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.
Short column this month with the superhero universes in upheaval and the usual indie monthlies chugging along. I did want to update on a couple of books I have talked about in awhile though, so let’s get to it.
Nailbiter #13: I first talked about this Image title just about a year ago, at the time, I said it “feels like a horror comic, which would make it the first horror comic I actually like.” Well, I’ve kept with it as the town of Buckaroo, Oregon becomes more engaging, the characters better defined and the depravity more, um, depraved. In the ten or so issues since, we’ve learned about more Buckaroo Butchers beyond the titular Nailbiter, his interest in what makes the town generate serial killers and what drives the nominal protagonist to keep punching at the psychos. I say NSA Agent Nicholas Finch is the nominal protagonist because it very much feels like he, Warren the Nailbiter and Sheriff Crane share the spotlight more or less equally. This most recent issue features flashback to Warren and Crane’s teenaged relationship and how it eventually broke down. Meanwhile, in the present, the trio make their way to suspicious catacombs where they are stalked by the dude in a Dovahkiin mask. Oh. I haven’t mentioned him yet. It seems all the current events in town are inspired by a guy dressed like a Frank Franzetta Dark Rider character. It’s unclear what his aims are, except that he drove an FBI agent crazy a couple of issues back and maybe gets people to feast on human flesh. Except for a recent crossover with Hack/Slash that I skipped, Nailbiter is consistently well-made, consistently surprising and consistently entertaining.
Fables Vol. 21 – Happily Ever After: In anticipation of next month’s final Fables collection, I got caught up in the goings on at Fabletown over last week and just like each volume before it, I devoured vol. 21. The storyline concerns the return of Bigby Wolf, though now a soulless husk bent on killing who ever happens upon him. There’s also some business about Rose Red’s increasing siphoning of magic from the Homelands. There may also be some sort of curse Rose and Snow are part of going back generations … AND! They may have to fight to the death in order to control the magic they now possess. In the midst of all of this are surprising deaths, one welcome return, a lot of plotting to set up the final stories and a set of charming “The Last Story” pieces focusing on what the Fables are doing long after the book ends. My favorite may be Sleeping Beauty’s Last Story. It’s a joke, but it’s a good one. The main story seems to lose some of the momentum it had coming out of the last collection, Camelot, and the ideas presented in it give way to new conflicts for the characters, but I’m hoping writer Bill Willingham and his collaborators can stick the landing.
Lady Killer: Though I haven’t mentioned it before, the recently wrapped-up first Lady Killer miniseries is definitely worth a read. Set in the 1960s, housewife Josie Schuller turns out to be a contract killer with some sort of government affliation and attempts to maintain a family while still doing jobs for the company. Then, as these things often go, she wants out. It doesn’t sit well with the company, mind. The brainchild of writer/artist Joëlle Jones with an assist from writer Jamie S. Rich, each issue was a delight to read. The art pops. The colors by Laura Allred are vibrant, complimenting Jones’ work. It’s just a plain fun twist on the era. There will eventually be more of it, but this first series is highly recommended.
Well, that’ll about wrap it up for June. Because of Comic-Con International: San Diego, the column will be late next month, but hopefully I’ll find something there that will make me shout Yay for Comics!