New Comic Book Day: An Alleged Diversity Hire


Oh, hi there. I’m Charles and I’ll be passive aggressively complaining-explaining comics today.

“Complanxing,” if you will.

Not that there’s much to complain about: Jason Aaron kicks off a newThor arc introducing the female incarnation of the character (albeit slowly) – plus, the dude’s got his own creator-owned book, Men of Wrath, out this week. Alright, that last one I’m a little iffy on because of the sheer “high concept for the sake of getting adapted into a screenplay”-ness of it, but more Jason Aaron comics remain alright by me.

Moreover! DC makes a big fuss about the New Gods in the busily-titled Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1, Batman does a little actual detectin’ in Detective Comics, Finn’s still dealing with a little memory loss over in Adventure Time, and Ricky Rouse Has a Gun takes home the prize for title of the week.

Last Born #1 (Black Mask Comics)

I’m trying to parse the solicitation for this sci-fi book from Grant Morrison documentarian Patrick Meaney, but no doin’. According to the publisher, it’s about what if the big bang weren’t the only one – and another is on the way. At the center of it all is protagonist Julia who apparently falls through a hole in space-time. Shenanigans, as they say, must necessarily ensue.

Meaney directed the documentary Grant Morrison: Talking With Gods, and it’s hard not to see the filmmaker and writer grasping at some of the grand, cosmic ideas that the Multiversity writer gets up to. Which is fine – we’re all subject to our influences. But if, at any point someone in the book turns to the reader and acknowledges their presence, I’m calling bullshit.

You can pick up Last Born #1 at your local comic shop or via comiXology.

Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1 (DC Comics)

Speaking of cosmic weirdness, remember Countdown and when DC editorial couldn’t figure out when the New Gods were or weren’t dead?

That was years ago, but I’m still a little shy about going down the proverbial boom tube with DC after all this time. That it’s brushing up against the possibly-maybe overexposed Green Lantern corner of the DCU is yet another cause for alarm. The real red flag is all the talk about the Highfather attempting to breach the Source Wall between universes – I feel like I’ve been hearing too many rumors about DC dipping their toes into yet another Crisis and bouncing between alternate realities only to destroy/retool them again would just be ridiculous.

The publisher has X-O Manowar writer Robert Venditti along for the ride…guaranteeing that it will at least not be embarrassing?

You can pick up Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead #1 at your local comic shop or via comiXology.


Ricky Rouse Has a Gun (Selfmadehero)

Another filmmaker getting into the comics game. Actually, Ricky Rouse is the second graphic novel from writer/director/comics creator J?rg Tittel, but you get that I’m trying to make connections between these entries, right?

Tittel’s book sounds fascinating as hell: an American deserter ends up getting a job as the titular mascot at a bootleg Chinese amusement park. This isn’t exactly a new idea – I think it was Vice that ran a photo essay of one of the metropolitan Chinese faux-Disneylands that borrowed some of the imagery of the real deal because who the hell is going to stop them, that’s why?

It also seems to borrow some of the story of Korean War deserter Charles Jenkins, who hoofed it to the North and ended up becoming a mascot of sorts for the Kim dynasty before making his way back to the U.S. back in 2004.

Also: dig that cover, y’all. Check out Luke’s review if you haven’t.

You can pick up Ricky Rouse Has a Gun at your local comic shop.

Rat Queens #8 (Image Comics)

This issue: the ladies get up to some dirt. I think. I wouldn’t know, since I haven’t read the last seven issues and really feel like I should. Between this and the new Hellheim series from Oni, I feel like we’ve got a wealth of sword and sorcery comics on the shelves. We should not neglect such riches.

According to the solicitation, the roving explorers have come up with an enemy too strong to defeat. So they join up, gain their trust, and make plans to fill them with murder holes before all is said and done. It’s like Conan, if the Cimmerian were ever written as thinking two steps beyond “stab into oblivion.”

You can pick up Rat Queens #8 at your local comic shop or via comiXology.

Detective Comics #35 (DC Comics)

Batman has to solve the mystery of a plan full of corpses and somehow Bruce Wayne is tied up in the killing – so I’m on board with this.

I think it’s probably cliche at this point to complain that Batman comics don’t really honor the whole “detective” aspect of the character. Mostly because a lot of the mysteries written for the character are bullshit Sherlock-style mysteries where we don’t really get to follow along with the lead character as they draw connections – instead they’re just smart enough and fuck you, that’s why.

I’m not sure writer Ben Percy has something more grounded planned for his two-parter, but this does feel like the kind of locked room mystery that would work well with Bats.

You can pick up Detective Comics #35 at your local comic shop or via comiXology.

Adventure Time #32 (Boom! Studios)

There’s a lot to love about Adventure Time in both its animated and print formats. But it’s at its absolute best when the series toys around with character drama through genre stuff. In this case, it’s Finn trying to recover a life’s worth of memories by going on a quest to break kinda villain (and mostly a dick) Magic Man’s curse.

I can see this issue being ripe with all sorts of play on identity, something the franchise has toyed with in the past. Finn seems particularly vulnerable, given his lack of a connection to any kind of past beyond being found by Jake’s parents (recent episodes have reunited him with his criminal father, albeit just long enough for poor Jake to lose an arm).

Writers Ryan North and Kat Leyh are more than capable – although I wonder if there will ever be an issue that hits with that tender mix of melancholy and weird that the show is consistently able to reach. Any suggestions from the peanut gallery?

You can pick up Adventure Time #32 at your local comic shop or via comiXology.

Thor #1 (Marvel Comics)

And this is a weird issue. I’ll let you read it (if only for the gorgeous art). But… yeah. It’s a little light on the cover version of the title character, and that feels a little manipulative, almost J.M.S.-like in getting to the damned point.

But, I remain ever-hopeful – between this and issue #25 of Captain America, Marvel is making the attempt at getting their funny book worlds to look a little more like the real one. And the first one to throw out some bullshit statistic about how really, blacks only make up a significantly small portion of the population (so by that logic, they would only represent a small portion of the superhero population) gets a paddlin’.

There was a wonderful piece – on Polygon, I think – in the immediate wake of the gamergate campaign of harassment and above of women devs and journalists which basically poked at the idea that just because the real world has shittiness, sex crimes, and violence against women, plugging them into games doesn’t automatically make them in any way more authentic or real. In fact, it just shows a narrow slice of humanity from the narrow minds of marketing-driven storytellers that want to feed the same audience without trying to cultivate a new one.

Sam Wilson as Captain America (and whoever it is as the new Thor) aren’t going to change the world – but, it will show someone out there that the space isn’t just musclebound white dudes. It’s not just the world outside your door as it is, but also the world outside your door as it could hopefully be one day.

Long live black Captain America, long live lady Thor. And thanks for reading, gang.

[Editor’s note: After a year of doing great work for TR, Charles is now moving on to a senior position at a major video games company. I’ll be sorry to see him go, but “New Comic Book Day” is staying, and I’m happy to report that the ultraknowledgeable Jim Dandeneau will be taking over weekly Wednesday duties on that score]

You can pick up Thor #1 at your local comic shop or via comiXology.

Those are my picks for the week. What’s on your list?