to collect all of the individual issues to keep as a collection, but being able to read these early stories again without the hassle of taking the comics out of their sleeves makes me so damn happy. I can not wait to see that stupid Seal’s face again in glorious, full-sized color.
Fantastic Comics and Where to Find Them
I hope some of these comics appeal to you. If they do, make sure you go out and buy them, either digitally or in the tactilely unsurpassed form of print. Unless the comics are already big sellers or limited series books, buying the single issues is your best chance to make sure that comic persists. This is particularly true when it comes to Image and other Independent publishers. The creators are paying the publishing costs out of their own pockets and a comic that sells low at first very rarely picks up new readers in the short term.
Digitally, you have a few different options. Comixology has every major publisher and a lot of minor publishers. If you’re a big Image fan, you can go directly through them and cut out the middle man. Another plus to Image’s site is that you actually own the comic, DRM-free. You’re not just paying for the right to look at the comic, you can download a .pdf and do what you will with it.]
Paper comics can be found at your Local Comic Book Shop, and should have discounts if you start a pull list with them, which is basically having them order and reserve comics you like every month.