New Comic Book Day: Rob Liefeld Meets Herge


I never thought I’d see the day. I mean, I guess part of me knew that it would eventually happen, like getting an AARP card mailed to you when you turn 55, but I didn’t think I’d still be in my 30s when CBS finally put out a show that I might like. Supergirl looks great! Some of the effects shots might be a little iffy, but it’s still TV, so I’m not hoping for a billion dollars worth of CGI, and I think I can get by with this. The most important things about it for me are the fact that Kara goes out of her way to save people, and that she does it with a smile on her face the whole time. I can deal with all the other changes, like the shoehorned-in Felisco (I will be trademarking that ship name, so use it now while you still can) or a sister I never knew she had, if it means we get a happy, earnest Superperson.

This week in comics: Logan Faerber does Herge doing Liefeld oh God. Oh God that’s a horrible image. What is wrong with me? I have to wipe the sick off my keyboard. I’ll be right back with comic reviews.

Vacancy (Nobrow Press)
Jen Lee’s new book from Nobrow is an odd comic. It builds out the world of Thunderpaw, her animated webcomic about two dogs living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. In Vacancy, Simon, a former pet to some disappeared humans, wants to get out of the yard he’s been living in. Through a hole in the fence, he sees a deer and a raccoon, the proverbial shit crowd of the animal kingdom. The deer breaks down the fence, and Simon follows them out on an adventure.

The art is terrific. Simon is cute, with all the design coding of a timid, uncertain kid in way over his head. There’s a bigger, fascinating story that Lee deliberately doesn’t tell, but from browsing the web comic she says it exists alongside, I can say that you are free to dive deeper into that world if you want to. The dialogue is good, and Lee did a great job of capturing that discomfort that an early teen trying to act cool would feel. Also, I applaud her for using a deer as one of the troublemakers. Everyone thinks they’re all cute and nice because of that awful pro-deer propaganda movie, Bambi, but if you’ve ever spent time near one, they’re selfish dicks.

You can pick up Vacancy at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Boom! Studios

Oh Killstrike #1 (BOOM! Studios)
I gave Evil Empire, Max Bemis’ last series with Boom, a shot when I first got the gig here, and it was awful. It was cynical and negative and trying really hard to cleverly make a statement about how terrible the government and society are right now. And it failed at that – the end result was a comic that was full of shock, but literally nothing of redeeming value.

I didn’t remember that until I was about 5 pages into the first issue of Oh Killstrike, his new book with Logan Faerber. The first quarter of this comic is tough, a methodically overexplained, not funny at all critique of ’90s comics by a neurotic disaster of a main character, Jared. I was actually ready to put the issue down at that point, but I walked my dog and calmed down and decided to finish the issue, and I’m glad I did.

Bemis might not be able to explain why ’90s comics sucked without making me feel like he’s explaining why it’s funny to call me an idiot, but he can definitely parody the hell out of them. The second that Killstrike, the walking embodiment of every Liefeld joke that exists on the internet, jumps out of the comic and into Jared’s world, the book gets really funny. When he’s not subconsciously beating himself up for being a dork, Jared actually turns into an endearing character, but Killstrike is so over the top that he makes the book. Faerber’s art is terrific, too. There’s a panel towards the end of the issue that looks just like it was ripped from a Tintin/Cable crossover that literally no one has ever asked for.

You can pick up Oh Killstrike #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

DC Comics

Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 (DC Comics)
There are three classes of miniseries tie-ins to Convergence: naked fanservice, tryouts for new books, and stories that are important to the main series. This one is the last. Well, it’s also the first one, but with Telos being the actual planet where the series takes place, Swamp Thing’s connection to the Green hints at some important stuff going on over in the main series.

I’m not using fanservice as a pejorative, by the way. Putting the creator of Swamp Thing (Len Wein) together with one of the best artists who’s ever worked on a DC comic (Kelley Jones) and letting them run free with a character whose world encourages Jones to be as weird as possible is a great idea. Throwing in vampire Batman from the Red Rain universe just gives Jones even more of an excuse to go nuts with his own personal iconic work – the heavy blacks and bubbly but still angular over-muscling that he’s always done on Batman books is the perfect fit for this crossover. DC’s quietly put out some gems off to the side of Convergence these last couple of months.

You can pick up Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Dark Horse Comics

Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for The End Times (Dark Horse Comics)
Andrew MacLean’s new book from Dark Horse looks amazing. The story from the preview blurb is a fairly standard end-times quest fantasy – monsters roving the countryside, impossibly powerful macguffin, abandoned tech, secretly powerful cats (I’m just assuming on that last one, but you don’t name a pet Jelly Beans unless said kitty is going to mess some stuff up). But holy hell, the art on this.

The colors and the linework look phenomenal. Dark Horse compares his work to Stokoe, and that’s not just solicit text bullshit. He’s got so much grime and detail on everything that the world he’s building looks lived in, then abandoned, but never obscured. Sometimes when an artist tries to add dinge, he ends up detracting from his work. MacLean nails it here. It almost looks like if Prophet and Adventure Time got mushed togeth…oh shit THEY DID :dies:

You can pick up Apocalyptigirl: An Aria for the End Times at your friendly local comic shop or online via the Dark Horse app.

Dynamite Comics

Shaft #6 (Dynamite Entertainment)
David F. Walker and Bilquis Evely’s origin of John Shaft comes to a close this week, and that sucks, because it has been excellent. If you missed this and you have even a passing knowledge of the character, you should definitely grab it in trade later. I know just enough about blaxploitation movies to get most of the jokes in Black Dynamite, but this comic is so good I want to go back and watch more.

That said, Walker has stated that the Shaft novels were more of an influence on the character in the comics than Richard Roundtree was, so I’m probably going to go read the books. Comics’ John Shaft is a megabadass, killing whoever needs killing, protecting innocent people, and being smart enough to make sure that the war he wins with his fists and his guns stays won after he’s done. Evely’s does a good job with the art, jumping smoothly between flashbacks, action and emotional conversations. There’s a subtlety and a sadness in the art that I wasn’t expecting, giving me a few feels on top of the ass-kickery I was hoping for coming into it.

You can pick up Shaft #6 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.


A-Force #1 (Marvel Comics)
By now I’m sure you’ve seen Jill Lepore’s piece in the New Yorker throwing a 300-year-old oak’s worth of shade at comics based on her pop in to Battleworld. And you’ve probably seen all of the responses to it – G. Willow WIlson (the co-writer of A-Force) had a predictably solid one at her blog, and I wanted to add a couple of points to it.

First, Lepore’s article recycles the same tired shared universe complaints that everyone makes about Marvel and DC, with an added lilt of condescension about gender-swapping characters. She of course does this right after she points out the most powerful X-woman (Phoenix), the most powerful Avenger (Scarlet Witch), the best X-woman (Storm), the queen of the Inhumans (Medusa), the point-of-view character from the X-Men movies (Rogue), a founding member of the Avengers and generally considered the heart of the team (Wasp), and the deadliest assassin in the Marvel universe (Elektra), precisely zero of whom are gender-swapped knockoff characters. So not only is the fundamental premise of her article dismissive, it’s also directly contradicted by everything she wrote afterwards.

That’s all ignoring the fact that she’s pooh-poohing a book headlined and written by some of the best examples of big-two comics trying to push diverse storytelling from the last 10 years. I get not being able to understand a crossover tie-in, but please don’t use your own proud lack of knowledge about a book to deuce in my punchbowl. For the people who are into the women of the Marvel universe, both the characters and the ones making the comics, this book should be a lot of fun.

Secondly, according to Rule 34b (or the Porn Observer Paradox), now that Wilson has, on her blog, released the idea of “wrestling singlet kink” into the wild, it has always existed as a fetish.

You can pick up A-Force #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Action Lab Entertainment

The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 (Action Lab Comics)
I don’t want anyone to think I’m reflexively anti-crowdfunding. The Adventures of Aero-Girl is exactly what stuff like Kickstarter should be doing. Dewayne Feenstra and Axur Eneas raised a couple grand to put this out, and now Action Lab is about to drop the first issue of the book this week, and it’s excellent, a great all-ages comic. The story is challenging and a little dark, but the art is so much fun and the characters are so natural that I’m like, a year and a half away from handing this issue to my niece to keep the comics addiction growing.

Aero-Girl is training with Battle Jack, the hero of Foxbay and her father. He has “The Battle Spirit,” something passed down through the years in that city that anoints someone as the city’s protector. They take down a gang of circus-themed bank robbers, and then Battle Jack goes off to take down Dr. Chimera while she goes to her gymnastics meet. Nothing in the story is something we haven’t seen a thousand times before, but the family relationship, while an obvious setup for a tragedy, is entertaining as hell, and the dialogue is a lot of fun. More importantly, it serves as an early introduction for new readers to the glorious world of super powered families, crucial character archetypes for young people to accept and understand before they move on to more challenging material like crime-fighting gorillas. This comic was educational as hell.

You can pick up The Adventures of Aero-Girl #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going to take a look at a book that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read.

Titan Comics

This week, it’s Anathema by Rachel Deering, Christopher Mooneyham and Wesley St. Claire. I loved it. Mooneyham’s art is great – a mix of classic, square-jawed Sal Buscema figures with motion and flow like Mateo Scalera on Black Science. The story is an old-school exploitation/monster yarn: two lesbians are torn apart by a colonial era preacher. One of them dies and is about to fulfill a prophecy bringing Dracula back, so her former girlfriend sets out to make sure that her soul isn’t used for such evil. She willingly becomes a werewolf, and proceeds to rip the shit out of The Creature from the Black Lagoon and an evil satyr with a ram’s head.

This first collection is a little short, and you really move through reading it. Deering’s script is just enough – just enough narration to not be spartan, just enough characterization to not be a mindless action book, but just enough mindless action to be really entertaining. I didn’t realize going in that it was part of a larger story, but I’m excited to check out more.

You can pick up Anathema at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?