Axel-In-Charge: Extending "Secret Wars," Excitement for a "Totally Awesome Hulk"
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our special guests are D.J. Kirkbride and Adam Knave, writers of Amelia Cole and the Unknown World, which was released last week by Monkeybrain Comics.
To see what Adam, D.J. and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
I caught up on Aquaman this week by marathoning the last seven issues. To my surprise, I’m still into it. I was nervous about how defensive it was at the beginning, like Geoff Johns didn’t know how to make Aquaman cool without directly telling all the people who think he’s not cool that “yeah huh, he is so.” And though there’s still some of that ten issues in (honestly, the Mera/Aquawoman bit gets old), for the most part Johns has settled into just telling interesting stories. I didn’t care for the Trench monsters that led off the series, but they’ve also led to a cool mystery and new information about Aquaman’s past, so that’s good. Especially since his past involves a very dangerous Black Manta and a killer jungle woman with a panther. I could have done without the fill-in issue where Mera beats up the most ridiculous, cookie-cutter, over-the-top sexual harasser in the history of literature, but whatever. Aquaman isn’t a must-read, but it’s good enough to keep me coming back for now. Faint praise, I know, but more than I expected by this point.
Superman Family Adventures #2: The sheer mention of Art Baltazar and Franco on a comic book should be enough reason for most folks to be interested in this book (the fun the creators have with these stories just pop off the pages). But I have to describe one deadpan great moment of humor (that appeals to both kids and adults). Bizarro hits Superman so hard it knocks him from Metropolis back to Kent farm. This prompts Ma Kent to nonchalantly greet Clark and the following dialogue occurs:
Supes: Oh hi, Ma.
Ma: How are the cousins?
Ma: Are you staying for dinner?
That one panel had more entertainment and wit in it than some four-issue arcs in other series.
Captain America & Iron Man #633: As solid and long-standing a rapport as Cap and Iron Man has (established in Avengers titles over the years), there’s still a novelty to me in a team-up story like this. Writer Cullen Bunn is ably assisted in the endeavor by artist Barry Kitson. I assume Kitson inks himself on this issue, as some of the strongest work I have seen from Kitson in a while (his work at Marvel has been incredibly uneven at times over the years, particularly if he does not ink himself). Kudos to Bunn for throwing the classic Cap villain Batroc the Leaper into the mix (and not having him employ that cheesy faux French accent [“zee” for “the”] that some writers misused over the years).
FF #19: I complained about Jonathan Hickman’s latest Fantastic Four issue (the first part of a Wakanda arc)—and then he turned around only to entertain the heck out of me with this done-in-one Wakanda issue, where the kids get to strut their skills in the wild. I will miss Hickman’s use of Dragon Man once he leaves the title. I hope future writers utilize the same approach with Dragon Man.
Simpsons Super Spectacular #15: Editor Bill Morrison should be commended for snagging Frank Brunner (known for many great horror and supernatural work) on a Doctor Strange homage in the tale Sorcery Most Foul.
Hulk #55: Writer Jeff Parker continues to make Thunderbolt Ross more of a well-rounded human being (in addition to the Hulk). But his main means of pulling it off is Ross’ relationship with Annie, the Life Model Decoy. Sure it’s a simple subplot, but I love reading how Parker allows the relationship to grow.
Batman: Earth One folds in all the necessary parts of the Batman story (Bruce Wayne, his parents’ murder, Alfred, the cape, the Arkham connection) but introduces each one individually, so it’s friendly to new readers (like me, actually, as I haven’t been following the series in regular continuity). It’s about Bruce Wayne becoming Batman, working it out, testing his equipment, and heading out to wreak his vengeance on the mayor of Gotham City, whom he holds responsible for his parents’ death. There’s a strong subplot about James Gordon, who isn’t commissioner yet, that really adds to the story. I almost liked the Gordon plot better, because although the Batman sequences are realistic, in that we get to see him screw up and his equipment fail, the plot is fairly pat. We don’t see much of the thought process, whereas the cop story is a fairly standard cop story. The mix of semi-realistic emotions and storytelling and fantasy elements is a bit jarring at times—the cape always seems out of place, even when the characters are talking about it—but overall, this was a very enjoyable new take on Batman and I would love to see more stories set in this world.
Adam P. Knave’s picks…
I’ve been reading the first of Marvel’s new Strikeforce: Morituri trades. I was a huge fan of the book back when it originally came out, and I find that even though it’s a bit over dramatic, I can’t get enough even now. Peter B. Gillis has a lot of fun playing with the concept and making you worry about the lifespan of any character, and early Brent Anderson art is still fun Brent Anderson art. It’s one of those rare gems that was huge in my mind when I was a kid and holds up today.
In more current comics I’ve also been sucked into Brian Wood and Kristian Donaldson’s The Massive from Dark Horse. Wood’s take on a total world collapse is chillingly good, and Donaldson’s art captures the world perfectly. It’s one of those great books firing on all levels at once. I can’t wait to see where they’re going with this and how deep the rabbit hole of the book’s mysteries go. Where is The Massive, and why did everything seem to crash at the same time? There are layers here, and it’s exciting to wait for them to be peeled back.
D.J. Kirkbride’s picks…
The revived Dark Horse Presents has been a favorite of mine since the debut issue. I’m a huge anthology fan, so this is right up my alley. The variety of comics is impressive, and though there are always going to be some stories that you like better than others in anthologies, the hit to miss ratio on DHP is very, very good. Favorites so far have included stories that are now their own books, like The Massive and the upcoming Number 13 (by my friend Robert Love). This book introduced me to the awesomeness that is Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder as well as Steve Niles’ Criminal Macabre and the amazing talent that is Sanford Greene with the Rotten Apple stories in the early issues. There’s too much to go into in a paragraph here, but suffice it to say, DHP is a great place to sample and discover an exciting variety of new comics.
One of my favorite comics out there since the first issue is iZombie. It’s sadly coming to an end soon, but it’s been a great run. Michael Allred is one of my all-time favorite comic book creators, so when he draws a book, I gotta pick it up. Happily, this book also introduced me to Chris Roberson, who is now one of my favorite writers (and publishers, heh). iZombie is so much more than I initially though based upon the title and basic description that it’s about a girl who is a zombie. It’s so much more than that, getting very philosophical while also remaining good, pop art fun. There are enough great stories and characters and creatures and monsters here to fill a hundred more issues, but I’m very happy that we got what we got and am looking forward to seeing how Roberson and Allred wrap it all up. If you missed out on the singles, there are three trades out now with a fourth (and I’m thinking final) one on the way. Really great, fun, interesting comic reading!
Adam/D.J. hybrid pick…
Adam: Oh, Saga. Saga! Brian K Vaughn and Fiona Staples are building a book that feels like it will stand alongside the great stories in comics for decades to come. There is nothing this book lacks. From the stellar writing to the linework, colors, and even the subtle use of lettering, Saga is one of those books that makes me want to finish an issue and go and write more comics. It’s the first thing I read when I get it in a batch of comics and the one I reread after getting through that batch.
D.J.: Saga is everything Adam said plus really, unapologetically weird. It’s just a bizarre story that could only be told in comics. Any book written by BKV is a must-buy for me, and Staples is a comic treasure (see also: Mystery Society). Saga is fearless serialized storytelling with fantastic, interesting characters, strange worlds–and we’ve only scratched the surface so far. This book is a must-read.