Staff Picks – Week of 13/01/2016

InseXts #2
Marguerite Bennett (w), Ariela Kristantina (a), Bryan Valenza (c)
AfterShock Comics

Chris says: AfterShock Comics are a new player on the scene, but you can already tell a lot of thought and preparation went into their launch. Unlike some other publishers who have struggled and stumbled out of the gate, AfterShock have started strong with some excellent offerings from new and veteran creators. Over the next few weeks you can look forward to American Monster by Brian Azzarello & Juan Doe and Second Sight by David Hine & Alberto Ponticelli (for which we’ll be hosting a signing), but for me the most exciting so far has been Marguerite Bennett & Ariela Kristantina’s InseXts. It’s a lush period piece unlike any other – combining all the things that are great about comics today with some of the classic tropes of English literature. The result is fresh, unique, and makes for a surprisingly satisfying monthly read (something I look for more and more these days). Marguerite Bennett had already hit her stride and overcome being yet another Scott Snyder protégé, but I think this book really cements her place as a new and creative voice in comics. As for Ariel Kristantina, well … I can’t speak highly enough. She’s been a wonderful revelation whose art is simply a sight to behold. It perfectly matches the tone of the book in every way – capturing the beauty and terror of our two leads, as well as the world they inhabit. It’s all capped off with Bryan Valenza’s sumptuous colour palette and A Larger World’s subtle lettering. In the wake of the Big Two’s succession of heavy-handed relaunches, you should do yourself a favour and try something that’s genuinely fresh and new.

Ross says: Looks like we’re doubling down on the praise for InseXts this week.
I was actually suggested this by Chris, and I’m glad because its completely unlike anything I’d normally pick to read myself. Of course, the cover art and is gorgeous and every page is a delight to look at. But its the writing that’s sold me, the perfect contrast between the rigid social structure and language of a classic period drama, with the absurdity of the half-insect, star-crossed forbidden lovers and their quest for love and revenge. A little like “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” in juxtaposition of regency-style and sci-fi substance, but the final product is so much more satisfying and delightful to read.

If you aren’t already sold on this comic, then at the very least I implore you to check out this second issue for one reason alone: it the contains possibly the greatest two pages of vitriolic insults and threats you will read this year. Its impossible to read the last two pages of this months issue and not be a little impressed.

Holy F*cked
Nick Marino (W), Daniel Arruda Massa (a)
Action Lab: Danger Zone

Thomas says: Despite having chosen this mini series as a part of my picks of the year for 2015, I feel compelled to choose this newly released collection partially because it’s a great, fun book and partially because everything else that’s out at the moment is complete and utter s**t! Full disclosure; I am quoted on the back of this volume and I can assure you that I wouldn’t have my name on anything that I didn’t like because, quite frankly, I am that arrogant. Now, Holy F*cked is incredibly childish and crass but that is the point. It’s a fun comic taking the p*ss out of the Grim/Dark, arrested development dross of the big two and their awful superhero books with gleeful joy. The first volume dealt with the overblown apocalyptic style event storytelling while this installment deals more with the soap opera, gathering of heroes aspect of superhero comics and has a lot of joy doing so with both Marino and Arruda Massa pushing each other to go as big or as small as possible. There is also a lot of fun back matter material describing the ‘creation’ of these books. The only real downside is Action Lab’s printing policies as their trades are simply the four issues shoved together inside one cover ads et al which is really annoying and disrupts the flow of the story. Ad time: Another reason I chose this book is that both gentleman will be joining us for a signing on Friday 12th February 2015 from 5–7 pm followed by a director’s commentary so come along and check it out.

Trinity Deluxe Edition HC
Matt Wagner (w/a)
DC Comics

Ryan says: Among the multitude of talented individuals in the DC creative pool, there are few who can birth a graphic novel as strong and timeless quite as Eisner Award winner Matt Wagner. His interpretations of Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman feature all the elements that make those characters true icons and staples of the superhero genre. Set in an age before the creation of the Justice League, this beautifully printed Deluxe Edition brings the DC classics together for the first time, joining forces when a new supervillain-team is born featuring Ra’s Al Ghul, Bizarro and Artemis, posing a threat on a global scale. Stories like this were the driving force of the Golden and Silver Ages, and yes, while Frank Miller’s dark and gritty branding of the trio in his Dark Knight series sets the tone that the movies seek to emulate, “Trinity” proudly totes these characters in their archetypal forms. Simply put, these are the heroes that inspire heroes, and there’s no good reason to avoid picking this title up if you’re eagerly anticipating the new DC cinematic universe, or even just looking for a place to start reading DC comics.