September Comic Book Review Round-Up

Want to catch up on my latest comic book reviews and articles? No? Well, too bad.

Image Comics and the Female Experience

There has been a great deal of discussion in the last few years about the role available to women in comic books, their representation and how creative teams address women’s experiences. Mainstream comics has been grappling with such issues, making great strides in some cases and falling flat on their faces in others. But beyond how scripting, artwork, and the corporate culture help to shape how women are presented on the page, there is another critical component to affects these characters: the worlds in which they operate.

Why Midnighter Is So Important For Queer Fans

My relationship with queer superheroes has always been a little complicated.

As a child growing up in the 1990s, I came into my own reading Marvel Comics and watching DC Saturday morning cartoons. Back then openly queer characters were hard to come by. There was the heavy queer implications of Mystique’s relationship with Destiny, the more-than-friends flirtation of Rictor and Shatterstar, and the thinly veiled romantic attachment shared by Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn in Batman: The Animated Series, but nothing concrete. (Both Rictor/Shatterstar and Ivy/Harley have been confirmed as canon, but when I was a kid, no such luck.) Even Northstar, Marvel’s first openly gay character, was tiptoed around, his sexuality rarely mentioned for several years after coming out in 1992. For most of my life as a comics fan, queer representation was most often found in meaningful looks and lingering touches, leaving readers to fill in the details. That left queer fans like me feeling left behind.

Review: Zodiac Starforce #1

Zodiac Starforce #1 from Dark Horse Comics is a nostalgic romp into the Magical Girl genre. Plucking inspiration from Sailor Moon, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and 1980s Saturday morning cartoons, writer Kevin Panetta and artist Paulina Ganucheau (with color assists by Savannah Ganucheau) put an interesting spin on the genre by focusing on slightly weightier subject matter. While more upbeat Magical Girl titles like Boom Studios’ Power Up focus on quirky characterizations and endearing, highly stylized designs, Zodiac Starforce is more inclined to use tried-and-true tropes to observe the ramifications of the heroic lifestyle.


August 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.

Shutter #13 Review

Shutter #13 from Image Comics is a book about a lot of things. Despite its fantastical settings, off-kilter storybook cast, and the distinctive theatricality of Kristopher clan drama, this title’s lofty yet deeply personal themes often fly close to the sun. To the credit of series writer Joe Keatinge and artist Leila del Duca, however, the presentation is deft, thoughtful, and delightfully understated. Seemingly disparate elements such as family, loss, memory, anger, and identity are all tightly interwoven components of Kate Kristopher’s journey, a complex web of ties so tight they often choke rather than bind. Shutter #13 is no exception to this rule. As this quirky adventure series kicks off its second year, Kate Kristopher is back in an issue full of surprises, mystery, and exciting possibilities.

Negative Space #1: The Monster of Mental Illness

Negative Space #1 from writer Ryan K. Lindsay and artist Owen Gieni is a book about monsters. The horror its cover promises is one of subterranean nightmares, where fleshy pink tendril creatures stand at the ready outside lavish stone altars. Hooded figures loom in the shadows like Lovecraftian cultists, serving as caretakers of their otherworldly domain. But Negative Space is so much more than its monsters. It’s a book about depression, isolation, and human connection in a world where emotions are commodities and experiences are quantified. If what makes us human can be bought and sold, who among us are the real monsters?

Wolf #1: The Spirit of Film Noir

Wolf #1 from Image Comics promises a city full of monsters and the pulpy swagger of crime noir. The creative team, consisting of writer Ales Kot, artist Matt Taylor, and colorist Lee Loughridge, deliver on that promise with bravado. Theirs is an otherworldly Los Angeles drenched in myth, magic, and film noir allusions, as rich as its sun-bleached hills and the murky darkness that swallows them at night. Leaning on the familiar tropes of Raymond Chandler’s crime novels, hardboiled paranormal detective Antoine Wolfe has a headful of nightmares and a death wish, moving comfortably from one recognizable tableau to the next. He walks mean city streets populated by conmen and creatures, racists and hired goons as he reluctantly takes on the case of orphaned teenager Anita Christ, who may just prove to be a major player in the impending apocalypse. Just as Antoine burns above the dirty city below, so too will the world in this genre-bending noir mystery.

How Starve Explores America's Relationship with Food

Starve from Image Comics is a sharp character drama that examines America’s increasingly bizarre relationship with food. The creative team, consisting of writer Brian Wood, artist Danijel Zezelj, and colorist Dave Stewart, do so by lampooning the melodrama of competition cooking shows. Taken on face-value, their critique is straightforward. Combining the format of Iron Chef with the demands of Chopped, adding in the high-stakes sensibilities of an international sports tournament, Starve embraces the cultish idolatry surrounding celebrity chefs to wave its finger at contemporary food programming. But Wood, Zezelj, and Stewart’s criticism of American food culture is much more nuanced than that, examining how class affects our relationships with food, and how the media we consume warps it even further.