Welcome to another edition of “What Are You Reading,” where we talk about what comics we’re currently in the midst of perusing and hopefully encourage you to share as well.
This week our special guest is Joe “Jog” McCulloch, of Jog The Blog fame. In addition to regularly posting insightful and erudite criticism on his blog, Joe is also a regular contributor to the Savage Critics site and has a new review of Chris Blain’s Gus and His Gang in the lastest issue of Bookforum magazine.
And so, without further delay, here’s what we’re reading:
Tom Bondurant: Both collections of Nextwave. Because Nextwave is love.
Michael May: I’m reading Aces: Curse of the Red Baron from Ait/PlanetLar. I’m only about a quarter-way through, but so far so good. The art’s a bit murky, but the story’s great fun. It’s about a couple of Allied soldiers looking for treasure via a map they got from the Red Baron’s corpse; only he keeps showing up to stop them. The dialogue by G. Willow Wilson is brilliant too.
I keep forgetting to mention my son’s reading table, but we’re in the middle of the third Fog Mound volume and are catching up on some Tiny Titans. He likes Tiny Titans more than I do, but we’re both enjoying the Fog Mound series. Volume 2 was especially cool with its river adventures, evil crabs, and giant monsters.
Chris Mautner: I just, just finished reading Berlin Book Two: City of Smoke by Jason Lutes. I have to say this is definitely one of those instances where reading the work in one sizable, collected chunk is a vast improvement over taking it in via its initially serialized version. I find it’s much easier this time around to keep track of Lutes’ large cast of characters and their relationship with each other. As a result I found myself noticing and appreciating many of the more subtle touches and tics that Lutes throws into the comic. It’s really a much better work than I think my initial impression suggested.
John Parkin: Last night I read Echo #8 by Terry Moore, which confused the heck out of me until I realized I totally missed issue #7. On deck is Swallow Me Whole, one of the books I got for Christmas. I’m going out of town this weekend and I’ll probably take it with me to read on the plane.
Tim O’Shea: This week I’m reading Jack Kirby’s Fourth World Omnibus, Volumes 1 and 2–courtesy of my local library. I’m enjoying these books on multiple levels:
— Introducing my son to the work of Kirby
— Looking at how much Superman’s redrawn head sticks out in Kirby’s
art (but does not ruin the overall reading experience
— The appearance of Don Rickles
— Insight from afterwords by Mark Evanier as well as introductions by
Grant Morrison and Walter Simonson.
I can’t say enough about this last asset. My knowledge of Kirby, despite TwoMorrows myriad efforts to inform me through their publications, is greatly lacking. But thanks to Morrison’s introduction in Volume 1–I am reminded how much Morrison deeply respects DC’s history and the scope, in
particular, of Kirby’s ambition with his Fourth World storytelling. And with Simonson’s introduction, maybe every other comic book blogger already knew this, but it was a true revelation to me when Simonson pointed out how Scott Free/Mister Miracle was the conscientious objector of the Fourth World. With that simple detail, it allowed me to read the stories on a completely different level, revealing a layer of commentary about the Vietnam War with the work.
Lisa Fortuner: The old Dark Horse “Ghost Stories” trade paperback that’s been sitting on my shelf for quite some time now. It has the origin, four guest appearances and some Adam Hughes sketches of Ghost, a character I’ve been mildly interested in since the 90s but never really tracked down. She’s an unlikeable but interesting character, an amnesiac ghost trying to figure out why she’s tied to the world still. The art is far far above the 90s standard even though her design is pretty much the norm from that era. It seems to fit in with the misandrist contempt she displays in the narration. She’s fixated on men but she hates them, her choice of dress seems natural as outward expression of that. The issues are just a few pieces cobbled together, but since you’re following her and she doesn’t care about the overall storyline the whole things holds together well. I wouldn’t call it impressive, but it’s enough to get me to check out the omnibus.
Jog: Two samples:
Deathwish: A 1994-95 Milestone Media miniseries, with some early J.H. Williams III pencils. He’d actually been around doing stuff since 1991… by that time I get the feeling he’d become known as the ‘dark’ guy, who got all the scary comics to draw. He’d done a comic at Tim Vigil’s Rebel Studios (Empires of the Night) the prior year, and there’s a little bit of Faust at work in Deathwish… he’s inked by Jimmy Palmiotti and painted by “J. Brown” who just lathers on the gooey mood. It’s about a transsexual police lieutenant on the trail of a serial killer… Suggested for Mature Readers, so hunker down for the F bomb.
Samurai Crusader: Oh god, just total nonsensical pop comics bliss from Ryoichi Ikegami… VIZ put it out in three volumes years ago. It’s one of his occasional attempts to do a general audiences type of story (see also: Mai the Psychic Girl), this time with writer Ouji Hiroi, who also created the Sakura Wars game on the Sega Saturn. It’s a globetrotting adventure thing set in the 1930s, and kind of an apologia for Japanese aggressions of the era… a young rich guy sets out to see the world and winds up fighting a wicked military man who wants to conquer China with a gigantic fortress and a sword with God Power. There’s Chinese chefs who control life and death through the 100 flavors of cooking, and a ninja who’s filed his teeth down to points, like an angry cartoon character but drawn in Ryoichi Ikegami’s Neal Adams-like realism. Also: the hero’s jolly sidekick is Ernest Hemingway. That one. For the whole series.
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