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.
I’ve been showcasing a lot of big books with well-known characters, and it’s past due that I talk about some esoteric titles from the independent publishers. Gosh knows there are plenty of good ones out there, and not just from Image. Case in point, The Black Hood from Dark Circle Comics. I picked this up on a lark, but it didn’t hurt that every one of the multiple covers by some pretty big name artists look fantastic. Duane Swierczynski‘s writing is done in a first person narrative and it’s very convincing. Our protagonist, Greg Hettinger, is a motorcycle cop so there’s no place for fanciful styling and Swiercyncki is smart not to try to make him into Dashiell Hammett. Instead, it feels authentic. When Greg tells us of his struggle to return to a life of normalcy after a shotgun blast scars half his face, I was surprised to find myself actually moved. And equally moved when Greg takes the opportunity to make the most of his situation at the end of the first issue. Michael Gaydos‘s art looks very much like Alex Maleev‘s. But you can’t deny that it’s great to look at – the gritty realism definitely suits that subject matter. The Black Hood is an ongoing series and I’m really looking forward to seeing where this unpredictable story about vigilantism takes us.
Meet D4ve. (I’ve just been saying “Dave” in my head when I read that – ‘figure it’s correct.) D4ve is an endearing robot and the star of his own Dark Horse 5-issue series. I love this book. I love Valentin Ramon‘s unique art and really beautiful colors. I love Ryan Ferrier‘s comical writing and clever use of computer terms in the day-to-day life of robots. This robot world, born out of rebellion against… well, I don’t want to say because the nature of how D4ve came to be and this world he lives in is the heart of the book and why it’s so charming. But if you enjoy reading about lovable “everyman” characters in tragic situations that you can laugh at and identify with, you should buy this book. Just as with The Black Hood, I like that the first, single issue not only hooked me, but that it also gave me enough story to warrant the time and money I put into it.
Let’s take a quick break from the indie titles to address Marvel‘s big release that’s on everybody’s lips this week, Spider-Gwen #1. If I was a lesser man, I would take my review of the new Batgirl or Silk and simply paste it here. Trust me, I’m trying very hard not to sound like or become a curmudgeonly comic shop owner, but Spider-Gwen certainly does fit into this new genre of “tween adventure” books. Let’s be clear, (and I’ve said this before, too) that’s not a bad thing. As a shop owner, I certainly hope that it does for sales the same thing that Marvel is hoping it will. There haven’t been this many books before that are told from the standpoint of a heroic young woman with superpowers. That’s not the reason this genre isn’t my cuppa tea tho’. So far, Silk & Spider-Gwen appear to revisit old territory that I’ve seen in nearly every young-man-with-superpowers book. I’ve already seen Peter Parker go thru these trials and tribulations so for me, Spider-Gwen is merely a contemporization of that idea. (And by contemporization I mean that it has lots of smart phones in it.) Snarkiness aside, Jason Latour’s writing is sharp and slick – he writes as well as he draws, which is impressive. And I didn’t mind finishing the book when it meant being seduced by Robbi Rodriguez‘s fluidly etched lines. My second color hollah this week goes to Rico Renzi for a slightly acid pallet that gives the entire book a singular look. No, that’s not the sound of me backpedaling. I’m truly conflicted over a book that doesn’t appeal to me personally, but is very well done and will be very enjoyable to the right audience. (Gawd, even that sounds like, “But she has a great personality.” Let’s just move on… )
Suiciders #1 is a Vertigo book, and it’s further evidence to me that Vertigo is taking a lot of cues from Image these days. Like the publisher’s Wolf Moon, it’s dark, edgy, and violent in a very smart and intriguing way without being vulgar. Lee Bermejo is a very capable writer, apparently, as well as a truly gifted artist – the book is amazing to look at and it’s too bad we don’t see more interiors from him. The story takes place in a not-too-distant LA after “the big one”, an earthquake that reshapes the city and results in the building of a massive barrier between it and the rest of the country. Meanwhile, martial law takes over while gladiatorial games are held to keep the population’s attention. As long as too much time isn’t spent on the gladiator fights themselves, this book has a lot of territory to play with, story wise. I was intrigued from page one and I’m curious to see what tales will grow out of this twisted future that Bermejo has created.
I wanted to like Curb Stomp, I really did. Boom! has been turning out some great titles and I thought this idea of an all-girl gang would have some new things to say and show us. Instead, I was disappointed in the unoriginal story and weak art. So rather than pick it apart with my tired, art student clichés, I’ll use this space to recommend you go back to last week’s releases and make sure you pick up a different title by Boom!, Burning Fields #2. I recommended #1 when it came out, and the second issue held true to that review. This tense, political thriller/police procedural is sophisticated and demands your attention in order to follow the cast’s motivations as they investigate a series of ritual killings on a Middle Eastern oil field. Trust me, it’s the best comic that needs to be a cable tv show.
Before I finish, I have a request for you, faithful readers. Now that this column has been running for a few weeks, let’s hear from you guys. Leave a comment if there’s a title you think I made the wrong call on. Or a title that I overlooked completely. Maybe you have a favorite indie book that you think I should talk about. Or maybe you detest my overuse of dashes and ellipses. Nature abhors a vacuum, so let us know what you think so far. Thanks in advance for your time and effort.
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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