The first of 2017 really flew by, and it’s been one of the best few months worth of releases I can remember in a long time.
In the first part of the half-year in review, I took a look at some notable things from DC Comics. This time around, it’s time to take a look at some books from other publishers I’ve enjoyed this year.
Kill Or Be Killing It
When Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips debuted their new series, Kill Or Be Killed, last August, it pretty quickly became one of my favorite books. While it’s only shipped 9 issues over the last 11 months, I can forgive a lapse in monthly shipping when the quality of the story is so high.
KOBK is the story of a non-traditional grad student who, while depressed, tried to kill himself and when he changed his mind, ended up making a deal with a demon to save his life. The deal? He had to kill once a month, otherwise his life was forfeit. While the premise is more supernatural than I was expecting from the Brubaker-Phillips team, the strengths of the story comes from the character interactions and the amazing art.
Later this month, in the series’ 10th issue, we’re promised the end of the latest story arc and another face-off between Dylan, our protagonist, and his personal demon, which should provide another amazing moment for the Image Comics book.
Adapting the Gods
American Gods is probably my favorite prose novel from Neil Gaiman. The story of the old gods trying to stay relevant while the new gods of technology and media and drugs begin to take hold was a great read, and it’s amazing to think it took so long to adapt the 2001 novel into another media.
But the first half of 2017 saw not one but two adaptations of Gaiman’s American Gods. The first and probably most prominent was the television show on STARZ. But just as exciting has been the Dark Horse Comics adaptation from P. Craig Russell and Scott Hampton.
There’s something about comic book professionals who have worked on Gaiman’s Sandman. The characters in the comics adaptation of American Gods hits the page in a way that I feel I always saw them in my head when I read the novel. It’s like they pulled them directly from my dreams.
Hammering Home In The City
Jeff Lemire has become one of my favorite comic book writers, and he writes two of my favorite ongoing comics of the first half of the year. And the two books are done in distinctly different styles.
In Black Hammer from Dark Horse, the focus is on a group of superheroes trapped away from their home in a small town, with a deepening mystery of where, exactly, they are, how they got there and whether they can actually escape. In a book filled with powerful beings who are used to battling the forces of evil, the hook of Black Hammer is how the heroes are coping with being trapped in this small town.
Over at Image Comics, Lemire debuted Royal City earlier this year, where he handles both writing and art. Closer in tone to Lemire’s Essex County, Royal City is a more personal story about a family in a factory town that has spent years slowly falling apart, since the death of a young family member. The family is forced to come together and face some of their issues when their father has a stroke, but even another tragedy can’t bring people together when they’ve been torn apart for so long.
The two books are very different, but the quality never slips from either book.
Who Ya Gonna Call?
The Ghostbusters line of comics from IDW has easily been the most fun adaptation of the characters over the last few years, with writer Erik Burnham putting the popular heroes from the fan-favorite movies into increasingly ridiculous situations. Burnham has a great feel for the characters and the book is so consistently fun that the writer has even gotten me to look forward to reading about the characters from last year’s Ghostbusters reboot.
In the new Ghostbusters 101 comic, which debuted in March, the original team decides to start up classes in busting ghosts, to make a quick buck and to find new recruits. Through an inane series of events that would be hokey from another writer, the original group ends up teaming up with the women from Answer The Call. It’s not that weird, really, since the team has already teamed up with the 1980s cartoon versions of themselves…
Each successive maxiseries from IDW featuring the Ghostbusters team has been something that any fan of the property would enjoy. Even if you hated the 2016 reboot – I wasn’t one of those people – the latest series has made the new team more fun than the movie ever did.
The Once And Future Disappointment
The news can’t all be good, right?
I got quickly hooked on a Dark Horse book by DJ Kirkbride and Adam Knave called The Once and Future Queen, an modern-day Arthurian legend about a 19-year-old chess prodigy who pulls Excalibur out of the stone and becomes the Queen of legend. The book, which debuted in March, was a great take on King Arthur and the Roundtable from the creators of Amelia Cole.
Unfortunately, not enough people thought so.
Just two weeks fter the second issue was released in April, word came out that Dark Horse had cancelled the already-solicited issues 3-5. Why? Adam Knave explained on his blog:
“The comic industry is a fickle thing. The Once and Future Queen was well received by press and its readers, and while it was growing in market awareness, print efforts have been shifted to the book market so we can grow and reach our target audience.”
On the bright side, a trade collection of the whole story is planned for release in November, and is already available for pre-order from Amazon. I’ll certainly be picking it up.