The five comic things I’m most excited about for October? Glad you asked!
#1. Number with a bullet is GOTHAM ACADEMY.
I’ve read it, it comes out this week (10/1) and it is AWESOME.
That’s right, written by Becky Cloonan and Brendan Fletcher and with some absolutely incredible art by Karl Kerschl (colors by Geyser/Dave McCaig) this is my pick of the week before I even read anything else. No way anything else is coming close to kicking it out of the #1 spot. It’s got some fantastic new female characters in Olive and Maps, the hottest Bruce Wayne this side of…well, anywhere quite frankly, and a rich beautiful take on telling stories in Gotham that only touch Batman lightly. Everything about this feels young and new and smart. It’s the exact breath of fresh air that DC desperately needs. And while I wouldn’t want ALL of the DC
books to feel this way (the same way I don’t want them all to feel grim and gritty) I must say it’s a welcome change of pace from what we’ve been seeing from DC. Even though Gotham Academy is a pretty gothic book – it’s set in Gotham after all – it’s not going to be all roses and sunshine – it has a lightness hope about it that just sings.
BONUS: Gotham Academy wonderfully straddles several lines, the first being that it will be effortless for new readers unfamiliar with Gotham (or even cape comics) to jump into, and yet it’s filled with little details that hardcore Batman fans will love. It also straddles that often difficult line of being all-ages friendly – and it is – there isn’t anything worrisome for younger audiences but it’s plenty complex, layered, and nuanced for older audiences. Check out the Becky Cloonan variant cover (right), so pretty!
#2. Scott Snyder and Jock’s WYTCHES #1 from Image. This releases on 10/8 and I’ve read it and it is GLORIOUS. Well, glorious if you like absolutely terrifyingly smart horror books, which I do. This is easily Snyder’s best book since his stunning Batman: The Black Mirror run. He’s of course done great stuff since then (The Wake, Batman, and American Vampire among them) but this is absolutely my favorite story (and world) of his since his Black Mirror work. Wytches is uncompromisingly dark and -- fair warning -- it’s not for the faint of heart. There’s some levity and hope to Snyder’s tale, which honestly works as an excellent contrast to make the dark feel even darker. This is a truly impressive start to the series, one that pulls no punches and has a cliffhanger that will leave you desperate for the next installment.
ADVISORY: One thing to note, if you read the awesome (and chilling) preview for Wytches (which if you haven’t read, I urge you to read as it’s a great story on its own), this first issue does not actually continue that story. That’s a standalone story as I understand it – one that takes place in the Wytches world and which Snyder and Jock did solely as promotion for the book. However, as good as that preview is, you’re not going to be disappointed by what you find in Wytches even if you were expecting a continuation, it’s so good, you’re just not going to care. Swearsies.
BONUS: More gorgeous variant covers than you can shake a damn stick at! Here are #1 Variants by: Becky Cloonan, Cliff Chiang, Dustin Nguyen, Francesco Francavilla, and Bill Sienkiewicz. And I think there are even more? I may be starting to lose track but there may be covers by Sean Murphy and Sam Keith?
#3. Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang’s lovely OGN IN REAL LIFE from First Second (releasing 10/14). In Real Life is about a female gamer and frankly it's a book that could not be more relevant if it tried. In this sweet and gorgeously illustrated tale about a teen gamer looking to find a place to fit in - in the world or outside of it - Doctorow and Wang create a heartfelt and emotionally engaging story about a female gamer.
There's nothing cynical or mean about this book, it's a genuine and passionate book, enthusiastic about its subject matter and yet it's free of saccharine or too pat after school lessons.
Jen Wang, an immensely talented illustrator brings real life to this story, her work, thanks surely to her animation background is energetic and loose while still being crisp and easy to follow. The contrast between the main character's real life and game life is wonderfully realized. While the book would level up significantly with some additional complexity what is here is simply great.
BONUS: Honestly, a book like this could not hit at a more perfect time. A book that just matter-of-factly stars a female gamer and is a utterly without cynicism or ugliness in its messages, something that feels in short supply these days.
#4. Thor #1. Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman's new Thor, the first time (sorta) Thor has been a woman, comes out this week (10/1). I’ve read it and thought it was great. To be honest, I’m not the best judge of of a Thor book as I’ve never been a regular reader of Thor, but I’ll be damned if I’m not going to at least check out Marvel giving a woman a chance at a big headlining role like Thor. No changing the name or character to “feminize” it, nothing derivative of Thor, just plain old THOR. Full stop. Awesome.
And thanks to that bold attempt, and being impressed by this issue, I’m fully in. I don’t know how interested I am in Thor as a monthly title long term, but they've got me for now. They just need to keep me (it's all very Dangerous Minds up in here).
I think the thing I like most about this new title in the abstract is that Marvel is showing with Thor and all their other leading lady titles so far that they’re willing to try a variety of different strategies: Captain Marvel is the migration of a long loved heroine into a slightly revised role trying to take ownership of that new mantle; Ms. Marvel is a brand new character (something we almost never see) stepping into the shoes of the role left vacant by another heroine; Black Widow is an attempt to capitalize on a hero that’s finding big mainstream success, and despite the fact that a recent series (a very good one) got cancelled too soon; Storm, Elektra, She-Hulk, and even the forthcoming Spider-Woman are attempts to revitalize characters that have at one time or another had their own books but certainly deserve another shot; and then Thor is an attempt to let a woman take over a huge character role with both comic and mainstream movie success. It might be a huge success or a huge failure, and I still want Marvel to give titles a longer leash before they cancel them, but Marvel’s bold strides to try a variety of approaches is admirable and gives me hope.
BONUS: Here’s a boatload of Thor variant covers:
#5. New BATGIRL (Batgirl #35 due out 10/8). I have not yet read this book and this one is a tough call for me as many of you probably know. For those of you that don’t, the reason I haven’t been reading Batgirl since the New 52 relaunch is primarily because I disagreed with the destruction of Oracle, a powerful and important character that I love. I still don’t love that she’s gone. I never will, and I think I’ll always hope we’ll get her back, but it’s impossible to deny that this new approach to Batgirl by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr rings all my bells. This is a Barbara Gordon I think I can get behind, even if she’s not my beloved Oracle. After checking out the preview, this comic is honestly just about everything I’m looking for in comics these days and thus, pretty hard to resist. Also, it’s a tough call to make – on one hand you want to protest the removal of a character you love and think is important, but on the other hand you want to support powerful creative visions and positive directions for your comics, so it seems like it may be time to start reading Batgirl again. And I find myself both excited and nervous about it.
BONUS: Costume design at its finest:
Bonus Round! It's not in October but how brilliant is DC's December Darwyn Cooke Variant Month?
Greatest. Variant. Month. Ever.
Here are 9 of my favorites, head over to DC to see all 23!
What about you guys? What are you excited about in October?
Kelly Thompson is a freelance writer living in Manhattan. She is the author of the superhero novel THE GIRL WHO WOULD BE KING recently optioned to become a film, and her new novel STORYKILLER is out now. You can find Kelly all over the place, but twitter may be the easiest: @79semifinalist