Detective Comics #857
Greg Rucka (w), J.H. Williams III (a), Dave Stewart (c). DC Comics.
When I was looking through my pile to decide what I was going to choose for the Book of the Month there was only one title that really stood out, and that was this month’s issue of Detective Comics. The thing about this series that really makes it outstanding is the beauty and the intricacy of the art. Williams and Stewart create some of the most dynamic and bold art that I’ve ever seen, in this or any other series. Williams’ pencil lines are detailed and add a great flow to the story, especially with the insane use of all those dynamic panels. Combined with Stewart’s painting style and use of colours it just makes me all giddy and happy to be reading. There hasn’t been an issue in this four-part arc that hasn’t made me rave about the series, so it only seemed appropriate for this to be my pick for the month. — Sandra Yao
Incredible Hercules #134
Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente (w), Reilly Brown (p), Nelson DeCastro (i), Guillem Mari (c). Marvel Comics.
I recently saw some episodes of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, and, instead of being disappointed, found they held up really well to my expectations. Yes, sometimes the art wasn’t of the best quality, and sometimes they switched which turtle should have been voiced by which actor, but the jokes! The puns! Looking back, it’s not so hard to trace the source of my sense of humour — 90% is from all the cartoons I grew up with. Add in a love of alliteration and loquaciousness courtesy of Darkwing Duck and Stan Lee, and presto, you’ve got an Isaac. More or less.
But for whatever reason, not everyone is into that sort of thing, and there’s just a dearth of zaniness these days.
Thankfully, we have The Incredible Hercules.
You know the intro page Marvel books tend to have? Hercules doesn’t have a rundown of events leading up to this issue (they COULD have used one; we’re dropped in with Hercules dressed as Thor accompanied by his “amnesiac child-father” surrounded by a good army of trolls), but instead it’s basically a critique of current Asgardian couture trends. Not only is it hilarious, but it tells us everything we could want to be told going into the issue: Herc is impersonating the Mighty Thor — have fun readers! Anything else, dealing with particulars of back story or whatnot, are dealt with in the story, or, if not, are simply not relevant to a fun stand-alone issue.
Don’t get me wrong, this issue has a story beyond what happens between the two covers — it’s not exactly a “stand alone” issue, but if for some reason the next issue were never to be made and I couldn’t see what happens next, I’d still have had a blast with this book, and that says everything. No excuses need be made that I “need to read all the issues together to enjoy this one issue” — no, that would entail me reading one good graphic novel, not a good series of individual comics.
Speaking of old-school cartoons, there’s a scene where Hercules has to convince these dark elves that he’s really Thor, so he goes through a quick succession of trials — three trials in as many pages (he fails the last one, but two out of three is close enough apparently). It’s the kind of rapidity between schemes you might expect from a Bugs Bunny cartoon, with the feel and dialogue of a Justice League International story.
Also, the juxtaposition of Hercules, a classical heroic figure, with a modern setting — giving any real consideration to the things he would like in said modern setting — is pretty brilliant. Which means, of course, that I can’t believe Hercules references Star Trek — but upon reflection you know this is one womanizing demi-god who would certainly worship Captain James “alien-skirt chasing” Kirk. — Isaac Mills
Strange Tales #1
Various (w + a). Marvel Comics.
I was tempted to give this month’s title to one of the Ed Brubaker collections that came out (Gotham Central and Sleeper) but I don’t think Strange Tales got its due. This was so much better than Wednesday Comics. That was a cool experiment, and artistically it won, but storytelling-wise it failed. This, however, wins on both fronts. Storywise, each piece is only as long as it needs to be; some are one page, some are seven pages. It’s exactly as it needs to be to tell the jokes it’s telling and get on with something else. You get some amazing and unusual art and hilarious short stories by some of the most talented people in comics. The one pager “The Blue Hair” by The Perry Bible Fellowship is one of my favourite things I’ve ever seen, Jason’s story is too cute for words, and Michael Kupperman writes a Namor that I’d love to see have an ongoing series. All of that plus no interior ads make this a buy-worthy title. — Miles Baker