The Reading Pile – Week 3

This week we take a look at Farmhand, Outpost Zero, Monstress, Dr. Strange, Suicide Squad and The Amazing Spider-Man. Let’s get to it.


Doctor Strange 3, Marvel Comics, 7/4/2018
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Jesus Saiz

I’ve been reading the various Dr. Strange titles since his revival the last couple of years and I’ve found them largely hit and miss from issue to issue. Having said that, I really liked this issue.

Seeing some of the art for the solicits of Stephen Strange in space looked kind of dumb to me. It shouldn’t, as Strange’s adventures in astral planes and other inter-dimensional conflicts should be a fairly close parallel to him bounding across universes. Maybe it’s that I don’t like Strange in a space helmet?

Nevertheless, Doctor Strange in space has been pretty cool. Magic has failed Strange on earth and Tony Stark has advised him to seek magic on other worlds to wield. In this issue, Strange encounters a mysterious green stone in the hands of the Super-Skrull. Pretty fun issue. Recommended. 4/5.

Farmhand 1, Image Comics, 7/11/2018
Writer: Rob Guillory
Artist: Rob Guillory

So at the end of the issue writer and artist, Rob Guillory, thanks his audience for giving this “weird little book” a try. This book is quirky as hell, zany, even and it’s really funny. If you are familiar with Guillory’s artistry on his last title, Chew, you know to look closely at everything because there’s a lot of subtle hilarity in the backgrounds and the same thing is going on here. Guillory is a great visual story teller with a style that is all his own.

Zeke Jenkins, with family in tow, is reuniting with his estranged father, Jed. Zeke left the family farm years ago and his father has come up with a way to interweave stem cells with plant DNA. The results are plants, trees and other foliage that can grow body parts! Body parts for organ transplants.

There are also spies, family things and other secrecies going on that I’ll let you discover for yourself.

Is Guillory making some kind of stem cell/organ transplant commentary or is it just a delivery device for his sight gags and visual puns? A great read and recommended for anyone wanting something a little different. If you liked Chew, I certainly expect you’ll like this. 4/5

Amazing Spider-Man 1, Marvel Comics, 7/11/2016
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Ryan Ottley

Let me tell you about the first issue of The Amazing Spider-Man I ever owned. I was a sick 9 year old child with the flu and my parents had brought me home some comics to comfort me. Issue 166 was among those comics. It came out in 1977 and it was MAGIC. Spider-Man in the seventies was truly amazing. John Romita Sr. was doing covers and Ross Andru was doing the interior art and Len Wein’s stories were off the chain. Anyone else remember The Ghost of Hammerhead storyline in issues 157-159? MAGIC.

I got that feeling again with Nick Spencer and Ryan Ottley’s Spider-Man. I loved Ottley’s prior book, Invincible, and it’s like that book was a 15 year precursor to this issue of Spider-Man. Props to writer Nick Spencer as he covers all of the bases here quite skillfully: Spidey interacting with Avengers, romancing with MJ, old (and new) villains, Peter Parker’s problems, Aunt May, etc. The ride’s just getting started and I think it’s going to be glorious.

If there’s anything to fault with this issue, it’s the $6 price tag. Really, Marvel? I also think the inked and colored art doesn’t necessarily convey the incredible energy of Ryan’s original pencils. Check out the free Behind-The-Scenes Edition to get a sense of what I’m talking about.

Behind the Scenes

Suicide Squad 44, DC Comics, 7/11/2018
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Joe Bennet

This book is light weight, popcorn fluff that I’ve always enjoyed. Lots of DCU fighting with Harley, Deadshot and the rest of the SS gang and the jokes are pretty funny this issue, which is not always the case. Features Batman and Captain Cold, who I’ve always thought was very cool (ha), and the Mattina B cover is banging. Enjoy this book with your favorite beverage.


Monstress 18, Image Comics, 7/11/2018
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda

People in on this book will tell you how epic it is. It’s like a novel and it’s wonderful. The short of it is young teen Maika struggles to learn the secrets of her past and is trying to free herself of the Monstrum, Zinn, which lives in her like a parasite. The two struggle for control of Maika’s body and mind. Maika’s companion’s include a fox girl named Kippa and a talking cat named Ren. Their journeys are a many and their battles are chaotic.

Sana Takeda’s art is a cross between an Anime/Manga style and Japanese traditional fantasy, if that is such a thing. This issue was perfect and the book goes on hiatus until the winter. Sadness.

“…you know all too well that broken things are never the same again.”


Outpost Zero, Image Comics, 7/11/2018
Writer: Sean Kelley McKeever
Artist: Alexandre Tefenkgi

I try to keep an open mind, but I had a real hard time with this. The art is certainly competent, but a style that I just found distracting. Sort of like Cliff Chiang, who I really like, but I didn’t find it as interesting. I will say the skillful use of colors caught my attention. Anyone remember The Bunker from Oni Press? This sort of reminded me of that book as teens are the main protagonists while adults are supporting chatacters.

This is the first issue; we are being introduced to new characters, their families, and the universe they live in, but I just didn’t have any patience for this. The book is skillfully crafted; I just didn’t care for it. I’m probably the wrong guy to be reviewing this.


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