Looking for advice on what to read in comics and graphic novels? Let me help.
If you like fantasy, mystery, thriller, or good old-fashioned fun, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s what’s new, old, and just new to me in the world of comics:
(Don’t know the lingo? No problem.)
- MARVEL 1602 (Marvel) – Written by Neil Gaiman, this was my first introduction to the Marvel Comics Universe, and I think it was a perfect way in. I got to know the core aspects of most of the mainstay heroes without having to worry about decades of convoluted backstory. The book imagines what the world would look like if the superheroes and villains of modern day started to appear back when America was merely a colony on Roanoke Island. Includes Stephen Strange as Queen Elizabeth’s court magician, intelligence officer Sir Nicolas Fury and his sidekick, young Peter Parquagh, some familiar mutants, and young Virgina Dare’s bodyguard, a suspiciously Caucasian Native American named Rojhaz.
- YOUNG AVENGERS (Marvel) – Back to Gillen and McKelvie (Wicked + Divine) for a great tale of teenage superheroes. This series sadly only ran for 15 issues, but is available in three trade paperbacks, and well worth the read. The Young Avengers have some serious parental issues when a spell from Billy Kaplan accidentally unleashes a demonic parasite from another dimension. Calling herself ‘Mother’ she has the ability to resurrect dead parents in the vicinities where they were killed – and considering their powers, this is problematic at best. The two main highlights of the book, aside from the writing and art, are the positive portrayal of a gay couple (many LGBT people, actually), and Miss America Chavez, who kicks so much ass there isn’t room for all the ass-kicking in one universe. I would love to read another book about her.
- AMAZING X-MEN (Marvel) – Of all the ‘categories’ of Marvel books, I’m probably least familiar with the X-Men. I’ve liked various characters over the years, and enjoyed several of the movies, but have had a hard time getting into any of the team books. Amazing X-Men had me with two words: Pirate Nightcrawler. Teleporting wunderkind Kurt Wagner is one of the more complex X-characters, constantly struggling with his faith and his place in the world as a blue mutant with a tail. He died at some point before this book begins, but gets pulled into Purgatory piracy in an attempt to stop his father, Azazel, from conquering the afterlife. He drafts some of his former team-mates into the fight, which makes for a fun, classic adventure story. I’ve only read the first volume, so it could easily go off the rails once they’re back on Earth, but the camaraderie is there, and you have to love a character whose sound effect is BAMF.
- HEXED #1 (Boom) – Evidently a reboot or continuation of an older series, this debut issue features a supernatural thief named Lucifer (don’t call her Luci), intradimensional paintings, and a seriously creepy witchy lady called the Harlot, who has decided that Lucifer will be her heir as the Keeper of Secrets. I never read the original, but didn’t have any trouble keeping up with this new series. It’s early, but I like the vibe – reminds me of House of Mystery.
- POP #1 (Dark Horse) – The first issue of this series came out this week and cracked me up – it imagines that all pop stars are literally manufactured, birthed from biopods and controlled by a secret cabal. Their latest creation escapes, and runs straight into a man who was considering suicide. Most of the humor comes from poking fun at the current state of celebrity, including a hilarious scene with ‘Dustin Beaver’ who gets his kneecaps blown off for attempting to ‘retire.’
- THE WICKED AND THE DIVINE #3 (Image) – I’ll keep recommending this book until everyone in the world has read it. In this issue, protagonist Laura has to deescalate tensions between rival Underworld gods, which she does with the help of a severed head and quote from Shakespeare. Then she meets up with her reporter ally Cassandra, and we get the imprisoned Luci’s opinions on which of her fellow gods might have framed her for murder.
Gem of the Week:
- FIVE WEAPONS (Image) – A deceptively simple story with soft illustrations that almost look like a picture book. It starts off at Five Weapons Academy, a school for assassins who are trained in one of five disciplines: blades, blunt objects, poisons and other unusual weapons, projectiles, and guns. But when Tyler Shanline (son of a super-famous assassin) shows up, he refuses to use any weapons, and starts defeating the club presidents one by one with his Holmesian observation skills and big brain. The first book (and subsequent issues) start to open up a larger universe, one where only the assassin class are allowed to use weapons, and there was once a sixth club for weapons of a psychic kind.