10 April 2017

Catching Up On Comics

Over the past couple of years, I've fallen way behind on my reading. I'm working to correct that as I start focusing on conquering my to-read pile. 

Nighthawk: Hate Makes Hate
Marvel made a bold choice in handing the keys to a post-Secret Wars Nighthawk to David F. Walker and Ramon Villalobos who take an in-your-face approach to Black Lives Matter, racism, and gentrification. It's been said that this Nighthawk is the Malcolm X to Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze's Black Panther's MLK Jr. That shows with Walker's unrelenting approach in addressing the corruption of Chicago that allows for hundreds to die while a few profit. The violence in the book could have been a turn off if not for the art of Ramon Villalobos and colorist Tamra Bonvillain. Villalobos takes the clean line approach of Frank Quitely while adding a focus on fashion and style. His art has continued to become more confident during his run at Marvel over the last couple of years. Bonvillain throws in colors of hot pink, orange and cool blue bringing a sexy Batman: Zero Year look to a very real Chicago. Martín Morazzo's work as a fill-in artist for two issues carries on an artist continuity thanks to a similar style and is not as jarring as fill-ins can oftentimes be. Unfortunately, this iteration of Nighthawk only lasted for six issues before cancellation due to lack of sales. That said, this is a book that Marvel should be commended for publishing.

The Goddamned
Jason Aaron and R.M Guera's take on the Old Testament is something I have been anticipating to read ever since it was announced at an Image Expo a few years back. Seemingly taking inspiration from Darren Aronofsky's underrated Noah, The Goddamned is a weird and ugly reexamination of the world's most famous book. After collaborating on Scalped, the two creators focus on life before the flood with the world's first murderer Cain as our unlikely protagonist. Jason Aaron is one of the best writers working today with his work on Thor and Southern Bastards. His version of the Old Testament strips it of any holy wonder and leaves behind the often horrifying implications of life created by an omnipotent and judgmental being. R.M. Guera creates a nightmare landscape where every person carries at least one mark of battle and every animal is somehow monstrous. But it's their take on a devout character that every child from Sunday school knows that makes this book terrifying. The Goddamned seems to go in and out on hiatus for months at a time but there is a promise of more to come.

And Then Emily Was Gone
Combine a missing girl mystery, a local bogeyman legend, and a touch of Lovecraft, you might wind up with John Lees and Iain Laurie's And Then Emily Was Gone. To what end would down on their luck parents go to try and save themselves? Bonnie Shaw is the answer. This comic was unsettling to say the least. Lees' pacing and Laurie's cartooning built an air of unease as I read it. Colorist Megan Wilson's use of flats over Laurie's work was a brilliant choice. Few horror comics are able to accomplish what Emily did with an intense atmosphere and commitment to story. The TPB's inclusion of variant covers from Riley Rossmo, Nick Pitarra, Joe Mulvey along with some back material from Lees helped flesh out the world as well. This is one of the true "independent" books I had in my stack and it is an inspiration to see a creative team bust their ass to put out a product this good.

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