Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Hot List

To start, I'd like to say a little bit about this blog. Simply put, it's about comic books, that should be obvious. This blog will function as a hub for all the comic projects I'm currently working on, as well as a sounding board from which I will heap praise on all the comics I'm currently reading and loving. Finally, this blog will focus on only the good in the comic book industry. If you want to read about who is suing whom, the daily twitter spats or rumor mongering, there are dozens of other websites out there for you to pour over. There is a lot of negativity on the internet about the comic book industry. Here I will focus on the amazing people and fantastic work, which are far more numerous than all the negative stuff anyway.

Speaking of the good, here are some of my favorite comics I've read recently.

(Okay, I feel I should offer a disclaimer: I am almost always behind in my comic book reading. I work a lot, and a good portion of my free time is spent writing my own comics, or working with others on theirs. So, the comics I talk about here might not always been most current weeks pull, but they will all be worth talking about. Also, I buy a lot of comics, but there are also a lot that I can't. So, if I've missed a comic that you think is amazing, by all means let me know.) 

First up: 

Written by Peter Hogan
Art by Steve Parkhouse

This story was first serialized in Dark Horse Presents, but I didn't discover it until it was collected and released as Resident Alien #0, but man, am I glad I did. The story is a simple small town murder mystery, but the man tasked with solving the crime, Harry Vanderspeigle, isn't a man at all – he's an alien, marooned on Earth many years ago. “Harry” maintains his secret by using his mental powers, forcing others to “not see him as he is”.

I fell into this comic immediately, mostly because it's an interesting twist on an alien story. Harry doesn't seem to be the “destroy all humans” alien. Instead, he is a peaceful, all around good guy, who is just trying to fit in as best he can until he can find a way home. Make no mistake, Harry is the real draw here. As a reader, I instantly liked Harry. He's introspective, and thoughtful, and he's been stranded on Earth long enough to assimilate our cultural habits, even though he still doesn't understand some of them. 

Another thing I loved about this first issue is the story economy. Hogan and Parkhouse tell you just about everything you need to know in the first three or four pages. There is no wasted space, each panel matters, and the pacing is spot on. After this fluid setup, the rest of the issue is spent progressing the story, building up Harry's character and dropping hints to the larger mystery at hand.

Resident Alien reads like old school science fiction with a modern polish. It's definitely a must read!

Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Charlie Adlard (pencils, inks) & Cliff Rathburn (gray tones) 
Lettered by Rus Wooton

Let's be honest here, The Walking Dead isn't wanting for praise. A zombie story that has lasted for 90+ issues speaks for itself (not to mention the television series, board game, video game, action figures, and whatever else I'm forgetting). But, issue 96 stands out to me because it marks a true turning point in this long long story. 

Up to this point, Rick and his crew have had no identity. At different, and sometimes overlapping times, they have been survivors, scavengers, fighters, farmers, and more, and this whole time they've done so on their own. This issue marks the “adult years” of Rick's crew. They've spent the last 95 issues like infants thrown into a crazy new world, fumbled their way through the emotional teens, and now the people they have grown up to be have been identified – they are the grizzled warriors. Rick said it himself, they don't have much to offer for trade other than their hardened ability to fight off just about anyone. They might be the founders of the new worlds first true army.

Or, I'm completely wrong and they will all die by issue #100. Either way, issue #96 marks a new direction for The Walking Dead. There are other civilized people still alive in the world. Things can't stay the same from here.

If you're not reading this comic by now, you should be. Between weekly reprints, trades, compendiums, and digital, you can find this comic just about anywhere. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

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