It’s nearly Wednesday, and you know what that means: a fresh load of comics and graphic novels! With so many publications hitting your local comics store or digital storefront, the BF staff is here to lead you through the woods with our weekly staff picks. Satisfaction guaranteed!
Comic of the Week
The only question you need to ask yourself is this: will Warren Ellis be able to pull off the same magic trick he did with Moon Knight? That is, reinvigorating an underused-slash-second-tier character and making it relevant again – and propelling his artist into superstardom in one fell swoop?
Part of the cast of the Inhumans, though not a Terrigen mist-breather himself, green-striped white boy Karnak is the kind of philosopher who puts the ‘m’ in meditation and the ‘Z’ in Zazen. He does so up until the point he can see the flaw in any physical or abstract object, from people to ideas, then goes to work to fix it or make it go kaput.
Says Ellis in this week’s Orbital Operations newsletter: “I’ll be glad when I’ve finished Karnak, because having that little bastard in my head is probably doing me damage.”
You know what that means: fantastic stories, this time brought to life by star-in-the-making Gerardo Zaffino, whose style is like the love child of Sean Murphy and RM Guéra.
Warren Ellis (W), Gerardo Zaffino (A) • Marvel Comics, $3.99
– Frederik Hautain
Get Jiro: Blood and Sushi
World-renowned culinary celebrity and cynic Anthony Bourdain returns to the world of Get Jiro! in this much-anticipated graphic novel prequel. Bourdain once again teams up with his writing partner from the first book, Joel Rose (Kill the Poor), and welcomes a new artist to the team, in the form of the talented Alé Garza (The Losers).
Set in Jiro’s native Japan, the plot of Blood and Sushi chronicles the chef’s transformation from scion of a powerful Yakuza family into a rabid foodie with a deep passion for his homeland’s rich culinary history. Jiro must find a way to balance his study of the culinary arts and his duty to his father (and the Yakuza) or risk sacrificing all that is dear to him.
The special this week is a heaping portion of ultra-violence, with a side of food porn and a healthy dash of Bourdain’s signature sarcastic wit. Get it while it’s hot!
Anthony Bourdain & Joel Rose (W), Alé Garza (A), José Villarrubia (C) • Vertigo Comics, $22.99.
– Jason Wilkins
The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal
When Iron Circus Comics launched a Kickstarter to produce a print edition of EK Weaver’s webcomic TJ and Amal earlier in the year, not even the imprint’s founder, the estimable C Spike Trotman, could probably have anticipated that it would more than triple its pledge target, hitting $65,000 with more than 1,400 backers.
Serialised online between 2009 and 2014, the book picks up the story of Amal – a young man who bails out of an arranged marriage and comes out to his conservative parents, who promptly disown him. After attempting to drown his sorrows, Amal wakes up to find TJ, a tatty vagrant and total stranger, making him breakfast.
Over eggs, TJ claims that they’d made a drunken pact to drive the 3,500 miles from Berkeley to Providence. Amal wants to attend his sister’s graduation there, while TJ has reasons of his own…
Running to more than 500 pages and taking its protagonists from sea to shining sea, it’s arguable that the title doesn’t do justice to the scale of the lads’ journey – both geographical and emotional. If you only buy one shelf-busting manga-inflected gay romance road-movie comic this week, this should be near the top of your list.
EK Weaver (W/A) • Iron Circus Comics, $30
– Tom Murphy
Back to the Future #1
How do you bring a pop-culture film classic to comics? You employ the talents of the original creator/screenwriter. And that’s just what IDW has done with Back to the Future #1. Bob Gale returns to his original creation with an all-new time-twisting story, ‘Untold Tales and Alternate Timelines’.
Turn up the collar of your polo shirt, put on your leg warmers, and spike up your hair – it’s time to go back to 1985. [Some of us have hardly left. Ed.] Once again, the interesting life of Doc Brown takes center stage, as we see the moment when the Doc meets Marty McFly for the first time and then vault back to 1945, where we’ll learn about Doc’s involvement with the Manhattan Project.
Brent Schoonover (Howling Commandos of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Dan Schoening (TMNT, Ghostbusters) will be an exciting artistic pairing for this title, with Schoening’s animation stylings and Schoonover’s talent for action sequences propelling their respective stories. I think the real challenge for this title will be making the period elements familiar for a generation of readers not brought up on old black-and-white films. While the 40-and-up crowd at your local comic shop will enjoy everything in the book, Gale’s primary challenge is making these well-known characters relatable to all readers through every timeline they visit.
Bob Gale, John Barber, Erik Burnham (W), Brent Schoonover, Dan Schoening (A) • IDW, $3.99
– Karen O’Brien
Jaegir: The Beast Within
Partly released as a one-shot, as part of UK sci-fi magazine 2000 AD’s return to US-format comics, this trade paperback collects a whole slab of stories from the hardcore military sci-fi series. It also signals a welcome return to the US for artist Simon Coleby, whose detailed, realistic and heavily noir-influenced linework is perfect for this tale of backstabbing and racial hatred in a thinly veiled analogue of the Allies and Nazi Germany, told from the POV of the ‘bad’ side.
While war rages across the galaxy between the Great Nordland Republic and their Souther enemies, Kapiten-Inspector Atalia Jaegir of the Nordland State Security has the task of tracking down war criminals. Viewed with suspicion and hatred by her own people, Jaegir is no stranger to conflict and betrayal herself!
Writer Gordon Rennie – an old hand at military sci-fi, as his Warhammer novels and 2000 AD track record show – manages to capture the hopelessness and violent nature of Gerry Finley-Day’s original Rogue Trooper stories, which established the ground rules for this particular corner of the 2000 AD universe. Where the original Rogue Trooper series felt a bit camp at times, Rennie goes full throttle and ups the intrigue and violence to good effect. I don’t think many expected great things for Kapitan Jaegir, but pick it up and you’ll be pleasantly surprised at this new direction in the Rogue Trooper universe.
Gordon Rennie (W), Simon Coleby and Carl Critchlow (A) • Rebellion, $22.99
– Bart Croonenborghs