Vaughan & Chiang's "Paper Girls" Builds a Familiar Yet Disconcerting World
Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a splurge item.
If I had $15, I’d be tempted to blow it all on the recolored Death of Superman collection for the ’90s nostalgia. But then I’d probably flip through it and come to my senses, and instead get something new like Fatale #12 ($3.50) by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, which looks like it’s going to be a trip, flashing back to Medieval times but self-contained as a good entry point for new readers. That’s smart comics. Speaking of smarty-pants, I’d probably get The Manhattan Projects #9 ($3.50) by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. It’s the first part of a two-part story about scientists trying to take over the world. There will probably be lots of words that leave me dizzy. I likely wouldn’t be able to resist Matt Wagner writing The Shadow: Year One #1 ($3.99) because, you know, The Shadow knows. I haven’t been following IDW’s G.I. Joe universe but G.I. Joe #1 ($3.99) by Fred Van Lente and Steve Kurth seems like a good opportunity to try it out. And I’d finish it off with Cyber Force #3 by Marc Silvestri and Koi Pham because it’s free.
With $30, I would add to the above. Darkhawk is on the cover of Avengers Arena #4 ($2.99) by Dennis Hopeless and Alessandro Vitti, so I’d be compelled to buy that. I’ve been meaning to check out Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening’s Ghostbusters since I hear it’s real fun, so the relaunched Ghostbusters #1 ($3.99) is a perfect opportunity. Morning Glories #24 ($2.99) by Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma seems too intriguing to pass up. I am so behind on the X-books, but I’d be real tempted to try Brian Michael Bendis and Chris Bachalo’s Uncanny X-Men #1 ($3.99).
My splurge item would be tough. I’d be real tempted to get either the Iron Man Omnibus collecting the entire run of David Michelinie, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr., including the famous alcoholism story, or Counter X: Generation X – Four Days by Brian Wood. But I’d probably end up instead getting the Daredevil By Mark Waid, Vol. 1 hardcover for $35. I don’t know, do I need to justify this purchase? It’s probably the most beloved superhero comic of last year, maybe for the last couple of years. It paved the way for similarly rejuvenating series at Marvel like Hawkeye, Captain Marvel, and Young Avengers. The art by Paolo Rivera and Marcos Martin is swoon-worthy. And it wants to be on my bookshelf, dagnabbit!
If I had $15, I’d start the comics haul off right with Manhattan Projects #9 (Image, $1.99, digital). I’m segueing to digital this week in a tentative step to avoid clutter, and also to save some money … But about the book. I’ve loved Manhattan Projects so far as a sprawling story without any end in sight, but I’m glad this new issue promises that “everything clicks into place” with this issue, the beginning of a new arc. Not to build expectations too high, but it feels like the early season finales of The Wire where all the hard work finally pays off. After this book, I’d spend the rest of my $15 on Hiroaki Samura’s Emerald and Other Stories TP (Dark Horse, $12.99). I’m buying this in print for my bookshelf, and I must say I’m proud of my Samura collection. From Blade of the Immortal to his previous short-story collection Ohikkoshi, Samura’s positively a titan in comics for me. This one promises Wild West adventures, humor, and even some musical drama. If I had to pick, this would be my pick of the week.
If I had $30, I’d rush back into my local comic shop to catch up on the latest in corporate-owned comics with spirit, starting with Star Wars #2 (Dark Horse, $2.99). I haven’t been this excited about Star Wars comics since Dark Empire, but that first issue of Star Wars by Brian Wood and Carlos D’Anda really, really worked for me. Positioning Leia as the center of a black ops X-Wing squad? Sold. Wood really gets to the heart of these characters without going into a fannish homage mode, and Carlos D’Anda fits on this much better than I imagined. After this I’d spend the rest of my money on Marvel’s X books – Wolverine and the X-Men #25 (Marvel, $3.99) and Uncanny X-Men #1 (Marvel, $3.99). I feel like I should be more excited about Uncanny X-Men than I am; I love Chris Bachalo’s art, and I liked Bendis’ All-New X-Men more than expected, but something isn’t clicking. I’m giving this issue a chance anyway. For Wolverine and the X-Men, I’m hoping this makes up for the lackluster previous art – and adding Ramon Perez is bound to help.
If I could splurge, I’d get the stupendous Genius Illustrated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth, Vol. 2 (IDW, $49.99). I’ve known about Alex Toth for decades, but I gained my ultimate appreciation for him in the most unlikeliest of ways: through his daughter, whom I met and did an art exhibit with about ten years ago. That personal connection really pushed me down the Toth road and I’m all the better for it. The inaugural volume of Genius Illustrated was great, so I’m looking forward for this one to show me unseen art and bring his work into a broader context.
If I had $15, I’d delve into my second childhood (or midlife crisis, take your pick) by grabbing Ariol: Just a Donkey Like You and Me, a new all-ages, funny animal comic by Emmanuel Guibert and Marc Boutavant. Guilbert is, of course, the creator behind such high-minded comics as The Photographer and Alan’s War. I’m curious to see how he’ll handle this lighter, more kid-friendly material (probably pretty well, since he’s also the co-creator of the Sardine in Outer Space series).
If I had $30, I’d grab Susceptible, the latest graphic novel from Genevieve Castree, a French Canadian musician and artist, about a daydreaming, very troubled teen-age girl struggling to grow up and find her identity. I’m not at all familiar with Castree’s work, but the samples D&Q has been posting on their blog have intrigued me enough to be willing to shell out the cash for the book.
It’s a good week for splurging. Milo Manara fans will certainly want to pick up Vol. 4 in Dark Horse’s ongoing Manara Library project — this one collects the various Giuseppe Bergman stories. For me the obvious splurge is Genga, a catalog from a major exhibition highlighting the work of none other than Katsuhiro Otomo of Akira fame. It’s rare that we get any new Otomo books, catalog exhibition or no, so this is truly a special occasion worth parting serious money for.
If I had $15, the first of it would go to Ame-Comi Girls #5 ($3.99), for all the reasons I mentioned in my review of that series. Right after that though, I’d want to check out Secret Avengers #1 ($3.99) featuring all the Avengers-related spy characters … and Hulk. How could that not be a blast? And since my super-hero comics are super-expensive this week, I have just enough money left for Planet of the Apes Special #1 ($4.99), featuring Daryl Gregory’s return to the PotA world.
With $30, I’d just add Martin Powell and Jamie Chase’s adaptation of Hound of the Baskervilles ($14.99) for Dark Horse. It’s a familiar story, but it’s also one of my favorites. Not just of Sherlock Holmes, but of literature period.
I’d have a difficult time picking one thing to spend my splurge money on this week. Atomic Robo, Volume 7: Atomic Robo and the Flying She-Devils of the South Pacific ($18.95) collects comics that I’ve already got, but there’s no way I’m leaving Atomic Robo, Volumes 1-6 alone on the bookshelf. Still, if I could only grab one splurge item, I’d save Robo for later and instead get Faith Erin Hicks’ Adventures of Superhero Girl ($16.99) because its Faith Erin Hicks that I haven’t read yet.