Welcome back, followers of @MeltdownComics and all our endeavors! The line up for this week’s reads dives unabashedly into the duality of Hero vs. Villain, Comedy vs. Tragedy , the Wicked and the Divine! We’re not just talking about stock-melodrama here. This is the universal conflict: Dark vs. Light. Three of the five issues selected this week alone explore duality somewhere on their cover, be that written in the title, a character split down the center, or a hero mirroring an antagonist. But, you Nietzschen-fiends needn’t worry, these titles all find time to explore the gray, the bleed between the two forces, the center of the conflict.
Our first tale of two is the debut issue from the team of Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson, THE WICKED + THE DIVINE from IMAGE COMICS. The first thing to be said about this issue is that Jamie McKelvie and Matthew Wilson delivered two of the more alluring covers to come out in the past year, one featuring our protagonist, Laura, the other an attractive Lucifer, Luci for short. You’d do yourself a service to find the Bryan Lee O’Malley cover as well, as that brings a light-hearted introduction we can all appreciate. In terms of story, Gillen crafts a tone very much align with that of SAGA, playful, but grounded. The ensemble of female characters all stand strong and separate from one another. The purpose of all the characters remains veiled at the close of the issue, but the dynamics between the main and supporting players are clearly formed. The shades of the unsung question in the title, who is wicked and who is divine, are shown with a nuance that will be entertaining to watch play out in coming issues. One thing I hope to see out of this series is at least one Bob Fosse reference, because these characters got some killer snaps. If you’re looking for a new series to start, this is undoubtedly a serious contender. Great first issue for The Wicked + The Divine!
The next exploration in dichotomy, comes from IDW COMICS in the form of Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night #1, by Conor McCreery, Anthony Del Col, and art by Andy Belanger. With the first page turn, we are shown Cesario, a swashbuckling two-face, adorned in a grecian mask of half comedy and half tragedy. Shakespeare buffs, be not too quick to assume//the mask hides not a Viola face marred//nor a Danish teen, risen from his tomb//he bears a semblance to the one called ‘Bard.’ Honestly, I don’t understand why there aren’t more stories where Shakespeare’s characters live on in a continued and shared universe, but I’m glad that we at least have one. The creative team definitely cherry-picked the key player fan-favorites, but I’m keeping my fingers crossed for the Scottish King ((he-who-must-not-be-named-(in-a-theatrical-setting)). **satisfied sigh** Theatre and Comics, what a perfect combo! Elevate your reading with the first issue of Kill Shakespeare: The Mask of Night #1.
Who’s next? THOMAS ALSOP #1 from BOOM! STUDIOS, that’s who. Now, I don’t know how everyone else feels about this, but I don’t particularly like when a book or show uses the name of their title character as the title for the entire work, sans subtitle. Most of the time, I feel the names are either not at all interesting, or so clearly show off a literary artifice, two opposite-ends on a spectrum. Thomas Alsop, however, had enough of a unique cover to peak my interest, so I picked it up. Our writer, Chris Miskiewicz, proposes the very questions I had, on the first page: “what is Thomas Alsop? who is Thomas Alsop?” In the after-word, Miskiewicz addresses the Alsop name as a name that he saw on a tombstone, a name that would not leave him. In true detective-spirit, he unearthed the history of the Alsop name, back to the early pioneer families of New York City. That, my friends, is what you can expect with this one-of-a-kind story, the coexistence of our time, and the past, using the backdrop of our proudest city. This exhibition of fluid-time is strengthened by the art style of Palle Schmidt, whose work shines in the fading backdrops the characters inhabit. Almost as if all the scenes could be washed out into the ether, forgotten in white. Thomas Alsop is so incredibly rich in tone and intrigue that I hope it sustains itself. As silly as it is, I’m also reassured by the promise of eight issues for this series. Too many new titles from the publishers outside of the big three (DC, MARVEL, IMAGE) fall victim to runs underneath the six issue mark, and while I don’t think it’s impossible to put out a good run in under six issues, there is often a sense of rushed storytelling when the circumstances are such, consequently the arcs have no lasting-effect. So, Thomas Alsop, I’ve taken the bait! Looking very forward to your second issue!
This next issue has already been mentioned once before, but took such a huge step from its first issue that I had to include it again. The issue at hand is none other than MPH #3 from Mr. Mark Millar and the folks over at IMAGE COMICS. When last we left MPH, Roscoe had just discovered his new-found speediness. This issue plays into the exploits of that power, and the inclusion of those closest to Roscoe. He might not be following the hero’s journey to a T, but Millar has crafted a truly entertaining group of individuals and an inclusive tone that invites the reader to live with the ability of super-speed, asking: would you exploit the system if you could, even if just a little? The conclusion of the issue also hits a cliffhanger beat that is well appreciated, and opens the scope of what Roscoe and his friends are in store for. Keep the revved-up issues coming, MPH!
The last issue for the week is our current MARVEL COMICS event, ORIGINAL SIN #3. Oh, Bucky-boy! How could you do it? I knew you weren’t the hero we needed, but I thought you were the hero we deserved! Rest assured fans, B.B. Bucks will not disappoint once all is revealed. Separately, the new favorite Marvel pairing for me is the Dr. Strange/Punisher dynamic. Throw in a dash of Rocket Raccoon saying “mine’s bigger” to Frank, and you got yourself a tasty Marvel-fanboy-omelet. Best line of the series so far, Orb: “Hello. I talk to eyeballs.” Keep on keepin’ on, Original Sin!
Guess who’s coming to @MeltdownComics on June 28th?! NEAL ADAMS!! If I could recommend a Neal Adams story for those of you that are new to his work, his collaboration with Dennis O’Neil on GREEN LANTERN/GREEN ARROW is one of the most defining runs of a generation, asking some of the hardest-hitting questions of its time. Definitely a must-read!
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