Staff Picks – Week of 22/01/2014

Judge Dredd: Mega-City Two #1
By Douglas Wolk (w), Ulises Farins (a)
IDW Publishing

Adam says: Far and away the most interesting IDW Judge Dredd offering thus far, Mega-City Two is fun, punk and smart and a fantastic example of how a different aesthetic and artistic sensibility can revitalise and renew a longstanding property. The premise is perfect for a mini-series: Dredd heads to the West Coast for an exchange visit! Their customs are different, their laws inconsistent, how will our stoic and solemn hero cope with these celebrity-obsessed wasters of the Mega-City Two Justice department? With predictable low tolerance?
Characterisation is instantly recognisable despite the radically different tone of the book. Wolk has a fine grasp of Dredd and refrains from immediately over-playing the culture clash as might be expected. The art, by one Ulises Farinas, is quite the sight to behold. Absolutely packed with content, brimming with fascinating juxtapositions, his immense cityscapes are worth the price of admission alone.
Finally, this first issue also features a genuinely useful piece of ‘backmatter’, as Wolk provides a short, colloquial history of Dredd’s adventures outside of Mega-City One (including discussion of the creative teams behind the stories).

Hacktivist #1
By Alyssa Milano, Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly (w), Marcus To (a)

Chris says: There were a lot of good comics out this week, and a fair few obvious choices that have already been taken, so I wanted to highlight the book which surprised me the most this week … Hacktivist.
The concept is simple: what if the guys who ran Twitter (or an equivalent platform) were also the world’s best hackers – using their ‘powers’ to campaign for social change rather than just selling out to the highest bidder? It’s an interesting premise and I have to thank Alyssa Milano for nailing it perfectly here.
My relationship with Alyssa goes back to high school when we were both a similar age. I went to a fairly strict private school and had a poster of Alyssa (wearing big hair and a hockey jersey) under my desk lid, which was somehow discovered and confiscated … I was forlorn, and it’s a wonder my grades didn’t suffer, but somehow I carried on to become the man I am today.
Fast forward to now and deep down that crush still remains – so to see her taking a stab at comics had my curiosity piqued. I didn’t hold high hopes, as so many celebrity-based comics have failed to impress, but there’s a solid idea here brought to life by a solid (though largely unknown) creative team. I didn’t expect to be saying this, but I’m in … In for the duration, and in for the long-haul. Like Black Mask’s Liberator, and other books with a social conscience, Hacktivist brings something new to comics and highlights the kind of real-world heroes we’d all like to see right now.

Animal Man Volume 5: The Meaning of Flesh
Tom Veitch (w), Steve Dillon, Tom Mandrake, David Klein, Steve Pugh (a)

Thomas says: I never would have believed it, had I been told, that DC would continue reprinting the Animal Man series once they had finished Grant Morrison’s run but I am so glad that they are. I adored this series when it was originally published and actually preferred the work of Milligan (volume 4) and Veitch to the Morrison era.
This particular volume delves further into the truth of Buddy’s powers and his place in both the animal and human worlds and the effect that this has on both his family and the world at large but it’s the soap opera of the Baker family’s trials that really illustrate this conflict so beautifully with Ellen, Cliff and Maxine being fully rounded and important characters to the story whether they appear or not.
The art, mostly by Steve Dillon, is uniformly great whether it’s the family drama or the maddening super heroics enhancing/aiding the story rather than the modern tendency towards nonsense splash pages. This is a must read book for anybody who is enjoying the current series though I would recommend starting with the Morrison run first since this series was a true ongoing narrative.

Deadly Class #1
By Rick Remender (w), Wes Craig (a)

Liz says: Deadly Class hit the ground running this week with a standout first issue that really showcases what comics can do in the hands of a very skilled creative team.
Visually, this book is just stunning. Series artist Wes Craig (Wow! Where the heck did he come from?? Why didn’t I know?) captures the potent emotions perfectly while simultaneously setting a tone of pure cool against a backdrop of eighties Californian punk subculture. And as gorgeous as Craig’s art is on it’s own, it is hugely enriched by Lee Loughridge’s coloring, which makes everything look practically edible. I need to go find everything these artists have ever done, immediately. Rick Remender is really on form with a story influenced by his own youth in Reagan-era San Francisco; the journalistic style he uses to introduce us to our protagonist Marcus Lopez gives us an intimate, heartbreaking look into Marcus’ life on the California streets before thrillingly turning his life upside down. This issue did it all with effortless grace, and I can’t imagine it could have been as effectively done in any other media. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

Battle of the Eyes: Paint is…

Karl says: Over the past few days we had the pleasure of having a live art studio installation in the Orbital Gallery. On Wednesday evening, the Battle Of The Eyes “Paint Is…” show shrieked into life with howling feedback drones from Edwin Pouncey’s electric guitar paintbrush. Soon, Chris Long joined in and the three meter mural the pair created for the opening began to emerge from the neon pink. 35 minutes later, to enthusiastic applause from the audience the first piece was finished and the show was declared open.

With a selection of historical pieces going right back to Nyak Nyak, the comic which appeared in Wiseblood’s Motorslug Record back in 1985 to new, huge originals, and several tasty and super limited new comix prints and shirts, this show runs until Feb. 14th, giving you a chance to marvel at and pick up a genuine piece of underground comix art.

Here’s what you missed on the opening night:

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