Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Comic Book Wednesday – Update 2015

Holy crap. It’s been almost exactly a year since I did a Comic Book Update.
Mostly that’s because I’ve been doing the Previews Recaps and I really enjoy those. I get about enough commentary about the books I’m reading into them, so I don’t feel like my quarterly report is necessary.
But now it’s a new year and I have a slimmed-down pull list. Sometime around October I isolated myself in a small pueblo in the deserts of New Mexico with only the most recent three issues of Previews. I made a vow that I wouldn’t emerge from this isolation until I had culled all of the habit books from my pull list. Twelve weeks later I handed the list you will be reading about today into my Local Comic Shop.
These are the books that I truly enjoy reading. The ones that I never pick up and think, “Y’know – I’m not in the mood for this right now.” Because if there’s a book that I can’t sit down and read and enjoy any ol’ time, I shouldn’t be paying three to five dollars a month for it.
Afterlife With Archie
Right from the start this comic book was powerful. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m no expert on Archie. But I don’t think you could be an American and not at least be familiar with the gang from Riverdale. This book takes that familiarity and crafts one of the finest horror comics I’ve ever read. Each issue expands upon the last and as the series goes on you just get the feeling with each issue that this dark, twisted take on a classic comic is only going to get more and more fucked up and Francesco Francavilla’s spectacular art sets a tone that mirrors that of the narrative – both familiar and horrifying.
All-New X-Factor
This is Peter David’s baby. As such, it is excellent. The new X-Factor team now works for the private corporation, Serval Industries. So far Serval doesn’t seem any shadier than any other big corporation (pretty shady), but there’s no doubt the narrative is taking us somewhere. The art on this book has been wonderful, as well.
Angela: Asgard’s Assassin
This one is still in the “giving it a chance” phase, but I really liked the concept set up in the first issue. Plus it’s written by Kieron Gillen, who is currently on my (short and growing shorter with the loss of Rick Remender) list of writers who have done no wrong.
Grant Morrison’s current independent book looks like one of Marvel’s old Epic Comics (and I mean that in the nicest way possible) and, with Frazier Irving’s art, is one of the most cinematic things I’ve read in a long time. It’s the story of an alien that visits Earth to tell a struggling screenplay writer that he must write his (the alien’s) story so that he can know his past.
I don’t know if that made any sense to you, but in an odd way I feel like I’m understanding this book a lot more easily than I have some of Morrison’s other works. I like it a lot.
This soft reboot of the New 52 Barbara Gordon Batgirl has been everything I wanted. It has the sense of fun that Bryan Q. Miller’s book did, but still manages to portray Barbara in what I see as an accurate way.
Batman and Robin
To me, this is the last remaining book to be carrying on the golden age of Batman that preceded the disastrous (in my opinion) New 52 reboot. Peter Tomasi is a fantastic writer and I honestly feel that Patrick Gleason’s art gets better with every issue he creates. I thoroughly enjoy every issue of this book.

Batman Eternal
I hope this book isn’t losing its way. While every fourth issue (or so) has been saddled with an artist who is lousy at storytelling, for the most part the overall narrative has remained solid. But with the reveal that the new commissioner isn’t behind everything, some things seem to be crumbling a bit. When Bard offered to help it seemed really weird and out of left field, like I had missed an issue. Also, what the heck happened to Stephanie? Eternal needs to decide if it sticks with certain characters for a few issues or features all of the characters trading feature roles every few pages.
Chilling Adventures of Sabrina
Another great horror comic from the world of Archie. It doesn’t seem to take place in the same universe as Afterlife With Archie, but that’s okay because that would have been limiting.
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee have crafted the Daredevil story I never knew I wanted. Mostly because I never really cared about Daredevil. But I love this book and I’m tremendously sad to know that it’s ending sometime in the next few months. It could be speculated that Marvel wants the old, depressing Daredevil back to go along with the tone of the new Netflix series. I dunno. I don’t even know for sure that the show will have a darker tone. I do know that I’m excited about the fact that Vincent D’Onofrio is Wilson Fisk and that his character arc is an important part of the show. I have a soft spot for D’Onofrio and I’m looking forward to seeing him sink his teeth into the role of Kingpin.
Harley Quinn
This book from the adorable husband/wife team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner is probably the best thing to come out of the New 52. I feel like I might be doing it a disservice to label it as DC’s Deadpool, but that’s kind of what it is. The book is a whole lot of fun and to me portrays the Harley Quinn that I think most people like best, even if they don’t realize it. This Harley is still a lunatic, but she mostly keeps to slaughtering and maiming bad guys. I also very strongly feel that every issue of this book has presented a tight, ready-for-TV story. Harley Quinn would make a fantastic sitcom if anybody at WB had the brains and balls to do it.
Hellboy & the B.P.R.D.: 1952
I’m excited about this book detailing the early days of Hellboy’s career. I’ve read the first few volumes of Hellboy trades and several of the one-shots, but I’m somewhat intimidated by the remainder of the library. Once you get into the B.P.R.D. and Abe Sapien books it seems like there’s a lot out there. This looks like stripped-down Hellboy that I can enjoy without knowledge of the rest of the universe.
Iron Fist
Kaare Andrews directed the incredibly shitty third installment in the Cabin Fever series. But he also creates incredibly awesome comic books. So I’m not going to hold that movie against him. Iron Fist is another guy that I’ve never really followed to any degree, but this book – written and drawn by Andrews – has made Danny Rand a fascinating character with a very compelling past. Goofy steampunk fists aside (those showed up last issue), I’m digging the heck out of the wild story and wilder art of this title.
Joe Frankenstein
This one hasn’t even come out yet, but it’s from Chuck Dixon and Graham Nolan, a couple of old school favorites of mine from their time on Batman books. And from Dixon’s work on GI Joe. I’m down to see their take on Frankenstein’s monster.
The Multiversity
I love Grant Morrison playing around in the DCU. This book has been a lot of fun, as well as an interesting look at how important continuity is (or isn’t) when strong characters are involved in a good story.
Rocket Raccoon
It’s a little disappointing that this isn’t an all-ages book, but if you’re over thirteen and you enjoyed Guardians of the Galaxy, this is for you. It’s a lot of fun and surprisingly irreverent for the cartoony style of Skottie Young.
Fortunately, Marvel is also launching an all-ages Guardians book to coincide with the new Disney XD cartoon that’s coming out. I sure hope it’s better than Avengers Assemble and Ultimate Spider-Man. And let’s not even mention Agents of S.M.A.S.H.
Best comic book ever. Twice this book alone has kept me reading comics when I was close to stopping.
Silver Surfer
Fantastic fun from the team of Dan Slott and Mike Allred. This book is how good Doctor Who should be right now. And isn’t.
Star Trek/Planet of the Apes
I love both of these things, so I have to at least give it a try. It’s a good sign that the guys that wrote Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time are writing this. That was a great series.
Star Wars
I hadn’t planned on buying any of these, but Marvel just kept putting my favorite writers on the books. So now I’m picking up the main title as well as the Vader and Leia books. Rest assured – I’ll let you know how they are.
I’ve really enjoyed Geoff Johns’ current Superman story and it’s been awesome seeing John Romita, Jr.’s pencils on the Man of Steel. Both men are clearly having fun telling a good, old-fashioned tale. I don’t look forward to the inevitable day when a lesser creative team is put on the book and I don’t have a Superman book to read. He’s not my favorite character, but when done well I can really enjoy the Big Blue Boy Scout.
The Walking Dead
Still outstanding after all these years. 
The Wicked + The Divine
A great play on mythology in the modern world. Another wonderful work from Kieron Gillen.
That’s all, folks! There’s no doubting that I’ll add more titles to this list as the year goes on, but for now I’m happy to have whittled my list down some.

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