Sleepy Hollow is my favorite show on television, and has been since that scene in the first episode where the Headless Horseman showed up and tried to kill Ichabod Crane by blowing him away with a machine gun in each hand. It was, and remains, the single most beautiful thing I had ever seen, and while I initially worried about whether the show would be able to keep that energy up as the story rolled on, well, there was an episode last week with the premise of Benjamin Franklin building a Frankenstein's Monster out of the most powerful soldiers who died in the Revolutionary War, so, y'know, they've pretty much maintained a constant level of being absolutely bananas.
So needless to say, I was pretty excited when Boom Studios announced that they were going to be releasing a comic tie-in by Marguerite Bennett, Jorge Coelho, Tamra Bonvillain and Jim Campbell, because if nothing else, Sleepy Hollow's particular brand of horror-themed kookiness is exactly the sort of thing that would lend itself well to comics. Having read the first issue, out this week, I can confirm that the team did their absolute best to make the comic as weird as the show, and while it's not a perfect translation, it's definitely a good one.
I'm not saying that it's easy to succeed with an oddball idea in the world of comics, but I have to imagine that it's a heck of a lot harder to do it twice in a row with very similar ideas -- which is exactly what Archie Comcis and writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa are trying to do in the pages of this week's Chilling Adventures Of Sabrina #1. A year after Aguirre-Sacasa teamed up with artist Francesco Francavilla and found critical and commercial success with Afterlife With Archie, where the familiar teenagers of Riverdale found themselves contending with the zombie apocalypse, he's joining artist Robert Hack to try to strike gold a second time -- not with a spinoff of Afterlife, but by expanding the horror line with an entirely new title, taking the same characters and twisting them around again.
The result is a comic that dives headling into a world of horror, witchcraft and high school drama, and while it might not have the immediate eyebrow-raising hook of seeing Archie beat his zombified father to death with a baseball bat, it's definitely a pretty amazing comic that's hitting at exactly the right time.
Barbara Gordon is for girls. This truth has been obscured over the years, most notably in the Batman: The Killing Joke, in which the classic Batgirl was shot, sexually abused and paralyzed by the Joker and taken out of costume for decades. But just as Superman stands for unimpeachable hope and Batman for rigid justice, Batgirl stands for girls doing what the hell they want. From the moment she debuted as part of the classic Batman TV show of the 1960s, this was clear: she was a librarian, she rode a motorcycle decorated with chiffon ruffles, and she did not give a damn that Batman wanted her to hang up the glittery puple cape and cowl. She was no sweet-tempered Kyptonian cousin, no kid sister, and no swooning girlfriend. As Mike Madrid detailed in The Supergirls: Fashion, Feminism, Fantasy, and the History of Comic Book Heroines, “Batgirl is a female Batman can actually regard as a brilliant peer and a partner in the war on crime, the same way he would a male.”
There are a lot of things that happen regularly in comics that I've never really understood, and chief among them has been the sheer number of superhero crossovers with Aliens and Predator. I mean, I understand wanting to see Aliens and Predators fight each other because they're both these mysterious, lethal alien enemies, where one's a cunning, vicious hunter and the other's an almost mindless biologically driven killing machine, a natural contrast that makes them cool opponents for each other and a deadly combination for anyone who gets trapped between them. The thing I don't get is why you'd want to throw Superman or Batman in there, if only because of the sheer amount of storytelling gymnastics you have to do to make it work. And yet, they happen all the time, and I have long since accepted that it's Just Not My Thing.
And then I read Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens, and now I get it. Mostly because the first story in this collection ends with Dredd taking off his shirt (while leaving his helmet on, of course), and fighting the Predator with a knife.
If you've not come across Blacksad before, created by Spanish authors Juan Diaz Canales (writer) and Juanjo Guarnido (illustrator), it is an anthropomorphic noir series, set in 1950s America, centering around eponymous trench-coated private investigator, John Blacksad, a lithe, witty and cynical cat. Wildly popular France since the release of the first book in 2000, it's equally loved around the world, having been translated in 23 languages, with Dark Horse doing the honors for English reading audiences. This fifth and latest volume, Amarillo, was published in its original French in November last year, with October seeing the release of the English language edition. It's a few rungs above, thanks to Canales' writing: mixing up the mystery with social issues at the time, but largely due to Juanjo Guarnido's breathtaking watercoloured art and the superb manner in which he amalgamates human and animal characteristics.
I consider myself to be a pretty big Flash Gordon fan, but when you get right down to it, I only really like one very specific version of that character: The one from the amazing 1980 movie where he takes down Ming the Merciless while rocking out to Queen. I love that movie to pieces, but it's a very specific kind of love that doesn't necessarily transfer to other version of the franchise. Every time Flash, Dale and Dr. Zarkov make their perennial return to the comics page, it always leaves me pretty cold, and even though I'm the biggest possible fan of Jeff Parker, Doc Shaner, and Jordie Bellaire, there was a part of me that expected that the new series from Dynamite would end up doing the same thing.
And then I read the issue where Ming orders Flash to fight to the death in a gladiatorial battle against an army of beast-men, and Flash straight up gets in front of a space camera to cut a Stone Cold Steve Austin promo about how he's going to tear their horns off and choke them out with their own tails, and I realized things were going to be just fine.
It is a truth, universally acknowledged, that Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët's Beautiful Darkness has been one of the undisputed standouts in the not unglorious year of comics 2014. Originating from the mind and sketch/notebooks of Marie Pommepuy (she, and partner Sébastien Cosset collaborate under the pen-name Kerascoët), the story of a group of tiny people springing from the body of a dead girl in the woods and the vicious lengths and efforts they go to to survive is appreciable on several, complex levels. One of the facets of great art is that it lingers in the mind, burrows and shifts, dredging up thought and questions, analyses, re-evaluation, and Beautiful Darkness is no different. And so, to accompany my original review, I've compiled a deconstruction of sorts presented here as various questions (answered and unanswered) and theories that dig further into the text and its potential readings.
Gotham Academy is exactly the comic book I want to read.
That probably doesn't come as a surprise to anyone who's been reading ComicsAlliance for any significant amount of time. I mean, if you made a list of the things I like seeing in my comics, then Batman, teenage mystery solvers, and high school drama set in a superhero universe are all things that are going to land pretty close to the top of the list, and those three elements form the exact core of Gotham Academy's premise. It's so perfectly designed to fit my very specific tastes that you'd actually have to work hard to combine them into something that I wouldn't like.
Because of that, it might be tempting to write off anything nice I have to say about the book, but trust me: this first issue of Gotham Academy is great, not just because it's got a bunch of stuff I want to see, but because Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, Karl Kerschl, Geyser, and Dave McCaig, have produced one of the most solid starts of the year.
If you're picking up Thor #1 this week, by Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman, to see the much-hyped new Thor in action, you're going to be a little disappointed. While it's a very good comic that promises great stories to come, the new Thor only appears in two pages that you might already have seen floating around online.
Rather than launch straight in to the new Thor's adventures, this first issue teases her arrival, leaving the action for next month -- presumably in an effort to hold as much of the first issue readership as possible. As a result this issue feels more like the end of the last Thor title than the start of a new one.
When you consider the entire history of Magneto, it's pretty ridiculous. He's been assumed dead at least half-a-dozen times; he's probably flip-flopped from villain to hero more times than that; and he's been resurrected as both a Nelson-haired clone (millennials: Google "Nelson band" to get how funny that is) and a star-headed Taoist. Mistakes have been made with the character; mistakes so big that the character's retcons and course-corrections have diminished his stature, leaving readers to wonder; Just who the hell is Magneto?
In Marvel's Magneto, by Cullen Bunn, Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Javier Fernandez, and Jordie Bellaire, that question is finally getting a good answer.
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