I’ve been a comic nerd all of my life. I read my dad’s comics when I was a kid, I spent my allowance on my own comics as soon my parents said I was old enough, and like every good comic nerd I had a period where I quit reading because I thought comics were dumb. I’ve come back since then and it’s been 10 years so I’d like to share some of my favorites since my return to the comic world.
It’s really hard to write about this book without lapsing into profanity with every other word, mostly because the characters themselves do the same thing. Rat Queens is a fantasy adventure comic that makes me think of nights spent in my parents’ den with my friends circled around the D&D table and being as foul as sixteen year old boys can be. Hannah the Elven Mage, Violet the Dwarven Fighter, Dee the Human Cleric, and Betty the Smidgen Thief are also a rockabilly punk, a hipster, an atheist, and a hippy respectively and the blending of fantasy characters and modern tropes is absolutely hilarious. Whether they’re saving cities by slaughtering most of the people that live there, or killing goblins to pay the bills, these hard drinking, murderous ladies are always down to f$%k stuff up and save the day. Rat Queens is almost certainly my favorite ensemble title running right now.
Oliver Queen (aka Green Arrow) has been around since the 1940s, but through the Golden & Silver Ages he was a very light, Errol Flynn Robin Hood style, character who used silly trick arrows to take down bank robbers and the like. Mike Grell took a step towards making the character more serious in his 1987 mini series The Longbow Hunters, but it was Andy Diggle that gave Ollie the rebirth that he desperately so needed. As a young playboy who gets stuck on a supposedly deserted island, Oliver is thrown into a much bigger world than he knew existed and is forced to contend with drug smugglers, weapons dealers, and vicious criminals all while learning the skills that he needs to survive. Diggle grounds Oliver and gives him a firm backstory moving forward and Jock’s art gives the whole story a gritty edge that Green Arrow lacked and now uses to great effect.
Archie is a classic, I know that, you know that, we all know that. Part of being a classic though is age, and while Archie has aged well and kept up with the modern times it has never been clean slate restarted. This is the clean slate restart that I think Archie needed. Waid’s brand new story sticks to classic ideas without being unnecessarily bogged down with 75 years of history and expectation, and Fiona Staples has a modern style that makes the new Riverdale Gang jump off the page. As a kid who used to bug his mom to buy him Archie Double Digest in line at the grocery store, I’m really excited every time I go to the comic store and see the new issue waiting for me. Perfect for people seeking nostalgia and new readers alike, everyone should find something to love about the new Archie.
How does one explain Danny Rand? Three words: Kung Fu Billionaire. If that doesn’t excite you then I really don’t know how to help you. Humor aside, the idea behind the Iron Fist is an awesome one. A lonely orphan is lost in the mountains of Tibet and finds his way to the sacred, mystical kingdom of K’un-Lun. There he is trained to be a living weapon, taught a dozen styles of martial arts, and eventually fights and kills a dragon with his bare hands. He then returns to the world he knew a changed man and does his best to save both the world, and the people who live in it. Immortal Iron Fist shows Danny the dark history of the title Iron Fist, shares with him the secrets of the other six Capital Cities of Heaven and their champions, and is full of more crazy, fast paced, and brilliantly drawn martial arts action than you can shake a Bruce Lee at. Also this was one of Matt Fraction’s first steps into becoming the household, well nerd household, name that he is today.