Staff Picks – Week of 15/06/2016

Dark Night: A True Batman Story
Paul Dini (w) Eduardo Risso (a)
Vertigo

Joe says: I’m not a huge fan of autobiographical comics; the premise of which being the writer thinks their life so interesting that everyone must read about it. However, in this case, I am fascinated by the author’s story. I’ll admit that I haven’t yet finished this original graphic novel but but after months of anticipation I had a sneaking suspicion that it would be my pick of the week – to confirm my theory I began reading on the train and became so engrossed that I almost missed my stop. It’s written in a non-linear style that breaks up even the chance of monotony and breaks the fourth wall repeatedly which makes the narration engaging rather than omniscient. It’s captivating, funny and incredibly moving. Risso also builds on the narrative, treating it with sensitivity and delivering beautiful imagery. The basic concept is a retelling of the time that Dini (Batman: The Animated Series) was brutally beaten by muggers and how he used Batman to overcome it… but it’s so much more. I can’t wait to finish it!

Hellcat Volume One: Hooked On A Feline
Kate Leth (w) Brittney L Williams (a) Natasha Allegri (a)
Marvel

Rosie Says: Do you remember when comics were fun? Sassy and colourful? Not deathly serious and full of murder and terrible acts against women? Before Watchmen? Before DKR? Even then, in those halcyon, sparkly days, there was so much missing from the comic book landscape. Diverse representation was scarce, creator rosters were about as varied as a charity luncheon at a lunch club in an 80s teen movie. Basically comics were lacking. As a queer woman who has always loved comics the last few years have been an absolute joy to behold as that landscape has changed and evolved, as amazing people constantly challenging that status quo. The three amazing creators on this wonderful book have all been a huge part of that movement and my reignited love for mainstream comics.

Hellcat is a book for everyone who’s ever wondered what people with powers do when they want to stop being “super”. A book for anyone who loves sassy, beautiful and NICE people having adventures and teaching bad guys a lesson! It’s a wonderful read, with delightful art by Brittney L. Williams who is a constant joy. Kate Leth as always is a stupendous story teller, taking a forgotten character and bringing her to life, using canon to create a modern meta story that encapsulates everything good about modern comics. Natasha Allegri bestows an entire issue of her incredible talents on us. Seeing Jessica Jones and She-Hulk drawn by the genius behind Bee and Puppycat was one of my comic book moments of the year.

This is a truly lovely, fun and defiantly radical book, which is perfect for anyone whether they’ve read every Marvel book since the dawn of time, or have never picked up a comic in their life.

Superman #1
Peter J Tomasi (w), Patrick Gleason & Mick Gray (a)
DC Comics

Ryan says: Having said our farewells to the Superman of the New 52, we welcome home the original Son of Krypton, bringing with him wife Lois (that’s right, we’re back to the age-old Lois & Clark dynamic) and their young son, all living on a remote farm just like Ma and Pa Kent would have… just with added bonus of superpowers. This may well be one of the best stories so far to come out of the Rebirth event, if for no other reason than giving us a compelling and well executed introduction to Jon Kent – the son of Superman. We get to see him discover his powers (and fear of getting caught using them), his distress over breaking a promise, and genuine admiration for his father. It’s a refreshing perspective on the Man of Steel, and could lead to being the best Superman story told in the last few years. I’m honestly excited to read the next issue and not at all surprised that this one sold out as fast as it did, so when that second print comes out, I definitely recommend picking it up!

Dark Knight Returns: The Last Crusade
Frank Miller & Brian Azzarello (w), John Romita Jr. & Peter Steigerwald (a)
DC Comics

Chris says: The highly anticipated prequel to Dark Knight Returns finally hit stores this week, providing a link between classic Batman continuity and what came afterwards. Neatly balancing the motivations of Batman and the Joker, it provides some deeper insight into their dynamic, setting the stage for Batman’s eventual retirement (and subsequent return). It’s classic Frank Miller, as viewed through the lens of Brian Azzarello, with clever storytelling that visually bridges the gap between the original series and its latest incarnation. John Romita Jr. is in fine form, employing his dynamic style to action pieces while giving the quieter moments their proper weight … and Peter Steigerwald? Well, this book really gives him a chance to shine. The inks and colours blend seamlessly to give readers a sense of the original Klaus Janson/Lynn Varley team, while evoking elements of Neal Adams and Frank himself. Between this and Rebirth, DC are really enjoying a comeback, which for fans of the characters is a very good thing. Even as a one-off character study, The Last Crusade reads beautifully on its own or as part of the larger tapestry.

Batman #1
Tom King (w), David Finch (a)
DC Comics

Liz says: I’ve been a fan of Tom King since his arrival at DC when he (along with co-writer Tim Seeley) surprised the heck out of me with their run on ‘Grayson’, creating a book far bolder and funnier and more full of heart than any other DC book I’d read since the beginning of the New 52. He’s since become one of the most buzzed-about names in comics with his magnificent turn on ‘The Vision’ and his slow-burn political thriller ‘Sheriff of Babylon’. I am certainly in a majority of fans that rejoiced when he was announced as the Batman series writer. I have been counting down the days to his first issue, and now that day has come.

One of the things I liked most about this is that, despite the fact that throughout most of the issue Batman is plummeting to his imminent, unavoidable death on the back of a crashing plane, it’s actually a rather leisurely-paced setup for the issue’s big reveal. It’s only when you get to the very last page that you see what King’s story is going to be about, and when you do, you may be as astonished as I was that this concept has never really been done before with Batman. Unless it has? But it hasn’t… We’re all pretty sure that it hasn’t. Well, go read it for yourself and let me know!

Notes Vol.1: Born to be a larve
Boulet (w/a)
Soaring Penguin Press

Camila says: Finally available in English, the first book of Boulet‘s Notes series. It’s still a mystery to me why publishers weren’t doing all they possibly could to get his out into the english market years ago, but thanks to the lovely folks at Soaring Penguin Press, that matters no more. What matters now is that it’s out, in all its glory.

To make it all the better, Boulet will be in town this week, signing, here at Orbital on Thursday, June 23rd, from 5:30 onwards. So, stop by and grab your copy signed after going and voting in the referendum!