The Legion of Super Heroes Bugs Bunny Special (DC Comics) clearly exists, in part, because of “corporate synergy” and “#brands” and all that other tiresome stuff that, like it or not, is part and parcel of comics companies owned by vast entertainment conglomerates, just like the Punisher becoming a college football fan. But, fortunately, Sam Humphries, Tom Grummet and Karl Kesel are here to make sense of the idea and, amazingly, it works!
To be fair, it works in part because Humphries channels his inner Keith Giffen, writing a smart-assed parody of DC’s future teen heroes in the Legion where the editor gets in a fist-fight with the writer via captions about halfway though the book. But Humphries smartly mixes both the classic Silver Age soap opera of the Legion and a classic Bugs Bunny plot: Bugs is accidentally kidnapped to the future and is a wee bit upset at the Legion for doing it.
Helping matters considerably are Grummett and Kesel, long-time comic book art veterans most notable for their work on Superman. Grummett and Kesel manage to make Bugs fit into Curt Swan’s classic depiction of the Legion, no mean artistic feat, and also give the book a hilariously deadpan feel. They simply let the inherent absurdity of the concept carry the humor, bar one or two panels where things get a wee bit, ah, dramatic.
Is there much of a point to this crossover, beyond marketing? Nah. But what could be a clumsy plug is instead a well-considered and refreshing bit of comedy right when comics could use it, and it’s more than welcome.
Kill The Minotaur #1, Image Comics
Chris Paseto, Christian Cantamessa, and Lukas Ketner update the Greek myth with more character and a few unexpected plot twists in its first issue. Yes, this is the story of Theseus and King Minos, but it’s one with some very different context, one that asks just how the hell Athens wound up sending its young to be eaten by a monster, and why Theseus didn’t just sit at home chugging wine. It’s an interesting idea, but more importantly, it’s just a well-told story that brings the myth to life.
Bug! The Adventures Of Forager #2, DC Comics
The Allred family’s tribute to Silver Age comics gets, if anything, even more off-the-wall in its second issue. Bug travels back in time to join a bunch of Golden Age DC heroes and war comics protagonists to save the hidden village of Nanda Parbat, which means fighting robots by causing a stampede of abominable snowmen. Yes, the book is ridiculous, but that’s part of the charm as the Allreds streamline and update the cheery, trippy style of Silver Age comics while keeping what makes them fun to read.
Black Panther And The Crew #3, Marvel
Cancelling this book was an incredibly poor decision on Marvel’s part, because it just keeps getting better. This issue focuses on T’Challa, king of Wakanda, both realizing some hard truths about himself personally, uncovering a secret from his nation’s past, and also learning the joys of Frank Ocean. And all of it builds up to introducing another team member, who, well, let’s say he’s got reason to be upset with the book’s villains and leave it at that.
Normandy Gold #1, Dynamite
Alison Gaylen, Megan Abbot, and Steve Scott show how “retro” comics should be done. Gaylin and Abbott write a story that’s “retro” in the sense that they carefully draw on crime fiction and noir tropes from the era and depict them so perfectly you’ll have trouble believing they’re not adapting some half-forgotten paperback series. Scott’s clean, polished art isn’t flashy, but it’s equally careful in how it depicts an era, and makes some smart choices that keeps the book from feeling sleazy, at least in the wrong way.
The Damned #2, Oni Press: Cullen Bunn’s noir tale of demons running organized crime is always a lot of fun, but this issue in particular stands out for how it fleshes out Eddie, the venal, tired nightclub manager at the center of it all. You find yourself pulling for the guy to just have a little hope.
The Defenders #1: Yes, this is flagrantly tied to the upcoming Netflix series. On the other hand, watching Danny Rand and Jessica Jones have a drink and chat while Daredevil beats up people in the background is more entertaining than it should be.
Godshaper #3, BOOM! Studios: Si Spurrier’s alternate history takes a compelling turn, exploring how religious belief can be exploited for political gain in his fantasy setting.
Predator Vs. Judge Dredd. Vs. Aliens #4, Dark Horse: This hilarious mashup of macho properties comes to the explosive, gory ending you’d expect.
Bitch Planet Triple Feature, Image Comics: The mix of grindhouse style and confrontational feminism gets a well-deserved anthology book.
This Week’s Best Collections
Giant Days, Vol. 5, BOOM! Studios ($15, Softcover): This gentle, funny romantic comedy starring three snarky college students is one of the best books in BOOM!’s stable, and this collection offers up some of its best issues.
Jack Kirby’s Forever People Artist’s Edition, IDW ($125, Hardcover): Kirby’s centennial is leading to some treasure troves of his art finally out there, and this is one of the best. If you’ve wondered why Kirby is so beloved, take a look here.
MotorCrush Vol. 1, Image Comics ($10, Softcover): This fun, futuristic action-packed series, set in a future of drug-enhanced underground motorcycle racing, is the perfect comic beach read.