Welcome back, friends. I’ve spent a lot of this ridiculously cold week catching up on a lot of stuff I’d missed over the past little while. (Along with one rad book hot off the presses.) There’s bit of a theme here about the benefits of following your own voice, which is a lovely sentiment as a new year gets underway, isn’t it?
1. An All-New, All-Different “Hawkeye”.
Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero’s “Hawkeye” (with colors by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Joe Sabino) is just as effortlessly cool as its protagonist Kate Bishop, let’s get that right out of the way.
It’s no half hearted attempt to capture the uncapturable spirit of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s legendary run. It has a voice all it’s own and I love it.
Check out how the book introduces Kate’s narration:
(Bonus points for Romero’s impeccable sense of what cool people in the Marvel Universe would actually wear outside.)
Bellaire’s colors are the perfect complement to storytelling chops that Thompson and Romero display at their best. Watch how the day gradually shifts through the California Golden Hour to night:
I also always love when an artist draws everything in a panel, even words on the screen:
Kelly Thompson also perfectly captures Kate’s legitimately funny voice in great exchanges like this one:
And dude, check out this action sequence:
Another thing I love about this book? Romero puts so much thought into what pop art (a Venice Beach staple) would look like in the Marvel Universe.
Put all this behind phenomenal pulp paperback covers by Julian Totino Tedesco?
I guess this is one book that…can’t miss! (Get it, she’s a archer so her whole thing is that it’s important that she doesn’t miss.)
2. Introducing “The Signal”.
Duke Thomas has been a great addition to the Bat Family since Scott Snyder introduced him back in I think ‘Zero Year?’ He was also a big part of the roll up to “Metal.” He discovered he had superpowers, and that was connected to all the Metal..stuff…somehow. He’s very rarely been allowed to have a life outside of whatever giant crisis Batman was dealing with.
So it was very refreshing to find Scott Snyder, Tony Patrick, and Cully Hamner’s primary focus was giving Duke his own world.
For starters, Snyder and Patrick do a great job of establishing Duke’s voice:
They also introduced a supporting cast just for Duke. His own Gotham Police Detective:
And his own family:
My favorite part? Batman doesn’t even show up until like halfway through, and just to give him his own Batcave.
3. All the little things that make “Black Bolt” great.
There’s a lot to love about Saladin Ahmed and Christian Ward’s “Black Bolt” (joined by letterer Clayton Cowles). As I’ve been catching up with it recently, I’m continually fascinated by all the little choices that the creative team makes that elevate the book.Continued below
Like how Ward colors the lines of Black Bolt’s restraints their own color as they explode:
The way he poses Black Bolt’s left arm to frame this full page spread as he prepares to fight:
The orange rings Ward puts behind Crusher Creel when he throws a punch that are completely unconnected to the environment:
The way he draws Black Bolt’s headgear in single lines:
And the way Saladin Ahmed writes Crusher Creel:
4. Digging “The Gravediggers Union”.
Wes Craig has made quite a name for himself on Rick Remender’s “Deadly Class”, but his own comic, “The Gravedigger’s Union” is something completely his own. It’s also pretty unlike anything else out there right now.
For starters, look at this cover design (by Jared K. Fletcher):
Every issue starts off with a few prequel pages by Craig, colored by Niko Guardia. They feature more great lettering design by Fletcher, and pretty much wordless storytelling:
(Look at that weird-ass dancing caveman)
I also like the “dialogue” and how integrated every aspect of the art is to the storytelling, like when these other cavemen are driven against the one caveman who dares to speak up against…whatever these things are.
The comic story in the present day is drawn by Toby Cypress (still colored by Guardia). The Gravediggers Union are a bunch of working class schnooks who are tasked to battle all kinds of monsters. Like these presumably millenials:
I also love everything about Fletcher’s lettering on this book, from the typeface to those word balloon tails:
Cypress’ art is also remarkable. Aside from the fantastic cartooning, check out his use of halftones for shading and how Guardia accents the movement in the panel by making motion lines hot pink.
It’s also a book that’s not afraid to have its lummox be super, visibly into a sandwich:
5. “Astonishing X-Men” actually makes Gambit cool for a few minutes.
We all know that Gambit is the loserest member of the X-Men. His original costume is dumb, his dialect is ridiculous, and he throws playing cards. He sucks.
In Charles Soule’s “Astonishing X-Men” #5, however, Gambit is actually cool for a few minutes. (The art here is by Ramon Rosanas, colors by Nolan Woodward and letters by Clayton Cowles.) Sure, he’s possessed by The Shadow King, but hey, if that’s what it takes.
Eventually, it wears off though. And then he’s just Gambit again.