by Jarrod Jones. Braving the gauntlet of Big Two events, prestige format risk-takers, off-the-radar indie releases and a non-stop avalanche of floppies is DoomRocket’s HOT PRESS. With so many comics out there screaming for your eyeballs, HOT PRESS is here with recommendations, commentary, and general chatter concerning the comics industry. This week: a return, a change, and some comics.
It’s been a minute! I genuinely did not mean for this to get away from me like I did, so for those of you who actually follow this newsletter, lemme apologize. I mean, I make all the time in the world for Letterboxd but not for my own blog? Good lord, what was I thinking?
Actually, I’ve been spending a lot of my time thinking about format. Trying to crack how an article breaks down—or, in this case, a newsletter—can gin up a bit of writing paralysis in me. “How is this going to look” can stop me in my tracks far more abruptly than “how is this going to read?” Plus, HOT PRESS has gone through a couple format changes already; it was a publisher-focused review feature in the beginning and then became DoomRocket’s sole content lifeline beyond our podcast, CASUAL WEDNESDAYS. (Yeah, I’m plugging everything today, maybe get off my back about it.) What’s been tripping me up about writing HOT PRESS has been, as pathetic as it may sound, the format and layout. I wasn’t happy with it, I had other projects to work on, and this got lost in the shuffle. So what has HOT PRESS transmogrified into now that I’ve let it lapse for almost an entire season?
Well, that brings us back to Letterboxd. I really like its format. Short, sharp film reviews, catalogued by date, rife with lists and star ratings and discourse and golly, do I love it. It’s been really bugging me that the comics industry doesn’t have a Letterboxd of its own—yes, there is the League of Comic Geeks, which offers a similar service, but its interface is a nightmare and its app is utterly broken—so I decided to make one just for me. And possibly you!
So, for a while anyway, HOT PRESS is where I’ll be writing down my capsule reviews for all the comics I’ve been reading, old and new. Feel free to add your own comic capsule reviews in the comments section below! Let’s make some conversation, why not. It sure would make my day. Anyway, here’s what I’ve read this week.
Arkham City: The Order of the World #1
DC / $3.99
Written by Dan Watters.
Art by DaNi.
Colors by Dave Stewart.
Letters by Aditya Bidikar.
Peripheral Gotham City mood piece where you-know-who takes a powder so other interesting citizens get a chance to shine. Has a deep, dark think about the nature of madness and the way society has evolved its attitudes concerning those who live on its fringes. DaNi’s art is sublime; her panels capture impossible angles and primed by her Miller/Sale influences she accomplishes squirm-inducing wonders. (There’s a bit at the beginning concerning Ratcatcher that is genuinely unnerving.) I liked how Watters drafted moments featuring some of Gotham’s more odious and oft-forgotten creeps (chief amongst them, The Ten-Eyed Man), though I hope he frees up DaNi to work the atmosphere with some captionless panels more often in the future. This trips over itself a couple times to make sure it ties in with current Batman lore, but that’s modern cape comics for you. A dank, demonic version of Ostrander & Mitchell’s Gotham Nights, I’ll take it. (Available now.)
Dirtbag Rapture #1
Oni Press / $3.99
Written by Christopher Sebela.
Art by Kendall Goode.
Colors by Gab Contreras.
Letters by Jim Campbell.
What feels like a novella-length debut that goes into exquisite detail about the life of a drug-addled, moderately hostile ghost landlord/extortionist named Kat. Sebela’s zeal for pushy misfits hits a new zenith, his knack for dialogue knocks out a couple choice quotables (“old habits don’t die when we do” being my favorite), and he kicks the whole enterprise into full-on Hellblazer overdrive by the end. I like this. Goode’s lines are clean and his expressions rock; Contreras’ candy-coated colors navigate the eye from the story’s real world to Kat’s Hotel of Misbegotten Ghosts and back (though spotting spooks IRL is kind of tricky). Lots of preamble, and a lot more balls in it than you might think. (Available now.)
Chicken Devil #1
AfterShock Comics / $3.99
Written by Brian Buccellato.
Art by Hayden Sherman.
Letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou.
Deep-fried crime saga that feels like a Safdie production with all the requisite scuzz. Buccellatto writes like he’s working off some pent-up frustration; his characters are frequently beset by anxiety, simultaneously seeking and dreading catharsis. Then it comes and everybody’s miserable. It’s a riot. And while some of his jokes come cheap, a couple land with gusto. (“[Christian] was your grandfather’s name, not a fucking suggestion!” being the big winner.) Sherman’s evolution as an artist has been a thrill to watch, and Chicken Devil is a project worthy of their mettle: 18-panel pages that move the story instead of jamming it up, I don’t know how Sherman does it. The colors scorch the eyes like a fried chicken restaurant menu (which, wouldn’t you know it, this issue has one), pyrotechnics and hot summer days and a chicken mascot outfit, it all comes together. It bleeds. Crime can get weird but there are few capers as weird as what’s inside Chicken Devil. Go get it. (Available now.)
The Amazing Spider-Man #75
Marvel / $5.99
Written by Zeb Wells.
Art by Patrick Gleason.
Colors by Marcio Menyz.
Letters by VC’s Joe Caramagna.
It’s still wild to me how Ben Reilly has evolved from “actual plot contrivance” to “beloved character” over the course of two decades, even though I was there at the beginning of the Clone Saga and rode that choppy wave all the way to its weirdo Goblin-shock finale. (Which happened, perhaps coincidentally, in Peter Parker: Spider-Man #75.) Anyway, Ben’s back, he’s kinda like a chilled-out Booster Gold (meaning he’s a superhero with sponsorship now)—which is funny, because Booster-creator Dan Jurgens is the guy who put in the work to make Ben a good character in the first place, and was the guy who made Ben a blonde. (I got so many tangents today, like any standard arc of Amazing Spider-Man.) Right, the issue: I’ll stick with this BEYOND arc for now, largely because Patrick Gleason is the prime-time Spidey artist of my dreams and this book looks like a million bucks (digitally; in print, that’s another story), but I’m not about Marvel’s insistence that ASM is a 5-issues-a-month book now; it seems really scummy to make subscribers pay five times what they may have originally signed up for, no matter how many people they have writing/drawing it. More modestly fun times from an expensive series. (Available now.)
That’s all I got for this week. Read any good comics lately? Lemme know all about it in the comments or shoot me an email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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