New Comic Book Day: I Find My Surplus Of Faith…Refreshing.

Image Comics

I have never been more excited for Star Wars in my life. And I’m the idiot who stood up and cheered in the theater when Yoda pulled out his lightsaber in Episode II (my friend after that happened: “We go to the movies to make fun of that guy. I never thought I’d be there with him”).

This has to have been the best Star Wars Celebration ever, right? We got an INSANE trailer for Episode 7; the trailer for my personal PS4 killer app in Battlefront; a teaser for Rogue One; a preview of season 2 of the amazing Rebels; an announcement that Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto are reteaming to tell the in-canon lead up to The Force Awakens at Marvel; and a lot of reassuring noises from the cast and crew that they’re doing their best, which is all I really want. I don’t need to edit the script or anything. I just want to know that the folks working on it are going to pour their heart and soul into it, and that they’re going to tell an actual story and not pile nostalgia on top of nostalgia with a chewy but insignificant real story core like they did in Star Trek 2-2: The Wrath of Khan 2.

No Star Wars comics in the reviews this week, but our first comic is a little bit like it. Only a little bit, though. Like, just the tip of Star Wars.

Kaptara #1 (Image Comics)
Any comic that’s described as “Gay Saga is probably something I’d be unrepentantly enthusiastic for, but it’s nice to see that Kaptara’s first issue is, even apart from the hype, pretty good. Kagan McLeod’s art is perfect for Zdarsky’s script. It starts out slow and leans heavily on McLeod selling the emotions of a ship full of smartass dicks yelling at each other, which he does well. Midway through, the issue flips, hinging on one of the stupidest “let’s see what happens” moments in the history of sci-fi (one which I find, upon rereading, to be absolutely intentional and really funny) and bringing the crew to a Murder Forest on a planet full of psychedelic, deadly megafauna. My personal favorite part of the issue has to be Prince Dartor – McLeod made him look like Shecky Greene hosting a 300-themed drag show.

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

BOOM! Studios

The Realist (BOOM! Studios)
Asaf Hanuka is an Israeli cartoonist whose webcomic, The Realist, is being released this week by Archaia, Boom’s art comic line. Hanuka’s work has been compared to Crumb and Spiegelman, and it is spiritually similar, but it’s very much of the current world, reflective of modern anxieties and sometimes pointedly critical of the world we all live in.

The style of the collection creates an interesting narrative progression – Hanuka takes us through the stress of living in Israel, of having a marriage that’s not going great, and the difficulties of raising a child (and, of course, being a dirt-poor cartoonist). But the tone changes about three quarters of the way through, around the birth of his second child. The early strips were just glimpses of his life, of whatever was causing him the most stress that day, like he was using his cartooning as therapy. Once the second baby shows up, Hanuka starts to give the reader punch lines, and it gets lighter and pretty funny. “What We Talk About When We Talk About Money,” a strip where the dialogue is entirely pictograms, is a completely unexpected, laugh out loud break from the earlier part of the book. Hanuka’s got a good sense of humor, and he’s an artistic chameleon, subtly changing his style and moving through an entire spectrum of incredible cartoonists.

There’s a page about halfway through, when a director is talking to Hanuka about how hot reality TV is right now and how shit his life is, and it ends with the director ripping out his heart, telling him that’s what’s missing from his story. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Realist is all heart, poured out onto the page for you to sift through, with all the sadness and thoughtfulness Hanuka feels right there for us all to see.

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

IDW Publishing

The Infinite Loop #1 (IDW Publishing)
The Infinite Loop is a crowdfunded French comic being brought to the US by IDW, and holy Darwyn Cooke does it look terrific. Honest to God, the art in this comic is so close to that Cooke/Timm style that I had to check a couple of times and make sure that it was still Elsa Charretier drawing. This is meant to be a very strong compliment, by the way. Her art is phenomenal – subtle facial expressions and body language, with incredible panel layouts and energetic, exciting action sequences.

Pierrick Colinet’s script is interesting, but believe it or not, how he wrote it out was more interesting than what he wrote. The story is about two time-travelling fixers, bouncing up and down the timestream to collect paradoxes dropped in inappropriate time periods by time vandals, and get rid of them. It’s also about how to have a relationship when, for one reason or another, society won’t accept it. It’s a not-very-veiled metaphor for how LGBTQ people are treated in our world, but it doesn’t have to be because it’s so good. Colinet also letters the book, and he plays with the font and the word balloon layouts in really interesting ways. And I’m not sure who’s responsible for the flowcharts, but they are hands-down the best gimmick in the entire comic.

My problems with time travel are documented and numerous, but the way to get around my grumbly, not-very-accurate-but-not-letting-that-stop-a-good-complain physics-related hang-ups is to be a really good story. The Infinite Loop is a really good comic.

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

DC Comics

Convergence: Hawkman #1 (DC Comics)
If you’re going to make blatant nostalgia porn (which, let’s be real, is what a bunch of these Convergence tie-ins are), getting the iconic creator for a particular character is one really easy way to thread that needle (the other really easy way to do that: let Jeff Parker write Kamandi). Tim Truman’s Hawkworld is the formative take on the character, and his presence makes this mini two for two.

It also helps that reuniting people with their favorite characters has led to some really good comics. The first issue of Greg Rucka’s Question series felt like going home again, as it made me realize that Two Face is probably my favorite Bat-family character. I’m expecting about that from Hawkman, but at the very least, maybe this will pull Carter Hall out of his list in and out of vaguely fascist obscurity.

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


Amazing X-Men #19 (Marvel Comics)
I kind of drifted away from Amazing X-Men while Jason Aaron was in the process of bringing Nightcrawler back. But, based on some solid reviews from Rachel & Miles, I gave it another shot, and I’m happy to say that they’re right: it’s a fun, well-made superhero comic, and it scratches an itch that I didn’t even really know was there.

I like X-Men comics. A lot. But I tend to regularly read one of two types of X-books: the big, sweeping epics about the future of mutantkind, like Uncanny and All-New, or books written by Simon Spurrier. That’s a vast oversimplification, but there’s a kernel of truth in it: most X-books have a tendency to aspire to be a Big Deal. Amazing, especially since Craig Kyle and Chris Yost took over, has high stakes, but don’t seem to aspire to be anything other than good superhero fare. It’s a breath of fresh air, to be honest. Sometimes I don’t want Everything I Know About The X-Men to be Wrong. Sometimes I just want to see Juggernaut and Colossus punch the living piss out of each other.

You can pick up Amazing X-Men #19 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.



Every week there are way too many comics for me to read and keep track of. So in every column, I’m going pull some Price is Right putting-game sleight of hand and take a look at one OR two book(s) that came out in the last few weeks, but that I only just had a chance to read. It’s been a solid month for comics, and I’m just one man, people.

The first this month is Legend of the Scarlet Blades by Saverio Tenuta, a story about a Ronin in a fantastical feudal Japan. It’s hand painted, and crazy good. Early in the book, there’s a sequence where a girl gets chased out of a puppet show into the snowy outdoors, and it’s drawn so well that I got cold reading it.

The gore is intense when it’s there, but its frequency is tastefully restrained, considering this is about a bunch of guys with swords and magic powers. The script isn’t going to redefine comic book storytelling, but it’s entertaining and paced well, giving Tenuta breaks between fantasy sword fights and letting him show off his design creativity and his ability to paint emotion. His action and the way he chooses to light his panels are just stunning.

You can pick up Legend of the Scarlet Blades at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Viz Manga

The second one is Assassination Classroom volume 3, by Yusei Matsui. This book made me really happy that I made my more manga resolution, because there’s no way a western comic would ever make a book like this. Assassination Classroom is about a shape shifting, smiley-faced tentacle monster with the power to destroy 70% of the moon without thinking too hard about it. He declares that he is going to teach a class of middle schoolers, and if they can assassinate him by the end of the school year, he won’t destroy the Earth. This is…relatively standard anime/manga fare, to be completely honest. What pushes Assassination Classroom to its greatness is how even with all that bonkers attempted teacher murder, it ends up being a heartfelt, sweet look at the effects of tracking students early in their school lives, and the emotional harm that kids get put through if they’re not winning at learning. Korosensei (the smiley monster teacher) deliberately picks the class of misfits to teach, and uses his powers to provide commentary on teaching, learning, self esteem and factory-style educations. Of course, the insanity is always there – in between supersonic trips to Rome for gelato and fifteen simultaneous personal tutoring sessions, Korosensei is also dealing with a school full of potential killers, a black widow assassin colleague, and in this volume, a murderous AI student. You guys, I think I love manga.

You can pick up Assassination Classroom volume 3 at your friendly local comic shop or online from the Viz digital app.

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