WLG #385: Less of the Same

A column article by: Brandon Billups

What’s up ComicsBulletinites, faithful column readers and funny-book connoisseurs? Are you enjoying your day? You’re not? Wonderful, because neither am I! Due to a family birthday dinner featuring tainted surf & turf, I find myself writing this column somewhat ill and more than a little late, and for the latter I owe everyone an apology. For the former the kitchen staff at Ricky’s Deluxe Seafood and Steaks owes me an apology, but we won’t get into that. The point is that I now know how [insert your favorite tardy comics writer/artist here, I’ll go with David Finch] must feel, all those clamoring fans clogging the message boards waiting to get their hands on the next issue of... y'know, whatever.

Anyhow, I’ve been writing this column for a hot minute now, and I feel like I may be recommending and hyping the same books or types of book too consistently, so I made an effort to bring up some oddball stuff that’s got me excited. I’m gonna hit some typical DC and Marvel beats first, just in case someone somewhere isn’t reading Action Comics, but if you want the real nuggets, feel free to skip to the last three titles!

Action Comics #3
Words: Grant Morrison
Art: Rags Morales

Duh, der, and doy, folks. If you’re not reading Morrison’s Action Comics I don’t have any words for you except “No, you can’t buy me a drink.”

Who am I kidding? Of course you can buy me a drink, but you’re going to end up getting an earful about how this is the best comic to come out of the New 52, and how Grant Morrison is a magical platonic ideal of comics writing, and how I wish he’d bought me a drink instead of you.

All joking aside though, I haven’t been this excited about a comic since…well, since last time GMo wrote Superman.* The monthly wait is more torturous for this title than for any other I read, so if you haven’t yet, I highly recommend picking up all three issues and devouring them like a fox in a chicken coop. Then you can undergo the painful waiting period with me. Misery loves company and all.

*(See All-Star Superman, available in Absolute Edition this week! --Back-issue Brandon)

Animal Man #3
Words: Jeff Lemire
Art: Travel Foreman

Swamp Thing #3
Words: Scott Snyder
Art: Yanick Paquette

Animal Man and Swamp Thing are getting addressed in tandem this week, because for one thing I probably talk about them too much already, and at this point it’s becoming obvious that the books themselves were designed to complement one another. There’s no outright mention of it yet, but I’m fairly sure the bizarre events happening to Buddy Baker are tied directly to this villain, Sethe, that Old Swamp Thing warned Alec Holland about.

The Red and The Green go together like red peanut butter and green jelly, and follow along with DC’s recent modus operandi of expounding their existing mythologies, as seen most obviously in the rainbow color rings of Johns’ Green Lantern. It’s a move I think is great for these two titles, which in their previous iterations were already some of my favorites. It’s bringing the world a little closer together and paving the way for some pretty exciting storytelling.

Avengers Academy #21
Words: Christos Gage
Art: Sean Chen

I’m usually the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of The Avengers. I think the first and only Avengers ‘event’ I ever read was Civil War, and while I liked it just fine, the characters never had the same emotional impact on me as the ones over on the X-Men side of the universe did.

I’m also the first to admit that I’m a sucker for super-hero books about kids; Generation X, Runaways, and now, Young Avengers. I got into this one as Fear Itself was going on, and had to do a little bit of catch-up to familiarize myself with the characters, but issue #21 ought to be a great jumping on point for new readers, as the West Coast Avengers Mansion is becoming the new home to the Avengers Academy, and infusion of young superhuman characters is on its way.

Shame Itself #1
Words: Wyatt Cenac, Michael Kupperman, Elliot Kalan, Victor Varnado & More
Art: Colleen Coover, Dean Haspiel, Clayton Henry & More

And now we reach the more left-field of this week’s offerings. Shame Itself is a one-shot collection of shorts spoofing Marvel’s most recent mega-event, which judging from internet reactions seems like a smartly self-aware move on editorial’s part. The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac and Elliot Kalan are the most surprising names in the writer’s column, but the rest of the book features many well-known and –beloved talents seen on Marvel’s recent Strange Tales, which were some of the most fun books Marvel’s released in a good, long while. It’s great to see a publisher able to appreciate the lighter, sillier, more self-deprecating side of its universe every once and a while.

Infinite Vacation #3
Words: Nick Spencer
Art: Christian Ward

I picked up the first two issues of this based on a combination of awesome covers and the similarity in title to David Foster Wallace’s Infinite Jest. What I discovered is that, while not at all similar in most ways, they do share a common theme of what happens when a commercial product becomes so enjoyable that people are totally unable to resist its siren call.

In Infinite Jest it was the titular movie that incapacitated viewers via its sheer entertainment value. In Infinite Vacation it’s a cell phone app that allows you to buy your way into alternate realities where your wife is more attractive, or your job is better, or you’re the President of the United States. It’s delightfully crooked in a manner similar to Matt Fraction’s Casanova, and the storyline, as of this week’s issue, is just starting to take direction.

Most people either love or hate Spencer for Morning Glories, which I’ll confess to not having read, but his work on this book is great, and the art by Ward is kaleidoscopic and often slack-jaw stunning.

If you take one recommendation from me this week, take this one.

Our Love is Real
Words: Sam Humphries
Art: Steven Sanders

This is the comic Glenn Beck would probably like to warn you about. It’s set in the far future, but only five years post-AIDS vaccine, in which time humans have seemingly branched from the now-commonly-accepted zoosexuality (that’s banging mammals) into vegesexuality (sex with plants), mineralsexuals (rocks), and people who get it on with computers.

It’s every Christian Fundamentalist’s nightmare of a world where homosexuals have destroyed the sanctity of ‘traditional marriage’ and I love it already for going to a place that undoubtedly makes a ton of people uncomfortable, so kudos to Humphries and Sanders.

The industry needs more off-the-wall, potentially upsetting concepts like this one.

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