This week’s new comic books touch on my favorite three time periods: The past, the present, and the future. We’ve got ancient British myths running amok; a capitalist critique in space that feels extremely timely; and a glimpse into the distant future when the world has finished ending and it’s time to pick up the pieces of what’s left.
Of those, I’m most captivated by Maybe Someday, an anthology about futures where everything turns out okay after everything goes to shit. After spending this weekend literally partying in the streets, I’m feeling a twinge of pessimism again that Trump won’t leave; that Biden’s cabinet will be too conservative; and that the vaccine won’t work. I’ve been trained to anticipate the worst over the last few years, so it’s a pleasant relief to read a book that suggests that there will be good times mixed in with the bad.
As always, I selected these titles with the help of our friends at Phoenix Comics, where these books (and so many more!) are available for your perusal.
King Arthur is back! Unfortunately, he’s an evil zombie. That was the premise of Book #1 of 2019’s Once & Future, in which aging retired monster hunter Bridgette McGuire is called back into service, with the help of her grandson Duncan, to slay the kind of legend. Bridgette makes for a fantastic action hero—kind of Buffy in her retirement years—and the book lands a neat trick in which the swashbuckling adventure is woven into bigger ideas about the power of myth. Now Issue #2 of Once & Future is out, and with Arthur vanquished, Bridgette and Duncan find themselves facing a new fictional foe: Grendel and his mother. I’m a sucker for any story in which fantastic magic forces lay hidden in the mundane world around us, and the book does a fabulous job weaving its imaginative premise into moments of human heart. That writer Kieron Gillen manages to find fresh takes on centuries-old stories only adds to the magic.
I’ve been impatiently awaiting François Vigneault’s Titan for a long time, and I’m delighted to report that the wait was worth it: A clever sci-fi adventure about giants in space, liberation, war, and capitalism, Titan weaves a beautiful tapestry of big adventure and big ideas. Set on a moon of Jupiter, generations of moon-miners have grown progressively larger and larger, differentiated from the physically weak Earth-bound ruling-class humans. The miners, growing increasingly unhappy with their exploitation, initiate an uprising, which complicates the budding romance between the Terran supervisor and Titan miner who are our main characters. A love story that is also a capitalist critique? Yes please.
The end of the world is old news! These days we’ve moved on to post-post-apocalypse, with new worlds rising up out of the ashes with a feeling of—what is this, could it be, optimism??? Hello, old friend. A pleasant remedy to the “we’re all doomed” vibe of countless recent books, Maybe Someday collects 25 tales of a better, brighter future. Remember that flicker of relief that you felt when the election was called a few days ago? Maybe Someday keeps that sensation alive, with lovely bite-sized stories (my favorite is the first one in the book, featuring robots who collect human ephemera like starry-eyed fans). A delight from cover to cover, allow this book about pure-hearted speculative futures to set the tone of your real-life future.
Some more fun reads this week: Alienated is a coming-of-age that’s sort of Breakfast Club meets E.T. A group of teens stumble across a dangerous extraterrestrial and have to overcome their own interpersonal dramas as they cope with an unpredictable and otherworldly power. You may find Billionaire Island cathartic, in which wealthy idiots are treated to a private island where anything goes … including, eventually, a terrible price for their excesses.
There are also some Issues Twos this week to followup on previously-reviewed titles: Killjoys #2 is now out, featuring more mayhem from My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way. And there’s a second issue of Getting it Together, a lovely coming-of-adult story about grownups learning how to be grownups. Also new this week is the third volume of Black AF, in which humans develop superpowers—but only Black humans. I haven’t covered the previous two volumes, since they were first published a few years ago, but now that there’s a new collection it’s a fine time to dive on in.