So, a million years ago, Paul Pope drew an illustration of his THB protagonist, H.R. Watson, jumping for joy and exclaiming “Yay for Comics!” At the time, he was adopting the persona of the Comics Destroyer, but this came about as a positive reminder that he still loved the very artform he was suggesting needed to be disassembled in order to be saved.
I do miss a time when Paul Pope frequently waxed philosophical about the medium.
But in the interest of positivity, I’m going to try to do a monthly round up of the comics I’m currently enjoying. Despite how difficult it can be to enjoy comics with the sexist and violent tirades of certain fans, the thin margins under which the industry operates and the continuing racial and gender inequality in the creative sector of the business, there are things to love about it. Things that make me jump for joy, just like H.R. Watson. Let’s get to it:
She-Hulk: This may be a recurring theme in this inaugural column, but I didn’t read a lot of Marvel books as a kid. They were more impenetrable to me than the famously obscure Legion of Superheroes. Consequently, I’ve never read a She-Hulk comic until I heard the pitch for the most recent series. Jennifer Walters, the respected lawyer and gamma-powered Avenger, starts her own law firm; hijinks ensue. Three issues in, I’ve seen her talk Tony Stark into taking a more active role in his companies legal wranglings, fight hapless A.I.M. guys, and represent the son of Doctor Doom in his asylum case. It’s a wacky mixture of lawyer show and superhero brawling. But the key thing here is that it’s fun! Written by actual lawyer Charles Soule (who also writes a million comics a month) with art from Javier Pulido, it’s bright, quippy and offers few barriers to entry. Truly fun.
Locke & Key: I missed this one when it was happening, but holy hell did I miss something special. The series concerns a family, mystical keys and the search for an Omega Key that will allow the series’ antagonist um … something. It’s tense, funny and often just a great take on the pains of growing up.
Hawkeye: Possibly the finest hero book being published. Staring both the classic Clint Barton Hawkeye and the Young Avengers Hawkeye Kate Bishop, the series gets a lot of mileage out of the hilarious concept that being a hero is easy, but being an adult is almost impossible. It’s brilliant, well illustrated and, most of all, fun!
The Superior Spider-Man: Though it’s just come to an end, I’m only five issues in and I love the premise: mad scientist promises to be a do-gooder, but as efficiently and logically as possible. I’ll be honest, I’ve never cared for Peter Parker. I could never get into his plights or adventures, but this take on it is, you guessed it, fun!
Fables: Every time I think I’m done with it, Bill Willingham and his collaborators bring me back in with a narrative flourish, creative solution or new spin on this tale of fairy tales caught in modern New York. Though the most recent trade paperback feature the death of a character that didn’t seem all that tense or surprising, I’m curious to see how the remaining Fables deal with the coming challenges without that person balancing the scales. The book is also coming to an end soon, so I’m sure I’ll miss it.
Pariah, Missouri:While it starts rough, this very independent comic coalesces into an agreeable mash-up of edge-of-the-frontier Americana, dashing fops, folkloric mysticism and straight-up demons. It’s all given life by the gorgeous illustrations of J.L. Pescador. The second volume is scheduled for release next month and I eagerly await it.
I think that’s a good start for now. I’m reading monthlies again (one I’m holding back for the June edition) and burning through my backlog of trades, but that theme of fun keeps popping up. Like so many comic readers, I had my dark clothes and Cure soundtrack phase. I needed my comics to be dead serious. That’s no longer the case, though I’m sure I’ll turn around and find a dead serious comic that makes me eat those words. At the moment, though, I want fun and all of these books offer me great variations on fun. Truly, it is a time to shout “Yay for Comics!”