This month the GeekMoms have been reading comics featuring “kick-butt female protagonists,” Merry Men with a deep understanding of love, new perspectives on both the Rebel Alliance and illegal aliens, and all colors of superheroes from the “dark and troubled” to the “hysterically absurd.” We hope you find something new to read for yourself from our choices.
TITLE: The X-Files Annual 2016
WRITER: Andrew Aydin
ARTISTS: Greg Scott and Wes Dzioba
IDW continues their summer tradition of releasing a one-shot X-Files annual with a new story set around the 2016 revival series. In “Illegal Aliens”, Mulder and Scully receive a call from Eric Hosteen, the son of Albert who helped the agents out way back in 1995. Eric’s son Al has gone missing after a desert hike, right around the vicinity of a search for something stolen from the Los Alamos Demolition base, and the two agents are the only people Eric could trust to help find him.
During their travels in New Mexico, Mulder and Scully meet a new friend who harbors more than one big secret, hitch an unlikely lift, get into trouble in a diner, and bare witness to something truly out of this world. Sophie considered this year’s annual a good natured, classic X-Files romp that combines some quiet nostalgia for old school fans with modern day conspiracy theories such as Jade Helm, and good old-fashioned alien hunting in the desert.
The annual also includes a sneak peek at the forthcoming X-Files: Origins mini-series that will follow teenage Mulder and Scully in two separate stories. Although the peeks at both Mulder and Scully’s stories didn’t give away anything, the style of both the writing and the art has made Sophie even more excited to finally get her hands on issue one next month.
TITLE: Mystery Girl Volume 1
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse Comics
WRITER: Paul Tobin
ARTIST: Alberto J. Albuquerque, Marissa Louise, and Marshall Dillon
Beth took on a new series without a clue, but Mystery Girl gave her all the answers, just like she does in the comic. Trine Dorothy Hampstead can usually be found on a London sidewalk solving mysteries for anyone who needs answers. She doesn’t investigate, she just knows the information once the person is in front of her and asks. There is a “No Questions Asked” policy, but that applies to customers who want to know how Trine works her magic; truth is, she doesn’t know herself.
After solving cases about a missing soldier, cheating partners and more, Trine gets asked about a really big mystery–where are a certain set of mammoth remains buried in Siberia? Trine knows, of course, and heads to Siberia to discover the beast, trailed by a hired killer who wants the Mystery Girl dead before she uncovers more than extinct species. This mystery puts Trine and all her friends in danger, from the strippers at the Kit Kat Club to her detective mentor and Ken, her cop boyfriend. Beth was completely drawn in by the story, and the art was compelling as well. No perfect-pretty superheroes, just regular, honest people, occasionally naked. This is not a kid’s book. But it is an action-packed trade paperback, and she plans to seek out more Mystery Girl in the future.
TITLE: Groo #1: Fray of the Gods
PUBLISHER: Dark Horse
WRITER: Mark Evanier
ARTISTS: Tom Luth, Sergio Aragones, and Stan Sakai
Another Dark Horse comic, Groo #1: Fray of the Gods, felt like coming home. Beth read and collected Groo back in the day, and to see Evanier and Aragones’ work again was to rediscover a truly happy place. Groo, as usual, is funny and sharp, as each village Groo doesn’t visit celebrates that fact every half hour, and the ones unlucky enough to see him usually don’t survive. When the luckless mercenary stumbles into a religious war, one soldier sums it all up: “We agreed to fight to the death! No one said anything about Groo!”
When he looks to join a vast army for a meal and a fight, he becomes the commoners’ secret weapon against their king/god, because what kind of god would allow Groo into their city? He finally gets the fight he wants, and dispatches their king/god to the nether realms, where the other gods laugh at the puny godling. Not even the gods want to see Groo coming for them! This is the first part of four, so Beth expects lots of mayhem, some wisdom from Groo’s dog Rafferto, and hopefully some cheese dip.
TITLE: Lilith Dark #1
PUBLISHER: Alterna Comics
WRITER/ART: Charles C. Dowd
Beth also discovered a fun and lightly spooky title for kids of all ages: Lilith Dark. Lilith is probably what Groo was like as a kid: always seeing things that weren’t there, and conquering monsters while terrorizing her older brother and babysitter. The humor is sweet and very reminiscent of Calvin & Hobbes, especially when she, the ruthless barbarian hero, attacks a unicorn to steal its horn and power. In reality, she’s just jumped on her brother, determined to pop a very horn-like pimple on his forehead.
The issue ends with hints of real danger and demons hiding in a tree outside Lilith’s house, so cosplaying conqueror Lilith may have to step up her game and save her family for real. It’s encouraging to see a rowdy little girl create a world of swords and sorcery in comics, and Beth hopes to see that trend continue.
TITLE: Deadpool v. Gambit #2
WRITERS: Ben Acker and Ben Blacker
ARTISTS: Danilo Beyruth and Kevin P. Wada
Gambit and Deadpool have put aside their differences regarding who double/triple crossed who the last time they worked together and agreed to collaborate on one more heist (all the while striving not to be distracted by the quality of one another’s posteriors and debating whether or not it’s worth the potential fallout of attempting said heist naked but for a holographic generator).
Bens Acker and Blacker remind us once more that not all superhero stories have to be portentous and dark but that some can, and should, be deliciously, violently, hysterically absurd. Utilizing two of Marvel’s most unabashedly extreme characters to utmost gallows hilarity, this comic continues to bring joy and mayhem to Shiri’s life. And goodness knows we could all use some of that right now.
TITLE: Merry Men #2
PUBLISHER: Oni Press
WRITER: Robert Rodi
ARTISTS: Jackie Lewis and Melissa Louise
The second issue of Merry Men is even stronger than the first, delving into Robin’s relationship with King Richard, the story of how our hero found himself at odds with Guy of Gisbourne and Prince John, and the reason he and his band fled into Sherwood. While the main story elements follow the same basic patterns as other Robin Hood tales, the character backgrounds and motivations have been altered in some very fundamental ways.
Such fiddling about has the potential to go drastically awry but with Robert Rodi at the helm, Merry Men continues to impress and engage because the man knows how to write. He knows how to create characters one can’t help engage with whether it’s to love or hate them. And, in a time where the MPAA feels a man kissing his husband is an “R” rated scenario, Merry Men is refreshingly open. In this book, love is love is love and the characters are unabashedly in it and find joy in allowing the reader to share it with them. The inclusion of a transgendered character, of whom everyone is immediately accepting as the “she” she wishes to be, is a thing of beauty and grace and acceptance. Everyone should be reading this book.
TITLE: The Vision #9
WRITER: Tom King
ARTISTS: Gabriel Walta and Mike Del Mundo
The Vision continues to be one of Shiri’s favorite books and she is ever so glad that she decided to add it to her list. In diametrical opposition to Gambit v Deadpool, The Vision is dark and troubling and it is also very beautiful.
Issue #9 deals with addiction and its fall out, not only for the person experiencing the illness but for those who love him. It includes the ever tragic and heartbreaking loss of a child for parents who have loved as best they can. It is graceful and ugly and wrenching and lovely all at once and Shiri doesn’t think she’s seen its like before and doubts she will again. Tom King has brought this character to life in an entirely new way, reflecting back to the reader both the best and the worst of what humanity can be. Shiri is quite sad there are only three more issues left to this arc and that Tom King will be leaving after issue 12.
TITLE: Thunderbolts #3
WRITER: Jim Zub
ARTIST: Jon Malin
Thunderbolts vs Inhumans! Royal Rumble in the cocoon jungle!
Seriously, it’s a great fight if one enjoys that sort of thing and Shiri does. There’s something cathartic about brightly colored heroes/anti-heroes going at it over what is, at its root, a minor misunderstanding about the nature of horrific monsters. What really continues to impress Shiri about Thunderbolts, however, is the relationship between Bucky and Kobik with the former ironically placed in the role of “instructor in all things human.”
No matter the Winter Soldier’s past, this Bucky is something different, something new, a man trying to find himself while adrift and saddled with the impossible task of keeping an all-powerful entity with the mind of a four-year-old child in check, needing to check constantly over his shoulder to make certain one of his allies doesn’t, possibly literally, stab him in the back. This child whom he seeks to mentor, to whom he is a father, has no understanding of regret, the very thing that, while painful, has allowed Bucky to find his humanity again. A child who could, potentially, free him from that regret if he says the word. Shiri’s heart hurt after this one; it also had her wondering who she would be without her regrets or some other element of her being picked up or tripped over on the pathway to who she see. Darn it, now she has something in her eye again.
TITLE: Spider-Man #6
WRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
Miles Morales is being asked to choose a side in the second Civil War and he really isn’t sure which one it should be. Fair play, at least he’s not jumping into anything and his examination of the situation is very much what Shiri imagines a teenager’s reckoning of a fathomless morality battle would be.
What really drew Shiri’s attention about this issue, however, isn’t just Miles but, rather, the conversation he has about his conflicted feelings with Tony Stark of all people. I like Tony Stark. He’s daring and funny and driven. He also has an ego the size of Texas and the capacity to be a huge jerk. In this issue of Spider-Man, he is neither of those things. He is serious (well, not completely serious), he is kind, he is patient, and he treats Miles as an equal who’s feelings and opinions are equally as valid as Tony’s own. He helps Miles work through the data being presented in a completely unbiased fashion. He listens. He makes no attempt to sway. He is there in a way Carol hasn’t been for any of the new Avengers. As horrified as Tony would be to hear this, he’s becoming quite the mentor. Color Shiri impressed.
TITLE: Star Wars #21: The Last Flight of the Harbinger
WRITER: Jason Aaron
ARTISTS: Jorge Molina and Matt Milla
Shiri was not expecting this issue of the main Star Wars title. It shocked her, delighted her, and made her think a lot about the topic of “perspective.”
The main voice character in this issue is Sergeant Kreel, who readers met previously in the gladiator ring on Nar Shaddaa. Now, he is leading his squadron of Stormtroopers on an essential mission while ruminating on his own history. There is no doubt in his mind the Empire saved his life. Pulled him away from the certain death of the same gladiator pits of which he would one day be master. Gave him a home when he had none, a reason to exist. He calls the Rebels terrorists and from his perspective, they are exactly that. They are trying to take from him the life he clawed for, fought for, earned with blood. Shiri is still a rebel at heart, but Kreel’s examination of his own past did plant a very, very tiny seed of doubt in her mind vis a vis Rebel methods. She’s over it now but she hasn’t forgotten Kreel’s lesson in perspective and she plans to hold on to, and use it, for some time to come.