1. “VS” #1 is the best debut issue since “New X-Men” #114.
I mean we’re all on the same page here, right? We were all duly excited about “VS,” of course. We had Ivan Brandon writing his follow up to “Drifter,” one of the only finite comic series that hid its reveal to the end and actually delivered on the payoff. Esad Ribic coming off of his Universe Demolishing run on “Secret Wars.” Tom Muller working on the design and Aditya Bidikar lettering. It’s a who’s who of what’s what in comics right now.
But then we opened the thing up and saw that they got Nic Klein (artist of the aforementioned “Drifter”) to color the book? That just brought things to a whole other level, didn’t it?
Just look at how Ribic and Klein work together to make this rocket powered chunk of space city move.
Bidikar has quickly been making a case for his status as the digital Tom Orzechowski of his generation, and he does some truly remarkable things on this book. See how he models these exclamations of soldiers so they seamlessly match Ribic’s now world famous hand lettered sound effects. Not to mention the gorgeous squared off balloons.
Muller establishes a bold new entry into what I can’t help but call the Mullerverse, containing those books which go all out in incorporating his design directly into the narrative (other current entry, “Motor Crush”). Here the labels actually interact with the art, like the digital overlays we might see, watching this galactically broadcast war.
Muller’s designs even feature sequential art. Check out the countdown and the X design element ticking off with it.
There’s also a spread in this issue, which I’ll only give you a taste of, that is among the most incredible pieces of comic art ever published.
This issue takes its time establishing the world and the overarching theme of commodified conflict, but with such a singular and bold vision, I expect it to deliver on its intent. I can’t wait to see what’s next.
2. That time the Banana Splits teamed up with Suicide Squad.
The whole DC meets Looney Tunes led to a lot of delightful mix-em-ups and overall the idea was certainly inspired. But me? I just love me some Ben Caldwell art, and “Suicide Squad/Banana Splits” delivers some of his best.
He’s joined in this completely cartoonish mayhem by writer Tony Bedard, inker Mark Morales, colorist Jeremy Lawson and an entity calling themselves “A Larger World’s Troy ‘N’ Dave” lettering. I’m going to call them ALWTND from now on because I’ll be calling out their superlative work frequently.
Like, for example, right here. If you’re going to make a cartoony comic book story, the lettering has to deliver, and not just the sound effects (but seriously, check those out). The lettering of each member of the Banana Splits is colorful, memorable, with a bold and handmade feel. And look at how Snorky’s attitude is incorporated into his lettering.
Caldwell isn’t just a shockingly good cartoonist, he excels at panel-to-panel storytelling, like this sequence where the Splits prepare for battle.
When the Suicide Squad show up, they’re a little bit more normally styled. Enough to make the Splits stand out, but not enough to keep Caldwell from having fun with it, like he does with this incredible Killer Croc design.Continued below
I also love the injured Rick Flagg pointing the gang in the right direction from Croc’s back.
3. “Young Monsters In Love” is really great.
DC has been coming in piping hot with their seasonal specials, and “Young Monsters In Love” is no exception. Editors Alex Antone and Dave Weilgosz have curated a phenomenal roster of talent, and the issue is filled with incredible moments of storytelling, a few of which I just had to point out.
This Raven story ‘The Dead Can Dance’ (Writers: Colin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing, Artist: Javier Fernandez, Colorist: Trish Mulvhill, Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual) is a straight forward tale about a haunting. Turns out the kid just wanted someone to take him to the school dance. I love the dynamics of this face-to-face, though. The ghost has just enough detail to read his mood, while Raven is all smoldering darkness. He’s even got that cool halftone effect filling in the space.
When they finally get to the dance, check out how Fernandez captures the motion in Raven’s belt. It’s the little things, you know?
In this Deadman story (Writer: Paul Dini, Artist: Guillem March, Colorist: Dave McCaig, Letterer: Sal Cipriano) about a bullied kid, March is really stretches his style in some wonderful directions.
Who knew he could draw such delightful kids!
Nic Klein (hey, we were just talking about him!) draws a Monsieur Mallah and the Brain story written by Steve Orlando and lettered by Tom Napolitano. It contains all the starcrossed romance these two deserve, and great moments of Kleinitude like this one, exploring their tragic past and centering around their indefatigable love.
It also has a dracula get killed by an anti-dracula high heel. (Writer: Alisa Kwitney, Art: Stephanie Hans, Letterer: Dave Sharpe)
4. Cable vs. Stryfe vs. Deadpool
“Despicable Deadpool” #289 features one of the most ridiculously over the top fight scenes I’ve ever read. (Written by Gerry Dugan, Art by Scott Koblish, Colors by Nick Filardi, Letters by Joe Sabino.)
Before things get really heated, Koblish makes wonderful use of the Stat (is that what it’s called) in this Mexican Standoff sequence.
Then its time for the action, which Koblish portrays consistently inventively.
Stryfe, however, has access to everything that ever was or will be, so he gets dinosaurs, and then Deadpool gets a dinosaur claw for a weapon.
Then Stryfe gets draculas from the future to turn them into vampire dinosaurs.
Then one general dares another general to nuke New York City.
And then New York City gets nuked.
But don’t worry, Cable goes back and warns previous Cable not to start any of this before getting disintegrated in the blast.
5. The Most Lovely Moment In Comics Ever.Continued below
Grant Morrison and Philip Bond’s “Vimanarama” is the best romance comic ever made. It’s only three issues but it’s way too complicated and ornate to sum up in a column like this. Here’s a little bit that sums up its genius (brought to you by Morrison, Bond, colorist Brian Miller, and letterer Todd Klein):
The best, realest, most potent moment of true love doesn’t center around our protagonists Ali and Sofia (caught up in the aforementioned incredibly complicated love story). It belongs to Ali’s brother Omar and wife Fatima. Omar has just awakened from his coma, and is being chastised by his worried wife for trying to be a hero and save him. That brings us to the most incredible and sensitive portrayal of love in a single panel:
Happy Valentine’s Day, everyone.