New Comic Book Day: Jeff Lemire Week

Image Comics

What is it with writers loading up a bunch of books for the same week? We had a bunch of Cullen Bunn books a couple of weeks ago, and every other week seems like there are three Fred Van Lente books coming out. And this week we get two highly-anticipated debut issues from Jeff Lemire. God forbid any of these guys ever get their hooks into an X-crossover. We could end up seeing the whole thing published inside of three business days.

This week we’ve also got a man, a plan, a canal: a comic book; Heaven’s Gate in the heavens; a couple of inappropriate nicknames for the avatar of the Green; a new series for Hawkdude; an imaginary friend who needs rehab; and the revenge of the 99 Pon-cent. Let’s start with how Dustin Nguyen’s spilling a bunch of water on a boy robot.

Descender #1 (Image Comics)
This week we get the first issue of the highly anticipated series that is Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s Descender, a sci-fi mystery about robots in a far-future society. It is gorgeous.

Nguyen’s art is incredible. He was the only reason I bought the digital-first Batman Beyond comic from a couple years back, and Lemire gives him a world that is perfectly suited to his art style. He goes nuts with it. The designs, the camera angles and the pace of the art is stunning, and the watercolor paints over his linework are amazing. This is hands-down one of the best looking comics I’ve seen all year, and would be worth a buy on the strength of the art alone. Lemire’s writing is his usual good work. He sets up a solid mystery hook that definitely makes me want to read more. But holy damn, this book is pretty.

You can pick up Descender #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Retrofit Comics

Drawn Onward (Retrofit Comics)
Matt Madden has made his name screwing around with the form and structure of comics. He’s known mostly for 99 Ways to Tell A Story: Exercises in Style, a collection of 1 page comics that tell the same story in 83 different ways (kidding. He’d almost certainly be sued by some whiny smartass if he were even one short).

Drawn Onward, his new release from Retrofit, isn’t as thorough or expansive. It’s the story of two people and their seemingly random encounters which lead to love and then insanity, I think. The book is structured like a palindrome – symmetrical down the middle, switching perspectives between the two characters at the centerfold splash page, and then telling the same story from the other perspective in reverse. It’s a fascinating experiment with the form and structure of traditional comics storytelling, something I’d love to see used in other comics, but the palindromic structure makes the story a little bit tougher to parse.

The story only makes sense in either direction, not in both. It feels a little like Madden was forcing the format on a story he wanted to tell, so while the book is fantastic and absolutely worth picking up, it’s more because the experiment is worth checking out.

You can pick up Drawn Onward at your friendly local comic shop or online via Retrofit’s web store or Comixology.

BOOM! Studios

Halogen #1 (BOOM! Studios)
I LOVED Halogen. Almost everything about it was great. I only have one minor problem with it, and it’s far from a deal-breaker. I’ll get to that in a second.

The first issue of this new series from BOOM! introduces us to a ridiculous space society – although not ridiculous in terms of practicality and realism. There’s a place for hard sci-fi, and there’s plenty of room left for stories that approach the science in them like a drunken teenager throwing double birds, screaming “WOOOOOOO this shit looks AWESOME.” The science-be-damned designs are coupled with a sketchy, hurried-but-not-rushed art from Afu Chan that makes the whole book look almost dreamy. And the lettering! It’s probably the second dorkiest thing to get excited about, like getting worked up over a well-refereed game, but it looks hand-lettered. I really enjoyed everything about how this book was packaged.

The story builds a world that’s interesting, setting up what seems to be a tech arms race intertwined with a religious conflict. All of the members of a death cult have :GASP: been killed! And holographic technology is proprietary and hoarded. Rell, an operative of one of the companies who has the tech, is hunting for answers about her own tech and answers about the missing death cult. It’s a lot of setup, but the story is interesting and the book looks great, so I’ll definitely be back.

You can pick up Halogen #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

DC Comics

Swamp Thing #40 (DC Comics)
The last issue of Charles Soule’s run on Swamp Thing also marks his last work at DC before his Marvel contract kicks in, and is also the last issue of the book. It’s not coming back after Convergence. Really, it’s an all around downer here. I think I’ve said before that Soule is one of my favorite writers working in comics today, and his Marvel work is only a drop in the bucket of his overall bibliography. Superman/Wonder Woman seemed like a gimmick when it was announced, but Soule ended up giving us the best portrayal of Diana in the New 52, and I’ve heard nothing but great things about his work on Swampie. Can we call him that? I don’t care, I’m calling him that.

The whole DC magic universe is being reworked after Convergence, with Klarion, Justice League Dark, and Constantine joining Swamp Thing on the cancellation block, replaced by a Dr. Fate book, an actual (hopefully) Hellblazer book and Dark Universe. It’s a shame that these are all going, but I worry that the lack of a Swamp Thing book may be a missed opportunity. Since the reboot, it’s been a very different comic from the rest of the line, encouraging artists to get weird on their layouts and designs, and giving the colorists (often times also the main artists, but we’ve had some great talents like Fairbarn and Hollingsworth on there too) an excuse to go wild. I’m sure he’ll be active in one of the new magic books, but either way, I’m sad to see Thingie go.

Mmmmaybe we should stick with Swampie here.

You can pick up Swamp Thing #40 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

IDW Publishing

My Little Pony: Friends Forever #14 (IDW Publishing)
The latest issue of MLP:FF takes on the delicate subjects of immigration and ponyfication by taking a look at Dragontown, a neighborhood of new immigrants in Fillydelphia, the worst city in Equestria (this is not arguable, by the way – have you ever been to a Fillydelphia Prancers hockey game? Those ponies are terrible). Spike and Princess Luna get called in to “investigate” a string of mysterious arsons and find that a gang of evil pony landlords have been hiring arsonists to burn them down for the insurance money.

I’m kidding, of course. Spike would never participate in slum clearance in Dragontown. He’s the kind of SJW who’d chain himself to the front of the building before Mayor Clopper had a chance to take the wrecking ball to it. In all seriousness, this comic was a lot funnier than I expected, and while it does actually dip into stuff like prejudice and discrimination, it handles them well enough. The Flyers are still garbage, though.

You can pick up My Little Pony: Friends Forever #14 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.


All-New Hawkeye #1 (Marvel Comics)
I’m kind of sad that Jeff Lemire and Ramon Perez’s All-New Hawkeye is starting before Fraction, Aja, Wu and everybody else’s Hawkdude wraps, but considering how long it’s taken Bro, Arrows Bro to come out, I’m just going to be happy that it’s scheduled at all.

Underwater Welder was part of my con haul this year, and another book that pissed me off when I read it. Mostly, I was angry that it took me so long to find it, because it was fantastic. Lemire’s writing can get into some really nice grooves with me that are completely absorbing. I have a feeling that All-New Hawkeye is going to be somewhere between Underwater Welder and Animal Man – Clint is the kind of character who lends himself to honest character exploration in writers, I think. The kind of character whose personal flaws are so everyman that they’re easy to superimpose over your own as the outside observer. When he’s on (and he usually is), Lemire can take any character and make him that relatable. He doesn’t even have to lift stories directly from my life to do it, like the current series did with that time I got chased over the Brooklyn Bridge by a bunch of guys in tracksuits chanting “bro bro bro” at me.

You can pick up All-New Hawkeye #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Dark Horse Comics

Neverboy #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
This is the story about an imaginary friend doping himself up to stay real, and I’ve never heard a pitch that sounds more suited for comics than this. Shaun Simon of The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys and Tyler Jenkins of Peter Panzerfaust fame are the creators, both of whom are coming from solid pedigrees, and Neverboy looks interesting.

The art in the preview looks sharp, and the cover (by Conor Nolan) is fantastic. There’s definitely a chance of this book crawling up its own butt, being too nihilistic and negative for my taste, but I’m definitely going to give it a try. I can’t really say no to a book that sounds like a rock star trying to Andy Dwyer Drop Dead Fred.

You can pick up Neverboy #1 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.

IDW Publishing

This week, I spent a lot of time reading about the life of Leonard Nimoy. There have been a lot of remembrances of him written, many of them quite good – by Luke, by Charlie Pierce, by an incredibly smartass Washington Post headline writer with impeccable timing, and in a thousand other places. The man’s impact on the world was remarkable. Not just sci-fi, where his influence was enormous and indelible, but on the whole world around him: Spock was an incredibly powerful point of entry character for so many people. I can’t tell you how many times I had heard the story about the Live Long and Prosper hand gesture originating in Judaism from Jewish friends, long before I saw the video on its origins.

If you want to see more about the character and you’re looking for something you can take with you on the bus, there have been a bunch of good Star Trek comics, particularly in recent years. “The Mirror Universe Saga,” from the old DC series (not recent, of course) seems pretty well-regarded, but tough to find and not particularly Spock-centric. The Star Trek/Legion of Superheroes, probably the most logical (sad HA!) crossover ever conceived, did a pretty good job of feeling like both series. IDW’s weird-sounding “Infestation” crossover from a few years back also counted the Star Trek tie in as one of its highlights.

Bottom line is, there are plenty of good comic ways to remember what an incredible character Leonard Nimoy gave us. You can pick up a ton of Star Trek comics at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

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