It’s almost 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 Multiversity: Ultra Comics #1
Longtime comic readers who remember and loved Grant Morrison’s Animal Man will get a kick out of Multiversity: Ultra Comics. In the penultimate chapter of Morrison’s Multiversity opus – a series of one-shots illustrated by an A-list roster of artists – the Scottish writer once again break the fourth wall, as he had Buddy Baker do 25 years ago.
For Ultra Comics, Grant Morrison teams with Final Crisis collaborator Doug Mahnke is 48 pages of meta-commentary on the comic book reading process, and the writer’s strongest attempt yet to make readers a literal and integral part of the story.
To put it in Morrison’s words: “Quite literally, everyone who reads Ultra Comics will be connected across time and space by the fact that they’re reading Ultra Comics. Every mind that becomes part of Ultra Comics becomes part of this superhero network. The idea was how closely could we embed a fictional entity into the real world and connect it to real people, and enter real people into what we were doing.”
Even though the despairing hero on the front cover is urging you not to read this story, what Morrison has written is so immersive that you get sucked right in from the opening splash page all the way down to the bitter (?) end.
Grant Morrison (W), Dough Mahnke (A) DC Comics, $4.99
– Frederik Hautain
Hit: 1957 #1
Ed Brubaker and Jason Aaron don’t show any signs of relinquishing their role as comicdom’s noir standard-bearers in the near future, but that doesn’t mean there’s not plenty of exciting work coming out of the new guard. Last year, Bryce Carlson and Vanesa Del Rey’s Hit: 1955 exploded onto stands like a shotgun blast, snagging a Russ Manning Award for Most Promising Newcomer nom for Del Rey’s pulp-meets-high-fashion art.
Both creators are returning for this second entry, which jumps two years ahead after Det. Harvey Slater and his LAPD-sanctioned hit squad’s tenuous victory over the city’s crime bosses. Carlson and Del Rey’s compressed storytelling works wonders with these classic tropes — the tragedies of these characters aren’t new, but that doesn’t make them any less horrifying.
Readers of Scalped, 100 Bullets, Criminal, and the like will eat this one up, but the nods to American history and Del Rey’s artistic prowess (just peep that cover) offer plenty for a wider audience to enjoy as well.
Bryce Carlson (W), Vanessa Del Rey (C/A) • BOOM! Studios, $3.99
– Paul Mirek
Past Aways #1
Jeff Lemire and Cullen Bunn have some competition as two of the busiest writers in comics, as Matt Kindt (Rai, The Valiant, Mind MGMT) somehow finds time for a new creator-owned project from Dark Horse. Teamed up with fan-favourite artist Scott Kolins (The Flash, The Avengers, Beyond!), Past Aways chronicles the misadventures of a dysfunctional team of chrononauts stranded in the 21st Centery, over a million years in their past.
Laden with a healthy dose of cynical social commentary, sharp comedy, and boisterous action, there is nonetheless a sinister undercurrent floating beneath the surface of this crafty adventure tale. As teammates struggle to reconcile the obsolete social climate and archaic technology of the 21st Century with their own perceptions and emotional needs, friends and enemies must come together to find a way back to their own time – before they kill one another.
A cross-time adventure infused with a just a smidge of darkness, this might just be Kindt’s most accessible, most mainstream project to date.
Matt Kindt (W), Scott Kolins (A) • Dark Horse Comics, $3.99
– Jason Wilkins
Jem and the Holograms #1
During its 65-episode run from October 1985 to February 1988, Sunbow’s Jem and the Holograms became the #1 rated syndicated cartoon series on television. The show’s plot centered around Jerrica Benton, the owner of Starlight Music, and her on-stage alter ego, Jem, lead singer of Jem and the Holograms. Keeping her secret identity a secret was one of Jerrica’s great challenges, as the earrings she wore actually enabled her company’s super-computer (named “Synergy”) to project the holographic image of Jem.
The show’s most unique feature was the inclusion of music videos that appeared throughout the episode as complements to the storyline. It was a direct response to the popularity of MTV, and the videos became a signature of the show. In all, 187 videos were produced for 151 songs composed specifically for the show.
In a terrific nod to the ’80s hit, Chris Ryall and IDW Publishing are releasing Jem and the Holograms #1. Jerrica Benton, her sister Kimber, and the Holograms are back in a series written by Kelly Thompson (Heart in a Box) and drawn by Sophie Campbell (Shadoweyes). No doubt, they will have some fun with rival bands The Misfits and The Stingers as fashion often dictates action in this world of music and holographic mayhem.
I think we all just want to know if Rio is going to pick Jem over Jerrica, and what will happen after that “truly, truly, truly outrageous” conversation.
Kelly Thompson (W), Sophie Campbell (A) • IDW Publishing, $3.99
– Karen O’Brien
Nemo: River of Ghosts
After the Antarctic chills of Heart of Ice and the shallow dip into German Expressionism of The Roses of Berlin, the latest iteration of Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen opus comes to a conclusion in the creators’ reimagined South America.
It’s 1975, and the ageing Janni Dakkar, pirate queen of Lincoln Island and head of the notorious Nemo family, might be losing her grip. Pursuing shadows from her past – or her imagination – she embarks on what may be a final voyage up the Amazon, in a final attempt to lay to rest the blood-drenched spectres of old.
Lacking some of the spot-the-reference density of their LoEG predecessors, these neat little Nemo volumes have been relatively straightforward adventures, given energetic life by Kev O’Neill’s characteristically arcane work. It’ll be worth seeing how two of the industry’s senior pros wrap up this part of the saga.
Alan Moore (W), Kevin O’Neill (A) • Knockabout/Top Shelf, $14.95
– Tom Murphy
The Valiant #4
Valiant has been publishing great comics over the last couple of years and if you’ve been waiting for the right moment to check them out, I would recommend this four issue miniseries. Not only is it co-written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt with artwork by Paolo Rivera but this storyline recaps many of the characters origins while setting the tone for the future direction of the Valiant Universe.
Part superhero crossover, part bone-chilling horror story, the final issue concludes with Kay and Bloodshot hiding out in an abandoned town while The Immortal Enemy summons upon their worst nightmares in order to chase them down. There’s a surprise twist at the end, a new character is introduced, and the lives of many of the Valiant heroes will never be the same.
Jeff Lemire & Matt Kindt (W), Paolo Rivera (A) • Valiant Entertainment, $3.99
– Tyler Chin-Tanner