I Read These Comics This Week: January 13-19

faked by Wednesday, January 19th, 2011

First things first: Did you know you can follow me on Twitter now? You can! Follow bwcostello for all your, you know, whatever it is you get from Twitter. Now, on to the comics!

In the spirit of being more deliberate about my comics reading this year, I’m going to post what I read each week from Thursday (when I usually get new comics) to the following Wednesday. Sometimes I will just note that I read it; sometimes I’ll have a short paragraph; maybe sometimes I’ll have a longer write-up. We’ll just see how the spirit moves me. Because the internet has enough reviews-of-what’s-new blogs out there, I’m going to keep up with the older material I’m reading, too. This is mainly just an exercise for me, but maybe some of you will enjoy it. Let’s see how long this lasts!

Andrew Helfer and Bill Sienkiewicz, The Shadow (1987) #1-6. My growing interest in the great visual stylists of mainstream comics in the 1980s has got me to seeking out more of Bill Sienkiewicz’s work, which I’ve always appreciated but never really dug into. Some beautifully anxious, jitter-skittery art here; Sienkiewicz takes the atmosphere of degeneracy and dread pervading 1980s urban living that was a hallmark of Howard Chaykin’s earlier Shadow mini-series and amplifies it until it the signal starts fraying into noise. Great to look at, although Helfer’s antic story lacks the strong individual perspective that Chaykin’s take on the character cohered around.

Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz, Elektra: Assassin #1-8 (1986). Sienkiewicz’s earlier work here is even more sickly-neon glossy; his page layouts are denser and his design sensibility is more integral to the story, which, for all its explosions and stabbings, is really a story about subjectivity—about how porous are the boundaries between self and other (and between subject and object) that we fool ourselves into thinking are solid and clear-lined. I’m not sure it’s an entirely successful treatment of that theme, but an interesting and unsettling one.

Matt Fraction and Fabio Moon, Casanova: Gula #1. This is at least the fourth time I’ve bought some version of this comic, which reprints Casanova v. 1 #8-9 (along with some bonus material). I keep buying it to give it away; it’s in the “prosleytize” file along with J4C, U.S.!, and the original First Comics recolored collected edition of American Flagg! #1-3. This is the storyline that turned me from casual reader to partisan advocate for the series, partly because it so thoroughly dismantles the icy-cool distance that was such a part of the first arc and replaces it with a dozen kinds of sexy mess. New storyline starts once the reprint wraps up—can’t wait.

Jonathan Hickman and Stefano Caselli, Secret Warriors vol 3: Wake the Beast. I’ve always loved SHIELD and its gaggle of shadowy world-beating counter-organizations, so I’ve been enjoying Hickman’s take on an intriguing question: What if Nick Fury discovered he was working for the bad guys all along? I like Caselli’s art on the superhero titles he works on, and he’s fine here, but I wish there were a stronger design sense throughout. Maybe Hickman, who designed the eye-popping The Nightly News, could get to try his hand at an issue or three?

Paul Cornell and Jimmy Broxton, Knight and Squire #4 (of 6). Cornell’s relaxed, deliberately low-stakes look at superheroism in the UK is the perfect antidote to the relentlessly overhyped universe-exploding event-driven mainstream at DC and Marvel. This series makes me think Cornell would be the perfect writer for the inevitable Marvel Two-in-One revival. I would read a book that was about the Thing hanging out at a neighborhood bar and troubleshooting for his drinking buddies, wouldn’t you?

Mike Mignola, John Arcudi, and Guy Davis. BPRD: Hell on Earth: Gods #1. Writers of the above noted universe-exploding events pay heed: This is how you scale your post-explosion status quo down to the human level again so that you have at least the illusion that whatever comes next matters.

Also read:
Secret Six #29
Batman and Robin 19

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