It’s been awhile. We know. Let’s just say we’ve been busy doing life, and all three of us are guilty of falling behind on our monthly comic book reading duties.
In an effort to get back in the saddle, we each went through our mounting stash of unread comics. We chose the two titles that we absolutely can’t wait to read and stand out among the rest. So, when your real-life responsibilities get you behind on your comics, in the very little in between time, these are the comics you should be reading.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE
At first, this comic feels like it’s playing inside baseball with all of its lyrical references, still The Wicked + The Divine is so beautiful to look at. You can’t help but keep reading. Then, Gillen and McKelvie make you fall head over heels in love with their characters, a doomed bunch of teens turned gods. I mean, I am Luci (or I like to dress up like her, same diff). Once the characters are fleshed out, the story cracks wide open with mystery and style. It’s no secret these two creators make magic together, and I can’t leave out colorist Matt Wilson whose work is divine. The Wicked + The Divine is fresh, strange, breathtaking and heartbreaking. I’m obsessed. I’m a fan.
I have never felt more gratified reading a comic book than when I read the first issue of Bitch Planet… until I read the next issue… and the issue after that. Large factions of the comics blogosphere talk about female representation in comics, and the collective disparity of it. Well, while we were all busy tweeting about it, Kelly Sue DeConnick answered that call in Bitch Planet. This book is so fucking feminist. The satirical subversion of the Women in Prison trope, the broad range of complex characters wrought with agency (I’m looking at you, Penny Rolle!) and the unimpeachable backmatter make every issue fiercely inspiring. I have the tattoo to prove it.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – Sex Criminals is absolutely one of the best books on the shelves these days. Even when I fall off my reading for weeks or months at a time, this book is the one I keep up with the best, and the one I look for first in my ever-mounting pile of singles I need to catch up on. For the infrequent comics reader, it’s also great because the book never comes out on time! No worries about falling too far behind here, folks. Please enjoy this perfect blend of dick jokes and emotional outpourings.
I’ve loved this book from the first issue, mostly because artist Wes Craig is amazing, and the story is set in a high school of sorts for assassins. What’s not to love? When this comic started, it appeared to be an underdog story – a hero’s journey. Poor, abused, lonely kid wins friends and the respect of his peers! Even love! Life sure sucked before, but now everything is coming up Milhouse.
Well, looks can surely be deceiving, because fourteen issues in I seriously loathe the angsty, hateful, woe-is-me prick that the antagonist of the story, Marcus, has become. I hold on to the slight hope that things will turn around for him, but at this point it might be better if he got offed so the story could center around the indisputably more interesting characters. This may be my first serious case of love/hate-ing a comic book. Did I mention the art is great?
THE CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is a wonderfully macabre comic with a shining cast of major and minor characters. Half human and half witch, Sabrina is juggling normal adolescent concerns — like her first boyfriend — while on the brink of fully accepting her heritage as a being with powers. This isn’t some happy pixie dust stuff, either. If you grew up reading the G-rated version of Sabrina, prepare to have your mind blown as Chilling Adventures of Sabrina lives up to its billing as a horror comic. The standout so far is Madame Satan, who is on the hunt for Sabrina because of a major past betrayal by the girl’s father, and she is dangerously close to fulfilling her mission. How ruthless is Madame Satan? On a whim, she burns one of her victims alive. After he was already cursed to be encased in a tree. In addition to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s page-turning, slow-boiling narrative, this comic is blessed with some stunning art by Robert Hack. The entire package is, well, magical.
To say that Archie got a makeover doesn’t give rock stars Mark Waid and Fiona Staples their full due. It’s not just a surface do-over. The new Archie is modern and fresh throughout, from the charming, funny and sharply written story to the striking redesign of the characters. Waid and Staples have taken ownership of the title without making the world of Riverdale unrecognizable. (If nothing else, it’s now pretty clear what the girls see in Archie.) Longtime fans are already eating this up, but even if you have little to no interest in Archie Comics, you’ll be delighted – and possibly hooked. My review of the first issue is here.