Welcome to MTV Geek’s New Comic Book Day Pull-List! Each week, we’ll look at the best new releases hitting comic shops, and point you at the books you should be reading.
Primates (written by Jim Ottaviani, art by Maric Wicks, published by First Second books)
Primates is a new all-ages graphic novel that weaves together the stories of three seminal simian scientists: Dian Fossey, Biruté Galdikas, and Jane Goodall. But unlike many ’educational’ comics, this is no dry, academic work. Instead, it’s a quick-moving tale of three women who were, over the course of three decades, recruited by archeologist Louis Leakey to study great apes in their natural habitats – and how they each went on to change the way the world thought about primates.
Author Jim Ottaviani skillfully blends three distinct lives into a single narrative, drawing parallels between the researchers’ common experiences, and tying their lives together at select points. And Maris Wicks’ art defines each character in a few well-chosen pen strokes, ensuring that a complex tale never gets confusing, and each character can be easily identified and identified with.
Primates uses the vocabulary of comics to accomplish a difficult task: it makes history come alive, and presents true-life events in an accessible format. It’s that rarest of beasts: a story that’s entertaining, educational, and inspirational.
Avengers #14 (written by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Spencer, art by Stefano Caselli, published by Marvel Comics)
This issue is the prelude to Marvel’s enormous summertime cosmic crossover event, and as such, it’s a little light on actual plot and heavily weighted with portent and foreshadowing and implications of great dangers to come. So it’s pretty impressive that it also manages to be a really fun Avengers story, packing in enough action sequences and character interactions to satisfy regular readers, while still being comprehensible to casual fans who just dropped by to see what all the fuss is about. There are big ideas at work here, and intriguing twists on some familiar scenarios – it’s a good issue on its own merits, and the perfect place to get some clues about where the Marvel Universe might be heading next.
Edison Rex Vol. 1 (written by Chris Roberson, art by Dennis Culver, published by IDW)
Edison Rex is a supervillain who has it all. He’s the smartest scientist around, he’s hated and feared by the general public, and he has finally vanquished his arch-nemesis, Valiant, once and for all. Nothing stands between him and world domination. Well, nothing except… His own conscience.
So actually, this isn’t exactly the story of a supervillain – it’s the story of a man learning to become a hero and working to defend the earth because, well, somebody has to do it. And if that sounds like terribly serious material, don’t be fooled. This comic is fiercely enjoyable, a nonstop blast of skewed sci-fi set pieces and re-imagined Silver Age clichés. Chris Roberson has a great ear for dialogue and a massive arsenal of absurd ideas; Dennis Culver unleashes his wildest imagination to visualize this universe, populate it with dozens of distinct characters, and execute the action in clean, expressive lines. This book collects the first six issues of the series (originally published digitally by Monkeybrain Comics), and is just the ticket for any fan of pulse-pounding adventure and gleeful twists on comic book traditions.
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Those are the three books I had the most to say about, but there are a lot of other fun comics hitting shelves this week:
Wonder Woman #21 is another super-solid issue from Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang, full of old gods, New Gods, brawls, and supernatural sibling rivalry.
Indestructible Hulk #9 kicks off Mark Waid’s crossover between this title and his much-acclaimed Daredevil series, and contains some wily manipulation of the lead character, courtesy of S.H.I.E.L.D. director Anita Hill.
The Fall Of The House Of Usher #2 concludes Richard Corben’s beautifully grotesque interpretation of the classic Poe story.
And the Batgirl/Robin Year One trade paperback collects two long-unavailable stories set in the early days of Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson’s superhero careers – Chuck Dixon and Scott Beatty supply the words, Marcos Martin and Javier Pulido provide the art, and what ensues are some of most dynamic, energetic comic stories you’ll ever see.