We’re back with another week of great comics! Every so often there’s a week where it’s just a ton of quality books and this week is definitely one of those weeks. Between Tom King’s double effort with Swamp Thing and Batman to Sean Murphy’s Batman: White Knight and especially the new issue of Paper Girls it’s been a great week. It’s weeks like this that make me happy to be a comic reader, especially with so much great talent coming out of multiple publishers. This is usually the slow point for comics, especially with it being just now the second week of February and were already off to a great start, I can only hope that we continue this into the new year.
I tried to keep this week spoiler free but I may have slipped up a tad.
This is your warning!
Go read your books and come back to this!
Swamp Thing Winter Special #1
Tom King/Len Wein and Jason Fabok
I’m completely new to the world of Swamp Thing and all I really know about the characters is Alan Moore had the best run and most people can’t seem to compare to his run back in the 80s. This is my first introduction to the character and seeing Tom King take it over even for just this little one shot is a great introduction to something that I’m a very unfamiliar with. The story is very simple and only has a handful of characters but it’s very deep in meaning and I really think that I got a solid crash course on who Swamp Thing really is. Yes he’s a monster on the outside, but at the same time he’s also a hero of sorts. This book does a great job showcasing both sides. He’s forced to make tough decisions while protecting a small child and while we find out later than the small child is the monster that he’s running from the entirety of the story, you can’t help but feel bad for him because he has to make that decision while trying to still be a force for good.
The second half of this book is an unpublished story from Len Wein. The first section is just the art of the story without any words. The art in this backup is gorgeous. it’s does a wonderful job of encompassing the dark nature of Swamp Thing while still bringing out some vibrant colorwork. At the end we get to see Len Wein’s final script for DC with which one would’ve been this issue and it’s really amazing to see his writing style and how he goes about scripting things out. I think this will be a great tool for new creators or people just trying to write scripts in general because it’s such a great resource to see how such a prolific writer handles his descriptions and dialogue. Then a few pages after this story wraps itself up are a handful of dedication pages to Bernie Wrightson, one of the original Swamp Thing creators. Each creator gets a beautiful tribute and it’s incredible to see their work in comics live on like this.
Tom King and Joelle Jones
We’re getting closer and closer to the wedding issue (#50) and while we’re still primarily focused on the Bat/Cat relationship and it isn’t getting boring or repetitive. We’re diving deep into their commitment towards each other and getting a feel for the depth of their relationship. King is really playing the long build with with these two characters and it’s paying off. Batman has always had a rich history but we’re seeing a new side, a more humanistic side that tries to better himself for something other than Gotham City. I can’t praise Tom King enough for this Batman run and the art this issues is fantastic. The actual story picks up from when Bruce and Diana are battling the never ending Horde and builds off the earlier tension they felt from their past relationship. We see the pair almost kiss but they turn away at the last second with Bruce exclaiming how much he loves Selena. It’s a touching nod to the Wonder Woman/Batman relationship but shows that the both of them are clearly ready to move on.
Batman: White Knight #5
This is starting to get really good. We’re seeing the unraveling of Batman while all of his colleagues leave him behind for a new and more progressive Gotham. There’s still a bit of tension between the Caped Crusader and his arch nemesis Jack Napier but in this world we’re not sure who really is the villain and I think that’s the most interesting part. Neo Joker is starting to develop more and it’ll be interesting to see where her adventures with the Mad Hatter end up. Sean Murphy is proving that he can handle a hugely complex array of characters while still establishing a completely unique storyline and laying down intricate artwork. I hope after this concludes that he does more work for DC but I’m sure we’ll see him do some more creator owned work before then. Either way, this is a great introduction to Murphy for anyone who may be unfamiliar with him. His art is chaotic and I think it fits this story he’s telling very well. I couldn’t imagine someone else doing the art on this book besides him.
Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles #2
Mark Russell and Mike Feehan
This is going to be one of those books that flies under the radar for way too long because people think the subject matter is goofy or they don’t like the characters. Same thing happened with Russell’s Flintstones run last year and that was one of the best comics I’ve read in the last few years. We’re diving deeper into the Mccarthy era as Snagglepuss’ colleagues are picked off one by one and interviewed by the villain of the story, a government official bent on destroying anything she deems un-American. Between the plays and the Communism, were being reintroduced to a ton of Hanna-Barbera characters sprinkled throughout this story and it’s adding such a complex element that you almost wish they had their own backs up to the issues. This is on issue 2 and it’s already dealt with so much real world drama that it’s easy to relate to something in this book. The art is still a little weird to me because it looks so polished in comparison to the art from the Flintstones but it still fits very well and the covers are beautiful. Hopefully people stop sleeping on this title before it’s too late because it deserves so much praise.
Paper Girls #20
Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang
You know how you have that one book in your stack that you never know what the hell is going on but you can’t stop picking it up because for some reason you know it’s great? That’s Paper Girls. We’re almost two dozen issues into this and it’s still hard to tell where this is going or what just happened but it’s so great. Vaughan is still giving us twists and turns at every issue and having time to play with time doesn’t leave him short of any ideas for the girls. This issue picked up at the conclusion of the last cliffhanger and flips this entire story on its head with the melding of different timeframes and different versions of the girls future selves coming into the story. We learn a little bit more of how this world works and even though we’re 20 issues in, it all still feels fresh and new. Chiang’s art is still a vibrant contrast to this dark world Vaughan has laid out but it works so well that it doesn’t seem out of place. I love this comic even though I still feel lost reading it sometimes. I think Vaughan wants us to feel the way his characters do.
That is it for this week, and man, what a week it was! Next week is shaping up to be very solid already. Along with my normal pull, i’ll be adding Tee Franklin’s new graphic novel Bingo Love to the stack for this upcoming week so be sure to check back next Thursday for another installment of THE PULL.
Kill or Be Killed