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.
Hello, what have we here? The best of Marvel’s Star Wars books, that’s what. Lando is a success for many reasons, chiefly because writer Charles Soule did not attempt to shoe-horn it into any film plot. It happens before The Empire Strikes Back and sees Lando and his trusty aide, Lobot, trying to free themselves from a debt owed to a crime boss. Soule’s strength is dialogue and it’s put to good use here. By Lando’s own admission, he’s not a fighter. His greatest weapon is his brain (and his mouth,) so by necessity this is smarter than Star Wars, Princess Leia, or Darth Vader. A few moments struck me as being out of character – Lando once addresses Lobot as “Lo”, and should Lobot even be talking? – but it’s easier to forgive things like that when I’m not trying to reimagine the story into a famous film plot. I get the feeling that 5 issues won’t be enough for this space pirate.
I’m not sure why the new Archie #1 works, but it does. It’d be hard to imagine writer Mark Waid and artist Fiona Staples creating something that wasn’t entertaining. But more than entertaining, they managed to make this 74-year-old character engrossing. Waid skillfully makes the world of Riverdale feel up to date and true to the spirit of the Archie comics – he hasn’t changed anything, he’s just telling a deeper story. One nice touch is that Waid chooses for Archie to speak directly to the reader as he walks us through his day-to-day. Just as crafty as Waid’s writing, Staples style is the perfect choice to walk the line between the cartoony way we’ve always seen these characters and a slightly more real world look. I particularly liked the way she chose to represent Jughead – the way she interpreted the facial expressions of someone we’ve seen for decades into something more identifiable was both funny and satisfying. Heck, giving nuanced facial expressions to any of these characters is an important game changer! I am not an Archie fan, but I’ll definitely be checking out issue #2.
1872 is just what you want it to be – a story of your favorite Marvel heroes & villains if they’d existed in the old west. Red Wolf, Marvel’s only Native American, is thrown in for good measure (hey, this series may be the link that puts him in the regular continuity restarting in October), along with Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Wilson Fisk, the Parkers – anyone who fits well in a non-powered adventure. I looove westerns, so I was pretty excited for this. It’s interesting to see the old-timey version of everyone, but beyond that I’m not sure how involving the story is. Gerry Duggan’s storytelling is a little herky-jerky, lurching from one plot point to the next as Sheriff Rogers tried to protect Red Wolf from being lynched by Wilson Fisk’s mob with the town-drunk, Tony Stark, by his side. It’s not helped much by the art. I liked Nik Virella’s renderings – they fit the theme well – but the way he lays out the settings and action isn’t always as plain as it should be in a story like this. I’ll come back for issue #2, but more out of curiosity.
Strange Fruit has to be one of the most politically charged comic books in recent memory. I’m not sure how much differently it’ll be received now, given the country’s current climate, as opposed to just 10 or 20 years ago, but it’s another example of how comics can say & do things that few other mediums can. Mark Waid, once again this week, is working his magic – this time collaborating with the book’s artist, JG Jones. Let me first say that Jones might be the one comic artist today who could go toe-to-toe with Alex Ross. His painted images of the deep south, classically rendered as only he could, are both lyrical and haunting. Set during the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927, in the time of Jim Crow, Strange Fruit has a not-of-this-world element that I won’t give away, but suffice to say that the story is not without its surprises. White land owners and Klansman who are forcing the black, working class community to save their drowning property are about to encounter a man they can’t simply beat down.
When Marvel’s original Civil War event occurred in 2006, it thrilled many new and long-time readers. It’s even the basis for the 3rd Captain America film. So I expect many of you will be picking up this Secret Wars series by the same name. Well, you can thank Charles Soule for making it worth your time & money. In this reality, the conflict between Captain America’s forces and Tony Stark’s never reached a climax. In fact, the battle grew much worse and split the country literally in half. Now, after six years, General Rogers and President Stark are meeting for peace talks. Civil War is just one more example of why the Secret Wars event has been so enjoyable – it’s the perfect arena to see popular Marvel story lines played out further. Leinil Yu’s art has never particularly appealed to me – it doesn’t harm the book, but I would like to have seen it given to someone with a lighter touch, like original Civil War artist, Steve McNiven, and less use of black. Regardless, what Soule adds to the mythos is a warranted addition and just great storytelling.
I always feel a little bad for books that get released the week of the San Diego Comic Con. No matter how good they are, they’ll soon be trampled underfoot by the storm of news that the interwebs will soon dump in our lamps, fresh out of that pop culture riot. I’ve attended twice, and both times were a lot of fun and it blew my little nerd brain. But the convention has grown to such a size that I’m happy to watch it from the safe distance, and much more comprehensive view, of my laptop. I mean, truly, aren’t mega-sized events like this exactly what the internet is for? We get all the coverage online that you could ask for, often with a better view than anyone attending. So when you visit your LCS this week, remember how much you’re saving by staying home, and spend it on some of this week’s reading options. And the time is spent better than waiting in line, too!
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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