Staff Picks: If you read one book this week, read 'Black'

Staff Picks: If you read one book this week, read ‘Black’

By Molly Jane Kremer, Matthew C. Brown, Don Alsafi, and Jarrod Jones. Comics that challenge us, slay us, beguile us — the comics we simply can’t wait to devour. That’s DoomRocket’s Staff Picks. Here’s what has set our hearts ablaze this week.

Black TPBBlack TPB

Black Mask Studio/$19.99

Written by Kwanza Osajyefo.

Art by Jamal Igle.

Inks by Robin Riggs.

Letters by Dave Sharpe.

MCB: As social commentary goes, you will not find a better series than Black. The team behind this heightened universe of black superheroes is filling a palpable silence in the comics medium with the proper voices. Relying on concepts, plot points, and well-traveled tropes, Black takes what we know and provides a much-needed change in perspective. This is the superhero universe we all need right now.

It is incredibly important to have artists projecting black empowerment and agency in a society that is increasingly violent and oppressive toward black people and other marginalized groups. And while I can imagine this kind of art is empowering to black people, I cannot speak to that. I can, however, speak to the fact that it is empowering to me as a person who seeks to be an accomplice in the continued struggle for social justice for all in this country and abroad. That kind of encouragement and projection is what’s needed right now, and always.

Black carries on a steadfast tradition of pushing back against oppression with art. A tradition that is as important as that of the very real struggle happening right now outside our doors — and in some cases, within. As we move forward in this fight we cannot lose our imagination, our dreams, the things that embolden us the most. Black is at the forefront of social art in comics. If you read one thing, read this.

Paper Girls #17Paper Girls #17

Image Comics/$3.99

Written by Brian K. Vaughan.

Art by Cliff Chiang.

Colors by Matt Wilson. 

Letters by Jared K. Fletcher.

MJ: Paper Girls expands its mythos with each successive story arc, while still keeping a laser focus on its four main protagonists. Our intrepid explorers have moved forward in time from the last neolithic-era setting, and are now back in their hometown, only with a slight wrinkle — they’re still a few years too late.

It’s January 1, 2000, and the Y2K turnover sees enormous robots doing a rock-em-sock-em above quiet Stonybrook. Tiffany is separated from the group and searches for her family, while the other three girls find out more about the many time-travelling groups they’ve interacted with, from a local cartoonist.

Cliff Chiang and Matthew Wilson make the story flow beautifully and effortlessly, even when the story jumps from inside the workings of an enormous mecha, to Charlotte’s quiet home (featuring a “top of the line iMac G3” in tangerine). Vaughan continues to unspool just enough of the mystery to keep our rapt attention, exquisitely building tension and suspense with the expertise of a master. Paper Girls is primed to give you the feels. Let it.

Black TPBDeadman #1

DC Comics/$3.99

Written by Neal Adams.

Art by Neal Adams.

Colors by Neal Adams.

Letters by Clem Robins.

DA: Deadman’s one of those characters who’s been around the block. A circus aerialist who was killed by an unknown assailant during one of his performances, the bulk of his early adventures involved his many attempts to solve his own murder. The fact that his new ghostly afterlife included the ability to take over people’s bodies for a period was just one more thing to help him in this goal.

But then he popped up in Jack Kirby’s Fourth World saga for a bit, had his own solo strip in Action Comics Weekly, and in later years even starred in a couple of creepy minis by Mike Baron and Kelley Jones (not to mention a gorgeous outing last year by Sarah Vaughn and Lan Medina). And yet few would deny that the creator most associated with the character is the legendary Neal Adams – not exactly a co-creator, as he began with Deadman’s second story, but definitely the artist (and sometimes writer) whose run has been most frequently collected over the decades.

With this newest miniseries, Adams is returning to the otherworldly character of Boston Brand for the first time in years. Any fan of Deadman has got to be excited about that!

Captain America #695Captain America #695

Marvel Comics/$3.99

Written by Mark Waid.

Art by Chris Samnee.

Colors by Matthew Wilson.

Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.

JJ: There’s no tip-toeing around it: Hope and patriotism are beleaguered concepts. Politicians — those who aren’t involved in some scandal or potential act of treason, anyway — are camped along party lines. Citizens genuinely distrust one another. The United States of America is anything but.

By turning one of the few unmistakably noble patriots in all of fiction into a traitor, a villain, a monster, Marvel Comics’ Secret Empire certainly didn’t help matters. The event divided comics readers and creators, contributing to the discourse a certain level of bile that stifled the air and choked our enthusiasm for the medium. And now comes Marvel Legacy, like an apologetic bouquet of flowers here to set things right, to fix what needed mending, wrapped in ribbons of red, white, and blue.

Steve Rogers is the Marvel Universe’s Captain America once more. Small comfort for those who adored Sam Wilson in the role. (Those, like this writer.) But if there was an opportunity to begin to make things right, to give the world a hero they could stand behind, letting the creators of the stunning (if short-lived) Black Widow series work their wonders on  Captain America would be it.

Cap is back. He never left. The stain of Secret Empire isn’t going away, but you can be sure we’ll be there to watch as Marvel works on making one of their biggest icons more important to us — and the country he represents — than ever.

What books are YOU looking forward to reading this week? Sound off in the comments below.

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