Staff Picks – Week of 21/11/18

Flavor TPB
Joseph Keatinge (w), Wook Jin Clark (a)

Chief says: This came as something of a surprise to me, a book I judged (at least at first) solely on it’s cover. But hey its a comic. How else are you supposed to judge it? Besides, there was a cute dog on the front chopping vegetables and I love a dog that can prep correctly. Seriously though, this is not a book I’d normally read or even consider buying. The fact that it’s been one of my 2018 favourites is as much news to me as to you.

Flavor posits a world where chef’s are celebrities and everyone lives in a quasi-medieval, far eastern-influenced walled city. Unlicensed chefs are both rife and frowned upon and one of the days’ main excitements is the race for the train, delivering ingredients to this hungry world. the book takes an almost gladiatorial view of cookery, presenting us with Xoo, an underage unlicensed chef with great talent (and that cool dog) who may or may not choose to enter the biggest cooking competition in all the land.

This is one of a few books recently, aimed at the YA market, that have a culinary bent. I salute this as there’s nothing wrong with giving younger readers a passion for food and stretching their tastebuds, along with showing them what is one of purest autodidactic pleasures for all of us: the alchemic throwing together of ingredients over flame to make a meal.
This is firmly in the Ghibli fashion, given us a similar mood and style, whilst retaining a slight menace, some great plot twists and a beautiful sense of world building and genuine love for it’s universe and indeed for food. Keatinage’s plotting is excellent and Clark brings a clear sense of what works in terms of story and feel. The colours by Tamra Bonvillain are warm and inviting and the lettering by Ariana Maher is pitch perfect, aiding Keatinge in giving everyone a clear voice. This isn’t what I’d normally pick for my plate, but like that hungry orphan i’m left at the end, having eaten the whole thing saying ‘Please sir, can I have some more?’.

Silver Surfer by Slott & Allred Omnibus
Dan Slott (w), Mike Allred (a)
Marvel Comics

Joe says: Slott and Allred’s two volume run on Silver Surfer ended just over a year ago and with its conclusion I stated that it was a series truly deserving of an omnibus – least of all to see Allred’s gorgeous artwork blown up to the bigger trim size. The series is a beautiful love story set against a backdrop of all the best elements of Marvel’s cosmic universe. As I stated in my review of the penultimate issue: this series is destined to become a modern classic.

American Carnage #1
Bryan Hill (w), Leandro Fernandez (a)

Scott says: Vertigo books often bare the burden of high expectation, cast in the shadow of Preacher, Transmetropolitan, Sandman and dozens of other socially poignant, hard-hitting titles that say so much more than just the words on the page. Kicking off a new Vertigo series is no easy feat and it’s against this backdrop that American Carnage has not only started – it’s roared out of the gate in startlingly impressive fashion.

To say this debut issue doesn’t hold back would be a gross understatement, and given the nature of the story, that’s no surprise. Opening with Agent Curry of the FBI, one of our two protagonists, detailing a horrific encounter linked to an investigation into Nazi extremism, the reader plummets into powerful story beat after powerful story beat. Police brutality, ‘Corporate America’, narcotic dependency, racial privilege, gun violence – Hill threads all of these very real, very disturbing facets of American society into a story vividly illustrated by Fernandez, who inks so beautifully that I could stare at many of these pages for hours.

There’s so much to absorb here, and yet the pacing of the issue is relentless, giving the reader just enough time to dwell on the atrocity, before shunting them forward to the next. American Carnage #1 has lit the fuse on a whole factory of fireworks that I’m looking very forward to watching explode, violently and continuously until it’s harrowing crescendo.