It is May 13th and I keep putting off writing my April Currently Reading post, because April was a seriously disappointing book month. So I’ve decided to shake things up a little bit and talk a little about my current comics pull list. I read a lot of comics, and people frequently ask me what’s good, or what I’m reading and what I think about it.
So here is a list of the seventeen series I am currently following, with briefs on each.
- All New Wolverine (writer: Tom Taylor, artists: David Lopez & Marcio Takara). I wrote at length about the first arc of this series (and got retweeted by Tom Taylor, whee) but it bears repeating that this is probably my favorite comic I’m reading right now. Laura Kinney is one of my favorite characters, I’m delighted to see her take on the Wolverine mantle, and Tom Taylor understands the character as no one has since Marjorie Liu. Not a bad word to be said, and I look forward to moving into the second arc with issue #8, out next week.
- Bitch Planet (writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick, artist: Valentine De Landro). This comic has generated a lot of buzz, including a nomination for an Eisner Award. It deserves the hype. DeConnick has always been a smart writer, and Bitch Planet is some of her best work yet – a tight, intense story, built on the skeleton of exploitation movies and using that frame for a dystopia to rival The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. At once absurd, depressing, and suspenseful, this is the kind of comic I recommend to people who don’t like comics.
- Black Panther (writer: Ta-Nehisi Coates, artist: Brian Stelfreeze). Another series that’s generated a lot of hype (the preview ran in The Atlantic) – which is unsurprising, considering the writer. Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me took the book world by storm last year, so the announcement that he would be writing a Black Panther series turned a lot of heads. There are only two issues out so far, but it’s good. Coates is new to writing comics and it shows, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The story he’s telling is a new and compelling oneabout a rebellion against the monarchy of Wakanda – but that means a rebellion against T’Challa, Black Panther and king.
- Black Widow (writer: Mark Waid, artist: Chris Samnee). I wrote a glowing review of the first issue here, and three issues in my mind hasn’t changed. One of the best things about this book is the way Waid isn’t afraid to let Samnee’s art tell the story – and tell the story it does, in the most beautiful ways. There’s something haunting and lonely about this comic, which suits – but at the same time the action propels forward like a spy thriller. Another comic I await impatiently every month.
- DC Comics: Bombshells (writer: Marguerite Bennett, artist: various). I started this series thrilled with almost everything about it – I’ve since started to feel less enthusiastic, the quality seeming to decline over time. The concept is still great: an all female team of superheroes pulled together during World War II to fight a supernatural menace – and I enjoy the wide cast of heroines (including Big Barda, a favorite of mine), but sometimes the wide cast leads to the comic feeling scattered and unfocused. Still, I might count this one as worth it for the sheer number of women kissing women alone. I am who I am.
- The Mighty Thor (writer: Jason Aaron, artist: Russell Dauterman). Speaking of me being who I am – I wholeheartedly recommend this comic if you aren’t me. It’s amazing, the writing is great and the art is beautiful. I love the duality of Jane Foster’s fragile human body and her joy in her nearly invincible body as Thor. My only, only issue is the Loki problem. Namely the problem where I’m very concerned that the five years of meticulous character development by Kieron Gillen and Al Ewing is going to be lost in favor of a return to the (villainous) status quo. It is very important to me that that not happen.
- Mockingbird (writer: Chelsea Cain, artist: Kate Niemczyk). While I may not be delighted about the importing of Lance Hunter from the TV show Agents of SHIELD into the comics (I just find him rather boring), I am delighted with this comic and how it chooses to position him. He’s very definitely Bobbi’s sidekick. This is the comic Mockingbird deserves – after years of being fridged (repeatedly) mind controlled, and brainwashed, she is finally the hero of her own story.
- Monstress (writer: Marjorie Liu, artist: Tana Sakeda). A beautifully written, beautifully drawn comic about a fantastic world torn apart by war, and a woman partially possessed by a demon. This comic is so thoroughly unique there’s really nothing to compare it to, and has also been nominated for an Eisner Award. Marjorie Liu is the writer for two of my favorite series with my favorite characters, and seeing her strike out into original territory is a pure delight.
- Paper Girls (writer: Brian K. Vaughan, artist: Cliff Chiang). Yet another Eisner Award nominee (for Saga and Y: the Last Man writer Vaughan), and it’s…good? But perplexing. The first arc drops the reader right in the middle of a story that it’s hard to make sense of. I trust Vaughan to clarify things going forward, but it does mean that this series might not be for everyone.
- Scarlet Witch (writer: James Robinson, artist: various). While the last issue (focused on the French hero Le Peregrine) was a bit of a disappointment to me, mostly because of its plot about a man mostly defined by the death of his wife, and said wife appearing in a naked apparition, overall this series has been of stellar quality, doing things for Wanda’s character that she hasn’t had possibly since the Vision and the Scarlet Witch limited series of the 1980s. Featuring a worldwide walkabout as Wanda seeks to discover what is wrong with magic, this comic is as much if not more about Wanda’s journey to recover herself – and looks gorgeous while doing it.
- The Ultimates (writer: Al Ewing, artist: Kenneth Rocafort). Usually I’m not much of one for the cosmic side of things. I tend to prefer my stories closer to the ground, more anchored in the relationships between people and character driven narratives. However, I picked up this book both for the writer and a team of characters I really like (including Monica Rambeau, Carol Danvers, America Chavez, and T’Challa). After a bit of a rough start, Ultimates seems to have hit its stride. Most recently, issue #6, focused on Galactus, was a beautiful, self-contained story, with metanarrative in the tradition of Grant Morrison at his best.
- The Wicked and the Divine (writer: Kieron Gillen, artist: Jamie McKelvie). Another stunner of a series, with one of my all time favorite creative teams. This series, about a set of young people who become gods, with the understanding that they will die within two years. Playing with ideas of mortality, immortality, fame and celebrity, this is another one of those comics I’ll recommend to literally anyone.
- Ms. Marvel (writer: G. Willow Wilson, artist: Adrian Alphona). This series has been a consistent delight since it began its first run, and continues to be. The most recent issue, #6, made me want to say “awww” out loud on a crowded train, and was possibly the most emotionally satisfying single issue of a comic I’ve read in a long time. Funny, heartfelt, and a pleasure to read, this is some of comics at its best.
- Captain Marvel (writer: Tara Butters and Michele Fazekas, artist: Kris Anka). This is a comic I want to enjoy more than I am. I love Kris Anka’s art, and the writing is not bad – I think the story just hasn’t clicked for me. Maybe that will change with the next arc, but seeing as that’s Civil War II, I’m not sure about that.
- Captain America: Sam Wilson (writer: Nick Spencer, artist: various). This series started out fairly well, hit a low point with the Cap Wolf arc, and (rarely enough) picked up again with the Attack on Pleasant Hill crossover event. I’m looking forward to this series moving forward, and seeing how it deals with Sam Wilson co-Captain America-ing with Steve Rogers. And possibly dealing with police brutality? We’ll see.
- Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat (writer: Kate Leth, artist: Brittney Williams). A light-hearted comic best described as a “romp” with a heroine who could be described as “plucky” – both things in the best of ways. This comic is fun to read, and that on its own makes it worth a recommendation.
- The Vision (writer: Tom King, artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta). This comic is…marvelous. It’s creepy, dark, horrifying in a banal kind of way. It explores humanity through Vision’s attempt at creating a normal family, growing progressively darker and more twisted. It’s not like anything else I’m reading, and I find myself enthralled by every issue.
Just Finished: All New Hawkeye was a fantastic series, written by Jeff Lemire (following directly on the heels of the previous All New Hawkeye). Too bad it ended so soon.
Coming Up: Civil War II, Captain America: Steve Rogers.
I honestly don’t understand how people can say that there’s no good comics coming out these days. My problem is that there are too many.