October 16, 2019

, , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 16th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Sean's Picks:


October 9, 2019

, , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 9th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Mike's Picks:

Batman’s Grave 1 by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch published by DC Comics
Batman Giant 1 by Michael Gray, Ryan Benjamin, Steve Orlando, and Tom Mandrake (new stories), published by DC Comics

A double dose of the caped crusader this week? Dare I? Yes, indeed. What could be better than 100 pages of Batman for approximately 5 bucks? Featuring a new full length story, a new short story (by Steve Orlando!), and some solid reprints, this 100 page giant is a must buy for me.

Powers of X 6 by Jonathan Hickman and R.B. Silva, published by Marvel Comics
To be perfectly honest, the only reason you haven’t seen me pick HoX or PoX every week is because I missed the past three weeks because of an insane work schedule. It’s been hard to carve out even a few moments to stare at the wall to contemplate the irreverence existence while still feeling burdened to reconsider each minute choice I’ve made to lead me where ever I’ve arrived. But you know what I haven’t missed? A single issue of HiX-men.

James' Picks:


East of West #43 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta, published by Image Comics
I'm thrilled to see the return of East of West, one of my favorite comics of all-time. Seriously, it's that good. This is the final arc so it's not a good time to get on board, but there are a bunch of volumes out there and if you are looking for a big, complex, dramatic series involving alternate history, religious fervor, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, westerns, magic, cool technology, witty characters, and insanely beautiful and sometimes terrifying art, well then East of West is a good story for you. As Jonathan Hickman said once about one of his books (and this really applies to all of them), a good starting point is issue #1. But really, this is a next-level good series. The art from the team of illustrator Nick Dragotta and colorist Frank Martin is really some staggering work.


Thumbs #5 by Sean Lewis and Hayden Sherman, published by Image Comics
Thumbs has been a really excellent read.  I recently reread the first 4 issues and this is a strong, dark miniseries that pushes a pretty bleak vision of where dependence on technology could take us. Sherman's art keeps getting better and better, and Lewis knows how to write strong, realistic dialogue and narration that actually feels additive to a story. With Thumbs and The Few, this team has cornered the market on dystopian, breakdown of society stories. I hope they keep working together, and I'd also be curious to see them tackle another genre as they're a terrific team.


Doctor Doom #1 by Christopher Cantwell and Salvador Larroca, published by Marvel Comics
I'm kind of a Doctor Doom snob now, I think. Jonathan Hickman's portrayal of the character (in Fantastic Four, Avengers and Secret Wars) is complex and interesting and regal and beyond good and evil, that everyone else's portrayal just feels wanting. There's been some good work, don't get me wrong. I actually really liked Bendis' Infamous Iron Man run where Victor tried to be a hero for a while. But Slott's Fantastic Four really hasn't worked for me.  Christopher Cantwell (successful showrunner of Halt and Catch Fire) wrote She Could Fly which is a dark, weird series that I didn't totally love (or totally get) but at least it felt like he was trying to do something ambitious and interesting. So, he's someone whose take on Doom will interest me.

October 2, 2019

, , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop October 2nd, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Neil's Pick: 

September 25, 2019

, , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop September 25th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

September 19, 2019

, , , , , , ,   |  

The Beauty of a Frightful Imagination— Digging into Charles Burns’ Free Shit

Free Shit
Art by Charles Burns
Published by Fantagraphics Books

Charles Burns has never been a cartoonist who seems squeamish or questioning about this drawings. His work in books like Black Hole or Last Call (reviewed here) dares you to look at it as much as it dares you to look away. He’s a classically beautiful cartoonist whose subjects are mostly disturbing or downright nightmarish. Black Hole, a modern classic, is as alluring as it is horrific. His new art book Free Shit shows us Burns’ desire to find beauty and horror in the same image. That’s what his work shows us, this push and pull between the alluring and the disturbing.


In a lot of ways, Burns is a similar artist to both of the Hernandez Brothers, or at least a cross between them. Like Jaime, he has this classic line that would be perfectly at home drawing old fashioned romance comics as it is at drawing modern tales. But he has a sense of the grotesque like Gilbert, casting his gaze toward the beauty that accompanies the macabre. In Free Shit, more than his comics, there’s even a little Gary Panter that peaks through Burns’ images from time to time, creating these out-of-synch image that are some of the most captivating but puzzling images in this book. While we can see similar traits in Burns’ work to these other cartoonists, Burns drawings reveal more of his vision of the underpinnings of reality. His drawings, whether a portrait of a man who’s looking away from us so all we see is the back of a head mostly obscured by shadow or some ghoulish creature still recognizable as human-like but not human, mold this perception of an other world, of a reality that’s adjacent to ours but corrupted by some physical and mental virus.


Free Shit is a peak into that other world but where in another artists hands we would be repulsed by it, Burns welcomes us into it. In his drawings, there’s practically no separation between the romantic and the grotesque. It helps that there’s no narrative here as our minds are allowed to just take in the images and craft our own stories and world views around them. But Burns doesn’t let us into his work completely unguided and alone. While some of the drawings are rough, pencilled explorations of images and thoughts, a lot of them are finished, inked drawings where Burns’ older and more conservative influences and styles collide with his own unique perceptions of beauty and classicism.

The artwork leads us through this new reality. This is a guidebook to Burns’ search for beauty where the grotesque lives. But with no story to lead us through this art book, there is no judgement of value applied to these images. Andy concept of beauty or ugliness are judgements that we bring to these drawings. What we take away from these images probably say more about our own perceptions and values than they do of Burns’. This book provides a fascinating litmus test about art and they ways that we “read” images.


The disturbing aspects of Burns’ artwork, whether overtly confrontational or more hidden under a non-threatening image, challenge our own perceptions and concepts of what we want to see. Is Burn’s some kind of psycho deviant for drawing these images? But what does it say about us if we can’t turn away from these images, engrossed by Burns’ imagination? These aren’t nice nature drawings; they are pure imagination, showing a different way of perceiving the world around us. Just because it’s shocking and grotesque, that doesn’t mean that it’s not also beautiful. Free Shit challenges us to understand that beautiful and ugly aren’t completely mutually exclusive terms. There’s ways that drawings can be both. Burns’ imagination is full of ugly, hideous creatures but his presentation of them is simply gorgeous and mesmerizing.

September 18, 2019

, , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop September 18th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Sean's Picks:

Once and Future #2 by Kieron Gillen and Dan Mora, published by Boom! Studios
Award for best supporting cast member in a comic book goes to...“Gram” in Once and Future! Well, to be fair, she’s way WAY more than a mere support in this story that is an instant grab that is hard to put down. The first issue of this comic brought to us by Kieron Gillen, of Die and Wicked + Divine fame, along with Dan Mora was everything to be expected; the dialogue was sharp, the visuals were anything but ordinary, and the pacing was on track with any of its creators’ preceding work. We were immediately introduced to a grandmother and her ginger-grandson as they went parading the darkness looking for a very specific supernatural threat: the resurrected force of King Arthur. “Gram”, who we now know is no stranger to hunting demons in the darkness, knows no reason for hesitation, for it is her grandson who stumbles on more than one occasion bringing folly to this otherwise deep dive in the British monarch and the supernatural. Upon reading this I was immediately hooked as an instant response after just a few page turns. Don’t be the only one *not* reading this. We have a well-paced and fun story being told here. Read with me.

Second Coming #3 by Mark Russell and Richard Pace and Leonard Kirk, published by Ahoy Comics
OMG, I adore this comic. There is nothing about this book that I dislike. It’s brilliance shines through no matter the spin you attempt to take. Even the haters will admit to you, with nearly no hesitation, that this is the *best* piece of blasphemy they’ve seen. Really. No kidding. Google it. The only disappointment for me has been that I have recently found vague confirmation that this will end at issue six. Huge bummer, but I guess all good things must come to an end… just ask the evangelicals. All kidding aside (let’s leave that for Russell as he keeps feeding Jesus Christ one-liners), Sun Man has now seen Heaven and Jesus is still hellbent on his own interpretation of what it means to follow Him. A story couldn’t be any more timely unless, of course, it was somehow biographical. Time will tell. Until then. Read.. laugh.. THEN ask for forgiveness. Well.. cuz Grace, right?

Steeple #1 by John Allison, published by Dark Horse Comics
Giant Days has become one my all time favorite comics. Strange to observe about myself since my favorites typically do not include stories of everyday happenstances. I say this not to say that Steeple will be exactly the same knowing that it is also from John Allison. What I am saying is that the dialogue and stories that I’ve come to love in Giant Days I would be remiss to not expect the same from this new title also. Put aside the college days and the interpersonal and relational missteps, and make room for a new story told by way of two wildly different women about the supernatural amidst a mini-rapture and a war between good and evil. This is solicited as a mini, though I’d hope for something more. Sure, Giant Days is ending, but let’s get this one hyped and keep John busy with another ongoing.

Black Hammer Age of Doom #12, By Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston, published by Dark Horse Comics
Oh man. Black Hammer has been an automatic read of mine ever since it was conceived. I have every floppy of every issue (including the spin-off’s) and even all the variants of the main book. Yea yea yea I’m a sucker for Lemire’s creator owned stuff. It’s rather pathetic maybe, but we all have our reasons to (how do the kids say...?) Stan. This issue of Black Hammer: Age of Doom is advertised as the final chapter of the main story, and with several more spin-offs scheduled for release it’s hard to say that we’ve seen the last of our new favorite Golden Age superheroes. This comes with a definitive beginning, middle, and now an end as it is all set in place with a final issue. It’s another bittersweet goodbye in comics, and I am convinced that this one will be as good as they get.

Farmhand Vol. 2 by Rob Guillory, published by Image Comics
Rob Guillory doesn’t get enough credit for what he does. His art in Chew was some of the best on the stands when it was released monthly. Farmhand is not only equally as visually stimulating, but it also has dialogue and a story to match. This is a complete-package Guillory creation; the story, the characters, the visual puns all within the vivid detail of his PG-13 Saturday morning cartoon artistic approach. I really enjoy this book. It’s a fun read and the story has gotten darker with this second volume. Secrets have been revealed and we begin seeing more of the intent behind Grandpa Jenkins and his organic mission to grow body parts to heal the sick. This dark and campy joyride is fun as hell, and I dare you to read it and tell me otherwise.

Neil's Picks:
Once & Future #2 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain, published by Boom Studios
Issue one may not have been the best opening issue for me. It felt incredibly quirky in its delivery, which I wasn’t expecting at all. But Gillen grabs you with captivating characters and teases you with just the right amount of narrative to keep you wanting more. What looks to be a fun “modern” take on the King Arthur legend, filled with magic, monsters and battle-hardened Grandma’s... what isn’t there to like.


Spider-Man #1 by J.J. Abrams, Henry Abrams, Sara Pichelli and Olivier Coipel, published by Marvel Comics
How many of us were surprised to hear the announcement that J.J. Abrams and his son were to write a Spider-Man comic together? I know I was. Hence why I’m really intrigued to see what Abrams Sr. and Jr. can bring to the table. J.J. has already proven in film and television that he can write compelling and exciting scripts, see Super 8, Alias and something called Star Wars. But comics are a whole different medium and something I don’t think he’s dabbled in before. Though having Sara Pichelli on art really up’s the creative team. Her work on Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man run was stunning too say the least. Zdarksy’s run is going to be one tough run to follow.

James' Picks:
Head Lopper Vol. 3 TP by Andrew MacLean, published by Image Comics
I've been a fan of Andrew MacLean and Head Lopper for a very long time (and he's a local Boston guy, so that's cool too), so I'm thrilled that a broader audience is experiencing his excellent work. Head Lopper is a really fun series of adventure stories about a warrior who, you know, lops heads off of bodies, and the witch head he keeps carrying around with him, and their various adventures and misadventures. He's got a fantastic, dynamic style that is in the same general school as Mike Mignola (but to be clear, MacLean's style is very much his own and is instantly distinctive and recognizable) and is just a great storyteller overall.  This is a very fun read.

GI Joe #1 by Paul Allor and Chris Evenhuis, published by IDW Entertainment
I probably haven't read a GI Joe comic since I was a kid. As many kids growing up in the 80's were, I ewas a huge fan of the toys, the TV show and the comics. But in recent years, the only GI Joe comics I've read are Transformers vs. GI Joe (by Tom Scioli and John Barber) and GI Joe: Sierra Muerte (by Michel Fiffe); both of those are more quirky, auteur projects, rather than a proper GI Joe comic. But this new comic intrigued me. I was instantly drawn in by Chris Evenhuis' art style - it's incredibly clean, and feels almost like an animation style. I found it really appealing. I also found the story (by Paul Allor) pitch very appealing - Cobra has taken over, they've won. GI Joe has now become a clandestine, underground organization of freedom fighters.  I think it's a terrific idea, and having read the first issue I can tell you that this is a strong debut issue. The creative team pulls no punches; this is a lot different from the 80's cartoon where nobody actually ever seemed to get hit when the other side was shooting at them. Anyway, if you've ever been a GI Joe fan, I recommend giving this a read.

House of X #5 by Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, published by Marvel Comics
I've SO been enjoying reading the Powers of X and House of X books. Not just because I am completely in the tank for Jonathan Hickman (I am), and not just because Pepe Larraz, RB Silva and Marte Gracia are doing amazing work on art (they are). No, what I'm really loving about these books is that they have reinvigorated comics discussion for me, whether on Twitter or other places, this is a book that rewards really careful reads and rereads and every page holds many mysteries. I've been enjoying discussing, debating, and trying to figure these books out with a group of friends and acquaintances, and it's helped rekindle for me what I liked about the social aspect of comics.

Once & Future #2 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain, published by Boom! Studios
This is such a fun book so far. Dan Mora's art is wonderful, and Kieron Gillen is a hell of a storyteller and world builder (no kidding, right?).  You've got a grandma adventurer dragging her professor grandson (by gunpoint) on a quest relating to Arthur, Camelot, and the frightening possibilities those myths hold were they to become reality. This book is fantastical, and hints at much bigger, broader mysteries. But with Gillen writing, the book never loses its human touch. And really, Mora is doing amazing work on art. I highly recommend this one. 

September 11, 2019

, , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop September 11th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Sean's Picks:

September 8, 2019

, ,   |  

Sunday Reads— September 8th, 2019

Panel

Art by Spain (via Tom Spurgeon’s Twitter feed)

Previously on Panel Patter


*** Rebels Without A Cause— thoughts on David Rubin and Marcos Prior’s Grand Abyss Hotel (link: https://ift.tt/2ZJ0G3H) via Scott Cederlund at Panel Patter

*** Catch it at the Comic Shop September 4th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/312HWti) via Panel Patter at Panel Patter

*** Kim and Kim Volume 2: Love is a Battlefield by Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre is a #1 Hit (link: https://ift.tt/2ZI68E5) via Rob McMonigal at Panel Patter

*** Leave A Beautiful Corpse— thoughts on Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen and Matthew Wilson’s The Wicked + The Divine #45 (link: https://ift.tt/2ZLkRht) via Scott Cederlund at Panel Patter

September 6, 2019

, , , , , ,   |  

Leave A Beautiful Corpse— thoughts on Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen and Matthew Wilson’s The Wicked + The Divine #45

Cover B by Olivia James (used to avoid spoilers as much as possible)
And Cassandra is lit!

As Jamie McKelvie, Kieron Gillen, Matthew Wilson and Clayton Cowles close the final door on this pantheon, we already know that they survived. Laura and her crew fought to the end, lost some friends and lovers along the way, and found that some that they thought were gone had survived. And in the final battle last issue, there was one we thought had survived all of this only to find out that he was too far gone for his own soul to live with what he had done. The main plot ended last issue but this final issue functions as a ghost of The Wicked + The Divine’s future, giving us one more happyish ending as if The Wicked + The Divine #44 wasn’t enough.

It’s cruel that two of the gods of this fictional pantheon were modeled after David Bowie and Prince. McKelvie and Gillen couldn’t have known how cruel they were being but it’s painful nonetheless. In this final issue, we get to see Lucifer (Bowie) and Inanna (Prince) living to an old age, haunted by their past but learning from it, growing from it, and ready for all of their tomorrows. Again, ghosts moving through this comic and showing us these people one last time. Depending on how invested you got into this series, this issue gives us a final chance to say “goodbye” to our ghosts, both the real ones and the fictional ones.

I don’t know if I ever warmed up to this series like a lot of people did but I think I was also into it far more than a lot of other people were. Particularly the second half, where McKelvie and Gillen settled into a groove on this book stands out to me. For the first couple of years, they played at creating these cool pop-star characters with their superhuman struggles. It was catchy and poppy. The idea that once they received their divinity and only had two years to live with it created a nothing-matters-yet-everything-matters mentality in a way that only 20-somethings can truly comprehend. But looking back at it, what is the difference between 2 years or 42 years when you’re some hot punk living for the now?

But maybe that kind of death sentence is what some of us need to force us to figure out the gift of life? Maybe it’s what’s needed to force us out of our own small, self-centered lives to even begin to grow up a bit. People with live these kind of shortened life expectations all the time, getting news of incurable diseases and inoperable tumors. As Laura and particularly as Baal lived with the thought of “live fast, die hard,” McKelvie and Gillen showed us the best and worst of us and the different ways that we could live knowing that our time was limited.

In this final issue, McKelvie and colorist Matthew Wilson create this moment in time that is about life as much as they are about death. After so much death in this series, we share a funeral with these characters, mourning the loss of one of the gods and also of the book, but celebrating what it is and the life that comes out of it. McKelvie positions a casket in front of an oak tree, symbolizing the renewal of life that can be and should be a part of the grieving process. Gillen doesn’t give his artists anything splashy or big to do in this issue. With the big conflicts wrapped up last issue, this is no longer about the struggles or the lies that have been the core of this series. This issue reminds us of the hope that exists within The Wicked + The Divine, the hope that we get to live in when we come out of the darkness. It may not be as flashy as the battles, but McKelvie and Wilson give it the same intensity as these characters come together one last time to support one another. It takes as much fight to live as it does to die.

WIson’s coloring, whether here or over Russel Dauterman in The Mighty Thor, brings an emotional luminosity to these stories. As McKelvie has become a master at really showing these characters’ conflicts through their expressions, Wilson lights these scenes in a way that subtly plays with our own emotions. Over McKelvie’s work, Wilson taps into the core of the moment and finds ways to quietly work on us the audience to read his work both on a realistic level but also on empathetic level as well. As his choices seem to be made at an attempt for realism, his storytelling choices over McKelvie’s own choices meld to practically erase the line between line art and coloring.

Gillen can’t help but insert a bit of authorial voice in the last pages of this comic, as Laura delivers a final monologue. “Look past the words, she (and Gillen, McKelvie, Wilson and Cowles) tells us. “Remember they were written. Remember they’re a writer’s design, not yours.” This is spoken to us, the audience that has stuck with this series and creative team for 45 issues. They’re words that are supposed to empower and encourage us. It’s actually an odd bit of fourth-wall breaking in a series that has never done that, as if Gillen needs to go over the themes of this series one last time just so we’re all clear on them. The self-awareness of the narrative’s end feels like the creative team needs to remind us, as well as themselves, that this was a finite thing that we have to recognize, assimilate and move on from.

When you strip it all down, all of the fantasy elements, all of the fighting, all of the costumes and all of the fame, The Wicked + The Divine was an ensemble piece about these characters who thought that they could live forever even if they knew that their time was really limited. A day, a year, a lifetime— it’s going to end at some point. So this final issue isn’t about the struggle or the myths but it’s about the people, about the survivors. It’s an ending that allows us to mourn the end but doesn’t give us the permission to wallow in our sadness. Cassandra wouldn’t want that and McKelvie & Gillen don’t want it either.


The Wicked + The Divine #45
Drawn by Jamie McKelvie
Written by Kieron Gillen
Colored by Matthew Wilson
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Published by Image Comics

September 5, 2019

, , , , ,   |  

Kim and Kim Volume 2: Love is a Battlefield by Mags Visaggio, Eva Cabrera and Claudia Aguirre is a #1 Hit

Kim and Kim Vol 2: Love is a Battlefield
Written by Magdalene Visaggio
Line Art by Eva Cabrera
Color Art by Claudia Aguirre
Letters by Zakk Saam
Published by Black Mask

Kim and Kim are about to get a bounty that will set them up for, well, awhile anyway, when an ex-lover comes calling--and steals what they need to get their payday! The Kims aren't going to take this lying down, even if the old flame's return causes some friction between them. In the end, our heroines get to blow stuff up, fly in space, and kick the crap out of faceless (literally) minions in this extremely solid sequel to the first series.

Now that set-up can be left behind, Mags really digs into the characters here, giving us a chance to see their pasts while keeping an eye strictly on the future and keeping the romp-style pace going, page after page. We get some good breather moments, where the Kims discuss their relationship with each other, for example, but the pacing is extremely quick. It's a really great blend of introspection and action. After all, you have to make room for beating people over the head with a specialized guitar, stealing a mechanical giant, or just roughing up some punk thugs for fun and motorcycles. (One of my favorite lines is where Kim complains that Kim keeps her from violence by constantly reminding her of the potential for jail time, which Kim dismisses as if she's suggesting wearing extra sunscreen at the beach.)

This is probably the best work I've read from Visaggio, and a lot of it is because while she's still working with her favorite recurring themes, they're seamlessly integrated into the work, with a skill that takes time to master. The concepts of acceptance, failure, trust, and mistakes are a part of what make the Kims so interesting to follow as protagonists. They're very baked in, not sewed on like a patch. It's what takes a good story and makes it a great story--and that's the case here.

As with the first volume, the artists are phenomenal. A big part of why Kim and Kim works so well is because of the linework from Cabrera ensuring that Mag's comedic lines get just the right facial punchline. In the example above, you can see how ridiculously happy Kim is at doing bounty hunting work, even (perhaps especially?) when it gets messy. Meanwhile, her partner Kim is in a concealing cloak, keeping her eyes on the job at hand. Which is why when she's the one who blows their payday by getting hoodwinked, it works so well. She isn't supposed to be the one who drops the ball. A lot of that is gathered for the ready by their body language. And when push comes to shove and the two are fighting together, their joy in partnering together is visible, thanks to Cabrera.

The other thing I love so much about Kim and Kim is Claudia Aguirre's coloring. It's not quite as obvious from the page above, but she uses a lot of bright and bold colors to make the world vibrant and violent. It's such a great complement to the story that might not work elsewhere but for this series is just the right touch. (I can't imagine this in Vertigo brown/black, for example.) At times, the colors are so bold, it's like the Kims are going to jump in the reader's lap!

I've got one more volume of this series to read, and I can't wait. It's a ton of fun, with all the things that really draw me to a comic: Quick wit, strong line art and colors, and characters who you want to see having adventures for many years to come. If you haven't read Kim and Kim yet, or only grabbed volume one, make sure you pick this up. Anyone who loves fun characters (especially queer ones) is really going to have a blast here, trust me.

September 4, 2019

, , , , , , ,   |  

Catch it at the Comic Shop September 4th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Please welcome Jenn, making her Panel Patter debut! You may recognize her name from some of the Twitter work we did at San Diego Comic-Con this year. Jenn agreed to join the team, and is working hard to get ahold of our social media passwords. Be afraid. Be very afraid.



Jenn's Picks:

Pretty Deadly The Rat #1 by Kelly Sue DeConnick, Emma Rios, Jordie Bellaire, and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics
Pretty Deadly never fails to leave me wondering. Just in general, wondering. I am consistently waiting to see how the moving pieces of this story are going to interlock, and what is coming next, or searching for a tiny detail in the intensely detailed art that will give just a little bit more of the story to me. The Rat  is no exception, since I am still sitting here...wondering. A portion of this story was conveyed to us through images of a film strip, and I must have revisited these pages and panels a dozen times, just taking them in, and the story within the story they create. We see a wolf in sheep's clothing, the double edged sword of luxuries we may be offered in life, and a forced view of perspective verse reality of these things through beautiful, haunting art. Only one issue into The Rat and I am invested in seeing this ominous story play out.

September 3, 2019

, , , , ,   |  

Rebels Without A Cause— thoughts on David Rubin and Marcos Prior’s Grand Abyss Hotel


Marcos Prior and David Rubín are mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore. Or at least that’s the way it seems in Grand Abyss Hotel, their comic about these turbulent times we find ourselves in and our own violent reactions to them. The only problem is that it’s hard to tell what they’re mad about. This is a protest comic without ever really defining what they are protesting which makes it a bit empty. Opening with a protest-turned-riot and then following the media’s reaction to it, both the social media and more traditional TV talking heads, Prior and Rubín channel what’s happening in Hong Kong’s, in Portland, in Paris and across the world in the last few years. Tapping into our shifting political, financial, and moral foundations, Grand Abyss Hotel is both a sobering view of our current discourse as well as an all-to-possible view of where we’re headed, without a solid foundation trying to express what we should be rebelling against.

Rubín’s artwork, the lit fuse of this potentially incendiary work, uses every page as its own canvas. His layouts, colors and pacing establish a world on the verge of something monumental, a radical shift either into a utopia or a dystopia; it’s not too clear which way we’re heading. Each page contains the spirit of rage, whether it’s an explicit depiction of it as a reaction to this feverish world or whether it is a buried rage, as in the second chapter, that shows one of the 1% actors of this world, trapped in a scenario of his own making turned against him. Coloring his own work, Rubín slaps at least a dash of red on every page. Sometimes that red is a representation of the mood of the page, a simmering anger in our souls, and sometimes it’s the infernos that are burning down the structures and mechanisms that have create the world.

As Prior and c break the book into a prologue and four chapters, each piece has its own plot. It’s not even necessarily right to call these pieces chapters as they function more as discrete units of social and political unrest, coalescing into this view of a world gone mad. But none of these units seems to have anything to say other than the world has gone mad. The first chapter is a riot, an inciting incident that seemingly announces that we’re pissed and we’re tired of the world as it is. Opening with a wordless sequence, Rubín’s art is full of anger and resentment. It incites you to want to fight but it follows a prologue that’s full of hot button topics and talking heads. If anything, the world that Prior and Rubín are rioting against is a world where we’re told what to think and feel by celebrity newscasters who are as interested in ratings as they are in journalism. It’s not that the creators come out and say that explicitly but before and after the riots, we’re overpowered by their depictions of newscasts. Before and after actions that could either be an explosive sacrifice or a terrorist act, Prior and Rubín borrow a page out of the Frank Miller playbook and ground us in a view of this world that’s shaped by people reading teleprompters. There are so many voices in this book that it becomes a cacophony of noise.


The second chapter seems to be the one that has something to say, when a prominent bank official is kidnapped and forced to live on an average pension. While this portion of the story feels like a subtle homage to another politically charged book, Alan Moore and David Lloyd’s V For Vendetta, it’s also the one section of this book that feels like it has something to say. Living wages are a real issue today, when we allow multi-millionaire executives try to determine how much money is really needed just to survive on a day to day basis. It’s the least sensationalistic portion of the book but also the one with the most potential to actually say something. It’s disappointing then that it ends with no resolution or growth. Prior and Rubín introduce real and true conflict into this chapter without ever pursuing an ending to it before jumping into the last two chapters which feel far removed from the personal challenges posed and questions asked here.

It gets hard to read this book through all of the voices and the noise. Maybe that is why the 2nd chapter seems to have the most potential, because it is the most focused with only two voices; the kidnapper and their victim. But after that sequence, Prior and Rubín dive back into the presentation of multiple voices, coming at us from every possible angle. As society becomes a place where the fire department prioritizes us by our social media standings, the anger and rage of the book continues, where all of these forces fight to commoditize and standardize us. Maybe that’s the rebellion that Prior and Rubín are calling for, a rebellion against defining our worth by politics, economics or social standing. But if that’s it, this book buries its concerns under its desire to find something just to fight.

The Grand Abyss Hotel depicts a world on fire, a world of us versus them, that feels all too real at this point in history but it never takes a side in that conflict. It’s angry at the world without ever expressing a worldview that gives us an understanding of exactly why it’s angry. Rubín’s beautiful artwork paints a world that seems to be only a year or two in the future, both visually and temperamentally. It’s not necessarily the world outside of our window but it’s also a world that’s not too far away. In this slightly futuristic view of the world, Marcos Prior and David Rubín can’t quite express where we should be directing our anger.



Grand Abyss Hotel
Illustrated by David Rubín
Written by Marcos Prior
Published by Archaia

September 1, 2019

,   |  

Sunday Reads— September 1, 2019

Panel

Poster for Robert Altman’s “The Long Goodbye” (art by Jack Davis)

Previously on Panel Patter

*** Catch It at the Comic Shop August 28th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/2ZwOsXJ) via Panel Patter at Panel Patter

Reviews

*** Processing Loss: Daniel Elkin reviews ROCKS by Rozi Hathaway (link: https://ift.tt/340lTVY) via Daniel Elkin at Your Chicken Enemy

August 28, 2019

, , , , , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop August 28th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

August 26, 2019

, , ,   |  

Christophe Chabouté's Alone is a Visual Masterpiece

Alone
by Christophe Chabouté
published by Gallery 13
Simon & Schuster

Every now and again I find myself looking backward to make sure I am still alone. Come to think of it, I sometimes even do this in a crowded room full of people who would give me the shirts off their backs. Occasionally, I even intentionally drive myself in the opposite direction of social interaction to simply be alone to do something where no one else is. I did this very thing one afternoon late last weekend; picked up a copy of Christophe Chabouté’s stunning masterpiece Alone and read it in one sitting. All just to avoid social interaction for an afternoon.

This book, all 368 pages of it, is in large part a fairytale of solitude. Originally published in 2008, a French critically acclaimed piece of literature found itself republished in English format in 2017. This story is a critique of aloneness and what inhibits our motivation to avoid it, or rather to escape it. Christophe tells his story in Alone as the panels drift from page to page, slowly so that the feeling of mobility is nearly gone bringing all perception of movement entirely to what he has drawn. Reading this book, as it finds you losing yourself in its detail, transformation draws all sense of isolation into a complete consumption of the story. This was a wild ride for me, that one afternoon, when I chose to retreat inward and self-meditate by enjoying what has become one of my most lasting and enjoyable stories told in any format.

August 25, 2019

August 21, 2019

, , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop August 21st 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...


Rob's Picks:

Stronghold #5 by Phil Hester, Ryan Kelly, Dee Cunniffe, and Simon Bowland, published by Aftershock
What do you do when living your life freely likely means the destruction of everything on Earth? Damned if I know, but Hester/Kelly/Cunniffe/Bowland will present one possible answer in the conclusion of this series featuring an all-powerful being that was deluded into thinking he was just like the rest of us. His desire for freedom, aided by a woman trained to keep him deceived has been a great ride, offering an amazing commentary on the power of choice and the needs of the many versus the needs of the few, not to mention the lengths those watching over us go to to "protect" things as they are. There's plenty of deep philosophical meat on these bones, drawn with extreme detail by one of my favorites, Ryan Kelly, who's equally able to keep up the mundane appearances alongside monstrous, bloody events. If you didn't pick this up yet, you're missing out.

August 18, 2019

,   |  

Sunday Reads— August 18th, 2019

Panel

From Fat Freddy’s Cat-The Yuletide Story by Gilbert Shelton (1992)

Previously on Panel Patter

*** Sunday Reads— August 11th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/2GX0Sl9) via Scott Cederlund at Panel Patter

*** Catch It at the Comic Shop August 14th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/31GXH98) via Panel Patter at Panel Patter

*** Waiting for the Hook in Once & Future #1 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain (link: https://ift.tt/2H8XnZj) via Scott Cederlund at Panel Patter

August 15, 2019

, , , , ,   |  

Waiting for the Hook in Once & Future #1 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain


Kieron Gillen’s writing, like the best pop songs, is built around strong hooks. Narratively, he comes up with these earworm motifs that just lodge themselves into your brain. His earworm that haunts me the most is Phonogram’s “music as magic” but there are a lot of people who groove on his D&D as life riffs in Die or the superhero as pop star licks of The Wicked + The Divine. Usually these earworms are present from the power chord openings of his comics but Once & Future lacks that strong statement, that announcement that tells you to hold on for dear life on this journey that we’re beginning with Gillen.

As Gillen, Dan Mora and Tamra Bonvillain introduce us to Bridgette and her grandson Duncan, Gillen’s writing feels less specific and less idiosyncratic than his other comics do. The general tone of this book is a cross of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (with a sly reference in the book thrown in about hunting all of the vampire in England) and Scooby Doo where Duncan is a bit more Shaggy than he is Fred. As an ancient scabbard is stolen from an archeological dig, Bridgette escapes her retirement home and begins a search for the thieves, dragging her somewhat hapless grandson into this grand adventure. It’s an interesting take on the odd couple paradigm, putting two people with different personalities and skill sets together to meet a common goal, but it is still an odd couple story that’s been told time and time again.

August 14, 2019

, , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop August 14th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Neil's Pick:

Once & Future #1 by Kieron Gillen, Dan Mora, Tamra Bonvillain and Ed Dukeshire published by Boom Studios
It is almost impossible to turn on your TV in the UK without hearing about the impending doom that is Brexit. News channels informing us of the horrors that a “no-deal” Brexit could bring. Satirical shows making a mockery of the politics behind the whole process. It’s becoming too much to handle. Thankfully Kieron Gillen is here to put his spin on the stupidity that is modern-day nationalism. Gillen may not be referencing Brexit within Once & Future but I can see he’s influenced by it. Set in modern-day with a group of Nationalists wanting to bring back villains from an Arthurian myth. Once & Future could be the fun break we Brits need from the current state of our political system. In fact it could be what we all need. With art by Dan Mora and colour by the phenomenally talented Tamra Bonvillain, Once & Future is one comic that I hope brings some much-needed light to our current grey climate.

August 11, 2019

,   |  

Sunday Reads— August 11th, 2019

Panel

“Too Soon” by Keith Knight (via The Nib)

Previously on Panel Patter

*** Sunday Reads- July 28th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/32Ol81M) via Scott Cederlund at Panel Patter

*** Best Shots Review: HOUSE OF X #1 'Exhilarating, Frustrating, Often Chilling' (link: https://ift.tt/2GCVqUq) via By Scott Cederlund, Best Shots Contributor at Newsarama

*** Catch It at the Comic Shop July 31st, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/2YzgDVm) via Panel Patter at Panel Patter

*** Best Shots Reviews: POWERS OF X #1, PAPER GIRLS #30 (link: https://ift.tt/31jGqmj) via at Newsarama

*** Catch It at the Comic Shop August 7th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/2YXtNjw) via Panel Patter at Panel Patter

August 7, 2019

, , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop August 7th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

Sean's Picks:

 Sea of Stars #2 by Jason Aaron, Dennis Hallum, Stephen Green & Rico Renzi, published by Image Comics
I loved the first issue of this book so much that I nearly read its debut to pieces. Jason & Co. told a vividly simple thesis statement to a character study of a father and son relationship gone bizarrely awry. And that’s not because of their lack of connection, the dialogue actually showed how simple and intimate their bond really was. The visuals told their own story as provided by the imaginative mind of Dennis Hallum. The art is hypnotic and it sweeps you away into the far corners of space. The colors, the paneling, it all fits together so well you may find yourself forgetting to turn the page. As a parent I appreciate creative and new ways storytellers find to tell stories of family and relationships. Throw in space exploration, aliens, smart-witted juvenile one liners and sizable amounts of mystery and you have this comic. I like this one, and I’m pretty sure you will too.

July 31, 2019

, , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop July 31st, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

July 28, 2019

,   |  

Sunday Reads- July 28th, 2019

Panel

From The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Tempest #6

Previously on Panel Patter

*** Sunday Reads— July 21st, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/2SwISCX) via Scott Cederlund

*** Two Women in a Hotel Room San Diego 2019 - Ep 1 (link: https://ift.tt/2SDkbVA) via Heidi MacDonald at SoundCloud (featuring our own Rob McMonigal)

*** Catch It at the Comic Shop July 24th, 2019 (link: https://ift.tt/2GpTSNK) via Panel Patter

*** “It Was Self Defense!”— thoughts on Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s Green Lantern V1: Intergalactic Lawman (link: https://ift.tt/2OaTgBD) via Scott Cederlund

July 24, 2019

, , , , , , , ,   |  

Catch It at the Comic Shop July 24th, 2019

Welcome to Catch it at the Comic Shop, where the Panel Patter team looks at what's coming out at your favorite store or digital device this week. Each one of us that participates picks up to five items due out this week, with a little bit about why we like them. (NOTE: We use solicitation material for this, so if we miss creators, please talk to your publisher!) Sometimes we might only have a few items to share, other weeks, keeping it to five will make for hard choices. Here's what the team wanted to highlight this week...

James' Picks:

July 23, 2019

, , , , ,   |  

“It Was Self Defense!”— thoughts on Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp’s Green Lantern V1: Intergalactic Lawman

From The Green Lantern: Intergalactic Lawman (art by Liam Sharp and Steve Oliff)

We need to talk about how Grant Morrison has become The Man. He once was the agent provocateur within the pages of DC Comics. His Animal Man, Doom Patrol and even his JLA all showed us things didn’t have to be the way they always were. The old power structures weren’t to be trusted as we had the power to forge our own paths. These comics used the old characters to find the new that was in front of us. Each series, in their own unique ways, was Morrison casting a spell to usher in a new age. With Morrison telling us these stories in the late 1990s, it looked like the 21st century was going to be a time where anything could happen. His Invisibles and New X-Men runs were the culmination of this magic, trying to topple over the status quo, to tear down the way things were for the way we wanted things to be. He was our own comic prophet, challenging us to follow him boldly into the future.

July 21, 2019