I hope Wizard World hasn’t given you comics fatigue. Even if it did, it’s not like I wouldn’t talk about comics this week anyway. In this week’s column I welcome the return of Sex Criminals, take a look the debut of Thomas Alsop, and I become a believer of the Wicked + The Divine. Let’s get to it!
Matt Fraction / Chip Zdarsky / Becka Kinzie
After a bit of a hiatus, Sex Criminals returns with both Jon and Suzie dealing with the consequences of their actions, as well as the state of their relationship. While Suzie is normally our narrator of events, the book gives Jon his time to explain what has been going on in their lives since they were hunted by the Sex Police. And what’s surprising is that there’s actually nothing going on. Instead of robbing banks and pooping in the plants of an annoying jerk boss, Jon and Suzie are just living like normal couples. With that comes some truths about themselves, and in this issue, Jon finds that his desires and his thirst for life and that next rush have all but vanished. His relationship has left the honeymoon phase and he’s realizing that it’s becoming a real, adult relationship. Fraction guides Jon and the readers through some honest looks at not only what a relationship is like, but he also touches on Jon’s personal disorders that affect his everyday life. His reasoning for doing the things he’s done to this point have been rooted in these issues. And they aren’t presented as insurmountable obstacles either. I feel that this book reaches out to its readers and new fans to let them know that there are healthy ways to cope with the problems they may be going through. There’s no “after school special” feel to it at all. It’s completely genuine and heartfelt. Chip Zdarsky continues to shine, hitting comedic beats and dramatic reveals with precision. Zdarsky and Becka Kinzie’s color work is great eye candy and the flourishes of effects when time stops still look as cool as they did the first time. Even with a three month hiatus, Sex Criminals has returned and it hasn’t missed a beat.
Thomas Alsop (BOOM!)
Chris Miskiewicz / Palle Schmidt
Boom! Studios just seems to keep dropping great titles month after month and Thomas Alsop is no exception. Following the adventures of the titular character, Thomas Alsop is about a guy who can hear the voice of the city. In this case, that city is New York. His job, which is to investigate the supernatural goings on around the city, gets a bit of a twist because Thomas is a Ghost Hunter style reality television star. He’s also a bit of a mess thanks to his heavy drinking, and implied drug use. About halfway through the issue we are sent back in time to meet Thomas’s great great grandfather Richard. It is here where we learn the origin of the Alsop family’s ability to connect with the supernatural world around them. Chris Miskiewicz has written a highly accessible first issue. The world around Thomas and Richard have been crafted with a lot of attention to detail and reference. The characters themselves feel unique in their stories and they have a way of speaking and an attitude that adds to the mystery without feeling like you’re just being led to the next surprise or reveal. Palle Schmidt does some wonderful work in the book as well. He draws and paints New York with a lived in, yet dreamy quality. It feels real, it reminds me of a version of New York I’ve seen before in other books and movies. However it feels unique to this series. His character designs help distinguish the book from others in similar genres by not looking like all the other supernatural/horror themed titles out there. There are strong lights and shadows. The splashes and washes of color are used to great effect. The design of the pages definitely aim to tell the whole story in a satisfying way than to pick the cool moments that would stop the reader and break up the pace. As a debut issue, Thomas Alsop is on solid ground. The cliffhanger doesn’t go for the “OH MY GOODNESS!!” shock and an awe, but instead hits you in the gut with a feeling of “This isn’t going to go well.”
I’m excited to see more.
Kieron Gillen / Jamie McKelvie / Matthew Wilson / Clayton Cowles
Popstars may be idolized and turned into memorable tumblr gif sets these days, but they’re not actual gods like those in The Wicked + The Divine. Opening with an ominous prologue in 1923, we are taken to South London on New Years Day of 2014 where we meet a 17 year old named Laura. We follow her as she leaves her home to attend the concert of her idol, pop sensation Amaterasu. This singer has the ability to make her audience feel good. Literally. It’s all a good time until she passes out from those good feelings, and it is here we meet the coolest version of Lucifer I’ve seen. Dressed in a white suit and giving off some great Bowie vibes, Luci is the standout of the issue. Fun, dangerous, and awesome, Luci, along with Amaterasu, helps to explain that every several decades there is a Recurrence. And during this time the gods are around for a couple of years and then they die. While they are here they live these larger than life pop idol lives. That’s just about the only bit of backstory we get but it’s fine because you never feel confused, you just want more. Kieron Gillen is a writer whose work I’ve only just begun to read more of and The Wicked + The Divine has made that something I definitely want to continue. Jamie McKelvie is an artist I’ve enjoyed for years now, but this first issue is the best work he’s done. From the design of the pages to the the emotions of the characters, this book looks great. And Then Matthew Wilson just makes it look a million times better with his colors. The Wicked + The Divine feels like something special. If you haven’t picked it up yet, I’d say take a chance on it. You’ll probably be happy you did.