comicbookGRRRL Do not offend the chair leg of truth; it is wise and terrible.

23May/150

Top of the Shops: May 2015

There are a lot of great new comics out this month and I'll dig back a little into April too so we're fully up to date. 

Here then are my picks of the new comics you should have a look at this month, including one graphic novel, two collections, and an art book amongst the fabulous new series.

Bucky BarnesBucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier Volume 1: The Man on the Wall
(W) Ales Kot, (A/C) Marco Rudy, Michael Walsh, Langdon Foss, (L) Clayton Cowles
Marvel
Paperback
£12.99/$16.99
26 May 2015

In a tweet: Fluid and grand, standing for change and absolution, beautiful in its communication of empathy - a brand new level for superhero comics.

Full disclosure - I've never read a Bucky Barnes comic before. In fact I've only really read old school Captain America. So this was the least likely comic for me to read, pretty much ever. Until I saw some preview pages. Featuring Marco Rudy's art. And was BLOWN AWAY. And then I realised it was by Kot, oops! So of course it was something I was going to try, but damn if it ain't one of the most fun and beautiful comics I've read this year.

Now I have come across Rudy's work before, and been really impressed, but this is a whole new level of amazing and something that makes getting the trade collections a real joy. From the full page spreads to the lavish panel design, I'm struck by how easy it is for newcomers to still follow Rudy's more experimental layouts.

Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier - Marco Rudy Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier - Marco Rudy

On the one hand, Bucky is sexy as sin here. On the other, he's dealing with an incredibly traumatic history, a life governed by war, and the realisation that his survival instincts and protective walls are no longer quite as necessary. He's operating on a galactic scale, seeing his story reflected in the cosmos but also seeing new ways of living; new ways of being.

It's fluid and it's grand, it's about change and absolution, and it's beautiful in its communication of empathy. Oh, and it also mentions polyamory as a valid relationship choice - hurrah!

Beast WagonBeast Wagon #1
(W) Owen Michael Johnson, (A/C) John Pearson, (L) Colin Bell
Changeling Studios
£2.99
Out now

In a tweet: Hottest indie comic of the year? Absolutely. A shamanic view of primal madness and jaw-dropping art.

I've been recommending this one for a while, including an interview with Johnson and Pearson to celebrate their kickstarter (), and finally the first issue is out! Available to buy from Changeling Studios, Beast Wagon is a shamanic journey through a zoo, focusing upon residents and zookeepers alike but strictly from an animal point of view. There are a lot of layers here, black comedy upon social commentary via an unfolding primal madness, but in truth the first read is spent mostly in amazement at the jaw dropping work of Pearson.

Nev the pug very much approved of his sketch from John Pearson!

Nev the pug very much approves of his sketch from John Pearson!

A professional illustrator, this is Pearson's first comic collaboration, and boy has he set the bar high. There are hints of Stephen Bissette here and the overlapping panel work of Michael Zulli, but it's the wrong path to look down - Pearson's style is truly unique.

Johnson of course is the creator of Reel Stories and the writer of Raygun Roads, the latter being my indie comic of the year for 2013.

Mad MaxMad Max: Fury Road - Inspired Artists
Vertigo
Hardback
£18.99/$24.99
6 May 2015

In a tweet: Absolutely essential for all comic and Mad Max fans, and a gorgeous feast for your eye meats.

I've been touting Mad Max: Fury Road all year, since I first saw the trailer and realised that here was something special - an action film that actually had a gender balanced cast. Plus it looked absolutely gorgeous. I'm delighted then that not only has the film gone down exceedingly well - told ya! ;) - but that an art book has been published featuring some of my favourite artists.

Tara McPherson

Contribution by Tara McPherson

There are 65 artists contributing in total, including Tara McPherson, Dave McKean, Nicola Scott, Cliff Chiang, Tula Lotay, David Mack, Jenny Frison, Paul Pope, Alison Sampson... frankly, a ridiculous amount of talent is held within these pages. If you're a fan of the film, and of course you are, this is essential.

Fight Club 2Fight Club 2 #1
(W) Chuck Palahniuk, (A) Cameron Stewart, (C) Dave Stewart, (L) Nate Piekos
Dark Horse
$3.99
27 May 2015

In a tweet: Most talked about comic of the year? Oh, if only you knew! Tyler is back in this metafictional delight.

I'm a big fan of the book, and as someone who thinks that maybe a certain percentage of the fanbase of the movie miiiight have misinterpreted certain key elements, I'm looking forward to the reaction the sequel garners immensely! The metafictional effects here are top notch, and Stewart's work is as seamless as ever. Good news for Marla fans as she is moved into the spotlight this time around with no single narrator dominating proceedings.

It's an interesting opener, promising much to come, and should - I think - halt the naysayers at the gates. I have an interview with Stewart coming up at the end of the month in the Independent on Sunday.

KaptaraKaptara #2
(W) Chip Zdarsky, (A/C) Kagan McLeod, (C) Becka Kinzie
Image
$3.50
30 May 2015

In a tweet: Spectacular chipperness abounds in this fun queer-friendly space romp. ALSO THERE ARE CAT TANKS.

This one almost passed me by - another space comic?! - but thankfully, I decided to have a wee look and hugely surprised! The fact I knew nothing about the book meant that I'd missed the press buzz around the central character being a gay dude, so that was a pleasant surprise given that straight is usually the default in direct market comics. It's in no way shoed in though, just a part of the person rather than any kind of *stop the story, say he's gay!* moment. Because durr.

Kaptara Kaptara

There was tragedy in the first issue, delivered in the shockingly sudden brutality that is all too relatable, and issue two slows things down a little in order to better introduce us to the strange new world Kaptara brings us. A strange and ADORABLE world.

Plus we get to know the characters more, end up loving at least a couple of them quite a lot, and this chipper book is quickly becoming one of my favourites. Zdarsky described it as "gay Saga" I'm told and yeah totally, if Saga was sarcastic and goofy and thrown up on by an absinthe fairy. In a good way.

NimonaNimona
(W/A) Noelle Stevenson
HarperTeen
Hardcover/Paperback
$17.99/$12.99
12 May (US only - 18 June for UK)

In a tweet: Biggest graphic novel launch of the year folks! Smart + lols + feels = grabby hands.

Do I remember the first time I came across Nimona? Of course I do. I don't remember how I got there but I know I spent the next hour reading all of it before bumping up against the dreaded last update and then impatiently waiting week to week. But no one else shall have to suffer my fate, for now the HarperCollins juggernaut has entered the arena of blockbusting original graphic novels, and what an entrance it is.

In the meantime of course Stevenson has become a huge name in the comics industry, but this is where it all began. Which is remarkable as you'd be hard pressed to spot this as anything other than a professionally sublime work. Originally serialised as a webcomic it is, alas, no longer available to read online which is a real shame for those who for various reasons are book-starved.

Nimona

Nimona is a shapeshifter, and she wants to learn from the best! The best villain that is, and Lord Ballister Blackheart is the villain incarnate. Well, sort of. The good guys are kinda flawed, and he's a man of science and... well, you'll see.

PS Nimona can TURN INTO A CAT.

ArcadiaArcadia #1
(W) Alex Paknadel, (A) Eric Scott Pfeiffer, (L) Colin Bell
BOOM!
$3.99
6 May 2015

In a tweet: Two hot new talents bring a new level of imagination to SF comics, quite possibly the debut of the year.

If you haven't heard me say it before, hear it now: Alex Paknadel is going places. His imagination is operating on a different plane of reality to everyone else, and the first published product of that, Arcadia, is glorious.

Arcadia, a digital simulation, is where 4 billion souls were uploaded on the point of death during a global pandemic that decimated the human population. Six years later and the few hundred million still alive on the planet begrudge the resource-hungry digital utopia where death is an impossibility, yet the residents of Arcadia remain the best hope for a cure to the still rampaging disease. Tensions are high to say the least.

Arcadia

And then someone in Arcadia, impossibly, dies. I could close study this comic all day but please, go read it before you get spoilered.

Pfeiffer is another new talent, balancing an indie aesthetic with chunky panel borders and incredible colour choices, fully selling Arcadia itself as a completely believable world.

KaijumaxKaijumax #2
(W/A) Zander Cannon
Oni Press
$3.99
20 May 2015

In a tweet: Praise Goj! A fun and dramatic take on the mighty kaiju that hits right in the feels.

I literally picked up the first issue based solely on the fact it contained cute kaiju (Japanese giant monsters yo, think Gojira/Godzilla) but this little book packs one mighty punch. On a surface level it's about an island prison for the aforementioned jumbo monsters, but the depths run very deep. Right in the feels in fact. Electrogor has been captured, torn away from his young children and thrust into a tricky environment where it's hard to know just who to trust.

Kaijumax

While Cannon delights in introducing the reader to all manner of kaiju - and takes reader suggestions, including one bipedal pug!! - each creature is more than simply a spectacle, with thoughts and feelings that lie contrary to what we expect of our monsters. The art leans on the cartoony side, underlining the inherently goofy premise, but also serving to really drive home the contrasting drama of the unfolding story.

Major props for the dialogue in particular, which despite the wonderfully distracting array of fauna on display keeps the reader absolutely hooked to the plot.

KurdlesThe Kurdles
(W/A) Robert Goodin
Fantagraphics
Hardcover
£17.99/$24.99
1 May 2015

In a tweet: Heart-stealing whimsy that delights again and again with a feeling of cosy nostalgia and timeless charm.

What struck me first about The Kurdles was how beautiful it was. And then the story stole my heart. As featured by myself on Panel Mania last month:

In The Kurdles, Robert Goodin’s all-ages debut graphic novel, an abandoned teddy bear stumbles upon a magical new home. When Sally the bear is tossed from a car window by a screaming child, she resolves to find her way home, adventuring her way instead to Kurdleton, a dreamy forest home that every child has surely dreamed of finding one day. The result is a charming blend of Enid Blyton whimsy and Moominvalley strangeness.

Goodin is best known for his storyboard work in the animation industry, most notably for American Day, The Wild Thornberrys, and Rugrats. His short underground comic, The Man Who Loved Breasts, won acclaim from adult audiences. The Kurdles is a better reflection of his all-ages storytelling proficiency, conjuring up a vibrant cast of delightful characters, from an adorable and no-nonsense teddy bear to a unicorn and a dog-owning, five-legged “pentapus.”

Young TerroristsYoung Terrorists #1
(W) Matt Pizzolo, (A) Amancay Nahuelpan
Black Mask
$6.99
27 May 2015

In a tweet: Buzzed, in love, and stunned. Death, politics, and youth. Me and this comic. Go buy.

When I first read this bumper length first issue (80 pages) I was buzzed. On the second read I was in love. On the third I was kinda stunned. But it's exceptionally difficult to review spoiler-free. Go into it knowing nothing other than the death, politics and youth that the cover promises, and you get the best reading experience.

It's the comic I'd been unknowingly waiting for someone to create, to be asking the political questions that need asked but taking it that bit further, that bit extra, that bit more. Will it go far enough? I'm not sure yet, but I hope it opens doors for others to follow suit. If you like the more personal works of Morrison, Ellis, or Michael Moreci, give this a whirl.

ArchieArchie Vs Predator #2
(W) Alex de Campi, (A)Fernando Ruiz, Rich Koslowski, (C) Jason Millet, (L) John Workman
Dark Horse
$3.99
20 May 2015

In a tweet: Oh my god this is so much fun. I mean really, it's all there in the title.

Seriously, so much fun! De Campi is a favourite of mine, her ability to subvert the tropes of horror whilst simultaneously grossing you the fuck out is unsurpassed frankly. So what better combination than the all-American world of Archie and the all-brain-splatter world of Predator.

Archie vs Predator

This second issue - of a 4 part miniseries - ramps the action up to great effect. People die, horribly. The Predator hunts, horribly. And heads explode, gloriously.

MaterialMaterial #1
(W)Ales Kot, (A) Will Tempest, (L) Clayton Cowles
Image
$3.50
27 May 2015

In a tweet: Is everything just material? Structure and flexibility combine to form a frame of questions here, questions that need to be asked.

Now I have this comic to hand but honestly, I would be recommending it even without having read it. From the magnificent Zero to the Winter Soldier above, I've found myself voraciously devouring every Kot comic I can get my hands on. Every story is infused with something more, something greater, a larger commentary on humanity and the way in which we view ourselves and impact our environment. If you enjoy comics that spark deep consideration and critical thought, this is the one for you.

If you enjoy comics that reference current day events, current day tragedies, and don't fall into step with the idea that power and authority and might make right, then yes, this is the one for you.

Kot is a dab hand at showcasing exciting new comics talent, and Tempest - a collaborator on Zero - is one such name.

Surface TensionSurface Tension​ #1
(W/A) Jay Gunn
Titan
$3.99
27 May 2015

In a tweet: A new kind of horror, evoking the genuine terror of the sea and the return of lost souls.

An island cut off from the rest of the world, nu-Lovecraftian horrors from the deep, a human race decimated by the alien pull of the oceans, and now, the return of the departed from their mysterious absence.

Surface Tension Surface Tension

Gunn has created an all new post-apocalyptic scenario born not from space or the undead, but from a far more terrifying expanse of the unknown: the sea. A brand new talent for a brand new horror, Surface Tension could be one monstrous hit.

Harrow CountyHarrow County #1
(W) Cullen Bunn, (A/L) Tyler Crook
Dark Horse
$3.99
13 May 2015

In a tweet: Sinister watercolours blend innocent faces with horrific scenes - definitely one to watch.

If science fiction is my master, then horror is surely my mistress, so there was no way I'd be passing this up. Dark Horse has a fabulous track record with the genre - Rat God and Grindhouse are two of my other current buys - and Bunn (Wolf Moon, Fearless Defenders) is always worth following.

Harrow County begins in a suitably creepy fashion, dipping into a witchy past before bringing us to a present day filled with half truths and secrets. It's not quite as terrifying as Wytches (Scott Snyder, Jock) but it promises to build to something pretty scary nonetheless. Crook really shines here - I enjoyed his sinister looking watercolours in Bad Blood with Jonathan Maberry but he's really brought his A-game here, mixing relatable cartoon faces with horrific scenes.

PiscesPisces #2
(W) Kurtis J. Wiebe, (A) Johnnie Christmas, (C) Tamra Bonvillain, (L) Ed Brisson
Image
$3.99
27 May 2015

In a tweet: A surreal trip into the psychological scars of war that snatches delight from the jaws of confusion.

I picked the first issue up thinking it was science fiction, because, well, those covers right? But it isn't SF at all. Well no, that's not right - it is SF but not at all in the way I was expecting. A veteran bearing the psychological scars of the Vietnam War, Dillon Carpenter is caught between flashbacks to his bloody time in the jungle, visions of the deep void of space, and flashforwards to being an astronaut.

Pisces Pisces

But the trick is in the jumble, as Dillon, a highly unreliable narrator, flicks between those three states and his unravelling life as he returns from war, with each bleeding into the next. That confusion, sharing the surreal elements of dissociation that Dillon struggles with, is what keeps pulling me back into this story. The threads are ever so smooth, carrying you through each issue without difficulty before minutes later thinking, "wait... what?" and diving back in again.

That's very much a testament to how engrossing the work of Christmas is, as he draws you through horrific scenes, reality jumps, and moments of sublime chimerical transition.

Space RidersSpace Riders #2
(W) Fabian Rangel, (A) Alexis Ziritt, (L) Ryan Ferrier
Black Mask
$3.99
13 May 2015

In a tweet: A psychedelic space opera of day-glo proportions - delicious insanity!

Alongside BOOM! and Oni Press, Black Mask is a publisher that I will read absolutely every title from. They just cannot do any wrong, and they continually succeed in earning my trust. Space Riders is no exception, a psychedelic space opera of day-glo proportions, that blasts a '70s aesthetic and late '90s punk edge into the furthest reaches of the cosmos.

Space Riders

It reminds me a little of Raygun Roads actually - so check that out too!

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