Happy January! What comics are you reading lately? Every month, WWAC contributors share some of the comics they’ve been especially enjoying. It’s been really fun to discover new and old comics across a variety of platforms and publishers. Let us know on Twitter your current favorite comics!
Wendy Browne: My daughter mentioned that she planned to watch Battle Angel Alita soon with her father, which reminded me that I’ve had a copy of Battle Angel Alita: The Last Order by Yukito Kishiro sitting on my shelf for almost a year now. A new year is a great time to start reading old comics, so I’ve been enjoying re-introducing myself to the character and her world since it’s been forever since I’ve read a Battle Angel comic. It’s also been forever since I’ve read manga, which is something I need to do better with in the future!
Battle Angel Alita: The Last Order finds our favourite cyborg waking up to find that her brain and body have been reconstructed by her enemy, Desty Nova. Now she is an even stronger fighter than before, but there are a few glitches that make her wonder if Nova’s intentions are what he says they are. Previously, Nova had revealed that the Tipharean adults all had their brains replaced by bio-chips, making everyone a cyborg and potentially controllable.
I had forgotten how bloody and brutal Alita comics can be, but what else would I expect from a battle angel? I am enjoying Kishiro’s fight sequences and the way Alita moves across each panel, as well as her quiet, pensive moments as she tries to come to terms with this new world she’s awakened into.
Emily Lauer: Harley Quinn: Breaking Glass, by Mariko Tamaki and Steve Pugh, which I devoured in those blurry days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, has become my new favorite iteration of Harley, Ivy, and the world they inhabit.
— Oliver Sava (@OliverSava) March 15, 2019
Teen Harleen shows up in the city apple-cheeked and energetic, as her impoverished mom has sent her to stay with her grandmother while she works a cruise ship and makes some real money. On arrival, Harleen discovers her grandmother has passed away, but the manager of a drag cabaret downstairs (everyone calls him Mama) becomes like family almost instantly. Mama and his friends provide a loving and supportive Greek chorus to Harleen as she learns to navigate her new high school, befriending Ivy and protesting the rich white misogynistic jerk who runs the high school film club.
Friendship with Ivy opens the world of protest to Harleen, as Ivy’s parents are community organizers who, along with Mama and his coterie, are protesting the gentrification of their neighborhood which threatens to squeeze them out. Ivy just loves her community garden, and Harleen starts dabbling in harlequin outfits. And carrying a bat. Tamaki’s writing is rich in characterization and resonant world-building, and Pugh’s art is gorgeous and pitch-perfect for the story. I’ve recommended this book to a lot of people in the few days since I finished reading it, and I look forward to continuing to do so.
Lola Watson: After a very heavy teaching load last semester, I’m finally catching up on the backlog of my list. I decided to tackle my indie stack first since I could get caught up with series faster. (That pile of Wonder Woman I’ve backlogged is both terrifying and thrilling.) First off, I have to recommend The Magicians by Lilah Sturges and Pius Bak. I knew I’d love this story from the minute they talked about hedge magic because that’s a part of the show I’ve always been drawn to.
This series focuses on 3 hedges dropped into the magical mix at Brakebills. They get put in a secret class with some “traditional” third years to learn battle magic, but we still don’t know what they’re learning to fight. The theme of academic learning vs. real-world experience resonated with me as a community college professor. Each issue ends with a great cliff-hanger so I’m glad I had carved out time to read all three in one sitting. I’m dying to know what happens next. The art by Bak has a frenetic, jagged edge feeling to me that really matches the tone and suspense of the story.
Another college-aged coming of age tale with a supernatural spin, I’m in love with Ghosted in L.A. by Sina Grace and Siobhan Keenan. It’s up to 7 issues now and I ate them up. The college experience is not everything it’s cracked up to be for Daphne and I related to a small-town girl trying to find her way in a big city. While the story centers on Daphne, the world Sina Grace created is jam-packed of interesting ghost and corporeal characters to explore. Slowly there’s some supernatural mystery unfolding and I’m excited to see how it develops alongside Daphne’s story. This book has a little romance, a little mystery, and a whole lot of heart. Highly recommend to people who love supernatural rom-coms and coming of age tales.
Lastly, I want to recommend b.b. free by Gabby Rivera and Royal Dunlap. It’s also a coming of age story but focuses a little bit younger. In this post-apocalyptic reimagining of the United States global warming has drastically changed the landscape and Florida is now a series of islands. In this world, the age of separation from one’s parents is much younger than today through a right of passage called the Freedom Fifteen. Chulita and b.b. start their adventures by having difficult conversations with their overbearing parents about starting their Freedom Fifteen. In just two issues, I couldn’t be more endeared to these two characters and I’m eager to see where their journeys will take them. This promises to be a delightful and thoughtful road trip through a fresh new take on what a climate wrecked future might look like. It has all of the thought-provoking social commentary of The Magicians and delightful cast of characters of Ghosted in L.A., so I highly recommend keeping on an eye on this one!
Amy Garvey: The Gwenpool Strikes Back mini-series by Leah Williams and David Baldeon finished in December and I finished last week, so I am mostly proud that I’m not months behind on it. But it is a testament to how much I enjoyed this series that it always jumped to the top of my pile. The series follows Gwen as she desperately tries to avoid her book being cancelled, meaning she would cease to exist, with increasingly grandiose plans. It is a moreish taste of the character with plenty of her usual humour and wild storylines as well as a humanising look into her insecurities and fears.
— Leah #XFAQtor Williams (@mymonsterischic) June 25, 2019
Kat Overland: I’ve been working through the pile of zines I acquired in 2019 and wanted to write up a little about Frog from M. R. Trower. It’s about 30 pages long and has a good weight to it, thick paper printed in shades of blue. An autobio comic, Frog is a story of metamorphosis — a journey to an identity that fits, a community that understands, a body that is more comfortable to live in. Details are given their own panel to stand out — a ‘fuck-off scowl,’ a scabbed hand, a coffee cup with a new name, and tadpoles transforming into their final form.
Trower depicts themself in various forms, in various stages of gender identity as they find their way to calling themselves nonbinary. Despite facing pushback from the straight world and the queer world, Trower makes sure to also highlight the support they’ve received as well. I appreciate, also, that Trower acknowledges that there are still things about their body that aren’t perfect or what they might have chosen themself — yet transitioning helped them discover their identity and a solid sense of self, allowed them a body that was better for them anyway.
Trower embraces both the tadpole and the frog, rather than ascribing to an ultimate perfected form. They encompass the entirety of their experience, from straight girl to dyke to Matt to non-binary, the healing in the transformative process rather than the curse of non-normativity. While Frog tackles heavy (and somewhat relatable) topics here, I found it a comfort.
Frog by @m_r_trower so perfectly encapsulates experiences and feelings that resonate so powerfully with me as a non binary trans person who was also a frog-obsessed child. I relate so much it hurts a bit, but that’s the power of this zine. pic.twitter.com/Rn4S8ym3gX
— jules! (@juleszuckerberg) September 18, 2019
Draven Katayama: I’ve been continuing to browse comics on Webtoon Canvas, since unlike Webtoon Originals, these creators don’t have Webtoon’s financial backing and advertising to boost them. #muted by kandismon is a gorgeously illustrated romance comic with over 24 million views. #muted stars Jasper, a librarian, and Kai, a regular patron at the library who catches Jasper’s eye. Jasper begins to talk to Kai and recommend books to him. Kai never speaks to anyone, but Jasper and Kai become close and start to spend time together outside of the library. kandismon’s art is truly stunning. There are moments when I couldn’t help but stare in wonder at the emotion conveyed through how a character was posed and drawn, like the last panel of chapter 2. I also really like the character Emma, a librarian who’s ace, always dressed in sporty stylish clothes, and provides the energetic counterbalance to Jasper and Kai’s calm demeanor. Like [ blank。] from last month’s WWACommendations, #muted has that deeply saturated, brilliantly colorful look and vulnerable, mysterious tone that makes for an instantly addictive comic.
— kan✧dismon 🌈 (@kurokeis) March 28, 2019
Another delightful comic is Sunny Side Skies by soaporsalad. Sunny Side Skies is a slice-of-life comic about Adam, a barista at a cafe, and Chase, a hyper, outgoing college student who’s a regular customer. Chase has been coming to the cafe everyday and ordering an elaborate drink with lots of flavor shots and extra sugar. Chase notices that Adam doesn’t socialize much outside of work because he’s always working, and gives him his phone number and invites him to hang out sometime. A medical scare brings Adam and Chase together. If you like lighthearted stories about couples who are polar opposites in personality, check out Sunny Side Skies.