So Karen Berger is back, editing a new imprint at Dark Horse since a while back. Now and then I think about how she is one of those individuals who have a massive impact on something that would have been completely different in their absence. Without her there would (probably) be no Sandman, no Hellblazer, no Invisibles, no Preacher, no Transmetropolitan and so much more since she was running DC Vertigo where all these came from.
Anyway, the imprint is called Berger Books and so far I’ve read two series from it, both written by Ann Nocenti, who used to write, for example, Daredevil, Kid Eternity, Typhoid Mary etc. These two books are The Seeds and Ruby Falls. The first of which is a kind of experimental dystopian story with aliens and people in gas masks walking around in wastelands and stylish black/white art by David Aja.
Ruby Falls is more straight-forward, drawn by Flavia Biondi, about a woman trying to solve an old crime in the small town where she lives.
I recommend both, but The Seeds appealed to me the most.
The publisher I probably follow the most ongoing comics from these days is Image Comics, so let’s talk about some books from (mostly) them:
Did you watch the TV version of Deadly Class? It was cancelled after one season which is too bad, because it was a pretty good adaptation of a very good comic by Rick Remender and Wes Craig. They’re currently up to 10 collections.
Another one by Remender, with beautiful art by Greg Tocchini, is Low, which was finally finished. It took a while before the final part came out, but it was well worth the wait. It’s about a future where the sun got too big and hot so humanity had to move down under the sea, but the remaining civilizations are dying and the only hope is a probe returning that might contain information about an inhabitable world that we might move to. One of the main characters has adopted a kind of religion based on wishful thinking, like in The Secret, a book that is popular in certain circles of mostly rich people. The secret is that positive thinking can make you successful, basically. I don’t believe in that crap, but that doesn’t mean the comic doesn’t work. It is sci fi, after all, and the drawings are fucking gorgeous.
I finished Jeff Lemire‘s Black Hammer (with Dean Ormston) and Gideon Falls (with Andrea Sorrentino). I kept reading Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark and I also read Rucka’s The Old Guard, with art by Leandro Fernandez, which you may recognize from the Netflix film adaptation. I liked both the film and the comic. I think I enjoy things that put our lives into perspective, like a story about a bunch of immortals can do if it’s done well.
Monstress deserves a special mention. As I wrote in my last post, I enjoyed Marjorie Liu‘s Astonishing X-men very much. Monstress is her own story, drawn by Sana Takeda in a pretty unique, manga/fantasy-inspired style. Interesting characters, impressive world-building in a story about a girl who is more than she seems. That’s a very understated description, but I also don’t want to give away any of the story, so…
Michael Gaydos is one of those artists I count as working in the same style category as I do. Not saying that we’re on the same level or that we’re drawing exactly the same, but I believe we have much of the same influences and we’re trying to reach the same or similar feeling in our lines and shadows. He’re worked well together with Brian Michael Bendis on a couple of occasions, like Alias (that the Netflix series Jessica Jones was based on) and now Pearl, from DC comics. It’s a pretty short, finished story collected in 2 books. It reads more like an action film than a superhero story, which makes sense since it’s not even trying to be a superhero story even though it’s part of the normal DC publishing.
Another artist whose work is a huge inspiration to me is Danijel Žeželj. As you probably know if you’ve followed CBA where we’ve published some of his short stories. Unfortunately, much of his books haven’t been published in English (yet, hopefully), but there was at least one last year: Cyberpunk 2077: Your Voice, with script by Aleksandra Motyka and Marcin Blacha. As you might guess, it’s a cyberpunk story set in the world of the Cyberpunk 2077 game that was controversially released about a year ago (that’s a whole story in itself, which I guess I’ll have something to say about after I’ve actually played it myself. Short story: it was release before it was completely finished and the internet people got angry). Beautiful, dark, dystopian cyberpunk, as it should be.
Another pair of creators who worl well together is Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. At the moment, they’re mostly working on their latest series of graphic pulp novels, Reckless. If you’ve read their Criminal, this is kind of similar but also different. It feels new and fresh. Pulp is a good description of the genre. Pulp is also the name of the story they made just before Recklass started coming out. Kind of a stepping stone to that from Criminal, about a former professional criminal who is talked into doing one last job even though he’s retired. Set just before the second world war, about a character who is old enough to have been around during the wild west era. As I was saying, I like stories that put things in perspective, and it fascinates me just like it did Brubaker that those two things took place during the span of one lifetime.
Next time, I’m going into some more history and also some books from the more indie publishers and classic artists…
Also, if you missed them, I wrote more about what I’ve read in 2020/2021, linked in the bottom of this post.