‘The Beef’ Sends Up Superheroes And Anti-Heroes In This Week’s Best Comics

Senior Contributor

Image Comics

The last time Tyler Shainline and Shaky Kane teamed up for Image, it was for an affectionate parody of Silver Age comics and their Cold War propaganda, The Bulletproof Coffin. And now, five years after that book wrapped up, they’re back, still sending up comics, this time with a straight-faced parody of both horror comics and Silver Age heroes.

Chuck Carter has spent his whole life killing cattle, like his old man before him. Chuck’s been pushed around by the sons of the meat-packing plant’s owner, who fell right out of an EC Comics in all their oafishness and sociopathic behavior. And Chuck’s constant consumption of various chemicals in meat and soda form combined with his rage over a damsel being threatened will make him THE BEEF!

If all this sounds fairly conventional, well, to a degree it kind of is, at least so far, even if you can make out the crisp outlines of what Shainline is up to in his plot. What makes it stand out this issue, in particular, is Kane. Kane’s deliberately flat, grotesque style makes the book a queasy thing even before you get into the vivid gore and violence. This social satire is really just getting started, and if their past work is any indication, Shainline and Kane will make it worth the trip.


Lockjaw #1, Marvel

Daniel Kibblesmith and Carlos Villa take on the task of explaining the most enigmatic hero in the Marvel universe. OK, not really, Lockjaw’s not that terribly complicated. He’s just a good boy. But Dennis, the former D-Man, is a bit more complicated, and, as his life hits a gentle nadir, he finds himself tagging along with Lockjaw and hitting on Ka-Zar. Hey, wouldn’t you? Kibblesmith and Villa know they’re not probing the depths of philosophy here, but Dennis is so sharply drawn, and Lockjaw is so adorable, you’ll fall in love.

Abbott #2, BOOM! Studios

Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivela expand on their story of a reporter in 1970s Detroit, filling in both her past and her current role, which goes well beyond keeping the Detroit police honest. It turns out Abbott is an avatar of The Light, at least according to a questionable mystic, but even if she isn’t, she’s still got a big pile of problems to deal with, and a ticking clock on all of them. This is rapidly becoming one of the more unique and exciting horror thrillers on stands crowded with them, and worth every panel.

The Terrifics #1, DC Comics

DC’s Metal has, ever so slightly, been teasing the competition, with a string of heroes riffing on Marvel’s stable. But Jeff Lemire and Ivan Reis almost push it to the point of mockery in this book riffing on the Fantastic Four, as a stretchy guy, a giant walking tank, an invisible woman and… OK, the metaphor falls down a bit since Mr. Teriffic is nothing like the Human Torch, but still, the parallels and tone are unmistakably a tribute. That doesn’t mean it’s not fun, however, not least because Lemire and Reis are clearly having a ball throwing back to the Silver Age’s sense of out-there adventure.

Rough Riders: Ride Or Die #1, Aftershock Comics

There’s nothing quite like a good bit of historical pulp, and this particular set, uniting Teddy Roosevelt and a host of turn-of-the-century luminaries, is a great example. Adam Glass and Patrick Olliffe know what they’re up to here, and they keep the plot brisk and pulpy. A nice touch is that it captures the personalities of the various historical figures without overselling it. Sometimes this kind of thing can lean too heavily on either research or the audience’s forgiveness, but this threads that needle perfectly to feel grounded without losing any sense of pulp thrills.

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