New Comic Book Day: Insanity, Thy Name Is Airboy/Fight Club/Omega Men

Image Comics

By now, I assume y’alls have heard the incredible adaptation news – LUMBERJANES MOVIE WOOWOOWOOWOOOOOOOOOOO sorry. Ahem. Lumberjanes got optioned by Fox, and we might get to see a movie based on the comic that’s pretty much Goonies but all super likable girls, and hot damn am I pulling for this to happen.

But while that’s a big deal and an awesome deal and hopefully soon an awesome movie, I think Universal optioning The Wicked + The Divine is news that has some really interesting structural implications. Milkfed Criminal Masterminds is producing it – that’s Kelly Sue DeConnick and Matt Fraction’s company, and while it’s SUPER early to be making any prognostications, this is the Internet after all, so LET’S GET A’SPECULATIN’. Image Comics provided an avenue for making creator-owned books that had all the hype and sizzle of DC and Marvel at the time, legitimizing books that weren’t from the big 2 in a way that no other creator-owned company had been able to do before. Right now, they’re just making Sex Crimz and this (and I thought one other, but I can’t for the life of me find it, so jump in on the comments and correct me please), but it seems to me like Milkfed is a cautious step towards providing a kind of IP-transferal service that cape companies have in-house, but creators have to poke and hunt for. Basically, the same thing that Image did for creator-owned comics, Milkfed miiiiiiight be doing for optioning creator-owned comics into other media. That would be a huge deal if it happens. I hope to hell I hedged enough that I can tell everyone I was right no matter the outcome, or as it’s more commonly known, “Pull an El Mayimbe.”

This week in comics: comics are frakking bananas. Check it out.

Airboy #1 (Image Comics)

It’s weird: there were parts of this in the beginning that felt like James Robinson, the writer, was being a little too honest. It’s a little jarring to read something that feels so exaggerated wrapped around kernels of honest self doubt. Not that I believe any of the things comics-him said about himself, but that there were points when reading it that i believed that he might have thought them. And it felt a little too meta, too much laid bare. Then him and comic-Hinkle went to the bar and I damn near pissed myself laughing.

The story is a meta-tale about Robinson and artist Greg Hinkle trying to figure out a way to reboot Airboy, an old jetpack-flying superhero who’s now in the public domain, for Image. Robinson’s got a terrible case of self-doubt-induced writer’s block, so the two of them head to the bar and the entire book turns into the drug use scenes from Requiem for a Dream played for comedy. They score some coke, get hammered, double-team a bar hookup and wake up to find that they had also snorted a little heroin and also Airboy the comic character is standing there in the motel with them ready to drown them in guilt. Hinkle’s art is an excellent mix of surreal and natural/cartoonish, and Robinson’s dialogue is just amazing. I still, two days and two readings later, haven’t stopped feeling a little overwhelmed by what I read, but I also haven’t stopped laughing at how funny it was.

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

IDW Publishing

Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #7 (IDW Publishing)

I know I’m late to the party, but how the hell is this being made? This comic is INSANE. It’s like someone distilled “growing up with nerd tendencies in the ’80s” into powder, cut it with yey and then decided to write and draw the comic high on…shit, what should the nerd/cocaine portmanteau be here? BLORK. High on blork. (Author’s note: I swear to God I wrote this paragraph before I read Airboy.)

In all seriousness, I’m sure Tom Scioli isn’t actually high on anything when he makes this book, but there’s such frantic glee in everything about this book that it’s hard not to be a little overexcited when you finish reading it. Everything about it deliberately tries to evoke nostalgia – the pages look a little old, the script is dense and wordy and explains what you’re seeing, the art has none of the angular sheen that modern robot comics have and even the character cards are designed to look like they were clipped off the box of an old G.I. Joe figure. Shit, everyone in it talks like a ridiculous caricature of an ’80s action movie hero. I guess even the relative quality of the book is nostalgic, too, because some of those old Transformers comics were great, but this is next level. Scioli clearly loves the shit out of these two shows. Even when he’s making fun of them, there’s a sort of beaming joy in the jokes that plainly show that this is a labor of love. I gotta be honest, this trend of indie folks redoing the stuff they loved when they were kids has led to some fantastic books.

You can pick up Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #7 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

DC Comics

The Omega Men #1 (DC Comics)

The reason I’m excited for this is probably for the same thing that made me a little uncomfortable in Airboy: because it might be an awkwardly personal confessional. Well, that and because it’s a comic about space terrorists fighting their way through the Vega System and murdering a Green Lantern. That’s not the confessional part. I don’t think any Green Lanterns were harmed in the researching of this book.

Tom King, the co-writer of Grayson and the solo author for this book, has been making the promo rounds for it, and Omega Men sounds insane. The premise is that the team is…it’s not really clear, but it looks like they’re trying to destabilize the ruling class in the Vega System. King used to be a CIA counterterrorism officer, and he’s confessed to drawing on his own dark side to create the villain in the book.

I’m buying this just on the off-chance that it ends up being a serious look at counter-insurgency and power dynamics of occupations, but I figure with King trying to be this ambitious, at the very least I’m going to see DC’s space characters thrown into a different story than they usually are. With the full, infinite multiverse back, I’m far less confident of my prediction that Kyle getting whacked on camera was some kind of FX trick. We could be in a parallel universe, or they could use a parallel universe to get a new Kyle or something. That uncertainty makes me crazy excited for this book. King’s also putting in Groot-but-a-religious-fundamentalist, so yes please.

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


Years of Future Past #1 (Marvel Comics)

I’m trying really hard not to just yell “SQUEEEEE NEW SECRET WARS” every week a new issue comes out, but if you’re looking for my opinion on that series, just assume it’s that until I say otherwise.

So I’ve either bought or Byrne-stole* all of the Secret Wars tie-ins so far, and i’m overwhelmingly impressed with the quality, but 2 things immediately jump out:

-The 616 lifeboat is still off the board.

-People reeeeeeeeeeeeeeally don’t seem to care for mutants.

There are two X-relevant books coming out this week, and this one looks like it might be the most likely to get more into that. I’m using that as my working theory in part because this land borders Killville, where MODOK Assassin took place, an issue that was surprisingly close to the main action of Secret Wars. That one was every bit as amazing as I expected, by the way, and had some of the clearest hints about how the rest of Battleworld feels about mutants. This issue, from Marguerite Bennett and Mike Norton, looks pretty good, touching on one of the all-time best X-stories ever. Bennett does good work (Sleepy Hollow was the bomb), and Norton’s art looks good from the previews. It also has one of the best recap pages I’ve ever seen from Marvel, integrating it into the main story in a pretty cool way.

*For those who don’t know, Byrne-stealing is reading a book at the shop without buying it. It’s so named because John Byrne, the Internet equivalent of the crazy old dude who all of the neighborhood kids are afraid of, said in his web palace made of racism and discarded teeth that browsing a book in a bookstore is taking food off of his table. And now I’ve got that damn Temple of the Dog song stuck in my head.

You can pick up Years of Future Past #1 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Valiant Comics

Imperium #5 (Valiant Comics)

I’ve read some incredible books since I started this gig, and that’s made me prone to hyperbole. Which makes it hard to review comics like Imperium, because it’s not “pants-shittingly awesome” or “bugfuck insane” or “beautiful and a little sad” (all paraphrases of myself). Imperium is just a really solid comic about a villain who believes in his heart of hearts that he’s saving the world, and the hook here is that he very well might be.

Sunlight on Snow (or Mech Major, his given name) is my breakout character. I really enjoy how Josh Dysart has him drift between thoughtful AI and sarcastic jerk, which keeps him from being a stereotype. Scot Eaton’s art and Livesay’s colors keep the book visually interesting, even through some of the talky portions. It’s not something that I’m going to stand from the rooftops and shout about, or shove in anyone’s face and say “READ THIS NOW AND YOU’LL LOVE COMICS,” but if you’ve got even a passing interest in the Valiant universe, this is a damn fine comic.

You can pick up Imperium #5 at your friendly local comic shop or online via Comixology.

Dynamite Comics

Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1 (Dynamite Comics)

Mark Waid gets to bring back what’s being billed as his personal favorite character this week, and it really shows. The Avenger is an old pulp hero who’s been periodically brought back since his creation in the late ’30s, with the most prominent revival in comics coming from DC, who put some incredible talent on the book – the Alex Ross cover you see here is aping an old Joe Kubert cover from the ’70s, and Kubert was followed by the King himself later in that series. The late ’80s revival had Kyle Baker on art, and now I’m really wishing that DC had a DC Unlimited service so I could go hunt those down. And steal more from John Byrne.

Anyway, this issue is a great reintroduction. It’s really well paced, zipping right along from intro to action set piece to background info about the Avenger to more action, but nothing feels like an oppressive infodump. Waid’s commonly thought of as a guy who writes throwback comics because his stuff is so classically, traditionally great, but his titles aren’t old school in their style as much as they are in their subject matter. He’s generally writing silver/bronze age type stories with modern craft and sensibility. This, however, is a straight golden age riff, down to dialogue tics. Ronilson Freire’s art is very good – clear, clean with excellent figures and action sequences. I really liked this issue.

You can pick up Justice, Inc.: The Avenger #1 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 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.

Dark Horse Comics

This week, it’s Fight Club 2 #1 from…Well, there hasn’t been a comic in a while that made me feel like I was shortchanging somebody by just mentioning the topline art/writing crew, but this is certainly one of them, so I’m about to be more thorough. In this follow-up to the original legendary novel, which I am now going to go back and read because this issue was amazing, there’s an in-depth, really interesting scene breakdown of a couple of pages over on Mental Floss (full disclosure – Rich Barrett’s a friend, but even if he weren’t, that interview is incredibly insightful) that goes through the full production process of the book. It shows just how much effort goes into not just a regular comic, but then also something as odd as this. Cameron Stewart pencils the interiors, David Mack painted and collaged the cover (the Band-Aids were placed on the painting after it was done), Dave Stewart colors the book, Nate Piekos letters and Scott Allie edits.

Fight Club 2 is deliberately unconventional, banging up against the walls of what’s traditionally recognized as a comic the same way that the book and the movie screwed with the viewer, and I loved it just for that. As for the traditional comic-making craft, it’s also an outstanding issue. The narrator and Marla’s dialogue and the pacing and plot of the story are so natural that it feels like putting on an old pair of jeans, and Stewart’s pencils and layouts are as good as you should expect from him by now. It’s a great, great comic.

You can pick up Fight Club 2 at your friendly local comic shop or online via the Dark Horse app.

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