SPIDER-MANDATE: The Lowe-down on "Secret Wars," Tie-Ins and Stacey Lee
In the interest of helping the mainstream comics industry by both promoting their good stuff and ignoring their less successful attempts, Dean Trippe takes time out of his busy schedule to inform you about the best of the best put out by the Big Two. Here are his most recent favorites.
I haven’t posted one of these in quite a while, but the comics “news” was getting a bit lot too negative for me this week, so I decided to revive it. If you don’t know me, I’m the Internet’s Dean Trippe, creator of Butterfly, founder and editor of Project: Rooftop, powered by the rays of Earth’s yellow sun. Let’s talk awesome comics.
Batman and Robin #14 by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving. It’s no secret that I love Morrison’s work to bits, and this issue is a great example of why. The tension and excitement levels in B&R #14 JUST. DON’T. DROP. In part 2 of Batman and Robin Must Die, Morrison and Irving BRING IT, playing with familiar icons from the Batman mythos (Tell me if you’ve heard this one: Robin and the Joker walk into a crowbar…), and continue to surprise even a lifelong Batman fan. Irving’s art really suits this arc, nailing the hyper-creepiness of major players Pyg, Hurt, and Joker (as well as cool details like his clever take on the new utility belts). If you’ve been following this series, and Morrison’s Batman run before it, you’re probably picking up on the Batman: RIP parallels. (If not, check David Uzumeri’s annotations for all the juicy Easter eggs.) Poor Dick Grayson. He’s one of my favorite characters ever, but he can’t even convince the Batmobile he’s really Batman.
Hellboy: The Storm #3 by Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo. If you’ve been waiting on the trades for these, you should be caught up to the last series, Hellboy: The Wild Hunt, which dramatically changed the stakes for the Hellboy U. Storm picks up right where Hunt left off, with H.B. grappling with awesome monsters AND the dramatic revelations regarding his heritage. Fegredo’s art continues to rock, serving as a surprisingly excellent substitute for Mignola’s own work (though Mike recently announced he’ll be returning to those duties soon), especially with the watercolory coloring style provided by Comics’ Best Colorist (TM), Dave Stewart. As always, the Hellboy and B.P.R.D. titles offer a consistent high quality at ever stage of production, unmatched in the vast majority of mainstream ongoings. I can understand waiting on the trades for these, given how well the Mignola-verse crew handles breaking up the stories and getting the trades out on time, but that reliable bite of good comics every issue is too tempting for me to pass up.
iZombie #5 by Chris Roberson and Mike Allred. iZombie is flat out my favorite new title this year. Allred’s art gets better every month, with new tricks in the mechanics of the page (Gwen breaking the panel border as a doorframe? Effective.) and Chris Roberson’s managed to jam a whole world of awesome into just these five issues. The main cast is really fun and have solid voices, and the recurring set pieces give the series a welcoming feel, more like a favorite TV show than a typical monthly. Lots of coolness for Gwen this issue, with a dangerously awesome new love interest and the start of a mystery regarding her origin that I look forward to seeing uncovered. I also can’t wait for more of the pulp-era monster hunting dudes! The iZombie universe is new and familiar, and offers its creators a canvas wide enough to tell absolutely any tale. When the series first started, I wasn’t sure what the intended length was going to be. Was it a mini-series? An ongoing? Would it do well enough to survive the Vertigo chopping block? Turns out, Chris and Mike are in this for the long haul, so strap in for years of reliably fun comics, fanfolks!
Astro City Special: The Silver Agent #2 by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson. I’d always considered myself a fan of Astro City, but after missing a few issues early on due to finances and availability, I’d actually just planned to return to it whenever I could. Now I have. I spent the last few weeks reading ALL of Astro City, having previously only read a few issues here and there. Anyway, it’s the best ongoing superhero book of our generation. Easily. I’ve heard from a few folks that they didn’t care as much for the recent storyline, The Dark Age, but for me, that series was incredible, hitting hard on multiple levels: the main cop/criminal brothers storyline itself was excellent, the commentary on the trend of darker heroes was powerful, the background cosmic events are awesome, and the revelation in the back matter that it had originally been conceived as a Marvels follow-up made for interesting parallels. Following that, I read the Silver Agent specials, which revealed the secrets of (the awesomely named) Silver Agent’s origin and his mysterious appearances throughout The Dark Age. These two issues told an unbelievably uplifting story about heroism, included lots of familiar elements from classic Green Lantern and the Legion of Superheroes, and like every Astro City tale, used those building blocks to construct a compelling character-driven story with powerful emotional resonance. The Silver Agent is one of the best superhero stories I’ve ever read, reminiscent of Grant Morrison’s All-Star Superman or Alan Moore’s Supreme. But in just two issues, having carefully set up the Agent’s brief appearances during The Dark Age, Busiek and Anderson brought me to tears for a character I’d only recently become acquainted with. Not Batman or Superman, who I’m always predisposed to weeping around, the Silver Agent, a hero I’ll never forget.
Thor: The Mighty Avenger #4 by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee. I’ve always liked Thor, but only been able to break into his mythic Shakespearean Asgard a few times. This new series is an excellent jumping on point for anyone, though, as it presents a newly updated continuity-light origin, along with Samnee’s excellent art (and costume modifications!. Consider every character update in this book Project: Rooftop Approved *STAMP*). And at just four issues in, you can easily jump into this series if you’ve been sleeping on it. Following last month’s super-fun Ant-Man & Wasp appearance in issue three, this month features Thor’s pals from Asgard and your favorite super-lord, Captain Britain. And drinking. And fighting. And awesome. I have some VERY minor quibbles about the teensy size of the lettering and the over-reliance on gradients in the otherwise exceptional colors, but hyper-critical nit-picking aside, this book’s creative team clearly works crazy hard to make it one of the best four-color floppies stapled and shelved, waiting each month for your rainbow-ready eyeballs. CHECK IT OUT.
More Good Books: Fantastic Four #582 by Jonathan Hickman and Neil Edwards, Avengers: The Children’s Crusade #2 by Allan Heinberg and Jim Cheung.
Awesome Hardcovers I’ve read recently: All of Astro City by Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, and Alex Ross; Vol. 1 & 2 of The Brave and the Bold by Mark Waid, George Perez, and Jerry Ordway.
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