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One of my favorite moments in the Hitchcock movie Rope is when a rich, daffy old British lady arrives at the party, babbling semi-coherently about society nonsense as she pulls off her fancy-person gloves. When the kindly American housekeeper responds to the prattle with a bit of smalltalk, the rich lady reacts with a momentary look of stupefied disgust, outraged that here in America, the help speaks to the aristocracy.

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It’s a cute character moment, barely longer than a second or two, that reinforces the film’s themes of class conflict and the inherent ugliness of those who think themselves superior to others.

I find it gratifying to see the wealthy portrayed as monsters, but whenever I experience that particular strain of glee I wonder why it feels so good. Are the rich truly disgusting, and I’m glad to see my justifiable distaste validated? Or do I want to think of the rich as villains because I envy them?

Well, maybe it can be both, and perhaps I’ll get some clarity from a new comic out this week that portrays the rich in a particularly monstrous light. Thanks as always to Phoenix Comics for helping to wade through this week’s new releases; and remember, there’s only one thing better than one billionaire, and that’s two billionaires (rotating slowly on a rotisserie).

EAT THE RICH

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An excellent book to enjoy while you wait for the next Jordan Peele film to come out, issue #1 of Eat the Rich promises a gratifying satire of Our Troubled Modern Times™. Here we meet Joey, a pleasant young woman of average means whose boyfriend Astor is filthy rich — though perhaps the word “filthy” doesn’t fully convey the extent of his world’s depravity. As the book opens, Joey is arriving at Astor’s beach home where they are to spend the summer in the company of the wealthiest people in the world... but it quickly becomes clear that there’s something sickeningly wrong with the one percent.

The beautiful, sinister art is particularly well-done, laying a foundation of horror and dread. A scene in which Joey meets the help nearly overflows with wry, Hitchcockian tension. The gory metaphor at the heart of this series couldn’t be more on-the-nose if it were a pimple, but sometimes subtlety is for cowards. I love the bluntness of this weapon.
Rating: 🦴🦴🦴🦴🦴 (5/5)
Writer: Sarah Gailey. Artist: Pius Bak. Main Cover Artist: Kevin Tong.

STARBEASTS

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What if your dog was secretly the captain of a spaceship and also the galaxy’s last hope of salvation from an army of angry alien crustaceans? An adorable premise imbues this paperback with delightful charm, as Captain Bandit reluctantly leaves his beloved human to lead a crew of animal astronauts. What follows is a lighthearted space-romp with a silly, Muppety sense of humor that’s likely to delight pre-teens and make older readers say “ha” a couple of times. Though intrigue and adventure abound, the characters never quite achieve much depth beyond one or two notes. Disappointingly, a promising storyline regarding Bandit’s feelings of inadequacy seems to taper out in the second half, falling short of what could have been a satisfying arc. But oh GOSH it’s cute, and the animal crew’s camaraderie is just the absolute sweetest thing ever. It’s tender and wholesome, a lovely bedtime story to inspire pleasant, easygoing dreams.
Rating: 🐕🐕🐕🐕 (4/5)
Written by Stephanie Young. Illustrated by Allyson Lassiter.

KILLER QUEENS ISSUE #1

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I don’t know how such a fascinatingly strange book landed a mainstream publisher, but I’m delighted that it did: Killer Queens is an utterly queer space adventure blessed with a deliciously pulpy art style reminiscent of the 1950s by way of the 1980s by way of right now.

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Alex and Max are two horny intergalactic assassins on the run from a mean monkey named Bieti and his crew of hench-otters. Wonderfully stupid fun abounds as our two heroic fuckups scamper from port to port, finding time for casual dates and hookups along the way. I’m reminded of Vegas in Space, a bizarre ‘80s camp classic made by a bunch of weirdo drag queens in San Francisco that uses the conventions of low-grade science fiction to create a bespoke form of no-budget camp. It doesn’t hurt that the sexualized gaze is distributed with surprising balance between male and female characters — I felt like I was reading the world’s most bisexual comic book — and the costumes, ohhhh the costumes are a true delight, down to the silly flourishes like pointless Jetsony rings around Max’s wrists and Alex’s gratuitous muscle-shirt. Whenever I see “it’s a gay take on [insert genre here]” I roll my eyes, expecting something that feels forced and phony, but this book has a secret weapon that allows it to nail the landing: It’s so, so, so weird.
Rating: 💪💪💪💪💪 (5/5)
Writer: David M. Booher. Artist: Claudia Balboni. Colorist: Harry Saxon. Cover Artist: Claudia Balboni.

ALSO: VARIOUS FLAVORS OF HORROR & HEROS

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Also out this week is a new Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, with a lovely art-decoish look, and God of Tremors, a gothic horror story with a lovely woodcut-looking art style. There’s also a new Junji Ito book, somehow — how does this man work so fast??? — with all the body and psychological horror you’d expect. There’s also Crisis Zone, a shockingly thick volume about … uh … well it’s kind of lol-so-random, which some people like, so if you see them be sure to let them know. Finally, there’s a beautiful paperback of Run, the real-life story of civil rights hero and Congressman John Lewis.

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Washington Ensemble Theatre presents amber, a sensory installation set in the disco era
In this 30-minute multimedia experience, lights & sounds guide groups as they explore a series of immersive spaces.