Staff Picks – Week of 23/09/2015

One-Punch Man Vol. 1 and 2
One (w), Yusuke Murata (a)
Viz Media

Thomas says: For whatever reason Viz have released the first two volumes of this web series at the same time and I for one am not complaining about that. James had been biging up this series for a while now and he was absolutely right about it, it’s hilarious. One-Punch Man is the greatest superhero in the world defeating all manner of opponents and villains with a single punch. The writer, One, manages to distil superhero fiction down to its most simplistic core with tongue in cheek reverence and a whole lotta humour doing it with a great deal of style while Murata’s art is dynamic and incredibly kinetic bringing a visceral life to the fights that I haven’t seen in comics for years if not decades. This is a fun read.

Step Aside, Pops
Kate Beaton ( w / a )
Jonathan Cape

Liz says: Finally! The second collection of ‘Hark! A Vagrant’ is out and I get to laugh myself into hysterics all over again. Cartoonist Kate Beaton’s wildly popular webcomic plays to her love of history, literature and pop culture; whether she’s riffing on Lois Lane, Wuthering Heights or the French revolution, you’re gonna be laughing about it, a lot. Sharp and uniquely funny as ever, this book is a huge treat and I’ll be counting down the days until the next one.

Exit Generation #1
Sam Read (w), Caio Oliveira & Ruth Redmond (a)

Chris says: I’m always quick to sing the praises of pro-active, savvy creators. It’s one thing to create a book, sit back, and hope it does well – but it’s a whole other thing to go beyond that, explore the business side of things, and figure out how you can actively push something yourself. Exit Generation writer Sam Read is one of those special breed who is prepared to go the extra mile. Sam did his time in the trenches at the excellent OK Comics in Leeds, where he learned the retail side of the business and how he could best reach his customers at various levels. The result is this wonderful book that’s finally enjoying a mainstream release courtesy of rising publisher ComixTribe. Exit Generation tells the story of Earth 30 years from now, after food shortages have caused majority of the population to go off-planet in seach of a better life. It doesn’t work out, but for those left behind things start to improve – until the arrival of the malevolent Ruleians, who are trying to address their own food shortages with people-shaped snacks. If that concept doesn’t grab you then it’s okay – because the characters will. Read manages to write believable and relateable dialogue, without overstating things or getting too wordy. No doubt that’s in part to the guiding hand of editor Adam P. Knave, who co-writes Amelia Cole and Artful Daggers, two of my favourite Monkeybrain books – but it’s also down to the remarkable team Sam has assembled around him. Artist Caio Oliveira is a real discovery, as is colorist Ruth Redmond and letterer Colin Bell – both of whom have since been discovered by the mainstream. Cap that off with covers by Ramon Villalobos and Joe Mulvey, and you have one slick package. You may not have heard of Exit Generation, Sam Read or ComixTribe before, but I highly recommend you take a chance and join them on this journey – it’s a hell of a ride. You can hear Sam talk more about Exit Generation and his work in our interview from earlier this year.

Y: The Last Man – The Deluxe Edition Book 3
Brian K Vaughn (w), Pia Guerra (a)
Vertigo Comics

Will says: It’s hard to muster up any enthusiasm for comics after a couple of boring weeks. That’s very subjective, I guess I should say I’ve been having a tough time getting excited enough about anything new. So my pick of the week will be sticking with something safe. Vertigo have been releasing reprints of Vaughn’s Eisner award winning series from 2002 following the epic adventure of the last man on earth. The writer of Saga sells his own books just by being who he is, and nothing I say can make it do better than it already will. These sizeable deluxe paperbacks are a great way to digest the series that made many, including me, fall in love with Vaughn’s work. If you’re a fan of Saga and want to experience Vaughn’s previous (and greatest) work, then this is the best way to do so.

Make sure you keep an eye out for a very special Orbital In Conversation podcast, where our very own Chris meets the man himself, Brian K Vaughn!

Wolf #3
Ales Kot (w), Matt Taylor(a)

Paul says: I usually find Kot’s work a little on the pretentious side. Anyone who’s reading Material (also on Image) may agree*. It’s as if he hasn’t got enough confidence in the text and action of the story and what’s to let you know how clever he is by putting in lots of pseudo-intellectual asides to whatever he’s reading online this year. There’s nothing like stopping a comic dead in it’s tracks so you can say ‘Look at my mind!’ Fact of the matter is, comics a supposed to be a emotional medium. Sure, the more intelligent the better. But don’t try to isolate people with intellectual musings.

What a refreshing change Wolf is then. Instead of psycho analysis and ghosts in the machine, we get genuine psychos and real ghosts. Wolf is the story of a paranormal investigator, a street level spook-hunter who deals with vampires and Lovecraftian creatures for fun and profit. He’s also his ex-girlfriends hitlist (she’s a demon) for some unknown betrayal. And he’s saddled with a best-friend with a face full of tentacles (he used to do porn) and a vampire slum-lord who wants to raise said friend’s rent. We follow Wolfe as he navigates the modern haunted Los Angeles, having to constantly compromise and make moral calls he’d rather not have to. Yeah, it’s all elements we’ve seen before, but Kot ties them together in a pleasing way that makes them feel refreshing and new. He also gives us a character who is likeable, rather than being a likeable rogue. He genuinely wants to do the right thing as opposed to someone like John Constantine (a great character, but a bastard) who is morally ambiguous as they come. For me, this is Kot’s best book of the year.

*(For the record, I’m actually quite enjoying Material. I could just do without all the footnotes).

Howard The Duck TP Vol 00 What The Duck
Chip Zdarsky (w), Joe Quinones (a)
Marvel Comics

Ryan says: It has to be said, among all the characters in Marvel’s wacky back-catalogue, I’d have thought a goofy-looking anthropomorphic duck would be the least likely to be any good. But Chip Zdarsky (Sex Criminals) has definitely proved me wrong, and I can safely say I’m now cheering in Howard the Duck’s corner. Running his own private detective agency, and with the help of a new assistant (the shapeshifting Tara Tam), he’s hired to retrieve a stolen necklace from the Spidey-fan-favourite villainess, Black Cat! Featuring loads of fun cameos and a barrel full of eye-watering gags, Howard has become one of my new favourites from the new Marvel lineup, and I now eagerly await the upcoming arc, post Secret Wars.

And for those of you eager to learn more about the creative process that went into reviving the formerly-laughable character into his own, check out over an hour of insight from Chip Zdarsky’s Director’s Commentary at Orbital Comics!

Fable Comics
Various Artists
First Second

Camila says: Following Nursery Rhyme Comics and Fairy Tale Comics, First Second now graces us with Fable Comics, another great anthology with comic adaptations of both classic and lesser known fables for readers of all ages.

This one counts with contributions by James Kochalka, Jaime Hernandez, Eleanor Davis, Tom Gauld, Maris Wicks, Corinne Mucha, Simone Lia and lots of other awesome cartoonists.