Weekly Reading Round-Up : 06/23/2019 – 06/29/2019, Catching Up With Black Crown

With the recent — and, I must say, not too terribly surprising, all things considered — announcement that DC will be shit-canning (excuse me, “sunsetting”) their venerable “mature readers” Vertigo imprint after 26 years, I figured now might be a good time to take a look at what Vertigo alum Shelly Bond was doing with her not-exactly-new-anymore Black Crown line over at IDW —

Say good-bye to Feargal “Fergie” Feguson and the ghost who isn’t really Sid Vicious with Punks Not Dead : London Calling #5, which wraps up the second (and, I presume, final) run of writer David Barnett and artist extraordinaire Martin Simmonds’ decidedly fun little slice of occult/supernatural hijinks with plenty of “fuck you” attitude mixed in. I’m gonna miss this book, but each and every storyline comes to a thoroughly satisfying conclusion here, except perhaps for Fergie’s would-be “romance” with his high school sweetie, and they manage to pull it all off with nothing (okay, nothing else) feeling at all forced or rushed, even if it was. Standard one-sentence summation for most anything good from a mainstream publisher applies to this one : I’ve you’ve been passing on the singles, pick it up in trade. You’ll be glad you did.

And speaking of passing on singles — that’s precisely what I did with Barnett and Philip Bond’s Eve Stranger #1, but since I saw #2 on the stands this week, I said “what the hell?” and grabbed ’em both. While the premise of an amnesiac-by-design “sleeper” agent/assassin seems a bit too calculated for its own good on paper, this actually reads pretty well and you develop a genuine liking for this protagonist — maybe because we know more about her than she does about herself? I dunno, but it works, and the art is eye-catching enough in its own right, as well, even if the more “cartoony” back-up strip illustrated by Liz Prince is, in fairness, better suited to the material. Nothing terribly Earth-shattering here, but I’m curious enough to see where it all goes.

Not that I had to wait too long, of course. Eve Stranger #2 is probably best described as “more of the same,” but when that means the same as something pretty cool, who’s complaining? Some backstory vis a vis Eve’s origins, a hint of romance that just manages to avoid being creepy (how do you pursue a relationship with someone who literally starts over as a blank slate every week or so?), and a genuinely out-of-nowhere cliffhanger ending, plus another solid backup feature, make for a perfectly good — if, again, less than Earth-shattering — sophomore installment of this not-quite-too-quirky-for-its-own-good miniseries.

I guess Marilyn Manor #1 isn’t a Black Crown comic per se, but it certainly is in all but name given that Bond edited it, the thing’s loaded with BC “house ads,” and it definitely fits within the overall framework and aesthetic of the line. I also could have sworn it was solicited as a BC book, but whatever — it’s here and just carries the standard IDW label. Magdalene Visaggio is a writer whose work runs hot and cold for me, and here I’ve gotta say that her story about a bratty first daughter throwing a “rager” in the White House circa the mid-1980s is more lukewarm than anything else. Truth be told, I found her BFF/sidekick, who may or may not be possessed by the ghost of Abe Lincoln, to be a far more interesting character than the titular Marilyn herself, but I’m game to give this thing at least one more issue — more due to the impish, always-delightful art of Marley Zarcone than anything else. Not as much for her to sink her considerable (if metaphorical) teeth into here as there was in her deliriously imaginative Young Animal book Shade, The Changing Girl and its sequel, Shade, The Changing Woman, but still lots of eye candy for “art-first” readers to enjoy.

And with that another week is rounded up with just enough time left over for me to remind you that this column is, as always, “brought to you” by my Patreon site, where you can at least theoretically “enjoy” three new posts from yours truly on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and movies each and every week for as little as one lousy dollar per month. Speaking of Vertigo, we’re in the midst of an extensive post-mortem/tribute to it over there, so if you’d like to join us, please break out that credit card and/or Paypal account and head over to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse



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