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THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (4/5/17 – Warmer)

The natural world, courtesy of the Belgian artists Rémy Pierlot & Vincent Fortemps, from their collaborative story in the 2009 Frémok anthology Match de catch à Vielsam.

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PLEASE NOTE: What follows is not a series of capsule reviews but an annotated selection of items listed by Diamond Comic Distributors for release to comic book retailers in North America on the particular Wednesday identified in the column title above. Be aware that some of these comics may be published by Fantagraphics Books, the entity which also administers the posting of this column, and that I also run a podcast with an employee of Nobrow Press. Not every listed item will necessarily arrive at every comic book retailer, in that some items may be delayed and ordered quantities will vary. I have in all likelihood not read any of the comics listed below, in that they are not yet released as of the writing of this column, nor will I necessarily read or purchase every item identified; THIS WEEK IN COMICS! reflects only what I find to be potentially interesting. You could always just buy nothing.

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SPOTLIGHT PICKS!

Providence #12 (of 12): Being the final installment of this very dense and bookish series written by Alan Moore, ostensibly an attempt to suggest a shared universe for H.P. Lovecraft’s various short stories, but really a series of dips into the everyday lives of these horror characters before or after the stories in which they were featured, with Lovecraft himself existing alongside them, the point of it being a sort of externalization of the early 20th century fears that Moore sees as typified by the biases and metaphors in Lovecraft’s writing. That said, given that the story kind of seemed to end last issue, I suspect that what we’re in for here is an overarching finale for *all* of Moore’s various Lovecraft-based comics with artist Jacen Burrows (colored here by Juan Rodríguez), much in the way that Promethea #31 was the conclusion for Moore’s entire America’s Best Comics line, despite several of those titles (including Promethea itself) releasing subsequent issues. But then, moreso than any other Moore-written comic, in my opinion — yes, even the later The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen stories — Providence demands a strong degree of familiarity with the source materials upon which Moore is riffing, so maybe it’s not that big a step to assume you’ve also read an additional stack of Alan Moore-written comics from years past. From Avatar Press, which will also have issues of the blood-drenched WWII superhuman drama Über and, via its Boundless imprint, the infernal naked lady series Hellina (so named because she is from Hell), thus summarizing its ethos as its 20th year in business continues; $4.99.

Secret Sneyd: The Unpublished Cartoons of Doug Sneyd: In the great tradition of absolute caprice, I will now spotlight a 280-page book of dirty gag cartoons by a Playboy artist. Specifically, these are roughs – sketches intended to get the joke across, none of which ever reached any state of completion. Might be interesting and/or amusing. A 5″ x 6.5″ Dark Horse release; $14.99.

PLUS!

Love and Rockets #2: I think you may have heard of this series; it’s by a pair of brothers, Jaime & Gilbert Hernandez, and they kind of do what they want for 36 pages. It’s magazine-sized, 8.5″ x 10.75″, like some of the old Direct Market fare used to be. I was at the MoCCA Arts Festival last weekend looking to get a copy, but Fantagraphics was already sold out by the time I got there, because I stupidly elected to spend time with friends; $4.99.

Eleanor & the Egret #1: I’ve had a great deal of difficulty getting a bead on AfterShock Comics. It was founded by a group of comics industry and Hollywood veterans, among them Mike Marts of Marvel and Joe Pruett of Caliber and Desperado, so I presume there’s some kind of IP development effort going on, though in practice the whole thing seems like Dark Horse Presents if it were a publisher, but not *Dark Horse*, if you get my drift. But hey, this is comic book drawn by Sam Kieth, and I’ll link to a comic book drawn by Sam Kieth, sure. It’s scripted by John Layman, who had a pretty big hit with Chew over at Image – the story concerns art thievery and talking birds, in some manner. Preview; $3.99.

Rock Candy Mountain #1: Not too long ago, the artist Kyle Starks attracted a decent amount of hype for Sexcastle, a crowdfunded homage to the 1980s action cinema, eventually picked up for wider distribution by Image. That same publisher now releases a new comic book miniseries from Starks, a WWII-era comedy about a two-fisted hobo and Satan; $3.99.

2000 AD 40th Anniversary Special: “Wait, didn’t they just have an anniversary issue a few months ago?” No, you fool. You god damned fool, that was 2000 AD #2000, whereas this is the official 40th Anniversary special, a 48-page color & b&W magazine now available in North American comic book stores, offering new stories that’ll either acclimate readers to regular features or tantalize those happy to see some old favorites return: Al Ewing’s & Henry Flint’s Zombo is in this issue, as well as Robbie Morrison’s & Simon Fraser’s Nikolai Dante. Note that Rebellion also has a pair of 2000 AD collections out this week: The Order: Die Mensch Maschine, from the very capable writer “Kek-W” and the old-school painted comics veteran John Burns, and Kingdom: Aux Drift, a combat-heavy post-apocalypse series from Dan Abnett & Richard Elson; $7.99.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Vol. 1: If you’re as old as me — and you’ll probably need to be almost exactly as old as me, because a lot of this stuff potentially remains a mystery to generations prior — you remember a time when Masashi Kishimoto’s youth ninja comic Naruto was one of the great engines of manga’s popularity in North America. It helped a lot that the anime adaptation was enormously popular and widely pirated; glancing as the “Popular” tab on Crunchyroll.com, the Naruto Shippuden television series (just recently concluded this past March in Japan) is *still* in fifth place. So, it makes perfect financial sense for a sequel manga to begin, though I suspect it makes physical and mental health sense for Kishimoto to step back into a supervisory role, while writer Ukyo Kodachi and artist Mikio Ikemoto head up the comic’s actual production. It’s Boruto! Naruto’s kid! Next Generations! From VIZ; $9.99.

Masters of Spanish Comic Book Art: Finally, I presume Dynamite did okay with 2015’s The Art of José González, because now we’ve got a 272-page hardcover dedicated to pretty much everybody out of Spain who contributed to Vampirella magazine and the other Warren black & whites in the ’70s and ’80s, many of them associated with Josep Toutain’s agency, Selecciones Ilustradas. In fact, many of these artists were represented in British weekly comics as well, along with other global endeavors – writer David Roach’s text intends to address this wider exposure, if the book’s solicitation is any indication. Splashy, lavish, often thoroughly photo-referenced and flagrantly decorative, this whole mini-era of counter-mainstream comics perhaps annoyed those who valued readability and succinctness as paramount qualities in genre fare, but I find its extravagance reliably compelling; $39.99.

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9 Responses to THIS WEEK IN COMICS! (4/5/17 – Warmer)

  1. Caleb Orecchio says:

    “Providence demands a strong degree of familiarity with the source materials upon which Moore is riffing…”

    I disagree. I’ve enjoyed Providence immensely and I’ve never read a word of Lovecraft’s work, but I will say it will add to the overall experience of Providence if you read his earlier Lovecraft riffs. Similarly, I’m sure reading Lovecraft’s work would be an education in context, but it’s certainly not demanded.

  2. Mar Sharar says:

    Same here, Caleb. I’ve yet to read a single HPL story, but I’ve enjoyed Providence tremendously. I plan to reread it after I’ve dipped (or deeper) into HPL’s work. But then, I reread (and re-reread) everything Alan Moore writes.

  3. Jones, one of the Jones boys says:

    Not Lovecraft, but a few weeks back I read Moore’s other Avatar horror series, Crossed 100+. It’s surprisingly good! Better than it had to be certainly, and obviously better than his *last* future-based work-for-hire. Bleak AF, tho…

  4. Joe McCulloch says:

    I found Moore’s Crossed to be unexpectedly reminiscent of Halo Jones, of all things… something about a very kind, very moral person attempting to wring meaning and satisfaction out of a hazardous world disinclined toward kindness and morality; but Moore is in a far more negative state of mind about humanity right now, so it’s an extremely despairing work.

    One thing it has in common with Moore’s Image work, imo, is an artist (Gabriel Andrade, one of Avatar’s most capable regulars) who specializes in booming, big-impact scenes being made to affect subtlety to an uneasy result…

  5. Jones, one of the Jones boys says:

    “it’s an extremely despairing work”

    Hoo boy, you can say that again. I mean, sure, it’s a zombie story, so what do you expect; it’s certainly playing into generic convention. But the Lucy-snatching-the-football-away way the denouement snatches away all hope for civilisation is *so* effective, it reads as, easily, the bleakest thing he’s written (but I haven’t read Providence, so maybe that’s just as depressing?). It’s hard to believe that this is the guy who wrote Promethea and Century; it really is a howl of fucking despair. Had it come out 2 years later, it would have been attributed to Moore’s reaction to Brexit and Trump…

  6. Joe McCulloch says:

    Providence I don’t think is quite as harsh, in a way because it’s much more cerebral, but also because Moore coaxes a sort of bitter hope out of people’s capacity to become absorbed in dreams and fictions, to accept any affront as natural given adequate stimulus. “Hypernormalization” let’s say – it *very* much feels like a book for the era of fake news and curated feeds, though Moore very adroitly wrote his scripts before these concerns were so widely discussed. With this one, you definitely can believe it’s the same writer as Promethea, because Providence is its ideological obverse. There’s also more than a bit of “Dance of the Gull Catchers” in its final chapter, though now Moore seeks to combine his story, his research, and annotations to his work into a single, flat space. I think it’s definitely the most unsparing and ‘difficult’ of his major works as a comics writer, but I am seeing it as a ‘major’ work now that it’s complete… it’s definitely one to grapple with.

  7. I’ve read all of one Lovecraft short story, and that only quite recently, but I’ve been enjoying Providence very much. I’m not sure I would have been able to do so without this website’s notes on each issue and the discussion they provoke, though: https://factsprovidence.wordpress.com.

    In my view, Neonomicon is far bleaker than either Providence or Crossed +100. It’s not so much the ending where its bleakness lies, but in episodes like Brears pathetically hoping the monster will recognise the authority of her FBI badge or the utterly blank, affectless way the cultists react to her black partner being murdered. Moore has said he was in a really dark, misogynistic mood as he scripted Neonomicon, and that attitude definitely shows through in the finished book.

    The Courtyard, Neonomicon and Providence are really all one piece of work, with a single story running through them all. Taken together, I’d rank that story right alongside From Hell and Promethea in the very top rank of Moore’s comics work. And if you need cheering up after reading it, may I suggest Jerusalem, which (on the whole) offers a much sunnier view of our collective destiny.

  8. Neil Carey says:

    ‘Nother Lovecraft-virgin, though the above site was very useful in explanations there (as well as what green ties and certain expressions mean in certain circles), and I found Providence to say some interesting things about artistic influence; be it on other creators or on the audience.

  9. CORRECTION: What I meant to write above was “misanthropic”, not “misogynistic”. Apologies for misquoting you, Mr Moore.

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