Before I get to the comics, an administrative note: I'm moving next week, and going to skip posting my normal column. Relatedly, if anyone has opinions about comic shops in Chicago, I'm very happy to hear them!
This week I've got an odd but interesting new release, to mix in with a couple of classics. Let's talk comics!
UNCANNY X-MEN #14
This is a spotlight issue on one of the new characters, Benjamin. And it's one of the best issues Bendis has penned in his run so far.
Benjamin's power seems to be that he can physically transform into people who are near him. And Scott Summers doesn't really see the use in it, and pushes him really hard, trying to turn him into a warrior. Scott's kind of a jerk these days.
But Emma is smarter than Scott, and notices that something else is going on. There's a mental component to his power, sending out calming waves. And her and Magik decide to play with him. Or train him. Basically the same thing with these women.
And in the end, he's able to march right into a secret S.H.I.E.L.D. facility and deliver a threat to the director directly. It's a very nice sequence, that reminds me a little of that credit card ad campaign where people end up talking to themselves on the other end of a customer service call. It's not the flashiest power, but used smartly, can be really interesting.
And it's also a nice character dive into someone we've only seen in the background so far. Not ever issue needs to be Sentinels and Swashbuckling. I hope we see more of these for the not-really-fleshed-out personalities of the young students. It makes us care, when the time for the Sentinels ultimately comes.
A VOICE IN THE DARK #1
This is a very interesting new title. It started life as a kickstarter, known as Dark Zoey. The creator, Larime Taylor, has a disability such that he draws the title with his wacom tablet and holding the stylus in his mouth; nevertheless, it'd otherwise be indistinguishable from any other professional art job. Which is to say, amazing. But you don't need to know any of that background to like this title.
It's a dark story, indeed. Zoey's best friend was kicked out of her house for being gay, and now is her adopted sister. And Zoey tracks down the girl who outted her, and murders her. This event really haunts her, driving her into madness, and it seems very likely she'll kill again. And that's our protagonist.
Zoey's off to college, starting fresh. We meet her quirky dorm-mates. She gets a radio call in show at the college station, where people call in and anonymously confess their darkest desires, called "A Voice in the Dark." (Hence the title, but you figured that out already.)
And she fantasizes about killing all her over-privileged annoying classmates.
The characterization is strong so far. Beyond an initial curiosity, I don't care about the creator's unusual art technique; I just care if it's a good comic. And it is.
ADVENTURE TIME #22
Some comics, I can describe the plot. Sometimes I can talk about interesting characters. Or maybe there's some social commentary. These kinds of thing make my job easier. What's hard is reviewing something like Adventure Time.
It's great! I really mean it! But it's great because it's full of jokes that are actually funny. It doesn't really matter that there's some weird mind-controlly bubblegum hivemind monster thing invading the land of Ooo. Well, there is.
What matters is that it's got as strong a voice as anything in comics. It's consistent with the TV show, but if anything it's funnier. Ryan North has these amazing commentary notes hidden at the bottom of every page, that are kind of like the alt-text in online comics like xkcd, and are usually the best part of the issue. They are very aware, break the fourth wall often, and add a truly unique quirkiness to the title.
If you want to read the funniest comic being published, here it is. You don't even need to like the Adventure Time show for this. (Though it's pretty good too.) Just read this, okay?