‘Mister Miracle’ Leads This Week’s Best New Comics

If you had only one day left on Earth, how would you spend it? Pop culture explores this idea a lot, usually with teenagers who have cancer and fall in love. But in Mister Miracle #5, out today from DC Comics, Tom King and Mitch Gerads use it to explore, surprisingly, the selfishness around Scott Free’s rush to die.

Scott, for the last five issues, has been trying to kill himself. He’s cut his wrists. He’s volunteered for a bloody, ruthless war on Apokolips. And now he’s brazenly confronted his direct superior, Highfather Orion, and informed him that he’s becoming a ruthless dictator. Orion, confronted with the accusation, decides he wants Scott executed. But Scott gets one last day with his wife, Barda. It’s not until the very last panel that King and Gerads, who’ve carefully engineered the entire issue from Scott’s point of view, that nobody’s bothered to ask Barda what she thinks of all this. Scott may not want to fight, but she will.

King has used Scott Free and the New Gods to write large a story of a depressed man struggling with his past, but he knows that has at least a dose of absurdity. Gerads, using what would seem to be a restrictive twelve-panel layout, fills the book with emotional sequences, in particular contrasting two sex scenes, one elaborately staged and one spontaneous. It is not, perhaps, what traditionalists would demand of Scott Free. But it’s one of DC’s best books.

Rumble #1, Image Comics

John Arcudi’s delightful urban fantasy, where the ancient gods and monsters of Gilgamesh and sundry other epics are just trying to get by in the grimier parts of an American city, returns with David Rubin replacing James Harren on art (Dave Stewart remains the colorist, because you don’t let go the best.) Rubin’s work is a little looser than Harren’s but it continues the spirt of the book, even if this issue is mostly setting the stage for the next epic.

Giants #1, Dark Horse Comics

Carlos and Miguel Valderrama mix gang rumbles and giant monsters in a surprisingly compelling book. Two brothers, junior members of a gang in an underground society, decide to risk it all on the surface, where angry giant monsters roam. Of course it goes awry, but just how that happens promises a brisk, exciting action book.

Judas #1, BOOM! Studios

Jeff Loveness and Jakub Rebelka follow the long history of religion in comics by asking both why Judas sold out Jesus, and what exactly happens to the Great Betrayer. He goes to Hell, of course… but how does Hell feel about receiving a guy who was set up to deliver the Son Of God to His fate? Good question, and Rebelka tells it in particular style with crisp icon-like art. It’s decidedly not for everybody, just based on the subject matter, but it’s a nice attempt to ask some tough questions.

Maestros #3, Image Comics

The thing about magicians, fundamentally, is they’re lateral thinkers. That’s something Steve Skroce knows well and he riffs on hilariously as Willy, thrust into the role of ruling a magical kingdom that’s Harry Potter filtered through the mind of Bosch, makes a complete mess of it and probably brings an end to his kingdom. It’d all be conventional and unbearably pompous if Skroce didn’t pack the book with both strong emotional moments and some truly hilarious smart-ass remarks, like a nihilist zombie reassuring his evil boss that it’s all meaningless anyway.

Monstro Mechanica #1, Aftershock Comics: Paul Allor and Chris Evenhuis bring a pulp sensibility to the Renaissance, with Leonardo Da Vinci, the Papal States, and a giant wooden robot kicking ass.

The Damned #6, Oni Press: Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Bill Crabtree start a new arc in their story of a cursed gangster and the devils he cuts deals with.

Bloodshot: Salvation #4, Valiant: Jeff Lemire and Mico Suayan work up a villain’s origin story that makes a seemingly simple character far more complex.

She-Hulk #160, Marvel Comics: Mariko Tamaki and Jahnoy Lindsay explore the psychological side of the Hulk, and how our rage makes us easy to manipulate.

Jughead: The Hunger #2, Archie Comics: Frank Tieri, Pat & Tim Kennedy, Joe Eisma, and Matt Herms continue their bloody, and hilarious, mix of Archie’s sweetness and, well, flesh-eatin’ werewolves.

This Week’s Best Collections

Peter Parker The Spectacular Spider-Man, Vol. 1, Marvel ($18, Softcover): Chip Zdarsky and Adam Kubert bring Spidey back to his sad-sack, smart-ass roots in this series.

Bitch Planet Triple Feature Vol. 1, Image Comics ($17, Softcover): Feminist SF pulp gets a whole new definition with this tough-minded anthology series giving a huge range of voices a crack at Kelly Sue DeConnick’s universe.