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.
Grant Morrison’s 18 Days is based on The Mahabharata, an ancient Indian text that is the longest poem ever written. Sounds like Grant Morrison, right? The mythology tells of the four great ages of existence. At the end of the third age, between the ending of gods and the beginning of man in the fourth age, 3 generations of super-warriors meet for a climactic battle. Even though all the elements that Morrison loves to delve into are present here, the storytelling is fairly straightforward. This isn’t the sometimes confusing, take-a-hallucinogenic-trip-with-me Morrison that we get in titles like the current Nameless. It’s a lyrical, apparently faithful, retelling of an epic text that some have described as being like Lord of the Rings. The first issue is all set-up and exposition to establish, in finer detail, the premise I just laid out – but hey, it’s only a $1 so what do you have to lose?
Fans of Brian K Vaughan’s other works, like Saga and Y the Last Man, should find a lot of familiar elements in We Stand on Guard. There’s the presence, or at least threat, of war, well-written female characters, dark humor, and the protagonist’s journey to recover something that’s been lost. The setting is a future conflict between the US and Canada, told from the Canadians’ point of view as they conduct guerrilla warfare against the invading super power. But I think that Vaughan could write a comic about someone reading from the phonebook and make it interesting. And like every great creator, he makes it look effortless. Steve Skroce’s art will make it impossible for you to imagine anyone else could have illustrated the story. His simple, yet crisp & clear detail has just the right amount of reality without asking you to accept this is something other than a comic book. The first issue goes down like a warm glass of smooth bourbon and my only complaint is that it’ll only be six issues long.
Even the weakest of the Secret Wars titles have had an interesting premise. As cool as the idea is behind Red Skull though, it may just be too derivative. It’s DC’s ol’ Suicide Squad premise; a team made up of Magneto, Winter Soldier, Electro, Jack O’ Lantern, Lady Deathstrike, and Moonstone is sent by Emperor Doom to track down the rebellious Red Skull in the Wastelands. Sounds amazing, right? It could have been, and it still might recover in the second issue. But for now, we’re left with the absolute worst art I’ve seen in a book from either of the big two since I don’t know how long. And it’s littered with clichés. I really wanted this to be better, and I’ll probably pick up #2 to see if it improves. But don’t expect the same level of storytelling that we’ve seen from other SW books.
Mark Millar’s ten-issue series from Image, Jupiter’s Circle, continues to be one of my go-to reads. Issue #4 this week continues the story of a super team set in the late 1950s, real world America. It’s a prequel to his limited series, Jupiter’s Legacy, which he’ll write a second part for once this current title is complete. The story is reminiscent of the Minute Men in Alan Moore’s Watchmen, dealing with the often sordid lives of the people behind the masks. Millar’s depiction is so nonchalant, so matter of fact, that there’s no judgement on his part, no coded finger-pointing. So when these superheroes smoke pot or have affairs, the reader’s not made to feel that any moral code is being broken. Instead, we’re often left feeling a little sheepish that we ever assumed those things weren’t happening. That sneaky spin Millar uses is one of things that I think sets this book apart every month.
Oh, I just get all giddy when I get to talk about the main title in Secret Wars. I could simply type, “Buy it immediately,” and leave it at that. There’s certainly a danger to overselling it, to making you think that #4 is better than it is. But the truth is that I’m enjoying what Jonathan Hickman’s is doing with this epic so much. It’s refreshing to see something this inventive done with characters that’ve been around since comic books became what we know them as today. Hickman’s master stroke in this issue (don’t worry, no spoilers) is that he takes a moment that would’ve certainly gone one way in the super hero rule book, sidesteps it, and makes a move that changes the game board for the series. Oh, and we get even more clarity on how things came to be in this new reality under Emperor Doom’s rule. I’m not sure this is possible, but Esad Ribic’s art might’ve gotten even better, too.
This is the part of the show where I usually comment on the latest comic gossip or controversy. And while there’s plenty to pick over in Marvel’s announcement of all the new titles they’re launching in October, I’ll simply say that Karnak is one of them and leave it at that.
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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