This month the GeekMoms have been getting into some comic adaptations of both television and prose, plus checking out more from the Star Wars new canon, an unusual take on Robin Hood and his Merry Men, and a presidential campaign that may be even more farfetched than the real one… although not by much.
TITLE: Cry Havoc #6
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
WRITER: Simon Spurrier,
ARTISTS: Ryan Kelly, various inkers, and colorists
Mysterious mutations. Mystical forces. Reluctant soldiers. All of these and so much more have been part of the first arc of Image’s Cry Havoc. In issue #6, sort-of heroine Lou finds herself under the knife and, she believes, at the complete mercy of mad freedom fighter Lynn Odell. Too late, Lou discovers she and her unborn child, have been hijacked by a clandestine government agency, which uses a vicious combination of science and magic, charged with destroying mythical creatures like Lou. These creatures, while violent in action when necessary, want nothing more than to be left in peace. Lou, once lost and wandering, finds herself thrust into the role of leader, of savior, and she takes it without hesitation. A very satisfying conclusion to what Shiri hopes is just the first chapter in an epic story.
If you haven’t been reading Cry Havoc, the trade paperback is scheduled for release in August and Shiri highly recommends you consider picking it up. Keep in mind there is a fair bit of violence and blood, along with some nudity and sex; it all serves a purpose and the story but if any of those things upset you, this may not be as enjoyable a read. Definitely not for the kiddos.
TITLE: Sherlock: A Study In Pink #1
PUBLISHERS: Kadokawa in Japan and Titan Comics in the US
WRITERS: Original screenplay by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, script by Steven Moffat
It’s amazing how well Sherlock lends himself to manga. The art in this book is a study in clean lines and grayscale but no less effective or affective for lacking color. The comic is, in some ways, a very stripped down version of A Study in Pink while managing, through word bubble shape and stylistic anime icons, to maintain the frenetic intensity of story and character. An American style comic would probably feel like a rehash at this point (Shiri doesn’t know about you guys, but she’s watched Sherlock through at least five or six times) but the difference in style gives the manga panels a familiarity while also bringing something new and innovative to the execution. This comic would, in fact, be an excellent transitional work for someone who’s been wanting to make a foray into manga but has been hesitant to attempt to navigate its entirely different forms of art and writing.
Shiri does want to let you know she found reading this book in digital form difficult because it involved both scrolling up and tracking dialogue backwards; the print copy opens left to right, and the pages turn that way as well (for those who are unaware, Japanese is read in the opposite direction from English), but she found it much easier to follow when she wasn’t trying to move through it in quite so many planes.
TITLE: Merry Men #1
PUBLISHER: Oni Press
WRITER: Robert Rodi
ARTISTS: Jackie Lewis and Marissa Louise
Who doesn’t love a good Robin Hood story? Rhetorical question because the answer is “everyone” or, at the very least “everyone Shiri knows.” What’s difficult at this point, as she mentioned with Sherlock above, is making it new, since pretty much every incarnation and iteration of said king of thieves has been explored either in print or on film. For goodness sakes, he even played a part in the epic sweep of Doctor Who.
Robert Rodi, however, has managed to find a new angle. Robin and his men have fled to Sherwood Forest not because they have been banished from their lands by the greedy machinations of the Sheriff but because they have dared to love differently: they have dared to love one another. Some of the Merry Men are in monogamous relationships, some in more open ones. Some are gay, some are bi, and one is even trans. The important bit is they have come together to live as a community that accepts anyone who is true to him or herself. The Sheriff, of course, has no intention of tolerating it, which is where I assume the action-y bits will come in and they will no doubt be glorious. More importantly, however, we need love is love stories so very much in our world right now and it is already clear Merry Men is going to be a powerful one.
TITLE: Vote Loki #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITER: Christopher Hastings
ARTISTS: Langdon Foss and Chris Chuckry
This mini-series couldn’t be any more perfect for this ludicrous American election season and the cluster that has been brought down on the world economy, and the reasonable people of the UK, by Brexit. Marvel either has a psychic working for them or the crew banged it out like their pants were on fire because it is crazy timely.
Loki, initially in the guise of an innocent bystander, steps in to stop Hydra attack that would have caused mass casualties, proving to the nation that he is now “one of the good guys”–though as far as “proof” and “good” go, consider the source. Now a hero to the people, he maneuvers himself into being proposed as a presidential candidate and, before you contest his eligibility, the comic makes it clear that, in this incarnation, Loki was born to a couple in Maryland the “old fashioned way” and, thus, meets the citizenship criteria to be a candidate (in a bit of excellently placed tongue and cheek, he even offers to produce his birth certificate). And if the art isn’t done in Shiri’s favorite style, well, she can overlook that for excellent writing and a fantastic story, especially for the duration of a six issue mini. Vote Loki is a little something to take the edge off of reality while, at the same time, reminding us of how bat*&^$ the entire process really is.
TITLE: Deadpool v. Gambit #1
PUBLISHER: Marvel Comics
WRITERS: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
ARTISTS: Danilo Beyruth and Chris Peter
Another first entry in a mini-series. If you were a fan of The Thrilling Adventure Hour and have been missing the literary stylings of Messrs. Acker and Blacker, you’re in luck and look no further. The duo is back in fine form as they lead readers on an absolutely absurd trip down memory lane involving Gambit and Deadpool wrecking the hell out of New York while dressed as two other heroes entirely as a distraction for a diamond heist of which they have each been promised a large cut.
Being two of most notable quipsters in the Marvel Universe, they wreak this havoc while discussing the finer points of the double cross versus the triple cross and the inexplicability of the central conceits of musical theatre–namely that it’s impossible to believe people who randomly burst into song would know the tune and all the words (you’ll note it’s not the doing so that’s problematic). In the end they, of course, discover that they have screwed up royally, and been screwed royally, but not before they destroy the douchiest, hipsteriest hipster farmer’s market the world has ever seen. Shiri doesn’t want to spoil your reading experience by saying anymore so you’re just going to have to trust her and pick this one up.
TITLE: How To Talk to Girls at Parties
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
WRITERS: Neil Gaiman
ARTISTS: Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá
Sophie picked up the graphic novel adaptation of How To Talk to Girls at Parties, an award-winning 2006 short story by Neil Gaiman. The story follows Enn and Vic, two teenage boys who attend a house party in a London suburb in the 1970s in the hopes of meeting girls, however, the girls turn out to be far stranger than the boys anticipated.
Sophie considers Gaiman’s work to be the literary equivalent of that practical joke where you move every item in a friend’s house two inches to the left. When they return, the room is altered just enough that they can tell something is amiss, but the effect is so subtle that they cannot figure out what is wrong, leaving them feeling uneasy and confused. As such, Sophie is always wary of visual adaptations of his work. The disquiet her own brain can create on reading Gaiman’s words is almost always superior to anything that can be presented on a page or screen. How to Talk to Girls at Parties does a remarkable job of portraying the weirdness of the night, Sophie was especially taken with the panels depicting Triolet’s story, and of Stella’s final stare at the boys at they escape, although her favorite part remained Vic and Enn’s walk home through the deserted London streets. This is a beautiful adaptation of a deservedly beloved story and well-worth investing the short amount of time it will take to read even multiple times.
TITLE: Star Wars: Shattered Empire
WRITER: Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Marco Checchetto, Angel Unzueta, Emilio Laiso, and Andres Mossa
Sophie also finally found the time to read Star Wars: Shattered Empire and immediately fell in love with Shara Bey, one of the rebellion’s top pilots and the mother of Poe Dameron. The four issues of Shattered Empire take place over the weeks following the destruction of the second Death Star and follow Bey as she works with Han, Luke, and Leia to help take down the remaining Imperial outposts across the galaxy, and foil their plans as they struggle to maintain operations after the loss of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Bey, her husband Kes Dameron, and Han work together to take out the remaining Imperial outposts on Endor, Bey and Leia travel to Naboo on a political mission that quickly turns dangerous, and Bey takes off yet again to help Luke on a secret Jedi mission. The stories mix action, politics, some more background to the galaxy, and a touch of romance and are some of the best Star Wars comics Sophie has read to date. A must-read for fans of Poe Dameron and BAMF ladies!
TITLE: Quantum and Woody: Part 1-4
PUBLISHER: Valient Comics
WRITER: James Asmus
ARTISTS: Tom Fowler and Jordie Bellaire
For an Origin story, Quantum and Woody: Part 1-4 read this month by Melissa Rininger contains so much awesome that trying to narrow down one particular feature is like nailing down Jello; it just can’t be done without making a mess. So, let’s dig in.
“The World’s Worst Superhero Team.” From the cover art and slogan to the opening scene, Quantum and Woody: Part 1-4 is dynamic and cheeky. There is something familiar about these character arch types. It’s as if the creators of this comic thought, “I wonder what Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte’s characters from Beverly Hills Cop would be like as superheroes?”–and then added a goat.
Quantum is the perfect older brother. A standard law-abiding good guy. Woody, Quantum’s adopted brother, has a constant sarcastic hum and he fulfills the usual smart aleck character trope that defies all forms of social acceptance–all the way down to his politically incorrect dialogue and self-centered personality. These estranged, adopted brothers are forced together through a freak accident, while investigating the disappearance of their father. Quantum and Woody are forced to Klang bracelets every twenty-four hours in order to prevent their bodies from molecularly destabilizing. Yeah, it’s crazy creative and different.
Melissa’s choice to read this series was heavily guided by the words, “Mom, you gotta read this comic. Seriously.”
The cover art was already intriguing, because how many superhero teams have goats? Yeah, she can’t think of any either. Even though the goat doesn’t show up in the plot line until Part 4, the lack of superhero goat with laser beam eyes doesn’t dampen the hilarity of this series. Oh, did she forget to mention the goat has super powers too? Well, she did warn that this would get a bit messy.
Quantum and Woody: Part 1-4 is nothing short of amazing.
However, Melissa will provide a tiny disclaimer: This series should be read by parents first, to determine if this particular type of satire is age appropriate for younger teens.
TITLE: Rat Queens, Vol. 1 Sass and Sorcery, Vol. 2 The Far Reaching Tentacles of N’Rygoth
PUBLISHER: Image Comics
WRITER: James Asmus
ARTISTS: Roc Upchurch
On the advice of a lovely and nerdy librarian, Beth jumped with both feet into the world of the Rat Queens. The two collections were a great introduction into a rollicking world of adventure, danger, and fun. Rat Queens turns the ragtag adventurers-for-pay theme on its head with robust, complex characters. With Hannah the elven mage, Violet the clean-shaven dwarf, Dee the cleric with ties to a tentacle-filled faith, and Betty, a party-happy Halfling known in this world as a Smidgen, the group finds more trouble and barfights than treasure.
In the first collection, women take all the choice roles of hero and villain as the Rat Queens deal with mysterious assassins taking out the town’s adventuring gangs and track down the person behind it all. By the end of the second collection, they’ve pissed off and killed off a group of lady trolls, held a bodacious, drug-fueled celebration party, saved the town from Lovecraftian ruin, and learned Dee’s secret about her personal life. Even though the women fight hard and party harder, matters of the heart are tangled up in their adventures, from Hannah’s on-again, off again relationship with the Captain of the Guard, and the sweet and charming pairing of Betty and her lady love to the reason why dark monsters of the unspeakable regions are now invading the town of Palisade.
Reading these collections is like participating in the ultimate D&D adventure with a passel of best girlfriends. It’s fun, raunchy, and thrilling to the last page. The writing is crisp and each character has a distinct voice. Beth can’t wait to follow up with the next Rat Queens trade paperback.