It’s not often you’ll catch me recommending a mainstream comic from the DCU (or whatever the shared universe of The New 52 calls itself these days), but Detective Comics #36 should be on everyone’s radar and flying off the shelves in shops across the country. This is the second of a two-part story entitled “Terminal” by Benjamin Percy and John Paul Leon. If this is any indication of Percy’s sequential storytelling talent, I’d love to see him make the jump from novels to additional work in comics. With John Paul Leon’s rich and moody aesthetic (a rare treat to see interior work from him, I mean just look at the way he works the title into the cover like he’s Will God Damn Eisner), the duo manages to weave in topical concerns like epidemiology (Ebola, anyone?), the frailty of airline infrastructure (Chicago, anyone?), and post-9/11 paranoia (quick, which would you rather have, national security or civil liberties?), all framed in a closed-room Batman story with a true investigative slant worthy of the “detective” name. This is the type of book you hand aspiring creators to prove that one of the most explored properties and the most well-tread genre can still be relevant with the right talent. More like this, please. I’ll take these two issues over all of the Gotham TV show episodes any day.
No week seems to be complete without a full spread of Image Comics to delight our senses. If you’re in the mood for a smart sci-fi police procedural, then look no further than The Fuse #7 by Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood, which I’ve basically sold to people as “CSI: Galactica.” This also marks the start of a new story arc with the intrigue of illegal zero-G “street” racing, literally on a space station. I’ve read an advance of this and I dare say it’s the best issue yet, so you might as well jump on board. Kurt Busiek, from his seminal Avengersruns to Astro City and Arrowsmith, is a modern master whose work is always worth a look, so I’ll be checking out Tooth & Claw #1 with artist Ben Dewey. It’s getting tired and trite to play the “it’s x meets y!” elevator pitch game, but if you call something Game of Thronesmeets Kamandi, then I’m all in. With a creative pedigree that includes colors by Jordie Bellaire, ongoing status, and a double-sized first issue still at the $2.99 price point, this is a no-brainer.
If you’re in the mood for humor, Image Comics brings the thunder this week with not one, not two, but three very strong offerings. God Hates Astronauts #3 continues Ryan Browne’s self-aware opus that breaks every genre trope associated with the ostensible “super-team.” The visuals are unforgettable, with the right balance of familiarity to entice, and a heaping dose of indie irreverence to do the job at hand. Punks #2 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Kody Chamberlain is also out, so when you find yourself hankering for a Garden Gnome Hate Crime at the hands of Dog, Skull, Fist, and good ol’ Abe Lincoln, you know where to look. I’ll let you in on a little secret: Noah Van Sciver, Julia Gfrorer, and Tom Neely are my three favorite indie creators working today, so you’ll be damn sure I’m recommending The Humans #1 by Tom Neely and Keenan Marshall Keller. I’ve been following Tom’s work for years in titles like The Blot and The Wolf, where he takes a dark painterly Fine Art aesthetic and clangs it up against the anachronistic effervescence of Floyd Gottfredson and E. C. Segar. I picked up the advance edition of this at SDCC and found it to be a riotous road trip of simian proportions.
It’s a great time to be Jason Aaron. I consider Scalped one of the great modern books, up there with instant classics like Planetary and Queen & Country, so I’ve followed Aaron to his various Marvel work, the new female Thor, the delightfully gritty Southern Bastards, will likely check out his upcoming Star Wars run (despite some principled reservations), and will certainly pick up Men of Wrath #2 this week, with artist Ron Garney. The first issue was upsettingly violent, in a way that was more brutal and seemingly less poetic than something like Scalped, so I’m curious to see why that is and where he’s going with this.
Now, hold on… I’m sensing… I’m sensing that you need some books that give good shelf in your life. Fear not, I come bearing recommendations. Art Schooled by Jamie Coe and published by Nobrow Press looks phenomenal. The advance pages of this hardcover have that thick and syrupy slathering of ink that always catches my eye. I’d be remiss in not pointing out the Kinski trade paperback by Gabriel Hardman, published by Image Comics and collecting issues 1-6 of this series, previously published via Monkeybrain Comics. Hardman will also be doing a signing at my LCS, Yesteryear Comics in San Diego, this Wednesday from 9am to 1pm, celebrating the release of Kinski, so come on out and say hey! Lastly, Dark Horse Comics has a new printing of Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly’s The New York Four, an exceptional project from these New York Times best-selling collaborators. NY4 chronicles the lives of four young women in NYC during their college years. Don’t let the odd publication history fool you (from the cancelled YA imprint Minx at DC, to a follow up Vertigo series, to this collection at Dark Horse), it’s some of Ryan Kelly’s best work. He’s able to show off his ability to visually capture the diverse personalities of the women and spoils us with detail porn illustrations of NYC, while Brian Wood’s oft-explored theme of evolving identity during precarious times of change is front and center. This is a definitive edition, collecting the entire series along with plenty of bonus material.