Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading?, where every week we recap what comics have been on our nightstands recently. To see what the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below.
Sweet Tooth #29: Am I the only one to feel like this is the first issue to have any narrative forward progress in a long while? It just seemed to be spinning its wheels for awhile, but definitely not this issue. And I love the surprises that Lemire threw in this issue.
Secret Avengers #20: For readers, writers and editors wondering what is the great appeal of the done in one comics? Look no further than this issue. Writer Warren Ellis loves pushing storytelling boundaries in his work, but this is a stretch even for him. I’m not sure who had the hardest job in this one-shot time travel story. The writer, artist Alex Maleev or the editorial team of John Denning and Lauran Sankovitch. I have never been a fan of Maleev’s work—until the middle of the tale—when he pulls off a page and a half of Black Widow daily comic strips. (Extra points to Mayela Gutierrez for her production work on those pages). Even if Ellis had not written this issue, I would have bought it for the Steranko-esque cover by John Cassady and Paul Mounts.
Peanuts #1: As I said in my intro to this week’s Paige Braddock interview: “ Anytime an all ages title like this new release from the KABOOM! gang (in partnership with Peanuts Worldwide) comes out, I want to shout it from the rooftops.” The appeal of this new series is captured best by Braddock herself: ‘There hasn’t been a Peanuts comic book series since Dell published comics back in the 1960s. As a fan of both comic books and Peanuts, I’m glad that comic shops will once again have Peanuts on their shelves. As a comic reader, I think Peanuts will be a breath of fresh air in terms of material that’s suitable for all ages.”
Captain America #6: Not sure which I enjoyed more, Alan Davis drawing an Ed Brubaker Captain America tale or the fact that Brubaker worked in some quality Hawkeye/Cap time in the tale. I gotta add though, I hate the new Hawkeye costume that he’s sporting to match the upcoming film.
X-Club #2: OK, Simon Spurrier makes me laugh. I think he is a writer I should keep my eye on. Not sure why Dr. Nemesis chose to kept the empathic starfish on his head, but it made for some incredible comedy in this issue.
Villains for Hire #2: Amidst the cancelled series and aborted miniseries in the Marvel universe, I am pleasantly surprised at how Marvel editorial is enabling writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning to keep telling the struggles of Misty Knight, initially through the ongoing Heroes for Hire, now with this Villains for Hire miniseries.
Thunderbolts #168: Jeff Parker teams with artist Matthew Southworth for a quirky examination of Luke Cage’s fears. The story itself (mostly a mental battle thanks to this issue’s villain) allows Southworth to do some quirky and intoxicating layouts. Kudos to Frank Martin Jr. for his ability to strongly color the art.
Hulk #47: OK, I am starting to accept the fact that Gabriel Hardman is not going to be drawing Hulk anymore (moving on to assignments like Secret Avengers). Not sure if Marvel editorial is auditioning different artists for the book, but if Elena Casagrande is in the running for a permanent assignment (she has done previous arcs on the book), I would be happy. Parker continues to allow a simmering flirtation between Annie and Ross. Also loved the moment where Ross comically gave a brief on Zero/One to Machine Man (who he has taken to calling Aaron, another element of Parker having the hero view these partially mechanical entities as his trusted friends).
Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s The New York Five replicates the feeling of being young and in New York so well that one scene, the entrance to a subway station, triggered a flashback to my own New York days. It’s not just the visuals, although they work very well, it’s the story–four young women sharing an apartment, each dealing with their own issues, all of it magnified by the fact that they are in New York. Wood and Kelly cram love, death, betrayal, and loyalty into this slim volume, mixing the big issues skillfully with the minutiae of daily life. Like New York itself, it’s crowded and bustling, with multiple plot threads and panels that are crammed full of details, broken up with little travel-guide vignettes that introduce changes of scene. This was a followup to The New York Four, which Wood and Kelly created for DC’s Minx line, but it’s anything but a teen book–I would think adults like me, who have been through some of what the girls experience, would enjoy it a lot more.
I got an advance look at Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love, a YA graphic novel based on the autobiography of the most famous black cowboy of the 19th century. Known in rodeo circles as Deadwood Dick, Nat Love was born a slave in Tennessee and headed west as a teenager. He turned out to have a knack with horses and with guns, at least according to his autobiography, and the book moves rapidly through a series of thrilling adventures involving cattle rustlers, runaway horses, and hostile Indians, as well as personal encounters with Buffalo Bill Cody, Bat Masterson and Billy the Kid. The art is lively and very attractive, done in a painterly style with a palette that shifts as the story moves from one setting to another. My one quibble would be that the faces are extremely inconsistent, to the point where characters can look totally different from one panel to the next. That aside, it’s a great book; Love sure could tell a story, and the creative team has done a great job of bringing his words to life.
After paying for my copy but leaving it at the booth, Zack Soto was kind enough to to mail me a copy of Studygroup Magazine, the new biannual mag he is putting together with former Comics Journal editor Milo George. And I’m so glad he did because Studygroup is fantastic–a smart vibrant amalgamation of TCJ-like critical essays and interviews and comics anthology featuring work by some of the more interesting people laboring in the trenches these days. This issue, for instance, not only features a lengthy talk by Craig Thompson that’s heavy on process (inking, lettering, which paper is best, etc.) and a nice essay on Brecht Evens by Greice Schneider, but also contains some stellar comics from people like Michael DeForge, Johnny Negron, Aidan Koch and T. Alixopulos. Really, it’s a fantastic package that I can’t recommend enough.
It’s not comics, but I also read–or at least gazed at–Rivers Forgotten by Jeremy Kai from Koyama Press. This is basically a slim photo book of the sewer system underneath the city of Toronto. That descriptions sounds dull or gross (or both) but Kai manages to capture some astoundingly breathtaking images of vast, immense tunnels and other structures. Kai’s work shines a literal light on the hidden world that lies underneath much of our urban world and I was surprisingly grateful for the tour.