The Best 5 Comics I’m Not Reading
The best 5 comics I’m not reading. I am literally judging a book by its cover. “That’s what people do in Russia.” According to one Bart Simpson. Anyway superheroes are known for what they can do not what they can’t. So I glued my ass in front of my laptop and got to work. I’ll admit it wasn’t easy. I formulated a clever algorithm factoring in internet hype, solicitations, preview art and my knowledge of the creators involved. Without further ado here we go…
5. The Sixth Gun Cullen Bunn (writer) Brian Hurtt (artist) Tyler Crook (artist) Bill
Now I’m opening up with some controversy. I have read the first two trades but never made the leap to adding it to my monthly pull list. It is also a topical pick as The Sixth Gun reached its fiftieth and final issue last Wednesday. Its very refreshing in the era of the ‘big two’ rebooting and having events all the time that an independent title can reach such a big milestone. Also it’s good to see Oni Press and other independents putting out consistently good finite series. In short The Sixth Gun is Ditko era Doctor Strange meets a John Wayne western. The strength of a good series revolves around a strong protagonist. In my opinion a main character should have a kick ass name and Cullen Bunn delivers with Drake Sinclair. Groups with cool names also go down well with me when getting into a series. The Knights of Solomon and The Sword of Abraham. Why am I not reading this? Those are killer names, now I have to know their purpose. Do I hear someone calling for a strong female lead? Bunn delivers again with Becky Montcrief. I flipped through some art work on numerous websites. When you glance ever so quickly at Hurtt’s art it has animated looked to it. Not that that is a bad thing. But looking again I would say art and story is a perfect blend. Its really good to see characters with clearly defined facial expressions. The crowd scenes are packed with detail. It’s almost as though you can hear the dust blowing and someone about to start up a tune on the piano. One big but slightly anal positive of the art is the covers. It makes sense to have a stylistic theme running through the covers of an ongoing series, rather than just having a pretty picture. Okay I have one criticism before wrapping this up with a positive. There were four mini series that ran alongside the main one. If you’re a Sixth Gun completest it wouldn’t be a problem. However if you were looking to get into a story with an end in sight you might find the minis as a distraction and feel as though you might be missing out on the bigger picture. Back in 2012/13 Bunn wrote two story arcs in the Wolverine ongoing. They are amongst the best Wolverine story arcs put to paper. Particularly ‘The Covenant’. This story had the perfect amount of setup, brilliant action and everything tied up at the end. From then he has gone to bigger and bigger titles at Marvel so they see the talent. If all fifty issues of The Sixth Gun is anything like his work on Wolverine everybody who isn’t reading it is clearly missing out. Bunn, Hurtt, Crabtree and Crook congratulations on fifty issues and telling your story.
Southern Bastards exists for people who still think comics are just about superheroes. The series is only fifteen issues in or two collected TPB’s. So it’s still very accessible to new readers. Described on Comixology as “Dukes of Hazzard meets the Cohen Brothers…on meth.” In simpler terms it is a HBO show in the four colour format. Jason Aaron is a writer who shows hard work pays off and if you are good enough you will receive recognition. As a reader of Wolverine I have seen him grow up on the page. He received mixed reaction for his Punisher MAX series. But you just have to look at the success of Scalped to see he can more than handle more adult books as well as the capes. You always got the feeling reading his Wolverine and Punisher stuff that he wanted and could take these characters to another level in violence whilst still telling a coherent story. It should come as no surprise that he teamed with Latour on the critically acclaimed Scalped and is doing so again on Bastards. It has already won three Eisners! The red hue to all of the covers (see a stylistic theme again) is like a warning for the impending violence. Maybe it’s meant to be a warning for if you pick this comic up remember you have to wait thirty days for the next one! From reading interviews online it appears this series has a lot of room for scope. Aaron and Latour say the ‘Bastards’ of the title can refer to anyone of the numerous characters in Craw County. That’s another big positive a fictitious town that sounds believable. Aaron is from Alabama and has never been afraid of using his roots for inspiration. Looking at him he looks like he just stepped from the page of one of his stories. Following him on twitter gives an insight into this series. He is a big football and UFC fan. This comics could act as a social lubricant between comic geeks and sports fans. The second story arc is called ‘Gridiron’ and I’m sure after reading a few issues you will actually find yourself routing for the Runnin’ Rebs! Aaron calls it a morally ambiguous tale drawing on Heat and Ellroy novels as inspiration. To conclude if you likes sports and comics and want to see how Coach Euless becomes Coach Boss pick up Southern Bastards.
3.Captain Marvel Tara Butters (writer) Michele Fazekas (writer) Kris Anka (artist) Matthew Wilson (colours)
Carol Danvers has been going from strength to strength since she donned the Captain Marvel mantel in 2012. Lets start with the costume. Yes I know her old Warbird get up was popular among fanboys. But the latest one is such a sleek design and even though it covers more it oozes sex appeal. Just check out Tanya Tate rocking it at cons. Fixing the costume seemed to have a positive effect on the integrity of the character and like I said strength to strength. With the ‘All New All Different’ era launching at Marvel in the wake of ‘Secret Wars’ it makes jumping on a new title very accessible. At the time of writing Captain Marvel is only five issues in. Also at the time of writing Carol Danvers is about to be pushed front and centre as one side of Civil War II. Needless to say going toetotoe with Iron Man in high stakes action will have huge repercussions for this title so jump on now if your like me and not reading! But I really should be reading this. Why? Two simple words Alpha Flight. Are there two greater words in Marvel history than Alpha Flight? They are my comics guilty pleasure. Those original twenty eight issues by John Byrne are pure joy. Butters and Fazekas are coming to Captain Marvel fresh of the back of being show runners on Agent Carter. By adding the characters of Alpha Flight who have been dormant for some time now certainly shows off their geek credentials. Just think about this for a moment Alpha Flight could be on the winning side in Civil War II! There was a short period when readers were wondering if the X-Men would even be a part of the event let alone have their Canadian counterparts leading the charge. With the Civil War II tie in issues writing duty switched to Ruth and Chris Gage who are also coming from TV after working on Netflix’s Daredevil. So Marvel are clearly putting their premier super heroine into the hands of top writers. Normally when you come out the other side of an event you can get worried for a character. I feel this won’t be the case for Carol Danvers. She is too profitable to die so my money is on her coming out of Civil War II in one piece. Over the last five plus years Captain Marvel has built up such a strong following so it is important to keep up the high levels set for this title. Not a week goes by when #CarolCorps isn’t trending on twitter. For anyone doubting diversity in comics from Marvel pick up Captain Marvel a series about a strong female lead written by female creators and enjoyed by all.
2. Detective Comics #934 onwards James Tynion IV (writer) Eddy Barrows (artist) Eber Ferreira (artist) Adriano Lucas (colours)
I’m picking this title whilst looking through my crystal ball into the future. At the time of writing it is only one issue old into the DC Rebirth relaunch. Considering when the relaunch is full swing Detective maybe the third best Bat book on the shelf’s. Batman will always be the number one but then you have superstars Snyder and Romita Jr. teaming for All Star Batman. From a purely nostalgic point of view Detective Comics shouldn’t be an afterthought. Tynion is certainly attacking it with all guns blazing. The first story arc is titled ‘Rise of The Batmen’ and Batwoman (Kate Kane) is solicited as series co star. Over the years Batman has had many supporting characters, each one having varying degrees of popularity. I don’t know if the cast is Tynion’s choice or an editorial decision. Red Robin, Spoiler and Cassandra Cain all diverse and very popular. So this book will have a strong following. I was under the impression that Rebirth would make DC more accessible to new readers. Reading reviews Clayface is the villain in the first arc and also appearing in Batman #1. So do you need to be reading both? #7 brings a crossover with a supernatural based Batman mini event. Batman doesn’t do supernatural! This is Detective Comics not Action Comics! When #934 hit the spinner racks #DetectiveComics was trending on Twitter for a week and then some. That is not an exaggeration. Early reviews were very positive and had a similar theme. “Reads like an episode of Batman The Animated Series.” and “Tynion channels Batman The Animated Series.” Consider my interest piqued. BTAS was a lot of people’s first exposure to the Dark Knight. It remains even more people’s definitive rendition. We are at a stage now where the target audience for BTAS or now writing our comics. Why not use such a iconic Batman for inspiration? Lets all admit Kevin Conroy is the voice we hear when reading Batman comics. If like me you recently read Tynion’s Batman/TMNT crossover you will know he can deliver fan service without taking you out of the story. In away Detective Comics could read like BTAS Season 6! DC bigwigs made the smart decision to return Detective to its original numbering with the start of Rebirth so the countdown to #1000 has started. From a hardcore collector’s standpoint that is a number that won’t come up too often. I imagine if I was collecting this series when I had finished reading #1000 I’d slip it back into is boarded bag and give it a hug.
1. Dept. H Matt Kindt (writer and artist) Sharlene Kindt (colours)
Listen up folks this is proof nice guys finish first as the husband and wife creative duo take top spot on my list. Matt Kindt first came to my attention with the collected edition of his excellent web comic Super Spy. A quick search on any comics wiki shows a solid body of independent work. In 2011 he got the mainstream breakthrough penning Suicide Squad and Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E in the New52. A preview image came with two taglines “Murder six miles deep.” and “Who killed the smartest man on earth?” These are perfect bait for crime and sci fi fans alike. Matt Kindt has a huge and dedicated fan base. It felt like #DeptH was trending on Twitter weeks before the first issues release and all the weeks in between issues two release. A writer can’t just live on popularity though, they have to deliver. I reckon if you pick this up now while it’s only two issues old you will be hooked and by the end you won’t be disappointed. This will be Dark Horses second high profile series with Kindt after Mind MGMT. On that series his art style was the main source of negative responses. Kindt arguably has the most unique style in modern comics. To use it as criticism is just nit picking. The underwater setting of Dept. H may yet be the best match for his style and collaborating with someone he is so close to personally can only enhance the artwork. A theme this shares with another entry on my list is the series centring around a strong female character. Her name is Mia an undercover spy on an underwater research laboratory. The name of the lab? Challenger Deep. It’s the things with cool names breed success theory again. Dept. H is scheduled for 24 issues with each telling the events of one day on Challenger Deep. Such a great way to manipulate the monthly issue format. Looking at the previews and reading interviews Kindts art will accentuate the confined quarters of living underwater. There is also a clear difference in colour palette between flashbacks and the present. Which sounds like an obvious thing to do, but when artist and colourist are in such perfect tandem it elevates it to a new level. Each month reveals new suspects and secrets. There is the promise of strange sea creatures and an impending flood. The word tension crops up a lot in previews/reviews. Matthew Kindt is one of the nicest guys in comics and like I said has a hardcore dedicated fan base. The obvious success that will follow Dept. H will only increase that. This is a series that will be talked up issue to issue and for years to come. Rightly so too. It is one I will definitely be picking up in trades.
Hey what are you all still doing here? Go and pick up one or all of this books! Hopefully I’ve given you all something to think about. Maybe next time you’re in a comic shop you will pick up something you usually wouldn’t.
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Ian currently runs the THEBLOGOFCOMICSHOTTOPICS blog. Check him out on Twitter @IanWells87.
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