The Best Comics You’re Not Reading

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By Derek Mainhart

Welcome to The Best Comics You’re Not Reading, where we highlight some books that are deserving of your attention. This week we dare to enter…Vault Comics.

Revisionist Victorian ghost stories, punk rock apocalypses, explorations of literary dream realms; in the 1980’s and 90’s, such was the dominion of Vertigo, an imprint of DC Comics, founded by legendary comics editor Karen Berger. Their unique, sophisticated blend of horror and experimentation, fantasy and commentary, set a new standard of storytelling in comics. Then, in the 21st century, the rest of the comics world caught up. The boundaries Vertigo broke were explored and integrated into all manner of comics and publishers, for both good and ill. But since its demise, no other publisher has captured that rarified air of Vertigo in its heyday.

Until (perhaps) now.

Vault, with its stable of titles featuring boundary-pushing work by top-tier creative teams, is doing a better job at occupying the space formerly occupied by Vertigo than anyone around. To wit:

Radio Apocalypse

Anyone tuned in to the comics scene knows that you should be picking up anything Ram V has been laying down. His book The Many Deaths of Laila Starr (published by BOOM! Studios) was the best comic of last year.

Add this track to the hit list. Yes it’s the Apocalypse (that played out genre), but the emphasis is on the Radio. Here, it’s the only thing keeping what’s left of humanity together. And humanity is in some Dire Straits (musical pun intended), what with ecological devastation, dwindling resources and refugee crises among the pressing issues cast into sharp relief. But music lives on, and its power helps what’s left of the population not just to scratch for survival, but remember, even in bleak circumstance, to live.

It’s a bit as if Mad Max had been directed by Cameron Crowe. And the art by Anand RK absolutely shreds; a little Chris Bacchalo punk, a bit of Sanford Greene funk, with some psychedelic flair added by colorist Anisha.

All this and Springsteen? I’m down.

Dark Interlude

Imagine the precocious literary tapestry weaving of Neil Gaiman, mixed with the meta-gamesmanship of Grant Morrison, add a healthy does of caustic wit, and you might get something approximating Dark Interlude.

Henry, Henry, a most unreliable narrator (and a would-be writer himself) previously introduced us to an allegorical literary dimension called the Fearscape (in the eponymous first volume of the series), even as he tried to corrupt it for his own petty ends. In this sequel, he further implicates the reader, as he again offers commentary on the nefarious goings on, as they are occurring. In this case, the offending literary trope is the concept of sequels, which Henry vehemently argues against, even as we are reading one.

(The lettering, credited to Andworld Design, cleverly abets the meta fun)

Too much you say? Gloriously so. The joy of reading this book is reveling in Ryan O’Sullivan’s purposely overwrought, beautifully hilarious use of language, as we quaff his heady brew of satire and allegory.

 This is paired perfectly with the pleasure of savoring Andrea Mutti’s atmospheric artwork, especially suffused in Vladimir Popov’s misty hues. 

A puzzle for the mind, a feast for the eyes and a tickle for the funny bone.

The Rush

Western stoicism meets eldritch horror in Si Spurrier’s latest; a tale of one woman’s quest into the unknown. Set during the Gold Rush, a desperate mother braves that fabled, desolate frontier in search of her missing son. There, she discovers a land beset by greed, obsession and….something darker. The evocative period narration (told via the mother’s letters to her son) perfectly sets the tone, as her indefatigable nature comes up against forces that are increasingly unfathomable. (Fans of Tom King’s and Bilquis Evely’s recent Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow – also one of last year’s best – would do well to check this out). Spurrier seems to be forgoing the ornate world-building and narrative metaphor he’s explored elsewhere, instead offering something more focused and intense, heightening the claustrophobic paranoia of the story nicely.

Nathan Gooden’s remarkable artwork seamlessly balances the stark western and visceral horror elements, accentuated by Addison Duke’s refined palette, alternating from pale blues and sepias to spasms of crimson violence.

Unlike what most prospectors found in their ill-fated pans, this comic is pure gold.

Vertigo may be long gone. But luckily for you, the discerning comics reader, the Vault is open.

Pick of the Week

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By Derek Mainhart

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow 8 (DC Comics)

A greenhorn seeking help from a seasoned warrior.

A mission of vengeance and rescue.

A journey narrated through memoir, with language that’s beautifully ornate and of a simpler time.

A trail that leads our heroes through many a backwater town.

Hostile landscapes full of deprivation and suffering.

A band of low-down killers terrorizing the local popuation.

A hero astride her trusty steed.

In addition to being an invigorating re-definition of the character (one that I hope sticks), this masterpiece, by Tom King, Bilquis Evely and Matheus Lopes, is also one of the best damn western I’ve experienced in a long while.

The Searchers in space.

I’m at once at the edge of my seat for the climactic showdown,  and terribly sad that the trail has reached its end.

Best Comics of 2021

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By Derek Mainhart

There’s something thrilling about serialized storytelling. Sure, a work of art that arrives fully realized, complete, of a piece, can provide an immersive envelopment; a meal satisfying in its soup to nuts wholeness. But there’s a special excitement about the delayed gratification, the suspense of awaiting the next installment, of dissecting and discussing the latest episode/installment/issue of an ongoing narrative that pulls a continuous tug on the soul. It’s how Dickens captivated his audiences. How movie theatres of old ensured repeat business.  It’s why we watch TV the way we do now. And it’s something comics have always had.

So this is not a list of graphic novels. Those auteur-driven pieces of art undoubtedly deserve praise and parsing. Elsewhere. Here you will find the best of the installments, the cliffhangers, the roguish improvisations whose most sacred credo is  “To be continued…”

1. The Many Deaths of Laila Starr (BOOM! Studios):

Death takes a forced holiday, as some upstart mortal has discovered the secret to immortality. When unleashed, this will render the (not so) grim reaper obsolescent. Here, Death takes the form of the titular character, and meets her would-be adversary at various points in his life. Each of these meetings ends in her demise, though not at his hands. What could have been a game of cat and mouse, with death trying to thwart her nemesis at every turn, becomes, in Ram V’s hands, something far more lyrical; a meditation on choices made, the nature of purpose, and the beauty of being present in the moment.  This is aided immeasurably by Filipe Andrade’s style (with notes of Gabriel Ba’s visual poetry, mixed with Marc Hempel’s cartoony expressionism, perhaps). The joy comes less from the plot than from the audacity of the storytelling, as profound observations can come from such unlikely sources as an abandoned temple, or a discarded cigarette.

2. 6 Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton (Image Comics):

A kick to the jaw. A slap to the face. A withering put-down. All of these grab your attention, as delivered by one of the most low-down, irredeemably caustic S.O.B.’s in recent memory, Trigger Keaton. A peripatetic star of the small screen, he abuses all around him like a Chuck Norris written by Charles Bukowski. Good thing he’s fucking dead. And lo, it’s up to his hapless assortment of onscreen sidekicks (each an object of his abuse) to find out who killed him. Kyle Starks takes this bonkers concept and careens it through a pop cultural landscape dotted with the B-list detritus of yesteryear. And it is flat-out hilarious. Chris Schweizer’s kinetic, madcap art seamlessly mixes the comedy and the action, with the sequencing chops of a Chris Samnee, flowing through the loopy inventiveness of a Sergio Aragones. He has, among other things, playfully advanced the sequential depiction of martial arts  (no small distinction), as well as accomplished the herculean feat of depicting a breathtaking car chase in comics. This is sublime bad-assery in a bottle and your life is incomplete without it.

3. Eat the Rich (BOOM! Studios):

Jesus. So, it’s like Get Out, except focusing on issues of class instead of race. Plus with cannibalism. It answers the question: What’s the reward for a lifetime of service to the one-percent? No surprise, it’s brutal desecration. Grindhouse exploitation you say? Well there’s enough of that, via Pius Bak’s evocative art (shades of Phil Hester), to satisfy the promise of the title (special shout-out to letterer Cardinal Rae, whose design wittily adds to the shock value). But mostly it’s couched in Sarah Gailey’s trenchant, bleakly reasonable explanation as to why this horrific world works the way it does. And we realize it’s unsettlingly close to our reality. A Modest Proposal for the 21st century.

But wait, you should also read these:

The Me You Love in the Dark (slow burn Gothic horror)

The Good Asian (classic noir with something to say)

Dark Blood (for fans of HBO’s Watchmen)

Maw (uncompromising feminist horror)

Two Moons (western / horror mash-up with an Indigenous American antihero)

Ginseng Roots (a fascinating exploration of the intersection of autobiography, local history, agriculture and cultural diffusion)

Sandman / Locke & Key (a rarified treat for the sophisticated comics nerd)

Happy 202To Be Continued…

Worth Your Time

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By Derek Mainhart

Being a cartoonist myself, naturally I read comics. A lot. With hundreds of titles to choose from, who has the time to comb through all that content?

I do. Here are some that are worthy of your attention:

Strange Adventures (DC/Black Label): I’ll admit it: I didn’t care for Tom King’s and Mitch Gerads’ previous collaboration, Mister Miracle. Though highly lauded elsewhere, I found its mix of quotidian family life with the apocalyptic horror of war unconvincing; each aspect undercut the other. The elliptical storytelling approach, so effective in The Sheriff of Babylon and The Vision, here seemed too coy by half.

Now King and Gerads take on another classic character, Adam Strange. Strange is part of a continuum of a specific type of hero, dating back to the likes of Flash Gordon, whose role as saviors of foreign, untamed lands sits uneasily with a modern, examined view of colonialism. King and Gerads tackle this legacy head on, telling two sides of the same story. In one version, Strange saves his adopted home world from certain destruction, in classic comic book fashion. In the other, depicted more realistically in the present day, his actions are called into question, possibly amounting to war crimes. Here the juxtaposition (queasy in Mister Miracle) cuts to the heart of the historical subtext of the character, and other classic characters like him (Matt Fraction and the Dodsons are exploring similar territory in Adventureman – also worth a look). The format itself, with a different artist depicting each version of the story, provides the perfect structure for the themes being explored.

In this, King and Gerads are immeasurably aided by the addition of Evan ‘Doc’ Shaner. His clean, concise, fluid style is the perfect match for the ‘classic hero’ sections of the book. Shaner’s work effortlessly recalls the art of past greats of the genre, seemingly distilling them into a timeless sort of comic book storytelling. In the promo material King calls him a “Platonic comics ideal”. He is this generation’s Curt Swan.

Gerad’s approach is more structured and repetitive, evoking something more akin to our reality. The constant shifting between the two keeps the reader appropriately off-balance, given the subject matter.

In its critical re-examination of who and what is considered a hero, Strange Adventures couldn’t be more timely.

DC Strange Adventures Comic Book 1 of 12 Evan Shaner Variant Cover ...

G.I. Joe (IDW): Yes I see you rolling your eyes: yet another man-child gripped by nostalgia for his childhood soldier-dolls. The reason to get this book, however, is writer Paul Allor. In the past, he has displayed a knack at taking established, staid properties and pushing them in unexpected, expansive directions (a couple of years back, he took Clue – yes the board game – and crafted a meta-mystery-mini-series that was at least as engaging as the beloved cult movie).

Here, he takes the concept of G.I. Joe and flips it. In this iteration, Cobra (the bad soldier-dolls of yore) has indeed conquered the world. But here’s the rub: they didn’t do it with some giant laser pointed at the sun. They accomplished it through dominating the tech sector, establishing global markets and creating a media empire. In other words they did it drip by drip, using multiple levers of control in order to convince enough people that they were better off with Cobra in charge. True, they brutally crush dissent when necessary (which is where the crux of the story lies). But that is not their only, nor even their primary, method of keeping their grip on power. The acquiescence of the population is the foremost element required. Cobra has come to power by studiously following the authoritarian playbook. Cue the real-world comparisons.

As such, the Joes, in this new reality, are seen by much of the general populace as terrorists. And they are truly a rag-tag group: scant resources, constantly on the move, and engaging in guerilla tactics (small acts of sabotage, disrupting supply chains and such – think Red Dawn, but not dumb). Indeed one of the intriguing things Allor is presenting are the internecine conflicts within the Joe’s themselves (there are at least three different factions opposing Cobra). The interpersonal conflicts of these desperate freedom fighters provides much of the tension. Imagine – G.I. Joe driven by character development!

Not that there isn’t plenty of action. The difference is that, unlike a child’s (or man-child’s) fantasy of war, violence here comes with cost. Indeed one of the issues the characters wrestle with, is if that cost, measured in their lives and the lives of others, is too high.

Artist Chris Evenhuis, working with colorist Brittany Peer, render the proceedings with a no-nonsense, clear-cut graphic style that acts as a nice counterpoint to a story in which there are so many shades of gray.

As our own democracy teeters on the verge of authoritarianism, this prescient iteration of G.I. Joe warns us what it will look like when we get there.

G.I. Joe (2019 comic book) - Wikipedia

Alright, enough wading in pop-culture. Do weighty issues have to be tied to entertaining, escapist fare in order for people to pay attention to them? What about those rooted more firmly in reality? Which brings us to today’s final entry:

*TOP PICK* 

Yasmeen (Scout Comics): Yasmeen, the remarkable debut comic by writer Saif A. Ahmed, follows the eponymous character as she survives the horrors of war, and tries to navigate what comes after. Her story unfolds along dual timelines. One takes place in Iraq in 2014 as ISIS invades the city of Mosul. The other, two years later in Iowa, as she tries to gather the strands of her life while simultaneously assimilating to a strange, new land.

In Iraq, Yasmeen lives a comfortable, even privileged life. Ahmed exposes the fragility of this seeming security with an almost casual abruptness. Violence and capture follow. The tragedy is presented with fidelity, but never gratuity. Much credit goes to the thoughtful staging and restraint shown by artist Fabiana Mascolo whom imbues the visuals with a cinematic flair for both the domestic and epic.

In Iowa, Yasmeen, having survived her ordeal, is reunited with her family. But any happiness is undercut by the changes her experiences have wrought on her, and the gulf it creates between her and those closest to her. This is compounded by the alienation she feels in her new, foreign surroundings.

While the tragedy of Iraq and neighboring Syria are well-known via news coverage, Ahmed’s focus on one teenage girl achieves the feat of making the abstract intimate, though never exploitative. This is due in large part to the story being informed by the writer’s own experiences and of those he knew. He himself escaped ISIS and immigrated to the US. Others were not so fortunate. Though the fictional Yasmeen is drawn from these sources, Ahmed breathes life into her as an individual, with care for the closely- observed details that imbue her, and the rest of the cast, with gravity and authenticity.

Ultimately this is a tale of trauma and the strength needed to heal. One of the most laudable things art can do is to give voice to the voiceless, to enable us to truly see them, and in seeing them, build empathy for their individual experience. In a world that is increasingly a patchwork of people displaced by violence, the story of Yasmeen is one of no small urgency. Highest recommendation.

Yasmeen #1 from Scout Comics - REVIEW — Comics Bookcase

 

 

I&N Store 11/7

Yay!  I get to celebrate my birthday with a sweet batch of comics.

Oh.  And my family.

Sweet, loyal comics.  And my family.

So, yeah: Yay!  Happy Birthday to me!

  • Dead Rabbit #2 (Image): I&N Demand I’m a sucker for a criminal with a cause.  The most recognizable of ’em all, Robin Hood–he ain’t shit compared to Dead Rabbit! But that dude’s problems are multiplying like the plural form of the latter half of his fucking moniker.  Hey, I’m sure if he could steal out of his wife the sick that’s stealing her from him, he would.   Instead, he’s gotta sack some jack for a more traditional form of treatment.  But do not expect traditional anything from Gerry Duggan, John McCrea, and Mike Spicer.  Looking forward to seeing Martin’s next move.

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  • Redlands #8 (Image)
  • Seven to Eternity #12 (Image)
  • Batman #58 (DC): I&N Demand Tom King follows up the KGBeautifully affective “Beasts of Burden”–it was goddamned operatic!  Wagnerian!–with the little pecker with a Napoleon complex: the Penguin.  Did I read about a team-up?  I sure did: Mikel Janin’s back on art with Jordie Bellaire on colors.  It’s a Penguin-win scenario for us all!

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  • Border Town #3 (DC/Vertigo): I&N Demand Talk about building something big and beautiful at the border!  Eric M. Esquivel, Ramon Villalobos, and Tamra Bonvillain’s Border Town is engaging on every level: sharp writing, strong characterization, sick art, and a creepy-ass caravan of Latinx monsters.  Hell, yes!  Can’t wait to see what goes down here in #3.

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  • Green Lantern #1 (DC)
  • The Immortal Hulk #8 (Marvel)
  • Marvel Knights #1 (Marvel)
  • Fearscape #2 (Vault): I&N Demand I’m a big Nabokov fan.  So, you know, Ryan O’Sullivan’s conceit ran the risk of running afoul of my most sensitive literary sensibilities.  It didn’t.  Instead, I walked along with Henry Henry and bought into the very clever premise that–thanks, in part, to Andrea Mutti and Vladimir Popov–plays your eyes, your heart, and your mind.  Yes, sirs: I’m the accomplice you’ve been waiting for.  Let’s do this.

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  • Volition #3 (AfterShock)
  • The Wrong Earth #3 (AHOY): I&N Demand This is a “Wow!” book.  If you’re still not reading The Wrong Earth, what planet are you on?

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What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

I&N Store 10/31

Happy Halloween, I&Nmates!

  • Ice Cream Man #8 (Image): I&N Demand Re: Ice Cream Man #7: “But that’s why we have stories.”  And we’re lucky to have stories like this one–one where innocence draws from imagination to fill an empty swing.  This story hit me in the same way Tom King’s recently completed Batman arc “Beasts of Burden” hit me.  I’m talking tears welling up and falling down.  The cleansing breaths.  The rush.  As revealed in an earlier post, I’m a sucker for father-son stories; and King spun one that had me feeling empty but not alone–one that made me long for a Batdad and made me want to be a Batdad with all my might.  Here, W. Maxwell Prince got me on the father-daughter level (my God, what would I do if my daughters had to endure a loss like this?  I hope I’d be a Goddamned Batdad!) and on another level: when I was fifteen, a classmate of mine took her own life.  Before school that day, I found out that she had killed herself.  No, not just before school that day: on the way to school that day.  While on the bus.  Cop cars outside of her house.  The bus driver slowed down.  In front of her house.  Cops in the driveway–standing over her.  In the driveway.  Curled up in the driveway.  Cops standing over her.  The bus driver pulled away.  I saw her face in the window.  It was the color of the trees and the houses we passed.  She was alive in the window.  A reflection of a reflection.  Alive.  Dead didn’t make sense.  In English class, I was the only one in the room who knew that she wouldn’t show up to class.  That her seat would stay empty for the rest of the period.  And tomorrow.  And the day after.  I stared at her seat.  Everyone else did what they usually did.  I stared at her seat.  And I couldn’t picture her in it.  I could only see her in her driveway.  Curled in her driveway.  I still pass that driveway.  Every fucking day.  That last page, tenderly and innocently rendered by the brilliant Martín Morazzo, with colors by Chris O’Halloran, has made the ride–that bus ride to school thirty-two years ago and my daily drive home from work–a little easier.  Yeah.  That’s why we have stories.  And now I’ll always have this one.  Obviously, #8 is very much I&N Demand–a Halloween treat, indeed!

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  • Man-Eaters #2 (Image)
  • Batman: Secret Files #1 (DC)
  • Heroes In Crisis #2 (DC): I&N Demand Tom King’s storytelling is impossible to pass up.  Impossibly, Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey have made it even more so.

hic2

  • Hex Wives #1 (DC/Vertigo)
  • The Wild Storm #18 (DC)
  • Daredevil #610 (Marvel)
  • Bone Parish #4 (BOOM!)
  • Britannia: Lost Eagles of Rome #4 (Valiant)
  • Crossed + One Hundred: Mimic #6 (Avatar)
  • Edgar Allen Poe: Snifter of Terror #1 (AHOY): I&N Demand AHOY is 3-or-3 with The Wrong Earth, High Heaven, and Captain Ginger.  I’m sure it’s gonna be 4-for-4 after this one.  Everything about it screams Halloween!  Quite possibly the finest use of the word snifter–ever.  Man, I took an entire semester of Poe during a summer session way, way back.  I fell in love with Poe’s prose, with his voices, and with his vision.  He saw something inside of me, ripped it out, showed it to me, and thrilled me with it–and did so from the fucking grave with 150-year-old words on a page.  That’s bad ass.  This–well, this might not be that; but it sure as hell looks like a lot of fun.

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  • Über: Invasion #17 (Avatar): I&N Demand Kieron Gillen and Daniel Gete’s Über: Invasion has been really fucking good.  (In fact, the Über franchise has been otherworldly from the get-go!)   If it’s not on your radar, you better get a better radar.  Re: #16 (including the always insightful backmatter): Oh man, that Maria: “She’s a darling! She’s a demon! She’s a lamb!”  Stalin couldn’t solve that particular problem, and ended up red faced–and pretty much red everything else.  That Gillen–he’s the bomb!  And he’s about to go off again.

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What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

I&N Store 10/24

OK, so a Halloween Ball, an apple festival, and a working Sunday kicked. my. weekend. ass.  I barely put a dent in my ever-growing stack of books, and then there’s the list.  You do the math; I’ll write the ups.

Despite being short on time, I’ve found an angle.  Check it:

  • Days of Hate #9 (Image)
  • Redneck #16 (Image)
  • Lodger #1 (IDW/Black Crown): I&N Demand Look: I don’t get preview copies of books; so any time I I&N Demand a #1, I’m going on gut–unless, of course, I’ve got a history with the character(s) or if I’m familiar with the creator(s).  In this case, Lodger couldn’t be any more I&N Demand: it’s the comic-child–a bouncing flopping baby book–of the royal Laphams, for Christ’s sake!  Any fan of Stray Bullets, of David Lapham, of exquisitely-crafted crime noir, of black and white comics, of the fu-cking me-di-um, should, as he or she picks Lodger off of the shelf, expect a cleaver clever, kill-her killer comic–because, you know, you Stray Bullets, David Lapham, exquisitely-crafted crime noir, black and white comics, fu-cking me-di-um fan, you: that’s what you’re gonna get.  Now go do your fan-ly duty and buy Lodger.  Hell, buy two–and spread the love of Lapham.

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  • Action Comics #1004 (DC)
  • Books of Magic #1 (DC/Vertigo): I&N Demand Look: I don’t get preview copies of books; so any time I I&N Demand a #1, I’m going on gut–unless, of course, I’ve got a history with the character(s) or if I’m familiar with the creator(s).  In this case, Tim Hunter couldn’t be any more I&N Demand: he’s the comic-child–a bouncing maturing teenage magician–of the royal Neil Gaiman, for Christ’s sake!  Any fan of The Books of Magic, the mini; of The Books of Magic, the ongoing; of Neil Gaiman; of magic; of bespectacled boy wizards (because there are, you know, other bespectacled boy wizards, who, like, magically appeared over the years); of Bildungsromans; of magical Bildungsromans; I just like typing Bildungsromans; of new Tim Hunter handlers Kat Howard and Tom Fowler; of the ma-gi-cal me-di-um, should, as he or she picks Books of Magic off of the shelf, expect an evil-calling enthralling, tragic magic comic–because, you know, you The Books of Magic, The Books of Magic, Neil Gaiman, bespectacled boy wizard, magic, Bildungsroman, magical Bildungsroman, new Tim Hunter handler, ma-gi-cal me-di-um fan, you: that’s what you’re gonna get.  Now go and do your fan-ly duty and buy Books of Magic.  Heck, buy two–and spread the love of magic.

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  • Detective Comics #991 (DC)
  • Scarlet #3 (DC/Jinxworld)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #8 (Marvel)
  • The Sentry #5 (Marvel)
  • Babyteeth #13 (AfterShock)
  • Dead Kings #1 (AfterShock)
  • High Heaven #2 (AHOY)
  • X-O Manowar #20 (Valiant)

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

I&N Store 10/17

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No time to waste!  Let’s go!

  • Cemetery Beach #2 (Image)
  • East of West #39 (Image)
  • Evolution #11 (Image)
  • Gideon Falls #7 (Image): I&N Demand Re: #6: Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino have opened the dark doorway to phantasmal madness!  The latter’s layouts are mind-bending, sending the narrative deep into the id of a fractured Father Fred, into the bowels of the still abstruse Black Barn.  I love the insistence at the very end: Norton insists, “The Black Barn…we’re going to build it.  And you’re going to help me…”  See: “we,” “you”–that’s me: a boy with a farming pedigree.  Let’s do it!  Let’s build it!  I’m ready.

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  • The New World #4 (Image): I&N Demand I’ve loved the way Aleš Kot has manipulated time ever since Zero #1; so you know I loved #3.  But there was plenty more love to go around–mostly for the Moores: the he’s Tradd-ass lines and layouts and the she’s face-melting colors; and kinda for the kitty–specifically the sneaky “SSSNNNIKT” and the cat-fu that follows.  It’s a new world, indeed–full of politics and impulsivity, violence and–wait.  OK, well, it’s a world.  It’s the world.  It’s our world.  It sure as fuck is.

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  • Skyward #7 (Image): I&N Demand Re: #6: See, now: it’s the look–that look: Willa’s face in the last panel of the second-to-last page.  Her face shows everything she’s learned, everything she knows to be true about herself and the Low-G world.  She’s not going to let a little girl–a lot like a little Willa–lose her dad; so, despite the big-ass bugs, she’s going out the train door, into a forest full of freakishly large dragonflies, like a goddamned superhero.  Cue page turn.  Beautiful work from Lee Garbett with striking colors from Antonio Fabela.  Well played, Mr. Henderson.  Well played.

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  • Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #39 (Image): I&N Demand Re: #38:  What a fucking trip!  It hit me so hard that I had to write a 22 I&N 22 like right away–and here it is: Stray, stray, gang’s all here–in sub-space! Ay mi! Mother of a race to the top, learning: to get ahead, let (e)go.  God, I soooo wanted to shout Love Yourself! to the fucking moon, but, ugh, I didn’t want to spoil it for all of my fellow Love Yourself fans; I wanted them–and they’re out there, man–to experience the euphoria I felt when that dredlocked son-of-a-bitch was there on the last page turn, standing next to hospital bed-bound Beth.  That’s a good dude right there; and I can’t wait to see him kill some more bad folks.

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  • Black Hammer: Age of Doom #6 (Dark Horse): I&N Demand Re: #5: Well, spit in my eye and call me Spit Eye Guy!  Everything is revealed and it all adds up to nothing.  Say what?  Oh, but never before has nothing been so Anti-Goddamned satisfying.  Isn’t that something?  Certainly expecting Rich Tommaso to do his thing–be it any, some, every, no?  Oh, yes: Jeff Lemire–I&N Double Demand this week–has detonated a nostalgia bomb, leaving our displaced heroes–wallowing in the weird fallout of fate–in some super-secret, heart-crushing crisis.  And I’m Spit Eye Guy!  Collaterally damaged–and loving it!

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  • Batman #57 (DC): I&N Demand Re: #56: Like most guys, I’m a sucker for father-son stories, particularly those that recount dysfunctional relationships that remind of my own effed-up relationship with my father–a really interesting fella who’s lived an enviable life, if I’m being fair–and a total shit as a dad. Yup: I’m a “Cat’s in the Cradle” kid, tears and all. But KGBeast and his dad? Why would I give a dump about that? Why did I? Why do I still? Characterization? Motivation? Juxtaposition? Sure, there’s that.  (C’mon: one father who’ll do anything (take on ninjas and the cooky Kanto, the craziest baddy I ever saw), go anywhere (Volgograd–go Dad!) vs. a father who sits–yeah: a total sit as a dad!) But it’s more: it’s how Tom King tells a story–any story, really.  But this one: It’s his honesty. His humanity. His fearlessness. His taking shots. A father and son taking shots. Shots to forget. Shots to remember. Add Tony S. Daniel’s best Bat-work to date, and ta da!–I&N Demand.

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  • Cover #2 (DC/Jinxworld): I&N Demand Cover 2–my favorite defense, particularly because my team’s got two solid safeties.  Throw in some top-notch corners and a hungry d-line and what’s it all mean? I’ll tell you what it means: don’t pass on Cover 2. No, really: the concept is terrific, the execution makes it matter.  Bendis! is at his clever best; and David Mack is back making magic.  A Con artist with a cover: artist?  Fun, fun!  In fact, when I met Mr. Mack at NYCC, I fancied myself in the comic as I handed him a blank sketch cover of Cover #1 and asked for a sketch to complete the cover and I got lost in the layers and loved every minute of it.  I tried to explain the fantasy to my wife–about my being a part of some secret spy scheme that’ll change the course of the world–and she was like, “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”  Well played, honey.  Well played.

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  • Pearl #3 (DC/Jinxworld)
  • Daredevil #609 (Marvel)
  • Black Badge #3 (BOOM!): I&N Demand Re: #2: Matt Kindt, Tyler Jenkins, and Hilary Jenkins’ Black Badge is the perfect escape.  It’s engaging; it’s gorgeous.  It simmers and explodes, simmers and explodes–yeah, it’s quite a ride; you know, like being on a train with your fellow Black Badges and then Young Canadian Mounties show up and you’re not sure what’s going to happen and then the plans go KABOOMY! and then Bond-ing over snow mobiles and a tiger, some storytelling inside the story, and an end that’s a right riot, right?  That’s one Badge-ass comic, y’all.

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  • Captain Ginger #1 (Ahoy!)
  • Strangers in Paradise XXV #7 (Abstract Studio)
  • PATIENCE! CONVICTION! REVENGE! #2 (AfterShock)

What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

I&N Store 10/10

New York Comic Con 2018 was certainly one to remember!

The busybusybusy of the bustling Con–we did two days this year!–kept me from fleshing out previews for this week’s list of books.  (Shame, too: I really wanted to write about some of ’em.) Yeah, yeah: your world’s been shattered; I get it.  Figured, however, that I’d give you the bare list and highlight what’s I&N Demand so, you know, you can pick up the pieces and go on with your life.

Update: I’ve gone with reviews of the books I’ve read so far!  Yay!

See: I care.

  • Infinite Dark #1 (Image)
  • Murder Falcon #1 (Image)
  • Oblivion Song #8 (Image)
  • Unnatural #4 (Image)
  • The Quantum Age #3 (Dark Horse): I&N Demand

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  • She Could Fly #4 (Dark Horse/Berger Books): I&N Demand I just had to write a little something about this bloody beauty–and I did so in a 22 I&N 22.  Sad to see it come to an end; but, happy to echo, it’s not an end end.  Thank the Lord–and the Cantwell, the Marazzo, the Mrva, the Robins, and the Berger.

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  • Catwoman #4 (DC)
  • Detective Comics #990 (DC)
  • Superman #4 (DC)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man #7 (Marvel)
  • Captain America #4 (Marvel)
  • The Immortal Hulk #7 (Marvel)
  • Venom #7 (Marvel)
  • Hot Lunch Special #3 (AfterShock): I&N Demand

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  • Last Space Race #1 (AfterShock)
  • Survival Fetish #4 (Black Mask): I&N Demand Survival Fetish continues to be a top-of-the-pile book–and #4 is no exception: while things do slow down a bit (I mean, they had to, hey?  Just enough to catch our collective breath), Kindlon and Fuso still push the pace and Saheer from one tower-power player to the next, driving the high stakes even higher.  If this is, in fact, Saheer’s final run, I’ll be standing at the window cheering him on.  With Surival Fetish, the aforementioned creators–terrific storytellers, both–have, ironically, cemented themselves as must-buys going forward–ever forward.

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  • The Wilds #5 (Black Mask)
  • The Wrong Earth #2 (Ahoy!): I&N Demand

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What are you looking forward to this week?

Turning pages,

Scott

22 I&N 22: She Could Fly #4

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Here’s my 22 I&N 22* for She Could Fly #4 (Dark Horse/Berger Books) by Christopher Cantwell (writer), Martin Morazzo (artist), Miroslav Mrva (colorist), and Clem Robins (letterer):

 

What’s Donne’s done: violent crescendo (Woo-ing Tarantino): gun barrels and grounded angels reciting mad poetry, claiming power to fly, to be–undone.

 

Let us know what you think–about She Could Fly #4 and about 22 I&N 22!

Turning pages,

Scott

*22 I&N 22 is a 22-word review of a comic book–which is typically 22 pages long–done up I&N style, naturally.

And, yes: She Could Fly #4 is 32 pages long; but I can’t go mucking about with the branding of the feature, now can I?