Welcome to MTV Geek’s New Comic Book Day Pull List! Each week We’ll pick some choice titles that hit shelves on that holiest of holy days at comic shops both physical and digital: WEDNESDAY!
This week we’ve got picks from DC, Titan, and Marvel.
“The Green Team” #1 (written by Art Baltazar and Franco, illustrated by Ig Guara and J.P. Mayer, published by DC Comics)
The Green Team are the richest teenagers in the world. They have the resources to get what they want, and what they want is excitement. Most of this issue takes place at a tech expo organized by Commodore Murphy, the richest boy in the world, so he can window-shop high-tech innovations – and the ones he likes and wants, he’ll fund. We meet Murphy and a handful of other intriguing characters in the pages of this issue, but the motivations driving them remain pretty mysterious. Are they villains? Heroes? Both? Neither? Does anyone know?
This is the first ongoing series by Art Baltazar and Franco to be set in the mainstream DC universe – the pair, well-known for their marvelous all-ages comics, are now trying their hand at writing for older readers. And judging from this debut, they’re adjusting pretty well. The original Green Team were created by the legendary Joe Simon, and only ever appeared in one issue in 1975. This issue introduces the new cast, gives just enough background to draw us in, throws in a mysterious threat, and ends on a pretty exciting cliffhanger. It entices without confusing, it explores a side of the new DCU that hasn’t been showcased ’til now, and it has me hooked.
“Solid State Tank Girl” #1 (written by Alan C. Martin, illustrated by Warwick Johnson-Cadwell, published by Titan Comics)
“Tank Girl” co-creator Alan C Martin joins artist Warwick Johnson-Cadwell for this new limited series, and based on the first issue, it stands strong alongside the character’s best outings. It’s playfully raunchy, deeply bizarre, and full of all the genre-bending etiquette-smashing non-sequiturs and diagonal plot twists that one could ask for. It starts in a junk shop and ends up riffing on “Fantastic Voyage,” with Tank Girl and her comrades Barney and Jet Girl miniaturizing themselves and getting shot into Booga the kangaroo’s bloodstream, so they can attempt to save his life.
Martin is in full hallucinatory storyteller mode, free-associating words and imagery and dialogue throughout. And Johnson-Cadwell’s distorted art style suits the characters perfectly, his elastic figures bending to stay inside panels, expressions exaggerated, action coursing in every direction. If you’re looking for a comic that makes sense, you should steer away – but if you want a wild romp through internal organs and vintage electronics, this is the ticket.
“Half Past Danger” #1 (written and illustrated by Stephen Mooney, published by IDW)
The cover led me to think I’d enjoy reading this comic. A guy with a machine gun and five o’clock shadow, a femme fatale, fighter planes, a Nazi flag – I’ve seen the “Indiana Jones” movies, I’ve read “The Rocketeer,” I enjoy a WWII-era pulp story. And once I picked it up and started reading, I was quite impressed. Clean and expressive art. Snappy dialogue. American soldiers in the South Pacific, finding a hidden German base. Business as usual. Well, at least until the dinosaurs show up and start eating people.
So it’s not exactly what I expected. It’s better. Stephen Mooney writes and draws this book, and it’s a bravura performance – it’s clear that he’s taking what he loves, and telling a story he wants to hear. Nazis. Dinosaurs. Secretive strangers. Government agents. Martial arts. A barroom brawl. All this, and it’s just the first issue. I have no idea where it’s going, but I’m along for the ride.
“Occupy Comics” #1 (written and illustrated by a lot of people, published by Black Mast Studios)
Years in the making, this issue launches the politically-conscious “Occupy Comics” series with an all-star group of creators: David Lloyd, Ronald Wimberly, Joshua Hale-Fialkov, Art Spiegelman, Molly Crabapple, and a number of others offer pin-ups, stories, and musings about the Occupy Wall Street movement and its impacts on society. Alan Moore provides the first ten pages of a historical essay on the political power of comics (which will be continued in issue #2). And Matt Pizzolo and Ayhan Hayrula contribute a striking meditation on grassroots political movements, and the perils of dehumanizing one’s opponents.
There’s a lot to chew on here, and I’d recommend it to anyone wishing to explore beyond the standard four-color world of heroes and villains – the lines aren’t always so clean cut, and it’s really encouraging to read a comic that engages readers in a conversation, and makes them think, rather than simply entertaining. (And it’s also worth noting that profits from this series will be donated to Occupy-affiliated initiatives like Occupy Sandy and Strike Debt.)
“Young Avengers” #5 (written by Kieron Gillen, illustrated by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton, published by Marvel Comics)
In this issue, Marvel’s teenage superhero series concludes its first story arc with equal parts young adult angst and good old-fashioned fight scenes. That could be a catastrophic mix of elements, but creators Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie sidestep potential hazards with ease, keeping the mood bright and the tempo brisk. As in previous issues, the artwork is immaculate, and the page layouts bend and shift to match the story being told (Loki’s magical ritual becomes a two-page spread, panels shooting forth from the points of a central pentagram). Gillen’s script skillfully juggles the cast, giving each character moments to shine, balancing spectacular set pieces and quiet emotional beats, writing with the abandon of a kid embarking on summer vacation, charged with ideas and potential.
It feels strange to say that a book full of aliens and sorcery and enchantments and rayguns feels real, but in this case, it’s true. The characters have distinct personalities, and behave in believable ways, even when facing down interdimensional shape-shifters. The emotions evoked are universal, and all the costumes and powers and magic only accentuate the sensation. I’ve never been a superhero, but I have been a teenager. I know what that feels like. And this comic gets it right.