It’s the first New Comic Book Day of February, and we’re starting things off with talking animals in prison, complex geopolitical dramas, and, of course, guys in tights punching things. Here’s what made this week’s top 20 comic books!
1) Kennel Block Blues #1
Ryan Ferrier and Daniel Bayliss deliver what is undeniably a book with one of the strangest plot summaries of all time: A gritty anthropomorphic prison drama where the central character is a Sesame Street-obsessed Boston terrier who hallucinates musical numbers since he lacks the emotional capacity to deal with tough situations. To be frank, it might not work at all if it weren’t for Ferrier writing to the strengths of Bayliss, an artist who can juggle the ridiculous and the sublime in equal measure. As a result, you’ve got a crisp, funny, hilariously strange book that’s a must-read.
2) The Sheriff Of Babylon #3
Tom King and Mitch Gerads continue their Iraq-War crime thriller, and what’s most compelling about this is that as the book has progressed, the American protagonist has faded somewhat into the background and the Iraqi characters have come to the forefront. All of them are struggling to survive, and all of them, despite being forced to do horrible things, are sympathetic. King’s refusal to demonize anybody, even some legitimate criminals and monsters, gives this book a much richer and more enlightening feel than much of the fiction about the Iraq war, and it makes this book a must-read.
3) Giant Days #11
Pulling all-nighters is bad for your health, something we all know. But John Allison and Max Sarin demonstrate it rather dramatically in this issue. Sarin, in particular, pulls off some cleverly designed dream sequences in this book that really underline his skills, and once again this college comedy reminds us it’s one of the funniest books on the stands.
4) Vision #4
Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta continue their suburban noir starring the Vision and his built “family.” The book has some much needed dry humor this issue, starting with the opening, which hilariously subverts a classic comic strip gag while simultaneously setting up the much darker end to this issue. King pays off some plot twists in some unexpected ways, while Walta really enjoys putting the various Vision family members into normal situations and letting the absurdity speak for itself. One of the freshest, smartest books Marvel is putting out right now, and if you’re not reading, you’re missing out.
5) Unfollow #4
I confess, I went into this issue of Rob Williams and Michael Dowling’s social media-tinged thriller with some trepidation. It seemed that the book was about to collapse into another version of Battle Royale or The Most Dangerous Game. Instead, Williams’ smart twist is that most of his 139 lucky “winners” of a vast fortune are perfectly content with millions instead of billions, and if there’s going to be murder, it’s not going to be through brutal, violent free-for-all but through moral and intellectual failings. Also, the book’s oddball tendencies, like the fact that a character who’s more or less Yukio Mishima if Mishima could ever accept he was gay is not a gimmick but a central character who’s most annoyed that the billionaire staging all this is ripping off one of his books, gives it a clever tinge that Dowling’s art only emphasizes. It’s like nothing else on the stands, and a welcome take on a thriller trope.