All this movie watching has put a damper on my comics reading. So I’ve eased off the picture shows for a bit to minimize this stack of unread issues. Some highlights are below.
DC Universe Rebirth
script: Geoff Johns
art: Gary Frank, Ivan Reis, Phil Jimenez (and many, many more)
Five years ago, DC Comics rebooted their entire universe. Called "The New 52" because DC released 52 titles, the carpet-bombing-over-quality approach, it wasn't regarded well. The historical timeline was muddied. (In a five-year span, Batman burned through three Robins, sired a 10-year-old son who was now Robin #4, and joined the Justice League.) Beloved characters were different in personality and/or level of extreme, that is if they even existed in the universe at all.
I started reading single issue comics shortly after the reboot. Before that, I had only read the occasional trade, usually Batman, so it was nearly all new to me. Most of what I read was fine — Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman had some strong stories. The final Justice League arc, The Darkseid War, was great. The Wonder Woman run from Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang was the prize of it all — but eventually I wasn’t reading any DC books on a regular basis. And frankly it sucked to only get a good superhero fix from Marvel.
Now, a fresh start. DC Rebirth does not dismiss the last five years. Geoff Johns deserves an award for the original and clever way he gets out of this New 52 corner, without disrespecting the work of so many people. He is also able to convey the emotional weight in a way that can be felt by someone who doesn’t know DC history.
Starting this week and over the next few months, DC’s entire line will restart with #1 after a title's respective Rebirth issue which will establish the status quo. So, if you’re looking to jump in, now the time.
Beasts of Burden: What the Cat Dragged In
script: Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer
art: Jill Thompson
The residents Burden Hill don’t know the horrors kept at bay by the brave cats and dogs of the neighborhood.
An issue of Beasts of Burden doesn’t come out that often. It’s always a treat when one does. The self-contained stories have a nice balance of horror, humor and emotion. Thompson’s paintings are expressive and beautiful.
script: Sam Humphries
art: Mike Del Mundo
color: Mike Del Mundo with Mareo D'Alfonso
A great thing about comics is if one book gets too heavy, there’s something else to counter it. Weirdworld is full of wizards and magic and other things I’m not normally keen on, but this book has shown me that if there’s a good adventure and humor that I’ll stick around for a while. The art is some of the best I’ve come across. It’s probably the reason why I stuck with as long as I did. (“Did” because it seems to have been quietly canceled after six issues.)
The Sheriff of Babylon
script: Tom King
art: Mitch Gerads
The murder of an Iraqi police trainee under the supervision of the U.S. military in 2004 Baghdad brings together three people with varying and duplicitous agendas. Tom King worked as a CIA operative in Iraq and brings his experience to a story that becomes less about a murder investigation and more about the complicated relationships one must foster in such an environment.
East of West
script: Jonathan Hickman
art: Nick Dragotta
colors: Frank Martin
“This is the world. It’s not the one we were supposed to have, but it’s the one we made. We did this. We did it with open eyes and willing hands. We broke it, and there is no putting it back together.” — from the cover of every East of West issue.
This is the story of the apocalypse. Every issue is a treat. Jonathan Hickman is an amazing writer. Machinations of politicians and religious zealots are put to the test and surprises abound. Nick Dragotta’s drawings are full of imagination, and Frank Martin’s colors are what make this book one of the most visually striking comics being published now. Love, love, love this book.
script: Jason Aaron
art: Jason Latour
Earl Tubb returns to his childhood home in Craw Country, Alabama after forty years. He isn't looking for trouble, but it finds him nonetheless.
Southern Bastards is one of the finest character yarns going today. Every issue enriches this world of football tradition, crime and bar-b-que. Every issue is thick with heat and tension. It's the only book I've read that makes you hate a character in one story arc then find sympathy with him in the next.
So, any of these sound good to you? I’m willing to gift a digital comic to anybody* who might want to try one. You’ll need a Comixology account (You can sign in with your Amazon account, because we’re all going to be one corporation someday.) Send an email to bobbybathwater [at] yahoo [dot] com with COMICS in the subject line, and tell me which one you’d like to try.
Or, if you are one for physical things and can pay for your own comics, drop by your local comic shop. They can help. If you live in Columbus, I recommend The Laughing Ogre (4258 N. High Street).
*I’m not sure what the cutoff will be, but this will be a limited offer since my lottery numbers have not yet hit.