I read 21 comics in April, and these were the best.
5. Dark Horse Presents #1
Definitely my most anticipated comic of the month. I was hoping it’d come with a release date for Xerxes, but instead I just get an interview that’s either old or Miller’s still pretty far from completion. Those four pages of black & white art are to die for, though. I assume Dave Stewart will color the finished piece, but maybe Frank will say, “If it taint Lynn, it’s nobody.” That Richard Corben story you see above was also in black & white for some reason. If you read his Solo issue, you’ll know Richard can color himself. These are just odd choices for a comic that’s tagged specifically as being in full color. The talents here are top of the line, but it’s still a mixed bag. The return of Concrete is the other headline, and the quality reflects that anticipation. Chadwick’s is the best story here. Still, with the other company being the likes of Howard Chaykin, Neal Adams, and a sequel to the only Star Wars comic I ever read, this comic was made for me.
4. Detective Comics #876
3. Hellboy: Buster Oakley Gets His Wish
Mike Mignola is not a bad writer, but if his writing is to be commended for anything, it’s for giving great artist’s a platform to really shine. Besides getting the best from Mignola’s own work, Hellboy’s showcased the finest art from such masters as Richard Corben, Duncan Fegredo, and yes, Kevin Nowlan. You see, Mignola’s been writing Marvel style, which gives his artists the freedom to render as if they’re the writer’s themselves. In the case of this comic, the plot was tailor-made for Nowlan. Mignola concocted a zany story which he thought Kevin would love to draw the hell out of, and boy did he ever. On top of that, Nowlan’s working a one-man-band routine here: drawing with pencil, inking over with pen, and then lettering on the boards, as you see above. He then colored it in photoshop, sadly giving in to the temptation of the digital demon. All in all, this is some of the finest work from a talented guy who has spent too much of his career merely inking, when he’s clearly capable of so much more.
2. Deadpool MAX #7
Kyle Baker’s clearly stated that this is just a work-for-hire gig, something to bring a bit of cash in before another epic like King David. It even appears he won’t even be drawing the full run, but damn if this isn’t the greatest cartooning we’ve seen from “The Greatest Cartoonist of all Time”. In previous issues, Baker’s been using photo-referencing and dull colors to emphasize the mundane world outside of Deadpool’s peripherals. With this issue, Lapham writes the Deadpool-y-ist script yet, really making this character more lovable than he has any right to be. He latches onto something as noble as fatherhood and really commits to it. The events that follow are hilarious, of course, but also profound in their own madcap way. I’m pretty sure Baker’s going full digital here, but the amount of care and joyful glee that goes into the work, and all of the lush colors colliding in a zany cacophony of bloodshed, just looks absolutely wonderful.
1. Casanova: Gula #4
Considering this reprints the best singular comic of 2008, and that was the year All Star Superman #10 came out, you knew this was going to be the best comic of the month. Chris Peter’s colors are, as always, stunning, and Dustin Harbin’s hand lettering are always appreciated, even in a month that’s apparently full of it. Can the new wave of hand coloring be far behind? Fraction makes small changes to the actual comic itself. So, in many ways, the best comic of 2008 has gotten just a bit better, and it doesn’t stop there. I adored the new story in Casanova: Luxuria #1, mostly because of Moon’s art, and Fraction’s adorable characterization of the nurse, but that was just the warm up; Fraction regurgitating the tutelage of years of mainstream comics, going back to writing what really matters. “Dit Dit Dit Dah Dah Dah Dit Dit,” besides being the inspirational rambling version of David Bowie’s “We are the Dead,” is the prologue to “Avaritia”. It’s Fraction’s way of cleansing, of telling us what he’s now about and what this new volume’s mantra is. There is still, of course, the Beatles references, because Casanova’s still going to be as great as it always is.