WWACommendations: X-23, The Wilds, The Wendy Project, Mermaid’s Promise, and More

WWACommendations September 2018 collage

What comics are you reading for fun lately? While many of us read various comics for research, curiosity, or to keep up with a series, there are certain comics we’re reading just for fun. In this roundtable, WWAC contributors gush about the comics they’ve been reading this past month that were a pure delight.

Draven Katayama: I just read the first two issues of the current X-23 series by Mariko Tamaki, Juann Cabal, Nolan Woodard, and Cory Petit. I love that it focuses on Laura and Gabby’s relationship as sisters, whether they’re hanging out at home or going to a restaurant. Tamaki lets the sisters have a lot of unrushed, casual dialogue. There aren’t many Marvel comics that feature a big sister/little sister dynamic. Laura and Gabby also fight alongside each other, and it feels empowering to see Laura treat Gabby as a capable combatant.

Angie Wenham: For the last few weeks, I’ve been catching up with The Wilds by Vita Ayala, Emily Pearson, Marissa Louise, and Jim Campbell. There are four issues so far, with the fifth and final one due to come out in September. It’s a sort of zombie story, which can seem a bit played out these days thanks to their over-saturation in popular culture. However, it’s really refreshing to see Daisy, a queer woman of colour, as the protagonist, and her relationships feel real and grounded despite the post-apocalyptic situation.

Wendy Browne: I picked up The Wendy Project at my library, partially as an eponymous joke, and also because, when I looked into it, the book sounded interesting. Written by Melissa Jane Osborne and illustrated by Veronica Fish, it’s a take on the Peter Pan story that focuses entirely on Wendy, which brings me back to a moment when I got to listen to Jason Isaacs speak passionately about how so few people understand that Peter Pan was always a story about Wendy first. This one sets her in contemporary times where she must deal with the aftermath of a car accident that takes her brother away from her. Her therapist gives her a notebook to draw the thoughts that no one believes, resulting in colourful depictions of Neverland that take on an even more tragically beautiful meaning than the original.

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Kate Kosturski: Royal City by Jeff Lemire is one series that I was really late to the party on, but I’m glad I finally came around on. This is the story of one family in a rural factory town (I think it’s West Virginia, but I could be confusing that with the locale of Outcast), the Pike family, haunted by the death of the youngest member of the clan, Tommy, in a drowning accident in 1993. Each member of the family has their own demons to deal with in the context of this loss, and just when people are trying to put their lives back together, a reminder of Tommy—in a form no one would expect—returns. This is a contemplative story, no big action scenes, just family moments with heart and depth, all aided by Jeff Lemire’s dreamy, watercolor art. The final issue dropped this past week and the final trade will drop on October 10th.

Lisa Fernandes: I’m devouring Dynamite’s new Elvira comic book (by David Avallone and Dave Acosta), which manages to combine good-natured cheesecake with Elvira’s native sense of humor, toughness, brains, and pun capabilities. Each issue has our favorite horror hostess going through a different adventure, all in search of her big break as an actress.

Louis Skye: I’ve been reading The New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman this week. It came about because of a conversation amongst us WWAC writers about who we ship Nightwing with (as one does). Wolfman’s Teen Titans run was suggested to me so I could better understand Nightwing and Starfire’s relationship. I’m still not sold on Starfire, but I’ve really enjoyed reading the first volume. I’ve been so focused on reading new comics that it’s actually quite fun to read something from thirty years ago, and it is way more exciting than I expected a series from the 1980s to be! I’m inclined to continue reading this series as it’s been a surprisingly entertaining journey so far. The costumes are a bit much though. Haha!

Kate Tanski: I subscribed to Marvel Unlimited a little bit ago, and I’ve been slowly making my way through old series I never got to read before. I recently read through Matt Fraction’s run on Thor and the beginning of Journey Into Mystery by Kieron Gillen. Loved them. There’s also a lot of smaller miniseries, so I’ve making my way through old Fantastic Four and Spider-Man team-ups from the early 2000s I never knew existed, which have been a delight. I’ve also been reading Claremont’s run on the Fantastic Four, which has been a lot of fun because I never “got” the love for Claremont before since I never read the X-Men, but he writes the Fantastic Four so well and introduces new women without having them be victims or love interests, which is still difficult to find today much less back in the 80s/90s when Claremont was writing. Team Claremont all the way now.

Paulina Przystupa: Thanks to my local library (go get a library card, everyone) I’ve been catching up on the various Black Panther series (including the main run, Black Panther and the Crew, and World of Wakanda). Each series (though some short-lived) brings a new cast of characters with unique depth and world building that depicts Wakanda as the complex country that it is. There’s a lot of political and interpersonal intrigue in that, so I’ve been balancing it with volumes of Fullmetal Alchemist, whose first anime series (non-Brotherhood) I finished earlier this year. While serious in parts, it is on average lighthearted and fun. I really love seeing the-end-of-graphic-novel mini-comics and remembering how they got translated into the first anime, though I’ve also reached the point where the plots are diverging so I can’t stop reading.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #5 variant cover by Jen Bartel (Marvel Comics)
Black Panther: World of Wakanda #5 variant cover by Jen Bartel (Marvel Comics)

Alenka Figa: Before I say anything, I would like to praise Paulina for encouraging you all to get a library card. Get a library card! Read things for free! Listen to audiobooks for free! GET. FREE. THINGS.

Anyway, I have a coworker whose son loves anime and manga, and she’s always asking me for recommendations, which is really fun. They both read the Erased series and loved it, so I decided to read it as well and then check out the live action on Netflix. I don’t typically read crime/thriller stories, but I really enjoyed the manga, especially Sanbe’s art! Mild spoiler, but Satoru, the protagonist, experiences a phenomenon called Revival that eventually allows him to travel back in time and be his child self, so that he can stop a series of serial kidnappings and murders. After re-experiencing some of his childhood, Satoru looks younger and more vibrant as an adult. His face is more open and alive, and it’s very cool to watch that happen as you flip the pages! The live action is pretty meh, although I was impressed with the child actor they found to play young Satoru. I recently caught a teen volunteer reading the fourth volume, and she revealed that there is an anime, so I watched that, too, and enjoyed the way they use film strip imagery to convey Satoru’s experience of remembering the past while also living it. My whole Erased experiment has been really fun and unexpectedly let me talk to a bunch of people in the library about the series!

Rosie Knight: Recently I’ve been collecting these old Viz single issue translations of manga from the ’80s and ’90s. One of my favorites that I’ve been reading and rereading a lot is Rumiko Takahashi’s Mermaid’s Promise. Based on a piece of Japanese folklore that suggests those who eat a mermaid’s flesh may become immortal, the story focuses on Yuta, an apparently young man who out of curiosity eats a mermaid’s flesh, and when we meet him has already lived for 500 years. Yuta traverses the Earth looking for others who have eaten the meat, and on his journey meets another immortal, Mana. There’s also the matter of Yuta’s young love whom he left after her fiancé stopped them from absconding together. And guess what: she’s still alive! Rumiko Takahashi is undoubtedly my favorite storyteller. I’ve never read a book of hers that I don’t absolutely adore, and Mermaid’s Promise is a fantastic example of why. Takahashi crafts a romantic, heartbreaking, and horrifying story filled with super engaging and loveable characters, especially multiple complex, strong, and wonderful women. Basically Rumiko is amazing and I’m grateful for all of the amazing stories that she’s given us!

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Draven Katayama

Draven Katayama

Writer at Sidequest and WWAC; past executive editor of Kollaboration and writer at Newsarama and Comicosity. I'm a huge fan of Life is Strange, The Last of Us, TWICE, Blackpink, and ITZY. My MyDramaList: https://mydramalist.com/profile/loudlysilent Ko-fi: https://ko-fi.com/loudlysilent Tell me about the fandoms you love! @loudlysilent