Wednesday's New Things: Remember, Remember

The Ghost Fleet #1 by Donny Cates, Daniel Warren Johnson, and Lauren Affe
The Humans #1 by Keenan Marshall Keller, Tom Neely and Kristina Collantes

I've gotten very serious about comics. Too serious-- I regularly refer to my "purchasing strategy" in this space, as if I were a political consultant contemplating some kind of ad buy. There are some good reasons for that shift, but it's important every now and again to take a step back and remember that comic books can be stupid fun-- that that's part of the reason I came to love them in the first place. To that end, two books of interest this week. The Ghost Fleet looks more or less deeply silly-- "When one of the world’s most elite combat-trained truckers takes a forbidden peek at his payload, he uncovers a conspiracy that will change his life forever!"-- but that art's not bad and I'm a sucker for a good heist story. The Humans is a little more intriguing-- Easy Rider on The Planet of the Apes-- and writer Keenan Marshall Keller is big on exploitation movies. There's just something sort of unhinged seeming about it, appealing in the same way that The Auteur is, although perhaps a mite less grotesque. 

Velvet #8 by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Elizabeth Breitweiser

Not all fun has to be stupid, though. Velvet is an exemplar of this kind of series for me, a space where Ed Brubaker can show off his espionage chops, but minus the sort of self seriousness that's endemic to his similar work on Captin America or the almost deadly seriousness of his most recent series with Sean Phillips, The Fade Out. Part of the appeal here is that it's more or less an old school bit of spy fiction, the kind we very rarely see these days, but with the added dimension that the protagonist was literally hiding in plain sight, retired and taking on the Mrs. Moneypenny role. Velvet's knowledge of the agency she's been working for is more or less absolute, there is no doubt of her ability and, even so, you don't know if she's going to make it out of any particular issue alive, or even who's after her. Even though there's an unfortunate amount of time between issues, Brubaker's been a master at building tension here, one that's got me buying it off the rack rather than waiting for the trade. 

Kinski by Gabriel Hardman

Gabriel Hardman is a cartoonist I've admired from a run of work on Marvel books from a few years ago-- I remember his work being both solid and pleasingly sketchy. Kinski is a collection of a series revolving around a salesman saving an abused dog, originally put out by digital only publisher Monkey Brain, now being collected by Image. Hardman packs kinetic energy between each panel here, propelling you from frame to frame. If the story plays out even close to the way that the preview suggests, the writing's not bad either. 

Tooth & Claw #1 by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, Jordie Bellaire, and Comicraft

I don't even know what to make of this one. Seems sort of like a mystical Redwall, for adults but influenced by the Dinotopia books. It certainly looks good, and the way the art interacts with the lettering is unusually playful, suggesting that, even as the preview points to a certain amount of death and destruction, it'll be tempered by a little levity. Kurt Busiek is one of those grand comics writers who's been around forever; sometimes series like this, by writers like that, are indulgences, but this one really seems like a passion project. We might have a special one here. 

Arsene Schrauwen by Olivier Schrauwen 

Back to being serious, just for a second at the end, Olivier Schrauwen is always one to watch. This one looks like it might be particularly interesting, and watching him play with a little bit of family history might be useful for thinking through some things I'm working on right now. 

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