Longtime readers might remember a time when I was reading so many books a week that I would simply take pictures of them in a stack and do a quick hit kind of report on them. Well, I’m not knocking down nearly as many books these days, but I did read through a good number from the library and figured I’d return to that form for this post. Let’s hit it!
Kicking things off you can see a copy of Farel Dalrymple’s Pop Gun War: Gift right on top. I came to know Dalrymple’s work by way of Prophet, one of the best comics around (and one I don’t think I’ve ever actually written about here on the blog). When I saw his name pop up on the library site, I was psyched to check out this book which is a pretty surreal series of stories featuring a boy who scrounges discarded angel-like wings from the trash, a man who constantly picks on bums and a girl who sings in a touring blues group among others. These strange, but beautiful modern day fairy tales are drafted in a sketchy style that perfectly fits the tone. I’m having trouble thinking of other books its like, which is pretty cool actually.
Next on down the stack you can see Amazing Spider-Man: Edge of Spider-Verse. Last you saw, I was heading into Superior Spider-Man, but I knocked those books out pretty quickly and am already in the lead-in to Spider-Verse. This collection wraps up Superior and also includes a lot of the tie-in one-shots that helped launch the story and offered background on its heavy hitters. I’ll be honest, I scanned most of the one-shots because I’m just not into keeping up with every tie-in for events anymore. I did enjoy the Spider-Gwen one and understand why people are stoked about that concept, but the rest was pretty much scan-time. I’m looking to take on the event itself as soon as it fully shows up on Marvel Unlimited.
I haven’t written about every volume of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s fantastic Batman run, but I’ve enjoyed every bit I’ve absorbed. After catching up on several years of Spidey comics, I figured I’d see what else was available at the library. Batman Vol. 4: Zero Year – Secret City shows the early origins of New 52 Batman in a way that I never quite imagined. He’s up against the Red Hood and his blackmailed gang members. It’s a big crazy mystery that unfolds in an appropriately crazy manner thanks to Capullo’s kinetic, emotive style. This is just the beginning of the big, crazy Batman origin story, but I’m on board this ride and excited to see where it goes.
Another recent reading experience I didn’t write about was re-reading the first eight volumes of Hellboy. I stalled out on that, but did want to check out another Mike Mignola book, Baltimore Volume 1: The Plague Ships (this one co-written by Christopher Golden with Ben Stenbeck drawing). This is a pretty straightforward, but highly enjoyable “hardened man hunts down monsters” story. In this, Lord Baltimore is joined by a young woman who wants to escape her dull life only to discover that the larger world is scarier than the one she knew. While I’d pretty much always like to see Mignola draw his comics, I thought Stenbeck did a great job of getting in the same zone as Mignola without aping him too much and also adding his own touches. Oh and if you were wondering, like I was, if this is part of the Hellboy world, I’m pretty sure it’s not.
Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s The Wake is packed with enough story to warrant its own solo post, but I already returned the copy to the library and currently lack the focus for such a thing, but do want to say that I really enjoyed this Vertigo book. This is a wonderfully huge story that involves not only a modern day underwater research team, but also a far flung future where Earth is overrun by merpeople. Snyder throws in all kinds of scientific research and theory to ground the proceedings while Murphy utilizes his trademark style to bring it all to life on the page. I’m not quite sure I fully understood how everything came together in the end, but that just means I need to give it another read because there is a lot to absorb in The Wake.
I almost didn’t include this collection of Wally Wood’s Cannon strips because I didn’t even come close to finishing it, but it was cool and I wanted to let you know why. Wood is one of those older artists whose work I’ve only recently been tipped to and I quickly fell in love. When I saw this secret agent strip collection from Fantagraphics, I had to check it out. And it’s great. Cannon is a guy who was programmed and then deprogrammed so he’s basically just a secret agent killing machine who is constantly surrounded by beautiful naked women. I was surprised by that, but after reading in the intro that this was a strip that appeared in a magazine for soldiers, the more R-rated content made sense. So, why didn’t I finish it? Well, the book itself had some pretty severe spine damage and I couldn’t hold it comfortably, so back it went. That’s okay, I’m going to keep my eyes peeled for a copy of my own.
And finally we come to Sean Murphy’s Punk Rock Jesus. After seeing his work in books like Joe The Barbarian, I knew I was a big fan of how Murphy put stories together, but I hadn’t read anything he’d written before. I was really impressed with the scope and composition of this story. A lot of times, comics seem to take too narrow of an approach when it comes to storytelling, but this one spans about 15 years and takes an in-depth, hyper-real look at what would happen if a corporation “cloned” Jesus and turn every aspect of his life into a reality show. After a series of wild events, the young man decides to go down his own road where he becomes an atheist punk rock icon. It’s a great book that isn’t nearly as one sided as you might think and does a great job of not just developing well rounded characters but also showing how time and events can change them.