Welcome to What Are You Reading, where we tell you what books and comics we're currently in the midst of. Because we like to talk about ourselves. A lot.
Our very special guest this week is comics scribe Fred van Lente, who you might best know either from his work at Marvel, particularly on titles like The Incredible Hercules, or from his work over at Evil Twin Comics (with artist Ryan Dunlavey) on the acclaimed Action Philosophers! and their current funnybook history series, Comic Book Comics.
To find out what van Lente and the rest of us are reading, click on the link below ...
Michael May: It's not REALLY comics, but I'm reading Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan. It's mostly prose (beautiful, strange fantasies that say meaningful things about suburban life), but there is some sequential art in it, so I guess it counts. After that I'm going to finally get around to reading Tan's The Arrival. I'm long overdue on that one.
This past week I decided that I'm no longer reading Green Arrow and Black Canary. I'm a huge Black Canary fan, but the Black Canary I want to read about doesn't get captured by a punk named Dregz and then unknowingly deafen some poor guy with reckless use of her sonic powers. Man, I miss Gail Simone.
Tom Bondurant: Just a couple of quick things:
My bedside-table reading is Essential Thor Vol. 2. I'm about halfway through, and I'm enjoying it a lot more than Vol. 1. (More Loki and Absorbing Man, less Jane Foster soap opera.) However, a good bit of it has been reprinted rather poorly, so that's a drag.
Also, I'll be re-reading Watchmen this week, because I think if I don't have it read by March 6 I'll have to pay a fine.
John Parkin: Secret Six #6: Deadshot, Deadshot, DEADSHOT! I think this is the best issue of the series so far.
Fables #81: Sniff.
Walking Dead #58: "You're some brilliant scientist -- working for the government -- and you wear a mullet?"
Up next: The new Scott Pilgrim.
Tim O'Shea: Slim pickings this week for me. Jeff Parker is bewildering me (in a good way) with the second issue of Mysterius the Unfathomable. Though I do wish that artist Tom Fowler did not have a tendency to make half of his characters' noses sport something that rivals the sinus cavities of Joe Camel. But this is a minor quibble.
With Ghost Rider #32, Jason Aaron delivers my favorite issue of his run to date. For my money, Aaron represents one half Roger Corman, one half Quentin Tarantino (in both cases, thankfully the good half). The book hooked me with this bit of Johnny Blaze dialogue: "...You're talking about wagering the fates of all these people and all the billions of souls in heaven and perhaps the future of our entire plane of existence on the outcome of a single motorcycle race?"
Campy? Sure. But damn fun campy.
Chris Mautner: I've been catching up with a bunch of floppies (excuse the term) that have come out over the past few weeks, most notably Batman #686, the first half of Neil Gaiman's eulogy-style tale. Overall I really liked this one a lot. I especially enjoyed how Gaiman managed to sidestep comparisons to Alan Moore's famous Superman story, allude to Morrison's "refer to every single goddamned thing that ever happened to the character" idea, as well as alluding to this classic story arc. (by the way, am I the only one who picked up on that reference? I haven't seen anyone else in the blogosphere pick up on it) Plus, I really like Kubert's art in this issue, and the way he references past artists' without overtly aping them. Nice job all around.
Fred van Lente: Great British Comics, a history by Paul Gravett, for the "British Invasion" issue of me and Ryan Dunlavey's history-of-comics-as-a-comic series, Comic Book Comics. I just started it, so don't tell me how it ends!
Forbidden Workers: Illegal Chinese Immigrants and American Labor by Peter Kwong. Research for my Dark Reign: Mister Negative mini shipping in June. (Plug!) Fascinating, disturbing stuff on late 20th-century/early 21st century human trafficking, what amounts to the modern-day slave trade.
Nixon's Pals by Joe Casey and Chris Burnham (Image). I swapped an Action Philosophers trade with Chris for a copy of this at NYCC, and it rocks! A parole officer for super villains finds himself in over his head. Thanks again, Chris!
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin. A Christmas present. Deserves every word of praise it's received. Considering the ditch the country finds itself in right now, I can see how Obama could use this as inspiration, what with the dire situation Lincoln faced when he took office.
Mysterius the Unfathomable by Jeff Parker and Tom Fowler (Wildstorm). The arch adventures of a stage magician who's both an actual sorcerer and a genuine douchebag. Very funny and beautifully drawn.