Here’s what we were loving in October!
Lady Killer 2 #5 by Joëlle Jones and Michelle Madsen
I love Josie. She’s a ‘50s housewife who’s secretly an assassin. But her life—or let’s say extra curricular activities—has caught up with her, and as much as I love seeing the badass side of her, I’m also here for seeing her have to start mopping up her messes. This has also become a perfect read for me during a time when I find myself screaming at the news hourly—there’s something cathartic about watching Josie kick-ass.
Monstress, Vol 1: Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu, Sana Takeda, and Rus Wooton
I was on a search for a good new SFF comic to read when I found Monstress, and it did not disappoint! Strange alchemy-like science, gods and magical creatures, adorable animal-human hybrids, creepy villains corrupted by ancient, unknown beings. Plus, a disabled protagonist who is fiercely brave and independent—and also possibly possessed by one of those aforementioned ancient evils? Time will tell. I’m very excited to see where this story goes, because even in volume one the depth and richness of the mythology is already clear. Not to mention the artwork has this beautiful, slightly creepy quality that felt perfect for October.
Habibi by Craig Thompson
I’m a bit late to this party, as Habibi was published in 2011. It’s a sprawling, impressive piece of work, for the intricacy of its art and for the epic sweep of its storytelling, which follows two children-turned-lovers through separation and exploitation. It’s also full of fascinating details about the Arabic alphabet. The Comics Journal has a thoughtful, lengthy discussion of Habibi’s problems, notably its exoticizing treatment of the Middle East and its constant offering up of the female protagonist’s body. (Katie Haegele writes in this discussion, “I mean, that woman’s naked body, Jesus, I’ve seen it more times now than I’ve seen my own.”) But despite these issues, Habibi is an engrossing, almost hypnotic read, and one of the most accomplished graphic novels I’ve ever encountered.
The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir by Thi Bui
I became acquainted with Thi Bui’s gorgeous illustrations in the picture book A Different Pond (written by Bao Phi). In her graphic memoir, the story begins with the author giving birth to her first child, and what follows is what often happens when a woman becomes a mother: she reflects on her own mother and their shared and unshared history. What comes next is a recounting of the complicated family dynamics that led the family to America as refugees from Vietnam. I loved this book from cover to cover.
Victor LaValle’s Destroyer #6 by Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
Well, hell. Now that I’ve read the last issue in the series, what am I supposed to rave about next month? (Don’t worry. I’m sure I’ll think of something.) As LaValle and Smith have done ably throughout this series, they have once again combined horror and humanity and racial discourse with vibrant artwork and a compelling, complex narrative. I don’t want to give the ending away, so I’ll just zip my lips now.
Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams
I first came across Kate Kane in the Bombshells series (hell yeah!), and was excited to read this—and to find out in was written by Rucka was a treat. The writing in this is just superb. I read it in one sitting, staying up until 1am, because I just couldn’t stop. The characters are well developed, the storyline is fleshed out, and the art is brilliant. I admit, at some points, it was a little violent, but it was necessary for the story. I only wish it had been longer!
Loki: Agent of Asgard, Vol 1 by Al Ewing and Lee Garbett
Some of my fellow Rioters love this 2014 series and have been talking it up in our work chat—and, I gotta say, any comic containing a small child asking Doctor Doom for ice cream and receiving the response “Doom will consider your request” is a potential favorite of mine. But even without Doom’s wacky pretentiousness, this comic is still a treat. Manhattan hipster Loki carries out secret magical missions from the All-Mother to atone for his past crimes! He meets a woman who can’t be lied to and they become besties! And he flirts with hot, shirtless Sigurd, hero of Asgard, during a magical swordfight! It’s the best! And it hurts. Because this is also a heavily metatextual tale about the sway our self-narrative holds over our ability to change. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll struggle, just as Loki does, with compassion and perception. You’ll have to decide whether or not to forgive. And that makes this fantasy starring a shapeshifting god one of the most real comics I’ve read this year.
Seraph of the End: Vampire Reign by Takaya Kagami and Yamato Yamamoto
Vampires have enslaved humans. They have succeeded in a world without Western vampire slayers and without the typical villain cliches that trip them up. Yu, an orphan who hates the new overlords, wants to resist them in any way possible. His fellow orphan Mika begs to differ; if you’re going to resist vampires, resist smarter rather than harder. Vampires prove that they like to crush hope, however, and chase down rebellion. Yu finds that his revenge has a price, but may last longer than the humans around him. I revel in the pain, and the determination.