Every Monday I share my 48 issue pull list, justifying why I buy each comic and throwing in some interior art. This week is the final instalment, as i look at X-Factor, Wasteland, Fables, Hellblazer, Saucer County, Sweet Tooth, The Unwritten, and three books I've recently added to my list - Alabaster Wolves, Ragemoor and Smoke and Mirrors.
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Why I buy: Peter Alan David. Mainstream superhero comics tend to recycle old storylines and ideas, and there is a general lack of forward motion. Not so with X-Factor. PAD lovingly crafts his narratives to progress, using his characters as a vehicle for momentum. He knows how to rock a final page reveal, as well – “Holy Crap!” moments are a regular occurrence. With X-Factor, he maintains a great balance between superhero fun and hardboiled noir. Perfection.
Writer: Antony Johnston
Artist: Christopher Mitten
Why I buy: Set in a post apocalyptic world where water is a rarity and settlements are few and far between, Wasteland is sweeping epic of political and religious intrigue. The book can get a little slow and wordy at times, but the story is so interesting it doesn’t matter. Think Game of Thrones meets Mad Max. The art, most often provided by Mitten, has a glorious hard fantasy aesthetic, expressive and powerful. If you’re into post-apocalyptic fantasy, Wasteland is a must read.
Writer: Bill Willignham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Why I buy: The premise is simple – Fairytale characters and creatures have been exiled from their respective worlds and all live together in our ‘mundy’ world. The plot, however, is not as straight forward. Fables is a twisting, turning, sweeping fantasy story full of war, romance, loyalty, treachery, and a hundred other devices that fit under the good vs evil motif. The characters, despite their history in fairy tales, the characters are often down to earth and relatable, and when they’re not, they are still comfortingly familiar. Buckingham’s art has a beautiful fantasy charm, suiting the book perfectly.
Writer: Various, Currently Peter Milligan
Why I buy: Hellblazer is British supernatural horror at it’s finest. Think about some of the names that have worked on the book: Ennis, Ellis, Azzarello, Carey, Diggle and currently Milligan. That’s one hell of a roll call. What’s more, John Constantine is one of those characters that no matter what scummy things he does, you can’t help but like him. Another British character springs to mind – Joe Dredd demands the same reaction. The supernatural elements are often dark and twisted, which is awesome.
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Why I buy: If I were to sum up Saucer Country I’d say it was West Wing meets the X-Files. Paul Cornell is a tremendously talented writer, and with this first issue you get the sense that he’s just getting warmed up. The story follows a young latino woman who is just about to run for the office of the president of the USA. There’s some creepy moments here, alluding to the aliens that we know are coming, but not giving away too much. It reminds of the M Knight Shaymalin movie Signs – the setup is just as important and scary as the reveal. Ryan Kelly’s art is great, although I much prefer his stuff on Brian Wood’s local, and may be the colours squash some of the nuances in his work.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire
Why I buy: Described by Blair Butler as The Road meets Bambi, Sweet Tooth is beautiful, character driven post-apocalyptic story. Lemire’s greatest strength is writing relationships between characters, and Sweet Tooth is no exception. The chief protagonists, a old, grizzled Hockey player and a 10 year old mutant with antlers, have a deep and complex relationship that’s a pleasure to read. His art isn’t for everyone, but I love it. Messy lines make way for strong expression, bringing each character to life in unique and individual ways.
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Peter Gross
Why I buy: If you’re a literature buff, Unwritten is a must read. It’s a rich narrative about a young man. Tom Taylor, whose father is a reclusive celebrity author. As the story progresses, it becomes more and more obvious that everything is not as it seems, as Tom is dragged on a rollercoaster ride through classic literature.
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Caitlin R Kiernan
Artist: Steve Lieber
Why I buy: I’ve only read the first issue, but I loved it. The story opens with a girl sitting at a bus stop, but that’s the only normal thing that happens. We’re talking a 4 faced angel, a talking crow and a werewolf disguised as a hot chick. Leiber’s art is, as always, fantastic, and the first issue has me hanging out for more.
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Jan Strnad
Artist: Richard Corben
Why I buy: This weird story is about an old castle that has a life of it’s own. The inhabitants of castle Ragemoor are as enigmatic as the dwelling itself, and classic horror elements dominate, like a lost episode of Tales From the Crypt. It’s creepy and weird, Like if House of Mystery was written by Mike Mignola. Richard Corben’s art is amazing. I love his fuzzy lines, and he just draws horror so naturally. A truly wonderful book.
Smoke and Mirrors
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Ryan Browne
Why I buy: In a world where everything is run on magic – household appliances, Cars, utilities – an illusionist somehow crossed over from our world finds himself pedalling a brand of magic no one has seen before. A young boy is taken by these tricks and insists on being taught. The premise of this series is fresh and the execution solid. It’s these kinds of stories that make me love comics. Small, interesting ideas can be played out in an economic way, something that is very difficult with prose. Well worth a look.