By Molly Jane Kremer and Jarrod Jones. Happy New Comic Book Day! This is Casual Wednesdays With DoomRocket, a podcast series where each week we discuss our feelings concerning the comics that mean the most to us, and the industry news that affects us all. This week, MJ & Jarrod get ready for another seven months of CW DC TV madness by discussing the current state of — and the future concerning — the wildly successful Arrowverse. Then they share their Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues of the week, and read reviews for ‘Superman’ #8 and ‘Shade: The Changing Girl’ #1.
Don’t forget to share this podcast on the social network of your choosing, and please enjoy.
MJ’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Death of X #1 — Marvel Comics/$4.99
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe OGN — Marvel Comics/$24.99
Deadman: Dark Mansion of Forbidden Love #1 — DC Comics/$5.99
Thought Bubble Anthology TPB — Image Comics/$9.99
Midnighter and Apollo #1 — DC Comics/$3.99
Jarrod’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Champions #1 — Marvel Comics/$4.99
Black #1 — Black Mask Studios/$3.99
Green Valley #1 — Image Comics/$2.99
Head Lopper: Island of a Plague of Beasts TPB — Image Comics/$19.99
Shade: The Changing Girl #1 — DC’s Young Animal/$3.99
REVIEWS FOR OCTOBER 5, 2016
Story by Peter J. Tomasi & Patrick Gleason.
Art by Doug Mahnke; inks by Jaime Mendoza.
Colors by Wil Quintana.
Letters by Rob Leigh.
JJ: As much as I’ve enjoyed pockets of Superman stories from the New 52 era — Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder’s run on Action Comics especially — there was never a point where I could get comfortable with the character in his all-new, all-different paradigm. And if you’re thinking, “Um, Jarrod, ‘All-New, All-Different’ is Marvel’s thing,” then good, because we’re on the same page. For the entire duration of the New 52, leading right up to and during DC’s house-cleaning crossover, Convergence, Superman felt like, well, a Marvel Comics version of himself.
For five years, Superman was cast in shiny armor, he was conspicuously pissy, and he had hair so obnoxiously sexy I was beginning to hate my childhood hero. Superman didn’t feel like Superman; he felt more like Hyperion or The Sentry — Superman analogues from Marvel that never worked because people just didn’t know what the hell to do with the characters. They also probably didn’t work because they weren’t Superman. That’s something the Man of Tomorrow shared with these pale imitations — the New 52 Superman certainly did not feel like Superman.
Of all the books that have spun out of Rebirth, the latest in DC’s ceaseless reboot pageantry, Superman by Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Doug Mahnke has been consistently one of the best. Why? Because the sun shines in Superman. The skies are blue. There’s a family farm to tend, a flying dog to play with. There’s science fiction, herculean displays of might, and red-caped beings soaring through the air. Most importantly, there’s a family that loves each other through thick and thin — and considering that family is the Kents, “thick and thin” doesn’t even come close to the drama and excitement that often befalls them.
As the start of a whole new story arc, Superman #8 is unabashed fun. It’s not easy to write a comic book review, despite what your jerkface friends would tell you, but what makes it easier is when you set down the latest book knowing in your heart that you enjoyed yourself thoroughly, that all you know right now is that you want more. That’s Superman #8. A story about father and son. (And dog.) Getting into a scrape. Working together as a team. Stunning derring-do. Dinosaurs. I did mention there are dinosaurs in this issue, right?
Well, there are. Superman #8 is the first chapter of a story called “Escape From Dinosaur Island,” a super-heroic throwback yarn that’s so damn cool in its pulpiness that it’s no wonder this issue was dedicated to the late Darwyn Cooke. Tomasi and Gleason craft a thrilling adventure for the Man of Steel and the newly-minted Superboy (and Krypto!), peppering the thrills with moments of sweet humanity between our beloved hero and his child. There’s a mystery afoot, so Doug Mahnke makes sure to render the titular island with plenty of foreboding, but he doesn’t skimp on the wide-eyed wonder. In fact, he blocks the action in wide-panels, making sure to never clutter the goings-on with too much information. He provides us just enough craziness that when he follows with a stunning splash page, our mouth is just as agog as Superboy’s. Mahnke’s work on this issue is nothing less than astonishing.
Mahnke shouldn’t take all the credit, however — Jaime Mendoza gives the artist’s pencils thick blots of ink and keeps the sketchy cross-hatching to a minimum. This is as close to harmony to Patrick Gleason and Mick Gray’s work as I’ve seen from Mahnke and Mendoza so far in this already sterling run. What makes this particular issue such a knockout is Wil Quintana’s colors, which provide a gorgeous contrast between the island’s disquiet and our heroes’ bright, primary color schemes. Top marks for the art team.
I’ll put an end to this review before I really start gushing, but the first chapter of “Escape From Dinosaur Island” is precisely what I look for in a Superman book — high-wire action, sincere character interaction, and most crucially, an incredible sense of wonder. Mr. Cooke would have been proud. Buy this book.
9.5 out of 10
Shade: The Changing Girl #1
DC’s Young Animal/$3.99
Written by Cecil Castellucci.
Art by Marley Zarcone.
Colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.
Letters by Saida Temofonte.
MJ: The second debut series from DC’s new Young Animal imprint is out today–Shade: The Changing Girl–and it boasts a pedigree that not a single one of the new Rebirth books can claim: Ladies are writing, drawing, coloring, and lettering this book. Even the editorial team, consisting of Molly Mahan and gone-but-never-forgotten Shelly Bond, is full of X chromosomes, and it truly warms my heart that this excellent comic was made nearly exclusively by women. And yes, creator credits aside, this book is in fact excellent. Just as good as last month’s Doom Patrol #1, and equally as promising.
Now don’t worry folks, if you haven’t read any of the previous Shade: The Changing Man stories (and there are quite a few, going in very different directions) you will not be lost. I say this because I’m new here myself (this is my first Shade: The Changing… Person comic) and at no point was I lost. (I’ve read some of the other, James Robinson-created Shade but, y’know, he’s totes diff.) This comic does feed from continuity in past publications without complete reliance on it (more comics should do the same to be honest) although I’m sure having read those past runs will allow for additional enjoyment. This comic is definitely a weird read, and you will do some questioning as to why, for instance, there are zoo animals in a hospital room, but by the end, just enough is sufficiently revealed for the reader to become rather attached to ambitious dreamer, Loma, and mean girl, Megan.
Loma’s esoteric introductions, both as she’s possessing Megan and as herself on Meta, lack the emotional heft of Megan’s real-world flashback scenes later on (and I definitely hope we see more of these debauched youngsters and their pill-popping and their skinny-dipping and their snorting chop off a surfboard). But the trippiness (or silliness, depending on your enjoyment levels) of the imagery and poetry in the earlier pages contrasts with the more dramatic later pages, effectively differentiating how these two women see themselves and their world, and how that world sees them.
Artist Marley Zarcone is perfectly suited to the book, and switches between psychedelia, alien museums, high school swim practice, and back again with complete ease. The teenagers look like teenagers, like kids, and convincingly dress as such. (Nothing pulls me out of a story like seeing kids dressed unlike real kids.) Zarcone’s composition and page layouts are eye-grabbing while still serving the story flow, and every face is eloquently expressive. Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors also effortlessly move from kaleidoscopic to near-realistic depending on the scene, enhancing the weirdness before bringing reality crashing back down.
The comic earns its very subtle “mature readers” warning (it lacks the more obvious all-caps “NOT FOR KIDS!” gracing the cover to this week’s Jessica Jones #1), with some illustrated alien coitus and some definite teenage drug use, so to be quite honest, it’s right up the alley of the average high schooler. So far, this is the second (of two) Young Animal releases to really floor me. They both have the perfect amount of old-school Vertigo aesthetic mixed with a plethora of modern twists, then realized by some extremely talented people. And, no lie, Shade: The Changing Girl #1 read like it was specifically made for me. This is great comics right here, and you need to be reading it.
9.5 out of 10
Check back next week for more from Casual Wednesdays!
Before: “Comics That Have Overstayed Their Welcome,” here.