Staff Picks – Week of 28/10/2015

Batman: War Games Volume 1
Various (w, a)
DC Comics

Liz says: This long-out-of-print crossover from a golden period during the mid-noughties epitomizes everything I love about Batman stories. It’s a believable crime tale in which gang violence escalates as a response to a mysterious underworld threat, bringing Gotham to war with itself and forcing Batman to call on the extended Bat-family for help. All clues point in a direction you’d least expect, making for thrilling plot twists and deadly consequences. Writers include Greg Rucka, Bill Willingham, Devin Grayson, and Ed Brubaker: these were the days, my friends. This first volume contains over five hundred pages of story, crossing over between the great Bat-books of the time: Batman, Detective, Gotham Knights, as well as Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl and Catwoman. That sounds like a lot of pages, but once you get started, you’ll fly through it and be at the edge of your seat, waiting on the next book.

Rumble #8
John Arcudi and James Harren (w), James Harren (a), Dave Stewart (c)
Image Comics

Ryan says: Halloween is behind us, but that doesn’t mean it has to be forgotten. This fun-filled issue follows our heroes on All-Hallows Eve, as they try in vain to find the parents of a couple seemingly lost young trick-or-treaters, while demonic hound-beasts track them through the streets. Rumble continues to be an exciting and action-packed read; with an indulgent spoonful of comedic wit, and an energized art style unlike anything else out there. If you wish Halloween was just a few days longer, or even if you just feel like reading a fun and frantic story, Rumble may be exactly what you’re after.

Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1
Frank Barbiere (w), Brett Schoonover & Nick Filardi (a)
Marvel Comics

Chris says: This was a really good week for comics. I could’ve easily picked Greg Rucka & Nicola Scott’s Black Magick or Ian McGinty’s Welcome To Showside, but ultimately I had to go with my gut on this one … I’ve been looking forward to Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D. since it was first announced a few months ago. Frank Barbiere has proved himself to be a solid writer within the Marvel stable, and I was very excited to see him and Brent Schoonover tackle this kind of material. Schoonover first caught my eye a while back when he did Mr. Murder Is Dead for Archaia, and I’ve followed his career with great interest ever since. Artistically he walks the fine line between classic and modern, which meshes so well with this new book that evokes the Marvel monster books of years gone by. The inspired combination of Hit Monkey and Man-Thing brings to mind that of Rocket and Groot, but there’s something new to this dynamic that really makes it sing … and don’t even get me started on the brilliance of Orrgo! There’s a danger of this book getting lost in the noise of the other ‘all new, all different’ Marvel releases, but I’m hoping people will give it a chance and not that let happen. This is what fun comics are about, and I can’t wait to see where they take the series next.

Adventure Time 2015 Spoooktacular #1
Hanna K

Earl of Lemongrab says: MMmmgguuhe… If I were writing this comic, I would be the star, it would be set in the Lemongrab castle and everyone will do things my way. Having said that, this Hanna K has created an impressive piece of work. Her beautiful illustrations have warmed my lemon heart and I feel a new sensation I have never felt before. Delight. Reading about Marceline’s backstory has made me slightly less sour. A great sweet story for those wishing to richen their experience of the land of Ooo. Gorgeous drawings, warming colours and clever page structure make this comic acceptable by all accounts.

Island #4
Brandon Graham & others

Karl says: Island continues to be a pleasure to receive every time it ships. Now up to issue 4, this elegant anthology, curated by Brandon Graham and Emma Rios showcases brand new material from some of the more interesting creators in comics today.
Opening with a 6 page visually stunning adventure by Roque Romero where you have to find your way through a fantastical cityscape. Followed closely by an in-depth interview with Farel Dalrymple by veteran podcaster Robin McConnell, which leads into a long (50 page) tale from Farel, allowing him to shift through a number of different styles, I must admit I thought it was several different artists working on a few separate strips back to back when I first glanced at it!

Brandon himself weighs in next with a gorgeous, funny and weird second chapter of his on-going Multiple Warheads comic. Finishing up with an excellent silent comic from manga talent Gael Bertrand, Island maintains the satisfying feel of vintage Heavy Metal, or even the much missed Flight anthologies Image produced a decade ago. Just splendid.

The Arab of the Future
Riad Sattouf
Metropolitan Books

Camila says: Winner of three awards in France, including the Angoulême International Comics Festival’s Prize for Best Album, The Arab of the future: A childhood in the Middle East, 1978-1984 is now finally available in English, just in time to make its way into all the ‘Best of 2015’ lists.

It is the first part of a trilogy where Riad Staffouf chronicles his childhood in Libya in the 80s, starting at a very young age when his parents moved there from France. There is, of course, the political and social side of things, but also a lot of everyday situations, all seen through the eyes of a young child.

Marjane Satrapi’s Persepolis would be an obvious comparison, so instead I’ll just say, it’s sure to be a favourite amongst fans of both Guy Deslie or Joe Sacco, and Michel Rabagliati alike.