Beyond Rebirths and Civil Wars, there are whole worlds to explore in the pages of comics and graphic novels.
While DC has its Rebirth, Marvel slogs through its second Civil War – an interesting story, but one that’s been buried by tie-ins. (See below for one really stand-out moment.) Meanwhile the ‘indie’ scene is knocking out of the park. Take a look at some of my new and old favorites:
- DC COMICS BOMBSHELLS (DC) – While Rebirth has its charms, my favorite DC comic is this alternate history series by Marguerite Bennet and a plethora of talented artists. Bennet takes the DC Bombshells line based on a World War II era pin-up aesthetic, and creates in-depth stories of the war effort featuring all our favorite DC heroines (and villainesses). It’s a digital-first series, but I always look forward to the days when these babies hit the shelves.
- ROUGH RIDERS (Aftershock) – Imagine the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen if they were American, and based on historical figures rather than fictional ones. In this series from writer Adam Glass and artist Pat Olliffe, an odd team is put together by Teddy Roosevelt to protect and defend the country from unlikely (read: supernatural) attacks. A definite must for fans of The Five Fists of Science or the recently cancelled TV show Houdini & Doyle.
- THE PAYBACKS (Heavy Metal/Dark Horse) – When superheroes can’t pay their bills, the Paybacks get called in to repossess all their secret lairs and high-tech gadgets. What’s not to enjoy about a team of repo-men and women with powers who travel around in a van with TARDIS-like proportions?
In the Trades:
- GIANT DAYS (Boom) – It’s an odd slice-of-life comic about three women attending university in England, but absolutely hilarious, and despite the heightened melodrama and weirdness, strangely relatable. It’s goofy, it has a tendency to jump around, and there’s a learning curve for Americans, but there is no better way to de-stress than following Daisy, Esther, and Susan as they stress about school, love, and money.
- FRESH ROMANCE (Oni) – Successfully Kickstarted and then published by Oni, this promises to be the first of many volumes of romance comics for the modern age. Volume One includes a queer take on the Riverdale archetypes of Archie, Betty, Veronica, and Sabrina the Teenage Witch, as well as a story about an alien barista who’s required to make a certain number of love matches on Earth before she can move on to bigger and better things.
Single Issue Shout-Outs:
- BLACK HAMMER #1 (Dark Horse) – Jeff Lemire’s books haven’t grabbed me in the past, but Black Hammer has an old-fashioned pulp feel to it that I’ve so far enjoyed. Golden Age superheroes get trapped together in a pedestrian world, apparently unable to leave the bounds of a small town, and struggle to make a life for themselves – or not.
- CIVIL WAR II #3 (Marvel) – I’m sick of crossover events, and definitely think Marvel wanted to cash in on the popularity of Captain America: Civil War, but this particular issue redeemed much of the arc for me, with just a couple of pages. After the last Civil War between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, Tony finally learned a lesson or two – in this book, he calls a meeting and categorically states that if Steve tells him to walk away, he will. He doesn’t want a repeat of last time, and he’s finally learned to listen to Captain America. It’s not much, and it doesn’t prevent the senseless central conflict, but it doesn’t ignore history either, and for this fan, that makes all the difference.
Gem of the Week:
- PRINCELESS (Action Lab) – I adore this all-ages series about a girl whose family tradition is locking up their 16-year-old daughters in towers to be rescued by princes so they can live happily ever after. Our heroine Adrienne thinks this is the dumbest idea she’s ever heard, so she rescues herself and with the aid of her dragon guardian Sparky and dwarf bestie Bedelia, sets off to save the rest of her sisters.