By Todd Allen
With all the chaos and hype going on today, it sometimes comes to pass that not all good books get the attention they deserve. Here’s a quick rundown of things you might not be picking up that are worthwhile. (I’m assuming you’ve already had someone nagging you to pick up Mark Waid’s Daredevil run, so we won’t get into that here.)
Wonder Woman might not qualify as not getting enough attention, but it’s one of the best things DC is putting out right now and it’s a real tonal departure from previous incarnations. While Wonder Woman’s best runs usually involved getting back to the mythological roots, the Azzarell/Chiang (with pinch-hitter Tony Akins) series takes Wonder Woman as far away from Super Hero fare as she’s ever been. This is a dark urban fantasy, probably closer to The Dresden Files or Anita Blake than most of what has come before. The Greek gods are having a power struggle and the demi-gods are trying sort it out. It’s like Wonder Woman got signed over to Vertigo and it’s free from crossovers.
T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents will likely go back on the shelf after the current mini-series, but Nick Spencer assured me that he’s been able to tell the story he signed up for without having to rush an ending. Ever since Lost caught on in television, it’s been increasingly popular to tell stories with intermittent flashbacks. T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents is the best use of this technique that I’ve seen in comics. A spy organization dating back to the 1960s, where it’s agents wear devices that grant them super powers at the cost of their life force find their old enemies reactivating after long dormant periods. As the current threats unfold, the history of the threats play out in parallel. A good spyfi comic.
You’ve already heard about Shade, but the current issue with it’s vampire mini-arc was particularly delightful.
I never got around to a formal review, but you may have heard that Thief of Thieves was good. Believe the hype. Robert Kirkman and Nick Spencer are one smooth collaborative team. The dialogue sparkles in what starts out as a crime caper / Ocean’s 11-ish plot and then has the carpet come out from under on the last page. Issue #1 is but the prologue establishing the status quo and promptly changing it, but it was a very nice ride. Also good to see the under-appreciated Shawn Martinbrough on art.
Let’s face it: if you went by the last sales chart, you’d think EVERYTHING Marvel puts out isn’t getting much attention, but lets talk about a couple of the quieter series.
Winter Soldier is a recent launch, spinning the revived Bucky out of Captain America. Yes, I agree — the way they pretended to kill off Bucky/Cap in Fear Itself and then reveal the ruse in the post-Fear Itself special was as poorly handled as anything since One More Day (although it may be awhile before anything clunks as tone-deaf as OMD). Have a glass of water. Clean your palette. This is Bucky and the Black Widow tracking down the remnants of a Soviet sleeper cell. Telefon with super soldiers and Cold War-centric super villains. Take the Bucky run of Captain America, tilt it a bit further towards super spy games. Gorgeous art by Butch Guice and it’s $2.99.
Punisher had a fairly quiet relaunch. It’s about to have a crossover with Daredevil (which you should be getting), but it’s been off in its own little corner for a while. This Greg Rucka / Marco Checchetto is a fairly terse comic. The Punisher doesn’t talk much. In fact, he’s more of a force of nature that shows up and lets loose with the reactions of those around him as the spine of the story in the early going. Just a nice, solid book.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.