So, a million years ago, Paul Pope drew an illustration of his THB protagonist, HR Watson, jumping for joy and exclaiming “Yay for Comics!” It is a reminder that the medium is filled with excitement. Yet, it can be difficult 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, but there are still things to love about it. Things that make me jump for joy, just like HR Watson.
This month includes the last word on All New Ghost Rider, a fantastic all ages book and a sci-fi Western mashup that’s the bees’s knees
All New Ghost Rider #5: Like I keep saying, I want to like this book. Tradd Moore’s art is superb. It’s grotesque, bursting with fire and a sort of lurid undercurrent you just don’t find in major publisher’s product. The concept is so great and the design of the new Ghost Rider was enough to propel me for five months, but sadly, I’ve reached the end with this title. Though I try to keep it positive in this column, I suppose its important to talk about the comics that do fall by the wayside. In Ghost Rider‘s case, it’s all the elements I called out as worrisome a couple of months ago. The boy underneath the fire is still mostly uninteresting. Though he has a stated objective, getting his paraplegic brother out of East L.A., it’s obscured by an emphasis on the bad guys and meaningless fights. Also, the dialogue is uniformly terrible. But, I hope writer Felipe Smith can turn it around and make the book more memorable. It still has so much potential.
Lumberjanes #1-4: Meanwhile, Boom! Studios quietly puts out a lot of all-ages comics, but this title, by Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis with art by Brooke Allen, is by far the best. Centering around a cabin-full of scouts out at a camp where the woods are fare teeming with supernatural weirdness, the book bursts with energy. So much energy appears in its pages that I’m consistently shocked that I reach the end of an issue. The girls are slowly becoming well defined as they encounter mystical foxes, an Indiana Jones-esque underground and a sea serpent. The mystery in the woods is compelling, but the characters — Molly, April, Mal, Jo and Ripley — make the whole thing inviting month after month. It also feels young, which is a rare trait in comics. I quickly handed off the first four issues to the Satellite Show’s littlest member and she quickly sent me a text message to tell me how much she loved it. It’s fast and delightful; the clear recommendation of the month.
The Fuse #1-6 — The Russia Shift: I’ve known Antony Johnston a long time, but I think this is my favorite of his series so far. Set on a gigantic space station that serves as both a permanent settlement and a way-station to Mars, Detectives Klem Ristovych and Ralph Dietrich have to solve the murder of a cabler — one of the stations homeless. While an interesting crime story, The Russia Shift is a great introduction to the society Johnston and artist Justin Greenwood have built in this floating city. The collected trade paperback of the first story is schedule for release on but I eagerly await the arrival of issue #7 and the next story.
East of West Volume 1: I’ve already discussed Jonathan Hickman and his ability to craft stories that seem just for me, and East of West continues that trend with a futuristic sci-fi western staring the Horseman Death as a pissed off gunfighter looking to take back what they took from him. “They” are high-ranking officials within the governments of the Seven Nations of America and he’s gonna make ’em pay. There’s alternate history, Civil War era fashions and the most compelling take on the Four Horseman I’ve yet seen. The art by Nick Dragotta is a world away from the look of Hickman’s other book, The Manhattan Projects, but is equally compelling in its inventiveness. It also finds space for badass moments, like Death’s weird robot horse taking out a squad of enemy forces while the Pale Rider’s companions morph into crows and wolves respectively. It’s mad and powerful and not at all what I expected when I bought it as part of the Image Comics Humble Bundle a few months back.
Well, that’ll do it for this month. Sadly, I didn’t discover something new at Comic-Con, but that’s okay because comics can always offer something new on any new book Wednesday of the year. Next month, I’ll talk about Antony Johnston’s other new title, dive into the world of Pretty Deadly and maybe kill some giants.