I highly recommend All Star Western vol. 3 no. 1 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Moritat. It stars DC’s surly, scarred Jonah Hex investigating a series of murders in 19ᵗʰ-century Gotham City alongside Amadeus Arkham. The idea of the police not understanding or respecting the use of forensic psychology has been done elsewhere but fits in well here. It has neat Easter Eggs in the mentions of Alan Wayne, Major Cobblepot, and the Gate brothers. Moritat’s art is well-served by a washed-out color palette. The issue is over-sized by eight pages, too. Future issues will include a back-up strip that will intertwine with the main story, according to Gray, but here the entire issue involves Hex and Arkham. The length of it and use of narrative captions makes for a very satisfying read, especially considering that the standard length of a comic is now 20 pages, down from 22 a few years ago.
I’ll point out one thing that’s annoyed me about DC’s “New 52”, now that every book is out: the backmatter. Every book has three pages of it at the end, and it’s the same three pages in every book for the week. Why not devote two of those pages to some sketches or a short blurb from the writer of the actual book you’re reading? I get that it would take the smallest amount of effort, and that costs money, but it feels like a ripoff every time. Hopefully the letters columns will be back soon, though I’d love to see Casanova-style commentary from the creators.
One other recommendation: Flash vol. 4 no. 1 by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato. As with Batwoman I was nervous to have a highly talented artist also writing a book, but Manapul proves he’s up to the task. The book looks splendid, and is worth the price for the art alone (something I rarely say), but the writing is solid, too. I’m still not completely behind the decision to bring Barry Allen back as Flash, but I like the CSI meets superheroes potential.
I also read Angel and Faith which was great and well worth picking up if that’s your sort of thing. I picked up but haven’t read the latest American Vampire on the strength of other work I’ve read from Scott Snyder. It’s likely I’ll be hunting for the first year’s worth in back issue bins soon. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’s Aquaman is a good attempt at that character but probably not for casual consumption. Justice League Dark is even better but equally not for casual consumption. Green Lantern: The New Guardians did a great job at distinguishing itself from the other dozen Green Lantern books on the shelves, but if you’re only going to get one GL book, this isn’t the one. FF and New Avengers were as solid as always but my interest in The Mighty Thor is about gone.
Finally, as I said of Green Lantern, there are a lot of characters out there who star in more than one book. Batman’s in four, GL: four, Superman: two. If there’s any that just demands you pick up both on the strength of the story and art within, it’s Captain America and Bucky. It’s an entirely separate story from Captain America, this one set in WWII, and it’s just great. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ed Brubaker doesn’t stay on it too long after the initial arc, but I hope he does, and I hope Chris Samnee keeps drawing it.
That’s it for my month of comics recommendation-writing. Soon I’ll piece together a few recommended pull lists for a hypothetical new reader who’s interested in comics but doesn’t know which books to pick up.