So, many of you saw that I broke the internet two weeks ago with my post about the visual representations of men and women in superhero comics and the apparently still radical idea that “No, it’s not equal”. So how does one follow up THAT column? Do you try to break the internet even harder? Or do you go the completely opposite route? Well, for starters, if you missed it, read this piece I did for my new gig at Lit Reactor, which is chock full of fantastic books that don’t commit any of the “No, It’s not equal” sins.
As for this week’s She Has No Head!…well, I’m exhausted, so we’ll go the non-break the internet route. But all of you who agreed with me or even thought there was some merit in my last column, should read this one and retweet it like mad too, because it’s a shame that only “controversial” criticisms blow up the internet. So many people in the comments of that column railed about how I should talk about “good books”…patently ignoring the 91 other columns I have written just under the She Has No Head! banner, the vast majority of those columns positive. But talking positively just does not get passed around the internet as much. So, if I say anything good here…retweet and comment on this one with the same vigor that you did the last and let’s see if we can break the internet with PRAISE, yeah?
I’ve already written recently about a handful of new books that I love and think you should all be reading: Wonder Woman, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, Wolverine & The X-Men, Rachel Rising, Angel & Faith, and Princeless (order your trade now!) and I still stand by all of those. But let’s talk about a few more…here are five more new books you should be reading:
GLORY. Joe Keating (writer). Ross Campbell (artist). Ms, Shatia Hamilton (colors). Image. Full Color. $2.99.
Though only one issue of Glory is out so far, this book is subverting stereotype and breaking boundaries thanks to its completely out of the box visuals by Ross Campbell. Campbell’s smart and unorthodox artwork separate Glory easily from the noise of similar books in mainstream superhero comics, thus what could have been just a re-hash of cheesecake is inventive, modern, and forward thinking. Superhero comics starring women almost never look like this, and it’s an awesome thing to behold. Joe Keatinge’s writing for the book is on the right track, with good character work and an interesting cliffhanger. Keatinge also gets through the unfortunately necessary exposition without too much trouble, and steers the story in a good new direction quickly. Though the writing and art don’t quite match up tonally for me, it’s a small issue and one the book can easily resolve in coming issues. Regardless, Campbell’s boundary breaking art is worth the price of admission alone.
The first issue (Glory #23) is largely sold out, but Image is reprinting, so if you missed the first round, pick up the second and in the meantime look for the second issue Glory #24 in stores in March 2012.
B.P.R.D. HELL ON EARTH: THE LONG DEATH. Mike Mignola and John Arcudi (writers). James Harren (artist). Dave Stewart (colors). Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo and Dave Stewart (covers). Dark Horse. Full Color. $3.50.
Quite frankly all of the Mike Mignola Hellboy universe stuff is pretty great, but I was especially impressed with the first issue of the new B.P.R.D Hell On Earth: The Long Death. Powerful storytelling and gorgeous art throughout the book and an absolutely shocking ending made this one of the best comics I’ve read lately. The work that Mignola and Arcudi do with Agent Giarocco is particularly smart and subtle, and in just a few pages manage to invest you in her story. This book, like most of the Hellboy universe books is surprisingly easy to jump onto story considering the vastness of the Hellboy universe, The Long Death in particular gives readers pretty much everything they need to feel comfortable in its world, while never skimping on story or character. This is a slam dunk of a first issue and its cliffhanger ending will leave you desperate for the next issue.
B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: The Long Death #1 is in stores now, and issue #2 is forthcoming in March. And if you like this, check out so many more of the Hellboy-universe stories as they are quite regularly wonderful.
FATALE. Ed Brubaker (writer). Sean Phillips (artist). Dave Stewart (colors). Image. Full Color. $3.50.
A noir thriller with a supernatural twist, Fatale is one of those books that Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do best, and it’s especially wonderful when it comes to its lead female character, Josephine, who is so much more than your typical noir femme fatale. Brubaker really takes her beyond that stereotype (though she is still beautiful and deadly) and gives her a powerful POV of her own. Bouncing back and forth in time and setting up a rich tapestry of complex characters, Fatale is a smart book that dares you to puzzle out where it will go next. You can feel in these pages how much Brubaker and Phillips love what they’re doing, which makes the book all the more successful and enjoyable to read. They attack these stories with an enthusiasm and experience that makes reading a delight. Full of intrigue, bad guys, and good guys (some of them gone wrong), temptation, desire, mystery, and a killer ending for issue #2, Fatale is a book you should absolutely be reading.
Issues #1 and #2 of Fatale are out now, and Fatale #3 is due in stores in March. If you like this you should certainly also check out Brubaker and Phillips other noir collaborations for the Criminal series by Icon/Marvel.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN. Brian Wood (writer). Becky Cloonan (artist). Dave Stewart (colors). Dark Horse. Full Color. $3.50
While I never saw myself as someone that would read a Conan book, when you put Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan on any book, I’m going to have to check it out. And because they’re talented and smart, it’s no surprise that the result is too. Conan feels bold and fun from cover to cover. Full of bravado and adventure, Wood and Cloonan have already beautifully set the scene for their two leads – Conan and Belit aka The Queen Of The Black Coast. Belit has mostly been seen in a dream (or fantasy, or illusion?) thus far, but she looks like she’s going to be a hell of a villain and Cloonan draws her as powerfully sexy but without a heavy male gaze that quite frankly makes all the difference when it comes to the portrayal of women in comics. The ending of the first issue is honestly a bit of a mystery to me, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t even more intrigued about what it all means, which of course means I’m good and hooked for picking up issue #2.
Conan The Barbarian #1 is available in stores now, and issue #2 is forthcoming in March. If you like Conan you might want to check out Wood and Cloonan’s collaboration on Demo Volumes 1 and 2, as well as Brian Wood’s collaboration with Rebekah Isaacs DV8: Gods & Monsters, all available in trade.
WINTER SOLDIER. Ed Brubaker (writer). Butch Guice (artist). Bettie Breitweiser (colors). Marvel. Full Color. $2.99
Brubaker’s Winter Soldier is a great new offering from Marvel with dark evocative art by Butch Guice and smart crisp storytelling full of both clever spy capers and small character moments. While Bucky Barnes (aka Winter Soldier) is obviously the star of this book, Natasha Romanov (aka The Black Widow) is the co-star, and she steals the show regularly with her awesomeness. The book is effortlessly cool, definitively clever, and deliciously sexy, and it finds these great little moments that so many comics miss. Like a panel of Natasha slipping OFF her heeled shoes in order to jump into the fray. But Brubaker pairs a small moment like that with Gorillas with machine guns and jet packs…so you really get the best of both worlds.
Winter Soldier #1 and #2 are in stores now, and issue #3 is due in March.
If you missed them the first time around, make sure to keep an eye out for collected Secret Avengers Vol 3. “Run the Mission, Don’t Get Caught, Save The World” a collection of six brilliant stand-alone stories that tie together effortlessly by Warren Ellis. Each issue has a new (and wonderful) artist: Jamie McKelvie, Kev Walker, David Aja, Michael Lark, Alex Maleev, and Stuart Immonen. The collected edition releases April 11, 2012. Another wonderful book (and this time sadly under-appreciated) was Dennis Hopeless and Juan Doe’s Legion of Monsters mini-series, which will also be released on April 11th, 2012 in hardcover. If you missed it, pick up the trade, you won’t be sorry the story is smart, the characters are hilarious and so different from what we usually see, and the art is a frenetic gorgeous style that you’ll become addicted to.
Also, coming soon, and absolutely sensational is Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples Saga, due in stores March 14th. If you don’t have it on your pull already, rectify that now. The first issue is flat out fantastic.