comixologist recommends

4

A comiXologist recommends…

KING: A COMICS BIOGRAPHY OF MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR, by Ho Che Anderson

Ho Che Anderson’s King covers the expected territory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s life. We see his journey from local pastor to his participation in sit-ins through the late 1950s and 60s up through his ascent as a leader of the Civil Rights movement in the fateful March on Washington. But what distinguishes Anderson’s take on Dr. King’s legacy is its refusal to rarefy its subject. This is a powerful attempt to show Dr. King in full. In his personal life, we see Dr. King struggle through a troubled marriage. We see his drinking and cavorting with other women. We see him doubtfully confront the weight of his accomplishments and his role in the movement for racial equality. Despite his eventual triumphs, this is a version of King that can never rest easy.

Anderson’s black and white style immediately sets the perfect tone for such a laborious tale. In the opening pages, we see a young Martin, etched in shadow, creeping through the back of a church towards his father. The scene calls to mind the harsh tonality of Lynd Ward’s woodcuts or the lightning of the German Expressionists. It’s uneasy, dreary. But it’s an opener that properly sets the stage for the story of struggle that’s to come in the next 200 plus pages.

Beyond the stylistics of this remarkable opening, Anderson uses a barrage of other techniques to make this story come to life. Particularly moving is his integration of newspaper prints from key moments in King’s life as well as the lives of his contemporaries like Rosa Parks. Anderson sets out with his eyes on the history of the Civil Rights movement and not just the narrative of Dr. King.

Another compelling quality of Anderson’s comic, perhaps the counterpoint of the expressive take on the key moments in the life of Dr. King and his contemporaries, is the focus on “The Witnesses”, a collective of anonymous, fourth-wall breaking respondents that punctuate the proceedings with their own commentary. We hear from the young acolytes who praise Dr. King and the doubtful who see him as a false prophet. It’s an equitable tapestry that honors the difficult climate of the times and the complexity of the journey Dr. King embarked on personally.

In the wake of a tiresome election that calls to mind the struggles of Dr. King’s journey, this is not a read to miss.

Taylor Morgan is a merchandiser at comiXology.

4

A comiXologist recommends…

SPIDER-MAN LOVES MARY JANE: SUPER CRUSH

Ever wonder what would happen if you took one part Spider-Man and mixed it with one part Gossip Girl and added a dash of Slice of Life Manga? The answer is: AMAZING COMICS. So gather round, buckle your seat belts, and hold on to your heartstrings because it’s time to talk about Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane Vol.1: Super Crush.

Word of warning: Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane picks up where Sean McKeever’s two previous Mary Jane mini-series (Mary Jane and Mary Jane: Homecoming) left off. While the series does a good job of handling the backstory, it’s definitely worthwhile to read those first. If only because they’re really good.

Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane follows Mary Jane Watson as she deals with high school, friends, drama (the kind you do in a theater and the kind you don’t), and, yes, boys. Needing a little distance from her best friends, Liz Allen, Flash Thompson, and ex-boyfriend Harry Osborne, MJ throws herself into other passions like the school play, her growing friendship with math tutor Peter Parker, and her desire to ask Spider-Man out on a date. This is the heart of the series for a lot of people: we know Peter is Spider-Man and Mary Jane doesn’t. Watching the relationships between the main cast (in and out of costume in Spidey’s case) grow, both in friendship and romance, is truly a magical experience.

Art-wise, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane is a blend of Manga and American styles that works so well with the content. Everyone’s unique and expressive, which is huge when the main action of the series is the hurt that flashes across Liz Allen’s face when Mary Jane decides to sit with the theater kids instead of her. Personally, I’m torn for a favorite piece of the art, but it’s down to the incredible colors by Christina Strain and the clothes. The cast wears different clothes from day to day, what they wear reflects their mood, and, being about the same age as Mary Jane in this book, the clothes are more or less accurate to what teenagers were wearing at the time. It builds and sells the reality of the world for me.

As a package, Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane has everything: friendship, adventure, romance, and learning about who you are.

Erin is a Customer Advocate at comiXology and she probably still has a few of the outfits Mary Jane wears hanging at the back of her closet.

10

comiXology Unlimited Staff Selects

Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1 @fantagraphics

Writer/Artist: Ed Piskor @edpiskor
What it’s about: A painstakingly researched and consistently entertaining history of hip-hop.  Volume one covers the mid-70′s through 1981.
How you discovered it: My friend Ben Marra (@traditionalcomics) has a pin-up in the back (plus everybody’s talking about this book)
Why you like it: Music and comics don’t seem like a natural match, but Piskor taps into something really elemental in this book.  It probably helps to know the songs a bit, but you can basically hear them coming out of the page.  Plus, the book’s energy and enthusiasm are totally contagious- if you’re not already a hip-hop fan, HHFT could make you one.  This comics just, like, vibrates.
Favorite moment: There are a few stories that weave through this first volume, but my favorite is the buildup to “The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel” (I also like it when another friend of mine, Michael Holman, makes an appearance)

Recommended by Harris Smith, production coordinator/social media editor

Read Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 1 and thousands of other comics with our all-you-can-read subscription service comiXology Unlimited!

4

A comiXologist recommends…

VALIANT HIGH #1 by Daniel Kibblesmith and Derek Charm

If you have been feeling like reading YA Novels and binging on Riverdale then you most certainly want to grab a copy of Valiant High #1, out right now.  It doesn’t have murder and small town intrigue in the least, but it does have super-powered teen drama involving exceptional adaptations of our very most favorite Valiant characters!

I can hear the collective scoffing eye-roll of the crowd charging up as we speak, but this is a fun new mini-series with a well-executed concept.  The story and art fit in such a cozy and safe way, I’m going to be looking forward any project these creators work on together in the future.  Writer Daniel Kibblesmith writes a detailed and fun love letter to teen drama and to Valiant.  Derek Charm has created traditional storytelling and character designs that fit more in line with Archie, but with a superhero spin, and it is perfect in the universe of Valiant High.

In this story we join Amanda McKee, AKA Livewire, en route to another day at Valiant High. Valiant High is the high school super-powered teens attend to get an education and learn to control their powers. It’s like a public Xavier’s School for the Gifted and they wear power-inhibiting school badges.  Amanda’s best friend is Faith Herbert, AKA Zephyr, who is known to be able to fly and geek out.  Amanda starts off her morning as any usual day, wondering what her place in the world is, until she finds a love letter from the star running back, Aric Dacia (The King of Boys). This could be a bad idea, Amanda.  Amanda, don’t meet him later it’s probably a trap!

On top of the main plotline, amongst maybe 3 or 4 jam-packed into this first issue of Valiant High, you’ll read about the gym teacher Coach Bloodshot (or “Coach ‘Shot”), an epic struggle for the Eternal Sophomore, and a beautiful reference to one of my all-time favorite Freddie Prinze Jr movies to close out the issue. If you want to know what film that is, you’ll just have to read the issue! Go get a copy of this fun and vibrant new mini-series today!

Matthew Burbridge is a Digital Editor at ComiXology and he’s trying to figure out what should come off his desk to make room for more toys on his desk without taking any of the toys he already has on the desk off.

4

A comiXologist Recommends

Voltron: Legendary Defender #1 (Lion Forge)

by Tim Hendrick, Rich Iverson and the Digital Art Chefs

Five giant robot lions that combine into one REALLY giant robot to fight aliens in space: an awesomely ridiculous concept that could only have come from the 80s. Voltron is back and looking absolutely fantastic the new Voltron: Legendary Defender animated series, created by much of the same incredible team that brought you Legend of Korra. Of course, as awesome as the robot is, the real draw of this story is the friendship between Hunk, Pidge, Lance, Keith, and Shiro, the new paladins of Voltron. And this week, from Lion Forge, the team stumbles into a new adventure in Voltron: Legendary Defenders #1. (For the continuty conscious, this issue takes place after episode 8.)

While Princess Allura recuperates from their latest face-off with the Glara Empire, Coran takes the paladins out for some rigorous training. Their plans are waylaid, however, when a stop at a dodgy bar leads to a run-in with someone who Coran owes a debt - one that’s overdue by about ten thousand years! While their training must be postponed, the new defenders of the universe will get plenty of hands-on experience as they fight to obtain a Yalexian pearl valuable enough to pay for their friend’s release.

Though this adventure stands apart from the main plot of the animated series, it seems there’s at least one juicy hint of backstory tucked in among the action that fans will be eager to add to their theories and discussions. Who knows what else may be revealed down the line? At the very least, if you blasted your way through 11 episodes of Legendary Defender and are now desperate for more, this 4-part series looks to be a fun bonus chapter to help tide you over until the next season. Which is… when exactly? I have an urgent need to mark my calendar.

Emily Forster is a Digital Editor and spends her free time thinking almost exclusively about various kinds of sentient space robots.

5

A comiXologist Recommends:
Kara Szamborski recommends

Lumberjanes Vol. 1

Warm weather is (hopefully?) approaching, which can only mean one thing…SUMMER CAMP! The best camp around is definitely Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistlecrumpet’s Camp for Hardcore Lady Types, home of the Lumberjane scouts. Mal, Jo, Molly, Ripley, and April are having the most normal summer ever—the only thing is, their “normal” is fighting monsters and solving mysteries! Everywhere the Lumberjanes turn, there is weirdness and strangeness, but with the power of friendship to the max, our favorite hardcore lady types can do anything.

In this first collected volume of the acclaimed Lumberjanes series, we get introduced to our heroines as they being to unravel the odd mystery invading their summer fun. In between dodging river monsters and their skeptical, rule-abiding camp counselor Jen, the girls do their best to earn some sweet merit badges and support each other along the way.

Lumberjanes is a great story for everyone, whether you’re a girl going off to summer camp for the first time, a grown up dude wishing he still had summer vacations, or a grandparent wondering what the junk is up with these kids and their new-fangled speech patterns. Get ready for the best fictional summer of your life and start reading Lumberjanes today!

[Read Lumberjanes Vol. 1 on comiXology]

Kara Szamborski supervises the international production team at comiXology and co-hosts the weekly podcast The comiXologist in a never-ending quest to help people find comics they’ll love reading. All this talk about summer camp is making her crave s’mores.

6

A comiXologist recommends:
Archie #1

by: Emily Forster

Recently, we’ve seen bold new stories like Afterlife With Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and Archie Vs. Predator mash up the horror genre with the bubblegum world Riverdale. While I’m also a fan of these series (check them out!) what impresses me about Archie #1 is that it is equally bold in a way that can’t be described with one simple sentence. There’s no twist. It just does what every reboot aspires to do: it truly reinvents an old story without changing anything that made the original beloved in the first place.

Gossip is flying at Riverdale High following the breakup of Archie Andrews and Betty Cooper. Everyone is absolutely dying for details on the mysterious “lipstick incident” that triggered the split. The couple themselves seem resolved to move on and get past the drama, but their friends aren’t giving up on them so easily… and if you’ve ever read an Archie comic, you probably know without me telling you that plenty of hijinks ensue. But this isn’t just the latest twist in the road for Archie and the gang - it’s the beginning of Archie #1, kicking off a total relaunch of the series for the first time since the 1940s.

Writer Mark Waid has struck a perfect balance between preserving the goofy tone of classic Archie and gently pushing it into something a little more believable, with snappy dialogue that’s got just a touch of teenage angst mellowing out the silliness. No one says “gee,” but no one goes out of their way to drop obtrusively current slang either, maintaining the kind of timeless quality that is purely Archie while still grounding it in the present day. It is Fiona Staples’ art that takes this comic to another level, though. Her characters are so wonderfully observed and true to life that for the first time in many years, Archie and his friends feel like real teenagers again. Oh, and I have a crush on everyone. Especially Jughead.

It was also strikingly wonderful to read a first issue of Archie where characters who were introduced over the years to diversify the cast were there from the get-go, instantly lending a new authenticity to their friendships. The student body of Riverdale High feels more alive than ever before, and I can’t wait to see what they get up to this time around.

[Read Archie #1 on comiXology]

Emily Forster is a Digital Editor at ComiXology and a cartoonist. She likes comics about food and fights to the death.

4

A comiXologist Recommends (her favorite comics of 2015)

Transformers: Holiday Special #1

IDW’s Transformers Holiday Special is out this week, just in time to take its place as once of my absolute favorite single issues of 2015. It’s made up of three short stories from IDW’s Transformers continuity, all of which had me laughing out loud on every page. I would recommend picking this issue up to anyone with even a passing childhood remembrance of Transformers, if only for the hilarious Christmas poem about a grinchy, scroogey Starscream.

Of course, because I’m a die-hard More Than Meets The Eye fan, the highlight for me is Silent Light, a cheeky side story which, in typical fashion for the series, gets in some quality jabs at your heart and a bunch of juicy character development in between 10 pages of hijinks. Kotteri’s art in this story, accompanied beautifully by Joanna Lafuente’s colors, is lively and bursting with personality in every line. After seeing all these characters (especially Whirl) come to life in this style, I’m really hoping Kotteri lends their wonderful work to the main series someday in the future. Finally, my favorite Former-Decepticon & His Dog duo Thundercracker and Buster star in their very own holiday film noir (it’s a new genre.)

It’s still balmy here in New York City, but when I read this comic I swear I heard sleigh bells ringing… or maybe that was Lightbright and Sparkstalker’s wedding bells?

EMILY FORSTER is a Digital Editor at ComiXology and a cartoonist. These days, robots kissing is all she can think about.

4

A comiXologist Recommends

PATSY WALKER AKA HELLCAT

By Kate Leth, Brittney L. Williams, and Megan Wilson

AKA HELL YES

Sometimes the thing that makes a superhero interesting is what sets them apart from the mundane – their extraordinary abilities and the grand, spectacular scenarios that play out around them.  But sometimes all that super-ness can seem a little remote, and after a while I start to find myself more interested in the minutia of superhero lives.  Like, how do they pay the bills?  I mean, not every superhero is a Tony Stark or a Bruce Wayne.  

Some superheroes are more of a Patsy Walker.  She also wonders how people with super powers are supposed to pay the bills, because this is a particular problem for Patsy and her friends.  And this is a problem Patsy is determined to solve, using to their advantage the very thing that makes it a challenge.

 We may not have the ability to sense mystical energy, or possess the power of telekinesis, or learned to kick butt on the moon.  But we can all relate to needing to figure out life, and how to manage our own unique potential that maybe sometimes feels like a burden.  Patsy Walker is here to tell you that life is hard but you are important and you can do it.

In many ways, this is a Patsy that fans of Jessica Jones (on Netflix) will recognize.  She is your best friend and your conscience and do NOT mess with her if you know what’s good for you.  But this Patsy lives in a world that is decidedly less grim than the show.  The colors in this book are downright cheerful, the panels are packed with charming details, and the dialogue is upbeat.  (All the high fives for that line about the fridge, Kate!)  

I predict that Hellcat will join the ranks of Squirrel Girl and Ms. Marvel, proving that fun, bright comics about young women have an eager audience.  And if you were wondering if you should join that audience, the answer is HELL YES.

 

Tia Vasiliou is a Digital Editor at ComiXology.  She hopes to one day learn butt-kicking on the moon.

4

A COMIXOLOGIST RECOMMENDS

Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever

Writers: Tom Neely

Artists: Champoy, Crom of Finland, Matthew Allison, Jeremy Baum, Josh Bayer, J. Bennett, Max Clotfelter, Aaron Conley, Andrew Cox, Michael DeForge, Gabrielle, Gamboa, Bruno Guerreiro, Justin Hall, Megan Hutchison, Keenan, Marshall Keller, Ed Luce, Bobby Madness, Benjamin Marra, Kyoshi Nakazawa, Mari Naomi, Scot Nobles, Marc J. Palm, Mark Rudolph, Jonny Ryan. M. Moseley Smith. Reuben Story, Noah Van Sciver, Geoff Vasile

Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever is in short the greatest story that no one asked for. If you’re not familiar with the joke-turned-cult classic, H&G4ever is the fictionalized tale of love between punk and hardcore icons Henry Rollins (Black Flag) and Glenn Danzig (The Misfits) as told through the lenses of art collective Igloo Tornado and various guest authors.

H&G4ever’s love story premise was apparently a joke among artist friends that spiraled out of control in the best way possible. Anyone who grew up liking any sort of alternative music understands the once serious air about both Rollins and Danzig that ironically resulted in nostalgic, comical, and sometimes lovable fodder upon the arrival of the internet age (ex. Cat Flag, the Danzig Kitty Litter meme, etc.). H&G4ever just so happened to take the absurdity of this shift in public perception and give it due diligence.

Collecting four serialized comics and featuring 100+ extra pages of unreleased art and guest stories, Henry & Glenn Forever & Ever is a comprehensive collection of the imagined universes surrounding this fake love story’s history as interpreted by a collection of talented, hilarious writers. Some artists imagined the pair in absurd scenarios (ex. Henry & Glenn Forever In Space, Henry & Glenn’s Psychic Voyage) while others focus on the nuanced realities of conventional relationships as illustrated by two of the least conventional public figures (ex. Going to a Benihana, dressing up pets, agreeing to never go to bed angry, etc).

Across all versions of this love story was an underlying acknowledgment and appreciation for the influential musical era surrounding the pair. The book was filled with self referential jokes (ex. Danzig yelling lyrics to his song “Mother” at his own mom) and random but delightful musical cameos (ex. Hall & Oates are their neighbors and Minor Threat’s Ian MacKaye plays a love interest). Overall this is a great read for music fans who don’t take themselves too seriously and a testament of the weird and awesome power of the internet on indie comics.

Christina Troitino is comiXology’s Marketing Manager and met Henry Rollins once at a park in sweatpants.

4

A comiXologist Recommends

Doom Patrol #1

Written by Gerard Way

Art by Nick Derington

Those familiar with the writing of Gerard Way and find his choices delightful will find his incarnation of the Doom Patrol fascinating and exceeding all expectations.  Issue #1 of Doom Patrol carries all the questions left to us from previous incarnations (sort of), the resurfacing of old mainstay characters (Robotman, heck yeah), and the cerebral sarcasm that comes with tying cosmic catastrophe with everyday life (The Gyro).  

Doom Patrol introduces the reader to a Casey Brinke. Casey drives an ambulance and just wants to do good things.  Casey explains casually her fascinating youth in day-to-day life as if it doesn’t come off like the coolest series of adventures a little kid could have had. Most importantly, Casey wants to do good things because her mother told her to do good things, right before her mother flew off into the sun.

Quick food-related segues and analogies lead to perhaps my most favorite reintroduction to a character ever.  I really want to get into it and chew on the meat a bit. I wouldn’t know where to safely start or safely stop so I will not “chew” or “get into” anything. This single issue is so well-constructed and nuanced that the segues and scene changes fall like dominoes, one inciting incident after another, gag after action-packed gag triggers another outrageous moment so if I started somewhere I would have to spoil the next moment to adequately geek-out.

Nick Derington’s art reminds me of Darwyn Cooke’s character acting with Mike Allred’s line quality and pacing.  It is great fun if you aren’t familiar with his other work, and it is a real treat to see him under the new Young Animal banner.

With such expert writing paired with charming art by Nick Derington the Doom Patrol are going to be getting mixed up in some weird weirdness.

Matthew Burbridge is a Digital Editor at ComiXology.

10

A comiXologist Recommends

Avengers Forever by Kurt Busiek and Carlos Pacheco

If in recent years you’ve become a fan of the Avengers though the Marvel cinematic universe or if you’re a fan of the comics, this series is for you. This epic Avengers story spans time and space as Captain America, Captain Marvel, Giant-man, Wasp, Songbird, Yellow-jacket, and Hawkeye take on a deadly incarnation of their nemesis Kang. This miniseries takes the team to various corners of the Marvel Universe with plenty of special guests from Marvels extensive history. Artist Carlos Pacheco showcases his amazing pencils and ability to draw detailed expressions, and Kurt Busiek is masterful as ever at driving this complex story to it’s epic conclusion. If you’re looking for a solid Avengers adventure dive right into Avengers Forever.

Recommended by John Paterno, longtime comiXologist and lead graphic designer

Take advantage of out Marvel BOGO sale to check out Avengers Forever.  Use the check out code MARVEL to buy-one-get-one-free!

10

A comiXologist Recommends (a series that’s on sale right now)

Red Sonja

You really owe it to yourself to read Gail Simone’s recently concluded 18 issue run on Red Sonja if you have any interest in the following: mayhem, sex, drinking, humor, fighting, magic, redheads, swords, wanton disregard for manners, or general debauchery.  But the best thing about Simone’s She-Devil with a Sword is her cunning – this Sonja is nobody’s pin-up.  If she’s going to wear a chainmaille bikini, or dive into a brawl, or not use a coaster (gasp! pearl-clutch!), Sonja has her reasons.  By framing Red Sonja’s rowdy, randy behavior as serving her own interests, rather than mere titillation, Simone gives readers a complex protagonist and a series that invites many re-reads to come.  

You can get Red Sonja, and any other Dynamite comic published before 12/30/15 for 50% off by using the code NEWYEAR at checkout!

Tia Vasiliou is a digital editor at comiXology.  She crushes her enemies, sees them driven before her, hears the lamentation of their women.

The Complete Wimmen’s Comix

published by @fantagraphics

Let us begin with a quick history lesson.  The late 60s and early 70s were a fantastic time for comics.  I’m talking about the peak years of the mainstream Silver Age where we were introduced to some of our most beloved characters including but not limited to Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four, and The Incredible Hulk.  But those fights-in-tights books weren’t all that was happening.

While in New York the good ol’ DC & Marvel gave us our favorites while following the strict guidelines of the Comics Code, some very bored cartoonists were making some very different work in the San Francisco Bay area.  We had fellows like S. Clay Wilson making his “Checkered Demon” stories.  R. Crumb, easily the most famous of them making his “Mr. Natural” and so many others being the compulsive sketch artist that he is.  Those are two of the more widely remembered, but there was work coming out from Spain Wilson, Gilbert Shelton, Rick Griffin, and so many others! It was a good time for comics.

Albeit as fun and prolific as these artists tend to be, most of the work had a tendency toward the overly violent and misogynistic adhering to a primarily male perspective.  This happened only because it was mainly a boys club that made up the underground scene. It wasn’t their fault, they just didn’t know any better.  But that’s where Wimmen’s Comix came in!  Comics made by women for EVERYBODY.

In this collection (with a foreward by the dazzling Trina Robbins) we are given an entire retrospective of the series run starting with possibly the most famous all-female anthology in American comics history: It Ain’t Me, Babe from 1970.  This series had artists like Patricia Moodian, Aline Kominsky(-Crumb), Melinda Gebbie, Diane Noomin, and so many others!  And they all appear in this book!

It is that level of completeness and attention to detail that really sells me on this book.  There is more to take away from it then a few feminist lessons and some pretty artwork (and the art is very pretty) as many dudes seeing this review will write it off as.

This falls under my heading of required reading.

This anthology collection puts an entirely new spin on a time that was otherwise dominated by a male perspective.  It can even be said that we can learn from these stories how far as an industry we’ve come (which isn’t as far as many might think) and how far we have left to go.

Matthew Burbridge is a Digital Editor at ComiXology that’s coming to the conclusion that his current book is gonna take a little over three weeks to finish at this rate.  He’s really gotta buckle down, dig deep, and just finish it.

10

A comiXologist Recommends

Daredevil #252-273 by Ann Nocenti, John Romita Jr. and Al Williamson

One of the first comics I read monthly, and years later, still one of my favorites.  Picking up Nocenti’s Daredevil for the first time as a kid was a revelation.  Sure, the book had all the action you’d expect from a superhero comic, but it also had rich layers of ongoing story, resonant thematic content, social and political consciousness, thoughtful character development and one of the best rogue’s galleries (Typhoid Mary, Shotgun, Bullet, the Wildboys, Bushwacker) since the Flash met Captain Cold and the gang.

Nocenti’s fresh, contemporary take on the character was more than enhanced by John Romita Jr.’s pencils, which themselves were further enhanced by Al Williamson’s inks.  As creative partners, Nocenti and Romita made perfect sense.  Both were young, up-and-coming talents with unique, hip styles influenced by new wave 80′s.  Williamson was more of a wild card.  He was old school, coming up as an artist for EC Comics and spending much of his time prior to Daredevil working on more straightforward sci-fi comics, like Star Wars and Flash Gordon.  And yet Williamson and Romita’s art meshes perfectly.  As a great inker, Williamson understood what was special about Romita’s art and enhanced it. 

The result was a creative team working perfectly in synch, coming to the exact right character at the exact right time.  Nocenti’s Daredevil is not just one of the best, probably the best, Daredevil runs of all time, and not just one of the best superhero comics of all time, but, with its perfect blend of style and substance, off the wall action and moving emotional weight and the synchronicity its three creators brought to one anothers work and to the atmosphere of series as a whole, it’s one of the best comics of all time.

Harris Smith is a production coordinator, social media editor and creator outreach specialist at comiXology.  He’s watching Daredevil season 2 as he writes this and having a pretty good time.

4

A comiXologist Recommends

Goldie Vance #4 @boomstudios

by Hope Larson @hopelarson, Brittney Williams @anotherbrittneywilliams and Sarah Stern @worstwizard

In the last issue of the first Goldie Vance story, our intrepid heroine dodges Russians spies, the cops, and the whims of gravity to save a missing hotel guest from certain doom! Will she survive her undercover mission to a rival hotel? Will her cute friend Diane want to be more than just a friend? Tune in to find out!

By day, Goldie is a valet at the chic Crossed Palms Resort in sunny Florida, USA. Also by day, she helps the hotel detective to solve even the most mundane case. When a guest’s necklace goes missing, it’s up to Goldie and her not-boss to solve the mystery. But neither of them could have guessed that the solution was part of a bigger problem…

I’ve loved everything about the Goldie Vance books, from the animated art style to the fact that Goldie’s mom works as a live mermaid in a downtown club. It’s a book that you’ll enjoy if you’re into retro settings, sleuthing, Grease-esque drag racing, mild Cold War era political overtures, or all of the above. I’m so excited that this series is now ongoing and we get to read more adventures soon, and now’s the perfect time to get caught up on this charming story!

Kara Szamborski supervises the production coordinator team at comiXology and co-hosts the weekly comiXologist podcast to help you find the perfect comic for you. She is currently resisting the urge to write Spidevil fanfic.

4

A comiXologist recommends:
Hip Hop Family Tree Monthly #1

by: Harris Smith

The moment is now for Ed Piskor’s Hip Hop Family Tree.  Last month, the second volume of the graphic novel series earned Piskor an Eisner Award for “Best Reality-Based Work,” and earlier this week, the artist announced that the comic is being adapted into an animated series.  This Wednesday, the release of Hip Hop Family Tree #1 marks the beginning of Fantagraphics’ first-ever monthly series.  All of acclaim and awards are well-deserved- Hip Hop Family Tree is a painstakingly researched and lovingly rendered history of hip-hop music and culture.  

Issue one begins in the Bronx in the mid-70s, when the experimental record mixing of DJ Kool Herc and a borough-spanning gang truce inspired (covered in detail in the graphic novel Ghetto Brother: Warrior to Peacemaker) Afrika Bambaataa to reform his gang the Black Spades as the hip hop crew the Zulu Nation.  As the movement grows, we meet a variety of contributors to its development, from innovators like Grandmaster Flash and Grand Wizard Theodore (originator of record scratching) to future superstars (including Kurtis Blow, producer Russell Simmons and his younger brother Joseph, who would go on to form Run DMC with Darryl McDaniels, here identified by his early moniker, Grandmaster Get High) as well as lesser known, but still significant figures like Casanova Fly, DJ Breakout, early female MC Sha-Rock and Coke La Rock (considered by many to be the first hip hop MC).

Hip Hop Family Tree not only has a terrific story to tell, but it tells it with great style.  The pages of the book are textured to look like an old, three color print comic, which has the visual effect of the pops and crackles on a vinyl record.  Piskor draws in a classically cartoony style, somewhat reminiscent of early Bill Wray, which adds a sense of fun playfulness to his serious historical research.  Best of all is the overall tone of Hip Hop Family Tree.  This is not a book that feels the need to convince you of the importance of hip-hop, nor is exclusively geared towards those who are already in the know about the movement’s origins.  It’s accessible and enthusiastic without ever being pedantic or condescending, to the reader or to the book’s subjects, coming off ultimately as exactly what it should be- a labor of love documenting an important and underrepresented portion of history in a way that almost any reader can get something out of.

[Read Hip Hop Family Tree Monthly #1 on comiXology]

Harris Smith is a Brooklyn-based comics and media professional. In addition to his role as a Senior Production Coordinator at comiXology, he edits several comics anthologies, including Jeans and Felony Comics, under the banner of Negative Pleasure Publications. He’s also the host of the weekly radio show Neagtive Pleasure on Newtown Radio.

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A comiXologist Recommends

Black-Eyed Kids #1 (Aftershock)
by Joe Pruett and Szymon Kudranski


Maybe you’re like me and you’ve explored certain fringe science websites in the past and have heard about the Black-Eyed Kids. If not, here is what you need to know: if theyknock on your door you SHOULD NOT LET THEM INSIDE! Who would let any human being that had wholly black eyes into their house? Anyway, Black-Eyed Kids #1, from writer Joe Pruett and artist Szymon Kudranski takes this exquisitely creepy urban legend/paranormal phenomenon and gives it the pop culture recognition it deserves­­–it’s terrifying and we should probably get the word out about this­–with a dynamic and intriguing debut!

What drew me (besides my interest in BEK) in was an interesting cover from Francesco Francavilla @francavillarts, but what sold me was the writing. Joe Pruett, whom you may know from his Eisner nominated series Negative Burn, is listed as the creator & writer of this series and his ability to hook you with just enough plot and an over abundance of intrigue is on full display. We’re introduced to a handful of characters in this issue, wisely dropped well into the middle of things, and are asking more questions at the end of the book than we are at the beginning.

Szymon Kudranski’s (Spawn) talent is also readily apparent with clean lines and moody panels heavy with dark chiaroscuro. The layout and inks are superb as mundane panels, like a man watching television, sets the reader on edge due to a low crooked angle and lack of light in the room. It’s clear to me as a horror/thriller film fanatic that Kudranski has seen and expertly adapted a Hitchcockian perspective including what I think is a conscious replication of some shots from Psycho. I also would like to give a nod to Guy Major, the colorist on the book, who makes the wise choice to imply different “lighting” in each scene, which visually relocates the reader in time or location keeping the narrative easy to follow.

I don’t know much about this story and what I do know can’t/won’t tell you, but needless to say, I’m hooked.  

Josh Doyle-Elmer is comiXology’s Email Marketing Specialist.  He locks his door as soon as he gets inside.

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A comiXologist recommends:
Transformers: More Than Meets The Eye #47

Never has there been a more aptly named series than “More Than Meets the Eye.” The office book club that developed around this series (no, really, it’s great) jokes about it, but it’s true.

Let me preface this by saying I didn’t care about Transformers until this past summer.

What changed?

I binge read seven volumes worth of the most intelligent, witty, and gut-wrenchingly painful comics that gave me what I lovingly refer to as “robot feelings.”

Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye delves into the aftermath of a four million year war, spanning across galaxies and peoples, organic and inorganic alike. The series follows the exploits of the Lost Light, a ship carrying the most marvelous cast of D-listers since Justice League International (https://www.comixology.com/Justice-League-of-America-1987-1996/comics-series/6906?ref=Y29taWMvdmlldy9kZXNrdG9wL2JyZWFkY3J1bWJz); captained by the incredible and incredibly incompetent Rodimus, they journey (in a decidedly roundabout way) on a Quest to find the fabled Knights of Cybertron.

It explores PTSD, mental illness, vengeance, and prejudice. Sounds bleak, right? Yes, but beyond that it celebrates friendship, personal growth, love, acceptance, and what there is to do in a future you never thought you’d have.

Not to mention this is one of the most LGBTQ inclusive series in mainstream comics right now. Surprised? I have two words for you: Robot. Marriage. The newest issue delves into how to “put a ring on it” and become “conjunx endura” (spouse) amidst the slow burn drama of a love triangle between three male identifying robots.

The overall approach telling this story is incredibly refreshing. One of the greatest strengths is the willingness to take time to explore and develop the uniqueness of the characters, both as individuals and through their interactions with the rest of the crew. But don’t despair, or perhaps do, because there’s also enough violence and soul-crushing sorrow to make even the most veteran of comics readers weep and/or scream.

Writer James Roberts crafts the most charming (yet also delightfully painful) series with grace, intelligence, and an abundance of humor. You will laugh, you will cry, and you will be ruined in the best of ways. Despite seeing so many comics, I gladly say that due to Roberts’ nuanced writing and ability to give his audience what they want while remaining true to his intent to tell a great story, More Than Meets the Eye is my current favorite ongoing series.

With Volume 8 having recently released and Nick Roche’s new stand alone Sins of the Wreckers starting today, it’s a great time to be a fan of Transformers and quality comics.

Don’t let this franchise comic in disguise fool you – give it a read, transform your comics-reading life, and roll out!

Read Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #47 on comiXology

Jen Keith is the Captain of the Digital Editors at comiXology, comic artist, music addict, and it only took a few months for her desk to be completely overrun by Transformers toys.