-J. Michael Bestul is a writer for the Addison Recorder. Stephanie Ruehl is an artist who works in a comic book shop. They’re married and have a lot of discussions about comic books and graphic novels. Combine all that into a biweekly feature and you get “J. & Steph Talk About Comics.”
Steph: The last few months have a been a veritable smorgasbord of new titles. After weeks of bringing home dozens of number 1’s, it’s becoming difficult to keep up. Here’s a quick list of some of the most recent.
-J.: Before we get to the few new #1 issues that didn’t inspire a hearty “meh,” let’s talk about the sheer volume of #1 issues that have hit the shelves recently. It’s ridiculous.
-J.: I get that mainstream comics can’t help but turn into a bloated ouroboros. I get that there is an appeal to reboots, whether soft or hard. I get that the “number one” is both a shiny trinket for collectors and supposedly a hook for new readers. But at some point, the amount of “new #1” saturation just leaves us flooded with overhyped stories, or enjoyable series that have to embarrassedly address the disingenuous numbering on their front cover. We love Squirrel Girl, and I appreciate that the series can joke about the fact that this is the second Squirrel Girl #1 in less than a year but… It’s still the second “new #1” for a series that just started. Steph, how many times has Ms. Marvel been rebooted?
Steph: Just the Kamala Khan Ms. Marvel or…?
-J.: Exactly. As you’ll see below, we both really enjoy the ongoing series with Kamala Khan. But I find it frustrating to have a book “re-launched” after less than 20 issues. And it’s not even really a re-launch — it reads as though it picks up pretty much where the previous numbering ended.
Steph: You seem a bit angry.
-J.: No, but… yes? More rant-y. Definitely frustrated. I have difficulty holding back feelings of cynicism, even when the series are enjoyable. Maybe it was reading through Secret Wars, Too #1 — I get that it was meant to be a self-effacing humorous look at the shortfalls of the Secret Wars crossover event. But I also know that Marvel charged us $4.99 to read the not-exactly-mea-culpa. Honestly, I feel like Pretty Deadly #6 (which comes out today) would make a better #1 issue than almost all the actual #1 issues that came out today. Maybe I miss the days when an ongoing series was, y’know, ongoing. Or maybe I’d prefer the series start back at #1 every time they begin a new arc. Just any way that was more honest in its presentation and sequencing.
Steph: Did you still want to…?
-J.: Yeah, let’s check out some new series, one of which is actually new:
Synopsis: Huck is the do-gooder of a small town, but his extraordinary abilities are difficult to keep secret.
Steph: Huck is a simple man who just wants to do good deeds for the people of his town. The fact that he seems to have super strength and agility doesn’t seem to phase the locals one bit. Everyone is committed to keeping Huck’s secret, everyone except the new girl.
-J.: I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this issue. I loved the touches and the layout that Albuquerque brought to the narrative, and I liked the whole premise.
Steph: I liked Huck, it was a quick and simple read, but already with this first issue the story has landed itself in deep.
-J.: The way it ends made my shoulders slump. Not because of any lack of quality, but because it’s a big “oh shit” moment. I shouldn’t be surprised — it is Millar, after all.
Ms. Marvel #1
Synopsis: Since Kamala Khan, aka Ms. Marvel, officially joined the Avengers she hasn’t had time for much else in her life.
Steph: I really like Ms. Marvel. I think she’s a good character. She’s smart, and resourceful, a huge geek, and I think the writers are spot on with her teenage-ness.
-J.: They are, and I enjoy the series in a way that I could never enjoy Spider-Man. It’s mystifying, since Kamala Khan is probably the closest character to the classic Peter Parker archetype. I have such antipathy to the Spider-verse, but I adore this Ms. Marvel series.
Steph: This book is split between Kamala becoming a public superhero, having her likeness used for advertising things she doesn’t agree with, and her personal life as a teenaged girl. When she discovers her friend, and would be love interest Bruno, has a new girlfriend she’s completely thrown for a loop.
The Mighty Thor #1
Synopsis: After hundreds of dead elves are dropped on Midgard, senators from the seven realms meet on Asgard to discuss the culprit of this heinous crime and what they plan to do about it, which is nothing but argue. Jane Foster must assume her new mantle of Thor to save Alfheim, but with all Asgard searching for the ‘false Thor’ things get tricky.
Steph: I love the idea of Jane being Thor (though I still find it weird because Thor is his birth name) Though she is dying of breast cancer when she is without Mjolnir she knows that it’s just as important to continue her work as herself as it is to be Thor. It brings a humanity to Thor that I am very drawn to. However, can’t we get some new bad guys for her to fight? A new Thor deserves at least a new baddie.
-J.: I was with this one all the way until the final reveal. After that, all I could think of was a serpent eating its own tail. (And no, that’s not a spoiler.)
To Sum It All Up…
-J.: There were so many “new” series these last few months, and so few that piqued my interest, that I’d rather rant than include more than just a few of the titles we did like. I do worry that I’m not giving stories a fair shake due to all the noise and over-saturation. And yet… I dunno. Is there something completely different that we can end on, which is a bit more promising than another slew of “new” (re-launched) series?
Steph: How about I just use this space to remind everyone that Jessica Jones starts this Friday on Netflix! For those who may not know Jessica Jones: Alias (by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos) was the first series in the ‘R’-rated Marvel comics imprint, MAX. Jessica was an ex-superhero turned private investigator who’d had a rough life. This looks to be a no holds barred, knock out series and I am so excited.