WWACommendations: Lois Lane, [ blank。], Witchlight, X-Force, and More

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Happy December! What comics are you reading lately? Every month, WWAC contributors share some of the comics they’ve especially enjoyed recently. I’ve been trying out different comics on Webtoon Canvas. The comics published on LINE Webtoon are separated into Webtoon Originals, where creators have an exclusive contractual relationship with Webtoon including publishing schedule expectations, and Canvas, where comics are self-published and not necessarily exclusive to Webtoon (they might also be published on, say, Tapas), thus the creators don’t have nearly the same financial security nor visibility. Here’s a good summary of the differences between Originals and Canvas. No matter what platform or publisher you’re reading comics from, let us know your recent favorites on Twitter!

Emily Lauer: I just read Witchlight by Jessi Zabarsky! At the beginning, one of the main characters kidnaps the other, and then they develop a close, caring relationship and decide to stay together. I…don’t like that premise very much? But it is done well in this book, which lays out the kidnapper’s reasons in a nuanced way. Lelek is a witch, persecuted for her magic and with a tragic past. She kidnaps Sanja because she wants Sanja to teach her self defense. It turns out Sanja feels more accepting than one might expect to be away from her repressive family. Their relationship evolves over the course of the book as they pursue some answers about what happened to Lelek’s family. The pacing and gentleness of Witchlight reminded me of Tea Dragon Society at times. Witchlight is forthcoming from Random House Graphic in April, 2020, and even those who may have read the earlier edition of this book in black and white will be thrilled to see the beautiful color in this one. 

Wendy Browne: My comic book club read Motor Crush a few months back. It was my pick and I was really pleased with how many people liked it for so many different reasons, including people I didn’t think would be so keen on it. But now we’re all excited to see how this story unfolds. So I’ve just read volume two and continue to be blown away by Babs Tarr’s gorgeous art. Sometimes messy, sometimes focused and clean, but always in chaotic motion, Tarr is exactly what a series like this needs. In part two, we get to find out about Dom’s origins and some other elements of the history of crush, the explosive drug that is poisoning the racing industry. But it’s been two years since Dom vanished and she has to come to terms with the fact that things have changed significantly, even as she tries to comprehend exactly what her connection to crush is. The mystery deepens and takes some unexpected turns, but it’s the relationships that are introduced and/or built on in this volume that really make everything click on an emotional level.

Nola Pfau: I’m the type of person who likes to do the homework for something I’m working on, so when I found out Rictor would be featuring in the current Excalibur book, I started delving into the first volume of X-Force from the 90s, since he’s the only cast member I’m not immediately familiar with. People associate it with symbols of the decade’s excess—pouches and guns! But while there’s some of that in the first couple of years, it very noticeably settles down after that and quietly becomes what is arguably the best X-book of the era. I’m not exactly known for heaping praise on the immediately post-Claremont stuff (I do have my biases, I am human), but honestly catching up on this stuff, working my way through the burgeoning character dynamics between Rictor and Shatterstar, it’s all been very, very good.

Kate Mattingly: The series isn’t complete yet but I’ve been loving Greg Rucka’s run on Lois Lane. I’ve been wanting to see Rucka take on Lois ever since fellow WWAC writer Cori McCreery mentioned her dream writers for the intrepid Daily Planet reporter. Rucka is a perfect fit to write Lois with his background in crime and detective noir stories, just turned towards a journalist slant instead of a PI or police focus. He takes some very obvious jabs at our current very real administration in the US, by starting the run with Lois getting her White House Press badge revoked for being Lois and asking the hard questions during a press briefing and having numbers to back herself up. Rucka teams Lois up with the new Question, Renee Montoya, tracking down who killed a Russian journalist who was one of Lois’s colleagues. 

I love Rucka’s voice for Lois and Mike Perkins’ art is perfect for this story. Rucka makes Clark Kent a supporting character in this comic and shows that while Clark and Superman are very important to Lois, she is also her own person who does not need or usually even wants his help. Lois is fully capable but also has her own flaws which she is very aware of. The 12-issue maxi series is at the halfway mark as I’m writing this and I’m excited to see where this goes, but I’ll also be sad to see it end. 

Paulina Przystupa: This semester has been crazy for me but the comics I’ve made time for have been great. I went to an awesome event at Stranger Factory in Albuquerque with Shing Yin Khor and Melanie Gilman where I picked up Stage Dreams and The American Dream? A Journey on Route 66, their new publications. Alenka reviewed Stage Dreams for WWAC so I won’t say too much about it beyond it being a lot of fun even though it starts with a premise similar to what Emily mentioned about Witchlight. Beyond that I’ve started The American Dream, but haven’t had time to finish it, so I’m waiting to read Louis’ review of it. So far, as someone who lives near Route 66, it’s hitting very close to home already and I can’t wait to finish it.

Draven Katayama: I started reading [ blank。] by lins, which you can read for free on LINE Webtoon, and now I’m absolutely hooked. [ blank。] is about Nina, who wakes up in a hospital one day and cannot remember who she is or anything about herself. As the story unfolds, we learn more about her through flashbacks from the perspective of Jun, the handsome son of a CEO. Nina and Jun were best friends their last year of high school. He left for college overseas before he could tell her that he was in love with her. Then she mysteriously became unreachable. Two years later, Jun is back home and at a coffeeshop, and Nina is a server there, but she doesn’t recognize him. We also meet Luca, who found Nina lying on the ground when he was running two years ago. Now Nina and Luca work at the coffeeshop together, and Jun is more than a little curious about their relationship status.

I love lins’ art style and its use of color saturation and contrast, like Nina’s dark purple-tone hair and her moss green cable knit sweater. lins’ colors almost have a solarized sheen to them, especially in scenes that show off a brightly lit setting. I binge-read the first 11 episodes of the 20 that have been released so far, and I can’t wait to keep reading it.

There’s another comic on Webtoon that I’m excited to tell you about, Covenant by explodikid, but it’s relaunching on Webtoon in January (it’s moving from Webtoon Canvas to Webtoon Originals), so I’ll write more about it after its relaunch.

Meanwhile, another comic with a much more lighthearted tone is The Gamer, by Sangyoung Seong and Sang-A. It caught my eye because it was at the top of the popularity charts on Webtoon. The Gamer stars Jihan, a high school student who suddenly sees overlays in front of him in his daily life, as if he were in a video game. He gets alerts like a new quest starting when his mom asks him to buy groceries, and he sees information about his classmates, like what level they are. As he does normal tasks like studying, he sees alerts about gaining intelligence points. Life starts to blur when he encounters a humongous monster and a flame-wielding martial artist who definitely would not exist in his daily life. If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like if life were a video game, this comic takes that premise and runs with it in some fun ways.

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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
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