Best of 7 Archives - Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources
It was Mark Waid Week last week at Marvel, and the veteran writer penned two more winning installments of S.H.I.E.L.D. (issue #3) and Daredevil (issue #13).
For the latter, Waid and artist Chris Samnee (with colorist Matthew Wilson) poked fun at the old “loved one in danger” trope, as Daredevil fought to save Kirsten from an unknown opponent. Not only did this happen with the express acknowledgment that Daredevil’s relationships tend to have unhappy ends, it explored just who might want to abduct her, and put a couple of subplot-servicing twists on top just for good measure. Waid and Samnee have been so reliably good for so long on this title that they may risk being taken for granted, but this issue was a real treat. Done in one but with a final-page hint of future danger, Waid’s script was propulsive enough to keep the reader both involved and guessing throughout.
One of the neat things about this upcoming Secret Wars mega-super-hyper-combo event is that a lot of cool projects are coming out of the woodwork — not just to support the unfolding crash of realities, but to sneak in some books that make entirely too much sense. While Battleworld rages on, it would be ridiculous not to have a cadre of teen heroes roaming the field and making their way in the mighty Marvel manner. Since the Secret Wars themselves are happening to create a universal order on a massive scale and enforcing a set universe out of countless others, it makes sense that someone (or someones) are going to want to rebel against that universal order. Thus, the Runaways.
Drawn Onward, by Matt Madden (Retrofit Comics)
I’m mostly familiar with Matt Madden as someone who writes about the theory and practice of comics, as the co-author (with his wife, Jessica Abel) of Drawing Words and Writing Pictures, as well as the sole author of 99 Ways to Tell a Story, so I wasn’t too surprised that this comic would be an experiment in form. In fact, the name gives it away: Drawn Onward is a palindrome. The story, a tale of infatuation and obsession set almost entirely on the New York subway, reads at first like a straightforward tale of a woman’s encounter with a strange man who keeps bothering her—and with whom she becomes obsessed. But the last page of the comic is only the midpoint of the story: The narrator tells the reader to go back and read the comic backwards, and when you do, it’s the same story with the roles reversed.
This week brought some great news for fans of Stan Sakai’s long-eared ronin — Dark Horse announced that the ongoing Usagi Yojimbo will return this May.
While it’s been three years since we last saw an issue of the Usagi Yojimbo regular series, neither Sakai nor Usagi haven’t been absent from comic shelves. During that time Dark Horse released the Eisner-nominated 47 Ronin, by Sakai and writer Mike Richardson. And last year brought the War of the Worlds-inspired Usagi Yojimbo: Senso miniseries, a “What if?”-like tale that saw an older Usagi battling an alien invasion.
Since the late 1970s, on a weekly basis, I always have eagerly anticipated the day new comics were released. This week was faced with the greatest amount of anticipation, because of events in my personal life. In the early hours of this past Tuesday morning, a seizure of unknown origin rendered me temporarily unable to speak and unexpectedly hospitalized for a few days. One immediate change due to my hospitatlization, state law prohibits me from driving for the next six months. Fortunately, my wife was kind enough to drive me to the comic book store the day after my release from the hospital.
This week, due to my health scare, I was just a smidge more appreciative than normal to see the release of the first issue for Jimmie Robinson’s new Image Comics creator-owned series, The Empty.
For the past week, Kamala Khan fans have been gathering at Kamalacon, a Tumblr celebrating the one-year anniversary of the first issue of Ms. Marvel. I have no idea whether this is a grass-roots thing or some clever guerrilla marketing by Marvel, but it’s fascinating to see the range of fans who have contributed cosplay photos, selfies with their collections, Kamala-themed playlists, and fanart that ranged from sketchbook drawings to animated GIFs to cookies and Funko sculptures. There was even a virtual gift exchange.
Kamalacon kicked off with a series of essays by readers about what Kamala Khan means to them. The first thing that struck me on glancing at them was the diversity of the writers. There’s something universal about Kamala’s story that appeals to many readers, from a Muslim woman who sees parallels to her own life to the white guy who compares it to Quasar to explain what makes Ms. Marvel good and Kamala bad—and makes a good point:
People talk about why they need diversity in comics, and usually it boils down to the importance of representation. But it also just makes better comics. Kamala Khan can tell stories and do things and go place that Wendell Vaughn simply can’t. When a publisher only stocks Wendell Vaughns in their creative toolbox, they’re putting artificial limits on the kinds of stories they can make. They cheat themselves and their audience. As long as Kamala’s on the beat, the industry’s headed in the right direction, however slowly.
Last month when writer Grant Morrison hyped Nameless, his newest Image Comics collaboration with artist Chris Burnham, by name-dropping concepts such as “nihilistic philosophy,” I found myself thinking “Christ on a crutch, that sounds dreadful.” Years ago I made my peace with how to appreciate Morrison. I do not dislike Morrison–I count his Animal Man and Doom Patrol runs among among my top 10 favorite comics series that I have read.
This past week, DC Comics revealed the new roster for its line of superhero books. Starting in June, the publisher is debuting 24 new titles (including a handful of miniseries) to go along with 25 returning series. Because these numbers don’t add up to 52 ongoing series, and because the phrase “The New 52″ doesn’t appear anywhere in either of DC’s press releases about the roster, many comics news sites (including CBR, ComicsAlliance, and The Beat) have deemed this to be the end of the New 52 brand.
This week, Ross Richie of BOOM! Studios wrote an editorial, and Matt Gagnon gave a thoughtful interview, on the topic of diversity in comics, and they followed it up with a Twitter hashtag, #comicsforward. It certainly got people talking, although perhaps not always in the way Gagnon and Richie intended.
The first thing that happened was exactly what they had in mind, which was a bunch of folks jumping onto Twitter to celebrate their favorite comics and creators or just applaud the idea. It’s definitely worth checking that hashtag to see some great recommendations.
When the first few pages of Wonder Woman ’77‘s inaugural installment finds the Amazon Princess squaring off against a trio of Soviet roller-derby assassins, clearly it’s setting a very specific tone. DC’s latest digital-first series borrows its core conceit from the successful Batman ’66, presenting new comics stories from the world of an old TV adaptation.
Indeed, so far it’s fairly faithful to the show’s then-present-day setting, with Diana Prince and Steve Trevor working for a fictional government intelligence agency (the IADC) and getting their exposition from IRA the computer. Accordingly, in terms of period pieces, it’s not exactly The Americans, but writer Marc Andreyko and artist Drew Johnson have done a great job capturing both the look of the show and the style of its leads. Their Lynda Carter is spot-on, and their Lyle Waggoner evokes TV-Steve’s sparkly toothed swagger perfectly. Johnson (with colorist Romulo Fajardo Jr.) draws an especially detailed 1977, from the subtleties of Wonder Woman’s costume to the crowds at Studio 52. (Of course it’s “Studio 52.”)
Sometimes after a tough week you just want to relax with something silly. Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, by Akira Toriyama, is just that, a goofy story about an alien who just wants to make everything right—as long as nobody annoys him.
The story begins with Jaco’s spaceship crashing on an island with only one inhabitant: Omori, an engineer (or maybe a research scientist—Toriyama doesn’t bother with fine distinctions) who lives alone, away from humanity. Omori’s backstory is that he tried to build a time machine, and the machine exploded and killed his wife. He lost his government funding, but he still spends all his time working on the machine, so he can go back in time and bring her back.
Jaco, who is basically a helpful guy, has come to earth to stop an alien projectile fired our way, but he collided with the moon along the way and his spaceship is damaged. Omori offers to fix it, but they need a special metal that is super expensive. While they ponder how to get that, they go to the mainland for supplies and Jaco ends up causing a scene when he rescues a girl named Tights from a group of thugs. Unfortunately, he doesn’t realize that the last two men that come running at her are policemen, and he tosses them in the air. A chase ensues, Tights helps him and the professor get away, and they all head back to the island.
Tragedy is easy, comedy is hard, which is why there are so many sad superheoes. It’s much easier to kill a character to make us cry than it is to make that same superhero draw a laugh. Humor is subjective, but shooting a loved one in the face is always going to be a terrible act. So I can see why not a lot of writers go for the joke; it could easily fall flat and ruin their story. It’s the fearless type of writer who throws angst to the wind and heads in feet first into comedy!
Ryan North and Erica Henderson are just that fearless. The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl isn’t just a regular story with comedy bits sprinkled in, but a full-out funny book with all the trimmings. From the difficult-to-read stingers at the bottom of every page, to the wild squirrel network that alerts our heroine to danger, to the decorations of her college roommate (which I personally adore!), nothing is taken all that seriously.
I made no bones when I first wrote about the Joëlle Jones/Jamie S. Rich Lady Killer five-issue miniseries would be a must read, given the fact that award-winning veteran colorist Laura Allred would be gracing Jones’ art. While going into the first issue with elevated hopes, amazingly enough the Jones/Allred artistic team exceeded all of my heightened expectations.
Writer Jen Van Meter remains a creator who I continually expect, hope, what have you will gain the mainstream recognition and success that she has deserved as far back as 2002’s Hopeless Savages. So it is a great deal of resentment mixed with bewilderment when I pose the question: “In a market hungry for more well-written characters and stories from a great writer who just happens to be female, why the hell are people not raving about Doctor Mirage from every Internet social media forum?”
Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods is currently making the rounds on various year-end “Best of” lists and no doubt will be under a few trees later this week. But if you want a little horror in your holidays before you get to the unwrapping, the webcomics creator has posted a brand new holiday-themed horror tale titled “All Along the Wall” on her website.
So grab some eggnog, curl up with your favorite electronic device and beware the monster in the corner …