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.
The fact that I didn’t set out to discuss titles starring strong female characters is yet another indicator of the tone in comics today. Additionally, the inclusion of said characters is not contrived in any of these books, nor do they fit the same old, tired genres in which women in comics are often portrayed. In fact, they couldn’t be more different from one another. Now, let’s talk about whether or not they’re any good…
If I had any kids, I’d be happy to hand them Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as one of their very first comics. Sure, I’d want to expose them to some classic Jack Kirby or Batman stories. But BTMR feels like a young person’s adventure story that’s for them – it’s from a young person’s point of view, out of place in an adult world. Abigail is the teen daughter of a gold mind baron who’s overly protective of her. She’s practically fearless and determined to explore the mysterious mines that exist deep in Big Thunder Mountain. That the book is based on a Disney Theme Park ride is beside the point and doesn’t even enter into it. In fact, the “Railroad” is out of the picture five pages in. The material itself is perfect for young readers, but the vocabulary is probably above some reading levels. Tigh Walker‘s dynamic art fits the book really well and I enjoyed the line quality. One nitpick – in a short action sequence, it’s not clear which direction events are moving in, or the relation of characters to one another. But it’s not the type of problem this book’s audience would care about.
Darth Vader has been the best of the new Star Wars titles. It’s felt the truest to the tone of the characters depicted and to the films. Until now. Issue #3 is a good story, but we’re slipping away from the original movies and more into “expanded universe” territory. The reason that it may be sold out by the time you read this is the introduction of Aphra, a galactic cat burglar, and the first new character that we’ve seen created for Star Wars since Disney bought the property. Aphra is very cool, and I didn’t even mind the blatant Indiana Jonesizing of her debut moment. It’s to be expected that as a new character, she’s written as someone who would act and speak in a story written today. The flip side is that her voice is not that of someone from films that were released in 1977, or even 1980. And I’m not talking about her gender. I’m thinking of her dynamic with a dark lord of the Sith. It’s weird – not quite played for laughs, not quite out of feeling awkward or in fear of her life. But I still want to see more and hope that Aphra leads to some exciting stories. The issue’s highlight is not even her – it’s 2 homicidal droids. Rather than say any more about “Dark C-3PO” and “Dark R2-D2”, I’ll let you discover them for yourself.
Hit:1957 from Boom! is the first in a four issue series. It’s a really dark, crime noir piece with rogue cops and a femme fatale of the first degree. Bryce Carlson‘s writing hits just the right note. It’s so evocative of the genre and exactly what you want out of a story like this, but it’s never unoriginal or cartoonish. Fans of the film L.A. Confidential and other Elmore Leonard stories should enjoy this. Marie Collins, the aforementioned femme fatale, is often in a victim’s position, but never lets herself become victimized. The motivation of the various policemen is murky and not always in a deliberate, wrong vs right kind of way. Sometimes it’s hard to follow because of Vanesa R. Del Rey‘s art and Niko Guardia’s colors. When I couldn’t tell who was who because their faces were indistinguishable, I had to rely on their clothes. But then that became unclear because the palette of the book is so muddy. As a crime noir story, Hit:1957 fits the bill. As a comic, not so much.
Here’s a sentence I never thought I’d write: Let’s talk about the first issue of Jem and the Holograms. I thought much the same way of Jem that I did about Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. Other than the line, “What the hell” and one “badass” (no criticisms from me, just being informative for all the ‘rents out there), this is a well-written young person’s book that I’m excited to see on the shelves. People who don’t read comics have no idea how most titles are really not for children any more. People who do read comics and have grown up with them usually don’t mind that fact. But comics need to be for everybody, regardless of age or gender. Or else comics will slowly go away. Jem is a modern retelling of the mid-80s cartoon. Mercifully, it’s of today, without being so trendy, like the current Batgirl or Squirrel Girl titles, that it’s not going to age well. (There’s not a single cell phone in sight – Ma Bell be praised!) Ross Campbell‘s art is lyrical, no pun intended – he does a great job melding a style that will appeal to kids while still holding an adult’s attention. There are some emotional issues and relationship material amongst the bandmates that, believe it or not, may be over the heads of really young readers, but I’m honestly excited that there’s one more comic book I can show to a tween-age + girl to get her interested in the medium.
Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1 is the eighth part of Grant Morrison‘s latest experiment. Taking some of the ideas that he first explored in his classic run on Animal Man, it’s a truly interactive comic book. The entire story speak directly to you, the reader, and makes you the superhero. To say too much would ruin the impact, but there’s a lot of Morrison-esque tropes. I really enjoy Grant Morrison’s writing when it’s at its best, and this isn’t it. But this one-shot issue is still very worth reading, even if you hate him, just for how cleverly he pushes the idea of making you an active participant in the comic, willing or otherwise. It’s true, this books is sans women, so it’s the exception to this week’s natural theme. Altho’ I doubt anyone would be able to put this book down before being swept along, at least for the first half.
The second issues of two of my favorite new series are out this week, too. Make sure you give D4ve from IDW a shot, as well as Black Hood from Dark Circle Comics. Both are smart, unique stories that play on our favorite genres, feature fantastic art, and are thoroughly entertaining. I’ve got my copies waiting at the bottom of my reading pile ’cause I’m a tease that way.
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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