Thee Comic Column #136: Rick Remender’s Year of Creator-Owned Comics

DeadlyClass_12Recently I fell behind in my comics. Due to extenuating personal circumstances I found myself repeatedly unable to get into the shop and pick up my pull. This lasted for a while – almost two agonizing months to be specific! Near the end it became a self-perpetuating problem, as week after week I realized that the amount of cash I was going to need to empty my box at Manhattan Beach’s amazing Comic Bug was growing into a monster. Finally I found myself with a spare $100 bill (how often does that happen?) and I walked in and traded that sucker – or $97 of it – for everything I had missed since the beginning of June. As you might imagine, it’s taking me all the spare time in a busy weekend to put a dent in this pile. This was especially true when, in the backs of both the latest issues of Deadly Class and Black Science, writer Rick Remender made with the best comic-related news imaginable: He is taking a break from writing at Marvel Comics and spending the next year focusing on his creator-owned series.

Thee Comic Column #131: Southern Cross

So CrossLast week at the shop I found issue #3 of Becky Cloonan, Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge’s Southern Cross. Reading this issue was a lot like my experience reading issue #5 of Southern Bastards in that this is the issue that sealed the deal and made me a hardcore fan of a new monthly book that I was initially skeptical of. Southern Cross is a brilliant Sci Fi mystery/ghost story (maybe?); I picked issue #1 up without knowing anything about it and really dug it. That said, I dawdled a bit before buying issue #2. my skepticism didn’t have anything to do with the book itself, but the fact that I’ve really been trying to watch what I spend on comics lately as it’s in danger of getting ridiculous again and that’s making me a little gunshy on adding new series. Then I remembered what I should be doing to control my spending at the shop is NOT giving in to those Marvel books I’ve tried to swear off several times now – mostly succeeding but not always. Not paying $3-4.99 a book for a bunch of interconnected franchise stories, no matter how good they might be at times, will free up enough money for me to painlessly indulge in all the indie/creator-owned stuff I can. Also, Elephantmen creator Richard Starkings frequents the same comic shop I do – my beloved Comic Bug –  and he spoke very highly of the second issue of Southern Cross so lucky for me, I found I couldn’t resist.

Thee Comic Column #129: Horror Fans – Read Wytches NOW!

WytchesI first wrote about Scott Snyder and Jock’s series Wytches when issue #1 came out back around October of last year. I liked the book, primarily because, much like Snyder’s other horror series Severed a few years ago, Wytches feels like an old school horror flick. Something about the way Mr. Snyder approaches evoking dread in his ‘viewers’ reminds me of the first horror films I fell in love with as a kid. This was back in the 80s, usually on Chicago’s WGN channel 9 where the nightly movie was often an edited version of then-recent horror films. I fell in love with John Carpenter’s Prince of Darkness, The Thing and Halloween this way (the tv version of the latter, which contained those extra scenes that were so hard to come by except on tv for years), as well as Adrian Lynne’s Jacob’s Ladder, Wes Craven’s The Serpent and the Rainbow and the King-penned/Romero-directed classic Creepshow. At that time, even on television there was always something that felt remotely dangerous about these movies when seeing them for the first time, as if the subject matter was somehow a reflection of all the things my nine year old mind didn’t know about the world: why did Uncle Frank die? Monsters. What’s that weird noise that’s woken me up the last couple of nights in the rain? Evil, pure and simple, creeping around the outside of the house, looking for a way in. I’m three decades plus past that uninitiated age but this kind of foundation-shaking is still the mark of a good horror film, and it’s something that is really only accomplished experiencing a story for the first time when alone or with a like-minded person. The same thing can be said of books to a degree, only books can’t be read in one sitting and thus the experience is considerably diluted compared to movies or, yes, comics.

Thee Comic Column #124: TMNT #44 SPOILERS

TMNT-44_Cover-AFirst, I cannot say this enough: if you follow the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, or have ANY plans/desire to read it DO NOT read any further into this post. My intention here is to talk directly and without restraint about the events of issue #44 of the series and where I believe it will go from here based on having read the Turtles – in one form or another – for over twenty years now.

Fair warning? I’d say so.

<<<SPOILER COUNTRY YONDER>>>

Thee Comic Column #122: Big Man Plans

BigManPlans-cov-01_web02A few months ago on Drinking with Comics my co-host Mike Wellman became absolutely aghast when he learned I had never read Eric Powell’s The Goon. Admittedly, since starting the show there have been quite a few books that I haven’t read that Mike has trouble understanding: Hellboy, Elephantmen (remedied now) and The Goon were big sticking points right off the bat. My defense is what it always is – you can’t read everything. There’s plenty of stuff we overlap on and probably an equal amount he’s not read that I feel is essential. It takes work to keep up, and in the interest of trying to read everything good sometimes you need a friend to point you in a particular direction you may have missed. So it was in that spirit after the shoot that night that I took Mike’s advice on where to begin The Goon and picked up the second volume of the trades.

Thee Comic Column #106: Birthright

Birthright-01-VAR_Alright, I’m currently traveling so this will be a short one cribbed in airports and cafes while I make my way home to Chicago. That said, I’ve found yet another new comic I’m really digging and that is what this column is for – to spread the word.

Thee Comic Column #102: Black Science Returns

BlackScience7coverUnbelievable that I have not yet addressed this book in these pages, especially since Rick Remender has grown to be pretty much my favorite non-Grant Morrison writer over the last two years. All his books – whether for Marvel or his creator-owned stuff Image is currently putting out by the truckload (Yay!) – are fantastic; Mr. Remender treats iconic, cannon characters like Wolverine, Rogue, Janet Pym and Thor with not only the utmost respect but also the restraint of a Claremont; the cash cows don’t need to be the focal point of every story in a team book. He also has that je ne sais quoi that Morrison has, the one that enables him to construct fresh and intriguing approaches to otherwise vapid characters. He’s done this numerous times, whether it’s using X23 and the *ahem* female Ghostrider from a few years ago – quite effectively I might add – in a Venom storyline; making Wonderman a part of the Uncanny Avengers Unity squad or resurrecting that godawful Onslaught visage from one of the worst late 90s X-Men storylines for the upcoming AXIS event, Rick Remender has proven he has the chops to deconstruct possibly any character, examine what makes them tick (or not tick) and then put them back together inside the multi-faceted embrace of a fantastic story, ready to do their part and help carry the weight of some of the most involved and epic storytelling to grace superhero books in decades. Conversely, when we look at the man’s creator-owned series we find that there are no weak links, and it’s here that RR doesn’t have to challenge himself to update or bolster weak characters. No, in Deadly Class, Low and Black Science Mr. Remender just has to tell an outstanding story. And frankly, that is exactly what he does. Every time. Especially in Black Science.

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