Image Comics dominated my admittedly-small pull list this week, so let’s have a look at all four of their books that I picked up and see which ones are worth your time and money —
Jonathan Hickman is back with another typically ambitious and expansive creator-owned project, but the best thing about Decorum #1 is Mike Huddleston’s wildly varied, and in some cases quite experimental, art. Yeah, there’s some intriguing “world-building” going on here — hell, it’s more than that, it’s “universe-building” — but, as with all things Hickman, we’ll have to see how fully he develops all that, or even if he fucking sticks with it. For my money, the only one of his Image projects where the steak matched the sizzle was East Of West, but let’s be fair : they’ve all started out well enough, and this tale of the universe’s most purportedly polite assassin is no exception. We jump around a lot in time and space here, though, and it’s Huddleston’s uncanny ability to come up with a completely unique visual language for each of the book’s segments that really seals the deal with readers and makes the idea of sticking around for more seem like a winning proposition. For the time being, at least, I intend to do precisely that.
Just when you’d probably forgotten about them, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung are back with Snotgirl #15, the first issue in something like a year — and the last for probably almost as long, given that the creators announce on the inside back cover that they’re about to go on an extended hiatus while they pursue other projects in comics and life. All told this isn’t a bad issue — I still despise all the characters, but that’s rather the point, and protagonist Lottie’s relationship with her would-be paramour “Cool Girl” becomes both more defined and mysterious as a result of some weird goings-on out in the woods, so that’s cool, but who are we kidding? Any number of Image books have fallen by the wayside due to creators not so much quitting outright as drifting away, and this one bears all the hallmarks of doing the same. Lengthy breaks between issues always have the effect of taking readers out of the story, and while this one is easy enough to jump back into given it’s not too terribly complex, finding out the return visit is just a short one? That’s a real buzzkill. Hung’s superb cartooning has been reason enough to stick around up to this point, but if it’s going to be another year until this thing comes back? I think I might just be done.
And with Moonshine #17, I can safely say that I’m officially done with this book. Wrapping up the third arc of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s series, this is gorgeously illustrated, as always, but goddamn if Azzarello isn’t just sleep-walking through his career at this point. Protagonist Lou Pirlo finally completes a pretty major transformation here that’s been a long time in coming, but the scripting is so listless and lazy that you won’t care, and the entire supporting cast — which should, by rights, be pretty compelling for guys like me who are intrigued with voodoo — is something less than a collection of one-dimensional ciphers at this point. They leave the issue on a cryptic note that suggests they might just be finished here, but that’s honestly of no concern to me either way, because I already know that I am. A book that’s been trending downward creatively almost from the beginning has finally hit rock bottom.
Lastly, “over” at Robert Kirkman’s Skybound imprint, we’ve got Stealth #1, the first “starring turn” for a character Kirkman and Marc Silvestri created some 10-15 years ago (if not more, for all I know). I had a fair amount of fun with this one, digging as I did the Detroit setting and the vaguely “blaxploitation” vibe that served Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela’s Abbott (which was also set in Detroit) so well, but it’s the switcheroo that writer Mike Costa pulls off in relation to his ultra-violent vigilante’s secret identity that really won me over and opens the story up to an exploration of the same kind of questions that any number of punch-drunk fighters have found themselves facing toward the end of their careers, and artist Nae Bellegarde does a solid, workmanlike job that doesn’t bowl you over with its style, but impresses you in terms of its visual storytelling fundamentals. This one’s slated to run six issues, and I’ll likely be around for the duration.
And that’s this past week in comics — specifically Image Comics — in a nutshell. I’l l’ll be back in seven days to see what some other publishers are up to, but until then please consider supporting my ongoing work by subscribing to my Patreon, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Money well spent, I promise. Here’s your link : https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse