Wow, has it been a week already? Welcome to another round of What Are You Reading. Our special guest this week is the mighty blogger, photographer and writer Kevin Church. To find out what he and the rest of the Robot 6 crew are currently reading, just click that little link below ...
[caption id="attachment_6861" align="alignright" width="96" caption="Anna Mercury Vol. 1"]
Michael May: I'm up to Akira Vol. 4 and the story just went from action-packed and kick-ass to dark and pretty damn disturbing. It's like it suddenly switches genres mid-story. I'm wondering where it's going next.
I'm almost done with Anna Mercury, Vol. 1. I expected a fast-paced adventure story and I got it, but I didn't expect to like the main character this much or be this fascinated with the setting. I probably should've - Ellis is nothing if not imaginative - but I think I underestimated him in assuming that maybe he'd dumbed this one down.
I'm also reading Showcase Presents: Aquaman, Volume 1. I've been curious for a long time how a concept as cool as Aquaman can be so universally ridiculed. I blame Justice League of America and Super Friends (the old cartoon, not the current kids' book), because these stories are pretty awesome. Silly and childish like the rest of the Silver Age, but awesome. As long as he's on his own, Aquaman is a fine sea-adventure hero. It's only when he gets stuck in land-based plots that he doesn't have anything to do.
[caption id="attachment_6670" align="alignright" width="150" caption="From "The Muppet Show" #1, by Roger Langridge"]
Tim O'Shea: Other reviewers have effectively described why the first issue of Roger Landridge's Muppet Show is a must read (Don MacPherson I am looking at you sir) . I would break down the particulars of what I appreciated most about the issue, but my nine-year-old son has taken full possession of the comic and has already read it twice if not three times. Boom appears to be serious about reaching kids with these comics (Waid's The Incredibles reminds me again why his FF run was so good, his grasp of family dynamics) particularly given the newsstand distribution deal that was announced this past week.
I've been hearing some complaints about the Old Friends and Enemies three-part arc that's finishing up in Captain America #48. After the fast-paced action and intrigue of the prior arcs, this (in many ways a flashback) tale was a shift in gears that did not suit everyone's taste. It clicked with me, however, allowing James to step away from his role as Cap to seemingly grow more comfortable with his role as Cap ultimately. But it's not James' character path that hooked me in this issue. Rather in four or five pages, Brubaker and Guice gave Marvel readers the most interesting approach on Namor that I've seen in years. Namor as a pulp noir character is something that Brubaker should write more often. And the fact that Dark Reign never appears in any way shape or form, as far as I can tell, is another plus for me.
James Robinson's Superman #686 (the next installment in the larger World without Superman plotline) is the polar opposite to the Rucka/Action Comics issue that I mocked a few weeks back. If Mon-El and the supporting cast stay as interesting as they came across in this issue, I'm not going to miss Superman very much.
[caption id="attachment_6866" align="alignright" width="97" caption="True Tales of the Roller Derby"]
John Parkin: Like Tim, I bought, read and enjoyed The Muppet Show comic this week. I could probably wax on about the nostalgia I felt while reading it, but instead I wanted to point out the beauty of the main plot of this issue, which is about Kermit getting nostalgic over the old swamp. It's hard not to start reminiscing about the old days while reading this book, and the fact that Landridge chose this particular story for the first issue seems very fitting.
I also picked up True Tales of Roller Derby: Doppleganger at the Hangar, by Lisa Titan, Nader Absood and Dennis Culver. Last year the Rose City Rollers, Portland, Ore.'s roller derby league, self-published a series of comics about the women of roller derby. And now Portland-based Oni Press has published a one-shot about the league, or least its fictional equivalent -- I doubt the real league has to worry about mad scientists trying to replace its skaters with dopplegangers, who look both creepy and sexy thanks to Culver's art. Featuring characters with fun names like Hurricane Skatrina and the Vominatrix, the story is straight out of a B-grade movie. The writers have a lot of fun with it, and you can tell they have a lot of love for the sport (Titan is a skater herself) ... almost to a fault, as sometimes the roller derby lingo in the dialogue can become a little overwhelming. Despite that one minor nit, though, I really enjoyed the book; it's a fun romp.
Chris Mautner: I just finished the lastest entry in Lewis Trondheim and Joann Sfar's (and, in this case, Boulet) fantasy parody series Dungeon, Zenith Vol. 3: Back in Style. The Zenith arc takes place during the "golden age" of the world of Terra Amata, and focuses mainly on the adventures of the smartaleck Herbert the Duck and his friend, Marvin the Dragon.
This latest volume is lacking some of the farcical humor that really made the previous books sing for me, and I was a bit sorry for that. On the other hand, it provides us with a good deal of background into Herbert's history, deepening his character a good deal and allowing us to see the beginnings of the dark wizard he will one day become.
If all this sounds a bit too self-important and ornate, trust me, it isn't. Well, it isn't self-important at any rate. Newcomers won't get a lot of the references to past stories, but those who have been following the series so far will find a lot to chew on.
[caption id="attachment_6863" align="alignright" width="100" caption="Irredeemable #1"]
Kevin Church: Irredeemable #1 - The opening salvo from Mark Waid's "And Then One Day, Superman Had Enough" series for BOOM! is all mood and ominous rumbling with some distinctly traditional art by Peter Krause that sells the whole thing better than I would have thought possible in the current post-postmodern superhero landscape. It should be out this Wednesday, I think.
Oishinbo: Sake - It's a 250+ page manga about restaurateurs learning about sake in order to pick the perfect one for their new establishment. The only way it could be improved is if were a 250+ page yaoi about restaurateurs learning about sake in order to pick the perfect one for their new establishment..
Tom Strong - I started re-reading these on a whim and wow, that Alan Moore, he sure is something, isn't he? Somebody should get him a job doing something. I know that Top Ten and Promethea are both better-constructed, more ambitious series with loftier goals, but Tom Strong will always have my heart because it's pitch-perfect 21st-century pulp.
Sam's Strip - So, in 1961, Mort Walker and Jerry Dumas convinced King Features to let them do a comic strip about comic strips. Sam met everyone from Krazy Kat to Charlie Brown, and managed to work in no small amount of metafictional humor. It was either going to be the biggest success in the world or end within two years. Since it's all collected in one volume now, you can likely work out how it went down.