Between Neil Patrick Harris hosting and Greg Berlanti, the producer of Arrow and The Flash, being named the head writer for this year’s Oscars, it looks like we’re getting the nerd-friendliest awards ceremony in forever. The Berlanti news is SUPER EXCITING GUYS, because if the theory holds – Oliver is pretend Batman, making Barry a Tim Drake stand in – via the simple transitive property, NPH is going to be written as Superman and named Hal Jordan, right?
Speaking of Superman, his relationship comic gets a new creative team; a character class gets a collection; Bender is patient zero in the future; Archie gets assassinated; Princess Ugg asks “Do you want to kill a snowman;” Mark Waid tells us how heavy is too heavy for rappelling (spoilers: 🙁 ) and a brand new Marvel/DC crossover comes out.
Superman/Wonder Woman #13 (DC Comics)
No character really suffered from the New 52 reboot more than Superman. At the start, we had Grant Morrison telling part 1 of his epic out of order (Action Comics, Superman Beyond from Final Crisis and All-Star Superman are all three parts of a big story), while everyone else was trying to figure out New Supes as they (and Grant) went along. But starting with Superman Unchained, there was a concerted effort to populate his books with either big name talent who will draw readers in (Snyder and Lee on Dsuperman, Johns and JRjr on regular Superman, Jae Lee on Batman/Superman) or with damn good creators who don’t quite have that name recognition (Pak on Action and B/S, Kuder on Action, Soule on Superman/Wonder Woman prior to this).
This week we get the first issue with a new creative team that’s got one guy from either category. Anyone who doesn’t think that Doug Mahnke’s name alone isn’t a draw should feel free to prove me wrong with sales figures in the comments, but drawing Final Crisis, Multiversity, JLA, and “Blackest Night” certainly qualifies in my mind. And we’ve been over how great I think Pete Tomasi is before. It’s a good time to be reading Superman comics. All we need is to squeeze in a Frankenstein appearance and you’ll have me squealing with glee*
*also because that’s how I breathe.
Pathfinder: Goblins vol. 1 (Dynamite Comics)
An anthology offshoot of the main storyline of a comic adaptation of a tabletop RPG is not really where you’d expect to find “good comics,” but if you think about it, it’s probably the perfect place to find them. Pathfinder: Goblins is a collection of stories from folks like Adam Warren, Jim Zub, Ron Marz, Charles Soule with art from Alberto Alburquerque, Ivan Anaya, and Carlos Gomez, among others. Some of them are really funny, too.
The Pathfinder goblins are tiny little psychopaths, so there’s no depth to these stories, just slapstick murdering, which is the best kind of murdering. Quick sight gags abound, too: the gag with the lich’s magic eye is clever, and the comedic pacing on the kraken story is fantastic. Ultimately, the goblins are played for murderous, gory, juvenile black comedy, and the results are great.
You can pick up Pathfinder: Goblins volume 1 at your friendly local comic shop.
Sinergy #1 (Image Comics)
Michael Avon Oeming and Taki Soma co-write and collaborate on art for Sinergy, a comic about a family of monster hunters in Portland. Oeming, who became a superstar off of his art for Powers, is also a really talented writer – his Thor: Disassembled is second only to Simonson’s run on my list of best Thor stories ever.
The premise of Sinergy is that the world is infested with monsters, most of them bad ones who exploit addictions in order to harvest sin energy (get it?), and who can’t be seen by regular people. The story follows a father who can see the monsters and hunts them, and his daughter, who discovered her ability to see them the second she lost her virginity. This issue suffers from first issueitis, where it jumps between infodump and stage setting, and they mostly aren’t smooth jumps. The art is what you’d expect from Oeming and Soma: very good. But the story was as uncoordinated as the first time I had…OOOOOOOOOOOOH I get it now.
Futurama Comics #73 (Bongo Comics)
I’ll admit that while rewatching the last few seasons of Futurama on Netflix, I can see why it might have been time to put the show out of its misery. It was spinning its wheels a little, recycling the same jokes and plots and not spending anywhere near an appropriate amount of time on Zoidberg. That said, I thought the Simpsons crossover was the best episode of either show in like, 2 years.
I’ve seen some people complaining about time travel in a non-Treehouse Simpsons episode. Why the hell shouldn’t there be over-the-top time travel in the Simpsons, he shouted at no one in particular. They’ve got aliens and a mutant fish, for Hypnotoad’s sake.
Meanwhile, the Bongo folks have always done a pretty good job of translating the fun of the shows into book form. One can expect more of the same here.
Archie: The Married Life Book 6 (Archie Comics)
This is the collection of the stories that lead into the death of Archie. He was tragically murdered by a bullet fired back through time by his father, just before his father was shot by Batman and dissipated by Superman’s karaoke and shit, no, that’s Orion.
It was actually Archie taking a bullet fired by social relevance, and it’d be a lot easier to make fun of if 1. crap like this didn’t keep happening IRL and 2. the Archie comics were not good; but they do, and they are very good now. The Archie line has been undergoing something of a creative renaissance lately, and this is a good place to jump in and see some of the good work they’ve been doing. The Married Life follows two parallel universes, one where Archie married Betty and one where he married Veronica. This volume ties off both stories. Personally, I’m using this as an opportunity to catch up before this summer’s Archie: Crisis on Infinite Riverdales collapses the Archieverse down to one horribly confusing, occasionally terrifying timeline.
Princess Ugg #5 (Oni Press)
DISCLAIMER: Princess Ugg does not kill a snowman anywhere in this issue. I apologize for lying, but after Racket Teen’s Hot Take Board from last week, we’re running out of time on Frozen jokes and I had to take it.
The fifth issue of Ted Naifeh’s Princess Ugg has Ulga. Princess of Grimmeria, smoothing some of the rough edges off of her barbarian upbringing, to try and pass as cityfolk royalty. It’s never been a revolutionary comic, but it has always been solid “outsider’s different ways will actually save us all” storytelling, and #5 is more of the same. The art is pretty good, and well colored by Warren Wucinich. The draw isn’t necessarily the art, though.
This is a surprisingly complex story for something labeled “all-ages.” It’s about a teenage girl having to sacrifice a lot of her dignity to find a way to save her people. I keep finding myself wanting to call it “Little Mermaid with the possibility of more axe killings,” but that’s selling the book short. In a sense, the biggest similarity to a Disney movie is its ability to appeal to and draw in readers of any level. Also, now that I think about it I would very much like a Little Mermaid with axe murders book whenever someone can get around to it please.
Black Widow #12 (Marvel Comics)
Hmm. I thought Silver Fox was dead.
ONE THAT GOT AWAY
Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going to take a look at a book that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read.
This week, it’s Insufferable volume 3, from Thrillbent Comics, Mark Waid’s digital-first shop. Insufferable is a guided-view-native comic about two street-level heroes who used to be partners, then hated each other, and now have to work together to save their city.
I’m of two minds about guided view comics: on the one hand, they’re a tremendous technological accomplishment. They completely change the way comics are read, and for me, they are a much more immersive experience. I start flying through the book, totally absorbed in it, because the panel transitions are so much closer to the simulated action of an animated show. But on the other hand, part of reading comics is to have the reader create that motion herself, so I’m concerned that it takes something away from the experience. It’s a tool, but a tool that can be used as a crutch by less-confident storytellers. Fortunately, most of the guided-view-native comics I’ve read have been by exceptionally talented creators, and that’s certainly the case here.
Waid delivers a story that’s noticeably smarter than average cape books, and Krause draws an awesome mid-apocalyptic city. This is a very entertaining comic. I recommend it highly, even if it did prove that I probably should avoid ziplining with super heroes.
That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?