This is a huge week for me. I’m probably most enamored of Punks #1 by Kody Chamberlain (Sweets) and Joshua Hale Fialkov (The Bunker, The Life After). This is a deadly team, as both writers are great at taking familiar genre tropes and spinning them in fascinating ways, often clanging them up against other genres, whether it’s NOLA-based crime noir, post-apocalyptic mystery, or purgatory cum buddy team-up. Punks is a decade-old web-comic come to print with new stories featuring the enigmatic Dog, Skull, Fist, and that scamp Abe Lincoln.
Chamberlain’s art in Punks has a crafty way of capturing the throwback analog process and a crackling ransom note aesthetic in the digital age. I’ve read an advance of the issue and it felt like what would happen if Beavis & Butthead pennedThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I don’t mean that as a pejorative either. Amid the sight gags and irreverence, I found it quirky, raucous, and laced with some cutting social observations. It’s nice to see Image Comics having a sort of Comedy Renaissance with Tom Neely’s The Humans, Ryan Browne’s God Hates Astronauts, and Punks.
Astro City #16 also hits the shelves, an always enjoyable series at the hands of industry veterans Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson, which has a way of exploring the peripheral edges of a shared universe concept and making those elements the core focus. There’s the inimitable Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #3 from Tom Scioli and John Barber, which is basically taking a nostalgic view of my Gen X childhood and refracting it through an indie comics lens. I’m also into Tales of Honor #5, which wraps the first arc, and is a surprisingly rich sci-fi series adapted by Matt Hawkins and Sang Il-Jeong, from the Honor Harrington novels written by David Weber. It sort of fills the hole left in the wake of things like BSG and the short-lived comic book series The Red Star.
If you want to lean harder into sci-fi, you’ve got a trio of great books in Black Science #9 by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, and (my favorite colorist working today) Dean White. Black Science has always read like a rejected FF pitch that was reworked into a more intense adventure of consequence, with cerebral elements examining the relationship between parents and children, a recurring theme in all of Remender’s work.
I recommend Winterworld #3 by Chuck Dixon and artist Butch Guice, stepping in for the late great Jorge Zaffino. It’s sci-fi survival featuring post-apocalyptic drifters, in the vein of Whiteout meets Mad Max. I was very impressed by the first issue, so I’m also excited to see where Coppherhead #2 goes, a dirty, lived-in, sci-fi Western from Jay Faerber and Scott Godlewski, which strikes a nice balance between action and gravitas. I’ve basically told customers down at the LCS, “take your favorite Western and set it on Tatooine with heaps of social tension.”
There’s also Sex Criminals #8, a book which I can’t really pimp, you’re either already on board or you’re not interested. I’m curious to see if Wytches #1 by Scott Snyder and Jock can live up to the hype. Snyder is responsible for one of DC’s only real tentpole books in Batman, but I’ve always enjoyed his creator-owned work, whether it’s the Americana pervading American Vampire or the cinematic spectacle of The Wake, so I’ll give it a go.
On the GN front, we have Battling Boy: The Rise of Aurora West, the next installment of Paul Pope’s project, this time co-written by J.T. Petty, with art by David Rubin (which feels a little old hat now since I picked up an Advance Reader’s Edition back at SDCC in July), but nevertheless Rubin does his best Pope impersonation and Aurora herself was one of the most promising elements of the first volume. Lastly, we have the CBLDF Liberty Annual 2014, an organization truly worth supporting, this time featuring shorts by Jonathan Hickman, Declan Shalvey, Jordie Bellaire, and Brian Wood, among others in the 48-page anthology.