Staff Picks – Week of 21/08/2019

Strayed #1
Carlos Giffoni (w), Juan Doe (a)
Dark Horse Comics

Chief says: Strayed is a book that comes at you and manages to push all the right buttons. In Giffoni & Doe’s futurist world, we start in media res with a scientist having already invented the technology that allows her to communicate with animals via thought (something we all want really, if only to make sure our cats DON’T KNOCK THAT GLASS OF WATER OVER!). Coupled with her own feline companion’s ability to astral project itself through space makes her a target of opportunity for a human race that’s run out of options for extending it’s resources.

There’s lots to enjoy here for us fans of sitting around on the internet wondering about the vastness of the universe, in-between looking at videos of cats KNOCKING THAT GLASS OF WATER OVER! You’ve got animal rights, ecological morality, even slavery. Giffoni’s tactile, subtle handling of these subjects make this a joy to read. Couple that with Doe’s trippy, Kirby-esque art that makes feel like he really HAS been to space… basically, this is a book for now.

Sure, it’s set tomorrow. But like all good sci-fi that speaks to us of how we live in the future, this talks about your life today. My hope is that Giffoni will pursue the expanse of this story to it’s emotional edges and then past them. It’s a gorgeous looking comic with a good heart and smart, intellectual edge. It deserves to be read. Now, about that glass of water…

Spawn: Enemy Of The State TPB
Todd McFarlane (w), Jason Shawn Alexander (a)
Image Comics

Gerald says: Like many people at the time, I was hugely excited when Todd McFarlane wrapped up his Spidey run at Marvel to launch Spawn with his friends at Image Comics. I read the first 50+ issues religiously, then slowly, over time, my enthusiasm waned. I would come up for special events or the occasional milestone (#100, 150, 200, etc.) and was starting to get excited again with the impending release of Spawn #300 next week. It may not have been all-Todd, all-the-way, but it’s still an impressive feat for any independent title to reach 300 issues under the watchful eye of its original creator.

And that’s why this week was the perfect time to release Spawn: Enemy of the State, which collects the second arc of Todd and Jason Shawn Alexander’s current run on the title. Arguably, you could say this is a continuation of the first arc – as the pair started with issue #276 and have been building to #300 since that moment – but this is still an accessible run in its own right, especially for those like me who want to revisit the series and find out what old Al Simmons has been up to.

What’s particularly exciting for an old fan like me is how much of the original mythology is being revisited and renewed. Along the way we get to see the return of some classic villains – including Overtkill, Cy-gor, The Curse, The Freak, and, of course, the dreaded Violator – but the main thrust of Spawn’s murderous rampage is to find out who killed his wife, Wanda. As always, Wanda is (and remains) Al’s primary motivation – a motivation that drives him to some pretty extreme lengths in this arc, and sets the character on a course where he’s more the puppet-master than the puppet. The result is something that feels like classic Spawn of old, but made for today.

For those of you who also drifted away (and are perhaps a little curious), this arc is a great point to jump back on and see what’s been happening in Spawn’s world. Todd’s vision is as clear as ever – even down to the welcome return of the ‘talking heads’ on the TV screens throughout the narrative – and Jason Shawn Alexander’s rendering is a delight. He gives nods to various eras and creators from the series, while delivering work that is still uniquely and obviously his. In short, it’s a great point to start dabbling again – and be sure to pick up Spawn #300 this coming week.