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Okay, I just finished Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2 for the first time since I saw it at the theater; I liked it a lot more this time, probably due to being older and having gone through my share of father issues in the intervening time. But much, much more important than that: at the very end Quill gets a Zune, which came out in 2006, meaning there is a very real chance that he’ll be going through a Black Parade phase in Vol. 3, and I for one cannot wait; my culture IS a costume, go to town, it’s all we deserve.
Okay, intro: ducted; let’s get down to it. I miss doing my weekly New Comics Day posts! Those became impractical for time and financial reasons, but that embargo does incentivize me to delve into my extensive back-catalog of shit I haven’t read, along with the occasional new release that I can’t help myself about, and so I’ve decided to revive the weekly Readin’ Comics feature I did that one time before I got distracted! And they’ll actually be interesting because, unlike when I was doing NCD, I’ll get to read things besides the five goddamn volumes of Silk I need to hurriedly catch up on so I’m current for the new one!
Let’s see what’s rattlin’ around in me peepers this week!
Octopus Pie, Vol. 1
by Meredith Gran
A true webcomic classic from the mid-2000s era and a big part of my young adulthood, Octopus Pie is about an extremely grumpy young second-generation Chinese woman named Eve, who works at an organic food store and hates everyone and everything. Fortunately, her gentle stoner pals Hanna and Marek are determined to show her that there’s more to life than curmudgeonry, mostly by accident, once through laser tag, and occasionally through Hanna breaking her ass.
OP won me over then and continues to enchant me now by combining extremely grounded, realistic storytelling with gentle, surreal nonsense like Hanna pulling a guitar from behind her out of literally nowhere to sing an educational song about the Topfree Movement (NSFW for non-sexual nudity) or a guy at a costume party who is strongly implied to actually just be a giant lobster, all of which is treated with perfect straightforwardness; in this way (and in its art style, burnout cast and themes of heartbreak, identity, and growth) one could easily and charitably compare it to Scott Pilgrim without implying anything untoward.
It’s doubtless partly just the time of my life in which I first read it, but OP has always really stuck with me, particularly Marek’s response here during the laser tag arc, which has become one of my watchwords in this godless human life:
I’m reading on Comixology (it’s still very much available for free, I’m just the kind of chump who buys collections of webcomics both to support artists and out of a misguided collector-as-savior instinct that might indicate I don’t believe I’ll ever actually die), but in checking to make sure the first volume didn’t have a subtitle I saw that a complete-collection boxed set of the series is being released in September! (I try not to link there if I can help it, but as of today it’s the only place I see it listed) Fun!
The Shadow/Green Hornet: Dark Knights
by Michael Uslan (Author), Keith Burns (Artist)
I’ve always been a sucker for two-fisted pulp garbage, but with the distinct advantage (depending on your perspective) of mostly being exposed to the reconstructed grandchildren of the original era, your Planetary*, Adventureman, The Goon, Hellboy (most especially the Lobster Johnson stories) and Atomic Robo, who have learned to keep what made the original era amazing (larger-than-life heroes and villains, super-science, a sense of wonder, joy, and hope) while leaving other, less savory elements behind (rampant sexism and belligerent, unthinking white supremacy).
*Warren Ellis, author of Planetary, Transmetropolitan, Dead Space, and a good chunk of Hellblazer, has been somewhat recently accused of sexual predation and coercion, and while to deny the impact of his work would be to deny a large part of myself, I cannot in good conscience recommend consuming his work in a way that financially supports him. Use your own best judgment, believe women, Bageler out.
Now, over on the Dynamite side of the street, they mostly trade in comics based on existing properties and female-led stories like Dejah Thoris of Mars or Actual Historical Human Bettie Page Somehow, that automatically register you as a sex offender if you read them, which saves a lot of time. But thanks to a truly hilarious and impressively deep-digging Facebook page I recently discovered, I now know that one corner of Dynamite’s business is ongoing series for most of the old pulp stories like Zorro, Doc Savage, the Lone Ranger, Flash Gordon, and perhaps most importantly of all, the Shadow. Y’know, this guy! Proto-Batman, clouds the minds of men, kills dudes like a lot, etc., and while these new incarnations of the classic pulp heroes keep the improved storytelling and quality of art and writing, they decline to lighten up any, and completely bury the needle in the other direction:
True story! Edith considered herself ‘steward’ of the office of President and was VERY careful to maintain that she only ever decided which issues warranted bringing to Wilson, who was not actually comatose but much diminished; it is, however, MIGHTY COINCIDENTAL that women’s rights took giant leaps forward in the Wilson Administration! Also, Wilson himself was a racist piece of shit who segregated the federal government and chose The Birth Of A Nation to be the first movie ever screened at the White House! A debilitating stroke couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, and a competent wife was more than he deserved!
AS THE GENTLE READER CAN SEE, the over-the-top ham-and-cheese of it all is still very much in effect, and it’s fantastic:
It’s not perfect, sometimes hewing a little too close to certain elements of the original milieu for my taste; for example, because this is The Shadow/Green Hornet, GH’s famously Japanese footman Kato is involved and Cranston distrusts him, fearing “his allegiance may lie with the Rising Sun”. Historically accurate and maybe even a light touch considering how America treated Japanese-Americans at the time? Absolutely. Also racist bullshit that I hope hoists him by his own petard later in the story? Indubitably, citizen.
Regardless! I’m enjoying it, and even if I get my fill of it with this volume, I’ll always have the memes that Facebooker makes where the Shadow is an overnight DJ and takes calls from an audibly drunk Frank Castle:
What’s The Furthest Place From Here? Vol. 1
by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss
Matthew Rosenberg is a real That Fuckin’ Guy, dipping his toe in everything from The Silver Coin (woo!) to DC Vs. Vampires (boo!) to The Joker Presents: A Puzzle Box (JFC!) to 4 Kids Walk Into A Bank: A Torrid Tale Of Child-Crime. Dude works, is my point, and WTFPFH seems to be his first real shot at an ongoing title under his own banner, so NATURALLY it’s about a seemingly post-collapse society comprised of various themed Families of young people vying for supplies and territory and carefully not telling us why there are no grownups to be found.
There’s a kind of lyrical, adorable self-seriousness in a lot of this world: our main Family lives in a record shop, choosing a vinyl album as their totem and naming themselves after the band; the Family that sets themselves up in the abandoned bank call themselves Big Business and wear tattered suits and pig masks; one gang is entirely just people wearing blue, end of description. This gives the whole thing a kind of The Warriors/Quadrophenia vibe and also seems like exactly what a bunch of dumdum youths would do with no larger society to frame their identities and tell them not to beat each other to death over canned goods and which street corner belongs to whom.
I have nothing relevant to say about this next part, it’s just hella creepy and cool:
I, for one, would welcome a shopping experience where people are a little more afraid for their lives, but, y’know, vague gesture.
SO THAT’S ALL THE FIDDLE that’s fit to faddle on this fine day. What about you folks? To what extrajudicial, scarf-wearing murderers are you gonna be charged as an accessory? Which gang would you join, or would you form your own and instantly regret your name-choice, like you would with a website or dinner order? Where were you when Eve clocked Bloomy in the river with a catcher’s mitt that held a bird? Lemme know in the comments! Until then:
Fight you soon,