The #NerdsRead Pull List – April 13, 2016
Sam picked up a new series, Goldie Vance from BOOM! Box this week, along with her reviews of the latest issues of The Baker Street Peculiars, from KaBOOM!, and Lantern City, from Archaia.
Kylee is still very much enjoying Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics and thinks everyone else should be reading and enjoying this series as well.
Jackson continues to find Doyle and Tynion’s run on Constantine: The Hellblazer, from DC Comics, to be entertaining. He also picked up the first issue of House of Penance, from Dark Horse Comics, and rounded out his pull list for the week with Illuminati, from Marvel Comics.
Check out our full reviews below and leave a comment with what you’re reading!
Goldie Vance #1 (of 4)
Author: Hope Lawson
Artist: Brittney Williams
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
Set on a resort in the 1960s, Goldie Vance is a series featuring an all new heroine in the vein of Nancy Drew and Veronica Mars. The titular Goldie Vance is the daughter of a resort manager who works as a valet during her normal shifts and at other times lends her talents to assist Mr. Tooey, the on-staff detective, in solving the problems of the hotel’s many eclectic guests. From tracking down lost children to searching for a thief among the staff, Goldie does it all!
Really the only thing that is wrong with this series is the fact that it’s currently slated to be so short.
Read the full review here!
The Baker Street Peculiars #2 (of 4)
Author: Roger Langridge
Artist: Andy Hirsch
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
The Peculiars come together once again the following night to follow up on their mission from “Mr. Holmes.” After seeing her grandfather roughed up by some folks working for a Mr. Kipper earlier in the day, Molly probably wouldn’t have expected to come face to face with the man – or to find that he wasn’t really a man but a clay golem. But that’s what ultimately happens.
All around the city the kids are watching as Mr. Kipper’s men go around animating various statues including that of Admiral Horatio Nelson in Trafalgar Square. They split up to try and figure things out and watch as they bring the golems together by placing scrolls in their mouths. The Peculiars follow them to a warehouse and sneak in but they wind up getting themselves caught. (Apparently Wellington has a rather explosive farty reaction to dried fruits in biscuits.)
Mr. Kipper’s origin story is explained in this issue. He was created by businessmen trying to protect themselves from criminals but in the end the most notorious of them had the last laugh. He tried to write a new scroll to place in the golem’s mouth to get him to treat the criminal like his own mother. But it backfired. He kills the real Kipper and takes his surname and becomes the madman we see today. Kipper then turns around and makes his own lackeys into human-golem hybrids — and intends to do the same to the Peculiars!
Another fun issue that once again makes me sad that we’ll only be getting four issues out of this series.
Lantern City #12 (of 12)
Author: Matthew Daley & Mairghread Scott
Artist: Carlos Magno
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
It’s not that I necessarily wanted Lantern City to go up in smoke but the ending to this series was a little disappointing. Sander, Pont, and Killian were all mere steps from one another and with just maybe a handful of panels of Sander talking sense to people everyone set down their weapons. He won without any real effort beyond his whole betrayal of Killian. I mean, at least he killed Pont but all that did was anger his wife Karla and disappoint Rennie.
In the end, though, Lantern City survives. Killian and the monarchy survive but essentially in a severely neutered fashion. Terna and Sander both take very prominent leadership roles as do Lizel and Kendal. The Fortache become a part of the community. The city starts a series of reforms to make sure all the children in the city are getting an education and everyone is getting enough food. Things basically start going great for everyone. Well, besides Killian who sulks and probably has begun planning everyone’s demise. Oh, and Sander.
That’s probably one of the most interesting aspects of this book’s ending. Sander’s life isn’t exactly great and he knows it. Karla won’t forgive him and he’s become closer to Jom than Rennie. He’s apparently living between the homes of his two ‘wives’ now. As much as Sander has done for Lantern City, everything he had been hoping for himself has fallen apart. He just wanted to go home to his wife and son once things were done and it seems pretty clear that things will never go back to the way they were. And maybe I’m just a mean person but I like that in this book the hero wins but at a cost.
Harrow County #11
Author: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: Dark Horse DRC
Another Bernice-heavy issue, but I’m not complaining. With the last issue being somewhat predictable, it’s nice to see how Cullen Bunn twists expectations. A fatal distraction may prove to be Lady Lovey’s downfall, but it only serves to set up what could be Bernice’s new role in the series, opposite of Emmy’s should history repeat itself and they reunite.
When Lady Lovey can’t perform the duties she was tasked with long ago, Bernice takes to them with aplomb and showcases a natural talent and joy from it. If Lovey had accompanied her into the woods and back, there may have been a larger character impact that showed off the old woman’s grit and determination to survive so long, even while carrying out this dangerous task.
Tyler Crook’s art continues to creep me out and amaze me all at the same time, those possums might haunt some of my nightmares. The brightness and clarity of the flashbacks were a nice contrast to how muddled and dark the present is, and both time periods showcased the faces and emotions of characters well. This was a fantastic, solid issue that expands on the world of Harrow County without taking readers outside of the scope of the small, eerie town.
Constantine: The Hellblazer #11
Author: Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV
Artist: Travel Foreman
Publisher: DC Comics
One of the biggest strengths of the Ming Doyle and James Tynion IV run on Constantine: The Hellblazer has been its world building and sense of place in a very specific New York City. The Manhattan of the book isn’t Frank Miller’s island of Hell or even the twisted, drug and violence plagued scar of Jamie Delano’s genre shattering first run on Hellblazer in the ‘80s. It’s instead focused on the perception of New York, the shadow the city casts over the comics and horror genre.
Every shadow of the Lower East Side holds a terrible secret, every door is darkened in Hell’s Kitchen. The clubs are full of sin and vice and unspeakable, mind-shattering deals take place behind closed doors. That sort of world building is so rare, steeped in both establishing the city as a real place, one people actually live, work and die in but also one that exists firmly and unrepentantly in the collective consciousness, based on modern stories and perceptions of what people think New York City is or could be.
This week’s Constantine: The Hellblazer #11 sees the creative team put the same focus on Los Angeles, here depicted as a literal city of angels. Fleeing the growing influence of Neron, as well as his own guilt over the breakup with Oliver, John seems determined to carve himself a new place, abandoning his New York City connections like he’s abandoned so many before.
It’s an issue characterized by guilt, with a mangy, drunk Constantine refusing to engage with what he’s done and the corruption he’s at least partially complicit in. He’s trying to escape, both into the sands and fantasy of LA, but also into a bottle. It’s telling that each of the three conversations that anchor the issue take place around drinks and even when John manages to banish an interfering Deadman, he’s immediately back down into a single-serving, airplane bottle of booze.
All of this is illustrated wonderfully by Travel Foreman, who brings a distinct dingy, sunbaked sense of style to the scenes in California. The ragged Constantine feels at odds with the people he’s surrounded with there, both at Gabriel’s celebrity choked party in the hills as well as when he’s surrounded by freaks and monsters in hiding outside an amusement park.
It all stands in stark opposition to his return to New York in the issue’s final pages. As the book heads towards its conclusion, it’s nice to see an experiment with location and world building, especially one which offers a tantalizing taste of what this creative team could have done by bringing John into the wider world outside of the city that never sleeps.
House of Penance #1
Author: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Ian Bertram
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
For better or worse, Mike Mignola’s brand casts a long shadow over all of Dark Horse’s comics library. When a new book is announced, particularly a horror book, it’s always going to feel as if it’s at least slightly in the shadow of Hellboy. House of Penance, the new series from writer Peter J. Tomasi and artist Ian Bertram, seems as if it’s in the same vein, with a haunting cover image that promises both blood and a sense of overwhelmingly, mind expanding insanity but what’s inside is distinctly more than that, a positively literary comic that’s an exemplary addition to the company’s current creative slate.
The debut issue rapidly introduces us to Mrs. Winchester, heir to the firearm manufacturers fortune and a woman seemingly consumed by mania. Her nights are filled with the destruction of guns and ammunition in seclusion and her days see her observing the construction of a seemingly flawless, fully defensible compound.
The scenes with Mrs. Winchester will strike literary fans as reminiscent primarily of turn of the century gothic horror, particularly tales such as Edgar Allan Poe’s The Fall of the House of Usher or Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, both dealing with the issue of paranoia, mental health, particularly that of women, and the weight and generational guilt of familial legacy.
As such, every scene with Winchester is loaded in foreboding and precarious, carefully calibrated tension. In one scene, she’s burying the recent uninterred bodies of her husband and daughter inside her compound. In another, she’s hauntingly singing “Christ Child’s Lullaby” to herself in a moment that achingly forces readers to question the nature of her sanity. It feels like at any moment, things could go disastrously, unrepentantly, wrong and the arrival of a killer with blood on his hands in the issue’s final pages promises just that.
Accentuating the feeling of inescapable doom is genius work from Nate Piekos, the book’s letterer. House of Penance #1 is filled with the imagery of firearms and bullets and he uses the genre’s visual language to haunting effect here.
As the Winchester compound is established in the book’s opening, the splash page is filled with near omnipresent “BLAM” sound effects, suggesting gunshots, violence and danger. It’s not until nine pages later that we see the source of those sound effects, with repeated close ups of the hammering and construction inside the compound.
It’s a genius bait and switch, conflating the dangerous uncertainty within both the compound and Mrs. Winchester’s mind with the seemingly endless construction and it’s accentuated by the very violent actions of Warren Peck, as he kills a Native American woman and the child strapped to her chest with a single, surely life-changing bullet. Like everything else in the issue, it’s a recurring motif designed to make the reader unsure of their position, both on the characters and within the narrative, and it’s done masterfully here.
Self-assured, confident and wholly unique, House of Penance #1 is a testament to a creative team entirely committed to a distinctly literary premise and working to construct something unlike anything else Dark Horse is publishing today. It’s a comic that demands to be read more than once, with each panel and each page offering up more secrets and asking more questions about the characters, their actions and their worlds.
It’s been a long time since Tomasi has written a non-superhero comic but he’s come out swinging with a difficult, but incredibly rewarding piece, all with stunning art from Bertram and a wonderfully moody, evocative color pallet, courtesy of Dark Horse mainstay Dave Stewart. This is a comic that’s not to be missed and is without a doubt, one of the best debut issues of recent memory.
Author: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Publisher: Marvel Comics
One thing I’ve appreciated about Marvel’s Illuminati has been the focus on the profound tragedy of villainy. Joshua Williamson’s scripts have all focused on the emotional and physical weight of being considered “the bad guy,” being judged and being seen as someone who cannot be trusted, cannot be truly human and can have no value. It’s somewhat fortuitous timing for Illuminati tying into Marvel’s ongoing “Standoff” storyline. While the crossover’s premise focuses on a wildly unethical prison for supervillains, this is the first issue of the story to really focus on the toll Maria Hill’s actions have taken on the men and women she’s imprisoned.
Williams’ script is illustrated wonderfully here by guest artist Mike Henderson, and his softer pencils suit a story that depends on tonal dissonance. Here, we get a peek at the inside of Pleasant Hill before the fall, and Henderson’s pencils create a scene that wouldn’t feel out of place in Riverdale or a sitcom set before burning it all to hell as the villains awaken from their reverie.
There’s a profound sense of sadness here though. We get peeks at the loves and lives of these villains. They’ve created something new for themselves, new dreams and new hopes that are suddenly torn asunder by Hill’s pride. A scene between Absorbing Man and Elektra is wrenching, even if their relationship is barely real, little more than a kiss between two people they no longer are, but their heartbreak is palpable. Both feel betrayed by the people they feel they’re forced back into being. That genuine sadness makes the issue’s denouement, reuniting Titania and Absorbing Man as both find out the extent of each other’s transgressions, feel like a gut-punching betrayal.
Illuminati #6 is a perfect example of how to do an event tie-in comic right, furthering the meta-story of the primary series while adding additional shading to the crossover it’s a part of. Even moreso, the issue offers new motivations for The Hood’s team as they prepare to square off with SHIELD and get some much needed revenge. It all adds up to a pressure-cooker of a thriller, with little secrets, transgressions and bruised feelings adding to a grander, increasingly inevitable tragedy.
Jackson Adams is a staff writer at Nerdophiles. He really wishes Marvel would remember the Ales Kot and Michael Walsch run on Secret Avengers more often when it comes to Maria Hill. Follow him on Twitter @JacksonInACup.