So this week has been a bit busy and I didn’t get to hit the shop on New Comic Book Day. That means I don’t have a comic to review as I usually do. Instead, I’m going to share with you some of the series I’ve read recently that I’ve absolutely enjoyed.
The Wicked and the Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
I got to go to a panel and meet Kieron at Denver Comic Con and he is as awesome as I expected him to be. The Wicked and the Divine combines two of my favorite things, mythology and music. The series centers around people who become gods/pop stars. Becoming a good is not without cost, as those that do have a fairly short life span.
“You will be loved, you will be hated. In two years you will be dead.”
What I love about this comic, is that like a lot of Gillen and McKelvie’s work, it feels both very current and somewhat experimental. They play with form and you will see things in their comics that you don’t necessarily see in others. I asked Gillen about communicated with McKelvie and he spoke about how long they had known each other and how a relationship had developed, I think you can see that relationship in their body of work and “The Wicked and the Divine” is the perfect example of it.
It’s obvious that Gillen and McKelvie have a passion for music and intertwining immortality, so If you enjoy this comic you might also want to check out Phonogram. They have earlier runs of Phonogram and their newest run “The Immaterial Girl” is going to hit shelves in the near future.
Black Widow by Nathan Edmundson and Phil Noto
Black Widow has just finished a 20 issue run which is something of a feat in the comics industry now a days. I am a big fan of Natasha as a character and though for the most part I love Ed Brubaker’s run on Winter Soldier, his last story arc left Natasha in a place that had me worried. This comic series put many of those fears to bed. It shows Natasha in her element, she is a spy and though she has many people around her, she still keeps many of them at arm’s length.
We also get a cameo from Bucky Barnes later in the series, which gives a nod to what happened between them during Brubaker’s run. The art is gorgeous and surprisingly clean even though it is done in largely a water color painted style. Noto is one of my favorite artists, so I may be slightly biased in my judgement, but this book was worth picking up for the art alone.
We get to see a much more personal side of Natasha in these comics, which I feel like her previously series have lacked to an extent. She is vulnerable yet hard, capable yet fearful, isolated yet not alone. This is a great series to pick up if you like female characters with depth and a little bit of spy craft in your comics.
The Silent Grove (Dragon Age) by David Gaider, Alexander Freed and Chad Hardin
This series is a great companion to the Dragon Age video game series, particular if you’re a fan of Alistair Therin, Isabela or Varric Tethras. In this version of Thedas, Alistair is King of Ferelden and he sets off to follow a room about his long-lost farther, King Maric. Maric, of course, was presumed dead many years before when he was lost at sea. With the help of Isabela and Varric, the mystery behind his disappearance begins to unfold.
If you are anything like me, when you get into a video game or movie, I love other supplemental media that continues the story. I’ve also read some of the Dragon Age books and while they are good, the comics are much more engaging and the story is much more entertaining. If you enjoy “The Silent Grove,” the story continues in “Those Who Speak and “Until we Sleep”
Bitch Planet by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro
I’ve enjoyed a lot of Kelly Sue’s work in the past and it was no surprise when Bitch Planet became a fast favorite for me. The focus of the story is on women who have been sent to a prison planet because they are “Non-Compliant.” This can mean everything from murdering someone to not really keeping yourself tight and together and beauitful. If you aren’t conforming to the strict gender roles enforced on women, you might find yourself locked up with the rest of the rebels.
When DeConnick began sharing about this comic, she mentioned that she wanted to take the “Women in prison” exploitation trope and turn it on it’s head. The art is perfect, it has a slightly gritty feeling to it, that helps to further suspend reality and put you in this universe that only feels a few decades down the line from the world we live in. DeConnick and De Landro also work really hard to ensure that their take on the subject does not look exploitative like what inspired it. There is a shower scene in one of the issues which had to be redrawn several times all in the name of not objectifying the women in the scene.
This comic is a strong deviation from DeConnick’s other Image title “Pretty Deadly” but I strongly recommend picking that title up as well, if you’re looking from something else to read. Emma Rios is the artist and her pages are simply stunning, so many of them look like paintings that should be in museums and on postcards everywhere. “Bitch Planet” is currently still ongoing and “Pretty Deadly” has completed it’s first arc, gearing up for it’s second this fall.