I read comics. So should you.

Posts Tagged ‘Saucer State’

The Stack-5/24/17

In new books, rants, reviews on May 26, 2017 at 10:23 am

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This week in comics: Paul Cornell and IDW show us proof of life beyond cancellation, we get a double dose of Jonathan Hickman, and I do my best to explain why I’ve chosen to focus exclusively on comics. But first, it’s time for nostalgia’s weekly kicking in the taint:

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Are you fucking serious? So first we got a toy universe from IDW, and now an Atari universe from Dynamite? Yes, I realize Centipede actually came with a comic (I’m an old person, after all), but can’t we just enjoy the past without trotting out its dolled-up corpse every few years?

The best way to sum up my picks this week is with the word ‘struggle’. Not in the sense that I had to struggle my way through reading them, because that is certainly not the case. No, just in terms of narrative. This moment in comic book history mirrors a real, universal moment, where it feels as though most of us are slogging through, trying to maintain our stamina, winning small victories where we can. We are pushing into the murky space between dark second act and denouement. Let’s see what that struggle yields.

Saucer State #1 (Paul Cornell, Ryan Kelly, Adam Guzowski, Simon Bowland-IDW): This is SO encouraging to see! Cancelled Vertigo book Saucer Country returns to us as Saucer State, picking up right where it left off. Arcadia Alvarado, former Governor of New Mexico and alien abductee, is now the President, using her position and resources to get to the bottom of her experience. There’s greys, microwave projectors, and cake-loving space faeries, all illustrated beautifully by Ryan Kelly, whose work just keeps getting better and better. Do yourself a favor and pick this one up, and grab the trades from Vertigo while you’re at it.

East of West #33 (Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin, Rus Wooton-Image): Full disclosure: I am a total Hickman fanboy. I have been reading his work since The Nightly News, I loved what he did with The Fantastic Four and Avengers, and I eagerly await Frontier. East of West has been a notably longer story, a Science Fiction dystopia based on a version of The United States that is broken up racially and ideologically, staring down the barrel of the apocalypse. A lot has happened in thirty-three issues, but this latest one feels almost like it could act as a jumping-on point or a one-shot. It is bookended with the concept of burning your leaders, amped up with revolution, and at its center is a love story. Artist Nick Dragotta has been absolutely killing it on this book, bringing human emotion into this swirl of conflict on a grand scale. Give it a look.

Infamous Iron Man #8 (Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Matt Hollingsworth, VC’s Clayton Cowles-Marvel): I know, I gush about this book almost every month. But you guuuyyyyys, it’s SO damn good. I can’t really get into why without SPOILERS, so here we go. In this issue, Riri Williams, the new Iron Man, goes to Latveria and confronts Victor Von Doom, who is also acting as the new Iron Man, and asks him to stand down, despite being COMPLETELY outmatched. What he asks of her in return is quite unexpected, and brings us to yet another huge end-of-issue reveal. Speaking of those, now that Reed Richards has revealed himself to Ben, he tries to convince his old friend that it really is him with a lovely anecdote that only they would appreciate. And as always, the art team just blows us away, Maleev’s shadow and Hollingsworth’s glow tag-teaming to punch your eyeballs in.

The Old Guard #4 (Greg Rucka, Leandro Fernández, Daniela Miwa, Jodi Wynne-Image): Moving on to another new series that I’m silly in love with, Rucka’s latest tale, one about a small group of immortals working as mercenaries. The focus so far has been both on how much immortality and thus time itself sucks, and that despite all that the rich and powerful will go to extreme lengths to get their hands on this perceived ‘gift’. This month’s installment, with art that comes across as a juxtaposition of life and death in much the same way that the writing does, is absolutely BRUTAL.

Mother Panic #7 (Jody Houser, John Paul Leon, Dave Stewart, John Workman-DC/Young Animal): Mother Panic is BACK! New story arc, new artist (the amazing darkness and grit of John Paul Leon), and a new villain: a killer dressed in a body bag (“Everyone in this fucking city has to have a shtick”). This book continues to be Batman for people who want an even more tragic and more foul-mouthed Batman, and it does that incredibly well. It has such great quotability (“Trash spilling into our backyard. And I’m the fucking garbage man”), like it’s a vigilante comic written by Sam Raimi or Guy Ritchie in their heyday. And I love the way that the setting of Gotham City is acknowledged without being annoyingly fan-servicey, like in this issue where we just see a dark cape on a rooftop. After a few issues of stumbling, this comic is back on its feet, ready to plant them firmly into our asses.

Rounding out the week, here are a few one-sentence reflections on some other comics. Please note: I do not do this to diminish these books in any way. I’m just short on time, and think it’s amusing. Hopefully you do as well. We shall see.

Seven to Eternity #6 (Rick Remender, Jerome Opeña, Matt Hollingsworth, Rus Wooton-Image): It has just occurred to me that Adam Osidis looks exactly like MMA fighter Conor McGregor.

Letter 44 #33 (Charles Soule, Alberto Jiménez Alburquerque, Dan Jackson, Crank!-Oni Press): It is so marvelously satisfying to see Carroll get his comeuppance.

Black Hammer #9 (Jeff Lemire, David Rubín-Dark Horse): Just what in the hell are you up to, Colonel Weird?

Ringside #10 (Joe Keatinge, Nick Barber, Simon Gough, Ariana Maher-Image): Just like in professional wrestling, this heel turn felt really forced.

Plastic #2 (Doug Wagner, Daniel Hillyard, Laura Martin, Ed Dukeshire-Image): Despite the gore, this comic made me hungry for donuts.

And now: A mission statement clarification! Yay!

Some of you might be wondering why I don’t talk about the greater world of comics-related things: movies, television shows, toys, etc. Well, there are a couple of reasons for this intentional omission.

First of all, comics are my first love. They are my favorite form of entertainment, and have been since before I learned to read. I don’t want to dilute that by talking about other mediums that are tangentially connected. Movies, television, and collectibles are inherently more popular in the mainstream, and honestly don’t need the signal boost the way that comics do. This makes no sense to me. Comics are the wellspring of these fantastic ideas and characters, yet most people don’t read them. My mission is to win people over, and get them reading. Comics are a creative a motherland, yet sales slump, creators make little money and receive little recognition, and corporations treat them essentially as intellectual property farms, their niche money tolerated because the ideas can be crafted into a mass market product.

Second, the culture is absolutely choked with this concept of ‘geek culture’, and it has been crassly adopted and enforced everywhere you look. Understand, I’m not above this. I too watch the movies and the shows, and buy the t-shirts. I’m not a gatekeeper. I don’t think this expansion of comics is inherently bad. I want EVERYONE reading the books, and not viewing them as a lesser form of entertainment. I’m tired of the community kissing Hollywood’s ass, and even adopting the lexicon of that world (such as ‘Director’s Cut’) in the hope that it lends us credibility and brings in a larger audience. I do this for me and for comics, and that’s the way it will continue to be. Want to find out if exposure, popularity, or actually getting paid for my opinions shatter that scrap of integrity? Share this blog far and wide and let’s find out (shameless plug/desperate plea-winky face emoji).

So now you know. I may come across as too cool for school, or a cranky purist, but just understand that it comes from a well-meaning place, and a lifelong respect and passion for the medium. So many people have worked so hard to make so many magnificent stories come to life, and they all deserve better. The world is starting to understand that comic books are cool. Let’s work together to make them that kind of cool that people will pay money for, and proudly consume and discuss in public. Rant over.

That’s all for this week. Thank you for reading, and for reading comics. Feel free to comment and share, and you can follow me on Twitter @rabbit11comics, and see my art stuff on Instagram at rabbit11comics. Be sure to support your local shops, be good, and I’ll see you in seven.