It’s been a while since we could last do a “This Month in Comics,” because it’s been a while since we had a full month of comics. But the comics industry is still making it work and things are getting back up to speed, so we finally have enough comics to cover again. We have new comics, new events, and epic conclusions to cover, so what did June hold for us?
Best Debut Issue: A Man Among Ye #1
The first issue is important for a comic. It needs to introduce key aspects of the story and characters, get readers invested, and kick off a new tale. “A Man Among Ye” manages to do this nicely, taking us right into the action with a seafaring pirate battle that introduces the core characters and their place in the store with just a few pages. There’s a fine balance of witty banter and sheer badassery, which helps us get invested in the main cast as we get to know them. Craig Cermak’s artwork is crisp and clean, backed up with vibrant color work by Brittany Pezzillo, making the debut issue all the better.
Best Crossover: Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5
It’s the crossover that every 90’s kid wished for. Yes, I’m aware that there was a crossover with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles during Power Rangers in Space, but this crossover comic gives us so much more. It’s got Shredder stealing the Green Ranger’s powers, the turtles and April O’Neil morphing into Rangers, and of course, a Turtle Megazord. The comic also nicely balances the two teams, giving us some good banter and teamwork between the two (not to mention some highly unusual pizza ideas) that gives fans of the two franchises everything they could have hoped for. Is it high art? No, it’s nothing but fanservice for readers who grew up watching these shows on TV. Does that make it any less fun? Not at all, and in times like this, a little blend of fun and nostalgia is worth savoring.
Best Event: Dark Nights: Death Metal #1
“Dark Nights: Metal” was an intense, dark, and occasionally bizarre comic event that truly had it all – evil alternate versions of Batman, demonic forces beyond human comprehension, and very shiny armor. “Death Metal” takes the concept a step further, bringing us into a world where the heroes have already lost. The Batman Who Laughs reigns supreme, he’s got even more evil Batmen from the Dark Multiverse at his command, and our Batman has a Black Lantern Ring. What more could you ask for? Perhaps Wonder Woman with an invisible chainsaw? Yes, it has that too. While the event has only just begun, issue #1 was such a powerful start that we’re waiting eagerly to see where it will go from here, to learn how the world wound up in such a tight spot, and what this “Anti-Crisis” could possibly be leading up to.
Best Tabletop Roleplaying Game Comic: DIE #11
I love tabletop roleplaying games. This has been made exceedingly clear in my reviews of comics based off “Dungeons & Dragons,” “Pathfinder,” and even related properties like “Critical Role.” But while exploring those established realms in comic form is all well and good, Kieron Gillen’s “DIE” manages to bring us into a new world of his creation. It’s dark and haunting, especially thanks to the stunning artwork by Stephanie Hans, but there’s clearly a wide world ready for us to explore as the characters go through it. Throw in all the history we’re learning about their first trip through, the lore that gets built upon, and the character drama, and you’ve got a gripping comic with plenty of RPG flavor. The fact that there are rules for an actual tabletop RPG based on the comic makes it even better, with the unique twist that your characters in the game are themselves trapped within the game world and trying to escape.
Best Comic: Ludocrats #2
Speaking of Kieron Gillen, “Ludocrats” has finally hit the presses, and it is everything we were promised and more. The entire comic is just outright bizarre, but brilliantly so. On one hand, there is a clear internal logic to the comic, but on the other hand, it’s so far beyond what we’re familiar with that it’s hard to grasp until we see it come into play.Continued below
Issue #2 manages this nicely with a prison break of sorts. It just happens to involve brain pies, infiltration via catchy jingles, an eldritch being, and escaping a giant caterpillar monster via its dick.
It is utterly insane, and I love it. The bold and imaginative artwork from Jeff Stokely and bright color work from Tamra Bonvillain bring this larger-than-life world to the page superbly. Everything is bigger, bolder, and more bizarre than it has any right to be, which is perfect for a comic as ludicrous as “Ludocrats.”
When the world seems to be utterly insane, leave it to “Ludocrats” to show us the true meaning of madness.