As much as I try to use this column to shift the focus off of cape books and onto some of the more unusual and esoteric things that can be achieved within the medium of comics, I tend to write a lot about Big Two superhero books anyway. I could blame this on the general minority of interesting new books being released, but in reality my radar is probably not finely tuned enough, and my inner child can easily get carried away.
So this week, No Big Two. And only one cape book, and it’s an unusual one at that. And some anime, because manga is comics too.
Let’s get the spandex out of the way first.
America’s Got Powers #1
I’m not too familiar with Jonathan Ross, the British TV personality behind this book’s story, but his previous book, Turf, had a great concept and atmosphere. The preview pages look great too, with Hitch’s art looking as on-point as ever. I’m not sure yet what the general tone of the book will be, but the whole conceit (super-powered individuals compete on a reality TV show in hopes of winning a spot on America’s premier superhero team) seems ripe for satire. If that’s the direction Ross chooses, I can’t see how I won’t be hooked on this book. Unless, y’know, it’s six months between issues.
Smoke and Mirrors #2
The second in a five-issue miniseries, Smoke and Mirrors presents readers with a world where magic, not science, is the force behind all the world’s innovations. Oh, and Steve Jobs is a wizard. The first issue was mostly introduction, but the story seems to be centering on a young, skeptical magic savant and a sleight of hand artist whose prestidigitation is mistaken for Gesture™ magic, the newest keynote speech brainchild of this universe’s magic Steve Jobs stand-in. The introduction of the stage magician could have some interesting implications, so I’m interested to see where this one goes.
Brian K. Vaughan
Do I even need to talk about this? It’s Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples doing a space opera. It’s got moon dudes with horns, planet people with wings, monkey repairmen, oversexed TV-headed robots, freelance bounty hunters with badass capes, cats that can tell when you’re lying, and probably a lot more we haven’t even seen yet, like rocketships growing on trees. In one issue Vaughan and Staples created an immense science fiction world that already has my full attention. I could tell you how great the art and writing are but if you’re familiar with this creative team you already know: this right here is the shit. If you missed the first issue, pick it up before your inevitable downward spiral of shame and regret begins.
Adventure Time #3
If you’re already a fan of Adventure Time and you’re reading this column, then you’ve probably already read the first two issues and this book is at the top of your pull list, bolded, italicized, and underlined. If you’re not a fan of Adventure Time and you’re reading this column, go watch Adventure Time, come back, and re-read the sentence before this one. Tell me I’m wrong. Boom! Studios has made a great niche for itself with its stable of licensed tie-in comics, but this is the first one I’ve actually read. Unsurprisingly, given the source material and the creative team, it’s fantastic. If you’re the type of comics reader who enjoys the neon grotesquerie of Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit or the work of Matt Furie, dial back your Maturity Meter™ a little bit and pick this one up. It’s got some of the same unseemliness bubbling under the surface, complete with all the weirdness right on top in full view for the reader. It’s fun and innocent, but it’s got great style and a superb since of humor.
Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine
You didn’t think I had forgotten the anime, right? Lupin III returns this spring with his first TV series in 27 years. The Woman Called Fujiko Mine will highlight the first encounter between Lupin and Fujiko as well as delve into their personal relationships. The crew has stated that their aim is something a little more in line with Monkey Punch’s original Lupin III manga, which means this series is going to be a lot more adult than what you might be accustomed to if you watched Lupin on Adult Swim or you’re a big Castle of Cagliostro fan. Takeshi Koike, whose work will be familiar to you if you’ve seen the recent hit Redline, is in charge of animation direction and character design, and it shows. The whole first episode was sleek, sensual, and completely over-the-top. Now, I will forewarn that the first episode contained a whole lot of boobies, so maybe don’t watch this one in the student union or in your cubicle at work, but the nudity is a little more tastefully done than most fanservice you’ll find in anime, and is at least appropriate given the character and theme of the work. The first episode aired in Japan on April 4th, but Funimation’s online simulcast begins soon. Soon as in, the website says “Spring” but they better start this week or I’m going to feel very foolish.