Many years ago, when I went on a date to see Brokeback Mountain (not a great one for cuddling, as it turned out), I overheard two ~cinema men~ arguing in the lobby about the director: “You know, Ang Lee, the Crouching Tiger guy,” said one of them. “No, that’s a different guy, this is the one who did The Hulk,” said the other. It did not occur to them that the same director was responsible for a gay cowboy film, a historical martial arts drama, a superhero movie, and let’s also throw in for good measure an excellent adaptation for Sense and Sensibility.
This week is the Ang Lee of comic books, by which I mean that it’s sampling every possible genre and succeeding every single time. While there are not a lot of paperbacks worth pointing out (with the exception of Crossing That Bridge, a lovely furry trans coming-out story by local artist Glopossum), there are a ton of issue-one comics that you MUST obtain. They are all short and cheap, which is also how I like my men.
Thanks as always to Phoenix for the recommendations, and also as always, support your local comics shop! This is a particularly fun week to walk in empty-handed, and walk out with a stack of colorful slim issues to enjoy on your bus ride home, sitting under a tree, or in line to get your COVID shot.
You will proceed immediately to the store to get Peach Momoko’s writing and interior art debut: A superhero story set in feudal Japan with absolutely gorgeous art. A wandering woman with a sword arrives in a village that’s being menaced by evil spirits, one of which is a large black-and-white goo monster with a terrible tongue. I literally gasped at the sight of Venom reimagined as a yōkai, drawn in a style that evokes at some times Akira Kurosawa and at others Hayao Miyazaki — and Venom’s not the only familiar character to put in an appearance. Using Marvel characters to tell stories from Japanese folklore is such a brilliant idea that I can’t believe it took them this long; and Momoko’s lovely watercolor style is absolutely perfect. I feel like Waylon Smithers at the unveiling of a new Malibu Stacy doll, bouncing up and down and unable to contain my excitement for more of this amazing series. Marvel executives, please let this book guide the next direction for the MCU.
Another excellent quick read this week is America Chavez: Made in the USA #1. Chavez was introduced about a decade ago in the comics and quickly became a fan-favorite: A scrappy teen with the power to punch star-shaped holes through dimensions. A few months ago Marvel announced that she’ll appear in the next Dr. Strange movie — the MCU’s first queer Latinx superheroine, to be played by Xochitl Gomez — so now’s an excellent time to get on board with her if you’re not already. In this introduction to the character, we see young America wash up on a beach, found by a Nuyorican family who take her in. That backstory is interwoven with a jump to the future for some dazzling flash-bang superhero action, and between the two time periods we learn about how the young woman found herself tied to new family and friends. I did not expect a battle with giant evil moles to be emotionally touching, but that’s what makes this character so much fun to spend time with.
One of my favorite things about Stephen Universe was when the main character would get excited about something and his eyes would become stars. That sense of wonderment and joy infuses Jonna and the Unpossible Monsters, a delightful all-ages romp by Chris and Laura Samnee; I got the same thrill that I felt when I was 7 years old and Captain Picard leaned forward in his easychair to coo, “Let’s see what’s out there.” A marvelous all-ages story about two sisters exploring a dangerous jungle, the book is crammed with wondrous adventure and giant weird monsters, as well as a subtler theme of standing by one’s family even as the world becomes more dangerous and complex. This makes an excellent gift for young readers, and for yourself, because you’ve earned it.
ALSO: A WESTERN HEIST, HORNY ELVES, AND THE HISTORY OF OINGO BOINGO
Two college friends reunite and make a few intimate discoveries about each other and themselves in Crossing That Bridge, a super explicit comic with a devoted furry following. One’s a cat, the other’s a dog, and they both presented as men when they were college roommates; but times have changed, and it’s amazing what a pair of sexy boots and some lingerie can awaken. A charming, sweet story that is also super duper sexy.
And good gravy there’s a lot more comics to enjoy this week: Consider Keanu Reeves’ new comic book, BRZRKR, which is about a Keanuesque tough guy punching Army men so hard they explode with blood. The Rock n Roll Biographies line continues with a marvelously ziney history of the band Oingo Boingo — a visual treat and honestly quite educational. Nocterra’s doing some kind of Max-Max-meets-Charon thing with an eighteen-wheeler that transports the living through the dead. If you want to understand what’s happening with any DC characters, you’ll need to pick up Infinite Frontier, which serves as a sort of tour guide to all of the upcoming storylines; and Undone Blood serves up some excellent old-west heist-pulp. Oh and there’s a new Elfquest book! Dating back to the 1970s (with an art style that absolutely evokes that era) the scantily-clad pointy-eared heroes are back to look unreasonably hot.