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 discuss online harassment in the comic book industry with comic creator Tini Howard, and read their reviews for ‘The Wicked + The Divine’ #23 and ‘Superman’ #10.
Don’t forget to share this podcast on the social network of your choosing, and please enjoy.
MJ’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Laid Waste by Julia Gfrorer — Fantagraphics Press/$14.99
Shade the Changing Girl #2 — DC’s Young Animal/$3.99
Southern Bastards #15 — Image Comics/$3.50
Bitch Planet #9 — Image Comics/$3.99
Sheriff of Babylon #12 — Vertigo/$3.99
Jarrod’s Top 5 Most Anticipated Issues:
Animosity #3 — AfterShock Comics/$3.99
Mayday #1 — Image Comics/$3.99
Occupy Avengers #1 — Marvel Comics/$3.99
Motro #1 — Oni Press/$3.99
Superman #10 — DC Comics/$2.99
REVIEWS FOR NOVEMBER 2, 2016
Story by Patrick Gleason and Peter J. Tomasi.
Art by Patrick Gleason; inks by Mick Gray.
Colors by John Kalisz.
Letters by Rob Leigh.
JJ: I spend an awful lot of my time telling people that Superman is one of the only books that actually feels like it’s progressing into a brave new era for DC Comics. It’s not just the presence of young Jonathan Kent, either — though he certainly helps.
No, the reason that Superman actually feels like the future is happening right now, both for the publisher and us readers, is that it represents everything that was promised during Rebirth — not just the advertised “Strength, Power, Redemption, Destiny” part of it, but the promises of legacy and optimism too. The bright, vivid colors of John Kalisz that lay over the mighty forms of Superman and his super-son (rendered with care by Patrick Gleason and Doug Mahnke, and inked with love by Mick Gray and Jaime Mendoza) act as a beacon for readers who have grown weary of self-serious, needlessly violent yet paradoxically stakes-less superhero comics. How does Superman do it? By reminding us all of what makes the character so important in the first place — he’s the shining example by which we should all aspire.
The apple didn’t fall far from the tree, either, it seems. In Superman #10, we get to see Jonathan Kent interact with other kids his age, where he tidies up his school’s cluttered hallways amongst his peers without being asked to, he brushes off the taunts of a school bully, and in true Kent fashion, he bumps into a pretty girl, causing papers to go flying all over the place. (Though, how Jon reacts to this young girl may elicit some groans from those who seconded the sentiment found in Jon Erik Christianson’s wonderful piece for Comics Alliance earlier this year, “The Case For Queer Superboy”.)
Jon Kent may take after his father, but so does Damian Wayne. If Dawn of Justice reminded us of anything, there has to be a contrast between the Man of Steel and the Dark Knight Detective for their dichotomy to truly work, so logically there must too be a contrast between the Kid of Tomorrow and the Aristocratic Boy Wonder. And who better to explore those differences for Superman‘s latest, greatest story arc than the former creators behind one of the best comics to ever come out of the New 52, Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Mick Gray?
Even letterer Rob Leigh seems to be in on the fun; his character work in the first chapter of “In The Name of the Father” is sharp and concise as per usual (Leigh is most certainly one of the finest letterers in the business), but he makes sure that Tomasi’s huge, bold and energetic dialogue is precisely that when the situation calls for it. Never once does Leigh’s word balloons eat up space on these pages — in fact, they tuck into Gleason’s panel work so cleanly that it looks practically effortless.
Of course, it was probably a pain in the tuchus, but it’s likely that everything else about this issue was too. That’s what makes Jonathan Kent’s first-ever crossover feel like such a triumph, even right out of the gate — the book has been assembled by a group of creators who visibly have an affection for these heroes, who are still discovering what’s next for them while never forgetting why they’re all here in the first place.
9 out of 10
The Wicked + The Divine #23
Written by Kieron Gillen, Dorian Lynskey, Laurie Penny, Mary HK Choi, and Ezekiel Kwieku.
Art by Kevin Wada, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson.
Designed by Sergio Serrano.
MJ: The Wicked and the Divine has a creative team that’s pretty much up for anything. The craziest thing they’d done up until this week was issue #14, the Woden “remix” issue that was made up entirely of preexisting art (and not even necessarily from the pages of WicDiv, as a few, er, “choice” panels from Sex Criminals found their way in), re-purposed to tell a completely different story. It ended up working phenomenally well. Now the WicDiv fellas have yet another newfangled idea — comic issue as fashion mag — that sounded like a match made in Heaven ever since it was announced, and not in small part because the divine Kevin Wada was attached.
So yes, it’s a comic in magazine format — which maybe means this issue’s not in fact a comic? Who cares. It’s like Italian Vogue ate The Wicked + Divine. And if there ever was a comic book to be reinterpreted this way, and an artist who was just as perfectly suited… well. It’s right here, waiting for you.
There’s a reason why friends of mine set alarm clocks extra early at conventions for a better chance at getting on Mr. Kevin Wada’s commission list. His art is all pin-ups in this issue, nothing sequential, and nothing but couture photo-shoot style, fashion-centric watercolor illustration featuring all your favorite WicDiv characters. (The Baal and Woden pages are especially enthralling.)
The issue is made up of five separate articles, but this isn’t just the writer fabricating a couple features. Five real-life journalists were recruited to write these essays, and each interviewed co-creator Kieron Gillen, respectively in-character. This gives all five articles distinct voices, and makes for a terribly entertaining read.
And, yes, it is a literal read, and certainly a longer read than most twenty or twenty-two page comics. This is a good thing, kids — all this prose means we can get a different sort of depth than usual. Plus we still get a few pages of McKelvie/Wilson prettiness scattered in, as they do the in-world advertisements in the book. (The back cover of Persephone may or may not have been my phone’s lock-screen for a month or two, ok?)
WicDiv’s pantheon are for the first time being written by an author besides Gillen, which in this respect is nearer to the effect of having a guest artist, and with the different writers’ interpretation we get a different view of the characters along with new information (or just information, presented… newly). In this issue, some articles can delve further into the nature of the pantheons’ godhead, even more so than the singular-god-focused issues during the Commercial Suicide arc. In an interview with ComicsAlliance, Gillen mentioned that much of his end of the interviews was improvised, and his still startlingly excellent, off-the-cuff grasp of the characters’ voices shows in each piece. And going by some of the sillier article titles (“A Whole New Baal Game”, “I Saw You Kissing Satan Claus”), I have to wonder if Twitter Pun King Gillen had some input there as well.
The outstanding writers and their beatific subjects are as follows: Leigh Alexander interviews the delightfully dolorous Morrigan; Dorian Lynskey interviews charismatic Baal: Laurie Penny (skeptically and entertainingly) interviews shitbag Woden; Mary HK Choi gives us a glimpse back at beloved Lucifer (a warning — this article will make you achingly miss her all over again); and Ezekiel Kwieku interviews sweet, naive Amaterasu.
Plot-relevance was imbued into every one of the articles, revealing insight about the subject’s character and where they may or may not be headed. (Each article was executed and written so well that I’ll be following all these journalists’ outputs from now on.) Sergio Serrano’s design of the issue is also pretty dang flawless: the only thing separating this from being a legit magazine is its comic-book size. And, well, the fact that it’s set in a fictional universe. (But holy heck, a magazine sized version, full of those glossy-ass pages, would kill me.)
This comic almost reads like an anthology issue with more cohesive and consistent art, and honestly brought to mind the magnificent Wonder Woman 75th Anniversary Special from last week, and Greg Rucka’s masterful “transcription” of an in-world interview. If you ever wished to see Wada’s graceful, captivating art gracing the interiors of a comic book (and if you say you haven’t, I don’t believe you), this is probably the closest we’re going to get, and it will most likely satisfy that particular yearning. (Although there was a baffling and disturbing lack of Baphomet, in my humble opinion.) His art constantly trends towards elegance and beauty, and combined with some really excellent journalism, this is one of the most interesting and stunning comics released this year. Miss it at your own peril.
9.5 out of 10
Check back next week for more from Casual Wednesdays!
Before: “The Comics That Keep Us Up At Night,” here.