Staff Picks – Week of 18/06/2014

Witchfinder: The Mysteries of Unland #1
Kim Newman & Maura McHugh (w), Tyler Crook (a)
Dark Horse Comics

Chris says: This new series of Witchfinder marks a couple of important returns to the Mignola-verse … First up, there’s the obvious reappearance of Sir Edward Grey in a brand new mini-series; and secondly we have the return of Tyler Crook after his recent stint with Jonathan Maberry on Bad Blood. This time around the pair are joined by co-writers Kim Newman and Maura McHugh – names which may be unfamiliar to a US audience, but who have a well-established fanbase here in the UK. As always, there’s a dark mystery afoot and, despite his own protestations, Sir Edward is the only person fit for the task. What appears at first to be a straight up (though slightly puzzling) murder turns into so much more as the local ‘inhabitants’ turn up to scare Grey away. I won’t spoil where this series is going (and to be honest I don’t have much of a clue), but I can’t wait to unravel the mysteries of the fabled Unland. If you haven’t checked in with Witchfinder before then this is a great place to start! You can hear more about Kim & Maura’s plans for the series in my interview with them for the recent Hellboy Day: popculturehound.net/episode-81-hellboy-day-with-mike-richardson-friends

Archie #656
Dan Parent (w/a)
Archie Comics

Adam says: In recent years, the high school drama of Riverdale has featured, by design, notable stories which tackle contemporary societal issues. This issue, focused on fashion designer and blogger, Harper, cousin to the ubiquitous Veronica, addresses questions of disability and representation. In addition to examining the reactions of the surrounding cast to her ‘blinged-out wheelchair’, Harper is thoroughly characterised and wholly capable of discussing her condition openly and positively. Brilliantly, this issue also reflects on the problem of disability binarism with tremendous subtlety and yet to great effect. Dan Parent deserves real praise here for producing a straightforward, informative and above all, mature issue of Archie. As ever, too, this is a tidy and entertaining episode in what could genuinely be argued to be an exceptional soap opera in any medium.

Amazing X-Men v1: The Quest For Nightcrawler
Jason Aaron (w), Ed McGuinness (a)
Marvel Comics

Ryan says: The only problem I’ve had with Marvel’s X-Men series is that the plethora of characters and complex back story means that it’s difficult for newcomers to join the series. Amazing X-Men doesn’t exactly wipe the slate clean, but it does give us an exciting place to join the ride without getting too bogged down. Ed McGuinness’ art never fails to impress me (I loved his work with Jeff Loeb on both Nova and Hulk) and Jason Aaron has written so many other X-Men titles in recent years, he may be the perfect person to helm this title and bring us just what we need to get up to speed. I’d recommend this book for anyone who’s a fan of the blue sword-swingin’ teleporter, or anyone who really just wants to enjoy a fun new Marvel series… after putting a copy of Nova in their hands first, of course.

Star Trek: Harlan Ellison’s City on the Edge of Forever #1
Harlan Ellison, Scott & David Tipton (w), J.K. Woodward (a)
IDW Publishing

Thomas says: City on the Edge of Forever is largely considered to be the best episode of Star Trek ever but is a damaged and dulled version of the original script that was deemed to be far too expensive to film. At least according to Gene Roddenberry who’s relationship with the truth had always been . . . interesting at best stating often on the subject that Ellison “had my Scotty dealing drugs”, though ‘drugs’ are being dealt on the Enterprise Scotty doesn’t even appear in this story as the ‘Great Bird of the Galaxy’ was well aware of. Having been available in print in a number of different volumes it’s nice to finally get a visualised version of the script at last. The art by Woodward fluctuates between obvious photo reference and lovely creativity especially in the depiction of the City of the title, which was notable in the filmed version for it’s absence including the depiction of the ancient Runes of the script as ruins. The adaption itself however is troubling since it already feels stretched out, that it perhaps doesn’t warrant the five issues planned for though having read this story so many times before I may be the wrong person to judge having enjoyed the comic anyway. It’s worth picking up even as just a nice little curio.

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