Dean’s Picks

Best of the past week: American Vampire: Lord of Nightmares #4 – It’s a testament to the quality of the creative team that this issue is “pick of the week”.  The main AV series is up to issue #30 and this is issue 4 out of 5 of a spin off miniseries.  If any issue could be forgiven for being “transitional”, it would be this issue.  However, writer Snyder and artist Nguyen give us a great tale that establishes a powerful vampire behind the Iron Curtain.  From there he can influence the hearts and minds of humans and vampires around the world.   Given that this story takes place in the 1950s this is clearly about communism and the Red Scare that swept the United States during that period.  Watching Snyder weave vampires into the history of our country is fascinating.

Most anticipated this week: Wow….light week!  This is the first week since I got back into comics as an adult where I have no Marvel OR DC titles on my pull list.

1). The Walking Dead #102 – Even when this series has lapses in quality (as it did in the ~#90-#95 range), it never ceases to be a page turner.  It may seems like Rick and gang have moved on pretty fast from the nasty events of issue #100, but I still want to know what happens next.  I love these characters so much….

2). The Unwritten #41 – I’m still having a hard time wrapping my mind around this most recent story arc.  The story has suddenly gotten pretty deep and that’s made it a little more challenging for the short-attention-span segment of the audience to keep up.  But what makes this series special is that it is trying to be great.  Many series are just trying to tell an entertaining story and there are some that aspire to be “memorable”, but not many current ongoing series are actually wrestling with the complex issues of The Unwritten.  Even when I don’t “get it”, I know there is a LOT waiting for me on the reread.  This issue promises to fill in some of the blanks of the “missing year” after the War of the Words.

3). Elephantmen #43 – One of the more enjoyable couples in comics (for me) is that of Sahara and Obadiah Horn.  She’s the beautiful and gentle aid worker who helped to rescue the elephantmen from servitude under the MAPPO Corporation and he’s the hulking, rhino-based hybrid who has become a ruthless businessman/crime boss.  Watching the complexities of their relationship as they deal with each other and the prejudices of the outside world is always interesting.

4). Fatima: The Blood Spinners #4 – The finale to this comic by Gilbert Hernandez sees Fatima and her companions trapped in the future and trying to save the world.  It isn’t as good as Love and Rockets, but it is still pretty awesome and these four issues have been a wonderful intro to Gilbert’s work if you’ve been curious, but found L&R intimidating (which it isn’t….)

– Dean Stell



  • goggl

    I noticed in the Dec solicits that Elephantmen appears to be ending. Dec’s issue is labeled as the “penultimate issue” Such a shame.

    • dfstell

      That is too bad. On the other hand…..I think sales have been pretty anemic for a long time. I want to say it was shipping ~2000 units or something. Not much money to be made at that level. Hey….at least we got a nice ~45 issue run. Most cool concepts don’t last nearly that long.

      Now I have to figure out how to bind the last ~20 issues. 🙂

  • paladinking

    no Wonder Woman or Daredevil? you’re missing some good comics there, I tells ya. No doubt you’ve heard the buzz on DD already, but I’m always stunned at how radically different Azzarello’s WW is. I’m reading through a couple OOP Rucka WW trades I found at a used bookstore, and it’s stunning how unique and fresh Azz’s book is by comparison (and that’s not a knock on Rucka’s run – it’s just more “traditional” is all)

    I also grabbed a copy of Sword of Sorcery on a whim. I like fantasy and the art looked nice.

    Also, we might actually get by far the best Geoff Johns Justice League comic ever this week….because it isn’t a Justice League book at all but rather a full issue of Gary Frank illustrated Shazam.

    • dfstell

      I’m just pretty much done with superheroes. I’m down to Batman (great), Amazing Spider-Man (great when Ramos draws, okay otherwise), Wolverine & the X-Men (great when Bachalo or Bradshaw draws, good otherwise), Uncanny X-Men (very meh), Uncanny X-Force (okay, but I’m just playing out the string), AvX (which is shit), Fantastic Four/FF (which are mostly great, despite irregular art).

      I hate to sound snotty about it, but I just kinda feel like I’ve seen what these guys can do. I went through a couple of superhero cycles as a child and now I’ve been through a couple as an adult. I’ve seen it….not sure I need to see it anymore.

      Plus, with digital, you’ve never missed out. I don’t even have to wait for Amazon to deliver a TPB to me. I can download all those DD issues I’ve missed out on in about 30 seconds. They’ll always be there if I want them.

      I’m just way more excited by the creator-owned, non-superhero stuff. I love most of the stuff that Vertigo does and really enjoy comics like Saga or Morning Glories. Plus, I’m reading a lot of old stuff. I’m just about done rereading Byrne’s Alpha Flight. That’s great. Just reread the Wolfman-Perez Teen Titans….that was great. Read Alien Legion. That was great. Reread 100 Bullets and Y the Last Man….both great. Going to read Nexus and I have a nice run of old Creepies.

      I get bored easily….

      • paladinking

        honestly, with a couple of exceptions, I really only read as many superhero comics as I do because I’m devoted to the creators involved, most of whom I originally fell in love with because of their creator-owned work.

        For instance, if Rick Remender, Jonathan HIckman, or Jason Aaron left Marvel and started cranking out nothing but Image books….I’d be buying a lot less superhero stuff. Already, with guys like Morrison, Brubaker, and Rucka bailing, it’s already starting to happen.

        The problem with creator-owned books for me though is that unless I’m familiar with the creators involved, I’m not really liable to give it a chance, barring huge amounts of critical praise. Doesn’t stop me from being excited as hell for Lazarus, Satellite Sam, Happy, and the unnannounced creator-owned books that Ed Brubaker, Rick Remender, Jeff Lemire, and Jason Aaron are reportedly working on.

        Seriously though, at this point, Lazarus is my most anticipated book.

        • dfstell

          You know….I used to think I was loyal to creators that way, but some of these Marvel books are teaching me that it’s not the case. Like I used to say, “I’ll buy ANYTHING that Jason Aaron does.” until I dropped his Hulk book. Same thing with a guy like Mike Allred or Chris Samnee…..I used to say I’ll buy anything, but obviously not because I’m not buying DD. Same thing with Gabe Hardman…..I love him, but not enough to buy Secret Avengers.

          I’m starting to realize that I don’t HAVE to buy this stuff because there’s usually something old of theirs that I haven’t read that I think I’d like more OR something old of theirs that merits a reread. Or, failing that…..just wait and they’ll be doing something you like within a year or so.

          One great thing about digital is sampling creator-owned series. The crappy thing about those series is that the comic shops usually don’t order enough copies for you to just pick one up. So, you have to preorder and that usually means you’ll be committed to 3 issues before you’ve even seen #1. Digital is great for that: Buy #1 and read it. If you feel compelled to buy #2….go for it. If you don’t feel compelled…..don’t buy it.

          I honestly think that digital will be great for comics because of this. The old model of subscription-based readership will wither and it’ll be up to creators to make compelling content each month.

  • dfstell

    Weirdness abounds this week as it seems the Elephantmen didn’t ship this week despite being on Diamond’s list. That title has more issues with Diamond. And then my LCS didn’t get my copy of Fatima. Honestly…..I’m not going to miss paper comics when they wither away. All this checking Diamond, crafting pull lists, etc. Much easier to just open a app and click “buy” for what you want to read. 🙂