New Comic Book Day: Toy Fair Comedown

Action Lab Entertainment

I am currently suffering from the ULTIMATE first world problem. I (paper)cut the shit out of my finger opening a box after Toy Fair and it hurts to type and APPARENTLY the fascists at my job won’t let me apply for disability because of it. Thanks, Obama.

This week in comics: there’s a vaccine for the Amazo virus, but the Justice League Watchtower is like space Marin County; the Peanuts gang gets an anniversary issue; Mothra rocks (I’m sorry); Magneto makes with the stabby; we find out what else you can get out of a space fishbowl besides a ripping hangover; we find out if anyone can make The Strain not shit; and we find out that Mark Millar can definitely make his writing not shit. But first, we find out if Olympus can stand up to the wrath of Girl.

Fight Like A Girl #3 (Action Lab Entertainment)
Fight Like A Girl is a series by writer David Pinckney and artist Soo Lee, about a girl named Amarosa who challenges the gods to try and save her terminally ill brother. It’s not the most innovative concept in the world, but what is these days? The real point here is the execution – the art is very good. It’s a little sketchy, but the way Lee scribbles in shadows to show movement is different and really entertaining. And the cover here is really dynamic. There’s a little polish missing, but I’m interested to see more from Pinckney and Lee, especially if one of the gods in the pantheon is Amaterasu. Smash those two names together and you can probably come back with a full Italian sentence.

You can pick up Fight Like a Girl #3 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

DC Comics

Justice League #39 (DC Comics)
Blah blah blah the end of the Amazo Virus arc who gives a shit HAVE YOU GUYS SEEN THE LIST OF POST-CONVERGENCE BOOKS? I mean, I know a bunch of you actually care about the end of the Amazo Virus arc and I’m sure it’s fine. I’ve been drifting in and out of JL since the (in my opinion) atrocious opening arc of the reboot. Fabok’s art’s solid, and I’m kind of excited to see what happens with the “Darkseid War” later this summer, which gets set up here.

But let’s talk about these post-Convergence books, because DC just took The Shadow Hero and threw it in everyone’s faces while screaming “YOU SHOULD ALL READ THIS IT’S GREAT.” Sonny Liew gets to work with Paul Levitz on a Dr. Fate book that I’m primed for after getting to touch Nabu’s helmet. And then Gene Luen Yang joins JRjr on Superman and all of a sudden I’m more excited for a Superman comic than I have been since Final Crisis #7. And I’m already buying 3 Superman books. Bravo, DC, for taking some awesome chances on different talent.

You can pick up Justice League #39 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

BOOM! Studios

Peanuts #25 (BOOM! Studios)
It was a rough couple of years, but this nice little comic about a bunch of Midwestern kids and the self-absorbed monster who keeps trying to lure Charlie, the main character, into an abusive relationship has really started to hit its stride lately.

A couple of things about this issue amazed me. First, how much panel layout dictates a real rhythm to the reading, a cadence in your headvoice that gets almost comfortable as a reader, and how jarring and effective it can be when you change it up. Not that this issue of Peanuts was a dramatic masterpiece or anything, but most of it was set up like a Sunday strip: five panels, with the last one taking up the bottom ? of the page, and when that wasn’t the case, I felt like I stumbled. This isn’t intended to be a criticism of the book, just an observation.

Second was the consistency, simplicity and effectiveness of the joke construction. The same five panel structure also led to a consistency in the jokes, where the first four panels were setup and the last was a classic Peanuts bon mot. Reading this issue was like hearing a good stand up bit: you could see all the infrastructure that goes into building a routine and how it worked together to make effective jokes, even if the jokes aren’t necessarily your normal style. If you like Peanuts, you’re getting this anyway, but if you’re interested in structure or composition, this book is also very worth checking out.

You can pick up Peanuts #25 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Oni Press

Terrible Lizard #4 (Oni Press)
Cullen Bunn gets out of the way and lets Drew Moss draw the hell out of giant monster fights. I didn’t realize this was a limited series, and knowing that adds a bit of urgency to Wrex’s story. I know that’s cheating, like checking the clock when the Law & Order episode gets to closing arguments (“8:42? He’s gonna walk.”), but it added a bit of “oh shit” to the story knowing that.

As I said, this issue starts out with Moss drawing what amounts to a Godzilla/Rock Mothra (my favorite B-52s song) fight, and ends with the lizard facing off with a giant flea that craps Minion/anemones. There are a lot of big splash pages, and his monster designs look terrific. You’ll probably be a little lost if you haven’t read the previous three issues, but having read them, I can say you should absolutely read the previous three issues.

You can pick up Terrible Lizard #4 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.


Magneto #15 (Marvel Comics)
I’m pretty sure that Marvel has my house bugged or something. I distinctly remember saying out loud about halfway through X-Men: First Class, “You know what I’d watch the shit out of? A Magneto: Nazi Hunter movie.” Boy, am I stoked that we got it in comic form.

This is another book that I’ve been reading mainly on Marvel Unlimited, and it has been fantastic. Magneto, whose powers are still all wonky post AvX, has been going around murdering the hell out of enemies of mutantdom, and in the process proving what an indomitable badass he is. The art has matched the scaled-down quality of the stories, a lot of times choosing for almost staccato panel beats as opposed to the big, operatic two-page splashes that you’d expect from one of the best villains of all time, and it works incredibly well. Cullen Bunn’s writing a driven, pragmatic Erik here, and it’s one of my favorite X-comics.

You can pick up Magneto #15 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.


Barbarella and the Wrath of the Minute-Eater (Humanoids)
Humanoids and Kelly Sue DeConnick are adapting Barbarella creator Jean Claude Forest’s story for English-language audiences for the first time. It’s got the original story and its follow up, with Forest’s original artwork left in black and white and it looks fantastic.

You don’t come to a Barbarella story expecting a ton, but the one thing you would hope for is absolutely bonkers artwork. That’s absolutely the case here. The figures and facial expressions, except for all the boobs, look like about what you’d get from a well-drawn Sunday strip, but the designs and the aliens are utterly nuts. You wouldn’t expect to spend a lot of time focusing on anything but the boobage in a book like this, but then you run across a man hucking fish at a carnivorous ear from his rolling fishbowl and you think “Hmm. What the actual crap.”

You can pick up Barbarella and the Wrath of the Minute Eater at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Dark Horse Comics

The Strain: Night Eternal #6 (Dark Horse Comics)
I’m counting on you guys to tell me how this is. In anticipation of the TV show, I grabbed the first novel on sale for my Kindle and I had to buy a new Kindle after. What a stupid goddamn book. Even David Lapham and Mike Huddleston, two creators of marketable quality, aren’t enough to move me past “wary” on this book.

I have to assume that later installments got better, what with them continuing to get made and all, but after the fourth time Dr. Handsome Goodhair stopped investigating the OBVIOUS VAMPIRISM spreading through the largest city in North America like a virus to yowl about missing his custody hearing, I started shouting at my Kindle. I mean Jesus Christ, guy. I think your custody hearing is about to be moot, mister terrible fucking epidemiologist. Also, what the hell was the point of the custody issues in the first place when you’re going to whack the wife anyway? ALSO also, EVERYONE IN THIS BOOK IS A GODDAMN MORON. If your world-renowned epidemiologist ex says “run,” YOU RUN THE HELL OUT OF THE CITY. I packed a fucking go bag when they put out that study of bacteria on the subway, and all THEY found was the black plague. If I suddenly hear mysterious stories about people getting bit by strangers and my kid sees somebody naked and snorting like a pig rolling up Queens Boulevard, I’d have left him a voicemail that sounded like someone in a cartoon running away.

And then when they finally get to the end and, oh, I’m about to spoil the end of that shitty book, where they punch the big bad vampire guy out into the sunlight, then throw up their hands when he doesn’t die from UV exposure, and everyone’s like “WELP. Guess we’ll have to get him next time guys!” I loosed a scream of ranguish (rage and anguish at the same time), in a room where the only sentient being besides myself who could hear it was my rapidly congealing rage, slowly accreting into the shape of a talking middle finger that said “Hey, fuck that book, man.”

You can pick up The Strain: The Night Eternal #6 at your friendly local comic shop or online via the Dark Horse app.

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.

Image Comics

This week, it’s the collected edition of Starlight by Mark Millar and Goran Parlov, out last week from Image.

It’s time for a little mea culpa. In my Best Comics of 2014 list, I made a crack about Kick Ass 3 that was one of those jokes that’s funny when I think of it, but was so obtuse that nobody else enjoyed it, and ended up being mean to readers whose first language isn’t English. I apologize, and I’m going to try and be a little more inviting with my terrible comedy in the future.

I was asked by a reader what I thought of Kick Ass 3 in light of me sneaking it into that list. I will be completely honest: I don’t generally care for Mark Millar’s writing. There’s usually so much winky cynicism in his work that it overwhelms any other merits it might have. So much jamming pop culture into books that take nine months to come out so that they feel instantly dated. It’s disappointing, because with stories like Red Son, or really any time he’s written Superman, the man has shown that he’s capable of writing heartfelt, inspiring stories about the world being better than we want it to be, or better because we want it to be. But he falls into his tropes too easily and comfortably for me to be anything but wary as hell whenever he’s got something new out.

That’s why I was delighted to read Starlight. I can say without reservation that it’s a wonderful comic, and so much of it is what I love about these stories. It’s a pretty straightforward Adam Strange riff – Duke McQueen, the man with the manliest name in all the cosmos, was taken to an alien world decades ago, where he fought alongside that world’s queen to free them from the tyrannical rule of some asshole who wasn’t really important to the story. Then he returned to Earth, got married, had kids and lived a more or less normal life, except for the part where no one believed that he went on those adventures. The book opens on his wife’s funeral, and it was an extremely emotional, well-written scene. McQueen tries to keep his kids around to help him grieve, but they go back to their old lives, and he trudges on until a kid from the planet he helped comes back to get him so he can save the world he left one more time.

We end up reading a story about recapturing past glory, and one of the most entertaining action comics I’ve read in a while. Goran Parlov’s art is perfectly suited to the story – it flows well, the action is crisp and detailed, and Parlov is minimalist where it’s appropriate, and expansive and flashy where he can be. This is exactly the kind of heartfelt, sweet book that I love, and I recommend it highly.

You can pick up Starlight at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

That’s what I’m reading this week. What are you picking up?