Well another major US convention comes and goes, and I’m still on this little island just next to mainland Europe, not at said convention. Honestly, I guess the title is a little misleading since even though I’d love to be there, I’m quite used to the idea of not being. Still, we’re around five weeks away from Thought Bubble in Leeds which I was already excited enough for, but a couple of days ago I sorted out a pre-show commission with Bengal that I am hugely excited about. The show was already looking good but man, this has massively boosted my excitement.
Another good week of comics this week too, much heavier week than last week especially with the addition of Bitch Planet volume 1 to the pull list. More on that later in the week though.
Lots of superhero books again this week, nothing on the indie front however but my pick of the week I wouldn’t actually call it a superhero book necessarily. Two drops from Marvel’s All-New All-Different initiative and while both were good, my overall pick of the week goes to:
Doctor Strange #1 from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo! This was a book I dropped on my pull list pretty much on good faith of friends who were fans of Strange and the fact that I loved Jason Aaron’s run on Thor God of Thunder and the follow up before Secret Wars, Thor. Turns out, this series has a serious amount of promise. So long as it carries on with this trajectory and there’s not some irritating creative team change or, worse, relaunch then I’ll be sticking with this for the long run. The first issue manages to set up a potential long term story arc, an immediate hook and sets Stephen Strange up as human, just like you and me, but extraordinary at the same time. Sorcerer Supreme, a man with a huge amount of power and the will to do good, but feeling the weight of all that responsibility. Within that you have the masterful work of a writer who can throw all of this together with a pinch of humour, bringing levity during sometimes unexpected moments without weighing the book down in cheesy lines and jokes.
To top it off, the art team of Chris Bachalo on pencils and colours and Tim Townsend, Al Vey and Mark Irwin on inks have made this a really beautiful book. It takes all sorts of visual twists and turns, going from an extra dimensional fight, to a casual walk down the street where Strange can see all of this crazy shit no one else can see, to a grubby little bar for magicians where Strange comes across such characters as Doctor Voodoo and The Scarlet Witch. It might be a little off-putting to some due to the $4.99 price of entry but honestly, it’s well worth it.
I’ve been pushing myself more and more recently to start buying and reading more indie titles, not just the stuff coming from Image but other publishers too, small press and webcomics. It’s been remarkably enlightening in fact, I’ve realised over the last few months that my tastes in comics and art are far more diverse than I originally thought. It’s nice, being able to look at so many more books than I did before, not judging something as “not to my taste” without actually picking it up and even flicking through it first. A perfect example of this was picking up book 1 of Hinges from Meredith McClaren, so struck by her wonderful art I ended up buying Heart in a Box, published by Dark Horse. Written by Kelly Thompson and with art from McClaren, it tells a story so gripping and heart warming nothing could avert my attention until I’d finished it. Not a book I would have picked up six months to a year ago, but here I am thoroughly recommending it to anyone that likes good comics.
But, sometimes, a good superhero story can’t be beaten. My pick of the week this week is Justice League #44, Chapter Four of the Darkseid War. With Geoff Johns spinning what is quite possibly his best story to date, Jason Fabok providing absolutely art and all perfectly complimented by Brad Anderson’s colours, the latest issue seriously ramps up the tension and action to breaking point, with the final act payoff being so huge I had to read the book twice today to properly take everything in. I’m a huge fan of Geoff Johns, I loved his run on Teen Titans but in particular it was his work on Green Lantern that really pulled me in. Before Flashpoint he had two major events and one smaller one, Sinestro Corps War, Blackest Night and War of the Green Lanterns respectively, all of which were fantastic reads and drew from decades of DC mythology. Darkseid war is taking things to a whole new level, it feels like everything Johns has done since Flashpoint has been leading right up to this moment, this entire story line is a huge payoff for the last four years of DC.
Honestly, we as DC fans have been through some solid books and a whole lot of garbage mixed in for those four years, and even through all the crap we’ve endured this Justice League story, this Darkseid War, all feels totally worth it. Jason Fabok is proving himself to be an upper echelon artist not just at DC, but in the entire comics industry. He manages to keep pages busy with action and characters clear and easy to follow, the level of detail is frankly incredible and he’s drawing Wonder Woman better than anyone else at DC right now. With Brad Anderson on colours, who perfectly compliments the mood and action of each panel with expertly chosen palettes further cements my opinion that this is an A* book put out by an A* team.