good this week

saga #21 : things are getting slipperier for the families on both sides here. on another note, i want FRIENDO.

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ragnarok #1 : YES. walt simonson back in the saddle, with john workman bringing the BRAKKATHOOMs.

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avengers 100th anniversary #1 : james stokoe. need i say more?

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transformers vs gi joe #1 : tom scioli pulls off a perfect evocation of all that made generations of kids spend countless hours on kitchen floors playing out action figure battles & plots.

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batman ’66 #13 : the most enjoyable bat book of its day sees dean haspiel ride in and deliver pitch perfect storytelling chops and just the right amount of wink-wink this book thrives on.

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tuki: save the humans #1 : where jeff smith goes, we follow.

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mike mignola’s hellboy artist’s edition : seeing the master’s hand unadorned packs a punch.

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-chris stevens

Seconds : Bryan Lee O’Malley (with great help from Nathan Fairbairn) does it again with his new, beautiful, magical realist fable.

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Street Angel HC : AdHouse Books has brought Jim Rugg’s modern classic, bar-raising series back in perfect form. Street Angel changed the way I looked at comics 10 years ago, and this new, handsomely produced edition (which includes a few bits and pieces old fans might not have seen) is the one it’s always deserved. Everyone who missed it the first time around owes it to themselves to read it now.*

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-Andrew Carl

*Diamond didn’t actually ship us our order of Street Angel HCs this week, but we’ll be getting them in soon. Regardless, this roundup wouldn’t have been right without her.

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good this week

big damn sin city : over 1300 pages of frank miller’s hardboiled b&w masterpiece. you can hurt someone with this thing.

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saga #20 : the beat goes on.

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all-new doop #3 : doop!

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batman black & white harley quinn statue : a fine new edition to this classy line of statues.

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-chris stevens

The Locust Moon Top 40: April 2014

40. ALL NEW X-MEN #25

An all-star line-up of creators beautifies this anniversary issue of Brian Bendis’ goofily fun stab at adding to the X-mythos.

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39. Compendium of Comic Maps

Every comic (and every book) should start with a map. Delving into this wealth of literary cartography, it’s easy to imagine that they do.

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38. DARKSEID MINUS NEW GODS

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Remember Garfield Minus Garfield? Imagine that, juiced with the Anti-Life Equation.

37. SEX CRIMINALS

Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky bring an oddball eroticism to this supernatural sex-caper comedy, a generally gleeful creativity that springs from their ultimate turn-on: the expressive freedom of creator-owned comics.

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36. MoCCAFest 2014

Another MoCCAFest, another inspiring celebration of comics & craftsmanship, this one presided over by a Staypuft-Marshmallow-Man-Scale Charlie Brown balloon, and featuring well-deserved awards for Locust Moon contributors and our pals Alexandra Beguez & Dave Plunkert.

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Continue reading

good this week

saga volume #3 : hearts rejoice as the next collection of this compulsively readable series is on the shelf.

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adventure time #26 : kicking off a 4-part arc drawn by the magnificent jim rugg.

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sex criminals #5 : as purvis mack says, ‘matt fraction is coming along.’

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prophet #43 : a jam issue packed with killer visuals.

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zero #6 : kicking off a new storyline for this engaging, smart spy story.

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noah : a good-looking hardcover based on the upcoming darren aronofsky movie. having niko henrichon on art was a smart call.

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daredevil #1 : whether this relaunch was unnecessary or not it’s just good to have mark waid and chris samnee back in action and taking the man without fear to the west coast.

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thor #20 : esad ribic is a fantastic modern day thor artist. any issue he draws is cause for celebration.

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the white suits #2 : toby cypress continues to wow the heck out us with the best art any crime book has had in a long time.

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nemo the roses of berlin : alan moore and kevin o’neill roll out the latest chapter of THE LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN.

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sovereign #1 : paul maybury’s art gives this debut fantasy series a gravity that a lot of these kinds of books lack. off to a good start!

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–chris stevens

good this week

saga #18 : lying cat. oh yes.

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furious #1 : lots of twists & turns in this new take on superhero celebrity from bryan glass and victor santos of MICE TEMPLAR fame. looking forward to talking this up with bryan this friday night at the shop!

https://www.facebook.com/events/1389868561273036/

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east of west #9 : SAGA and this book in the same week? yee haw.

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miracleman #2 : you can argue about the format marvel’s chosen to roll this out, but there’s no argument about the alan moore material. seminal, game-changing comics that read as good today as they did 30 years ago.

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black science #3 : we get into some back story and blood shed here. this book is going places.

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marvel masterworks x-men vol #6 : neal adams delivers some powerhouse, dynamic work here.

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unwritten vol #8 : the latest volume in this spellbinding series.

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adventure time with fiona and cake : monster-fighting, queen-defeating wackiness.

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–chris stevens

SWAMP THING by Vaughan and Petersen

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Brian K. Vaughan has, in the last 15 years, become something of a comic-world King Midas. Already wreathed in laurels from his work on Y THE LAST MAN, EX MACHINA, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD and Marvel’s RUNAWAYS, he’s spent the last couple of years perfecting his golden touch on the gloriously intimate epic SAGA, which has basically won every award there is including the Nobel Peace Price and the Oscar for sound design, and the webcomic THE PRIVATE EYE, with its visionary hey-just-pay-me-whatever business model and sizzling, compulsively readable story. (When you can make a lot of money by simply giving things away, you are in a rare and enviable position.) These are shaping up to be his two finest works with his two greatest collaborators, Fiona Staples and Marcos Martin respectively. Vaughan has already reached the top of the comic-maker mountain, but his ascent continues.

And thus we have a newly-collected edition of Vertigo’s little-remembered 2000 SWAMP THING series, a book that largely flopped upon release. I’m not sure why — it’s a pretty terrific comic in its own right. It’s a little ironic, though, that it’s been branded in large text on the cover, spine, and back as SWAMP THING BY BRIAN K. VAUGHAN, when it’s in fact a document of a gifted young writer who’s just starting to find his way, collaborating with a stellar but mostly unknown cartoonist at the very top of his game.

Roger Petersen has lineage on his side. He’s the grandson of the legendary EC cartoonist George Evans, and the echo of Evans’ clean, expressive precision can be found in Petersen’s effortless line-work. Anyone drawing a Swamp Thing title is going to be working in the long shadow of Wrightson, Totleben and Bissette — Petersen deals with this by running in the opposite direction, away from the obsessive, overgrown undergrowth of detail that characterized the stories of Alec Holland, towards a sleeker, more gestural style given full voice by the sharply minimal inks of Joe Rubenstein and the subtly bold colors of Alex Sinclair.

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Which is a fitting choice, because the stories in this collection are about a younger, angrier, more human Swamp Thing. Tefe Holland is Alec’s daughter, a young woman adrift & searching, commanding & self-confident yet unsure of her own nature or agenda. She has no real allegiance to man or plant, though she inevitably ends up serving (and killing) both. She’s faked her own death, through plot contrivances too convoluted to mention here. (Vaughan spends the first two issues trying and not-quite succeeding to write his way out from under 30 years of continuity, and it’s here more than anywhere else that you see the talented writer struggling to master a generic language — it may be no accident that Vaughan’s major triumphs are all books starring how own original characters.) These stories are somewhat old-fashioned — stand-alone adventures, heavily compressed, each with a traditional structure, a moral dilemma for Tefe, and a satisfying resolution. The serial aspects build slowly, without straining for effect, to answer the central question posed by the series: who is Tefe Holland? Is she an impulsively angry young woman who makes mistakes and selfishly hurts people? Or is she a violent force of nature, barely held in check by a scrim of humanity? She is animated by rage and by conscience, but which one is at her core?

There are real guts in his depiction of Tefe. Where a lesser writer may have pitched a character’s conflict along the same lines — vengeance vs. conscience — very few would have the courage to make her an amoral murderer as well as a hero. That courage, in fact, may speak to the poor reception of the series — we’re being asked to identify with this character who is clearly something other than human, who has few qualms about executing people for the crime of chopping down trees. But she also has a deep, instinctive compassion and empathy that is just as compulsive as her fury. She is a metaphor for nature: that which nourishes is also that which kills. It makes for a bafflingly complex protagonist, if not for a likable one. That courage, that resistance to reader-identification (along with the deeply confusing slog of an info-dump in act one), may be partly to blame for the book’s poor initial reception, but I found it fascinating. Like he did with EX MACHINA’s Mayor Hundred, he uses a serial structure to gradually try to tease some truth out of a character who’s always in motion, who seems to deflect our gaze.

Whereas this series is a forgotten footnote in the apotheosis of Vaughan, it was Roger Petersen’s biggest appearance on comics’ main stage. As good as Vaughan’s storytelling already is here, there is awkwardness and over-explanation and some dialogue that is too-clever by half. These missteps are easily papered over by Petersen’s highly developed cartooning voice, which is strong and funny and rhythmic, simple yet rich, with the fully realized environments that are necessary in a continent-crossing road-trip story like this. Most importantly, it reads with a rare and effortless music that provides a perfect platform for Vaughan’s text-heavy, morally knotty story.

Petersen is a colleague, a collaborator and a hometown boy. He mixes up a hell of a Manhattan at Fishtown’s Atlantis pub and does illustration work for a wide variety of clients. His art, which needed no improvement, has gotten much better in the last decade and a half. We are extraordinarily proud to feature his beautifully yearning strip in our upcoming book LITTLE NEMO: DREAM ANOTHER DREAM.

I hope this SWAMP THING edition does gangbuster sales — there are still eleven uncollected issues, and I’d really like to read them.

* Wondering why I go on and on about Rog Petersen’s cartooning and there’s none of it to be seen? It’s because my scanner is broken, and there doesn’t appear to be any artwork from this book online, except the two panels shown above, and this random panel of a guy without a shirt (which I’m not even 100% sure is Roger).

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Instead, I’ll show you what I’ve got: the gorgeous first panel from his LITTLE NEMO strip.

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Flip and the Imp on the moon. As good as his grandad.

– Josh O’Neill

good this week

the wake part one : this is a smart offering, collecting issues 1-5 of the much-buzzed-about sci-fi horror story from popular creators scott snyder and sean murphy. a creepy, claustrophobic yarn that will read better in chunks, this one is highly recommended.

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pretty deadly #3 : the strongest issue yet of this myth- & blood-drenched spaghetti western. one of the best single issues of the year.

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fables volume 19 : the newest collection of the beloved series.

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saga #17 : the most consistently entertaining book of the last two years, with no sign of slowing down.

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east of west #8 : this book gets my year-end vote for ‘BEST OF’.

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figma metroid action figure set : yep.

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–chris stevens