Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Wednesday Review: NYCC Edition

Happy Wednesday, everybody! It's Comic Con week here in New York, and like any big con week there are a metric ton of good books out. I cover some of the comics I read before deadline below, but first a cool-looking indie book that came out a couple of weeks ago...

Tales of the Night Watchman is a self-published indy series created by Dave Kelly & Lara Antal, about Nora, an often exasperated NYC barista and her roommate/coworker Charlie who is also a time-displaced supernatural superhero the Night Watchman. The third issue of the series, featuring the short story "The Night Collector," came out last month. The overall story that writer Kelly has been telling - of the mysterious origin and powers of the Night Watchman mixed in with Nora's broke New York girl life - never really quite gels, though its clear there is a larger story going on and the mundane way Kelly approaches vigilantism has promise. Lara Antal's art and lettering are the efforts of an obvious novice - nothing wrong with that, the stories are just difficult to read. Antal is learning, and her art (and the overall production values of the finished comic) improves drastically between the first two issues. Issue one, scribbled apparently with a ballpoint pen, is, generously, a mess, but in issue two her art is a lot cleaner, though not anywhere nearly as good as guest artist Molly Ostertag in the third issue. Issue 3 is largely stand-alone, featuring a fairly rote vampire story, but Ostertag's art is phenomenal, and I'd really like to see more from her. That said, overall Tales of the Night Watchman gets incrementally better but is still not quite ready for primetime. But the creators show some promise, and future issues seem likely to increase in quality. (And I should note that Antal's mini-comic, A Comic Guide to Brewing is pretty awesome.)  And speaking of mini-comics, Koyama Press continues to impress with their diverse, high quality offerings from cutting edge creators. The publishers behind Michael Deforge's extraordinary Lose anthology have also put out a nice original collection from Nathan Bulmer, Eat More Bikes. Named after his hilarious daily webcomic, Eat More Bikes is a fabulous showcase of Bulmer's particular style and humor.

Hey, New Comics!

Infinity, Chew, Shaolin Cowboy
I've been talking a lot about Infinity in the Wednesday Review, because it's just so damn good. In issue 4, Hickman and Opena and Weaver deliver a thrilling, breathless grand sci-fi superhero magic. This is the best superhero story of the year and one of the best superhero books Marvel has put out since Civil War. Catch up, stick with it, this is extraordinary, wonderful stuff.

This is a big week for infrequent releases, and demons are sure enjoying a nice winter holiday as we speak, for the new Shaolin Cowboy 1 dropped today. The exclamation mark was invented to describe Geoff Darrow's brilliant, hyper-detailed art and hyper-manic storytelling. This entire comic, from the dense novella-length recap page that opens the story through the teaser for the next issue ("More Zombies! More Chainsaws!") is a rare treat, an exhibition of a mad master at work. And Dave Stewart's colors are astounding, too (of course). 

Walking Dead 115, the beginning of the event All Out War features Stefano Guidano on inks, and it's the best art the series has had in its ten year run. The writing is solid and it is absolutely gearing up for an intense story.

Chew 37 continues to mix high-concept weirdness with fantastic character drama with genuine hilarity in story and art. Layman and Guillory are working a pretty special voodoo with this book, inventive, clever, high energy and always surprising.

I challenge you to find a creator having more fun making comics than writer Jason Aaron on Thor. I challenge you to a cage fight over it. 

Resident Alien: Suicide Blonde 2 was another superb outing from Hogan & Parkhouse. They manage to elevate a fairly straightforward mystery with simple, elegant storytelling, and the back-door sci-fi elements are icing on the very well-made cake.

Buck Rogers 2 by Howard Chaykin was ugly and racist, a 180 from the last issue (or maybe not, feh). If you want your jetpack fix, get Amy Reeder and Brandon Montclare's Rocket Girl 1. In it a teenage time cop from the sortof future goes back to NYC in 1986 to fix something that goes wrong. I'm not entirely sold on the concept, but the first issue is good fun and worth checking out.

I haven't read these yet, but they are in the pile and certain to be amazing: Multiple Warheads: Downfall collects the long out of print early black and white MW work of Brandon Graham. Graham is working on a different level of pure creativity and I'm excited to see this early stuff. The new volume of Best American Comics is out, edited by Jeff Smith this year. There is far more mainstream representation this time around (a positive), though like all volumes of the Best American series the merits of the entries are decidedly debatable. More on this one later this month. Battling Boy from Paul Pope looks frankly breathtaking, no surprise there. Palookaville 21 from Seth is a gorgeous new hardcover with some new Clyde Fans, a couple of shorts and sketchbook material. Finally, Love and Rockets New Stories 6 is out, featuring 25 (!) short stories from Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez. Words do not exist to describe how excited I am for this new volume. It's Love and Rockets, what more needs to be said?

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