Weekly Reading Round-Up : 03/11/2018 – 03/17/2018

Was it just me, or did this past week seem particularly loaded with debut issues? I mean, I know Image has at least one new number one every Wednesday, but lately it seems like everybody’s getting in on the act. Here are the four that I read since last we met here —

Eternity Girl #1 is the latest from DC’s Young Animal “pop-up imprint” (whatever the fuck that even means), and anything drawn by Sonny Liew is something I’m gonna buy. Truth be told, I really can’t believe that the cartooning genius behind The Art Of Charlie Chan Hock Chye is even doing a monthly book for one of the “Big Two” publishers — but I’m doubly dumbfounded by the fact that he’s not writing it, as well, since (let’s be honest) you’re not gonna pair him with anybody who’s better at the art of scripting than he is himself , and this series features an original (as far as I know?) creation that he probably had a heavy hand in cooking up from scratch.

That being said, Magdalene Visaggio’s script is quite good and poses a very interesting central question : how can a being that technically has no actual physical form (our titular character is a shape-changer whose natural state is some sort of — uhhhmmm — frequency, or vibration, or something) die? Caroline Sharp would dearly like to know since she’s suffered some sort of unspecified mental breakdown while serving as some sort of unspecified government super-agent, but so far all her attempts at suicide have proven futile. It’s a pretty gutsy move, introducing us to a character deeply en media res at what has to be the low point of her life, and it largely works — but she’ll defintely need some fleshing out in future issues, which may prove to be tricky given that her flesh is an artificial construct. Still, as far as the story goes, both premise and execution are strong enough to keep you around to see what happens.

Who are we kidding, though? Even if the writing sucked — which, again and for the record, it doesn’t — Liew’s art alone is worth your $3.99. The mosaic-tile cover is a genuine mind-blower, his “everyday” scenes are strong and fluid in their pitch-perfect understatement, and he even gets a chance to play Kirby in some flashback panels. My sincere hope is that future issues will include sequences that allow Liew to experiment with other faux-nostalgic styles, as well, since anyone who knows his work knows that he’s a master artistic chameleon — a term I use with equal parts precision and admiration. Let’s hope, then, that this series is slated for a good, long run — and that he remains on board for all of it.

Dry County #1 marks the beginning of yet another new Image series for Rich Tommaso (although he apparently plans on returning to Spy Seal after this is done), and it’s basically a classic noir , albeit one with a little bit of an unusual period setting, namely late-’80s Miami — which is a natural fit for the artist’s deco-esque design sensibilities. This comic looks great, then — as you’d expect — but I was surprised at how immediately the story grabbed me, as well. Protagonist Lou Rossi is every bit as self-obsessed (and self-pitying) as any “Generation X”er was/is, but there’s something kinda of likable about his naivete — he’s a cartoonist by trade, and clearly way out of his depth and getting suckered into a trap of some sort by a femme fatale, but the question of “to what end?” remains wide open at this point. Colorful, stylish, and yes, nostalgic, this book pressed all the right buttons for me. Is it derivative? Hell yes. But it’s a derivation infused with smarts, heart — and killer art. I’m in for the duration.

Also from Image we’ve got Infidel #1, the opening salvo in a new five-part horror series written by former Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote and illustrated by the talented, if far-from-prolific, Aaron Campbell. When no less a brain-dead MAGA asshole than loathsome YouTuber “Diversity & Comics” lambastes a book as being “the most SJW comic ever,” you know it’s probably pretty good — and, lo and behold, this is. Apparently its multi-racial, multi-religious, and multi-ethnic cast of characters is enough to set off the “comicsgate” nitwits, but what the fuck? If you’re going to do a contemporary horror story set in New York, the idea that all the players would/could/should be white and Christian is patently ridiculous on its face. The haunted shithole apartment building in an urban locale may be more than a bit reminiscent of Clive Barker’s Candyman, but the familial tension (our protagonist is a Muslim woman who’s completely estranged from her own family since she’s engaged to a Christian guy — and they live with his racist/Islamophobe mother) adds some modern relevance to the proceedings and offers up the opportunity to witness events from multiple vantage points as they unfold, Campbell’s art fits the project to a proverbial “T,” being suitably gritty and rough around the edges, and master colorist Jose Villarrubia (who does double-duty as the book’s editor) is in top form. Yes, this comic clearly wears its politics on its sleeve, but they’re deployed in such a fashion as to add vital context to the story, rather than to preach to the choir and/or drive off the Trump trolls —not that they’d be missed, mind you, but you don’t want to miss this comic, either, and that’s what really matters, is it not?

Last — and, sorry to say, least — we’ve got Come Into Me #1, which arrives our way courtesy of Black Mask Studios and the creative team of writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler and artist Piotr Kowalsi. I’d been looking forward to this one quite a bit given that I enjoyed Thompson and Nadler’s The Dregs a hell of a lot and I loved Kowalski’s art on Joe Casey’s late, lamented Image book Sex (although that’s supposedly going to be revived as a series of graphic novels at — ahem! — some point), but what can I say? The premise here of a wealthy (well, wealthy at one time — he’s rapidly going broke) scientist sinking all his time and money into a process whereby two minds can share one body (and, by extension, its experiences) is so goddamn absurd I don’t think anyone would actually try it. Even still, doing a “deep-dive” into the process itself and showing its horrific effects might work as a sort of Cronenbergian, alienated-from-one’s-own-flesh type of thing, but rather than concentrating on milking that for all it’s worth, Thompson and Nadler double-down on the dumb by introducing a character determined to “re-purpose” the project as a new form — hell, the ultimate form — of social media interaction. Want to meet somebody new? Get inside their head — literally! Sorry, but I ain’t buying it — and, despite typically stellar and detailed art from Kowalski, I’m not buying any further issues of this comic, either.

What the hell, though, right? Three out of four ain’t bad. Will next week bring as high a “hit percentage”? Join me in seven days to find out!

2 thoughts on “Weekly Reading Round-Up : 03/11/2018 – 03/17/2018

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