Greetings, Nerd Bastards readers, Jake here from The Hall of Comics – where heroes shop. I’m a bag and boarded professional. My passion (and business) is to read, write about and sell comics. In an alliance forged in the stars, The Hall of Comics will be dropping by Nerd Bastards weekly, to bring you the latest word and the weeks best pulls in comics. So sit back, grab a snack, and check out what latest comic titles you should be reading.
Any week there’s a new issue of Deadly Class is a good week. This has consistently been one of my go-to books for reliable shocks, laughs, and thrills. (Altho’ the laughs are often on the dark side.) Rick Remender has set himself the task of writing a story that is of the 1980s but convincingly features dialogue and tones that don’t feel dated or tinted in nostalgia. Nearly every book up until this week’s #11 has been used to flesh out the characters and get inside our hero’s head. But this issue is all about the action, brutal and fierce, just as regular readers will be expecting. That doesn’t leave much time for Marcus’s inner monologue. Remender does that so well and I missed it. The book seemed to lose its voice, but this book-long fight was certainly necessary. I think that artist Wes Craig may be the most innovative artist in the medium today. He gives full attention to every line he draws. Part of my excitement over each new release is to see what creative ways he’ll find to compose a page. His kinetic and complex arrangements did not serve these fight scenes, however. A more stilted moment, like Marcus working in the comic shop, benefits from exciting layouts. But when there’s already lots of over-the-top action, Craig’s composition begins to over emphasize and at times even confuse. Having made that nit-pick, tho, this is absolutely a book that you should be reading religiously.
For a book that begins with what will probably be the greatest first page of the year, it sure is a let down. The plot would be overly simple by many writer’s standards, but especially Grant Morrison. I kept waiting for a twist or a ripple that would make everything click, but instead we get an amalgamation of things we’ve seen before – from Superman: Red Son to Watchmen, from Kingdom Come to Morrison’s own JLA: Earth 2. And those are great stories to draw on, but this lacks the wit and surprise that an alternate reality story by Morrison should have. And while I’m at it, these have to be Jim Lee‘s weakest pencils ever, floppy and full of lines that have no purpose. It might have worked if this was boiled down to a 10-page short story, or part of a larger tapestry, but don’t be afraid to ask for more than this from your $4.99 comics.
Not enough of you are reading Letter 44. This is a great read that deserves a real following. Sure, I could find flaws in each issue, but damn if I don’t love the concept and all the different genres that it compiles. Not exactly a jumping on point, but kinda, #14 is a stand alone that gives us some history on 2 of the characters sent on a “first contact” mission when the US gov learns of extraterrestrials. I couldn’t get on board with guest artist Drew Moss‘s art. But fan-favorite Charles Soule delivers his straightforward dialogue without any distracting flourishes. He’s smart to take breaks like this from the book’s usual roller coaster ride where a lot will happen in the main plot. So many films, TV shows, and books today use the style of weaving flashbacks and characters’ histories in with the main story, probably made most popular in the early seasons of Lost. But I enjoy the way Soule informs us about his big cast of characters by dedicating an entire issue to each of them.
Remember that G.I. Joe issue with Snake Eyes and Stormshadow that was entirely silent? Well, Lazarus #15 isn’t quite devoid of any dialogue, but almost. Greg Rucka and Michael Lark make it look so effortless that they probably won’t get the kudos they deserve for pulling it off. Just like Deadly Class #11, this story’s been building to a fight scene that had to happen. Rucka wisely gave Lark a lot of room and latitude to take his time with it. I suppose someone who doesn’t like Michael Lark’s art might point to the kind of work he did on Daredevil or Gotham Central and say that a lot of it is just dark shapes, hiding behind the convenience of shadow. This issue would prove that person wrong, tho’. Here we see his knowledge of anatomy (something many artist working today have no call to demonstrate) in full effect. And not just muscle-bound giants going toe-to-toe. He has to portray 2 adult women at the peak of their physical prowess in a variety of poses. Let me tell you, I don’t think I breathed out once during these pages. The tension lasts from beginning to end. This is that rare issue that may demand a second read on my part.
“Yeah, yeah – but what about Silk?” you say. “What about that hot new female character that Marvel‘s wheeling out this week?!” I have strong feelings about this book, but a lot of it is political and I’m trying not to let it color my critique of the work. Ever since the success of Ms Marvel, the publisher has begun to build an entirely new reputation around its female characters. I’ve enjoyed Ms Marvel, and I regularly tell people that Thor is my favorite Marvel title. But if you’re an adult, no matter how whimsical and child-like at heart, I can’t imagine that books like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl and Silk (and Batgirl for that matter) are a satisfying read for you. Silk uses humor that we’ve seen before, the Peter Parker patented snappy patter, and that just doesn’t do it for me anymore. Neither does Cindy Moon’s day-to-day challenges of being a teenager/young adult. But to someone half my age and younger, this book would probably be the bee’s knees. I will say that I was intrigued by the mystery that writer Robbie Thompson introduced at the end. Stacey Lee’s art makes me think too much of the new Squirrel Girl book, also for a younger crowd. So, see? Not a bad book – I and everyone I know are just the wrong audience for it. As a retailer, tho, I should probably kiss Marvel’s shiny boot for providing the market with not just one token title like this, but several that will bring new genders and new age groups to the medium. That may prove to be Silk’s greatest achievement.
I know that we were all very saddened to hear there would be no new Star Wars-related comics out this week. But we must pull together and find it in ourselves, as a fan community, to make it through ’til March when Princess Leia drops and our national nightmare will be over.
Alright kiddies, that’s it for me this week. Tune in next week for another addition of “Meanwhile at The Hall of Comics”. Wanna know what else is out this week? Check out the full list of releases at The Hall of Comics NEW RELEASE page HERE.
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