14th Aug2013

Panel Discussion number whatever – Jack Catches Up

by Jack Kirby

Oh my gosh, there are so many comics. I took a month off visiting the comic shop on a weekly basis due to time constraints and the desire to have a little bit more money in my account prior to the end of the month. But then I got a fat stack of comics that had been sat behind the counter waiting for me. Then I got more the following week before I’d even had time to read all the ones the previous. Because there are so… many… comics. Even now, there’ll be more comics tomorrow. It’s a never ending spiral of stuff happening before some guy in a flat in South East London can write about it. Here’s my round up of the last month or so…

Jack-Comics

So Morning Glories (#29, Nick Spencer, Joe Eisma, Image Comics) is still happening, is still good and I’m still buying it. It seems to have a silly amount of variant issues every month and this time around I picked up a sick 8 bit take on the book by Matthew Waite. The escalating incomprehensiveness of the plot (it’s not every book that has a study notes section at the back) is being gradually reigned in and a return to the slicker, more character driven narrative seems on the cards.

The Caped Crusader’s Zero Year continues in Batman #22 (Zack Snyder, Greg Capullo, DC Comics) and is also touched upon in the series’ second new 52 annual (also Scott Snyder, Marguerite Bennet, DC Comics). The plot is ticking along at a decent pace. Oswald Cobblepot makes a cameo in the main book and [spoiler if you haven’t read #21 yet] Edward Nygma meets Bruce Wayne (not Batman, for clarity) for the first time too. One wonders if The Riddler will go into the new continuity knowing Batman’s identity from the oche (he eventually worked it out during the Hush arc, prior to the continuity reboot) and what this will add to Snyder’s run on the title. Great use of panel design in this scene. The annual is quite fun too and sees Batman hanging out in Arkham Asylum and meeting a fairly sad villain. If you’re not already, you should dip into the Zero Year if you have any nagging inclination to do so.

Once again, the escapades of Jake the dog and Finn the human proved to be one of the best purchases I made in this truly wonderful collection, Adventure Time 2013 Summer Special #1 (various, Kaboom!). We get the duo starting a business, welcoming an unpleasant new roommate, whilst Marceline and Princess Bubblegum share a considered, touching and entirely silent story and a Fionna and Cake adventure concludes the book. I don’t think you have to be a fan of the show or even a kid to appreciate how really lovely and readable these tales are.

I had considered dropping East of West (#4, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Image Comics) if this issue wasn’t up to scratch after being impressed if not wowed by previous books, but dammit if the creative team didn’t just about pull it out of the bag. The issue centres on a great big ruckus between Death and his allies and the army of New Shanghai. The art is truly top notch and the thing was clearly created with nothing less than cinematic spectacle in mind. So I’ll keep reading – for now.

New series Sheltered (#1 and #2, Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas, Image Comics) was on my pull list this month and is another promising title from Image. It concerns a community of preppers – those who believe the breakdown of society is imminent and ensconce themselves in self-reliant environments. Things go tits up when the some of the youth of the community decide that their continued existence is best ensured by killing their elders. New girl Vic is not part of the programme and resists the revolution alongside companion Hailey. It’s nice to see two female leads and the book has a gloomy, interesting realism to it. I like it. I also like the prepper’s tip sheet at the end of each book.

The Dream Merchant (#3, Nathan Edmonson, Konstantin Novosadov, Image Comics) continues apace, with its nice lettering, funny noses, great hair and a sort of child-like sense of wonder and fear. Our hero Winslow is learning more about the world he inhabits and those that would seek to end it. The plot isn’t really going anywhere, but I really don’t mind. It’s slightly ponderous and feels almost like reading someone’s dream diary, appropriately enough. I love it and its lovely artwork. The burgeoning relationship between Winslow and Anne is also very sweet.

X-Men (#3, Brian Wood, Olivier Coipel, Marvel) reaches the conclusion of its first arc and I can say that I’m on board. It’s fun stuff. Re-reading it, the climactic face-off between the X-Men and Arkea ends a little conveniently, but I can live with that. I’m a little worried that the good groundwork laid down in these first three books may be unnecessarily disrupted by the upcoming Battle of the Atom crossover, but hopefully Wood and co will see us through.

Five Ghosts (#5, Frank J Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham, Image Comics) concluded and proved to be a consistently decent romp, accompanied by some really brilliant artwork. It’ll be in trade paperback very soon and you should pick it up when it comes out. Like Five Weapons, it’s also been picked up as an on-going series starting in October and I look forward to reading it then.

Also new was Sidekick (#1, J Michael Straczynski, Tom Mandrake, Image Comics), in which a superhero’s sidekick must piece together his life after his mentor is assassinated. The characters are clearly meant to be Batman and Robin stand ins, if that helps, only it’s Batman that bites the dust rather than another boy wonder. It was fairly grim and promised to get grimmer still. I liked, would read it again, but won’t be adding to my ‘must read’ pile just yet.

Penultimately, please insert generic high praise and superlatives for The Manhattan Projects (#13, Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra, Image Comics) here. A great series that seems to keep getting even greater-er. This issue serves as a team catch-up after the death of Fermi last month. Einstein and Feynman are up to a no-good inter-dimensional biology project, JFK is on coke and the infinite Oppenheimers are being generally nefarious. Buy it, read it, love it.

Last but in no way least, Burn The Orphanage – Born to Lose (#1, Sina Grace, Daniel Freedman, Image Comics). I bought this as it’s a fun tribute to side-scrolling beat ‘em ups, the eighties and, most importantly, the band Sleigh Bells, whom I love unconditionally. The comic’s title references the band’s lyrics, a character is modelled on lead singer Alexis Krauss and when I tweeted Sina Grace he confirmed that the comic is to be read exclusively whilst listening to this awesome track. Maybe it’s a little niche and it’s a bit sleazier than I wanted it to be, but my goodness, it’s flipping fun. I’m very much looking forward to the rest of the series.

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