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Nick’s Quick Reading Recs

For being an “archaic” hobby either dying or “on the way out,” depending upon who you ask, the amount of comics on the market, even those restricted to print, is quite prolific.  With this in mind, it’s not that surprising to hear that when newcomers decide to cross the threshold into the bastion of the geek it can be a bit of a overwhelming experience without guidance.

Of course, most people have friends with equally geeky inclinations that are more than happy to recommend titles, or are smart enough to not attend comic book shops that are unwilling to provide assistance.  But…if you’re unfortunate enough to be “flyin’ solo” in the world of comics…well, now you’ve got my useless punditry to fall back on.  Here are some excellent reads that are easily accessible in single issue, trade, and/or digital format, with a brief justification behind said recommendation.

Green Arrow(#17-Present)

Why you should read it:

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If the Olympic Archery tournament was this epic…I’d probably watch it.

It’s the closest you’re going to get to Andy Diggle and Jock’s masterpiece, Green Arrow: Year One…and it’s a far cry from the unadulterated disaster that was the first sixteen issues of the New 52′s Green Arrow. Jeff Lemire wasn’t afraid to bring Oliver Queen back to the basics, and perform the “hard reset” the franchise so badly needed.  Now we actually care about the hardscrabble lifestyle Queen’s been thrown into, one in which he’s down to his last quiver, literally.

Thankfully the visual depiction of this recent downturn in Mr. Queen’s life has been entrusted to Andrea Sorrentino, fresh off his art duties on (most of) I, Vampire’s issues.  As ironic as it was to see the cancellation of a book surrounding the exploits of a (mostly) unkillable species, having Sorrentino’s “omnious and overcast” pencils on Green Arrow is a balm on said wound.

Finally, Stephen Amell isn’t the only Arrow worth talking about.

It might NOT be for you if:

If you like your comics to subscribe to a “house” style (that’s when the artists at a publisher like DC or Marvel agree to always draw characters a certain way).  Chances are if you’re a fan of the Errol Flynn-mustachioed Ollie who had an amazing talent for douchey one-liners, “this isn’t the Queen you’re looking for.”  Now move along, move along.  In fact, I’ll do you one better and tell you where you can get your fix; it’s called Justice League of America.  Still no beard, but certainly still an asshole.

SEX 

Why you should read it:

Let’s be upfront about the title, okay?  If you’re “put off” by the title insinuating that its pages are chock-full of smut, or on the flip-side, its moniker has you a little too excited to crack open the cover, then congratulations, you’ve officially judged a book by its cover.

Of course, Joe Casey’s title is nonetheless a certifiably “Mature” title, nor is the sexual content the title suggests totally absent…but it’s probably not in the context you’d think.  The book follows one wealthy businessman by the name of Simon Cooke, who by night dons the persona (and cape to boot) of the Armored Saint.  Yes, feel free to pretty much draw “all the parallels” between Mr. Cooke and one Bruce Wayne, who I’d wager you might have heard of him on occasion…all of them tend to be true.

I don’t know what I love more, the cheesy phrases or the gorgeous wrap-around covers.

 

At this point, SEX starts to resemble a bunch of titles you’ve already leafed through, all shameless iterations of the previous rehashing…but this is a powerful feint by Casey.  See, Cooke’s giving it all up, putting aside the costume and secret hideout for the starched three-piece suit and the monotony of the corporate boardroom.  Why?  Well, because he’s started to realize that all this dutiful crime-fighting has put his social/sexual/personal life in a state of “arrested development.”

“So is this going to be one of those “‘slice-of-life’ uber-introspective and yet ultimately depressing” titles?” you wonder.

Nope. As you might imagine, it doesn’t take the Armored Saint’s enemies very long to ascertain that he’s no longer on patrol.  This, along with the fact that Cooke is ostracized by the executives of his company, and viewed more as a required figurehead than a valued contributor, has Cooke pining for the old days.  Now we’ve all read titles where the hero is killed/incapacitated/disappears for a stretch, but to have the protagonist retiring of his own volition for what some might consider to be “selfish” reasons, all the while being forced to sit back and view the fruits of his labors come tumbling down?  That’s different.

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Yes, this is one of the more appropriate panels of SEX. Take note of the creative use of color here.

On top of a recently-jettisoned “Robin” figure struggling to tackle the streets all by himself, an Alfred-like manservant attempting to hold Simon to his new lifestyle, and an old flame running a brothel who is more or less Selena Kyle with a different name, SEX has a wonderful pop-art sensibility drawn by Piotr Kowalski.  It possesses a color palette that draws similarities to Andy Warhol’s portrait series, and provides a neon-hued tone to what could have otherwise been a fairly dark book.

It might NOT be for you if:

If you find sexual content on par with Game of Thrones or an edgy R-rated film to be offensive/obscene.  Also, if you think this is going to morph into a “superhero” book, I should warn you that as of issue #5, this is not the case.

The Flash

Why you should read it:

Ever read a title that’s been co-written by the penciler and colorist?  Aside from the New 52′s The Flash, I haven’t either.  Nor did I assume that when I did, that the writing would be surprisingly good.  After I read the first trade of Detective Comics (in which penciler Tony S Daniel was allowed to assume the writing duties too) there’s been a certain subconscious anxiety when those that usually pick up a No. 2 also pick up a pen.  The Flash changed that.

A+ for panel layout creativity and A++ for properly capturing his speed.

Another reason to pick up The Flash?  If there’s any headlining DC character that was badly in need of a “hard reset,” it was The Flash: between the three or four different incarnations over the years, the clusterfuckery of a timeline, the “power creeping” of The  Flash’s abilities…most readers were content to leave the “world’s fastest man” at a standstill.  Amidst all of the complaints about “unnecessary reboots” or the retreading of origin stories within the New 52, The Flash was clearly a standout exception; after all, who knows Barry Allen’s day job or just how he became The Flash?  Who knows who Reverse Flash is, or how the Time Force works?  Who knows about Barry’s friendship with Hal Jordan that predates the forming of the Justice League?

Not many people do, really.  They just know that Barry’s fast.  This book is a chance to gain that “Concentration in Flash Studies” you’ve been putting off for so long.  It’s also an opportunity to see a bright pastel-colored world that manages to successfully capture the essence of The Flash’s abilities, while not having to “tow the line” on DC’s “house” style.

It might NOT be for you if:

Your imagination is restricted to the color palette of a Gears of War game, or you just have an aversion to some of the most creative title pages I’ve ever observed.  Also, if you think Captain Cold is dumb, guess what?

YOU’RE THE ONE THAT’S DUMB.

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