Top Comic Books for the Week of August 21, 2014
The best of my pull list by Scott Bachmann
I’ve put to the top the comics that made my week. That doesn’t mean the others were bad, just that these stood out. Note: I get my comics from mail order by a week delay, and by ComiXology, so some titles may be older, especially indy books.
Took awhile to find my four, but they did reveal themselves.
Haven’t seen Bandette in over a month, but worth the wait. This comic is a very European style of comic like Tintin, and it’s a joy to behold every issue. Bandette herself is witty and fun, and explodes off the page in every scene she is in. There’s so much joy in this comic that the villains (who are surpassingly dark) come off as not so dangerous and more unfortunate than bad. Bandette makes you love life and want to leap off buildings fearlessly.
Here’s an example. Bandette is raiding the house of the mafia-like bad guy. She’s gift wrapped his secret books and given them to the police. Then she daringly goes to confront him on the roof while carrying a piglet she has dubbed a pirate. “You’ve made a mistake in coming here,” the bad guy growls. Bandette pulls out her phone in front of him, ignoring him and his assassins, “Oh? Do I have the wrong address? I must blame my phone. It is sometimes mischievous when I enter an address.”
Colleen’s art is brilliant and it’s a pleasure to drink in every page, while Tobin is wittier than a dozen writers trying too hard to be clever. Bandette is like candy bars when you’re really hungry.
This is Bendis at his best. It’s a quiet set of vignettes where characters are allowed to breathe and show off their lives in between big bad events. Better yet, those vignettes were set up and you long to see them as soon as they are introduced. Young Jean Gray and Emma Frost in a psychic sparring match that reveals so much about Cyclops and the both of them that the half the school is out in the snow having a picnic watching them. Kitty Pryde flirts with Peter Quill in a surprisingly convincing way. And then there’s the “I’d never believe it if I didn’t see it” romance of young Angel and X-23. Every page is X-Men soap opera crack that hasn’t clicked this well since Claremont.
And the art? No one can match Sarah Pichelli. Her characters have correct anatomy. Her characters have “study me” perfection. Her action is easy to follow. Her choice of shots would make a filmmaker jealous. She is the gold standard.
I didn’t want this comic to end.
I’ve been following the Thunderbolts since Luke Cage started up the new iteration, and I’ve followed through three complete reinventions of the comic since then. I don’t know why I follow the Thunderbolts. I rarely like the characters (Except Troll. LOVE Troll). The style of stories are all over the place and the creative teams and the teams of characters themselves continually morph into something else. This lack of through line to follow means the Thunderbolts is really a series of completely different comics that just happen to have the same name.
What they do have going for them is the oddly most consistent continuity following stories in Marvel. By continuity, I mean the entire Marvel Universe. Other comics love to retcon and ignore canon, while Thunderbolts always seems to knit it back together. Thunderbolts is also always about bad guys trying to do good, whether forced or sincere. That makes the situations and the characters interesting and that is the through line that makes this book work, going all the way back to its founding days with Baron Zemo. The Thunderbolts is the underbelly of the Marvel U that reveals that univers in a way other books don’t take the time to do.
That brings me to issue 29. After Charles Soule’s clever use of the “Red” team, Acker and Blacker picked it up because Charles is doing TOO many comics and something had to give. Not long after the writing duo started, the series was announced as cancelled. That makes this comic on a death march with a fill in team. It should be on autopilot, costing into obscurity.
Thus, I was totally surprised by how much this issue rocked.
The final arc is the Punisher quits the team, and General Ross, who leads the team, kills him as a retirement plan. After Ross tells everyone they can quit when they want, Ross reveals it’s not true. Of course the Punisher survives, and turns his guns on his own team.
That sounds a lot like fanboy cheese ball story, but damn if this issue wasn’t clever. They show how the Punisher survived, by being the Punisher, always planning ahead. They show how the Punisher had plans to take all of them out, and was actively working those plans, just in case. They take the weakest member of the team and show how he can, and will take them all down. It’s like Batman and his secret plans to take out the Justice League. The solution for the unkillable Deadpool? Brilliant. The solution for Ghost Rider, epic, and it shows the Punisher is more than guns, he’s a consummate planner who never for a moment doubts himself. It’s also funny as Hawkeye uses a cellphone to eliminate which of the many Hulks they are spying on, the best of which is his surprise to learn Hulkling is not actually a Hulk. The continuity of the Hulks, along with Ghost Rider’s past, wasn’t necessary for the story, but there it is in the best Thunderbolts tradition.
This is the last of the ComiXology set of 100 ComiXology Submit comics given out at SDCC for $10. There were a lot of stories in this bucket that I regretted reading, or just weren’t for me, but I did read them all, and this one was the most memorable of all.
Sweet Christmas, this was fun. It’s an unapologetic Blaxploitation comic from the funkadelic seventies. It’s also really about real racial issues and what it means to be Black in america. That story may seem hidden by the overthetop antics and garish art and colors, but it’s there. It’s also about an age that has come and gone and how it ended, setting up for what happens next. For a comic that takes actual pimps and hoes and makes them into vigilantes that protect the streets, they make it work. It also didn’t have to be a real story, or talk about real issues. It could have just been badass and moved on, but no, it has a story to tell.
This is the comic Shaft would want to be, that Power Man and Iron Fist tried to be. The comic that makes me feel so white that I’m not cool enough to be allowed to hold it. It’s only a buck, go get it. In the words of Darquefire, “Bull’s eye, little bruthas.”
Scott is a contributing writer for Drunk on Comics. You can follow him on Twitter at ScottABachmann, or at http://Scottcomics.com.