Staff Picks – Week of 22/11/2017

Portugal
Cyril Pedrosa
Fanfare – Ponent Mon

Thomas says: We are well and truly spoiled this week with the release of Kirby’s Challengers of the Unknown and the reprint of the classic Batman: Year Two that includes the sequel Full Circle, and now Pedrosa’s Portugal is finally in English. I had seen a copy of this book the last time I was in Belgium and had been tempted to pick it up but the language barrier had put me off. Should’ve paid attention in class.

This book is a trip down memory lane for Pedrosa as he recounts childhood memories through his stand-in, comics artist Simon Muchat. Vaguely biographical, Portugal follows disheartened Muchat as he travels from France to a comic convention where he reminisces about his childhood in Portugal and finds a new lease on life through his family and experiences.

The book is warm in both colour palette and in sentiment, with Pedrosa weaving an uplifting story that left this reader with a smile on his face by the end.

Motor Girl #10
Terry Moore (w/a)
Abstract Studios

Joe says: The final issue of Terry Moore’s Motor Girl is as beautiful as it is devastating.

Doomsday Clock #1
Geoff Johns (w), Gary Frank (a)
DC Comics

Liz says: Whether you’re for or against it, you’ve been hearing the tick, tick, tick of the countdown to Doomsday Clock. Now the time has arrived and the verdict is in: It’s actually pretty good.

If you’re in grave opposition to besmirching the sanctity of Watchmen, Doomsday Clock probably isn’t for you. But should you choose to read it through the lens of an Elseworlds story (which is what I’m doing) it’s an enjoyable book, and so far it stands up to scrutiny as a respectful follow-up.

It’s also the best bit of writing Geoff Johns has done since his surprisingly great DC Rebirth #0. He and artist Gary Frank have put a lot of care into the presentation and tone of Doomsday Clock as an official sequel to Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ masterwork. The nine-panel grid is adhered to, as is the exposition-heavy, fragmented voice-over of our unreliable narrator.

Watchmen took a dark look at superheroes, humanizing them by treating them as flawed individuals. It’s too early at this stage to say, but Doomsday Clock may be a response to that idea. Wouldn’t it be kind of neat to see the most symbolically cynical heroes in comics confronted with the irrefutable goodness of Superman, for example? I’m interested to see if that’s the direction we’re headed in.

Watchmen is a complete, self-contained story, and revisiting the characters thirty years later through the eyes of a different creative team does nothing to change that. Doomsday Clock is a reminder that in comics, nothing is sacred, and no one ever really stays dead, so you might as well join the party as long as it’s fun.

Dylan Dog: Mater Dolorosa
Roberto Recchioni (w), Gigi Cavenago (a)
Epicenter Comics

Ryan says: For those looking to take a step away from the traditional superhero narrative, we’ve got the perfect balance of macabre and fantastic for you in one of Italy’s most famous titles – Dylan Dog.

In a beautifully told one-shot story celebrating the 30th anniversary of Tiziano Sclavi’s landmark series, the so-called “Nightmare Investigator” of London must overcome both past and present when the mother of disease, Mater Morbi, makes her return. Even translated from Recchioni’s original Italian script, the words have a certain poetry to them, and twinned with Cavenago’s beautiful colour-rich artwork, it certainly makes for an immersive and emotional read.

You rarely see comics of this caliber outside of the big publishers, which made Mater Dolorosa, to me, a clear and definitive top pick.

Queen Street Volume 01
Emmanuelle Chateauneuf
Chapterhouse

Will says: We are taken through a day in the life of Aimee, a struggling mother to only child, Melodie, an intelligent and imaginative seven year old girl. Set in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, Canada, we are introduced to an array of eccentric characters and explore the daily struggles of Aimee and Melodie.

Emmanuelle has created a very honest story and is clearly very empathetic to all of the cast, capturing everything that is magical about a Studio Ghibli movie. This book is beautifully charming and deliciously gorgeous, I highly recommend it to everyone!