This week, Misfit City (BOOM! Box) starts to get good. Reading the previous issues was frustrating—the characters don’t quite manage to blossom beyond their gimmicks (the research one, the one who smiles fiercely while she disparages you, the Kristy, the one who… lives in an old derelict tower? Is she a ghost? I don’t think so? Etc.) and the grounding premise, that these girls live in the town [The Goonies, but don’t say it bc licensing] was filmed in and that relates somehow to their lives, doesn’t really… arrive. It doesn’t matter to the story. It’s just a fact. These girls, for some reason, dislike the tourists who come to their town to see movie locations; the reason is textually characterised as “tourists are snotty and stupid” which just misses me as a reliable assertion. I come from a tourist town. Tourists are fine.
There’s not really any in-group conflict or tension in issues one to four and the bad guys are literally just “some bad guys, who come to town.” So I was floundering, somewhat! Issue five starts the adventure in earnest—at last they are actually following their map though caves and rain and darkness! At last there’s personal conflict between the good team and the bad team! The romantic subplot begins, where before it was simply flagged as ready to begin. And the girls meet somebody with social authority who can engage them on their subject (treasure, the map)—there’s tension, give and take, conversational texture. I’d recommend starting with this issue, if “girl gang do 80s adventure film stuff with a modern sensibility” appeals to you. The character design is very careful, very precise, and a pleasure in itself.
At BOOM! proper, Bill and Ted Save the Universe continues to be a most bodacious experience. As with issue three, four feels so long because it packs in so much, and all of that hems so close to the emotional core of the original films. Bill and Ted’s Mature Space Moms interrogate their motivations for leaving (and staying away from) their families on Earth, and Joines and Bachan manage to express their nuance—the ability of a fine woman to be a mother with failings—without slipping casually into disgust, dehumanisation or condemnation. We get a deeper view of the basic principles of Ted’s Dad; we get more from Deacon’s relationship with his new alien Wyld Stallyns co-hater; and we go back to Earth to visit the princesses, Missy, and more. Bill’s dad is maybe thrown a little under the bus, but he did have sex on his own teenage son’s bed, so… Them’s the breaks.
This book is gorgeous, generous, and feels gigantic. It is a great licensed comic. I’m gonna call it 💣THE BOMB: Pick of the week.
Saban’s Go Go Power Rangers, though a mouthful of a title, is not a bad licensed comic either. This is issue three, also at BOOM! proper, and the art is very professional; it’s very cute and precise and sort of doll-like, but without and weird angles or eyes floating off (as I personally came to expect with licensed Western comics that have a vague association with Japan). Dan Mora has good handle on line weight and a better one on anatomy. The backgrounds are perhaps a little perfunctory, but at least they’re not another rock quarry.
This issue begins with a flashback to when Billy and Skull were kids: best friends forever, lol! It’s funny (or poignant, if you prefer) because Billy is the Nerd Ranger and Skull is one of two punk bullies who are mean to him. I recall an episode, from my youth, where Bulk (the other punk bully) said “See ya—wouldn’t wanna B ya!” because Billy was feeling sad about only getting a B. Great stuff. Anyway, the matter of clashes between those with niche social privilege and haters thereof (i.e. the genius-brained and the non-academic bully) begins to be raised, which is a respectable goal for a Power Rangers comic even if I don’t know who it’s purposefully made for.
We’ve got a bigger piece on Power Rangers comics coming from a guest contributor—WWAC stalwart Nola, also working on an article about BOOM!s PR license, adds this on issue #3:
The vast majority of this issue has nothing to do with fighting monsters! Instead it’s full of teen drama and feelings. It’s honestly a very crunchy, good read, showing the different ways in which the lives of the Rangers connect with those around them, the way their battles with monsters affect the city of Angel Grove, and the work that needs to be done after the Zords are put away. Plus, Jason and Trini have a moment!
The Unsound #4 just goes right ahead without explaining anything to a new reader, which is fine, because either it’s exactly what it appears to be or it doesn’t matter that it isn’t. Now that I’ve read this issue going back and reading the preceding ones feels like a fool’s errand. In The Unsound #4, young mad people are upset about existing in tortureland. The linework is interestingly dumpy and the colours are very beautiful. If I say “if Hellraiser was a French children’s comic,” will you understand me? The lettering (Campbell) is quite impeccably matched to Cole’s lines and shades.
Interlude: As stated, I don’t touch licensed properties that I don’t have prior experience of (caveat). Why would I? I’d be missing the point. Luckily, staffer Corissa Haury knows a lot of what I don’t—as such, here are her very nicely formatted mini-reviews of this week’s cartoon books:
Regular Show Vol. 9 SC
Writers: Ulises Farinas, Erick Freitas, Shanna Matuszak, Laura Howell, Ryan Ferrier, Box Brown, DeWayne Feenstra
Artists: Laura Howell, Will Kirkby, Matthew Smigiel, Box Brown, Jenna Ayoub
The Regular Show Vol. 9 collection covers five adventures that Mordecai and Rigby get into. As usual, their shenanigans land them in impossible places bursting with imagination. This collection for the most part embodies the feel of Regular Show and its characters, from the contentious sibling-like rivalry between Mordecai and Rigby to the heroic feats of Eileen. There are great moments with classic lines that capture the spirit of the original show. Any time Benson has a reason to say, “Get this done, or you’re fired” takes the reader back to the world at the city park.
Kaiju Ex and Tea For One were both particularly good, with stories that focused on side characters. Kaiju Ex is a great exploration of Eileen’s usually gentle and passive nature blossoming into a powerful (robotic) winged mech moment of action glory, written by Shanna Matuszak, who’s worked on many Regular Show comics before. Tea For One focuses on Pops and his lovable need to hang out with his friends and spend time enjoying their company. His innocent sweetness is represented well, and ends up causing a hilarious end to Tea For One. This short was written by Laura Howell, who has worked on more than 100 issues of different comics. Regular Show Vol. 9 is a fun mix of themes and stories that feel true to the nature of the imagined world as told by J. G. Quintel.
Adventure Time Comics #15
Writers: Anoosha Syed, Marie Enger, Ben Passmore, Jenna Ayoub
Artists: Anoosha Syed, Marie Enger, Ben Passmore, Jenna Ayoub
Adventure TimeComics #15 is 50% BMO centric, and that’s what makes this collection go beyond A-OK. It starts with a mech-based tale about our favorite scientific genius Princess Bubblegum equipping BMO with a new suit for adventures with Finn and Jake. B-Max is written and illustrated by Anoosha Syed of modern Disney Princess fame, and it’s simply an adorable comic. It’s always nice to see Princess Bubblegum trying out her mad science on the regular, especially since we didn’t get any Marceline the Vampire Queen in this collection.
The collection has four stories total, including a one page beach themed one shot and a lengthy story about Finn training to be powerful yet again. But the other BMO themed story has the unusual, edgy lines of Marie Enger’s work. Angles abound in The Thumb-derdome, a story based around a fighting arena involving… Thumbs. Because what else could be more Adventure Time than that? Enger’s story recalls the silliness that all good Adventure Time episodes contain in some way or another. Without spoiling anything, it’s clear that Enger loves BMO as much as we all do. Adventure Time Comics #15 is an enjoyable group of explorations and daily escapades in the Land of Ooo.
Over the Garden Wall 2017 Special #1
Writers: Jonathan Case, Gris Grimly, Samantha Glow Knapp
Artists: Hannah Christenson, Gris Grimly, Cole Closser
Over The Garden WallSpecial #1 is a unique trio of comics exploring the world of an old Cartoon Network series from 2014. The basic premise smacks of Hans Christian Andersen and his dark fairy tales for children, and weaves in expressive, diverse art styles for readers of any age and fans of any good comic. The story is about two young brothers, Wirt and Greg, who get lost in some woods called the Unknown, quite literally beyond the garden wall, and are trying to find their way back home.
All three comics elaborate on a continuation of the desperate attempt Wirt, the older brother, is making to get he and his brother home safely despite the fact that they’re out in the Unknown. He is paranoid and full of lengthy existential prose which he applies to every situation. Wirt is well represented in these comics, his innocent yet highly anxious nature taken advantage of in Odin’s Bargain and saving the two of them in Mineral Springs and Fiddlesprung and the Deadly Cold. Greg, the younger brother and the wiser of the two, continues to prod Wirt into ridiculous circumstances that make for good mishaps that fit well in a modern fairy tale context.
The art in this collection is worth pointing out. Hannah Christenson’s rounded, almost Regular Show style appeals to the eye with a whole lot of red and blue playing together in pale shades and bright blotches in Mineral Springs. Gris Grimly’s style in Odin’s Bargain involves watercolors in a sepia tone and ragged, skinny lines that create bare outlines for a reader’s imagination to fill in. Certainly not least, the last story Fiddlesprung and the Deadly Cold is told with a classic and bold art in the style of Little Nemo and Little Orphan Annie. This gives it a distinct vintage fairy tale feel thanks to Cole Closser’s great skill in reviving antique comics styles. Over The Garden Wall Special #1 is an unusual trio of dark, fascinating fairy tales with exceptional artwork that is definitely worth a read.
Lastly, an Archaia release: 14.99 for Rust volume four: Death of the Rocket Boy. It was too long for me to read before sorting this column, but Aline Brosh McKenna (who wrote last week‘s Jane for Archaia, as well as the screenplay for The Devil Wears Prada) is attached to the cinematic adaptation… so… get in before it’s cool?
News outta BOOM! This week: Future warning for a book about Judas (December), one about suicide afterlives (February), a Rocko’s Modern Life series (December), and appearances at Baltimore Comic Con (September 22nd-24th) where they will be debuting a new Lumberjanes pin.
“Growing up, I always felt sorry for Judas,” says WGA Award-nominated writer Jeff Loveness (Marvel’s Nova). “He’s always portrayed as a villain and the epitome of betrayal, but the entire Christian narrative of redemption and forgiveness hinges on him. He was born and destined to play this part in the story. There was never a chance for him to be anything else.”
And I gotta say, same! I have definitely also thought that, because I was an anxious teenager who stared down the barrel of determinism whilst she studied philosophy of religion. Jakub Rebelka’s cover, above, is totally gorgeous, so… cool.
This is a new, colour, hardcover edition of an already-published comic, which is described by BOOM! like so:
In PIZZERIA KAMIKAZE, after committing suicide, narrator Mordy is condemned to an afterlife where he still has to attend a crappy job in a place no less crappy than the place he came from. When he discovers that his beloved ex-girlfriend is there, too, he embarks on a much-needed road trip through an absurdist and fantastical landscape to find her.
Okay, why not, go ahead. It’s by “award-winning writer Etgar Keret (The Seven Good Years) and Eisner Award-winning cartoonist Asaf Hanuka (The Realist),” so… if you wanna think about suicide, do it with award-winners I guess.
I don’t really remember this cartoon very well, except a vague sense that I found the cow upsetting, but I liked Ferrier’s Kennel Block Blues a lot. Let’s hear from the artist:
Series artist Ian McGinty adds, “Fans are gonna be pretty blasted away by how well the new comic blends ’90s nostalgia with modern sentiment, and a Mystery Science Theater 3000-esque vibe that I find really, really cool.”
If that puts you off, I can’t blame you, but—I really did like Kennel Block Blues.
It’s axes. Cool if you like axes! Kind of plain though. Where’s the blood?