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recent reading: comics

I've been reading a ton of comics lately - Image, but also some Vault, Dark Horse, Vertigo... a lot of things. And here are my recs and non-recs. If you have read any of these, I would love to hear your thoughts. Indy comics can be kind of a lonely fandom. :(

Harrow County - Cullen Bunn / Tyler Crook
In rural America circa the 1920s or so, country girl Emma Rose discovers she's the reincarnation of a local witch who was very justifiably burned at the stake. This is billed as horror, but IMO is nearer to dark fantasy in spirit. Includes elements of identity crisis, girl coming into/figuring out how to use her power, friendly and unfriendly monsters.

ALSO. The art is all watercolor, and it is FREAKING GORGEOUS.

The Black Monday Murders – Jonathan Hickman / Tomm Coker
A dark, dark story about a Wall Street cult that worships Mammon. This is Hickman as his most intense: dense, high-concept, non-linear, full of documents. Pretty much everyone is terrible except for the police detective trying to make sense of it all from the outside, and I freaking love it. Possibly my single favorite book currently being published.

Frostbite – Joshua Williamson / Jason Shawn Alexander
In a futuristic post-apocalyptic ice age with occasional Mad Max: Fury Road vibes, a female smuggler with a heart of gold and a lot of grudges agrees to take a female scientist across the ice. Awkwardly, the smuggler has secretly shot the scientist's father. This is centered around the relationship between the two women and femslashy as hell, and has some body horror elements I enjoyed a lot and science that is completely and utterly bonkers. The smuggler appears to be a PoC, if that's an entirement for anyone.

Whiteout – Greg Rucka / Steve Lieber
Black-and-white murdery mystery in Antarctica featuring a disgraced female marshall and her maybe-ally, a British woman of uncertain authority. Sharply written, gripping, and definitely femslashable.

Alters – Paul Jenkins / Leila Leiz
A small fraction of the population suddenly acquires superpowers, including a young closeted trans woman who begins to dress up as a superheroine and fight crime. The superhero politics is honestly pretty boring IMO, but the bit where she only feels safe to be herself when in costume was interesting, and the relationship she has with her family is interesting, especially with her older brother, who is handicapped.

Monstress – Marjorie Liu / Sana Takeda
A girl with an evil arm is on a quest for revenge in a world full of magic and animal people. The art style here has a strong Japanese influence, and the animal people often look kind of cutesy/furry, but this is a pretty dark story, very dense with a lot of worldbuilding. Also, interestingly, basically every single character of any significance is female: the good guys, the tyrant-sorcerer villains, the incidental side characters. This is never commented on in any way, it just is.

Injection – Warren Ellis / Declan Shalvey / Jordie Bellaire
A team of engineers have accidentally unleashed an AI who is remaking the world. This is Warren Ellis doing his Warren Ellis thing, which IMO is all the rec you need. And the Shalvey/Bellaire art duo is just fantastic.

Saga - Brian K. Vaughan / Fiona Staples
The space opera phenomenon with hot hot character design, a ton of queer charactes, and all the character death. I'm still reading this despite serious misgivings about spoilers from the last three volumes or so. Prince Robot IV is my surprise favorite of the characters who are still around.

In case you haven't ever tried Saga, here's a random image from the first volume. Look how pretty everyone is. *hearteyes*

Paper Girls – Brian K. Vaughan / Cliff Chiang
Four paper girls get involved in a bunch of very, very weird shit. This was sold to me as "Stranger Things, but with girls," which is really not a good expectation to set up, I don't think. For one thing, this is not (just) an 80s nostalgia-fest. Whatever the fuck is going on in this comic is REALLY FUCKING WEIRD. Just in volume one we encounter gay aliens from the future (who die, natch), a guy on a flying dragon, the rapture, and possibly some kind of religious conspiracy.

I couldn't follow it, tbh. It's a bit like if someone wanted to write a fic with Morning Glories-type story twists, but five times as zany. I was not into it at all. I also couldn't distinguish the four girls for beans, which is deadly in a comic like this, IMO.

Moonshine – Brian Azzarello / Eduardo Risso
This was billed as Prohibition-era horror. I went in hoping for something with even a fraction of the mood of The Black Monday Murders, but reader, I did not get it. I think I'm supposed to find the mob minion protagonist compelling, but he is both unlikable and dull. And worst, the horror element is just boring. I'm going to spoil it for you: it's werewolves. The terrible monster hiding in the woods behind the redneck still is werewolves. There's not even anything interesting about them. They're just evil werewolves who maul people.

Ladykiller – Joelle Jones / Jamie S. Rich
If Betty Draper Were a Secret Assassin. Alas, the result was not nearly as much fun as it ought to be. Our housewife protagonist has been killing people in her spare time for over a decade, and we never find out why. Why did she start doing this? What drives her? Who tf knows. The art is really fun, though.

Shutter – Joe Keatinge / Leila del Luca
Kate Kristopher is a retired adventurer in her 20s whose past comes back to haunt her. This came really highly recommended to me, and I wanted to like it, but it just didn't click for me. It seems to click for a lot of other people, though? The world this comic inhabits is a zany one, full of talking animals and walking robots and general craziness.

Crossposted from Dreamwidth. Comment here or there. (comment count unavailable DW replies)


( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 6th, 2017 02:57 am (UTC)
I liked Shutter but I've only read the dollar issue...

I also found Paper Girls to be meh, more style than substance and kind of a cashgrab for the 80s nostalgia which was totally disappointing considering the author and how many better 80s nostalgia pieces I've seen.

I love Greg Rucka anything although my favorites are Black Magick and whenever he gets to write for Star Wars. Hopefully, that continues with The Last Jedi.

I definitely added Harrow County to the list.
Sep. 6th, 2017 12:08 pm (UTC)
I didn't know Rucka was writing for Star Wars! Black Magick is really great - I'm anxiously awaiting the second volume, now that he has his artist back for it.

Harrow County is really great. I hope you enjoy it. :)
Sep. 6th, 2017 04:12 pm (UTC)
omg you're reading Black Magick, too? I really really like it. The hiatus felt like forever but it was worth it for the Rucka+Scott Wonder Woman origin story they did while Black Magick was on break.
Sep. 6th, 2017 05:33 pm (UTC)
I am! I enjoyed the first volume a lot and am anxious to get more story.
Sep. 6th, 2017 06:40 pm (UTC)
Yes! I'm really glad it's back. Also I really really liked the most recent Saga trade paperback.

Paper Girls was really weird. I couldn't get past the first volume either.
Sep. 6th, 2017 06:43 pm (UTC)
I usually think of myself as having a pretty high threshold for weird, but Paper Girls just didn't seem to have any unifying theme OR any characters I could hang onto. I'm honestly kind of bewildered by how much positive press I've seen.

I did like the most recent Saga trade more than I liked a couple of them previous. Petrichor intrigues me (she reminds me a lot of Marko's mom, actually), and Prince Robot IV continues to be my favorite angst-ridden fuck-up. Also the bit where Lying Cat chooses to be with Sophie rather than The Will was pretty great.
Sep. 6th, 2017 06:44 pm (UTC)
BTW I just saw your latest post - FYI I have the same name on DW and would be delighted to be pals over there! I basically never check my LJ flist anymore.
Sep. 6th, 2017 07:07 pm (UTC)
I like Petrichor a lot too. You can definitely friend me on Dreamwidth if you want but I'm over there even less than I am over here, so it might take me a while to add you back. How is DW these days? My paid account on LJ ran out and I'm wondering if it's worth finally moving over there.
Sep. 6th, 2017 07:13 pm (UTC)
I mean, DW is pretty much the same as it's always been. Maybe a bit more active than it used to be, since so many people have given up on LJ. I've been using it as my primary for a long time. They just got photo hosting, though! That was big excitement.
Sep. 7th, 2017 12:45 am (UTC)
I just bought Black Magick #7 on Monday but with everything crazy, I haven't had a chance to read it yet.

Rucka has written several Star Wars things. This is the whole list...apparently I missed two!
Sep. 6th, 2017 03:51 am (UTC)
I'm reading Injection and The Black Monday Murders too, and I definitely agree with your reviews *g*.

I love and envy how *tight* is Hickman's world-building (Ellis', of course, is also fantastic, although it has a different flavor). Speaking of which, have you given up on East of West?
Sep. 6th, 2017 12:09 pm (UTC)
I've not given up on East of West, I'm just behind. I have the third volume, but I feel as if I need to reread the first two in order to enjoy it, and I haven't gotten around to it yet. /o\ I was really enjoying it before, though.
Sep. 7th, 2017 05:06 pm (UTC)
Paper Girls didn't work for me either, which is a shame since it's one of the few comics my library buys.
Sep. 7th, 2017 06:59 pm (UTC)
That is a bummer. :(
Sep. 9th, 2017 12:44 am (UTC)
Harrow County sounds (and looks!) really interesting, I'll have to see if I can find it! And yay Saga :D I need to catch up, I think I'm a volume or two behind atm but I saw some spoilers recently that had me really excited.

That's disappointing about Paper Girls though. I'd been thinking about checking it out, but I was confused enough by Morning Glories, so that's probably not a good idea lol
Sep. 9th, 2017 04:28 pm (UTC)
I adore Harrow County and have been really surprised at how few people have heard of it, because it's SO great. Enjoy!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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