Comics Recommendations for September 7

The big news of the week is the earnest beginning of DC’s “New 52”, but there’s another book out this week worth its own paragraph: Casanova vol. 3 no. 1. I’ve probably said it enough times by now, but Casanova is one of my absolute favorite comics of the 00s. It’s crazy, witty, heartfelt, fun, sad, silly but, mostly, amazing. Writer Matt Fraction says in the back matter that the recent reprints of volumes one and two sold well, so I’m hopeful that the series will have legs. And the first issue of “Avaritia” (as he’s calling the third volume) lives up. Just fantastic stuff. Sadly, it’s not available online yet, but comiXology does have the colorized versions of the first two volumes for sale, as does Amazon (“Luxuria” and “Gula”). Fraction’s been doing a bit of press about “Avaritia”. The two to read are from Bookslut and Comics Alliance. Both have preview art from the first issue.

On to DC. I strongly recommend you check these out. All are for sale in comic book stores and on comiXology’s website and iOS apps.

  1. Action Comics vol. 2. no. 1 by Grant Morrison and Rags Morales. This is Morrison at his best. He sends Superman back to his roots as a socialist crusader, not yet the sun god he’ll develop into. In several recent interviews Morrison mentions that his goal for this issue is to keep Superman always in motion, and the book reads that way, yet isn’t a three-minute comic. There’s a great pace to it. Usually I’m not a big fan of retelling character origins (and at least Morrison doesn’t take us all the way back to Krypton), but in this case it’s a good look at Superman before he has his bearings and all his powers. A few comparisons to Smallville are apt, and there’s even a callout to its theme song on the title page. It fits in well with that series’ poorly-executed idea of Clark coming to the big city with his powers but no costume yet. The first few issues will stay in the past and will then move into the present. Look forward to a larger storyline developing a lá Morrison’s work on Batman.
  2. Swamp Thing vol. 5 no. 1 by Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette. Beautiful stuff here. Making the panel gutters look like tree branches could be gimmicky, by Paquette pulls it off. The book’s maybe a little less accessible than other first issues because of the Swamp Thing’s history. Short version: Swamp Thing is a creature that had the memories of Alec Holland, a botanist whose labs was blown up and whose body was dumped in a swamp. Holland was brought back to life recently and the relationship between him and the Swamp Thing is yet to be seen. Traditionally it’s a horror book. Scott Snyder’s a great writer and this first issue is wonderful and creepy, and Paquette’s a great artist to render it all.
  3. Animal Man vol. 2 no. 1 by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman. I love the decision to open with a magazine article about Buddy Baker. It gives the right background on the character yet while managing to break the “show, don’t tell” rule without harm. There’s a large emphasis on Buddy as a family man, but we get to see a neat scene that shows how his powers work and has a lot of heart. Foreman’s art is understated where it needs to be and bold elsewhere. Great, great comic.
  4. Batgirl vol. 4 no. 1 by Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf. The big controversy here was that, since the 80s, Barbara Gordon has been in a wheelchair following an Alan Moore-written gunshot to the spine by The Joker. Since then she’s built up a huge loyal following and apparently been an inspiration to a number of disabled fans as Oracle, a wheelchair-bound mastermind who coordinates and oversees missions for Batman and other heroes in Gotham. Simone’s been writing Babs as Oracle for years, has a great love of the character, and isn’t shying away from that plot point. Here we see a Batgirl excited to be back in action but still very much unsteady.

I’ll give an honorable mention to Men of War vol. 2 no. 1 by Ivan Brandon and Tom Derenick , too. It’s mostly a war comic with just a touch of superheroics. Good stuff, well written, worth keeping an eye on.

I also bought Batwing, OMAC, and Stormwatch. None of them completely wowed me but all were good enough that I’ll give them a few months. Finally, after hearing the buzz about a crazy last page cliffhanger, I read Detective Comics vol 2. no. 1 on my iPad to see what writer/artist Tony Daniel had come up with. It reads like Daniel is really trying to prove himself, and he managed to surprise me since I hadn’t even considered buying his book.

I only bought one Marvel book this week, New Avengers Annual, and it was fine.