Comics Roundup #5

Hello!

 

March has been a month of new titles for me, and by far the most exciting is the one not yet released: all of the good vibes I’ve funneled into the void have paid off, and my absolute favorite writer, Kelly Thompson, will be making Nancy Drew! This is absolutely the comic of my dreams and I cannot imagine a better team–Jenn St-Onge, whose work on Jem & The Misfits is absolutely awesome, will be doing the art! I get a little misty-eyed when I think about this project for more than a moment; I grew up obsessed with Nancy, and while I am absolutely more of a George and recognize that about myself now, I spent a great deal of time dreaming of one day owning a blue 60’s Mustang convertible (a dream I’ve yet to give up!). I will probably cry when I see this in print, and the grouchy Newbury Comics guy who already finds my enthusiasm annoying will undoubtedly have fodder for life.

 

Anyway! Onward!

Shiny and New

Image result for backstagers vol 2 Image result for eternity girl #1 

We lost power because of the big storm from Tuesday afternoon until Wednesday night, so we accidentally found ourselves wandering the mall on New Comic Book Day. I hovered by the “New” display at the comic book store for longer than I really should have, but I scored the last copy of Eternity Girl #1, so it was totally worth it. Though I’ve been meaning to, I hadn’t yet read a title from Young Animal, and this felt like a great introduction. This book does a great job with themes of alienation and trauma and I can’t wait to see what’s next.

Sillier but still wonderful: The Backstagers vol. 2 and Vampironica #1, the latter of which I scored along with Eternity Girl. It’s a very quick read, but I absolutely cannot wait for more. I’m totally obsessed with the entire Archie Horror imprint; there’s something completely and totally wonderful about a new generation of creators taking these classic characters from my childhood and just having loads of fun with them. I talk more about this later in the post! The Backstagers is a series I like very much but also find a little conceptually weak. I will keep reading, but I would love less focus on the mystical plot elements and more on characterization.

 

Standalones

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Finally, after months and months of good intentions, I read my first Squirrel Girl title, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl Beats Up The Marvel Universe! I loved this book very much, and it’s a great one even if you don’t know anything about Squirrel Girl. Unlike other supposedly “standalone” superhero titles that require a lot of background knowledge, this  one really does meet you wherever you are. I also read My Favorite Thing is Monsters by Emil Ferris, the book that took over the cultural conversation around graphic narratives last year. It’s a gorgeous, meticulous book, but of course it’s extremely heavy and I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone for that reason. I though it was completely gorgeous, though.

Friends New and Old

Image result for hawkeye vol 2 masks Image result for hi fi fight club Image result for spider gwen #1 Image result for chilling sabrina vol 1

I have been moving very slowly through Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye run and have only just read Hawkeye vol. 2. As predicted, I am still an enormous fan of Kate Bishop and especially loved the moments with Laura and Gabby from All-New Wolverine, a series I definitely want to read (and which I am sad to see end). I am so enamored with Thompson’s Hawkeye; I have read a lot of superhero comics that made me feel alienated, but this Hawkeye run was never like that.  Hi-Fi Fight Club #1 (recently renamed Heavy Vinyl) is a perfectly simple, gloriously fun ode to 90’s girl culture, and I can’t wait to read the full arc. This is one I’d absolutely recommend to middle and high school readers. I found Spider-Gwen #1 underwhelming, mostly because it’s one of those aforementioned superhero stories that requires a lot of setup from previous issues, but I am a big Gwen Stacy fan and may give it another shot.

Finally, a huge shoutout to one of my new creative heroes, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, whose vision for the Archieverse continues to shine. His Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is one of the best books I’ve read this year. Robert Hack’s illustrations perfectly harken back to creepy Dick and Jane-style children’s book art from the 50’s and 60’s. Unlike Vampironica, which is pure fun, Sabrina is deceptively complex, and it doesn’t poke fun at its source material so much as enhance it. I could talk about this book forever. I’m in love.

That’s all for this week! More in a few!

Comics Roundup #3: Wickedness, Divinity

Welcome to mid-February, aka The Worst Month Ever…

…usually! For me, it’s been a lovely (and weirdly warm) couple of weeks filled with awesome comics.

First off, in book news: I’m SO excited that Melanie Gillman’s As the Crow Flies was named a Stonewall Honor Book at yesterday’s ALA Youth Media Awards. It’s awesome to see small press publications winning mainstream awards, and C. Spike Trotman & co. deserve a ton of credit for the work they do. Congrats to all!

Alright, let’s dive in to my current reads!

Image result for wicked and divine vol 1Image result for wicked and divine vol 2 Image result for wicked and divine vol 3 Image result for wicked and divine vol 4 Image result for wicked and divine vol 5 Image result for wicked and divine vol 6

I eschewed all of my actual goals for this month once I started reading The Wicked + The Divine. Y’all, I was completely hooked. There are points throughout the series where I felt like I had almost no clue what was happening, but it was chaotic in an exciting, diverse, and hilarious way. It’s charming without being excessive, complicated without being boring, and cutting-edge without being (too) smug. I LOVE this book. So excited for when it eventually resumes.

Image result for archie vol 2 Image result for flintstones vol 1 Image result for batgirl vol 2 Image result for slam vol 1

The other volumes I read this month are a mish-mash of things I’ve been meaning to read. I’m still loving the Archie comics, and trying to grow less surprised about how much I love them. I read an awesome piece about how this new, edgy Archie brand came to be, and I just think every day about how brilliant Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa is. In related vintage-turned-edgy news, The Flintstones has been getting a ton of press lately for being…weirdly good. After reading, I get it! It examines the elements of the original TV series we took for granted as cartoon silliness (the animals-as-appliances thing, for one) and extrapolates all of it into a surprisingly complex story with funny moments as well as serious ones. I don’t necessarily think I need to read more of this one, but this first book was interesting!

Moving on to girl power: I found Batgirl vol. 2 forgettable, and I see why this series fell short of most people’s expectations. Sitting here now, I’d have to flip through the book again to remember a single plot point. Oh, wait! There is one: her ex is back in town, and he’s an absolute archetype of the dashing-but-douchey leading man. No thanks! I also found Slam! to be overly…straight. My girlfriend described it as “The Whip It of graphic novels.” What roller derby team is made up entirely of straight girls (or at least girls who don’t talk about their significant others). It was totally distratcing despite the beautiful illustrations and sweet story.

That’s it for me so far! May I catch up to my goals in the second half of the month.

 

Comics Roundup #2: A Slow Start

Hello! Welcome to the end of January!

It feels like forever since my last roundup, but that’s probably because this has felt like the longest month of any year, ever. Something about the snow, the state of politics, and the lack of good new TV shows really slowed down time these last few weeks. Also slow? My progress toward my comic book goals. But here’s what I’ve read!

Image result for black panther vol 1 Image result for batgirl of burnside vol 1 cover Image result for ms marvel hardcover Image result for america vol 1

One thing I struggled with this time around is my nonexistent foundational knowledge of comic books. While Batgirl vol. 1  and Ms. Marvel vol. 1 were blessedly easy to follow for the uninitiated, Black Panther  was almost unreadable and America vol. 1 was a challenge. In general, I find anything related to the Young Avengers really difficult to understand, with the notable exception of Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye, which we all know I adore. I have no idea why that is except that they’re perhaps intended for folks more familiar with the Marvel universe. I am glad that this run of Black Panther exists and I’m so sad that they cancelled it, I don’t think I’ll be reading more. America I might give another shot, simply because I think America Chavez is such an awesome character and I think Gabby Rivera does a great job with her, regardless of the confusion of the plot. While some say that America and Ms. Marvel are both good for newcomers, I have to say the latter is a MUCH better choice. Ms. Marvel was always intended for those of us who haven’t read too many comics before. It’s an absolutely wonderful story with awesome illustrators, and I can’t wait to read more of it.

Now, for Batgirl. I read this one because I am a huge Hope Larson fan, and I wanted to read the earlier issues of Batgirl in order to have some background knowledge for Larson’s run. I enjoyed it, but I read some reviews afterward that mocked the ditzy, teen-soapiness of it all. I think that’s a crotchety and borderline-sexist assessment, but there were certainly kitschy parts to this one. I didn’t mind it and I intend to read the whole thing, but be forewarned that this is a common opinion among readers.

Now, for February: I’ve definitely gone overboard on my purchases and hold requests lately, so I want to work through the backlog of things I’ve accumulated in my office and my house. Here’s what I have on deck:

Boom! Studios: Slam! vol. 1, Lumberjanes: To The Max! vol. 2, Mech Cadet Yu #1, Heavy Vinyl #1-5, Goldie Vance vol. 2

Marvel: Runaways vol. 5, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl vols. 1 & 2, Spider-Gwen #1, Hawkeye (Matt Fraction) vol. 1, Hawkeye (Kelly Thompson) vol. 2

DC: The Flintstones vol. 1, Batgirl vols. 2 & 3, 

Archie Comics: Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #1, Afterlife With Archie vol. 1, Archie vol. 2

Dark Horse: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season 8 vol. 1

Image: The Wicked + The Divine vol. 1, 

Other: SpinningGarbage Night, Strong Female Protagonist

That feels like a long list, but it’s probably about as much as I read this month! I’m also working on the Read Harder Challenge this year, so an update about that will be forthcoming! Stay warm, y’all.

Comics Roundup #1: Heroes, Campers, and College Kids

Hello, and welcome to my first-ever roundup of all the comics and graphic novels I’ve been reading this month.

I know it’s only January 15th, but I was so excited to start reading comics that I’ve read 15 different titles already. One a day! I’m going to try to break them up into some semblance of categories in order to write about them, so here goes (sorry about the probably formatting issues in advance):

The Heroes

  

As someone who’s read very few comics, I wanted to make sure i got a little bit of everything during my first pass. I’d started Runaways when the TV show came out, so I was already 3 volumes in. I read vol. 4, which came two years after the end of vol. 3 and marks a pretty distinct departure from the original run. I actually think the new direction works well, and I’m excited to finish it and read the new Rainbow Rowell reboot. That’s hopefully a goal for February!

I also decided to try Young Avengers for a similar-but-different type of reading experience. I found that one to be a little to enmeshed in the world of Marvel, so I didn’t like it nearly as much. My favorites, however, were definitely the first issue of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: Pink and Hawkeye vol. 1,  which I read because I’ve become a big fan of Kelly Thompson on Twitter and wanted to read some of her stuff. Thus far, she might be my favorite creator in the industry, right up there with Sarah Stern, the colorist MMPR:P. Together, they made me realize that superhero comics can be flashy, silly, feminist fun without leaning too heavily on dark, muddy colors and brooding, “damaged” heroines. I think I might only want to read about badass heroes named Kim for the rest of time. Can we make that happen?

The Regular Kids

The first thing I read when I began this comics challenge was my beloved hardcover Lumberjanes: To the Max Edition vol. 1. I’m ashamed to say it, but I’ve had this book for over a year and didn’t get around to reading it until this month. The kids at work love it–I can barely keep it on the shelves–and I’ve loved the work of all of the creators involved, but I just never got around to it. Boy, thank goodness I finally made time! This book is lovely and fills my heart with joy and makes me so excited for all the kids who get to grow up with it. I’m so glad to live in a world where Lumberjanes exists. The same goes for the other camping book I read, As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman. This was an awesome and under-appreciated story of a queer Black camper coming to terms with her faith and her identity at a Christian summer camp. Definitely recommended on the strength of the story alone, but the art is also totally lovely and certainly enhances the writing.

I don’t have much to say about Giant Days vol. 2 except that I think I liked vol. 1 better, but I’ll certainly keep reading it and I’m certain I will keep enjoying it. Archie vol. 1 I totally loved, and not just because I’ve gotten into Riverdale recently. I’ve been a huge fan of the Archie comics since I was a little kid begging my mom for the latest Betty & Veronica in line at the grocery store. I think the reboot brings a necessary update without diminishing the joy of the original material. Archie & co. feel real without being dragged down by reality, if that makes sense. I was surprised by how much I liked it!

The Misfits

This category is called Misfits mainly because I couldn’t figure out where else they might all go, but I guess it also describes the characters in a lot of ways. Misfit City vol. 1, most obviously, fits into that category, given that it’s about a bunch of girls getting into trouble and annoying their neighbors looking for treasure and intrigue. I really loved that one, and I can’t wait for more issues. Similarly, Goldie Vance vol. 1 totally blew me away, which was partly because I started it without any idea what it was about. It’s always lovely to open a mysterious new book and have lots of cool lady characters, LGBT+ representation, and an interesting mystery. Welcome Back vol. 1 had all of that, too, but I found it a lot less compelling, probably because the frantic pace and constantly changing perspective made reading more of a chore than a joy. It was violent, too, which was not a strike against it exactly, but certainly felt jarring after reading so many feel-good BOOM! Studios titles in a row. My mistake, I guess! I think I’ll keep reading this one, even though it did trip me up a bit. Never a bad thing to stay on one’s toes! House of Women was another dark, confusing one, but I liked it because it was genuinely very creepy in a beautiful, stark sort of way. I definitely didn’t understand it, but that was O.K. with me.

The Kid Stuff

As a children’s librarian, I naturally read a lot of books for kids. Some are certainly better than others, and graphic novels are no different. Baba Yaga’s Assistant certainly falls on the Good side for me. The story was lovely and simple, but the incredible art by Emily Carroll brought a level of terror and suspense to the page that I don’t think anyone else could pull off in a children’s book. Her work leaves me spellbound every time. Can Emily Carroll, Kelly Thompson, and Sarah Stern become a super-team and make something together, please? I would honestly sell my soul for that.

Unfortunately, Mighty Jack and The Witch Boy left me dissatisfied, albeit for different reasons. Mighty Jack muddles through a broad interpretation of Jack and the Beanstalk with a cast of unlikeable, super-white characters. While the inclusion of a main character with autism was great, it didn’t make up for the bland negativity that radiated throughout the rest of the text. My main thought while reading was “We can do better than this for kids.” The Witch Boy, while diverse in its casting and creative in its worldbuilding, relied on too many tired tropes about gender for me. I know that was the point of it in a lot of ways, but the story felt tired and overwrought. It felt very much like Molly Ostertag was having an argument with a straw man about gender for 100 pages. Her work is beautiful, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of it in the future. This one just didn’t do it for me.

Wow, I don’t like ending on a negative note, so here are some goals for the rest of the month!

  • I very much want to read the new Black Panther series, or at least the first volume, before the movie comes out in February.
  • I’d also like to finish  Runaways (though I’m trying not to rush through it) and catch up to the current issue of LumberjanesHawkeye, and Archie.
  • I want to start some new series, mainly Spider-Gwen, Motor Crush, and Heavy Vinyl.
  • I also have some stand-alone books I want to read, like 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, Spinning, and the print edition of Strong Female Protagonist.