Guten gluten to you readers of the @MeltdownComics blog!
This week is a particularly special week because once again, we are bestowed with the gift of life and all the comics that come with (or those that we can afford). Sometimes a comic is meant for a simple chuckle, just to remind us the day isn’t all that bad. Other times our entire existence is in question, sucker-punched into facing dilemmas, quandaries, or unaddressed factors of our lives. (Whoh man, this is like…getting heavy, dude.) Simmer down, Jitter-bug! Trust in the creators of our favorite titles and rise to the occasion of the new fables that challenge us! With this week’s reads, you’ll be asked to interact with articles that elect not to digitally sear their message into our brains. These reads say, “Hey, you want something from me? You got to work for it, and the payoff might make you a better person: like the gentlest breeze encouraging the dandelion seed to separate from the stalk, dancing through the air.”
What is his point??
If you’re wondering just where all this existential-prose-babble is originating from, one might start with the HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1 from DC COMICS, and my all-too-fervent wh-iffing of the scents that rest betwixt the pages (yes, we’re talking a page out of the ol’ scratch ‘n’ sniff playbook, although we’ve now evolved to rub ‘n’ sniff scents, to better preserve the books). What scents, you ask? (no one asked, Derrick.) The two scents advertised via warning labels and simple icons are all too intriguing: a “hemp” leaf and a Christmas tree. Although I felt the familiar warm-fuzzies of the approaching holiday season at the sight of the Christmas tree icon, wondering what gifts Santa-Harley would offer, I elected to take the “alternative tree” route, and see just what DC COMICS was thinking! Before Nancy Grace calls to chastise a publisher that’s actually fairly age-appropriate, let me offer a MILD-SPOILER: There’s no depiction of pot in the issue, just a beaker filled with a chemical that causes the characters to be a little loopy, forget things from time to time, and experience the narrative from a different artistic perspective. With this issue, you are graced with a multitude of artistic talents from JOHN TIMMS, PAUL MOUNTS, STJEPAN SEJIC, JOE QUINONES, BEN CALDWELL, KELLY JONES, RICO RENZI, MICHELLE MADSEN, and a trippy narrative through the rabbit hole by AMANDA CONNER and JIMMY PALMIOTTI. My favorite part of “specialty/novelty” books such as this one, is the ample amounts of story that come attached; these books definitely feel like money well spent simply in all that is offered within its pages. Major tip of the cap to the aforementioned group of artists and DC COMICS, that’s how you do an annual! Don’t miss the HARLEY QUINN ANNUAL #1!
Next on our existential journey, we have one of the first follow-ups to the DEATH OF WOLVERINE story-arc in the subtitled DEADPOOL & CAPTAIN AMERICA from MARVEL COMICS. What might at first seem like an odd pairing of supers to comment on the bub who’s the best at what he did, soon becomes the perfect pairing to comment on the two polarizing sides of WOLVERINE. On the one hand, you have the AVENGERS side of Logan, who knows that there’s some threats that require you to band together with a group large enough to take said threat down; that group led by Captain America. On the other side of Logan, you have the lone mercenary who appreciates the simple things; which could be a similar description of the Merc With a Mouth himself, Deadpool. Both figures offer a great deal of insight into just what Logan’s presence meant for the world, but it’s perhaps Deadpool’s words that hit home the most for me: “When you gave Logan his Avengers card, a lot of us dirtbags made jokes, but the truth is…it gave every miscreant on the planet some hope that they could turn their sorry lives around.” Following that sentiment, Cap, bearing a semblance of Eastwood a la Gran Torino, reinforces why Logan must stay dead, despite the capacity for his body to be reanimated. If you’re a fan of obscure team-up books, you won’t want to miss DEATH OF WOLVERINE: CAPTAIN AMERICA & DEADPOOL!
Following similar trends in existence and celebrations on lives lived, IMAGE COMICS offers a depiction of the troubled and glorious life of Grigori Efimovich Rasputin in RASPUTIN #1! It’s been awhile since I’ve read a book that engages me so immediately, yet is over before I know it…then immediately makes me want to re-read it two more times. The pacing of the story is what grabbed me right away. The panels are large, and the issue contains little words, which often annoys me when I pay $2.99-$4.99 per issue. But I believe this issue is so engaging because of the sense of story given between panels. The lack of dialogue, and the storyboard presentation forces the reader to fill in the gaps, to hear the sounds, to weave the thread themselves, and when words are reintroduced, they offer a backdrop of what’s to come from the ensemble of characters seeking to kill Rasputin, a fact of which he is already aware. If you’re looking for a stress-free (yes, to some readers that matters), engaging read, RASPUTIN is your choice! To ALEX GRECIAN and RILEY ROSSMO, the creators, after one issue, you have my vote to see this optioned as a film/maxi-series, job well done!
So how might 2000 AD COMICS rise to the call of interactivity and existence within our lives? Well, do you recall a little film called DREDD based on a not-so-little-character named JUDGE DREDD? What if I were to tell you a glorious one-shot was released a teaser-sequel to the film, subtitled: UNDERBELLY? How are they doing that you may ask? Well the tone and look of the film is carried through to the title; a new drug named Psych, more dastardly than Slomo, is introduced and leaving me hopeful to visually see the experience of Psych through POV; and a new presence of the mutant community is expanded upon, leaving Dredd and Anderson on opposite sides of the fence in terms of using them as Psi operatives. If you’re wondering what else this issue offers, you’ll find a QR code hidden in the pages that enlists you in the campaign to will a DREDD sequel into existence! Enlist now, Citizen, and enjoy DREDD: UNDERBELLY!
Rounding out this weeks list, we have a perfect marriage of interactivity and existential pondering from IMAGE COMICS and the artists of the LEEDS COMIC ART FESTIVAL 2014: the anthology deemed THOUGHT BUBBLE. First off, the collection immediately grabs your attention in an oversized, folded newspaper printing that forces you to excavate to the heart of the stories from the beginning. The pages are graced with professional artistic talents, with full page spreads of ELEPHANTMEN! (brought to you by RICHARD STARKINGS & TIM SALE), as well as the budding talents of contest winners such as SIMON GURR‘s LAC IN BLACK, which offers the most entertaining delivery of the relations between scale insects and ink/records. The section of the anthology that grabbed my attention most was the darkly charming poem entitled “A Letter to the Sixteen-Year-Old,” by ALES KOT, art and color by ALISON SAMPSON and JASON WORDIE. The poem takes you through all the existential questions we ever asked as a 16-year-old and encourages you to listen for the answer. Setting the artistic tone and lyrical references to the world of DONNIE DARKO, we can’t help but wonder the paths we can take, as we flip the paper every which way wondering whether we’re talking to our 16-year-old self or if we’ve magically turned the clocks back to inhabit that youthful skin again, listening with young ears again. Excellent set of work from all the artists involved with THOUGHT BUBBLE 2014!
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For those loyal few who made it this far, I’ll leave this here, (for however long it’s up).