Comics Picks of the Month: June 2015

A lot of books were coming out in June with the end of Convergence, the new round of DC #1s, Marvel’s Secret Wars and tie-ins, and a huge number of new and upcoming books at Image, Vertigo, Dark Horse, and Oni Press.  There were a lot of comics that were in great form, but a few really did rise to the top this month to shine out the rest.  What is nice to see here is that there actually is a great amount of diversity and we are seeing both new and established titles are really surprising in equal measure.  There is also one title(the first title), that has been among the Comics Picks of the Month for its second month running.

Fight Club 2 #2 (Dark Horse, Chuck Palahnuik)

The second issue of Fight Club 2 took us a lot further than the first issue, and really began to strike out on its own in terms of characterization, tone, and consequence.  After the arson seemingly kills their son, and the truth about Sebastian’s medication is revealed, a question begins to form of how Tyler is actually manifesting in their life.  Has he kidnapped their son?  Is Project Mayhem infiltrating the surveillance state?  What stands out here is just that the crisp narrative and art that marked the first issue continues here, maintaining the perfect pacing and storytelling that we got right from the start.  What we are seeing now is that Fight Club 2 may actually be able to stand on its own ideologically and narratively, with the first issue feeling too much like a retread of the first book.  A great read, and one to see through its ten issue run.

Astro City (2013-) #24 (Vertigo, Kurt Busiek)

This is classic Astro City storytelling, and proves that you can return to something somewhat classic in your superhero comics and continue to feel simultaneously fresh and nostalgic.  This issue is the second of a two-issue arc following a superpowered Gorilla that leaves his warrior community so that he can come to the big city to become a rock drummer.  He gets recruited to join superhero teams, but this eventually drives a wedge between him and his bandmates/friends as it makes them the target of supervillains.  In the end, he finds a fun way to meld the two worlds, all of which is told with real characters that are enjoyable to get to know.  I can be honest about the fact that I do prefer the deconstructionist, dark superhero books, but Astro City does it “sunnyside up” in a way that never feels forced and is always honest.  This is the new Vertigo run at its best, and definitely a signal that Astro City is the kind of series that you can bunker down with and enjoy month to month without any need for events or continuity.

Thors #1 (Marvel, Jason Aaron)

Jason Aaron can do just about anything with Thor and make it interesting.  His first run brought the character to his Norse roots, drawing on the Eddas and the Sagas to really mix in the heavy mythology with a contemporary take on the character.  Next, he brought in a female Thor in an interesting and fun way that really recharged the series.  Now he has taken the Thor character into the Dr. Doom run Battleworld, where it has become a detective procedural.  In this new patchwork world of the crushed Marvel universes, Thors are a elite police force that are picked up from different races in the world.  The story that we see here follows the classic model of a murder mystery, yet the mythology maintains its central role and the art is breathtaking as it blends a world that is both new and familiar.  This is a good sign as to what is to come in the new Thor title coming from Aaron this fall.

The Hero Book One (Dark Horse, David Rubin)

This was a strange surprise from Dark Horse with a book taking both a hyperreal and somewhat accurate reimagining of the Greek mythological character of Heracles, son of Zeus.  The book uses as gorgeous cartoony style to tell these brief vignettes that act as challenges to Heracles.  Do not let the style fool you, this is an adult title through and through!  The story of his fame is told through these 12 chapters, each one that acts as an increasing victory, to the great disappointment of his jealous brother.  This is a major work for David Rubin, and we are looking forward to Book Two.

(AIRBOY #1 (OF 4) (Image, James Robinson)

Yes, this is one of the most talked and recommended books of the month.  Does it live up to the hype?  Absolutely.  James Robinson, as he said on the toilet in this book, has been known as the “Golden Age” guy after his success with books like Starman.  Airboy is an older character that is in the public domain, so this was a chance for Robinson to do what he does best.  Instead, he decided to do a meta-textual scribe about him and Greg Hinkle drinking, doing drugs, having group sex, and looking for inspiration.  Luckily, it slams on the door on the last page.  This is both a fun and deeply satisfying book, well written and drawn.  The sensational aspects of this have been discussed most, but what we have here is really just a solid work where the creators look critically at themselves and end up creating something both darkly humorous and personal.  In the running for miniseries of the year.

LOW #7 (Image Comics, Rick Remender)

For those who have had trouble keeping up with Rick Remender’s Low because of the period between issues and complex story world, this is one of the best issues.  The story here is separated somewhat from the regular flow of the story and instead gives you a one-off story that really will get you back into the series.  Allow us to avoid spoling anything, but this is also the perfect jump on point for that new story arc.  The perfect time to check out the series, especially now that Remender has really committed to continuing it by leaving Marvel.

STARVE #1 (Image Comics, Brian Wood)

This new series from Brian Wood shows us exactly how creatively diverse he really is as he creates something that draws on his penchant for revolutionary politics and dystopian futures along with a completely new story and character set.  Following a famous chef as he abandons his previous life for East Asia and booze, he is called back to his old show as it becomes the most popular program in a collapsing America.  He returns to try and earn back his money and create some kind of relationship with his daughter, though his angry ex-wife may stand in the way.  This is really an incredibly rich world that has a lot of detail in every moment, and the art itself brings a moody kind of design that is just as important as the text and reminds us of previous work from Wood.  One of the new series to watch for the year.

SOUTHERN BASTARDS #9 (Image Comics, Jason Aaron)

This is the third turn in perspective for Jason Aaron’s groundbreaking book of Southern crime.  Switching from Boss to a previously minor character, the Sheriff, we get a deeper look into how the Boss manipulates his players.  This is one of the best single issues of the series and a great way to kick off both the new story arc and the announcement of its upcoming television series.  This continues to be one of the staple books of the new Image Comics and what we hope will drive the creative direction of the company.

Honorable Mentions

*Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #3: The Crucible Chapter Three: “Unholy Baptism”

*Secret Wars #3 (of 8) Marvel

* ALEX + ADA #15

*Omega Men #1

*Material #2

*Humans #5

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