Hey folks, I’m back after a self-imposed 6 week (or so) hiatus from writing posts for ASM. I went off to work on an art installation, so now that’s done I can get back to writing about what’s truly important: comics.
During the time I was working on the installation – I took a quick break to work the booth for my friends at Comicopia at Anime Boston. It was a joyous experience that opened my eyes to a whole ton of manga and comics that I hadn’t been aware of. As one normally does at conventions, I saw amazing costumes, great booths, met and chatted with fantastic people, and reconnected with old friends.
As we are about halfway through the year, I’m going to give a quick breakdown of the titles that have been straight up killing it during the past 6 months and what new titles I anticipate being just as good, if not better.
2013 Jan – Jun – What’s Killing It :
- Mara by Brian Wood, Ming Doyle & Jordie Bellaire (5 issues out 6 released) – I can’t recommend this series enough. A young athlete/celebrity in a hyper-commercial future who begins to develop terrifying powers. It’s a starkly powerful take on one of the well-trodden comic stories pulled off so well, that despite the necessity for the story to end after 6 issues, I know I would keep buying it for years to come, if such a thing were possible.
- Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello & Cliff Chiang (21 issues released) – Yeah, I’ve been eating this title up since day one and it’s been my rock to DC. I love Snyder’s Batman, Manapul’s Flash, and Williams’ Batwoman, but this iteration of Diana has kept me on the floor with surprise and is far and away the best example of utilizing new opportunities in the renewed canon with DC’s “The New 52”.
- The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin & Muntsa Vicente (2 issues released) – If this comic were bad, it would still be on this list simply due to the way it’s been published. As the only comic on the pay-what-you-want platform with high-profile creators attached, it deserves the attention. Thankfully, it’s one of the most entrancing and thoughtful stories that have graced my various screens (copies of this comic are on at least 5 different devices of mine) – do yourself and read it for free, if you want.
- Scott Pilgrim – The Color Edition by Bryan Lee O’Malley & Nathan Fairbairn (3 volumes out of 6 released) – Scott Pilgrim really became a thing. It still is a thing – though many only saw it as the movie that confused them (note: the movie was actually genius and brilliant and amazing and other words describing greatness). The original 6 volumes of the comic utilize an art style reminiscent of manga and written as the perfect tale of our times. Our dear protagonist Scott, meandering his way through early 20’s life meets the girl of his dreams. To date her, however, he must defeat her 7 evil exes. The last volume came out in 2010 and finally, they’re being republished in hardcover with some of the most luscious colors ever. Plus – there are “Evil Editions” for every volume. Sold.
- Saga by Brian K. Vaughan & Fiona Staples (12 issues released) – This is a no-brainer. The can-do-no-wrong star-child of the comics industry currently has hands-down dominated the scene, each issue going into multiple printings – and for good reason. It has become my primary example of the excellence of comics as a narrative medium and has turned my deep interest in comics into a fiery passion that will drive me for decades to come. That’s a guarantee.
- East of West by Jonathan Hickman & Nick Dragotta (3 issues released) – This series is just shaping up and the notions of East and West, with all their multiple cultural variations are just showing their impact on this surreal story of love and ultimate revenge. I would seethe at the fact that Hickman is off writing even more new titles instead of finishing the ones he’s in the middle of, but it’s just too good. I also have no real right to lodge any complaints with him, so there’s that.
- Sex by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski (4 issues released) – Take a look at that title, because it don’t mess around. The story isn’t even really about sex, at least not yet. This masterful examination of the Batman-esque return story fraught with social peril and the overpowering past haunting ever situation breathes noxious and heavy life into a tale that I had previous suspected being told to death. I am ecstatic to be proven wrong.
- Nowhere Men by Eric Stephenson, Nate Bellegarde & Jordie Bellaire (5 issues released) – An experiment around the hypothesis of “What if the Beatles were scientists?”, this title imagines a world 40 years after seeing the rise of four revolutionary icons who turned science and life on its head. It follows a group of researchers who begin developing mutations while on a secret space station, funded by the corporation created by these larger-than-life scientific darlings – and the resulting aftermath. With the catchphrase of “Science is the new rock ‘n’ roll.”, this series has not failed to impress me yet.
- Hawkeye by Matt Fraction, David Aja & Francesco Francavilla (11 issues released) – It’s not easy to write about the dude that many feel doesn’t belong among “Earth’s Mightiest Heroes”, but Fraction has totally nailed it. Hawkeye himself doesn’t feel like he belongs. He’s just too out of place and just a touch out of his comfort zone – that his best times are when he’s battling Russian thugs who are decked out in tracksuits and say “bro” too much (actually a highlight, if you don’t believe me). It’s funny, poignant and a thoughtful look at what it’s like in the life of a hero-by-talent instead of hero-by-ability. Additionally, the issue that releases the day this post goes up is all about a side character lovingly named “Pizza Dog” who goes on a murder-mystery/buddy-cop journey with a young pup while everyone else argues. That’s grade-A, 100%, unfiltered, 200-proof, untreated, solid-gold, award winning writing right there.
- A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori (4 volumes released) – A beautiful tale, lavishing capturing life on the Silk Road in the 19th century. This story chronicles the story of Amir, a young woman from a nomadic tribe betrothed to a 12-year-old boy. Historically apt, culturally aware, and genuinely human, this comic is really unlike anything else I’ve ever read. The quiet interactions rendered in resplendent painstaking detail bring to more-than-life the world of Amir and her husband. It’s remarkable and I sadly have to wait months for the next volume to be released in English.
2013 Jul – Dec – What Will Kill It :
- X-Men by Brian Wood & Oliver Coipel – X-Men is on this list as it only has one issue out, until today. This comic, originally hyped on the fact that the chosen cast for this ensamble title are all female, is anything but just that. The creative team on this title could have easily made this book marketable by making a big, showy point that this story has *gasp* only women and will traverse the perilous adventures that X-Men usually face, but only through the well-defined stereotypical lenses of female characters in comics. Not so. Wood and Coipel deliver a fanscinating all-stakes X-Men title title that starts of with fully dimensioned characterization, dangerous villians, and great social interactions in and out of the school. Lastly, Wood has taken to various social media outlets to respond to readers’ questioning the validity of naming the book “X-Men” when the main cast is all-female, suggesting he name it “X-Women”. His responses have been to the point, best summed as “That’s stupid, why would I write something so marginalizing?” & “The team has always been called ‘X-Men’, why change that, despite who is on the team?”. Never stop being awesome, Brian Wood.
- The Wake by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphey – Also on this list since issue #2 comes out today. Snyder, while currently writing the primary Batman book and writing the sideline Superman: Unchained book has some serious roots in horror and is taking the serious opportunity to flex those muscles in his new book with acclaimed artist Murphey, having just come off his extraordinary, and controversial, solo book Punk Rock Jesus. Telling the tale of an underwater terror that triggers the collapse of land-based civilization, this time-skipping story is nothing short of enthralling so far. I certainly have very high hopes for its next issues.
- Infinity by Jonathan Hickman, Jerome Opena, Jimmy Cheung & Mark Morales – I sometimes take issue with the sheer amount of “events” the Marvel comic universe goes though. However, with the excitement of the Titan, Thanos appearing at the very end of last year’s Avengers, the remarkable cosmic universe is leaking back into the comics and Hickman’s Infinity looks to be the first and possibly strongest entry to woo me back to the stars. Out August 14th.
- Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, Meg Dejmal & John Upchurch – Another promising entry with an all-female cast, this book looks to be all kinds of enjoyable with a diverse set of characters drawn from high fantasty and the various realms of D&D. Hopefully, this merry band will adventure their way through quests, monster hunts, and loot into my heart. Out September, 2013.
- Born to Lose by Daniel Freedman & Sina Grace – I know next to nothing about this book so far, but it looks truly badass. The wonderful thing about comics is that you’re welcome to judge the book by its cover. Out August 7th.
- Satellite Sam by Matt Fraction & Howard Chaykin – An alternate history noir about the case exposing the seedy underbelly of the golden age of television when the star of a beloved series turns up dead. Fraction + 50’s age television murder/mystery? Done. Out July 3rd.
- Beware the Creeper by Jason Hall & Cliff Chiang – In the aftermath of World War I, surrealist painter Judith Benoir desperately wants to make a splash in Paris. And as The Creeper, she escalates simple burglaries into spectacular art crimes, establishing her as a cultural icon. Sounds amazing – and with Chiang’s art, I cannot afford to miss it. Out July 31st.
- Trillium by Jeff Lemire – This 10-issue series is simply a love story. About the not-so-simple pair, one a botanist from 3797 and the other, an explorer in 1921 – desperate souls separated by thousands of years, yet they will fall in love and cause the destruction of the universe in the process. Marketed as “The last love story ever told.”, I simply cannot wait. Author of Animal Man, Sweet Tooth, and creator of The Underwater Welder, Jeff Lemire has a gold-star sticker in my book. Out August 7th.
- Collider by Simon Oliver & Robbi Rodriguez – Again, a book I know next to nothing about, but that’s never stopped me from being excited about what appears to be a clever story about bizarre science with shower and stylized art. I’m absolutely game. Out July 31st.
My pulls for 6/26 are:
- Adventures of Superman #2 by Michael Avon Oeming, Joëlle Jones, Giuseppe Camuncoli & Sal Buscema
- Batman Superman #1 by Greg Pak & Jae Lee
- Flash #21 by Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
- Wake #2 by Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy
- Unwritten #50 by Mike Carey, Peter Gross & Mark Buckingham
- The Bounce #2 by Joe Casey & David Messina
- Five Ghosts Haunting Of Fabian Gray #4 by Frank J. Barbiere & Chris Mooneyham
- Jupiter’s Legacy #2 by Mark Millar & Frank Quitely
- Sex #4 by Joe Casey & Piotr Kowalski
- Hawkeye #11 by Matt Fraction, David Aja & Francesco Francavilla
- X-Men #2 by Brian Wood & Oliver Coipel