Welcome to my Countdown of the Top 10 Comics for the Week of 1/6/2021. The first new comic book week was a doozy. DC came out to play dominating the list this week. DC was not the only place we saw a new start with a few other number ones making the list. Overall, a pretty solid week in the world of comics.
10. Sengi and Tembo #1
Writer: Guiseppe Falco
Artist: Clara Tessier
Description: Scoot! Imprint! The African savannah. Sengi, the little mouse, finds himself alone after the death of his mother and must learn to survive. Tembo, the old elephant, feels that his life is coming to an end. So he decides to leave his herd to try to reach the “Land without beginning,” a mythical place accessible by a secret passage to the west. For a few days, this pragmatic mouse and even-tempered elephant will join paths. Enjoy the first issue of this NON-STOP! title followed by the entire story collected soon after in one volume.
Why it Made the List: This was an old school type of storytelling. One that harkened back to things like Aesop’s especially with the use of animals in anamorphic ways. Being just part of the overall story we didn’t quite get to the lesson part but you can quickly see what was forming. You have the clashes for these two cultures one coming from a mouse who is consistently surrounded by threats and an elephant taking his final journey. As a parent, I welcome comic like this that clearly respects the intelligence of kids and does not force in humor where it is not needed nor act as if children are unable to understand subtext.
9. Knock Em Dead #2
Writer: Eliot Rahal
Artist: Mattia Monaco
Description: your Brice died…but only for a couple of seconds. The thing is, he didn’t come back alone. The spirit of Danny Baron, Pryor’s (more successful) comedian friend, was brought back with him. Trapped inside Pryor’s body, the ghost of Danny offers Pryor a supernatural deal: He’ll write Pryor’s material so Danny can still be successful, even after death.
Their bargain comes with supernatural strings attached and, soon, Pryor will discover that
comedy is no laughing matter.
Why it Made the List: I love some great standout and was wondering how exactly you would be able to make a comic out of it. Comics is a visual medium and comedy so heavily based on conjecture and timing. Smartly this series has found a way to get around that issue by making it clear the jokes themselves are not that important. Utilizing emojis to represent what is being said that trying to make jokes work. I do have some questions regarding how this supernatural twist is exactly happening. My assumption is we will learn more about that as the stories continue. What does work is the visualization of this idea. How those dream sequences took place were some of my favorite parts of the issue. I am not fully sure where this comic is headed but the originality of the idea has kept it intriguing to follow.
8. Getting It Together #4
Writer: Omar Spahi, Sina Grace
Artist: Mx Struble, Jenny Fine
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Nipslip plays their best show in the midst of breakup deliberations. Jack’s former flame wants to get back together…with a very big string attached. Lauren faces her biggest enemy to date-herself. In this ultra-bigger-sized finale, seismic shifts occur for our favorite group of friends and family, and not everyone ends up staying in the Bay Area!
Why it Made the List: Based on the current state of comics I was thinking this last issue would reveal the alien invasion that allowed this series to be made. Rare we get an entire series that is just based on human drama. Beyond the simple concept, this was a drama that had logical solutions that did not drain every ounce of melodrama before finding the solution. Perhaps that was why this ending came as a bit of surprise. I could see this series continuing as there are a lot of rich characters here. Seeing a part of Lauren’s story coming to a close was quite fulfilling. How she transitioned to a new part of her life by learning to be more confident in her own ideas. Going back to what inspired her to chase her dream. That may sound a bit hokey. It is done in a nuanced way that it works. This is a type of comic that can open the doors to people who do not typically read comics.
7. Crossover #3
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: Monsters and robots falling from the sky! Mysterious (and familiar??) superheroes joining our intrepid gang on their journey to event ground zero! CROSSOVER continues with the series’ most explosive and shocking issue to date! Don’t miss this one, folks. If you do, it just might drive you…mad.
Why it Made the List: There was a lot of talk leading up to the release of this issue. I do wonder if some will be disappointed with what ended up happening. Kudos to the creators for not going for the obvious despite knowing it may not be what some fans want. Personally, I was all for it. Without spoiling anything I will just say I was a fan of this issue in more ways than one. Have to love the deep cuts. Typically when you are impressed with a book it is isolated to what is inside of the pages. For Crossover I have to imagine there were a lot of conversations that needed to happen to make this book work. Legalities, copyrights, and all those other quibbles that tend to get in the way of a book like this existing.
6. Scout’s Honor #1
Writer: David Pepose
Artist: Luca Casalanguida
Publisher: Aftershock Comics
Description: Years after a nuclear apocalypse, a new society has risen from the ashes… and their bible is an old Ranger Scout manual.
A young Ranger Scout named Kit has endured the harsh survivalist upbringing needed to con-quer the irradiated Colorado Badlands. But after discovering a terrible secret once lost to histo-ry, Kit must risk everything on a dangerous quest to uncover the truth behind the Ranger Scouts’ doctrine.
From multiple Ringo Award-nominated writer David Pepose (Spencer & Locke, Going to the Chapel, The O.Z.) and artist Luca Casalanguida (James Bond, Lost Soldiers) comes a post-apocalyptic coming-of-age tale that proves when all you know is a lie, a Scout’s Honor is the only way to move forward.
Why it Made the List: The word that comes to mind when reading this issue is balance. Within this first issue, you have a complete sense of what this world is, but more importantly, you have a character to latch onto. A great concept can only take you so far. The characters within that concept will be what make or break the story. Here you have the established of a multitude of conflicts and each informs the next. From the direct threat of this hellish world to the more complicated issue of hiding one’s true identity. Both the immediate and the long term are already being built. That is an underrated feat. As a fan of Luca Casalanguida’s art in last year’s Lost Soldiers was happy to see his work again so quickly. He has a knack for depicting harsh and brutal conditions so this match is already working perfectly.
5. Future State: Wonder Woman #1
Writer/Artist: Joëlle Jones
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Deep in the heart of the Amazon rainforest lies a hero of mythic legend…Wonder Woman! But in the absence of Diana, Yara Flor has risen out of obscurity to protect Man’s World from the magic that lies within it. Along with her trusty steed, she journeys to the Underworld to rescue one of her Themysciran sisters from the grasp of Hades. Will she unleash the wrath of this god in the process? You won’t want to miss this first appearance of a character who will change the history of Wonder Woman forever!
Why it Made the List: I really should have had this book on my most anticipated because I am a big fan of Joëlle Jones’s work. Anytime we get to see more of her art it is a treat and this did not disappoint. Of all the Future State books this came off as something very different than what we expect with Wonder Woman. Yara Flor is still being defined as a character. One issue in and you can see she has that warrior spirit with a bit more whimsy. That whimsy is what propelled this issue. If there was one DC Future State book I would give to someone who has not read DC before and what’s to start this is it. It is very much its own thing without being reliant on what came before.
4. Iron Man #5
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: THE FIRST ACT OF “THE BOOKS OF KORVAC” REACHES ITS STUNNING CONCLUSION! It’s put up or shut up time with KORVAC as the android mastermind begins the next phase of his ascent toward absolute power, and IRON MAN begrudgingly decides to finally ask for help. But…from who? As he takes charge of new allies and tries to use HELLCAT’s weakened state to his advantage, Tony Stark might instead risk everyone’s life including his own, especially when he confronts Korvac himself, one on one.
Why it Made the List: From what I can gather from online chatter there appears to be a bit of a split on this current run of Iron Man. I find myself on the side of really digging this run thus far. For one I am happy to have a Tony Stark that does not feel like a transplant of the MCU version. Beyond that, this series has had some stellar character work. Iron Man and Hellcat’s relationship has had a level of nuance you do not typically see in a superhero relationship. On a more fun side, I loved the cameos that added a bit of levity. If anything, that was the one thing missing from this book, and if those characters remain they will add a great deal of personality moving forward.
3. Thor #11
Writer: Donny Cates
Artist: Nic Klein
Description: IT’S A SUNNY DAY IN HEL! But the God of Thunder is about to bring down a bloody rain! Trapped in a suburban horror show, THOR faces down an old foe. But something far worse than the Midgard Serpent is sinking its fangs into Thor’s world…for DONALD BLAKE now roams the TEN REALMS with naught but death on the brain!
Why it Made the List: Eleven issues in and I would argue Thor is the best Marvel book Donny Cates has written. One key reason is the pacing. Not just within an issue but arcs as a whole. The ebb and flow keeps the book from ever feeling static. Starting with this massive galactic wide event now shifting into a small more personal tale. When you can have a dinner scene like this issue that is full of tension you are doing something right as a comic team. You need an artist like Nic Klein who can be versatile. He can bring the magic when those massive battles occur, and the character work when the stakes are fully dependent upon the look on a character’s face. Also another fun surprise cameo to end this issue.
2. Future State: Swamp Thing #1
Writer: Ram V.
Artist: Mike Perkins
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: From the ashes of a terrible war, life blooms anew in Swamp Thing’s image. The remnants of humanity lie in hiding, forever in the shadow of the green god who now rules the planet. When the new avatar of the Green uncovers a stray human, a rebellion is revealed! But this Swamp Thing is no stranger to violent ends, and neither are his creations. If it’s war humanity wants, it will be at their doorstep—and Swamp Thing will never be the same!
Why it Made the List: Often Swamp Thing conflicts focus on the transgressions between the will of man vs the need of nature. With this, we see a different approach. Now that humans are absent Swamp Thing reflects on the need for humanity. Despite being able to literally create life the Alex Holland part of him still remains. Now with the green the dominant species the Guardian of the Green sees his role switched. One issue in this is clearly a book with lofty goals. Utilizing the essence of the character to ask some really interesting questions. I am glad this is going to move to an ongoing because this exploration will need more than a few issues
1. The Dreaming: Waking Hours #6
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Javier Rodriguez
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: As life gets back to something almost like normal for Lindy, sorceress Heather After finds herself plunged into a waking nightmare of her own! The cruel creature known as Puck is stalking her, and no being she could possibly summon can protect her from his wrath! Unless…no, she couldn’t possibly try to summon…really?! Don’t miss this issue featuring the work of superstar guest-artist Javier Rodriguez!
Why it Made the List: As noted in my Top 100 Comics for last year this series was one of my favorites to be released. Shame on me for not realizing Javier Rodriguez was doing the art because if I realized that I would have definitely but this on my most anticipated list. He has a Macgyver-like ability to create panels within images unlike anyone else making comics today. I am also impressed with how seamlessly G. Willow Wilson’s scripting one from one story arc to the next. When you then throw in one of the best surprise cameos of the week you have this week’s best comic. In a week with a lot of new beginnings, it was a new start within an ongoing book that took the crown.