As 2017 begins to unfold, Nothing But Comics draws its coverage of 2016 to an end with my list of Best Single Issues. All entries are listed alphabetically by title.
In addition to his excellent writing and analysis, our own Cosmo is also a secret comic book industry insider. While on the case, Cosmo recently discovered a transcript of the conference that ultimately led director Ruck Famuyiwa to quit the upcoming Flash live action film. Click below for a view behind the curtain of the cut throat comics industrial film complex Continue reading Cosmo’s On The Case Exclusive: The Meeting Rick Famuyiwa Quit The Flash Film
In this week’s New Yorker (cover dated 11-07-16), cartoonist Harry Bliss offers some pretty compelling evidence that the Hulk is not the strongest one of all.
“Hulk no can be mad at Mr. Puppy Face.”
Somewhere General Ross is dashing off a directive for radically reworking the Hulkbusters . . .
Before Grant Morrison led readers on a trip across DC’s Multiversity, before he guided Animal Man through the wastelands of Character Limbo, before DC hit the reset button of Crisis on Infinite Earths in the first place, there was Ambush Bug. In 1985, DC published a four issue mini-series starring the absurd hero of the same name co-written by Keith Giffen and Robert Loren Fleming and illustrated by Giffen. The series is a wacky, almost surreal dance through the current state of DC continuity. Along the way, Giffen and Fleming find plenty of targets for ridicule, while at the same time celebrating the silliness that is superhero comics. Does some of it get too silly? Perhaps, yet, in the same spirit of Monty Python’s Flying Circus, there is an anarchic spirit which enlivens the books, rendering nearly every page of it inspired fun.
In this week’s issue of The New Yorker (cover date August 8th & 15th), Darrin Bell offers up a fresh spin on the Superman/Luthor confrontation:
“The gentleman says, ‘You tell me you’ve got a dastardly plan, then I’ll swear to defeat you, and then we can both expense this.’ ”
It may be time for mild-mannered Clark Kent to have a chat with the Daily Planet’s HR Department . . .
By Ryan North, Erica Henderson, Tom Fowler, Brandon Lamb, David Malki & Ricco Renzi
“And [Squirrel Girl] you must pardon my brazenness in saying this, but your tail is as intoxicating as it is captivating.”
Pretty much any week a new installment of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl hits the stands, it is a strong candidate for Week’s Finest. Month in, month out, few other Marvel titles can equal its combination of humor, action and wild imagination. Writer Ryan North and artist Erica Henderson imbue the series with a distinctive flair all their own. This is a book with a unique voice, which is utterly endearing. Plenty of lesser titles would have flagged by now, unable to maintain the momentum of so much zaniness. Yet, Squirrel Girl and her companions keep chugging along, ready to face down any obstacle. Which is good, as this week, Squirrel Girl has, inadvertently, gotten herself into quite a pickle.
Humor may seem easy to write, but it is really the opposite. It is not simply a matter of coming up with cute punchlines. There is the extra tricky aspect of pinpointing the right tone. Few things are more painful than forced whimsy. Sometimes the writer comes off as too proud of their cleverness or, at the other end of the spectrum, striving too hard for levity. What is the correct mixture of lowbrow and highbrow? How many puns are too many? Do the jokes aid in expressing character or hinder the development of coherent ones? Plus, there is still the matter of making the reader laugh in the first place. When done right, all these elements blend together, and the humor feels effortless. One example of this type of success can be found in the series Public Relations from Devils Due/1First Comics.
By Marguerite Bennett, Cameron Deordio, Audrey Mok & Kelly Fitzpatrick
“I was reading Machiavelli at age 11. My gym teacher had to politely dissuade me from playing dodgeball.”
A few months ago, Archie expanded the scope of their recent revival with a relaunch of Josie and the Pussycats. Having gotten the band together in the debut issue, writers Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deordio quickly sent them on the road and away from the familiar environs of Riverdale. The initial chapters were fun rollicks, full of Bennett’s trademark charming character work and meta-humor. These traits continue in full force for #4, wherein Bennett and Deordio’s references range from Homer to Anton Chekhov’s The Seagull to Zach Snyder’s Superman movies (as is “Damnit Melody, crime fighting isn’t in our contract! None of our moms are named Martha!” Seriously, David S. Goyer and Chris Terrio are never living down that one). However, in the midst of all these madcap hijinks, Bennett and Deordio are also crafting an ever deepening portrait of female friendship and empowerment. Last issue saw Josie confront some of her failings towards Alexandra, a scorned childhood friend. The latest installment offers up lessons about romance and self-worth. Josie is shaping up to be not simply an entertaining comic, but an affirmational one as well.
To the surprise of pretty much nobody, one of the first decisions made in response to the massive commercial success of The Lego Movie was to green-light a sequel as well as spin-offs. One of those spin-offs, also rather predictably, was a Batman Lego film starring Will Arnett. It does not arrive until 2017, so plenty of the details are probably still being negotiated. However, as reported this past Friday, it has been decided that Michael Cera will voice Robin in the movie.
Personally, I find this an exciting possibility, not simply because Cera’s patented flustered, awkward persona could make for a hilarious Boy Wonder. It also reunites him with Arrested Development co-star Arnett for something other than a fifth season of the show. (Oh why, Netflix? Didn’t you disappoint us enough with Season 4?) Recent fallings-off aside, the first three seasons were brilliant television; it is the most recent show I would place on my list of best TV comedies ever. With this in mind, I would like to offer Warner Brothers a modest proposal for how they could fill-out the rest of the cast solely with Arrested Development alumni.
Continue reading Batman Faces Arrested Development
By David Mandel, Michael Walsh & Matthew Wilson
Whether labeled foot soldiers, cannon fodder or redshirts, they are a standard trope of genre fiction, comic books included. For Hank Johnson, David Mandel turns the spotlight on one of these nameless faces in the crowd by giving readers a look at the daily struggles and hardships of Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra. What Mandel reveals is banal, satirical and thoroughly entertaining.
Continue reading Review of Hank Johnson, Agent of Hydra #1