The Most Interesting Comics of the Week
Every Wednesday, I highlight the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, Comixology, Kickstarter and the web. These are generally more short previews rather than complete reviews. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about.
1. Stray Bullets: Killers #1
By David Lapham
David Lapham's Stray Bullets was an influential comic from the 1990s, an era when people weren't really doing crime comics like they are now. Heavily influenced by the Quentin Tarantino films like Pulp Fiction, Lapham told single issue stories that fit into a fractured, larger narrative, bouncing back and forth in time from the 1970s to the '90s with a large cast of characters making appearances at different stages. His stories often took ordinary people and threw them into situations with ruthless killers. The violence they witnessed would often have damaging effects on their psyches, and the comic tested innocent people to see how quickly they would turn down an irreversible, immoral path.
Lapham self-published the comic up to issue #40 and then, in an example of how tough the economics of comics can be, put the book on hiatus with one issue to go while he moved on to work-for-hire projects to pay the bills. For nearly ten years, fans have been hoping that somehow Lapham would find a way to get back to Stray Bullets. Finally, thanks to Image Comics, it has returned.
This week, Lapham releases Stray Bullets #41, which finally concludes the previous storyline and simultaneously begins a new chapter with Stray Bullets: Killers #1. Moving forward, the book will be published in more of a mini-series format rather than continuing the previous numbering. However, the new story continues the approach of single, self-contained plot lines feeding into the over-arching narrative. Set in 1978, the issue introduces a boy named Eli who follows his dad to a strip club where he befriends familiar Stray Bullets tough guy Spanish Scott. What he learns about his father leads Eli down the horrifying, transformative path we're used to seeing in Lapham's world.
On a personal note, Stray Bullets is probably in my top 5 all-time favorite comic book series so I'm very excited to see its return this week.
2. Deadhorse: The Ballad of the Two Headed Dog #1
Written by Eric Grissom; Art by Phil Sloan; Colors by David Halvorson
The second volume of Eric Grissom, Phil Sloan, and David Halvorson's Deadhorse begins when the last pay phone in the world begins ringing. This kind of enigmatic mystery is par for the course in a series that's had a box that can make something out of nothing (including an entire town), two-headed dog markings that show up everywhere, and a Senator who commits suicide on live TV while talking to a hand puppet. If this sounds intriguing, I'm not even doing justice to how well it has played out so far. The creative team is setting up the pieces for a great conspiracy-style mystery that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Grissom and Sloan have a great sense of comedy, which manifests itself in sight gags and playful interaction between characters.
The story follows William Pike whose father held the the key to the mysterious box that was used to create the town of Deadhorse, Alaska. As Pike searches for answers about his father, he picks up a couple of travel companions—a teenage runaway named Elise and a geeky, Zardoz fanfic writer named Edgar. When volume 1 ended, the three were trapped in a temple underneath a campground called Trapper's Keep.
This past weekend, Comixology celebrated the one-year anniversary of their Submit program for self-publishers by selling a bundle of 100 of the top Submit comics for only $10. Deadhorse is one of the best of the bunch, and the first issue of the second volume came out last week. Anyone who picked up the bundle (which contained the entirety of Deadhorse Vol. 1) will be able to jump right into the start of volume 2.
3. The Six Million Dollar Man: Season Six #1
Written by James Kuhoric; art by Juan Antonio Ramirez
The newest trend in comic book licensing is to take a classic TV show that ended too soon and give it a new "season" in comic book form. This started in 2007 with Dark Horse Comics' Buffy The Vampire Slayer: Season 8 and has picked up steam in the past couple of years with new "seasons" of X-Files, Firefly, and Samurai Jack.
This week, Dynamite Entertainment brings back The Six Million Dollar Man with a "Season Six" to pick up where the classic TV show left off. This is not the first time Steve Austin has had his own comic book series though. Dynamite recently published a Bionic Man series based on a Kevin Smith pitch for a rebooted TV program. This comic will be true to the original program which starred Lee Majors in all his track-suited glory. The first issue introduces Maskatron, a character that never appeared in the show but will be familiar to anyone that owned the original Bionic Man toys.
The series is written by James Kuhoric with art by Juan Antonio Ramirez, who previously worked on Dynamite's Bionic Woman series. There's also a painted cover by nostalgia maven Alex Ross that perfectly captures Steve Austin in full bionic action mode.
4. "Boy's Toys"
By Mike Dawson
Stay-at-home dad and award-winning cartoonist Mike Dawson recently posted this cartoon about gender roles and children's toys that I found to be pretty much in line with my own findings as a dad. In this day and age where progressive parents actively try to avoid gender stereotyping their children, there still seems to be a natural proclivity for girls to gravitate towards princesses and boys to gravitate towards cars and trucks.
Dawson has been doing a number of little one-off comics about parenting-related topics including one about Disney's Sofia The First that he published on Slate. If you have kids of a certain age, you may relate to and appreciate Dawson's work.