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 press has been reporting lately about how little women are represented in Hollywood. (“How little women”, not “how little women”.) As usual, the comic book medium is ahead of the curve. While it may still have some work to do in other areas of diversity, nearly ever book I chose this week has a strong female point of view, with only some slight elements of exploitation. Welcome Back is a perfect example. Mali is 26 years old and struggling to find her place in life. When she’s suddenly attacked by a total stranger, the assault awakens an ancient defense mechanism that she can’t explain and doesn’t understand. Meanwhile, Tessa, who does understand, is using her abilities to go through whoever it takes to find Mali. They’re caught up in a story of revenge that’s as old as time. It’s well written – Mali’s angsty inner monologue felt fresh but still genuine. There’s enough ambiguity that the book’s a thinker, but not to the point of being frustrating. A lot of readers still overlook Boom! Studios, which is unfortunate – I think that if this was an Image book, it would get a lot of attention. Hopefully, indie readers will learn to give titles from Boom!, Oni, and others just as much of a chance.
House of M tells the story of what the world would be like if Magneto’s dream ever came true – if mutants ruled the world. Humans have been marginalized and many labeled as terrorists. Magneto and his children rule as a royal family. Writer Dennis Hopeless is in Marvel’s current stable of go-to writers for side projects like this. House of M has a similar feel to some of the other Secret Wars series, almost a little timid to color outside the lines. The premise is a good start and I wish the book had taken it and done something a little more edgy. It relies on an ensemble cast, so maybe I was missing one, stand-out personality to lead the story. Marco Failla’s art is quite good. He gave this altered reality an elegant and regal design, influenced by Magneto’s sensibility. Readers who enjoy anything involving an X-Men/Avengers mash-up or face off will probably enjoy this.
I have to say that Young Terrorists lives up to a lot of the hype around it, but it is not an easy read. By that, I mean that there is plenty of ideological talk as well graphic content – but nothing gratuitous. After her father is assassinated, Sera is arrested on trumped-up terrorist charges and imprisoned for years. Fortunately, she happens to be brilliant and her father made sure she knew how to fight. She escapes and begins to build a small army of rebels to fight the forces that seek to pull the wool over the eyes of the world. Trust me, those are the broad strokes. The story also follows one of her new revolutionaries, a militant animal rights advocate. He stars in a particularly intense scene that goes into great detail about what a bad idea it is to steal from a truck stop at night in the middle of nowhere. Matt Pizzolo’s writing will suck you in – it strikes just the right tone of mystery and intensity. I wish Amancay Nahuelpan’s anatomy was more accurate – it’s often stiff and awkward, but he makes up for it a bit with some great faces and facial expressions. If readers can find this book, I think they’ll be drawn to its raw & subversive/painfully truthful point of view.
This is the part where we talk about Star Wars. A lot of Star Wars fans seem to be enjoying this book – I see that both in sales and anecdotal evidence. But there’s always the conundrum that comes from having to retrofit this story into what we already know from the original movies. That little trick is always distracting for me when I read Marvel’s new books. I mean, if Han Solo had a wife, as we discovered last issue, how in the blue blazes is it never mentioned even in passing at any time afterward? But this is a comic book and can’t get too wrapped up in that stuff. Let’s talk about the real star of this week’s issue eight, Stuart Immonen. If you thought John Cassaday was doing a great job, wait until you see Immonen translate Han Solo’s/young Harrison Ford’s profile into just a few quick pencil lines. This guy was born to draw Star Wars! There’s a cantina scene that you can tell he had tons of fun working on. It’s full of New Hope alien cameos and they’re all rendered perfectly. The face off between Luke and some hostiles in that bit is fun. Not so fun is the issue-long face off between Han & Leia and Han’s “wife.” Mr Aaron, that scene could have used a bit of brevity.
Still reading? Oh, good. Well if you made it this far, either after careful scrutiny or merely skimming over the pictures to see what my picks are, you’re here to witness my first ever review (albeit under coercion) of a Zenescope book. I won’t sugar coat it, Van Helsing vs Dracula #1 was… a surprisingly solid read. If this genre floats your boat, the quality could certainly go toe-to-toe with much of what Marvel and DC are producing these days. It appears that Zenescope will never stray from its house art style of thin lines, thin figures, and little-to-no shading or depth. But the writing told a solid story of a modern-day Van Helsing descendant, who happens to be dating Hades, and her quest to destroy Dracula, the unkillable vampire. It’s got some wit that fans of Buffy will recognize, as well as adventure. I would guess that readers who discount these books do it for the same reason that I always did – that you think the stories are at the expense of copious cheesecake. Truthfully, there wasn’t any more bare skin or innuendo in this book than anything from either of the big two. It’s only real sin is that the vampire genre is overdue to have a stake put in it.
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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