Ant-Man, Brian Wood, Dan Slott, Dark Horse, David Lapham, Dean Motter, Edgar Allan Poe, Greg Smallwood, Howard Chaykin, Image, Jordan Boyd, Marvel, Matt Fraction, Mike Allred, Mister X: Eviction, Mister X: Razed, Moon Knight, Nick Spencer, O. Henry, Radiant City, Ramon Rosanas, Satellite Sam, Silver Surfer, Spanish Scott, Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses
For all of you keeping score, here it is: our Top 5 Books of February!
5. Satellite Sam #11 (Image): Waking life–and death! Matt Fraction and Howard Chaykin are as masterful as ever as alarm bells go off, eyes open, and metaphors deliver their lines with ironic conviction. This thickly-themed and perfectly-timed issue sees the largely unlikable ensemble cast dissembled and reassembled, self-serving agendas selflessly serving as the common thread that binds the lot together on this very, very good morning. (SC)
4. Ant-Man #2 (Marvel): How did this book, easily dismissed as a cynical corporate media tie-in, make it into our bag, much less our hallowed Top 5? Well, one could mention the appealing heart in a story about a down-on-his-luck divorced father who’s willing to do anything to be near his daughter. Or one could point to the clean, appealing art by Ramon Rosanas and Jordan Boyd. All true, but what separates this book from the congested, middle of the road superhero pack is that it is so. Damn. Funny. We mean it folks: not LOL funny, but quite literally Laugh-Out-Loud funny. People on the train giving me strange looks as I’m guffawing at a freaking comic book funny. Any comic, hell anything, that can engender such a visceral reaction is aces in my book. So let’s just come out and say it: Nick Spencer is the funniest writer working in funny books today. (DM)
3. Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #1 (Image): With a sly “Hi,” David Lapham welcomes us back to the next round of Bullets: a lone gunman–a coldly fetching Kretchmeyer–is hunted down by series vet, the brooding Spanish Scott, a calculating killer himself, who is, let’s be honest, more siesta than fiesta. Scott’s lethargic inevitability–you know, like death itself–is integral to the development of the issue-spanning tension, especially as it mirrors the dangerously direct and determined Kretchmeyer’s own semisomnambulistic nature. Lapham brings the two together, guns drawn, in an unforgettable–and emphatically phallic–panel that finds Beth, one seriously distressed damsel, an extremely interested party who quite literally doesn’t want to lose her head. Yeah, it’s vintage Stray Bullets, folks: it’s fun; it’s violent, and it’s tight–it’s “another [effing] hole-in-one.” (SC)
2. Silver Surfer #9 (Marvel): The little engine that could. The ant with high apple-pie-in-the-sky hopes. Buster Douglas. Life. Yeah, we’ve got a thing for the underdog; it’s hardwired; heck, it’s about survival–our own survival that we fight for vicariously through whatever odds-against scenario we’re privy to in the moment. That’s what makes this issue of Silver Surfer so affective–so blisteringly painful. Dan Slott and Mike Allred do more than just continue the brilliant course set in #8, our #2 book of January; they ride it to greater emotional heights, selling the Surfer’s inspirational effort of “surfing the moon,” only to–in the blast of an eye–reveal the tack’s ultimate value: none. Yeah, seems Galactus is no Goliath, and the Surfer–stripped of the power cosmic–is the Surfer no more. But his defeat doesn’t leave us feeling defeated. Oh, no it doesn’t. Despite the bleak ending–maybe because of the bleak ending–we’re built up even more; we’re even more defiant, more hopeful. See: hope is our heroin, and thanks to the low note struck at the end, we are super high and primed for the return of our hero in a month’s time–primed for victory–because the little guy always wins–right? (SC)
1. Mister X: Razed #1 (Dark Horse): We honored Dean Motter’s previous installment Mister X: Eviction with the 2014 Innie Award for Best Limited Series. So expectations were high for his new collection. Well, we’re happy to report those expectations have been met and surpassed. In a book that already wears such stylish influences as Will Eisner and Fritz Lang, this issue boasts a gorgeous ensemble of O. Henry with just a dash of Edgar Allan Poe (in the undergarments) to weave a seamless, pulpy dream. You won’t find a better looking (or reading) book this season!
Seriously, Motter has spent years building up the fantastic, darkly surreal playground that is Radiant City. Now we get the supreme pleasure of just sitting back and watching the master play. (DM)
Biggest Dis(appointment): Moon Knight #12 (Marvel) – Brian Wood takes a fascinating, morally fraught premise – Khnoshu abandons Marc Spector and bestows the mantle of Moon Knight on someone who’s willing to murder a head of state for his past crimes against humanity – and ends it with a cop out. Spoiler alert! Turns out the new Moon Knight was just after his money! A weak ending that invalidates a riveting, timely premise. A true let-down. (DM)
Scott & Derek