July Comic Book Review Round-Up
Want to catch up on my latest comic book reviews and articles? No? Well, too bad. Each month I'll be posting a round-up of all my stuff, so watch this space.
Image Comics’ Airboy #1 from James Robinson and Greg Hinkle is a sharp, cynical, and uncompromisingly funny look at the comic book industry. In an age of reboots and reimaginings, as nearly-forgotten properties like Marvelman (now published as Miracleman due to legal issues) and Flash Gordon (which is currently on its way to a Hollywood rebranding), it’s an honest criticism of the pressures that perpetuate them. It’s also a comic that needed to be written, and surprisingly, hasn’t yet been put out by a mainstream publisher.
IDW’s Jem and The Holograms has a great deal going for it, as it rides a wave of 80s nostalgia, positive messages, and critical acclaim. Over the course of its augural arc Showtime, writer Kelly Thompson, artist Sophie Campbell, and colorist M. Victoria Robado have given Jem a much needed makeover for contemporary comics audiences. It’s fun, it’s quirky, and, more importantly, it provides a safe, body-positive, queer-positive space for its characters to operate in.
Image Comics’ Starve #1 from writer Brian Wood, artist Daniel Zezelj, and colorist David Stewart has a bone to pick with the modern state of cooking shows. In a world of increasingly hyperbolic culinary tournaments, the simple act of teaching others to cook has morphed into a high-stakes game with alienating ingredients and impossible barriers to entry. Wood and Zezelj poke fun at this trend by running this model down to its equally hyperbolic conclusion amid rising global class divisions and sea levels, setting the stage for their unique dystopic vision of Iron Chef-as-Battle Royale.
Empty Zone #1 from creator Jason Shawn Alexander and Image Comics trades on a very specific kind of sci-fi nostalgia. Steeped in allusions to notable classics like Tank Girl, Blade Runner, and William Gibson’s Sprawl trilogy, Empty Zone wants to be an amalgamation of your favorite flavors of 80’s and 90’s cyberpunk and dystopia. It was first conceived and published in 1995, and this issue marks its 20th anniversary reboot with a brand new retelling. While certainly inspired, putting out a very 90’s cyberpunk book is a somewhat peculiar chance to take as an American comics creator in 2015.
Fight Club 2 from writer Chuck Palahniuk and artist Cameron Stewart promised to be a return to postmodern brutality, irony, and fun. When Dark Horse Comics announced the title, I was excited. Fight Club has been one of my favorite books and films respectively since my formative years, chewing through the works of writers like Palahniuk and Bret Easton Ellis in that all-too-familiar fit of edgy nonconformity. The comic felt like a nostalgic shot in the arm, a triumphant journey back to Palahniuk’s jaded world of self-destruction and false revolutionaries. Fight Club and its 1999 film adaptation have been described as a coming of age story for people in their twenties and thirties, but it still felt relevant to me as teenager. It belonged to my generation as much as those who first read it in the ‘90s, speaking to dissatisfaction with modern society and the hypocrisy of the status quo.
Images Comics’ 8House: Arclight #1 by writer Brandon Graham and artist Marian Churchland presents a different kind of fantasy story. In a pop culture landscape currently dominated by the harrowing violence, political intrigue, and hard edges of worlds like G.R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, 8House is a shared universe miniseries with a unique vision.