Category Archives: Comics

And Then I Read: FAR SECTOR by N.K. Jemisin and Jamal Campbell

Image © DC Comics. Cover art by Jamie McKelvie

Recently I read a fantastic trilogy of award-winning science fiction novels by Jemisin, beginning with “The Fifth Season,” and when I reviewed them, several people told me I should read her Green Lantern series from DC. I’m out of touch with new comics, so I didn’t even know about it, but I followed that advice, and I loved the twelve-issue series (bought the digital collection on Amazon).

Sojourner “Jo” Mullein is an Earth woman with a history of trying to help others and prevent crime. She’s been a soldier and a police woman, and when offered the chance to become a new Green Lantern, she jumps at it. Her ring is not a standard one, it charges itself from the energy of its wearer. It’s not as powerful as the usual GL rings, and takes longer to charge. Mullein has been assigned to a sector of space far from our planet. So far, she doesn’t even know what the sector number is, and contact with others in the Corps is nonexistent. A GL has been requested by the governing council of The City Enduring, a massive place with billions of inhabitants of three diverse peoples and also digital beings. It has long kept its peace through mandatory treatments that repress emotion, but some rogue inhabitants have found a way to get around that, and Jo finds herself facing the first murder in The City Enduring in hundreds of years. And it won’t be the last. Mullein’s investigation takes her deep into the hidden sides of the city, and to the highest levels of government. Will she have the strength and ability to solve the case?

Wonderful work, highly recommended. Jimisen creates a complex setting full of complex people, but makes it work beautifully as an exciting story. The art is excellent, too.

Far Sector by Jemisin and Campbell

And Then I Read: POGO, THE COMPLETE SYNDICATED COMIC STRIPS VOLUME 6

Images © Okefenokee Glee & Perloo Inc.

As with all of these large collections of the Pogo comic strips, this one is a delight in every way. It takes me over a month to read one at about 15 minutes per day, as I find the strip too dense and full of content to go longer at one sitting. There’s so much to look at in the amazing art, and so much to enjoy in the humor and wordplay on each page. These daily and Sunday strips are from 1959 and 1960. In the dailies, a lot of time is spent covering the potential Presidential campaign of Fremount the baby bug whose only words are “Jes’ fine.” There are some appearances of a Russian bear resembling Kruschev, but otherwise the book is largely about things other than politics, with the usual silliness, confusion and droll humor among the regulars. The Sundays are even more fun, with long sequences about a purple cow and the Pogo equivalent of Boy Scouts, the Cheerful Charlies. Best of all, as if it was created just for me, is a sequence of Sundays about lettering! I think they were actually meant to amuse Walt Kelly’s letterer at the time, Henry Shikuma, who Kelly hired in 1958, and who lettered the strip even better than Kelly himself, no mean feat. Here’s a sample, reconfigured to be readable at the size I can show it on this blog:

There are more along these lines, but all the strips are terrific. This came out last year, but it and any of these strip collections are top notch reading. Highly recommended!

And Then I Read: JIMMY OLSEN #11 & #12

Images © DC Comics. Written by Matt Fraction, art by Steve Lieber, colors by Nathan Fairbairn, letters by Clayton Cowles.

I was reading this series on Comixology and really enjoying it. Then it slowed way down due to Covid issues, no doubt, and I forgot to read the last two issues…until now.

What writer Matt Fraction and artist Steve Lieber have created in this 12-issue series is remarkable. It’s a return to the silly but fun Jimmy Olsen stories of the 1950s-60s in the character’s first series, it’s an intricate history of the Olsen and Luthor families and their continuing conflicts and impact on Metropolis, and it’s full of humor, appealing characters and surprises. Each issue is told in brief segments following different plot threads from one to several pages, each with an entertaining opening caption similar to those on the old comics, but with Fraction’s droll humor. There are plenty of Easter eggs thrown in by artist Steve Lieber. Jimmy himself fills a wide range of roles, and then there’s his siblings and friends, including Superman and Batman, Jimmy’s workmates at The Daily Planet and his reporting fiascos, and a major plot thread about someone trying to kill Jimmy that adds mystery and police drama. There’s science fiction (a wife from another world, robots, alien invaders), giant animals, microscopic adventures, and a wide variety of weirdness that will charm and delight readers, even jaded oldsters like myself.

I can’t think of a modern comic that entertained me more. The resolutions provided in the final issue were completely satisfying, too, something one rarely finds today. The collected edition of this series is out soon, link below, or check with your comics retailer. I highly recommend it!

And Then I Read: BILLIONAIRE ISLAND #1

Image © Mark Russell and Ahoy Comics. Written by Mark Russell, art by Steve Pugh, colors by Chris Chuckry, letters by Rob Steen.

This title from Ahoy Comics (which I designed the logo for) is social satire, and also science fiction in the “If this goes on…” tradition. Right now in America it’s hard to imagine how things could get much worse, but writer Mark Russell takes some trends in today’s world, particularly the domination of the rich over the poor and everything that entails, and imagines a future where that continues to much greater inequities. Billionaire Island is the haven for the disgustingly rich, a floating island in the Gulf of Mexico in international waters where all the perks of wealth can be enjoyed with none of the annoyances like taxes, laws, and accountability in the media. One reporter finds herself in captivity there after arriving for an interview with the head billionaire, Rick Canto. Elsewhere, another mogul is confronted with the horror of his crimes against the poor in a way he never expected.

It’s hard to laugh at this book’s satire only because it seems all too plausible. Despite that, I enjoyed the writing and the art, and recommend it.

Here’s a link to the upcoming trade paperback collection of the series.

And Then I Read: CAPTAIN GINGER Season 2 #2

Image © Stuart Moore, June Brigman and Ahoy Comics. Written by Stuart Moore, art by June Brigman and Roy Richardson, colors by Veronica Gandini, letters by Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt.

If you can imagine a spacecraft like the Starship Enterprise having lost its entire human crew due to disease and being run by intelligent cats, you have the premise of this series…to a point. You must add to that the inherent nature of cats not being team players, leading to chaos on board, as well as the fact that the cats do not well understand the workings of the ship, leading to more chaos. The storyline has until now been a mix of science fiction, adventure and humor. This issue the humor is set aside for a crisis in progress: the ship is being attacked by a superior craft manned by aliens with no interest in taking prisoners. Captain Ginger can only do damage control and try to get his crew onto lifeboats for a descent to the surface of the world they’re orbiting…a world run by dogs.

I think that about sums it up! I liked the writing and art on this one the best of the series so far, and look forward to the next issue with interest.

Recommended.

Link to the issue on the Ahoy website.