The Reading Pile – Week 4

This week we take a look at The Magic Order, Justice League, Ice Cream Man, Paper Girls, Die! Die! Die! and The Immortal Hulk. Let’s do this.

Paper Girls 22, Image Comics, 7/4/2018
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Cliff Chiang

My relationship with Brian K. Vaughan, or BKV, books is somewhat limited. He’s done a lot of stuff for Marvel, DC and Dark Horse that I wasn’t even aware of. But I have read most of his creator owned stuff. I’ve read Y the Last Man and found it worthy of all the praise. Saga I thought was good, but I dropped it after 20 issues or so. Couldn’t really get into Ex Machina and I liked We Stand on Guard. I REALLY like Paper Girls.

The story of a bunch of teenaged girls who have neighborhood paper routes in Cleveland, starts out kind of ho hum, but they soon encounter aliens, robots, time travel and future versions of themselves and it is AWESOME. Did I tell you how much I like this book? It’s really fun and BKV handles the aliens and robots stuff especially well. Cliff Chiang’s art is cartoony, but stylized and very distinctive.

The two have a really nice synergy together. If there’s one thing to nitpick, it is perhaps the cast of characters is too large. I get the girls mixed up sometimes, but that’s probably my issue. Anyways, my wife loves this book and she doesn’t read a lot of comics. Recommended. 4.5/5

Ice Cream Man 5, Image Comics, 7/18/2016
Writer: M. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo

Stoked this book is back as I thought it was only a 4 issue mini. How to describe it, well, it is a book with stand-alone, episodic, stories. Each book has little in common with one another, other than appearances of the Ice Cream Man, who is sort of a Crypt Keeper type figure. The other commonalities are elements of horror, gore, macabre, off beat humor and just general quirky, weirdness. Things are usually subtle, presented in a Tales from the Crypt or Twilight Zone kind of way, but the gore was a little more turned up and in your face this issue. Nothing wrong with that! The art in this series took me some getting used to, but it’s totally appropriate after spending some time with it. Another book for folks looking for something a little different. 3.5/5

Die! Die! Die! 1, Image Comics, 7/11/2018
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Chris Burnham

There seems to be outright contempt for Robert Kirkman these days and some spec heads were crapping all over this book as soon as it was announced to drop. Gimmicky as hell to release a book on “new comics” Wednesday, with the only prior press being the day before, but I still wanted to check it out. I usually enjoy Kirkman’s stuff.

A couple of pages in and I’m digging it. Very cool Frank Quitely influenced art that suits the crime/guns/cars scenarios with some great over the top violence. Then we get into the “secret cabal” government stuff that makes me lose patience as it gets a little wordy with dialogue boxes. Then Senator Lipshitz, I think I’m reading that right, brings me back to the table as she has dinner with a colleague. Then we cut to one of the senator’s aids/henchmen talking about merits of the words “pussy” and “ballsack” (oh, the shock value) as he’s in route to enlist the help of John, who lives in a cabin in the woods and has a brother who needs help. A brother who got his ass kicked in the beginning of the book. Roll credits.

This lost me in the middle, but I basically liked it. Did anyone read Revenge, back in 2014, from Image Comics? This had some elements that reminded me of that book. 3/5

Justice League 4, DC Comics, 7/11/2018
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jorge Jimenez

Cover B, shown up above, is cover of the week, in my opinion. There have been a lot of great Wonder Woman covers in recent years and this is among them. Kind of regret not buying the 1:100 Jim Lee sketch cover, but whatever.

Note: you might want to read my review here of the last issue before continuing.

Starting off with Gorilla Grodd backstory before we move along to Superman and Martian Manhunter battling inside The Totality. Hawkgirl is battling The Joker while Batman is inside Supe’s neural canal. Sinestro is busting up Green Lantern and Cyborg on the moon. Meanwhile, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Flash encounter Grodd inside the Legion of Doom headquarters and all hell is breaking loose, y’all. Sinestro taps into “the still force” as Supes and Manhunter are, literally, losing their minds as the Multiverse is revealed before them.

I usually start to tune out of DC stuff once the Multiverse starts to work it’s way into stories prominently, but I’m intrigued here. 4/5

The Immortal Hulk 3, Marvel Comics, 7/18/2018
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Multiple artists

Wow, this was strange as hell, especially for a Hulk book. I did love the Ross cover and some of the vintage interiors. 3/5

The Magic Order 2, Image Comics, 7/18/2018
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Olivier Coipel

I gots to preface this with the fact that Millar’s output exhausts me. Seems like he puts out a new series every month, when the reality is it’s probably more like 1 or 2 new books a year. Whilst I find him an extremely competent storyteller, the only things he’s done in recent memory I’ve liked have been Huck (Image Comics, 2014) and I REALLY liked Starlight (Image Comics, 2014). I liked Reborn from last year, too, I guess.

So this is a secret society of individuals with powers who protect the world type trope. Millar can do this kind of book in his sleep. Skillfully crafted, nicely paced and really easy to read, but, I dunno, just my least favorite in the pile this week. 3/5

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