What Are You Reading? with Andy Burns

Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Our special guest today is Andy Burns, editor-in-chief of the pop culture site Biff Bam Pop!, which is doing a holiday gift guide with giveaways through Dec. 24. You can follow them on Twitter for more information.

To see what Andy and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below ...


Tim O'Shea

Super Dinosaur #6: I appreciate the fact that Robert Kirkman is writing a smart kids book with this series. What I mean is the villains are not easy cardboard stand-ins that get the crap kicked out of them by the heroes. The villains in Super Dinosaur, look in the metaphorical rear view mirror and actually say, “Hey, this guy is dragging us down, let’s dump him” as happens in this issue. It’s refreshing to see villains that conduct (off panel, thankfully) lessons learned meetings. Also, it is intriguing to see how Maximus poses more of a challenge to the heroes as their prisoner versus when he was free.

FF #12: In between Fantastic Four #600 and FF #12, apparently Dragon Man was transformed into a creature that thinks he’s part monkey. How else do you explain why new series artist Juan Bobillo (who loses an “l” in his name in the actual credit page, but they get it right on the cover) has Dragon Man walking on his hands and feet? In general, if I was not still interested in Hickman’s plot, I would not return for FF #13. Bobillo is a great artist, and in fact this issue he renders the kids with some great facial reactions and moments, but he just does not strike me as a good fit for this story. Case in point, the issue opens with Val translocating (Val’s word, not mine) part of the Baxter Building into the side of a mountain. A great visual storytelling opportunity for an artist, but with Bobillo, he went with a faraway shot to convey the scope of what had occurred…that just left me feeling unimpressed.

Wolverine #19: Anytime where I get to write “Logan saves a bar in this issue” is a win for me. I will be curious to see if in the next arc writer Jason Aaron maintains the whimsical tone prevalent in this arc. I hope so, but most may not see that as the proper vibe for the main Wolverine book. Time will tell.

Thunderbolts #166: Time travel allows writer Jeff Parker to throw this Thunderbolts cast into any era he wants to. And thus, placing the team in 1888’s London in a tale titled “The Ripper Tour” is fine choice. I have a sneaking suspicion that Parker and artist Declan Shalvey (the latter being perfectly suited to draw a story in this era) are leading us to think one thing about certain ‘Bolts that will be revealed otherwise in the next installment of this arc.

Herc #10: The series that I enjoyed (but sadly not enough folks joined me in the fun) comes to an end with this issue. As I read this issue, I found myself wishing I could read 10 issues of mortal/bloated Zeus serving as a sidekick to his son, Herc. Writers Greg Pak and Fred Van Lente try to squeeze in as much as they can (sans kitchen sink) with appearances by both Kingpin and Elektra. What I appreciated about the use of these two characters is that it made sense in the larger scope of current Marvel continuity to use these characters. Added bonus? You get to see Elektra smile in this issue, something I do not think I have ever seen. The end to the series is quite satisfying, if all too soon for my preferences.

Daredevil #6: I hope whomever replaces Marcos Martin on the alternating arcs understands as well as he did what Waid is trying to do with this series. When approaching Marvel characters in particular, Waid seems to like to consider the physical mechanics of the characters. I recall the writer discussing during his Fantastic Four days how it might sound when Reed stretched, or what the noise Ben would make when he walked (the stones of his body crunching against each other). In the instance of Daredevil, Waid is having a field day exploring the nuances of what the hero’s heightened senses can detect. Also,I think Waid is building Matt as a character going through recovery, trying to reclaim a great deal of what he has lost and regain the ability to smile again--and mean it (even though often he may not feel like smiling). If you are not reading Daredevil (and Waid admits in the must-read Tucker Stone interview with him that it is not selling as well as he would hope a critically acclaimed book would [“It's doing okay sales wise, but it's not blowing the roof off the joint.”]), you are missing out on the strongest, and most refreshing, approach to the character since Frank Miller.

Andy Burns

Morning Glories – When it comes to this series from Image, I’m really just a raving fanboy. I was a little behind on picking it up, but I wound up getting the first 12 issues via a comiXology sale a few months back (note: I read the majority of my monthlies digitally at this point). By the end of that first issue, I was completely hooked on the story of the students entering Morning Glory Academy. Joe Eisma’s art is wonderful to look at, while Nick Spencer’s writing is seriously special. He’s got unique voices for all the characters and is clearly building his tale in each issue. The common refrain you’ll hear about Morning Glories is that it’s a cross between Lost and Runaways--I think it’s a fair comparison, but it’s also one that puts a hell of a lot of pressure on the creators to deliver monthly. Amazingly, Spencer and Eisma seem to be doing so with ease. Hands down my favourite series at the moment.

Ultimate Spider-Man – I consider myself a Spidey fanatic, but I’m not a fan so entrenched in the mythos that I get up in arms when great change occurs. For example, when "One More Day" went down I wasn’t screaming bloody murder (and I actually really enjoyed "One Moment In Time"). So when it was announced that we’d be getting a new Ultimate Spider-Man, well, that didn’t phase me either. Instead, I wanted to see what Brian Michael Bendis was going to come up with Miles Morales. Four issues in and honestly, I love the book. I love Bendis’ writing--the language just feels right. The conversations between Miles and his buddy Ganke sound genuine and real. Even better, Bendis isn’t rushing the story at all. It’s not just throw on a suit and instant superhero. He’s taking his time to make Miles Morales a believable hero, which means as a reader I’m becoming more invested in the character with every issue.

This Haunted World - This apocalyptic supernatural thriller from Sea Lion Press is a digital exclusive, written by Mark Powers and illustrated by Rahmat Handoko. Something to consider for creators and companies working in the digital realm--make sure your descriptions for a given title are solid and evocative. I wound up taking a chance on This Haunted World because the description was really interesting and evocative. The 99 cent price point didn’t hurt either, mind you.

Legends Of The Dark Knight: Marshall Rogers – Just because I’m a digital comic geek doesn’t mean I still don’t enjoy holding a nice hardcover collection in my hands. A few weeks ago on our site, writer JP Fallavollita recommended our visitors check out this new hardcover compilation of artist Marshall Rogers’ Batman stories. I wound up picking up the book a few days after the recommendation and I’m glad I did. There’s some classic moments in the hardcover, including Hugo Strange auctioning off the secrets of Batman/Bruce Wayne and appearances by Rupert Thorne, all stuff I’ve never read before. Rogers’ art holds up nicely decades later, as does the writing of Steve Englehart, Denny O’Neil and others. It’s definitely of a certain moment in time, but one worth revisiting.

Dead of Night – This is the latest novel from Jonathan Maberry, who has done lots of work the last few years with Marvel, including the two mini-series, Marvel Universe Vs The Punisher and Marvel Universe Vs Wolverine. Dead of Night is the story of a zombie outbreak that occurs in the small town of Stebbins County, Penn. It’s a quick-moving read that never sacrifices character development for cheap scares. I’ve known Maberry for a few years now and what amazes me about him is that as good as he was with his first novel (2006’s Ghost Road Blues), he legitimately keeps getting better with every piece of work he puts out.

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