It’s another strong week, especially on the Creator Owned Comics front, so let’s get right to this week’s picks! I’m most looking forward to Lazarus #12 by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark. If you pushed me to answer, I’d probably say that this was the single best book coming out from Image Comics at the moment. It’s certainly high praise, but when you look at the gravitas of the aesthetics and the thematic extrapolations about collective social fears surrounding class distinction, resource allocation, and the wealth divide in this country that Rucka is systematically examining, then you’ll start to understand my position. It’s a phenomenal near-future world-build, full of intensity, and absolutely relevant. This arc in particular has been grand, introducing the Lazarus of yet another family, and building toward the titular “Conclave” sit-down meeting that’s equal parts organized crime commission and G8 style summit.
Image Comics also has Sheltered #12 out from Ed Brisson, Johnnie Christmas, and Shari Chankhamma, marking just three issues left. For my money, this is an all-star creative team, with Brisson totally grasping the inherent drama of closed-room interpersonal dynamics, Christmas’ lightning crisp art crackling with sharp angles and forced perspective, and Chankhamma’s sensual colors always delivering the right emotional content. She’s definitely part of the “New Wave” of colorists that I love, with folks like Dean White, Jordie Bellaire, and Owen Gieni. The final issue of Mark Millar’s mini-series is out, with Starlight #6 hitting the stands. I’m generally not a Millar fan, but the pure adrenaline rush and memorable characters really delivered, while Goran Parlov’s art is a thing of deceptively simple beauty. I’ll also check out The Wicked + The Divine #5 from Phonogram alum Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. The series is a bit like Saga or Sex Criminals for me, in that I think it gets slightly more praise than it actually deserves, but I still can’t resist the confectionary treat of McKelvie’s art style.
Not to be outdone, Oni Press is offering Letter 44 #11 by Charles Soule and Alberto Alburquerque, along with Stumptown Vol. 3 #2 with the team of Greg Rucka and Justin Greenwood. The former being the compelling premise of The West Wing meets Independence Day, rife with Obama and W analogues that shed new light on what’s really going on behind the scenes, while the latter is Rucka’s ongoing series of mini-series surrounding Portland based Private Investigator Dex Parios. Stumptown is as much about her personal struggles, social life, and psychological motivations as it is centered on any type of procedural thriller, and for that it’s a win. It seems like the boys caught a little flak for the slow burn re-immersion of the first issue, but at this point I’m basically a Rucka loyalist since he wrote my beloved Queen & Country, and while Greenwood’s style is markedly different from what preceded it, he’s definitely an emerging talent whose career arc continues to be noteworthy.
On the collected edition front, I have two great picks for you. First up is Wasteland: The Apocalyptic Edition Volume 04. This oversized velvety hardcover collects issues 40-52 of the Oni Press series from Antony Johnston, Chris Mitten, Justin Greenwood, Russel Roehling, et al. I believe this is the penultimate edition, with just one left to collect the final issues of the series, which is planned to wrap up soon at #60. It’s the definitive format you’ll want to own this grand epic in. Marvel Comics also has a new printing of the Alias Omnibus Hardcover by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos. For me, this is a seminal work, a contender for Bendis’ best ever, one that heavily favored the personality fugue and character deconstruction of Jessica Jones over silly ol’ straight-up superheroics, and was a forerunner to the modern street-level slice-of-life solo projects like Hawkeye, Iron Fist, Black Widow, Winter Soldier, Moon Knight, etc. that Marvel is now so fond of. It collects all 28 issues of the regular series, plus a peripheral What If…?installment. I also want to go on record as saying that Jessica Chastain is the only choice for playing Jessica Jones in any sort of TV or film adaptation. Your Argument Is Invalid.