Process: Vanesa Del Ray


Vanesa Del Ray has posted some stunning unfinished pages for the upcoming Hit, drawn by her and written by BOOM! Studies managing editor Bryce Carlson. Hit hits comic stands on September 4th. 

Wednesday's New Things: South of the Border

1) For most of the summer, I've been working my way through Gilbert and Jamie Hernandez's Love and Rockets stories. Although I approached the project with what I thought were fresh eyes, it turns out that I had read Heartbreak Soup before and, apparently, forgotten about it; after my rereading, my forgetfulness is clearly insane. I like Jamie's work a lot, but its spiky, sometimes caustic, whereas Beto's work, even when it's violent, is sweet, tender (I think that the may read different because of how the two comicsmiths structure their stories, Jamie like a serial, Gilbert more episodically). While the Maggie and Hopey stories are probably more interesting, I think I like Heartbreak Soup just a little bit more, maybe because it leaves room for the possibility of books like The Children of Palomar. The book, which features stories set in the early days of the little Central American town, promises mystery and a little bit of magic, something Jamie, Maggie and Hopey left behind in their own younger days. 

2) Seriously, how great is it that 100 Bullets is back? It's been a long time since the first or second best crime book of this era ended its run.  I read this mini's first issue when it came out a couple of months ago, and it was sort of like going home; everything that made the original series great, Risso's brutal art, Azzarello's twisted mind, was there for the taking. This, in spite of the fact that, so many years on, so many comic books later, I could barely remember who Lono was, why I cared about him. I suppose it doesn't really matter, since these two are so good that the book works in context or out of it. I just wonder if it wouldn't have been more interesting, and more effective, if they tried it with some new characters.

3) While I'm playing Wednesday morning quarterback, doesn't Marvel's Nova series seem like a missed opportunity? I know that the premise has shades of Younger Avengers, but I think that there could be some good stuff here, a chance to do a fun book with good art that's appealing for a bunch of age groups, like Thor: The Mighty Avenger but in continuity. The preview, featuring the new creative team of Zeb Wells and Paco Medina is fine, but it seems a little bit rote. Nova's inexperienced! Doc Spidey is a jerk! Yawn. Look, Nova's a kid-- send him into space, make me worry about him, about what it means to be a kid with a super powered helmet. Next month's issue looks promising; let's see how it goes.
4) Joy Division? Aztecs? Time travel? What could be bad? I bought the first issue of this when it came out a couple of years ago, but I had to do it online and, as the issues came out inconsistently, I basically lost track of it after that. I think I'll probably pick up this hardcover, or at least the trade when it comes out-- Sam Humprhies had some crazy stuff up his sleeve for this one, I bet. Some preview pages here.

Marvel!NOW and Jason Aaron's Great God Thor

I'm in the middle of the second part of my big move, this time going from Chicago to Austin, TX, my final destination and my home for the foreseeable future. Tonight, I'm in Joplin, Missouri, and I didn't fall asleep right away after an almost ten hour drive, leaving me some time to catch up on my books. Among the lot of good stuff that came out on Wednesday was the last issue of the first arc of Jason Aaron's Thor: God of Thunder; although I was suspicious about this title's potential when it was announced, my fears were quickly assuaged. Aaron is a very talented storyteller, and one with many hats, and Esad Ribic shook off some trouble with facial expressions at the starting line, becoming one of the better Frank Frazetta-influenced comics illustrators I've ever seen.

As the books that were relaunched as part of Marvel!NOW begin to reach their first birthdays, its been interesting to me thinking about their relative success or failure, in light of the creative failure of DC's New 52 initiative, which is now almost two. Whereas DC reinvented their characters and their universe, they didn't really do anything interesting or exciting with their talent pool. Mostly they just shuffled around some creators to see what stuck. To a certain extent, Marvel did the same thing with Marvel!NOW-- they just did a better job of it. Putting Jason Aaron on Thor was an inspired move; he was willing to separate the character from the very good, although somewhat onerous, past few years of story, which freed him to write a very, very good book. Aaron's Thor is dark fairytale about what it means to be a god and whether or not gods are good. What he ends up suggesting, at least in passing, is that people need things to believe in and that gods, good or bad, are as good a thing as any. In other words, its just the sort of pop-philosophy that makes Marvel so great, done in the high adventure/sci-fi combo that Thor is just right for.

This is exactly why Marvel!NOW worked where the New 52 seems to have failed; Marvel gave me a reason to give their new stuff a try, reinventing old ideas rather than recycling them, while DC seemed to be trying to make me take a pass. This isn't to say that the books are uniformly better at Marvel right now than they are at DC, just that, a year on from the relaunch, the House of Ideas is at the high point of a recent creative resurgence. Aaron and Ribic seem like a good bet to keep it going; let's hope the rest of the publisher's good books can, too.