Lost in a sea of brightly colored panels, or just venturing out into comic waters? Allow me to help.
First off, check out this interview with our glorious leader Kate Leth if you’d like to know why the heck I keep referring to myself as a Valkyrie. (We are the world.) I work in a comic book shop, and am thrilled to be a part of a such a supportive, magical group. Part of my job as comic shop employee is to make recommendations and share the love, so here’s what’s new, old, and just new to me in the world of comics:
(Don’t know the lingo? No worries.)
- FATALE (Image) – Right now everyone’s talking about Ed Brubaker‘s The Fade Out, but I was drawn to another of his books one day and then inhaled the five volume series. It’s Lovecraft-meets-noir, with an accidental femme fatale. We learn over the course of the series that protagonist Josephine was turned into an immortal seductress by a ritual gone wrong, and uses her power over men to escape the horror-loving cult that is determined to destroy her. Fatale trails Josephine across decades, repeatedly coming back to the present and the most recent man in her web, the one who might actually be able to help her end her pattern of death and destruction.
- AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER (Dark Horse) – On a lighter note, picking up a year after the animated series ends, the three story arcs in the Avatar comic collection are the perfect balm for fans missing Aang, Katara, Sokka, Toph, and Zuko. Though there’s never really enough, every chance we get to fill in the gap between Last Airbender and Legend of Korra is welcome, with a special nod to The Search, where we finally get to know what happened to Prince Zuko‘s mother.
- THE FUSE (Image) – Anthony Johnston and Justin Greenwood present an entertaining police procedural aboard an almost planetary-sized space station. Lots of focus on themes of ‘the haves and have nots,’ as well as the cost of survival in a place that requires population control for sustainability. Murder abounds in this unusual buddy cop story, focused on the detectives of the Russia Shift which is basically the Night Watch.
- DEAD BOY DETECTIVES (Vertigo) – From the pages of Neil Gaiman‘s Sandman Toby Litt and Mark Buckingham spin off a series about child ghost P.I.s Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland, two old victims of the boarding school a young girl named Crystal Palace (her parents are insane performance artists) decides to attend after a near death experience. I like the old-fashioned feel of this book with Buckingham’s art. It feels like a classic boy’s adventure story with a focus on the mysteries of death.
- LOKI: AGENT OF ASGARD (Marvel) – Fresh from the pages of Young Avengers, Kid!Loki is now YoungHot!Loki, and acting as an agent for the All-Mother of his adopted Asgardia. This series brings the contemporary take on the God of Mischief together with his more classic role, with plenty of scheming and plotting along the way. Al Ewing doesn’t weigh down the plot with too much back story, but still pays homage to the comic character’s history. A great place to jump in for Tom Hiddleston fans, this Loki is funny, clever, and questionably reformed.
- WAYWARD (Image) – Jim Zub’s comic about a half-Irish, half-Japanese girl starting a new life with her mother in Tokyo is probably the perfect bridge between the surrealist fantasy of Manga and the action-packed layouts of Western comics. Rori Lane discovers her mom’s homeland has more in store for her than surviving as the only redhead in her new school when she starts dealing with kappas and spirits. Wayward explores both Japanese culture and Japanese folklore through a charming misfit who collects other misfits in order to save some lives. I definitely look forward to seeing where this one goes.
Single Issue Shout-Outs:
- CLOAKS #1 (Boom) – Magic heisty goodness. If you enjoyed the movie Now You See Me (minus that unfortunate ending), you’ll probably like Caleb Monroe and Mariano Navarro’s take on street-magicians-made-thieves-and-or-government-agents. My only quibble with the book so far is that the main character looks much younger than he’s supposed to.
- GOTHAM ACADEMY #1 (DC) – The only DC book I’ve actually added to my pull list is about another messed up boarding school aka music to my ears. The characters are new to the universe (excepting school benefactor Bruce Wayne) but tied into mysteries surrounding several familiar figures, including one with the surname Cobblepot. Becky Cloonan has created a DC comic with adventure and suspense without making it grim and bitter. I mean, Olive Silverlock has an ‘Isn’t it Byronic’ poster in her room, and her ex-boyfriend’s little sister is a hero-worshipping chatterbox. Not exactly typical DC fare.
- EDGE OF SPIDER-VERSE #2 (Marvel) – Aka, the Spider-Gwen issue. The idea of a world where Gwen got radioactive spider powers rather than her love interest Peter Parker proved so popular that Gwen Stacy as Spider-woman is getting her own series. Maybe that was the intention all along. Why is this such an awesome thing? Gwen Stacy is one of those rare comic book characters who was killed and stayed killed (more or less), so she never really got a chance to be anything other than ‘the dead girl.’ In this incarnation, she’s fighting crime right under her policeman father’s nose and she’s in a band, plus her suit rocks. She’s going to be legendary.
Gem of the Week:
- THE UNWRITTEN: TOMMY TAYLOR AND THE SHIP THAT SANK TWICE (Vertigo) – This prequel to The Unwritten series came out last year, but I didn’t have the chance to read it until it was released in paperback, and I wasn’t sure what I’d be missing. Tommy Taylor and the Ship That Sank Twice is both a Tommy Taylor origin story, and the story of how Wilson Taylor built his own son Tom into the Tommy Taylor empire. Acknowledging its origins in Tolkien and Lewis, the story of the ship that sank twice is entertaining on its own, but absolutely invaluable for fans of The Unwritten. Though it was created as an original graphic novel, it’s an important piece of the story’s lore.