Best of 2017: Best Series

Series

We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a brand new creator-owned series or a staple of the big two, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. That bigness was on full display this year, as series made grand statement after grand statement about what they were all about. These are our top 10 series of 2017.  Continue reading

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Back to the Future meets Wile E. Coyote in Fu Jitsu 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Fu Jitsu 4

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Man, I’m such a sucker for time travel stories. Fu Jitsu 4 has plenty of other sci-fi insanity that someone might latch onto, but I can’t help but be charmed by the little time paradoxes and other time travel quirks built into the narrative. Indeed, the irreverent tone that Jai Nitz and Wesley St. Claire have struck with this series allow them to have much more fun with those tropes than any other time travel story I’ve ever encountered. Continue reading

Monstro Mechanica 1: Discussion

by Michael DeLaney and Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Michael: Leonardo da Vinci is the Renaissance Man: inventor, painter, mathematician, historian — you name it and the man probably had a hand in it. His influence on human ingenuity is vast and varied. In fact, in the Comics realm, da Vinci’s “bat-winged” flying machine ended up being a visual inspiration for comics’ most popular figure: Batman. In Monstro Mechanica, Paul Allor and Chris Evenhuis make da Vinci’s marvelous mind the object of desire among devious forces at work in Florence. And while there is the titular “Monstro Mechanica” in the form of da Vinci’s mechanical man, Allor and Evenhuis cast some doubt on whether or not da Vinci’s marvelous mind makes him hero or villain. Continue reading

The Right Kind of Experts in Jean Grey 9

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

There’s a whole corner of the Marvel Universe devoted to mutants with psychic abilities. It is a niche corner, seemingly invisible to the rest of the heroes, particular those without the X-gene, until the point one of them threatens to upend everything. Usually, this has to do with their connection to the Phoenix force, which is simultaneously the source of their most terrifying power and their most humbling weakness. It’s complicated, it’s abstract, it’s supernatural and extraterrestrial at the same time. In short, it’s not easy to understand. In Jean Grey 9, writer Dennis Hopeless and artist Victor Ibáñez illustrate just how much special knowledge is required to deal with Young Jean Grey and that ominous Phoenix. Continue reading

Fu Jitsu 3 Takes on The Silver Age

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

The general thesis of Fu Jitsu appears to be: “comics are weird, but resonate with us anyway.” Or perhaps the resonance is because of the weirdness. Writer Jai Nitz and artist Wesley St. Claire never really imply causation in one direction or another, but with issue 3 of Fu Jitsu, they do make a strong case for the last correlation between the two qualities throughout comic book history. Yup: issue one was about the diegetic past, issue two was about a diegetic present, and issue three is about the meta-past. Continue reading

Eleanor and the Egret 5: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Eleanor and the Egret 5

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

slim-banner4

Drew: What moral do we take away from heroic self-sacrifice? We undoubtedly see nobility in a hero prizing the life and safety of others more than their own, but our own takeaway is likely much more modest — we might sacrifice our material comfort or time for the benefit of others, if not our lives. But is “self-sacrifice is good” the only way to look at those stories? Is it possible to look at a hero laying down their life for others and identify with those others — not the hero making the sacrifice, but the beneficiaries of that sacrifice? Is it possible that we see the hero’s death less as a noble choice and more as satisfying a cosmic need for heroes to die — a “sacrifice” in a very different sense of the word? It’s the kind of conclusion you might expect of a world-ending sci-fi computer to draw, but it’s also embedded in the idiosyncratic resolution of John Layman and Sam Kieth’s Eleanor and the Egret. Continue reading

Unclear Intentions Frustrate in Brilliant Trash 1

by Mark Mitchell

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

For everything I like about Tim Seeley and Priscilla Petraites’ Brilliant Trash 1, I find it a frustrating read because I’m not entirely sure of its intentions. Seeley (who shares story credit with Steve Seeley) is clearly disaffected with modern society’s dumbed down discourse — the pages of Brilliant Trash 1 are splashed with images of Twitter, Facebook, and BuzzFeed proxies hawking articles with headlines like “Low Income, But Low in Cum! The Poor Fuck For Their Dinner” — but it’s not clear to me who the target of his derision is. Is it the people or the institutions?

Continue reading

Absurdist Alternate History Finds Its Way to the Present in Fu Jitsu 2

by Patrick Ehlers

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Drew made a case for the first issue of Fu Jitsu being the height of absurdity. He wasn’t wrong: Fu, and his attendant mythology are an unwieldy mess of ancient Chinese mysticism, Biblical appropriation, and nuclear-fueled alternate history. Fu’s connection to the “present day” was largely superficial — he enjoys football and Whataburger. But issue 2 rams the historical absurdism into modern — even future — absurdism, trading in some of the least-likely real-life threats from 2017 and beyond.  Continue reading

Surprises in the Details of Eleanor and the Egret 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Eleanor and the Egret 4

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

We call this story “Man in Hole,” but it needn’t be about a man and it needn’t be about somebody getting into a hole — it’s just a good way to remember it: Somebody gets into trouble and gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get sick of it.

Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve always been attracted to the kind of abstract narrative shapes Vonnegut famously catalogued in his Master’s Thesis — there’s something fascinating at the thought that virtually all stories draw from a narrow range of narrative trajectories. But, of course, looking at narratives in such an abstract way overlooks a lot of the texture and details that actually makes stories so thrilling in the first place. That is, while we might take it for a given that the man gets out of the whole, we can still be surprised at exactly how that happens. Those details are what distinguishes one narrative from another, yet even then, they can often feel rote and predictable. Not so with Eleanor and the Egret 4, which uses the cartoon logic of its high-concept premise to deliver some truly unexpected twists. Continue reading

A Romp Through Absurdity in Fu Jitsu 1

by Drew Baumgartner

Fu Jitsu 1

This article will contain SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

I just killed James Dean and disarmed a bomb from the future.

Fu Jitsu, Fu Jitsu 1

My own interpretation of the solicit for Fu Jitsu 1 was “if Forrest Gump was a genius and immortal” — it’s an absurd premise, but one that could be fun. Turns out this issue is actually several times more absurd than I expected, but it embraces that absurdity so enthusiastically, I can’t help but love it. Continue reading