Comics Now

Writing about Young Avengers yesterday got me thinking about other currently-being-published comics I’d recommend. Here’s what I’m reading that I think is worth checking out.

Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples. It’s a space fairytale like Star Wars, but the robots have sex on-panel. There’s childbirth on the first page. It’s narrated by said child, telling the story of her parents, two star-crossed lovers from warring worlds. She promises it doesn’t have a happy ending. Man, I love this book. There’s only seven issues out so far I think, so go back to the start and get reading.

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja. Man, I can’t recommend this one enough. It’s just so, so good. Like, issue three is just a 20-page setup for a joke about the boomerang arrow. Oh, and issue seven, out later this month, is about Hurricane Sandy, and Fraction is donating all of his incentives for that issue to the Red Cross. Start at number one and just keep going. Issue six, the Christmas issue, has a fantastic gag on page two. Also at the back of each issue Aja gives a recommended soundtrack to each issue that he draws, which I’ve been a sucker for since Fraction started doing it on Casanova. For more street-level action, Mark Waid’s Daredevil is fantastic (and award-winning).

Young Avengers by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. [Here’s the first three pages.][ya I love the second page reveal of where the bed Kate has woken up in is. I love that Noh-Varr puts on The Ronnettes after his shower. I love the last panel caption. I like that the girl can’t remember the guy’s name, instead of the reverse. I like Kate’s inner monologue revealing her attitude about sex. I like how Gillen immediately brings up Noh-Varr’s different superhero names, recalling the inconsistent way he’s been handled between Grant Morrison’s Marvel Boy series and Brian Michael Bendis’s Dark Avengers series and yet, if you haven’t read those, you’re probably just fine. So, yeah, Young Avengers. The first one comes out next week.

Batman by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo. It’s right in the middle of a particularly horrifying Joker storyline, but start with 2011’s no. 1. There’s this great issue where Batman is trapped in a labyrinth and the pages keep turning upside down and sideways to keep you as disoriented as Batman is (which maybe doesn’t work as well on the iPad? Double-tap your home button, swipe to the right, and turn on the orientation lock with the little circle arrow button). It’s great stuff. Grant Morrison’s Batman, Inc. is tremendous, too, but he’s coming to the end of a years-long run (which do totally go check out), but maybe it’s not the best to jump into right now.

Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang. Azzarello and Chiang are reinventing all of the Greek gods in DC’s pantheon, giving them creepy appearances to match their mythic aspects. Wonder Woman here is young and strong. There’s a totally badass moment she has in I think 13 and a completely shocking, sad moment, too. I’ll mention Batwoman by J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman, too, as another visual treat. I’m lumping them together here I guess because Wonder Woman is appearing in Batwoman right now. It’s a good book and mostly stands apart from the rest of the Batman books, so you don’t have to follow them to read this one.

Chew by John Layman and Rob Guillory. I’ll just explain the premise and you’ll probably know if you’re interested or now. There are 30 issues so far, and comiXology has collections of them all for a pretty good price. So, premise: before the series starts there was a huge chicken flu epidemic that killed millions. Now chicken is illegal. Tony Chu is a special agent for the FDA who investigates black market chicken smugglers. Also he’s a cibopath, meaning whenever he eats anything he gets an impression of that thing’s life. Bring on comedic cannibalism!

Avengers by Jonathan Hickman and Jerome OpeƱa and New Avengers by Hickman and Steve Epting. Hickman showed on Fantasstic Four that he knows how to do solid characterization and strong action and plot out stories really far ahead so they land very satisfyingly. Here he is working on an even bigger scale. Avengers will have him tackling the usual team, New Avengers stars a subset of the heavy hitters in the Marvel universe secretly pulling the strings. The first issue is all about Black Panther and how he decides he needs to join up with these Illumnati, who he snubbed back in Bendis’s New Avengers run. The first few pages have a few kids who get killed off by page like six but somehow you’ve already grown attached to them and it’s like Whedon-level tragic. Speaking of linked titles, Matt Fraction and Mark Bagley’s Fantastic Four and Fraction and Alred’s FF is lots of fun, too. The former deals with the Fantastic Four going off on an adventure while the latter stars a replacement FF who are minding the store while they’re gone. It includes a Katy Petty stand-in Johnny was dating and asked to join the team because he forgot to find a real superhero. She wears a Thing suit Ben Grimm worse when he lost his powers for a short spell years ago.

Thor God of Thunder by Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic is very good. It stands alone pretty much entirely from the goings-on of the general Thor plot line, so don’t worry if you’ve not been reading Thor. The initial storyline is about a creature that’s been killing deities all over the galaxy. There’s a full-page panel where Thor comes across the corpse of a mountain-sized god, and Ribic just renders it breathtakingly.