What’s I&N Store (8/19)

Sunday night, I went to a concert with my mother.  That’s right, I&Nmates: it was just the two of us: Mom and #1 son–well, and about twenty-five other obviously enlightened folks–average age of dying–who knew the names that brought not a little bit of culture to the marquee and, as it turned, not a bunch of people through the doors below it.  (I’m pretty sure that even the marquee was scratching its bulbs every time the names flashed.)  See, we saw John Gorka and Michael Johnson–the former one of my favorite folkies–a major influence, really–and the latter my mother’s musical crush; oh, and she was crushing hard–from the first row and from the very first song.  Yeah, she was giddy as all get out.  Good thing she didn’t get out her undergarments; but she was leaning that way–especially after elbowing me once she recognized the first few bars of “Bluer Than Blue,” the song that Johnson said helped him make the down payment on his first house.  (You know you know it!  Sing along: “Because I’m bluer than blue, sadder than sad/you’re the only light this empty room has ever had/life without you is gonna be/bluer than blue…”)  My mom sang along like she was in church, with her signature insistent vibrato nearly drowning out the Johnson’s amplified voice!  Even God was like, “Hey, c’mon, Pat: I paid to hear him!”  Wouldn’t you know, despite Gorka’s playing my request–the still oh-so-relevant “Where the Bottles Break”–and our meeting both artists after the show, my mother’s getting lost in the once-in-her-lifetime moment was my favorite part of the night.

This week, I’m paying to read these:

  • BPRD: Hell on Earth #134 (Dark Horse)
  • Death Head #2 (Dark Horse)
  • Astro City #26 (DC/Vertigo)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #49 (IDW)
  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine And Roses #7 (Image)
  • Wolf #2 (Image): I&N Demand I, too, love myths–and I’m loving Ales Kot.  Wolf, wow, offers a lot of food for thought–hell, it’s a food fight in the collective unconscious!  Kot borrows and invents, showing he’s Jung at heart but so much more in every other part of his body.  He’s the present and the future of comics–and I can’t wait, month after month, to see what he comes up with next. 
Wolf #2

Wolf #2

  • Archie #2 (Archie): I&N Demand Re: #1: This serious reinvention of the Riverdale gang never for a minute lost its innocent spirit: it was fun without being goofy; it was sweet yet didn’t sugarcoat the classic Archie Andrews conflict, which just popped off the page–thanks to Fiona Staples’ best work to date (in part, thanks to Andre Szymanowicz’s colors)–and reminded of the best moments of Mark Waid’s Daredevil reboot.  Gosh, I hope they can keep this up.
Archie #2

Archie #2

  • The Disciples #3 (Black Mask): I&N Demand So far, The Disciples is everything you might expect from a space-horror comic.  Instead of feeling played out, however, it feels frighteningly fresh. Re: the end of #2: I haven’t gone to church in like forever; but Niles and Mitten have me brushing up on The Lord’s Prayer.
The Disciples #3

The Disciples #3

  • Giant Days #6 (BOOM!)
  • Oh, Killstrike #4 (BOOM!)
  • Oxymoron #1 (Comix Tribe)
  • Welcome Back #1 (BOOM!)
  • Young Terrorists #1 (Black Mask): Just I&N It’s Fun with Titles Time!  Who are the real young terrorists?  It’s Black Mask, baby–because they are blowing up the industry with some great, great books.  Make sure you head down to the shop early to strap this one on–before it sells out!
Young Terrorists #1

Young Terrorists #1

Avery’s Pick of the Week

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #33 (IDW)
My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #33

My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #33

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (8/12)

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Four days in the hot-spot money pit that is Montauk have me hoping I’m not going to miss some of this week’s big books.  With apologies to Van Halen:

Ain’t Montaukin’ ’bout love

Vacay will keep me from the store

Ain’t Montaukin’ ’bout love

Cash-only shopping–I’m poor, yeah, I’m poor!

Doesn’t mean I won’t get out to Android’s to pick up these books, some semi-good lookin’ and some–mostly from the increasingly impressive Avatar Press–downright I&N Demand.

  • Harrow County #4 (Dark Horse)
  • Rebels #5 (Dark Horse)
  • String Divers #1 (IDW)
  • The Beauty #1 (Image)
  • The Fade Out #8 (Image)
  • Injection #4 (Image)
  • Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1 (Image): Just I&N and I&N Demand The team of Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson–I think they’re OK.  (OK: more than OK, really.  OK?)  If you don’t give them proper credit, you better just walk away–or I’ll slap you upside the head with a copy–I’ll make you pick your own copy, too; there’s a switch!–of The Wicked + The Divine to set your damn head straight.  Oh, baby: I’m mad–on a roll, right?  And to think: I missed the original Phonogram series; so I’m coming to this kinda like a virgin, no?
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #1

  • Starve #3 (Image): I&N Demand Through two: Starve is full of bold, assertive notes–it’s a massive success!  When Gavin–Starve‘s Top Chef–tells Sheldon, “I’m going to show you my city,” I hear Brian Wood himself, who’s so very good at cooking up deliciously diverse worlds with depth of flavor; and his art team of Danijel Zezelj and Dave Stewart (a 2015 Innie nominee for Best Colorist) are the perfect sous chefs, plating–er, paneling–with brash black lines and shadows amplified by alternating–and often blended for a striking contrast–warm and cool tones.  Hungry for more?  I sure am!
Starve #3

Starve #3

  • Velvet #11 (Image)
  • 18 Days #2 (Graphic India)
  • Americatown #1 (BOOM!)
  • Bloodshot: Reborn #5 (Valiant)
  • Crossed +100 #7 (Avatar) I&N Demand Alan Moore’s set the stage for Si Spurrier with a sick six issue arc that relied on obsessively intricate world building and long-fuse storytelling; but, damn, did it explode in the end.  What an effing payoff!  Man, Moore didn’t have to cross the Crossed line to be affective–he just went and redrew the brown out of it.  Now, Spurrier’s no stranger to Crossed.  In this case, however, he’s working off of Moore’s notes, which puts him in an odd position: he’s sort of a filter, right?  One that might miss the mark tone-wise; hell, he might languish a bit with the oft-awkward language Moore’s crafted.  It’s a risky proposition, for sure.  Spurrier–the winner of the 2014 Innie Award for Best Writer–is pretty damn great, but he’s not Moore.  Here’s hoping that he’s not much less, either.
Crossed +100 #7

Crossed +100 #7

  • Death Sentence: London #3 (Titan)
  • Mercury Heat #2 (Avatar)
  • Providence #3 (Avatar): I&N Demand Patient, potent: Providence is only two issues in, but Moore’s in deep–basement deep–and we’re right there with him.  His commitment to the book is palpable, and he demands one from us; he demands our full attention–and Cthulhu knows he’s going to take advantage of it!
Providence #3

Providence #3

  • Über #27 (Avatar): I&N Demand Kieron Gillen’s delivered some strong issues along the way, but none as powerful as #26.  Leah’s deployment was “everything [I] could have hoped for”–and more.  Sure, the German Battleships may have gotten the best of the Brits in this, “the largest enhanced confrontation on the Western Front,” but I was emotionally destroyed by the relationship between HMHs Churchill and Dunkirk.  Goddammit, Gillen’s killin’ it!
Über #27

Über #27

  • X-O Manowar #39 (Valiant)

Avery’s Pick of the Week

  • Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #60 (DC):  Zoinks!
Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #60

Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #60

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

The 2015 Innie Award Nominations!

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The Harvey Award nominations have been announced! The Eisners are in the books! And now we offer our annual corrective: THE INNIE AWARDS!

What does ‘Innies’ stand for? Well, other than an attempt at shameless self-branding, it stands for ‘independence’! Being ‘in’ the know! Part of the ‘in’ crowd! And possessing the non-freaky type of belly button.

Since we don’t have the big-time budget of the fancy-pants Eisners or Harveys, we’ve limited ourselves to five categories.  (Sorry Best Translation of Foreign Material for Tweens!)

Keep in mind that these are for comics that were published in 2014.

If the Eisners are the Oscars, and the Harveys are the Golden Globes, then the Innies are the Independent Spirits–or at least the People’s Choice Awards!

The Nominations:

Best Limited Series:

  • Brass Sun by Ian Edginton and I.N.J Culbard (2000AD)
  • Dry Spell by Ken Krekeler (Action Lab/Danger Zone)
  • Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland by Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez (IDW)
  • The Twilight Zone by J. Michael Straczynski and Guiu Vilanova (Dynamite Entertainment)
  • Wild’s End by Dan Abnett and I.N.J Culbard (BOOM! Studios)

Best Ongoing Series:

  • Afterlife with Archie by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla (Archie Horror)
  • Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark (Image)
  • The Massive by Brian Wood and various (Dark Horse)
  • Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt (Dark Horse)
  • Silver Surfer by Dan Slott and Mike Allred (Marvel)

Best Writer:

  • Matt Kindt, Mind MGMT (Dark Horse)
  • Ken Krekeler, Dry Spell (Action Lab/Danger Zone)
  • Greg Rucka, Lazarus (Image)
  • Dan Slott, Silver Surfer (Marvel)
  • Brian Wood, The Massive (Dark Horse), Moon Knight (Marvel)

Best Artist:

  • Mike Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel)
  • I.N.J. Culbard, Wild’s End (BOOM! Studios), Brass Sun (2000AD)
  • Francesco Francavilla, Afterlife with Archie (Archie Horror)
  • Matt Kindt, Mind MGMT (Dark Horse)
  • Gabriel Rodriguez, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (IDW)

Best Colorist:

  • Laura Allred, Silver Surfer (Marvel)
  • Jordie Bellaire, The Massive (Dark Horse), Moon Knight (Marvel), Zero (Image)
  • Nelson Daniel, Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland (IDW), Wild Blue Yonder (IDW)
  • Dave Stewart B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth (Dark Horse), Hellboy & the B.P.R.D.: 1952 (Dark Horse)
  • Matthew Wilson The Wicked + The Divine (Image), Daredevil (Marvel)

Now it’s your turn. Did we miss anyone or anything?

Let the internet shouting begin!

Turning pages,

Derek & Scott

What’s I&N Store (8/5)

My smallest week of books in a long time.  To celebrate, I’m embracing brevity.

And a Dark & Stormy.

  • Neverboy #6 (Dark Horse): Never quite lived up to its promise.  Feel compelled to see it through to the end, however.
  • Airboy #3 (Image): I&N Demand What is the most remarkable thing about Airboy thus far?  James Robinson’s pen is.  Wow.  Who knew?  (Thanks to Greg Hinkle, now we all know!)
Airboy #3

Airboy #3

  • We Stand On Guard #2 (Image): Oh, BKV, I stand on guard for thee.  No free pass here.
  • The Wicked + The Divine #13 (Image): I&N Demand Has been godly in execution from the get-go.
The Wicked + The Divine #13

The Wicked + The Divine #13

  • The Bunker #13 (Oni): Should’ve jumped off after #11.  Should’ve learned from my experience with Sheltered.
  • Blackcross #5 (Dynamite): If it weren’t Ellis, I’d be long gone.
  • The Spire #2 (BOOM!): Loved Spurrier and Stokely’s Six-Gun GorillaThe Spire #1 broke my heart a bit: neither the writing nor the art lived up to expectations.  Hope #2 isn’t a real #2.
  • War Stories #11 (Avatar): I&N Demand Erin go kick some Nazi ass.  A clever follow up to “The Last German Winter”–it’s an Irish spring!
War Stories #11

War Stories #11

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages–with another Dark & Stormy,

Scott

Best Books of the Spring

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Summer is in full swing! As you lather up the sunscreen, fill the cooler with your beverage of choice (Ommegang Abbey Ale for me, thanks) and break out your thongs (sandals or otherwise, hey, we don’t judge) we present a list of recent comics that are well worth tracking down for your seaside, margarita-sipping, swimsuit-watching summer reading. Enjoy!

Top 5 Books of March

5. Giant Days #1 (BOOM!): OK, so, about 25 years or so ago, I made my way to The Pennsylvania State University, University Park campus; got settled in on the 4th floor of Pinchot Hall, a 10-storey sausage factory; cycled through a few roommates–smokers, snorers, and  psychopaths–during my two years on campus; fell in with a group of dorks who’d be my best buds for four blurry years; and all together, as fun as I think it was–as I remember it was–it was nothing like John Allison and Lissa Treiman’s irrepressibly jocular Giant Days #1.  Maybe that’s why I loved it so much.  Co-ed Musketeers–Daisy, Esther, and Susan–are the hyperbolically dramatic center of this university; and hilarity revolves around them in effortless ellipses, much to our benefit.  So good that I can confidently quote McGraw, the mustachioed hate interest, as I consider what the future holds for Giant Days and, fearing a sophomore slump, threaten the creators of this tasty treat: “Nothing you can do can spoil gravy for me.” (SC)

Giant Days #1

Giant Days #1

4. Autumnlands #5 (Image): Fantasy books are all about world-building. No comic in recent memory has presented a realm so fully realized as Autumnlands. Credit goes equally to writer Kurt Busiek (no stranger to this kind of thing – see Astro City) and artist Benjamin Dewey, whose lush style seems to belong to another era (it doesn’t hurt, of course, that it’s being colored by the omnipresent Jordie Bellaire, who I’m convinced at this point must be some sort of collective of robot artists). Floating cities, magical lore, calcified social strata, layer upon layer intertwine into a cohesive whole. Impressively, one doesn’t hear the awkard, behind-the-scenes clanging of this universe’s construction; rather, it’s as if it has always been there. It is merely our happy fortune to discover it, and get lost in it. Higher praise for a fantasy tale I can scarcely think of. (DM)

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #5

The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #5

3. Ant-Man #3 (Marvel): I can’t even with this book. It is just too funny. I literally (and I mean that in the literal sense) have to keep putting it down because I’m laughing so hard. Literally! Nick Spencer is a comic (and I mean that in the comic sense) genius. Here’s your blurb: “The hero may be small, but the laughs are BIG!” (DM)

Ant-Man #3

Ant-Man #3

2. Silver Surfer #10 (Marvel): Dan Slott and Mike Allred are producing the definitive run of this classic character. They spent most of the first year bringing the fun, with story after story teeming with imagination and wit. But with the Silver Surfer, the piper must always be payed. They tackle the central pathos of the character head on: how can a being who played a role in the deaths of untold millions ever be redeemed? The story they come up with is so simple, so perfectly elegant, that I almost can’t believe no one’s thought of it before. Everyone knows that superhero stories from the Big Two are ‘never-ending’. That’s a shame, because this issue would serve as the perfect coda not just for this series, but for the journey that Norrin Radd has been on since Fantastic Four #48, all those decades ago. Beautiful. (DM)

Silver Surfer #10

Silver Surfer #10

1. Zero #15 (Image): The Jeff Lemire variant queries innocently enough, “What is Zero?” Answers inspired by fourteen issues of Ales Kot’s crazy, crazy calculus: Soldier.  Spy.  Hero.  Killer.  Storyteller.  Everything.  Nothing.  Open up the book, open mind, as always, as necessary with this schizophrenic series, ask again: Who is Zero?  Answer inspired by page one, panel one: I have no effing idea! <–I borrowed an exclamation point; don’t think it’ll be missed.  Kot unexpectedly offers up a figure who’s furiously fingering a typewriter and, in doing so, adds a literary layer, making the book more than Zero.  He’s gone meta, forging unforeseen relationships, crafting, out of the story thus far, a psych-session confession and a catharsis-in-progress.  This stunning thing with its wild spirit sees Kot exploiting his poetic proclivities: his words build images that build upon artist Ian Bertram’s images and affecting layouts: it’s a conscious stream of Ginsberg and guns, fathers and sons, drugs and drugs–all of it burrowing into the brain like a drunk bullet.  Stories don’t get more tragic than William S. Burroughs’, and Kot’s made magic by borrowing it–as if you couldn’t tell.

Zero #15

Zero #15

The Biggest Dis(appointment): Descender  #1 (Image)

Descender is the perfect title for this highly anticipated offering from the frustratingly inconsistent Jeff Lemire: the book, which starts off well enough, descends quickly–and dizzyingly so–to robotic schmaltz, lowlighted by the insultingly saccharine introduction of Tim-21, which bored a hole nerve-deep in my otherwise pretty resilient sweet tooth.  Anyone know a good dentist?  (SC)

Descender #1

Descender #1

 

Top 5 Books of April

5. the unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4 (Marvel): There’s a long-overdue resurgence taking place in monthly comics that are putting the ‘funny’ back in ‘funny books’. We’ve been trumpeting the aforementioned Ant-Man for a while now; add to that the likes of God Hates Astronauts, Kaptara, and East of West (ok, maybe not that last one). Enter: Squirrel Girl. Ryan North (fresh of his excellent, award-winning run on Adventure Time) and artist Erica Henderson have already established a quirky charmer through three issues. Well the fourth installment is, simply put, the funniest single comic I’ve read all year. Most books are lucky to get a chuckle; this one had me laughing out loud five times before I was even that many number of pages in (I’m laughing now, just remembering them). Or maybe I should just put it this way: Squirrel Girl Vs. Galactus. Nuts Said. (DM)

the unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

the unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4

4. Mayday #1 (Black Mask): Curt Pires pops for real with this frenetic filet o’ film–one that drops some noms de cinéma (Kaufman, Lynch, and Bay) and goes to effing guerre with them.  Oh, yeah, man: it’s a wild ride that reads like a regiment of lines on a mirror meant to be snorted with the eyes and sorted out with a muddied mind.  Re: minds: Pires, paired with the more than competent Chris Peterson, sells a story that, in terms of comics, is “sort of like” Matt Fraction channeled through Ales Kot with Tyler Jenkins and Michael Walsh trying to one-up one another from one panel to the next.  Mayday #1 will leave you questioning your life choices–especially if most of them have sucked.  But you will not question your choice to pick it up–even if it is “just one big blur”; nor will you question whether or not you should pick up #2.  I mean, Kleio and Terrence have “just murdered two dudes.”  You totally don’t want them to come after you. (SC)

Mayday #1

Mayday #1

3. War Stories #8 (Avatar): Sounds like a given: Part 2 of “The Last German Winter” hits the mark with this icy mid-arc march through moral relativism; but let’s be honest: there’s nothing easy–nothing safe–about it.  I mean, who can take a Nazi, humanize his ass, then make you wonder all along when hell will come to pass?  Only Garth Ennis can.  Only Garth Ennis can.  (No, you’re not imagining things: go back and hum the tune as you read–heck, sing it out loud, you Sammy wannabe!)  He crafts a German hero–Gerhard the Gallant–who, considering the situation, is easy to root for; but we know better, don’t we?  Don’t we?  Just in case, Ennis reminds us, elbows us to make sure we’re paying attention; oh, but then he nudges us–so vulnerable to his charms–right back to where he wants us–seeing the man, not seeing the monster–thanks mostly to his narrative voice, the vulnerable Rachel Kohler, and to the portrayal of the even more monstrous Russians, their evil punctuated by an horrific splash from Tomas Aira.  The execution is near Nabokovian!  (No, you’re not imagining things: go back and Hum.)  Now that, dear reader, is a war story! (SC)

War Stories #8

War Stories #8

2. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 (Archie Horror): Was a long time coming–so long that Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa offered up an apology to kick off the letter page!–but this second issue of Sabrina, which introduces with verve the vengeful and irredeemably evil Madam Satan, was well worth the wait.  The aforementioned writer–who not only sets a scene, he sets it on fire with his precise imagery–and artist Robert Hack, whose retro style is equal parts pillowy soft and boldly bloody, own the tone of this witches’ brew, which is bubbling over with literary allusions.  It’s campy; it’s creepy; it’s killer, kids! (SC)

 

Sabrina #2

Sabrina #2

1. Silver Surfer #11 (Marvel): Dan Slott and Mike Allred follow up the powerhouse of issue 10 with a comic that is as formalistically daring as it is emotionally satisfying. Surfer and Co. are trapped in a time loop and the question becomes not only whether they’ll escape, but whether they’ll even realize it at all. A graphic illustration of Free Will versus Determinism, a metaphor for the repetitive cycle of our everyday experience, a tale of love, forgiveness and redemption; this issue delivers all three in a thrilling marriage of form and content. I maintain that issue 10 would have provided an excellent ending to this wonderful series. But I’m glad it didn’t. (DM)

Silver Surfer #11

Silver Surfer #11

 

Top 5 Books of May

5. Zero #16 (Image): Collective unconscious, the inevitability of change, the destiny of DNA, the life sentence that is guilt–Zero‘s certainly much more than its title insists.  It’s a proving ground, of sorts; it’s Ales Kot’s firing range of ideas: it’s rhyme-free reason; it’s a game of William Tell: Kot himself is the tortured William S. Burroughs, and we’re the trusting Joan Burroughs, with an apple of expectations balanced precariously on our head.  Too.  Tempting.  BANG!  Somehow this experimental spy story became an experiment in layers deep meta-fiction; and, despite the jarring shift, the result is nothing short of spore-born brilliance.  Wherever this crazy thing ends up, rest assured, Ales Kot will not fail us–but he’ll sure as hell phallus, as evidenced by Tom Muller and Stathis Tsemberlidis’s cocky cover, which, in turn, is further proof of an air of youthful arrogance in Kot’s work, especially here in Zero.  I’m more than happy to breathe it in for as long as it lasts.  (SC)

Zero #16

Zero #16

4. Afterlife with Archie #8 (Archie Horror): Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla continue to add to their modern horror mash-up by seamlessly incorporating elements that you didn’t even know you wanted; everything from The Shining to The Crucible, even A Christmas Carol. The result is rich tapestry that continues to add texture to the story, a mix that acknowledges the high-points in the history of horror through the unlikeliest of lenses. (DM)

Afterlife With Archie #8

Afterlife With Archie #8

3. Mind MGMT #33 (Image): The ultimate showdown’s coming, but there’s no sign of a slowdown–even as Matt Kindt slows things down to foster a touching family reunion, one that frames Team Meru’s Soldiers of Fortune Cookies and their receiving and executing–with stunning efficiency–their munching–er, marching orders.  The decidedly deliberate issue ends with a Dalicious splash that promises a wild time.  With the end of the series so near, I’m excited, I’m anxious; but, no, Pipe Kid, I’m not ready–and I’m as not ready as I’m ever going to be.  (SC)

Mind MGMT #33

Mind MGMT #33

2. Providence #1 (Avatar): Avatar’s publicity department has been describing this new series by Alan Moore as “The Watchmen of horror”. But the story from Moore’s oeuvre that it more readily calls to mind is From Hell (an even more impressive achievement to this reviewer’s mind). FH brilliantly examined the underlying brutality of patriarchal hegemony through the lens of Victorian England, using the Whitechapel murders as a vehicle. Providence promises to delve into the repressed corners of American society of the past century using the fiction of H.P. Lovecraft (a passion of Moore’s for some time now) as a framework. Moore explores the Jungian implications of Lovecraft’s mythos (underlying realities masked by our limited human perception) by using them as a metaphor for aspects of the American experience that needed to remain hidden, given the times (in this case, “the love that dare not speak its name”). Yes, there is much to unpack here. Yet for all that,  this first issue is a master’s class in restrained, subtle storytelling. The deliberate pacing, the seemingly minor details that gain importance as the issue progresses, the symmetry of the opening and closing segments; Moore’s assured control of the material, when he’s on, has never been matched by another comic book writer. To say nothing of the insane amount of research that is woven throughout. Which brings us to the art. Here another comparison to FH is apt: Eddie Campbell’s nonpareil art in that tome had a scratchy looseness, a sketchy immediacy that pulled the modern reader with its irrepressible energy, despite the period setting. Here, Jacen Burrows takes the opposite approach: meticulously rendered, exhaustive research evident in every carefully placed line. The effect is polished, subdued and certainly visually impressive, but with a formal stiffness akin to watching an episode of Downton Abbey. And yet this is reflective of Moore’s otherworldly precision. Ultimately, the hyperbole of comparing this new series to the well-known Watchmen is needless. This first issue promises an epic Alan Moore tale to match or exceed, in scope, ambition and execution, anything he’s previously produced. That alone should suffice. (DM)

Providence #1

Providence #1

1. Material #1 (Image): With Material, Ales Kot’s has found his forum, the perfect space for him to keep pace with the injustices of the world.  No matter how desperate or disparate, they have a home here; and God knows he’ll never want for material as long as he never casts off the lenses–the perspective-altering critical approaches to analyzing, well, everything so relied upon by campus comrades, the arrogant academicians and their lecture-hall spawn–that help him to see the Ugly Spirit* in, well, everything.  Despite the pessimism that pervades the four narratives, which may or may not Crash into each other at some point, what Kot’s come up with–in tandem with the ironically-named Will Tempest–is beautiful.  He asserts that there’s hope in moments, in connections, and what better way to convey that point than with a comic book!  Holding its pages open is like holding hands with Kot himself as he leads the march toward enlightenment–toward Utopia.  And even if that march is born of naÏveté, it’s fueled by honesty, by brashness; and in the context of this comic, it’s something I want to follow.

*See Zero to see Burroughs to see that Kot’s got the Spirit–yes he does! (SC)

 

Material #1

Material #1

Biggest Dis(appointment)(April/May): Convergence/Secret Wars (DC/Marvel) – A bunch of heroes and villains from various alternate universes battle it out on a patchwork planet in a Secret Crisis of Ultimate Infinite blahblahblah. Yes, I’ve just described the plot of both summer blockbuster crossovers from the Big Two. In the cynical cycle of endless Events, this has to be a new low. I don’t know who’s guiltier: the company that seemingly pilfered the other’s concept, or the company that came up with such an awful idea to begin with. (DM)

Convergeance #1

Convergeance #1

Secret Wars #1

Secret Wars #1

Turning pages,

Derek & Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/29)

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New rule: anyone who leaves the theater while the credits are rolling to end a Marvel movie are henceforth banned from buying tickets for Marvel movies–for no other reason than they piss me off and ruin my experience because I can’t help but bitch about them to my wife, who, at this point, is pretty well fed up with my bitching and with waiting ’til the end mostly because she doesn’t get the references and either A) I bore her to tears with an explanation or B) she asks and ultimately finds my explanation awash in condescension, which makes for a fun ride home that’s for sure.  So, yeah: new rule.

New books:

  • Superman #42 (DC):
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #48 (IDW)
  • Invisible Republic #5 (Image)
  • Lazarus #18 (Image)
  • Low #8 (Image): I&N Demand Just how low can Remender go?  He’s lowered the bar, bro, playing expectation limbo; and wouldn’t you know, low is high here, in this fluid world; and I’m a little loathe to admit it, because regular readers should remember, I, for the most part, hate Remender, save for the low blow he’s rendered with Greg Tocchini.  So, if you’re doing the math: I, more and les, loved–Whoa!  Some admission, no?  Take a screen shot!–#7.  Let me ramp it up even more: it’s one of my favorite books of the year.  (Wow.  Despite the betrayal, it feels good to have typed it.)  Two solid “Oh sh!t!” moments did it for me.  So, yeah: Remender’s Low is I&N Demand.  Damn right it is, fellow doubters!  Can’t wait to be dragged down further into the mother-effing abyss.
Low #8

Low #8

  • The Manhattan Projects: Sun Beyond the Stars #2 (Image)
  • Material #3 (Image): I&N Demand So what if I don’t agree with Kot’s politics: the son of a gun can writeSo what if Material is here, there, and everywhere: the son of a gun can write.  There are zero reasons to not follow Kot wherever he happens to find himself–as long as wherever he finds himself is in a world of his own divining.  So far, his Material material has been plied into a pattern that’s comic haute couture.  Yeah, that son of a gun just makes it work.
Material #3

Material #3

  • Rasputin #7 (Image)
  • Southern Bastards #10 (Image): I&N Demand More offensive than defensive, that’s for sure.  Aaron and Latour score over and over with their ground and pound approach–and it doesn’t look like they’re ready to take their collective foot off the gas pedal; oh no, they’re not afraid to show their readers who’s boss–even if they have to make a sacrifice or two to get the point across.
Southern Bastards #10

Southern Bastards #10

  • Daredevil #18 (Marvel)
  • Hit: 1957 #4 (BOOM!): I&N Demand What’s even more unlikely than my giving a Remender book an I&N Demand designation?  No, really: Bryce Carlson and Vanesa Del Rey deserve it after #3.  Only took one “Oh shit!” moment to cement this issue of Hit as an I&N Demand pick; and what a moment it was!  Yeah, I needed that like a hole in the head; but, hey, what the hell?  It ends here.  (Boy, that was quick, no?)  Wondering: what are they going to do to top the shot they took in the penultimate issue?
Hit: 1957

Hit: 1957

  • Ninjak #5 (Valiant)
  • Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4 (Archie Horror) I&N Demand Which witch–and there’s a comic coven from which to choose, ain’t there?–has cast the most chilling spell over you?  Clearly, if you’re reading Sabrina, then you know the answer.  Each of Roberto Aguirre Sacasa’s words is a magic mot, and Robert Hack’s artwork brings to life the period and one exclamation point after another, punctuating both hilarity and horror as the spirit moves and crafting a tone that is as witch perfect as you’re bound to find.  Damn, it’s like these dudes sold their souls to the devil or something.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #4

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/22)

I took my daughter Avery to see her first in-theater movie on Monday. We saw Inside Out.  Sure, I loved the movie, but I loved even more how much Avery loved the experience of sitting in a deep theater seat with a Joy figurine in her cup holder and her own bag of popcorn in her lap, pieces of popcorn impatiently passing her lips, while watching an emotional atom bomb of a movie explode on an impossibly large screen. I loved her perfectly-timed giggly glances; I loved how we turned to one another with tears in our eyes and how she held onto my arm, her head on my shoulder until the end.

But the excitement of the afternoon didn’t end there. We were on the road talking about our favorite parts of the movie when–noticing in the rearview mirror that she wasn’t fiddling with her Joy figurine–I paused to ask if she had remembered to grab Joy on the way out of the theater. She said she had forgotten Joy, that she had left her in the cup holder!  As expected, in Joy’s absence, Sadness took over: Avery started bawling. “I want Joy!” were the only words that rose above the sobs. I promised her that I’d turn back and that we’d save Joy; I told her that this was going to be our journey, one not unlike the journey that Joy herself went on to save Riley. We met with a few obstacles–including an antagonistic red left turn arrow, which didn’t give a green that we were in a rush, skipping over us once as the lights cycled round the intersection; and a stubborn garbage truck that simply refused to get out of our way as it seemed to contemplate the value of each off ramp before finally choosing one–the one that immediately preceded the ramp to which we were racing.

Once in the multiplex lobby, we presented a stub to a ticket taker and explained our plight. She wished us luck and we ranranran–we knew the way–straight ahead, to the left, last theater on the right, which had–uh oh!–already started–oh no!–letting people in for the next showing. I hopedhopedhoped that some sticky-fingered kid hadn’t already found Avery’s Joy and sadly made it his own, that we weren’t going to be stuck with a sad ending–with a blue-tinged core memory. I was ready, however, to ask around–to plead; to pay, as necessary–if Joy wasn’t where Avery had left her. Luckily, no one was sitting in the row we had sat in, but the row below it was filled with kids, most of whom were most assuredly sticky fingered already! I got nervous as we climbed the steps and revisited our row. I stuck my hand in every blinking cup holder in that flipping row; and wouldn’t you know: no Joy. I turned to Avery and told her, “She’s not here, baby girl.” “I want my Joy,” she cried. She caught the attention of the kids and the adult in the row just below us. I asked them if they had happened to find a Joy figurine as they found their seats.   They apologized. I told Avery to wait right there and I got on my hands and knees. I reached under the seats that I supposed had been ours and knocked pieces of popcorn here and there; and as I did so, one of the kids in the row below reached over his seat and used his cellphone as a flashlight, illuminating the freakishly florescent popcorn–a lot of popcorn–did any popcorn make its way into Avery’s mouth?–and, amongst the kernels, Avery’s Joy. “Daddy saves the day!” celebrated the adult, probably a mom, who understood the import of the moment. I handed the figurine to Avery, thanked the clever kid with the cellphone, scooped Avery up and skipped down the steps. “Are you happy, baby?” “Uh huh. Can we go home now?” “We sure can.”

As we drove home, we were talking about our favorite parts of the movie and how cool it was that we had a journey of our own when–noticing in the rearview mirror that she was playing with Joy–I paused to say, “I love you, Avery.” She said, “I love you, too. I had fun on our date, Daddy.” “On our date?” I laughed. “I did, too, baby girl. I did, too.”

Boy, I can’t wait for a comic book to have that same effect on us.  Hmm.  Maybe one of these’ll do the trick:

  • Archie Vs. Predator #4 (Dark Horse)
  • Fight Club 2 #3 (Dark Horse)
  • Frankenstein Underground #5 (Dark Horse)
  • Mind MGMT #35 (Dark Horse): I&N Demand I cried plenty during Inside Out–and, full disclosure, during the volcanic short that preceded it.  You know: lava, tears.  My investment in those weren’t nearly the investment I have in Mind MGMT.  We’re two issues away from my being reduced to nerd jerky.  Speaking of being reduced: poor Meru!  She’s been laid out; her future’s in question–she’s on the brink!–and a cute K-9 strapped with C-4 has come to her rescue.  Yeah, Mind MGMT. is. about.  to. blow. up!  Cue tears.
Mind MGMT #35

Mind MGMT #35

  • We Are Robin #2 (DC)
  • Sidekick #11 (Image)
  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #6 (Image)
  • Wolf #1 (Image): Just I&N Ales Kot is comic’s most compelling read–as long as he’s in his own world.  Lucky for us, Wolf‘s his.  Anticipate crime noir like you’ve never read befoir: a stream a flood of consciousness that’ll leave you drowning in daddy issues.  Or.  Maybe.  Not.  Heck, I’m imagining Brubaker and Phillips’ Criminal on ‘shrooms; Miller’s Sin City on youthful arrogance.  Whatever the result, I’m pretty confident that we’re in for a treat–a dust-laced Milk Bone, perhaps?
Wolf #1

Wolf #1

  • Magneto #20 (Marvel)
  • The Disciples #2 (Black Mask): I&N Demand A solid first issue’s worth of exposition–which never seemed to drag despite the conspicuous lack of action–with a shared WTF? hook at the end sold me on this slice of sci-fi horror from Steve Niles and Christopher Mitten.  Reminded a bit of Garth Ennis’s recently-wrapped Caliban (Avatar), which ended up being really good.  So, yeah, I’m ready for more.
The Disciples #2

The Disciples #2

  • Mayday #4 (Black Mask): I&N Demand “Chaos reigns,” indeed!  Curt Pires is lighting fires and is letting them burn down everything in sight!  Has been solidly amorphous through three.  I sure as hell hope the end note follows suit–by shooting the massive expectations that have been built up after three idiosyncratic issues in the effing head.
Mayday #4

Mayday #4

Avery’s Pick of the Week

  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic #32 (IDW): Have I mentioned that Avery loves her Ponies?  If Applejack’s featured, all the better.  Guarantees that Grammy’s going to mention–again–that her father’s CB handle was Applejack.  Gosh, Avery just loves that little tidbit of information!
My Little Pony #32

My Little Pony #32

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/15)

Getting this week’s list put together was like pulling teeth.

No, really: Tooth #31–Steve–was ripped from my head-Hallelujah!–after having gotten on my last nerves.  Dentist’s promise: no more pain and a clearer brain.  Oral surgeon seconded; so el lidocaine did flow.

Don’t need to be anesthetized to pull these incisive installments, a few on the cuspid of greatness:

  • BPRD: Hell on Earth #133 (Dark Horse)
  • Death Head #1 (Dark Horse)
  • Astro City #25 (DC/Vertigo)
  • Hawkeye #22 (Marvel): I&N Demand The honest-to-goodness final issue!  Hell, I wouldn’t mind if Fraction and Aja were to return every four or five months with another final issue.
Hawkeye #22

Hawkeye #22

  • Silver Surfer #13 (Marvel): I&N Demand In the wake of #11, #12 could’ve easily been a disaster.  Wasn’t–not by a long shot.  The issue itself was lotus flower that I ate blissfully–so blissfully that the final-splash kiss fully satisfied.  A love story fueled by the power cosmic–there is no love higher!  And there’s no book, er, better in the Marvel U.
Silver Surfer #13

Silver Surfer #13

  • Where Monsters Dwell #3 (Marvel)
  • Book of Death #1 (Valiant)
  • Crossed +100 #6 (Avatar): I&N Demand Re: #5: All the proof you need that Alan Moore is the best there is.  His handling of Salt’s journal was undeniably Nabokovian!  I’m kind of getting all arthritic as I’m typing this: #6 brings an end to Moore’s meticulous run, but his vision will carry on: a way-with-words son, Si Spurrier–who just so happened to win the 2014 Innie Award for Best Writer–is up next.  Before that all goes down, there’s this:
Crossed +100 #6

Crossed +100 #6

  • The Fiction #2 (BOOM!)
  • Giant Days #5 (BOOM!)
  • Mercury Heat #1 (Avatar): Just I&N Kieron Gillen goes sci-fi under the Avatar banner.  What’s not to love?
Mercury Heat #1

Mercury Heat #1

  • Oh, Killstrike #3 (BOOM!)
  • Rachel Rising #35 (Abstract Studio)

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/8)

My weekly haul: is it getting better?

I say: #1 love/#1 life/When it’s #1 need in the night/It’s #1 love.

You, too?

I hope they don’t disappoint me/or leave a bad taste in [my] mouth.

The way to make sure that doesn’t happen: follow my advice to my youngest: we read comics, we don’t eat comics.  That girl–my youngest–is a serial cover ripper; she’s Paige the Ripper.  Yeah, it’s name destiny.

  • Harrow County #3 (Dark Horse): Suffering from witch hangover?  Wait.  Slightly different, but better: Suffering from witchdrawal?  Of course you are.  So what if Bunn’s a bit late to the black mass?  Here’s the skinny: his brew’s bubbling over with enough interesting notes–some familiar, some familial–to draw me in for another evil–and, thanks to Tyler Crook, beautiful–ladle-full.  On one warted hand: it ain’t Sabrina, that’s for damn sure.  On the other: it ain’t Wytches–thank Satan.  My one fear: it’s going to drag on for no good reason.
  • Rebels #4 (Dark Horse): Have Mercy!  Re: #3: Wood slowed things down–a lot–in order to deliver a backwoods backstory, in order to develop further–and, ultimately, sell–Seth, whose narration is equal parts addition and subtraction.  Wood generally uses narration to great effect–as seen in the recently-put-to-rest The Massive; but here, it’s a bit uneven, perhaps a result of the temporal trip, which, plays as one step back and one step forward, leaving us, in the end, kind of where we started.  That’s not what I signed up for, but I’m marching on.
  • Negative Space #1 (Dark Horse):  Ryan Lindsay and Owen Gieni had me with “writer’s block [getting] in the way of [a] suicide note.”  That brand of pathetic is my morning sun!  The simplicity of the idea–despite its dour note–inspires.  The rest of the premise (uncovering conspiracies, blah, blah–a potential Duh Vinci Code facsimile) could be a conveyor belt of clouds with cruel designs on my otherwise perfect day of unspoiled pessimism.  It could turn Colder; it could play a bit like Neverboy; hey, it could also grow into its own thing.  That’s why we read ’em, folks.
  • The Tomorrows #1 (Dark Horse): Curt Pires is killing it on Black Mask’s Mayday; as a result, he’s earned Must Try status.  Throw in a Zero-tolerance approach to the art duties–a different artist on each issue–and I’m ready to throw it in my bag without looking.  Regarding the premise, Previews hands down the following sentence: “The future: Art is illegal.”  Reminds of the most recent issue of Low, which was ridiculously good–a highpoint for the series, no doubt.  More of a turn on than a turn off.
  • Injection #3 (Image): #1 was a whole lot of What?  Plenty was drawn up; but in the end, Ellis and Shalvey’s singular thumb was poised smugly on the plunger with no clear sign that it was ready to push.  #2, however, brought the Injection for which I was hoping: it hit like an issue of Moon Knight.  Considering how great their short run was–how special their storytelling was–it would’ve been a shame if they didn’t hit some of the same narrative notes.
  • Saga #30 (Image): Throwing death around like the book’s in its death throes.  Unfortunately, the great Saga hasn’t been great of late.  The big page turns aren’t as big as they used to be; the irreverent moments don’t support the emotional bombs like they used to.  Yeah, the surprise is gone, the excitement gone; it’s missionary, once a month.
  • Starve #2 (Image): I&N Demand I love the desperation, the arrogance of Wood’s first course.  I love that Chef Cruikshank’s not so different in spirit from Callum Israel and that Zezelj’s art is a massive leap from–yet reminds of–his work on The Massive, which I miss so much.  I love the Heart of Darkness-ish riff on hunger and Wood’s fileting of foodies and chef celebs.  So, yeah, I guess I liked #1 enough to try another.  Cut me off another piece, man–I’m starving!
Starve #2

Starve #2

  • Archie #1 (Archie): Just I&N Seems like an obvious choice for our Just I&N pick of the week, doesn’t it?  Think about it: there’s really no other choice.  Mark Waid and Fiona Staples have paired up to remake Riverdale!  Sure, Afterlife With Archie and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina have already altered the Archieverse in unexpected ways; but–using DC’s Multiverse as a frame of reference–they’re set in Riverdale-2.  This is the Riverdale; this is classic Archie–the Archie–getting a modern makeover.  This is a huge undertaking, you know, with a world–one born in 1941–in the balance.  This, folks, is exciting.
Archie #1

Archie #1

  • Bloodshot: Reborn #4 (Valiant): Speaking of exciting: this one ain’t.  Therapist couch revelation: Bloodsquirt makes me want to hurt myself.  Ugh!  Just thinking about him makes my blood boil!  I may have to pass, if only to protect myself.  I hate typing it: it’s further proof that Jeff Lemire has trouble connecting with his characters and with his audience outside of his creator-owned work.
  • Death Sentence: London #2 (Titan): Re: #1: Montynero’s energy is infectious, and Martin Simmonds’ art harnesses it well.  Together, they’ve delivered a solid extension of the original series.
  • Providence #2 (Avatar): I&N Demand Re: #1: Patient and precise storytelling from Alan Moore.   It’s exposition at its finest.  You get the sense that Mr. Moore is in complete control, and it feels frighteningly good: his dialogue delivers what it needs to, just enough to feed curiosity; his transitions are sharp as a ritual dagger; but the most powerful proof: the four-panel bookends that are page one and page twenty-six.

STK672957

  • The Sadhu: Birth of the Warrior #1 (Graphic India): Why the hell not?  The premise has me thinking Orwell’s “Shooting an Elephant” gone mystical.  Chuck Dixon’s doing the wordy work, so I’m on board.
  • Strange Fruit #1 (BOOM!): The water and the tension are rising in this period piece from Mark Waid and J.G. Jones.  I wonder if Waid’s wading in the racist river of 1920s Mississippi in response to the roiling race relations that have been plaguing us of late or if this has been in the works for a while.  Even though Waid’s social-issue-of-the-month approach to Daredevil hurt Ol’ Horn Head more than a brawl with Bullseye, I’m willing to give this one a go because I know what I’m getting into–and it’s probably going to be pretty good.
  • Transference #1 (Black Mask): Yeah: grab it before you can’t.  Why?  Not because of Michael Moreci (I haven’t loved his stuff).  Certainly not because it’s a time-travel comic (that’s right, time-travel fans, it’s another time-travel comic!).  Here’s the big because: it’s a Black Mask book!  Count ’em, kids: #1: We Can’t Go Home.  #2: Mayday.  #3: The Disciples.  #4: Space Riders.  Really good stuff.  It’d be foolish not to try this one.

Avery’s Pick of the Week

  • Scooby-Doo! Where Are You? #59 (DC): Avery loves Shaggy.  Perhaps I should start worrying now.
Scooby-Doo Where Are You? #59

Scooby-Doo Where Are You? #59

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

What’s I&N Store (7/1)

Kicked off summer vacation with a folk-rockin’ concert–Richard Thompson in NYC–and an empanada-fueled stroll into infinity along the naturban High Line.  Spent a schizophrenic Sunday in Davis Park; and for two pain-in-the-grass days, I fought the lawn–and the lawn won.  Quite a ride thus far.  Vacation really doesn’t start, however, until noon on Wednesday.

  • Neverboy #5 (Dark Horse)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #47 (IDW)
  • Airboy #2 (Image): I&N Demand Re: #1: James Robinson rocks as comicdom’s version of Hank Moody in a masturbatory exercise that makes Robinson required reading again!  As cocky as a book can get–though not quite as cocky as most of Danzig’s Verotik line from the mid-’90s, but plenty cocky in it’s own right, thanks to Greg Hinkle, whose pen is large and in charge!  Cover your eyes!  When Airboy finally showed up, I sighed with concern, fearful that his appearance would let the air out of the book–one that I’m super excited about.  Gosh, I hope this thing takes off…
Airboy #2

Airboy #2

  • No Mercy #4 (Image)
  • Satellite Sam #15 (Image): I&N Demand The story–Fraction’s brilliant black and Michael White-focused arc–ends here.  Big time bummer!  Each issue is an epic battle between class and crass.  Few books are as consistently great as Satellite Sam.  Sad to see it sign off–even if only for an extended hiatus.
Satellite Sam #15

Satellite Sam #15

  • We Stand On Guard #1 (Image): For thee: We Stand On Guard didn’t make the I&N Demand cut and has been trumped by The Spire for our one Just I&N designation; but, c’mon: it’s Brian K. Vaughan!  He’s fixing to make some magic north of the border!  Oh, I can hear the chatter already: It’s not as good as Saga, man; or: Man, this is so much better than Saga!  For worse or better, that’s what this book’s up against.  I’m hoping for the latter, especially since Saga‘s lost some its soul of late.
  • The Wicked + The Divine #12 (Image): I&N Demand Wow.  #11 delivered one of those unforgettable Didn’t see it comin’ moments.  Similar to Satellite Sam, this is a book that kills it month after month: Gillen, McKelvie, and Wilson are as in sync as creators can be, dropping perfect pop songs twenty-two pages at a time.
The Wicked + The Divine #12

The Wicked + The Divine #12

  • Zero #18 (Image): I&N Demand Our early favorite for book of the year–from an early favorite for writer of the year, Ales Kot–ends here, leaving us, appropriately, with an empty space that may never be filled.  Sure, Kot’s exploring similar themes in The Surface and Material; but this is clearly his baby–one that’s grown up way too fast.  Damn.
Zero #18

Zero #18

  • Broken World #2 (BOOM!)
  • The Bunker #12 (Oni)
  • Grant Morrison’s 18 Days #1 (Graphic India)
  • The Spire #1 (BOOM!): Just I&N The fellas behind one of our favorite books of 2013–the high-caliber Six-Gun Gorilla–are back!  Spurrier and Stokely laid down some serious–and not-so serious–layers in their meta-fiction miracle mini; I’ve been practicing my pinching skills ever since, and, boy, am I ready to do some peeling!
The Spire #1

The Spire #1

  • Über #26 (Avatar)
  • War Stories #10 (Avatar): I&N Demand What are Ennis and Aira going to do to follow up the high-risk and near-perfect “The Last German Winter”?  They’re sticking with WWII and sending a band of Irish boys–who have a lot of fight in ’em–to Germany.  It’s Guinness vs. Beck’s in a long-pour showdown that’s bound to satisfy ’til the last drop–of Nazi blood!
War Stories #10

War Stories #10

  • X-O Manowar #38 (Valiant)

Avery’s Picks of the Week

  • Scooby-Doo Team-Up #11 (DC)
  • Mickey Mouse #1 (IDW): No doubt about it: Avery loves Mickey!
Mickey Mouse #1

Mickey Mouse #1

  • My Little Pony: Friends Forever #18 (IDW)

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

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