THIS WEEK’S STAFF PICKS

Life with Mr. DangerousLife With Mr. Dangerous
By Paul Hornschemeier
Villard Books

Camila says: Originally serialized in the pages of Fantagraphics’ quarterly anthology Mome, Life With Mr. Dangerous is now out on Villard as a fully self-contained novel. An easy way to describe the book would be to draw comparisons to Dan Clowes or Adrian Tomine, but Paul Hornschemeir’s story certainly deserves more than being filed in the “has-been-done-before” pile. It is true the premise reads like something we’ve seen way too many times – a twenty-something girl with no self-esteem, a job she hates, a boyfriend who she is not in love with, blah, blah, blah, but Hornschemeir does have more than enough style and quirks to make the story his own, and he does it beautifully.

Scalped #50Scalped #50
By Jason Aaron, R.M. Guera, Dean Haspeil and others
Vertigo

Sharon says: Best comic this week bar none. Jason Aaron can tell a story. The 50th issue begins with a bit of a horrific scalping scene, but leads into a story about family, tradition and how much a person can take before they put up a fight. His language is tense and poetic in equal measures, letting the reader breathe in the feelings of discontent faced by invader and invaded alike. Regular artist R. M. Guera paints a stunning picture. Every panel brings together past and present brutal images of native American and white anxiety, anger and defiance, bringing a deeper understanding to the world that’s been with us for a good four years. With help from notable guest art from among others Jordi Bernet, Steve Dillon and (personal favourite Brendan McCarthy), Scalped #50 IS the best comic in the store. Roll on #51.

Batman Incorporated #7Batman Incorporated #7
By Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham
DC Comics

Simon says: A great done-in-one following the lo-fi crime fighting exploits of the Native American Batman, Man-of-Bats, this issue yet again proves that Batman Inc is the best Bat-book there is (with Snyder’s Detective a close second). Chris Burnham has proven himself to be a more than capable replacement for Morisson’s best collaborators (Quitely springs to mind). Be sure to check out Mindless Ones’ interview with Burnham here. It’s just a pity the DC relaunch means that the book will soon be on a six month hiatus.

The Goon #34The Goon #34
By Eric Powell and Dave Stewart
Dark Horse

Karl says: It’s good to have the Goon back. Twilight-y vampires are swiftly dealt with and a war-spasming orphan is despatched in good old Goon style. Also, plenty of boozing in Norton’s. A solid return. I feel safer knowing the Goon is back.

Detective Comics #878Detective Comics #878
By Scott Snyder and Jock
DC Comics

Liz says: If I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: Detective is currently the best book DC has on the shelf. Just when you think that what you’re getting is an action-based issue that terrifically concludes the current story arc, the subplot from two issues ago rears up and swallows everything else whole. Though I refer to it as subplot, the James Gordon Jr. story is the real meat and bones of Snyder’s run on Detective. A chill comes off the page every time this character appears, and the suspense involved in working out his true nature has been wildly enjoyable. There should be more Batman stories like this: dark, exhilarating stories that linger in our thoughts long after we’ve shut the last page. And about that last page…

Butcher Baker #4Butcher Baker #4
By Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston
Image

Chris says: Initially I found Butcher Baker to be rather repellent. After an aggressive, and somewhat obnoxious, marketing campaign by Image Comics the book failed to live up to the hype (or so it seemed.) The first issue sold out in record time, but subsequent issues became easier to get – and not just because retailers had bothered to up their orders. I decided to revisit the book with issue 3 and was pleasantly surprised. From there I went back and read issues 1 to 3 consecutively, and I started to see a pattern taking shape. Once again Joe Casey was flirting with greatness – creating something that few people would see or understand until it was too late. He did it with WildCATs, and he did it again with Automatic Kafka. Hell, if I think about it, he’s probably done it a lot of times … Maybe I should revisit his Uncanny X-Men run sometime soon and see what I make of it now? Joe Casey is a man with his finger on the pulse of our times. A lot of us only see it with the benefit of hindsight, so I’m glad I gave Butcher Baker a second chance now. If issue 3 was the eye-opener, then issue 4 was the clincher. There’s a lot more going on here than just gratuitous sex, potty mouth and balls-to-the-wall violence. This is Joe Casey’s take on the late 80s anti-hero living through the winter of his discontent. He’s not in his twilight years just yet, but he might as well be – at least until the government comes calling once more. So, what’s going to happen? Can those grim and gritty heroes of the late 80s/early 90s find a place in the world today? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m just hoping Joe Casey has the answers to this and the other interesting questions he raises. If he doesn’t, then at least he knows what to ask. I’d say wait for the trade on this one, because it reads so much better in chunks than single issues, but then you’d miss out on the other really great part of the book … Joe Casey’s ramblings at the end of each issue. Rather than a letters column full of sycophantic praise and wild confusion, Casey opts for a stream-of-consciousness column which never fails to please. It may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but I highly recommend that you visit (or revisit) Joe Casey and Mike Huddleston’s innovative work – especially if, like me, you were one of the early ones to jump ship.

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