by Molly Jane Kremer, Clyde Hall, Brendan Hodgdon, Rachel Acheampong 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. From the glorious return of ‘Books of Magic’ to Gwen Stacy’s debut as ‘Ghost Spider’, here’s what has our hearts set ablaze this week.
Written by Kat Howard.
Illustrated by Tom Fowler.
Colors by Jordan Boyd.
Letters by Todd Klein.
MJ: The return of the Gaiman-devised Vertigo core line has been a gratifying success so far, and the final of its four ongoing series debuts this week. That is, of course, Books of Magic, featuring a tousled and bespectacled kid-wizard who will continue to receive unnecessary comparisons to another literary character (who will Not Be Named) that debuted a full seven-and-a-half years after the first Books of Magic miniseries.
Writer Kat Howard has already proven her talent at writing modern-day magicians in her prose novels, and is a good fit for refining (and redefining) Tim Hunter for a current comics audience. Tom Fowler and Jordan Boyd’s art jumps from schooltime mundanity to the dazzling fantastical with aplomb, but never ignores the book’s sharply dark edges creeping in between panels.
And as always, Todd Klein’s presence on any book guarantees top-notch readability and a certain high level of aesthetic achievement. With Tim’s introduction here, and following The Dreaming, House of Whispers and last week’s dazzling Lucifer, Vertigo’s full Sandman Universe line is finally here, and damn. Does it look good.
Written by Seanan McGuire.
Art by Rosi Kampe.
Colors by Ian Herring.
Letters by VC’s Clayton Cowles.
BFH: One particularly-clunky title aside, how could you not be excited for more Spider-Gwen? After Jason Latour and Robbi Rodriguez did such a thorough job establishing this new Gwen Stacy and examining her unique alternate-Earth, the sky is truly the limit for the character. And with the Spider-Geddon event providing the opportunity, we now get to see what that new title will entail.
I’m particularly excited to see Seanan McGuire’s approach to an ongoing comic book series, being a big fan of her work as a novelist (my personal favorite being her Newsflesh series, written under the nom de plume Mira Grant). Pairing her with Rosi Kampe, who did such great and stylized work on Top Cow’s Genius: Cartel series, was a very smart move by Marvel’s Spider-office. All told, this seems like a great opportunity to expand Spider-Gwen’s world even further. I’m fully on board for adventure.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis.
Art by Alex Maleev.
Letters by Joshua Reed.
RA: Everybody is waiting in anticipation of one woman’s decision. The Eisner Award-winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev take you into the trenches of a new revolution in the creator owned series Scarlet. The leader is Scarlet Rue, a gun-toting, redheaded vigilante on a crusade for justice. In Scarlet #3 she must decide how far she is willing to take her crusade.
Scarlet tells the story of a woman pushed to act against a corrupt system and ends up leading a guerrilla war in the city of Portland. What makes this one of my favorite titles out right now is that it is far beyond a one-note comic about a chick with a gun. Scarlet is much more interesting than that.
Scarlet explains her worldview, how she comes to conclusions, and asks you to follow her on her journey to change the world. This story demolishes the fourth wall and directly challenges the readers’ thoughts and principles. It’s not pro-anarchy or anti-establishment, but rather a nuanced look at a complex problem with lots of action thrown in. It’s electrifying.
With a muted palette evocative of a live-streamed news event, Maleev paints a moving portrait of a city under siege. Despite the spread of this conflict, Bendis keeps the story firmly grounded on the day-to-day struggles of an unlikely political leader and cohesive lettering by Joshua Reed adds to the realistic feel. Scarlet is Jinxworld at its best, deserving of a crossover audience who might want to read something current and clever but often shy away from comics. As the ears of the powerful await her demands, Scarlet is playing out for the world to see.
Dark Horse Comics/$3.99
Written by Harold Buchholz, Joel Hodgson, Matt McGinnis, Seth Robinson, Sharyl Volpe, and Mary Robinson.
Art by Todd Nauck, Jack Pollock, and Mike Manley.
Colors by Wes Dzioba, Jack Pollock, and Mike Manley.
Letters by Michael Heisler.
CH: The Good Old Days have been replaced by the Better New Days. Where once the MST3K faithful waited for their weekly infusion of ‘bot riffed goodness while they Kept Circulating the Tapes, now fans wait for Mystery Science Theater: The Return to drop an entire S2 onto Netflix for their binging pleasure. They also eagerly await Dark Horse’s monthly fusion of the show with old and cheesy public domain comics. Their second issue launches like a Satellite of Love this week. We have comic book sign!
In issue #1, Tom Servo got swept into the yellowing pages of Johnny Jason, Teen Reporter and replaced the hero while his crewmates wisecracked through every panel. Only half the original story was used, however, and in #2 it appears the adventure continues for our metallic member of the fourth estate. Apparently, the issues aren’t necessarily one and done.
But they are a four-color festival of zany, and who doesn’t need more of that in their life? Todd Nauck’s artistry on the framing sequences is as rich and lively as the Return segments they’re based on. Mike Manley’s art duties are subtler, blending his style into that of the back issues to include characters and things not present in original publication. He was so successful at doing it the first go-round, I’m anxious to see him chameleon with other styles in vintage stories.
Tom shares the page count with Jonah as he’s Bubbulated into a Harvey Black Cat story, and Crow drops into an issue of Comic Media’s EC-like title Horrific. Part of the fun is seeing what stories are chosen and comparing the MST3K treatment with their original form. I managed to find online copies of Johnny Jason for this purpose and it’s a trend I’ll continue as the series proceeds. No better opportunity to sample a Gouda wedge of comics history while enjoying some belly laughs along the way.
Black Crown/IDW Publishing/$3.99
Written by David & María Lapham.
Art by David Lapham.
Edited by Shelly Bond.
JJ: If you’re already on board with the boutique imprint Black Crown, you have to read Lodger. If you already love the Lapham’s Stray Bullets, you have to read Lodger. If you just love crime comics and love to see them done well, you have to read Lodger.
Here’s a bit from my advance review. Read Lodger. Because I said.
“Lodger is precisely what you’d expect considering its pedigree. A girl. A gun. A target. Simplicity itself. A noir comic from The Laphams, David and María, who as luck would have it happen to be masters of comics noir. As for the mood, think “Stray Bullets hits the road.” Eisner-level sequentials that feel real and fight dirty. It’s the sort of lean, economic storytelling we’ve come to appreciate from this duo, another killer example of the Lapham’s often emulated, never exceeded, accept-no-bullshit style.
The young girl I mentioned is a very Lapham-ian lead, in way over her head but encrusted with enough emotional armor to survive any sort of bloody obstacle that comes her way. Her major roadblock in this issue feels almost like a trifle compared to what is likely waiting for her in the pages to come. And naturally she has an equally Lapham-ian moniker: Folks, meet Ricky Toledo, the latest marquee star of Shelly Bond’s riotously fantastic boutique label, Black Crown. She’ll fit right in.”
What books are YOU looking forward to reading this week? Sound off in the comments below. Best answer wins a free set of DoomRocket stickers!