‘The Outliers’ #1 And Other Comics Of Note, August 21st

Illustrator Erik Johnson, better known for his work in magazines than his work in comics, releases his first comic book today. And it’s one well worth reading. A full review, and more reviews of books from DC, IDW, Dark Horse, Valiant, and others under the cut.

Johnson’s distinct artistic style certainly makes The Outliers stand out, but it’s also a book willing to be weird while justifying it. The hero, Tsu, is a kid who never talks, except when he’s commanding a gigantic wooden giant. Needless to say, this makes him the subject of considerable interest from less than savory parties.

It’s a fascinating book though, not least because Johnson is a highly capable visual storyteller; he’s as much interested in capturing the everyday details of a teenage kid with a distant mom as he is in drawing gigantic woodland fairy tale creatures. It’s an engaging book and, if you can find it, one worth picking up. But what about the other books on the stands this week?

<!–pagetitle:Batman Beyond Universe #1–>

Kyle Higgins and Thony Silas actually have a lot of fun with this book; it makes reference to previous events, but you don’t have to have followed the show to pick up on what’s happening. Meanwhile, Christos Gage and Iban Coello tell a fun story about a future Superman that actually gives a fairly standard Supertale, about Supes losing his powers, a lot of heart and a tinge of sadness. Highly recommended, and a lot of fun.

<!–pagetitle:KISS Kids #1–>

IDW finally answers the question of what would happen if you stuck a ’70s rock band into Calvin and Hobbes. Make no mistake, these are comics aimed squarely and sincerely at children, cheesy jokes and all, mitigated and made odder by, well… it’s freaking KISS. Still, kind of amusing and not the weirdest thing IDW has done with this license, by a long shot.

<!–pagetitle:Bloodshot #0–>

Master of comics thrillers and government intrigue Matt Kindt takes on the history of Bloodshot in preparation for Bloodshot and The Hard Corps, and it’s typical Kindt all the way; a mix of troubling and thoughtful. Bloodshot, as he exists, is a weapon, and Kindt asks the question… can you give a weapon a soul? Chrisschross handles the art with gusto, developing a few different versions of Bloodshot one hopes Kindt will let us take a look at. But either way, it’s a great place to get into this series, especially since a new creative team will be taking over with issue #14.

<!–pagetitle:Grimm Fairy Tales: Realm Knights #1–>

This book’s concept is interesting; essentially it’s a superhero book using public domain fairy tale characters. But Patrick Shand’s script doesn’t really do anything interesting with that idea; there’s no particular reason this can’t be any of a number of interchangeable ’90s superheroes, and Butch Mapa’s art is too flat and lacking in detail to really give the book the dynamism it needs.

<!–pagetitle:The Living Corpse: Haunted–>

It’s hard to argue with a comic book about a cranky, profane zombie putting the undead back where they belong. There are a few things that pop out here and there, but Ken Haeser, Keith Thomas, Buz Hasson and Blair Smith deliver an amusingly goofy book. I don’t know that it can sustain an ongoing series, but it makes for some amusing horror/comedy short stories.

<!–pagetitle:Numbercruncher #2–>

Numbercruncher continues a wonderful first issue with a truly hilarious second one. Si Spurrier’s musings on fate, math, and profanity with excessive amounts of violence actually manages to be simultaneously subtly profound and highly, highly entertaining. Also almost absurdly funny; a ghost running around with an “accident gun” is both profound in its own way and high, high comedy at its finest, especially with PJ Holden having a blast at the drawing board. You need to be reading this book; it’s the cleverest, and funniest, thing on the stands this week.

<!–pagetitle:Batman ’66 #2–>

Two more tales featuring the Caped Crusader in cheesy TV form, and these are actually a lot of fun as goofy, self-aware Silver Age stories. Jeff Parker is able to balance the absurdity of the show while nodding to the audience, and Ty Templeton and Jonathan Case both hand in strong art. Now that Wes Hartman has toned down the weird 3-D effect in the first issue, the colors really pop, and while Case’s art is perhaps a little stronger, both stories are a fun, light read.

<!–pagetitle:Dinosaurs Attack #2–>

While the transition between painted and drawn art is rather rocky, this book is undeniably appealing for the sheer ludicrousness of it all. It is a book about humanity under attack by dinosaurs, lovingly rendered with over-the-top gore, and the presence of artist Herb Trimpe helps considerably. Not for everybody, but if you like your cheese with a side of blood, it’s not a book to be missed.

<!–pagetitle:Blood Brothers #2–>

This book continues its pleasant late-’90s action movie vibe. It’s nothing earth-shaking but it’s a fun action book and pretty funny into the bargain, and a good add to your sub pile if you’re looking for a light-hearted miniseries.

<!–pagetitle:Lobster Johnson: A Scent Of Lotus #2–>

This creepy, pulpy book wraps up another two-parter. Dark Horse does well with its original pulp heroes, and Sebastián Fiumara’s art is gorgeously suited to the book. Pick this one up; it works well as a standalone book, even if you’re not into the BPRD.

<!–pagetitle:Superman Unchained #3–>

The heart of Scott Snyder’s take on Superman is revealed and it’s actually very interesting. This book has, at its heart, a discussion about whether Superman should stick to saving kittens from trees and stopping natural disasters, or whether he should target dictators and other monsters and end them with extreme prejudice. It helps that Wraith, the “antagonist”, is written with real sensitivity, albeit belied somewhat by Jim Lee’s designs. It’s an excellent question, and Snyder refuses to provide easy answers, laying the groundwork for one of the more thoughtful Superbooks we’ve seen in a while. Pick this up; it’s early in the arc and it looks to be worth reading.

<!–pagetitle:Solid-State Tank Girl #3–>

An amusing entry in the Tank Girl series, and the Anti-Tank Girl is pretty amusing, but ultimately there’s nothing here you’re missing by skipping this one if you’re not a fan.

<!–pagetitle:Dream Thief #4–>

Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood continue to knock this book out of the park. There’s never enough noir on the stands for my taste, and this mix of supernatural anti-hero and southern-fried crime is both unique and cleverly balanced. If you haven’t been reading this, take some time and pick up the whole series; it’s some of the best comics Dark Horse is putting out right now.

<!–pagetitle:Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Karai–>

An interesting one-shot from Erik Burnham exploring the role of Shredder’s granddaughter in the Foot Clan. Largely for fans of the ongoing, but a pretty solid and interesting comic.

<!–pagetitle:X-O Manowar #16–>

Aric runs into an old teacher, who just so happens to be getting his own book later this year, and we learn that, despite years of battle and a few learning moments, Aric is still essentially kind of a bull-headed fool. Robert Venditti has been doing fascinating things with this book, and Aric essentially parking his ship on a public park and starting up the farming is both perfectly in character and something you just know is going to end horribly. If you’ve been debating picking up this book, now is definitely the time to do it.

<!–pagetitle:Conan: The Barbarian #19–>

Brian Wood starts a new story on this one, a nice mix of Howardesque ass-kicking and creepy haunted town story. Paul Azaceta handles the art and it’s absolutely gorgeous. Wood’s run on this book has been something special, to say the least, and this is no exception. Whether you’re looking for high fantasy or just a thrilling horror-action tale, this is one to pick up.

<!–pagetitle:Justice League Dark #23–>

Trinity War is still struggling to crack what makes it tick, but it is at least picking up steam: Pandora’s Box is a singularly nasty piece of work, and Jeff Lemire’s confidence writing this team is always a pleasure. Still, hard to argue against waiting for the trade if that’s your opinion.

Dark Horse Presents #27: Everything from SF to noir to comedy is packed in this anthology book, which continues to be the best five bucks you’ll spend every week it comes out. The words “something for everyone” couldn’t be more apt.