Comic Book POW! - July 20, 2022

Lots of stuff has happened since I've checked in on the world of comic books. Not least of which, Amazon finally finished their prolonged swallowing of Comixology in the form of removing the reader app and exchanging it for the Kindle Cloud Reader, a truly eyeball-searing experience. Comixology's app fit together perfectly with my 10-inch tablet, making it the closest digital experience to an actual paper issue available. That's gone now, as are the guided view mode, the ability to zoom, and to rotate in order to see full double-page spreads as they were intended. Possibly the worst part of all this...the new version of Comixology cannot remember reader progress. If you go diving into a trade paperback collection, it will reset you to the beginning every time. 

Well, isn't that just a spit in the face.

In more recent news--as in, just last night--a San Diego Hilton hotel staff is about to authorize a strike mere hours before the first complete and in-person Comic Con in three years begins. This is a big deal. The biggest week of this hotel's year is about to become the most complicated with a severe staffing shortage, and the hotel chain would do well to realize how easily the entire building's operations will grind to a halt while filled with sweaty cosplayers. Of course, it's fair to say that Comic Con rarely has much to do with the actual comic book industry anymore, but there's something exciting about general conglomerated nerdery acting as a catalyst for union solidarity. And speaking as someone who has experience in the lodging industry, I'm positive that the union members are not compensated enough for the absolute nonsense they must encounter every year from Con guests.

Anyway...on to the Picks Of the Week!

Count Crowley: Amateur Midnight Monster Hunter #3 (Dark Horse)

David Dastmalchian--who absolutely exploded last summer as Polka Dot Man in James Gunn's The Suicide Squad--returned this Spring with his spook-tacular series about a 1980s Elvira/Svengoolie style midnight movie host who fights actual monsters and her own addiction issues. The first volume was an absolute delight, a dovetailing story of inner demons and just straight-up demons hooked onto a beloved bygone era for horror fans. In this week's new issue, Jerri Bartman learns some of the history of her predecessor Vincent Frights and his time fighting in WWII. Are we going to see the original Count Crowley wrangling Nazi occult monsters like a Wolfenstein adventure? Maybe. It's a Dark Horse property, so why the hell not?

Not only is Dastmalchian's storytelling funny and filled with inventive horror concepts, the sumptuous inking from Lukas Ketner is just as rich and pulpy as the first collection. They really are a creative match for this project, as Ketner's previous work on Witch Hunter for Robert Kirkman's Skybound Entertainment shingle (as well as a story in Creepy #13, Dark Horse's wonderful EC Comics-style throwback) has a wild and unbound sense of amusement in stomach-churning gore, but more importantly a solid sense of style in his character designs.

I love this series. Absolutely love it.

Star Wars #25 (Marvel)

Say and feel however you want about the state of Star Wars in 2022, but if there's one aspect of the property that just keeps getting better and better, it's the comic books. I think it's because the creators are given much more latitude to be weird and funny and playful than, say, their colleagues in television and film. This week's new issue of the flagship title is a Saga celebration anthology containing stories spanning the Skywalker timeline, from the bizarrely fertile Obi-wan and Anakin buddy days (did you see Obi-Wan Kenobi on Disney Plus yet?), to a moment I've been waiting for...Poe Dameron eulogizing Snap Wexley.

If you don't recognize the name, Snap is the pilot played by J.J. Abrams' childhood chum Greg Grunberg. Diehard fans--at least, those diehard fans who still engage with Star Wars in this Disney-era and enjoy it--know Wexley as one of the main heroes of the Aftermath trilogy of novels and a great member of the squadron in the Poe Dameron comic series. He also is one of a handful of characters who met a pretty crappy end in Rise of Skywalker, so it's nice to see the comic books acknowledge that at least on paper he is more than merely the new Porkins.

Rogue's Gallery #1 (Image)

The latest foray into post-post-post-modern comic book premises, writer Hannah Rose May brings a stone-cold thriller to us in the form of Maisie Wade, a television star who plays a superhero, but now must play survivor when a group of crazed fans invade her home cosplaying as her character's greatest villains. Much like the latest Scream sequel, this new book ruminates on the evolution of toxic fandom and how it radicalizes folks into a sense of righteous ownership of an intellectual property. May is herself an actress with probable first-hand experience in this, so it's a great perspective on one of the more glaring black eyes of pop culture.

Of particular note is rising star artist Justin Mason--who is absolutely killing it this summer between this and upcoming Marvel's Spider-Punk--bringing a jaw-dropping amount of diversity to the book's style, jumping from a glossy and gritty look for the "Red Rogue" TV show and a more naturalistic one for the real world. The colors by Triona Farrell are bold and dazzling, without sacrificing the moody atmosphere. I wouldn't be surprised if a streaming service was already trying to snap up this property for a six-episode arc or something, as it feels right at home today opposite genre-interrogating fare like "The Boys" and "Invincible" on Amazon Prime.
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