New Comic Book Day highlights some of the best books released this week.
Welcome one and all to another fantasical week of new comics. Each and every Wednesday, I suffer through reading piles and piles of comics that I willingly buy because of my hyper addiction to all things comics. Once I’ve slogged through all my new acquired preciouses, I select a handful of those books to write about and post here, for you, to help you find and decided which new indie and small press books may fit your comic reading life. I do this because I love you, and it most certainly isn’t because I have a serious problem and can’t, won’t, stop reading every comic I can get my hands on. With that, let’s get into this week’s books…
Written by: Bryan Lee O’Malley
Art By: Leslie Hung
Published: July 20, 2016 by Image Comics
So, there I was, ready to delve into O’Malley’s brand new book, Snotgirl. I mean, I loved, absolutely loved Scott Pilgrim, so you can imagine how thrilled I was to jump into this new book. I cracked the first page and was immediately hooked. Then came the next, and another, and before I knew it the end was quickly approaching. I’m going to stop here, yes before the end of the book, because I think it’s very important to paint a picture of how I felt up until this point in my reading experience. From the first page up until the page right before the last, I thought I knew what this book was about. I was enjoying it, things were light while also being somewhat dramatic, but heck, O’Malley is a great writer so that’s to be expected. What wasn’t expected is where this book took a turn…but we’ll get to that.
The main character is introduced, Lottie Person, a fashion blogger who has a great many problems, most of which are her crappy friends. She’s hyper self-conscious, feels alone, fake, and unwanted by those closest to her. She’s put on this facade of perfection for all her readers, an image of greatness thrust into the public domain. For everyone reading her blog, she has it all together, while in her mind, she’s a mess. She believes this is true because she has the worst allergy problem in all of history. There’s a reason why the book is called Snotgirl, and it’s mainly because when her allergies kick in, it’s Niagara falls level sinus drainage. All in all, I was just reading along, just digging this book and it’s tone. Then it happened…
As I finished the last page all I could think was, “What the flipping crap just happened?” Of course, as always there will be no spoilers, however, allow me to say that whatever I thought this book was about, everything changed on that last page. This book floored me in every good and grand way. It took such a hard spin at the end that I just sat there for a second, then flipped back a couple pages to reread it. I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss something, and you know what…I didn’t miss a thing. It took me a minute to be sure, and once I was I just put this issue down and smiled. This is a great comic. Based solely on this issue, I’m telling you to pick this book up. I don’t care if you like, or dislike, Scott Pilgrim, or anything else O’malley has done, this book is amazing all on its own. Just do yourself a favor, and watch out for that last page, it’s a twister.
Written By: Colin Lorimer
Art By: Colin Lorimer
Published: July 20, 2016 by Image Comics
Every once in a while I come across a book that does something special with storytelling. I love the way stories are told. Different writers using different methods and pacing to develop tone and feeling, building characters, and drawing the reader into their world, it’s all fantastic to me. If I’m being honest, comic books don’t typically stray from certain storytelling patterns. It’s not a bad thing because those patterns work, and really deliver great stories. Once in a while though, a book comes along that breaks away from the typical and delivers something new in a refreshing way. The Hunt did exactly that, and I couldn’t have been more pleased.
This book did such a great job of bringing the reader through this world that I absolutely knew I’d be writing about this book today. We’re following Orla, a young girl who believes she can see things others cannot. Her family has her on medication, the girls at school think she’s crazy, and we even learn that at one point in Orla’s childhood she went missing for a few days. I mention all of this because it tied everything together in such an impactful way when the big story reveal at the end hit. I audibly said, “Holy crap,” at the end of this book. That’s how impactful the build up of this book was to me. Through this first book, we aren’t sure what’s going on with Orla. We know something is up, but we can’t tell if she’s crazy or really seeing things. What really helps this story along, and why the end is so impactful, is how the art and story coalesced together to help build tension and drama, while developing the characters needed to deliver as this book did. Without strong, meaningful characters, this book would have fallen flat as it delivered it’s big punch. Yet, because the art style, coloring choices, panel layouts, story pacing, and story development all fall into place with each other within these pages, when you do hit that big moment at the end all you can do is blurt out, “Holy crap.”
Written By: Grant Morrison
Art By: Jeevan J. Kang
Published: July 20, 2016 by Graphic India
What would a NCBD post be without a sci-fi book making my list of books to read? I’m sure many of you are tired of hearing about my love of sci-fi, but honestly, I don’t know if there’s ever been a time in comics when this many enjoyable and great sci-fi books were being published. Sure, some could argue that the entire genre of superhero books are sci-fi, but really they’re lacking key elements to be classified that way, at least for me. Avatarex however, manages to capture that superhero vibe, while combining it with a mythos of gods and grandeur, all tied together in a lovely science fiction package that I really enjoyed.
The basic premise of this book is that earth has fallen into what I would describe as religious darkness. The book itself simply calls it darkness, but this book heavily plays on gods and religion, so I feel it’s important to point out the religious darkness aspect. In order to combat this darkness, a hero is awoken. A hero of perfection and might, one that can traverse the galaxy at a thought, or become that which flows at the microscopic level within the body. He is all powerful, created to battle darkness, yet, the beings who awaken him feel he is too proud. They chastise him to which he rebuttals, yet his makers deem his pride a threat in his ability to combat the darkness of earth. To humble this mighty hero the makers attach his immortality to a mortal human, meaning, if this human dies, our great hero dies along with him. At the moment of protest, our hero’s dwelling is attacked, and he thrust to earth. His attackers targeting both himself, and somehow, his mortal human half.
That’s the premise of the first issue, but what I haven’t mentioned yet is the wonderful play between a religious science fiction story, and superhero mythos. This immediately grabbed my attention as it felt larger than life, but intentionally so. I felt as though Morrison is building this mighty hero up beyond imagination, using Kang’s art to drive home this feeling of heroic grandeur, only to deliver this initial conflict and sort of dethrone our newly awoken hero. I’m super interested in the next issue because of what was developed in this book. The tone and feeling given here has tons of potential, and if you’re a Morrison fan, you know he likes to take his time to let his stories breathe. This isn’t going to be a super fast paced action book, but instead, rely heavily on character development and lore to ease the reader into the world. Based on this issue, definitely think this is going to develop into something extremely different and interesting, and I’m most certainly going to see what issue two has in store.
Written By: Jeff Lemire
Art By: Dean Ormston
Published: July 20, 2016 by Dark Horse Comics
I wasn’t really expecting anything great when I grabbed this book, I just knew I enjoy some of the older styled comics and artwork. One of the things I enjoy the most is when a publisher manages to mix in a touch of the Golden Age alongside something new and fresh. Black Hammer is exactly that, and frankly, it might be the best thing I’ve read this week. I don’t say that to put anything down, in fact it’s quite the contrary. This week is full of great books, so when I say this book stands out amongst all of those, it means this book brought something special.
What we have hear is an interesting twist on a plot that is somewhat familiar. Basically, we’re dealing with the movie The Incredibles, yes the Pixar/Disney movie, if it were made for adults instead of kids, and it had a mystery twist. Imagine a group of super-powered individuals who have given up being heroes, but add in the possibility that they’ve been forced to do so, possibly being trapped away from the world. When we start off this book we learn this group of heroes consisting of an ultra strong fighter type, an alien from mars with superpowers, a space cadet with his robotic best friend, a rather gothic looking witch lady, and a super-powered woman who is now trapped in the body of a nine year old girl, have all been living on a farm, together, for the last decade. None of these heroes seem to be happy about their living situation, although none of them appear to be struggling to escape. Honestly, it’s that very tension of knowing these people have superpowers, while also appearing to be miserable living together, but lack any effort to leave the situation that drove this book throughout. By the end of this issue we’re given a hint that these heroes have vanished from the world, for reasons unknown, but someone still believes they’re out there…somewhere.
In my opinion this is one of the strongest, and most intriguing books I’ve read recently. There was an almost docile tone and feel throughout, while simultaneously building a tension that felt ready to break at any moment between the characters. When you add in the mystery of this farm, and the fact that it appears they’re trapped, and another bit of information that I’ll leave out due to spoilers, what you end up with is one heck of a story that delivered on the intrigue in the best possible way. I’ve already added this to my pull for no other reason than the story that’s setup in this issue has me hooked and I need more.