Staff Picks – Week of 16/04/2014

Nathan Edmondson (w), Alison Sampson (a)(a)
Image Comics

Chris says: I’m not usually a fan of the graphic novella. Although I’ve enjoyed many of them, that enjoyment only makes me regret the fact they’re so short – fleeting vignettes of greatness that are finished too soon. It’s quite fitting then to read something like Genesis, which in its own way addresses some of these concerns while exploring several others – especially when you consider the fact the word ‘genesis’ indicates a tale of beginnings. In this beginning we meet Adam, a young preacher who is world-weary and doubting his ability to change the world. In reaching for the ultimate solution, he discovers things about himself, including a newfound power to really affect change. As in so many allegories, power corrupts – not just Adam, but those around him – and the answers he thought he’d find become more elusive than ever. This is the best thing Nathan Edmondson has written, and perhaps it’s because he was so inspired by the beautiful art of Alison Sampson and color palette of Jason Wordie. The world the two of them create is grounded at first, then slowly becomes more fantastical with each turning page. Unlike life, where we start out wide-eyed with wonder and slowly become more jaded, Genesis does things the other way around – making each new page more of a ‘revelation’ than the one before. I may be over-selling it here, but Genesis is a well-deserved pick of the week – and at $6.99 easily worth taking a chance on.

B.P.R.D. Hell On Earth: Lake of Fire
Mike Mignola/John Arcudi (w) Tyler Crook (a), Dave Stewart (c)
Dark Horse

Thomas says: This is volume 8 in the continuing Hell On Earth series and it’s a testament to the team that they’re still able to maintain the tension and horror of the ever worsening state of the world as the monsters, demons and great old ones continue to flourish. The B.P.R.D. are understandably strained and it’s this attention to the characters situation that sells the horror so ably. Tyler Cook seems to take delight in depicting the weariness of these people who are clearly losing the war but fight on regardless while Arcudi’s dialogue between the main characters enhances the sense of misery and resilience of their stand. Although the story spends some time with Fenix and her past the main body of the story focuses on the return of Liz Sherman and her new found resolve and control as she actively embraces her powers while trying to save her fellow patients. B.P.R.D. is a consistently well-produced series and Dave Stewart is awesome but you already knew that.

The Superior Spider-Man #31
Dan Slott (w), Giusppe Camuncoli (a)

Liz says: Man, am I gonna miss this book.
I loved The Superior Spider-Man; I sing it’s praises all the time. For thirty-one issues it kept me riveted to the page, forever surprising me with new facets of the idea to explore. It was always one of the first books I’d grab off the shelf and devour, and to be able to do that for the last time this week is bittersweet. But thankfully, the ending did it justice.
From the outset Superior was the kind of story that could have been an unforgivable disaster in the wrong hands, but instead was relentlessly excellent thanks to the skill of a fantastic creative team. A lot of Spidey fans had their hackles raised at the idea of Doc Ock taking over Peter Parker’s body and life, but point for point, Dan Slott addressed all misgivings intelligently, with gusto and a great sense of humor. Otto’s tenure as Spider-man brought up interesting points about heroism, villainy and the area in between that bear a great deal of relevance not only to superhero comics but also to real life situations. Through our misguided, morally dubious hero we experienced equal measures of good and bad, love and tragedy, treachery and redemption. That’s the kind of story I want to read.
Thanks, Mr. Slott, for one of the most fun, thoughtful and thought-provoking tales in Spider-man history. It’s been a pleasure.

Alec Longstreth
Phase Seven Comics

Camila says: What a joy to come back from a couple of weeks away to find tons of lovely books on the ‘new releases’ shelf! The highlights include Katie Skelly’s Operation Margarine, I. N. J. Culbard’s Celeste and Taiyo Matsumoto’s Sunny Vol.3, all of which are excellent, but my weekly pick goest to Alec Longstreth’s Basewood.

I had been looking forward to it for a while now, since seeing the french version at the Angouleme comics festival back in January, and couldn’t wait to sit down and read the whole thing. This much anticipation can be a bad thing, it makes you raise your expectations too much and risk getting disappointed, but this is far from being the case here – Alec Longstreth’s debut graphic novel was absolutely worth the wait!

The book starts with our protagonist waking up in a forest, with no memory of who he is, how he ended up there, or what he should expect to find in such place. And just like him, we, readers, slowly start making sense and putting together the different threads of this absorbing, heart-warming, and gorgeously-drawn story. Highly recommended.

Raygun Roads (Pulp Edition)
Owen Johnson (w), Indio (a)
Changeling Studios

Karl says: Ok, so this isn’t exactly new, but this is a new edition, and the raygunners have conjured up a bad-ass version to coincide with the deadly CULT exhibition currently rocking the Orbital Gallery. And it’s glorious, with a brand new cover which homages / blatantly rips off Jack Kirby’s Forever People, I was always going to love this.

The clever cats at Changeling Studios have also reduced the book down to classic bronze age comic size and printed it on pulpy paper so it really looks and feels like a lost psychedelic chapter from the Fourth World.

Shaky Kane has often referred to “Kirby Consciousness” and Raygun Roads is undeniably a strand in that awesome tapestry. The book has been reviewed in lots of places, so I am not going to heap more praise on it here. Suffice to say, it is a rollicking, mind-blowing romp through Pop Culture, if Brendan McCarthy dipped one of Jack’s brushes in mescaline, and Shaky made the suggestion that the write a punk rock space opera on some sheets of blotter paper, then distributed it to the audience at the first Pistols show, you get the picture.

Last night to kick off the CULT exhibition (featuring original art by Raygun Roads writer Owen Johnson) the Kettleback Pirate, who are the main protagonists of the book, manifested in this dimension and blew the audience away with their shocking performance (if you missed it, we will be posting footage soon). This morning I feel like I died and have been reborn with superpowers. Visit the show and buy this book.

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