Welcome to “Cheat Sheet,” ROBOT 6′s guide to the week ahead. Although the U.S. Postal Service is closed today for Labor Day, UPS is going full steam ahead, which means comics arrive on Wednesday as usual. And so some of the ROBOT contributors took a break from the long weekend to make their top picks for the week. Keep reading to see what they chose …
Reality Check #1
A superhero more concerned with his personal life, written by a comic book creator with no personal life. What happens when the creator loses all the ideas he had about the character, only to find his fictional hero has stepped into reality? The concept, by writer Glen Brunswick and artist Viktor Bogdanovic, may seem like a one-trick pony, but having read a preview of the first issue, I’m pleased to say there’s enough of quirky backstory to capture my interest. — Tim O’Shea
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant
Mix Indiana Jones and Lara Croft with Jane Austen and you’ll get Tony Cliff’s Delilah Dirk. The character burst onto the scene in 2007 with the self-published Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople, an utterly charming pulp-infused 19th-century adventure that recounted both her origins and her escape from unfriendly (but very polite) clutches. That 28-page story earned an Eisner nomination, and Cliff continued Delilah’s exploits online. Now First Second Books has collected that material as Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant. (Chapter 3 previously appeared in print as well, as part of a Flight anthology.) Cliff’s influences are many and varied, and Delilah herself is a subtle rebuke to patriarchal narratives, but he’s produced a great, fun comic which deserves a place on your shelf. — Tom Bondurant
This latest issue of the galaxy’s greatest contains a little bit of comics history, as it features the all-too-brief reunion of the team behind “Slaine: The Horned God,” the 1990 storyline often cited as the driving force behind the commercial high point of the venerable British anthology. Although the issue hits U.K. retailers, as well as assorted digital outlets worldwide, on Wednesday, subscribers have already had the privilege of seeing Pat Mills and Simon Bisley use their eight pages very productively indeed. It’s another great example of classic 2000AD creators returning to the comic to not-so-gently make fun of their own signature work, like with “Tharg’s Head Revisited” (#500) or “A Night 2 Remember” (#1280). There’s plenty of digs at the over-exploitation of “The Horned God” in the past, and the way the comic industry survives on reselling the same classics over and over again to the same readership. (“There’s the goatskin edition, the vellum calfskin edition, and the pocket squirrelskin edition. They’ll all have to be revised.”) Mills is one of comics’ great malcontents anyway, and he’s raised his game to Marshal Law-like levels of righteous anger and hilarity for this. And Bisley is clearly energized by Mills’ outpouring of bile, producing some of his best ever artwork, marrying his current chunky linework to the experimentalism ad eclecticism of the work he was doing on the strip in 1990. I can imagine them both evilly chuckling away to themselves as they worked on this, their glee is palpable. — Mark Kardwell
Attack on Titan, Vol. 6
When I saw the first volume of Attack on Titan, more than a year ago, my initial thought was, “The art in this thing is atrocious!” But I knew it was a runaway bestseller in Japan, so I figured the story must eventually be good enough to transcend the art.
Well, five volumes in, it appears I was right. Somehow, this series manages to be both very bad and very good, and those two qualities are actually starting to merge. Creator Hajime Isayama has some real issues with body proportions and foreshortening, but when he draws the Titans, the people-eating giants that have driven humanity behind a series of 100-foot walls, that weakness becomes a strength, emphasizing both how massive and how flimsy the Titans really are.
Meanwhile, the story gets better and better. The series started with our hero Eren vowing to kill the Titans after watching his mother get eaten by one. But this is more than a standard hero-versus-the-adversary story; we don’t know what the Titans are and indeed, they seem to be changing as the story goes along. In addition, Isayama brings in the politics of the walled cities — different groups have different vested interests, even if they do share a common enemy — and of the defense corps that Eren is a part of. What starts out looking like a boy and his sidekick has become an ensemble story with a varied and interesting cast (and one in which women are not only equally represented but often are the most skilled fighters). The weakness of Isayama’s art is that it’s sometimes hard to tell who is who; the strength of his writing is that you care enough to keep on reading anyway. — Brigid Alverson