Now featuring a salutary nod to the webcomics and daily strips that I have been forgetting to mention!
Afrodisiac. Jim Rugg and Brian Maruca have a (black) dynamite high concept: What if the tropes and idioms of blaxploitation narratives had come to dominate mainstream comics the way that the tropes and idioms of superhero narratives have? How strange, how uncanny, would it be to read a sampling of stories from a world in which these conventions were naturalized in the same way that the no-less-bizarre conventions of superhero comics have been here? I thoroughly enjoyed Afrodisiac, but I can’t help but feel that Rugg and Maruca could have pressed further: I liked the array of imagined covers from a variety of genres and eras (Bronze Age Marvel, Dell funny animal, EC horror, romance, shojo manga, et cetera), but the “excerpts” from various Afrodisiac comics are all drawn in roughly the same style. Why not bring the same variety that we see on the covers to the narrative portions as well? And as long as you’re imagining a world dominated by the blaxploitation genre, why not reflect on the business and economic decisions that led to that dominance? Ultimately the book comes off as fun but slight; maybe that’s all its creators were going for, but it feels like a missed opportunity nonetheless.
Black Heart Billy. You read Tim Jones’s interview with Rick Remender, right?
Incognito: Bad Influences #4. Colorist Val Staples is killing it here.
Incredible Hulks #623. My plan was just to stick with the Parker/Hardman Hulk series (justly praised by Chris Sims here) but the issue’s jaunt to the Savage Land convinced me to give it a shot. I actually didn’t realize that Greg Pak was back on board as writer; he wrote some of the best Hulk stories of recent years, so I’ll stick around for a while and see how this plays out.
Joe the Barbarian #8
“Portrait of the Artist as a Young %A?*!” from Art Spiegelman’s reissued Breakdowns.
Secret Warriors #25
Shadow #9 (1988)
Tales of the Fear Agent
Thunderbolts #154. I was perfectly okay with Jeff Parker not explaining why it made any kind of sense for the Man-Thing to join the Thunderbolts, but then we would have missed a clever and graceful story that makes the Man-Thing more monstrous and more human all at once. Parker is adept at pulling together pieces from Marvel’s big patchy shared universe to develop character and generate emotional resonance, not just to earn nerd points. Although nerd points are not to be sneezed at! I’m hoping to redeem mine for a new Schwinn 10-speed. (This reminds me that I once actually sent away for the Captain O sales kit. I didn’t sell much.)
Secret Avengers #10
Secret Six #31 This comic had a very last-season-of-Angel feel. I mean that in the best way.
Sunday funnies in the Baton Rouge Advocate
Uptight #4. Jordan Crane uses visual clutter in a highly appealing way in these two very different stories.