Paper Girls from hitmaker Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chiang (artist on the good Wonder Woman run) is my favorite thing in this monster of a week. This book pairs well with another favorite of mine, Plutona (2nd issue out this week!), as it also concerns a group of suburban tweens getting caught up in extraordinary circumstances, though PG is set in the 80’s, doubling down on the Spielberg influence. I don’t want to say too much about the plot, other than that the pacing and framing that Chiang uses make it a joy to watch unfold (especially that last page stinger). Chiang and colorist Matt Wilson do a great job with the period setting with Chiang just nailing the fashion and Wilson using a muted color palette with occasional neon flashes that subtly drives it home. All in all this is another home run for Vaughn and a book you definitely need to be reading.
Jughead is the first addition to the new Archie…lineup? continuity? I don’t really know how to describe it, though this is decidedly the same Jughead who has been so cool in the main title. Chip Zdarsky just nails Jughead’s voice and attitude, re-framing his usually maligned ambivalence towards life as what makes him the zen center of Riverdale. The other thing Zdarsky does is marry the idea of storylines that last more than one issue with the short and sweet anthology series that Archie comics are famous for. Of course none of that would be as fun without the delightful work that artist Erica Henderson does. Ably jumping from Riverdale to an adorable Game of Thrones parody and back again, Henderson’s kinetic and cartoony art is perfect for this book. If you’re already reading Archie, pick this one up. If you’re not reading Archie, fix that, but also pick up Jughead.
Survivors’ Club is the first launch from Vertigo’s new slate of titles (RIP Effigy!) and it’s also an appropriately spooky book to kick off October with. A good indie title (usually) needs a good hook and this one is a doozy for a horror nerd like myself. In 1987 a group of people all experienced something scary and unexplainable (and reminiscent of a classic horror work), and survived. Now, in the present day, a connection is discovered between these strangers and they have to figure out why. Meta-horror doesn’t always work (cough, Scream TV show, cough) but the concept here is solid and the references to other works mostly unremarked upon. The real question for a book like this, though, is how scary is it? Well, there’s a lot of table-setting, but the scares are very clearly hanging around the edges of the book with the arcade cabinet flashback showing some real fun with the genre.
This newest issue of Southern Bastards (in addition to being gosh-danged brilliant) makes me think that an awesome team of redneck Avengers will be assembled to take down the evil Coach Boss. This book is incredible, and with an FX TV series in the works, now is an awesome time to jump on so you can tell everyone you were into it before the show.
Marvel’s launched a few of their post-Secret Wars titles before the end of Secret Wars due to delays and there’s a lot to like about this ‘new’ Marvel universe. The best of this week’s bunch (and probably the line as a whole) is Dr. Strange from Jason Aaron and Chris Bachalo. This is the epitome of what a #1 for beloved if lower profile character should look like. It deftly introduces us to the magic-based corner of the Marvel U and Strange himself with the good doctor making a house call to remove some spirits from a little girl’s mind. I won’t spoil anything else from the book, but it quickly and with a lot of flair sets up the first big bad while still giving us some slice of life stuff for Marvel’s magic community. Bachalo is firing on all cylinders with lots of well designed monsters and trippy visuals.
Invincible Iron Man from Bendis and David Marquez does an equally good job of setting up a ‘new’ status quo and feel for Marvel’s flagship character though this is still very clearly the Tony Stark we all know and love. The big draw here his Marquez’s art, which somehow looks even better than it did on his Ultimate Spider-Man run. The last page reveal is pretty good, and is really about 75% of what’s got me subbing the next issue.
There’s two big compilation books out this week to give us a taste of the series that haven’t launched yet. All-New All-Different Point One is the weaker of the two. It uses the Maestro and the Collector from Contest of Champions scouting recruits as a framing device. We get previews of Carnage (uh okay but, why?), Groot and Rocket (meh), SHIELD (“if you love the show, you’ll love this” he said sarcastically), All-New Inhumans (which is basically just Crystal doing something you’ve seen the X-Men do a million times before in a million different ways), and Daredevil (which is really good, actually). If you’re pumped about any of these series, this is a nice taste of what you’ll be getting, though I’m not sure any of this will convince you if you’re on the other side of the fence.
Avengers #0 fares a bit better, if only because of the tier of characters they’re using. We get an emotionally gut-wrenching story featuring Vision and Scarlet Witch that (shockingly for a modern Marvel book) uses their long history to great effect. I’m not sure which book it’s a tease for, but it’s definitely solidified my decision to pick up the Vision solo. Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort do a story for their Ultimates book, which suffers (or succeeds depending on your taste) from focusing on America Chavez being sassy. Though Rocafort’s art is super on point, I’m really just mad that we only see T’Challa’s face on a screen and he gets no dialogue. G. Willow Wilson just SLAYS the A-Force story, though unfortunately she’s not actually on the book so take from that what you will. New Avengers is the most frustrating out of all of these as its story and villain have the most promise of any of these titles. Unfortunately, the art by Gerardo Sandoval is just…too much (and this is coming from someone who collected Joe Maudreira covers as a child). The other standout from this comp is Gerry Duggan and Ryan Stegman’s Uncanny Avengers tale focusing on Deadpool. It really hits all of the emotional notes that Duggan has trained us to look for in a modern Deadpool book. This story is frankly the only one out of the two preview books that’s convinced me to pick up something I wasn’t planning on previously.