Comics, Diversity, Geek Culture, LGBTQ, Opinion

BOOM! BAR: PUBWATCH September Week One

It’s September, the start of spooky-season, and it’s time to talk about BOOM!. BOOM! and their sub-pubs, KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box, and Archaia. What are they doing? Let’s take a looksee.

As parent-company, BOOM! are pretty good about colour-coordinating the bulk of their weekly title covers. Do they do this on purpose? I’m not really sure. But it works for me; I like it. Here’s this week’s:

And here’s last week’s, for comparison:

Pleasant, right? They all sit together nicely, looking good, as it were, on the shelf. Does it tell us that BOOM! has a house palette? Is it pointing to wider colouring trends?  That’s something you can think about yourselves.

While you do, here’s what’s out from the Studios this week.

Cover, Lazaretto #1 (of 5) Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman Artist: Jey Levang Cover Artist: Ignacio Valicenti

“After a pandemic strikes, a dorm complex at a small American college is quarantined with all of the students trapped within. What first starts out as youthful freedom from authority soon devolves into a violent new society—it’s Lord of the Flies on a college campus.”

Lazaretto begins this week (#1 out on the sixth), featuring two very good, shy kids starting university and feeling overwhelmed by their more permissive and rather grotty fellow students… until “grotty” becomes “literally blood-smeared, violent, ambulant plague-carrier.” This is issue one of five, so if you like a good epidemic panic story, get it in now for some autumn-winter monthly fun.

interior, Lazaretto #1 (of 5) Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writer: Clay McLeod Chapman Artist: Jey Levang Cover Artist: Ignacio Valicenti

Jey Levang is a perfect fit for a story so sensory, so organic and mucky, as their colours and lines are both pigeon-gentle–not showy or dominant, but cooing broodily over the sweethearts driving the narrative and equally comfortable being gross as they are being pleasant. There’s some wonderful expression work; faces say as much as McLeod Chapman’s text, and the naive elements of their style can’t be called athematic. Henry’s rakish little smirk above, the roommate’s are-u-4-real eyebrows and mouth edges below–there’s life to these characters. (For now. Dun dun dunnn)

At the BOOM! Box imprint, It’s a good week for university comics, as Giant Days reaches the thirty-issue mark.

Giant Days #30 Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming Cover Artist: Max Sarin

Thirty issues! Hot damn! For a book that was expected to maybe hit six, that’s both incredible and heartening. This month Daisy’s stressful relationship with Ingrid gets… no less stressful at all.

Giant Days #30 Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming Cover Artist: Max SarinIt’s hard to date a girl who is just so much. But it’s harder to defend someone you really like against things that also actually annoy you… Daisy’s times are tough this September. But hardship gives you muscles, and Sarin and Fleming’s artistic partnership only gets stronger–Giant Days has always had so much motion, which is fantastic, because “finding yourself” (and university, where we are supposed to go to learn) are ideally likewise defined.

Bonus details this ish: Susan gets to touch McGraw just a little bit more (hurray! But also bad, naughty), and John Allison continues his all-century dedication to appropriately referencing Ghostbusters. That’s not why he’s my favourite, but it helps.

Giant Days #30 Publisher: BOOM! Box, an imprint of BOOM! Studios Writer: John Allison Artists: Max Sarin, Liz Fleming Cover Artist: Max Sarin

More in queer comics: The Woods has also passed the thirty-issue mark, and is drawing to a (planned) close. This week’s #35 is the last-but-one; I haven’t read any of the preceding issues but I didn’t exactly feel lost reading it. I didn’t feel emotionally engaged either, so maybe this is a trade-waiter if you’re not already stacking them up–a tl;dr synopsis of a tragically flawed relationship is always going to be the lesser option.

The Woods #35 Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writer: James Tynion IV Artist: Michael Dialynas Cover Artist: Michael Dialynas

The Woods seems to be an amalgamation of a lot of current genre trends; there’s “we’re technically in space,” “very OVA fantasy danger,” “survivalist neo-medievalism,” etc. It’s a bit Attack on Titan-y, the political/romantic drama has a Mortal Engines tang. So if you like those, and also like it when characters are actually definitely on-page gay? BOOM!, as they say. Here it is.

The Woods #35 Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writer: James Tynion IV Artist: Michael Dialynas Cover Artist: Michael Dialynas

The Armory Wars stands out from the pack, and for good reason. It reads like a comic from a different publisher and a different time, which, in both cases, it is.

The Amory Wars: Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV #6 (of 12) Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writers: Claudio Sanchez & Chondra Echert Artist: Rags Morales Cover Artist: Rags Morales

Nobody here seems to be queer. Anyway a “rockstar”-looking man is bothered by a demon while he tries to have a heart-to-heart with the blonde woman who left him, and then a sort of 2000ADish industrialised Dungeons and Dragons scene cuts in. Quite frankly I don’t get it. But then I never listened to Cohered & Cambria. There’s quite a nice texture to the art, and it does all in all have a certain throwback appeal–like watching a Crow sequel, only somewhat incomprehensible. If you like the idea of a little girl holding a big gun, that’s how this issue ends. It’s six of twelve, so there’s time to get in as a monthly reader before hitting the trades for catch-up if I’ve piqued your interest here at all.

The Amory Wars: Good Apollo, I'm Burning Star IV #6 (of 12) Publisher: BOOM! Studios Writers: Claudio Sanchez & Chondra Echert Artist: Rags Morales Cover Artist: Rags Morales

Everything else this week is licensed: Kong (BOOM!), Gumball (KaBOOM!), Adventure Time (KaBOOM!). I’m more than happy to cover those comics on WWAC (send me your pitches), and licensed comics will surely make their way into future editions of BOOM! BAR, but! I don’t care about these licenses! So I’m not going to read those comics. Command decision, pals. I take licensed comics very seriously as a phenomenon, and this is a matter of principle.

Other than books galore, BOOM! Studios are hosting a panel at NYCC with GLAAD; The Future Is LGBTQ’ will be moderated by Vulture’s Abraham Riesman, and will feature a massive seven speakers. That sounds like too many for a panel, but on the other hand how can we argue with large numbers in a panel on representation?

As listed by their press release, these packed panelists will be Gabby Rivera (Marvel’s America), Brooklyn Allen (Lumberjanes), Mariko Tamaki (First Second Books’ This One Summer, Abrams’ Lumberjanes: Unicorn Power!), Steve Orlando (DC’s Justice League of America, Namesake), James Tynion IV (The WoodsThe Backstagers), Megan Townsend (Director of Entertainment Research & Analysis, GLAAD), and Shadi Petosky (Amazon’s Danger & Eggs). The panel (and the con) are in October, but these things are good to know ahead of time.

NEXT WEEK: Jane! Let’s get Gothic, in a book with absolutely no goths. 🌹