Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin’s weekly review roundup. By total coincidence and not at all planned out, we’re taking a look at a trio of second issues from last week.
(w) Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol (a) Jeff Stokely (c) Tamra Bonvillain
Ludocrats certainly lives up to its namesake, as it is off-the-walls ludicrous. Gillen and Rossignol’s story isn’t so much a narrative as it is a stream-of-conscious fever dream put to paper. There is a general, overarching conflict to the “story,” but there never is a true sense of stakes or consequences. Ludocrats instead is a collection of weird concepts unified by its art. To describe what happens would be a futile exercise, as this is a book that needs to be experienced. As crazy as Gillen and Rossignol’s concepts are, it’s the art by Jeff Stokely and Tamra Bonvillain that truly impresses. Their ability to take whatever form a script they receive and translate it into bizarre, wacky, and hilarious images is phenomenal.
Psychodrama Illustrated #2
(w/a) Gilbert Hernandez
Spinning out of the beloved Love & Rockets, Gilbert Hernandez’s latest efforts follow the careers of two B-movie starlets, one in the dawn of her career and the other in the twilight. Whereas the first issue established who these women are, this second issue largely takes place within a film in which they co-star as a mother-daughter tandem. Hernandez wonderfully captures the nature and flourishes of exploitative, grindhouse cinema while maintaining his trademark artistic aesthetic. While initially jarring, especially when coming off of the first issue, the reader is able to quickly settle into this new world and invest in the relationship of Fritz and Killer’s characters. Psychodrama Illustrated #2 offers up the most unique reading experience of the week.
Strange Adventures #2
DC Comics | Black Label
(w) Tom King (a) Mitch Gerads, Evan “Doc” Shaner
The mystery of what really happened to Adam Strange’s daughter gets a whole lot more interesting, with Batman and Mister Terrific – two of DC’s smartest characters – on the case. As alluded to in last week’s 280 Character Reviews, writer Tom King spends most of this issue with Mister Terrific rather than Adam Strange, which is a lost opportunity. Strange is such a charismatic person, making him much different from the usual Tom King protagonists. Conversely, Mister Terrific is rather stiff, frequently testing his knowledge throughout the issue to give readers that familiar, and frankly tiring, Tom King cadence.
Where the book does not disappoint is the art. Mitch Gerads and Doc Shaner are two of the best artists in DC’s stable, and they back that reputation up here. Shaner’s work in particular is stunning, and it’d be great to see him get more regular interior work. His linework, colors, and character rendering evokes the same classic superhero purity that could be found in the work of the late, great Darwyn Cooke. Meanwhile, Gerads’ work adds a level of psychological gravitas to the mystery. In conjunction, these two alone make Strange Adventures #2 worth checking out.