Comics Rundown – Black Metal, Sex Criminals, Deadly Class, Moon Knight & The Wake

For a few months I was starting to get burned out on comics. I was still stopping by the shop on Wednesdays or Thursdays after work and picking up the new issues, but they would pile up on my bedside table unread for weeks. I was getting sick of the neverending series like The Unwritten, Morning Glories and Fables and it’s many offshoots. It was time to weed out some titles, and cut back on my comic reading (BTW, I’m trying to sell $1,300 worth of books for just $120 and not a single bite, WTF?). But then the conclusion of Rick Spears and Chuck BB’s Black Metal series came out and reminded me what I love about comics, which somehow lead me to starting a few new promising series.

Black Metal: Book Three – Rick Spears & Chuck BB (Oni Press)
black-metal-book-3This has been a long time coming. So long that in the years since book one came out in 2007, I’d given up that any more would follow. Back in more innocent times, teenage twins Sam and Shawn Stronghand started their journey at a suburban mall, where they found their true calling via a record by Frost Axe. But not as mere metalheads. They come into the possession of the legendary sword of Atoll and end up playing roles in an ancient prophecy that leads them to do battle with both angels and demons.  The story is really well done, often hilarious and oddly moving. This is highly recommended even for the sad sacks who do not like heavy metal. None more epic. None more kvlt. None more black.

Sex Criminals – Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky (Image)
sex-criminals-1I’ve heard good things about this from the beginning but kept passing it over because to be honest I do a lot of my reading on the train and would be a bit embarrassed holding this title. But last week the first collected TPB Volume One: One Weird Trick came out for just $9.99 and I was sucked in. The concept, lovers Suzie and Jon can freeze time every time they have sex, or more accurately, orgasm (on their own or together). All sorts of stupid shit could result from such a concept, but they start robbing banks, each with very different motives. And then there’s the Sex Police. It’s really well done so far, with some hilarious parts, and emotionally convincing storytelling. I’m eager for issue 6 to find out what happens next.

Deadly Class – Rick Remender, Wes Craig & Lee Loughridge (Image)
deadly-classI didn’t know anything about this when I randomly picked it from the shelf, but a quick skim revealed a story about a teenager in 1987 San Francisco who is orphaned, living on the streets, and recruited into a school for assassins. Sold! This ain’t no nostalgic flashback to John Hughes movies, though there are some passing musical references. It’s dark stuff, but a potentially compelling story, and the art is fantastic. Issue 4 is due sometime soon, so it’s a great time to catch up with the first three.

Moon Knight – Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey & Jordie Bellaire (Marvel Now!)
moon-knightWarren Ellis is one of my all-time favorite writers, especially with Transmetropolitan and Planetary. But lately I haven’t been sure what he’s been up to. I know he’s busier than ever, and I enjoyed his second novel, Gun Machine (2013) and web comic FreakAngels. But he also seems to have a lot of unfinished business laying around, like the apparently abandoned Doktor Sleepless, and the seemingly incomplete Global Frequency. I’m still pissed about Doktor Sleepless, it could have been so great. Anyway, I approach new projects with caution, and this is probably just going to be a short run, but hopefully will see it through. As with many characters in Marvel comics, this one had a life before Ellis got his big hairy hands on it. Mercenary Marc Spencor died in Egypt under a statue of the moon god Khonshu. He found death boring and “stood up,” fought crime as the Moon Knight, went insane and disappeared for a while and came back. Or perhaps he’s sane and his brain was just colonized by an ancient concsiousness from beyond space-time. Either way, some good times and dark humor lie ahead.

The Wake – Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy (Vertigo)
wake-issue-6This is actually more than halfway through a 10 issue run, but it’s easy enough to grab the first volume collecting issues 1-5 and the current issue six. This is a nice twist all the recent attention on so-called “mermaids.” This takes a lot of the popular imagery and folklore, and gives it a dark, apocalyptic twist, with already a couple great cliffhangers, and a timespan of millions of years.

A few titles I’m still on the fence about. Jupiter’s Legacy by Mark Millar & Frank Quitely has potential but is on an annoyingly inconsistent publishing schedule. Black Science by Matteo Scalera, Dean White and also Rick Remender is kind of pulp sci-fi which has potential, but hasn’t gripped me yet. Loki: Ragnarok And Roll by Eric M. Esquivel & Jerry Gaylord is guaranteed good fun, but is just a quickie 4 issue run. Clockwork Angels is based on Rush’s concept album and novel, by Kevin J. Anderson. The ongoing titles I’m continuing to follow are, roughly in order of preference, Saga, Chew, Fatale, Ghost and the inconsistently published but always great kiddie comic Courtney Crumrin.

Upcoming titles that are promising are The Wicked And The Divine by team Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. I couldn’t get into their Young Avengers, but I did like Phonograph. Wytches by Scott Snyder & Jock should be a great horror piece, and Ms. Marvel by G. Willow Wilson & Adrian Alphona has already started, but I haven’t read it yet. I liked Wilson’s Air from a few years back.

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