THIS WEEK’S STAFF PICKS

Black PathsBlack Paths
by David B.
Self Made Hero

Chris says: I’ll be the first to admit that David B’s Black Paths is not my regular sort of pick. I tend to stay fairly centred within the mainstream, but Black Paths stood out to me with its striking cover and arresting interiors. It reminded me a little of the Tintin books I used to read as a kid, and I think that’s a fair comparison – It’s Tintin by way of Casablanca and The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Starting in 1919, Black Paths explores the powder keg of Europe in the wake of World War I, specifically focusing on the independent city state of Fiume. The book hovers somewhere between a straight tale and a political satire, telling the story of ex-soldier Lauriano and cabaret singer Mina as they navigate their way through the changing landscape of the time. It’s not going to change your life, but you will find find it quite engaging – plus you’ll feel more clever for allowing yourself to indulge in an intelligent historical drama. Highly recommended.

The Complete Battlefields Vol.2The Complete Battlefields Volume 2 HC
by Garth Ennis Russ Braun, P.J. Holden and Carlos Ezquerra
Dynamite

Tom says: Garth Ennis’ historical war comics are some of the finest ever produced. Taking the horror of modern warfare and channeling the narrative techniques and ambiance of touchstone comics like Darkies Mob and British war films from the 40’s and early 50’s, Ennis applies his own brand of subtlety and brutality to craft an accurate depiction of life on the front line during world war two. It is not Ennis meticulous attention to detail that makes Battlefields so enthralling (though you could use Battlefields as academic analysis of the psychology of warfare and WWII date checker if you so wished), but the humanity on display in these self contained vignettes of the second world war. Each story is beautifully rendered by the gritty pencils of Russ Braun, P.J. Holden and Carlos Ezquerra. My comics moment of 2010 was seeing a barely standing Stiles looming over the defeated and floored Nazi Sinner, clutching a piece of shattered masonry and rasping in his thick Glaswegian accent “Ah couldn’t give a shit about yer tiger, An It’s not a fookin game to ME!” Highly recommended.

Flashpoint #3Flashpoint #3
by Goeff Johns and Andy Kubert
DC Comics

Simon says: Having declared for the Fear Itself side of the summer event divide early on (largely thanks to Stuart Immonen’s art), this week’s Flashpoint #3 and Fear Itself #4 have seen me completetly shift allegiance.  Where Fear Itself is schizophrenic, flabby and completely devoid of impact, Flashpoint has been clear, fun and full of action. While still not exactly “good”, I’m enjoying Flashpoint way more than I expected to.

Flashpoint: Batman - Knight of Vengeance #2Flashpoint: Batman – Knight of Vengeance #2
by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
DC Comics

Adam says: This second installment from the 100 Bullets team stands not only leagues above the other manifold Flashpoint tie-ins but is also a marked improvement on the preceding issue. Where #1 had looked great but offered a dull and uninventive narrative, #2 is cunningly thought out work of Elseworlds ingenuity, and it still looks good. Shockingly, by reworking Bat characters and Bat myths, this dark mini-series actually threatens to validate this whole Flashpoint business.

Secret Six #35Secret Six #35
by Gail Simone and J. Calafiore
DC Comics

Taylor says: Another great story that looks to have a questionable future thanks to DC’s relaunch (which, forgive me, I’m actually quite excited about now!). Bane and Catman decide to take the fight to Batman, death or glory style, through those he cares about, the Bat Family. Their first port of call? Someone who can give them the intel they need to get close. This must sound like it comes out of nowhere, and maybe it does, I haven’t been reading Secret Six so I couldn’t say, but it made perfect sense to me and I can’t wait to see what happens! Will Bane keep his promise to Catman (his new right hand man) to spare Huntress? Will the group hold together in the face of the formidable Batman Inc, or will they leave Bane to deal with the consequences of his quest? As long as the writing and art stay this characterful, and entertaining, I’ll be there to find out. I just hope DC lets this one play out, because Bane vs returned Bruce, Dick vs Catman, Damian vs Ragdoll? Those are bouts I want to see.

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