Continuing from last week’s article, I here recommend more of my favourite ongoing comics of the moment.
Jason Aaron is now one of the big names at Marvel but he made his bones on this hard-bitten, crime noir book from Vertigo, which tells the story of the awesomely named Dashiell Bad Horse, who returns to the native American reservation that he grew up on to investigate the circumstances of his mother’s murder, but soon gets pulled in to the seedier underside of casino related organised crime. Alongside Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’s Criminal books, Scalped is one of the two best crime books currently on the shelves, but the central storyline is quite drawn out so is not recommended to those of low attention span and those of a more light-hearted disposition. It’s savvy, tough and the cream of an under represented genre in comics.
Another Marvel book by Hickman following a Mark Millar run, AND it’s heavily Sci-Fi orientated, but oddly it couldn’t feel more different from his run on Fantastic Four. The current incarnation of The Ultimates (along with the Ultimate Hawkeye mini-series) is a kind of fusion of political science fiction and hard espionage with epic, god-level battles thrown in to the mix. Character isn’t sacrificed to make room for all this high-concept, which is incredible considering that the status quo of the entire Ultimate Universe is shifted with every issue as two new Super-Nations (literally) spring up from nowhere and independently decide the current ways of the world are obsolete, with only our favourite superheroes able to take care of business… maybe. But what really makes this series stand out is Esad Ribic’s phenomenal art and design work. It’s clean, original, solid and dynamic with Dean White’s colouring meshing perfectly, as if Ribic has painted it himself.
Against all odds Uncanny X-Force is becoming a huge hit with readers and critics alike, and rightly so, it’s one of Marvels best books and certainly the best incarnation of the title. At its most basic X-Force is the story of Wolverines hand-picked assassination squad, who exist only to eradicate threats to the mutant race before they can do damage, but within this Remender revisits popular story threads from the X-books of the 90s (such as the Age of Apocalypse) and explores them with more invention and gusto than they ever where in their original forms. Like The Ultimates though, X-Force’s true stand out quality lies within Jerome Opeña’s amazing artwork. I can’t really explain in words its quality, only to say that he has little to no weaknesses as an artist and is most certainly the most exciting new(ish) talent in mainstream comics. Also like The Ultimates, Dean White provides the colour work, again, integrating perfectly with Opeña’s style but in a totally different way than it does Ribic’s and John Romita Jr’s on Kick-Ass, proving White to be one of the best colourists in the business.
On the surface The Unwritten could seem like a very mild mannered entree into this list, being that the story revolves around a young man named Tommy Taylor, who finds evidence that he may in fact be a fictional character of the Harry Potter type, but Vertigo wouldn’t produce the comic if there weren’t a cleverness to the tale, and the cleverness to this tale is that writer, Mike Carey, has used the book as a vessel of experimentation for the comicbook medium. One issue may read like one of those old pick-an-outcome mystery books and the next may take place in an amalgamated world of bastardised literature filtered through blog entrees, yet it remains seamlessly entertaining in its storytelling. Long story short, The Unwritten is the best book that Alan Moore never wrote, which is great since Moore’s pretty much quit writing comics.
My last selection by writer, Jason Aaron, Scalped, is one of the most hard-boiled comics ever written, so it was a total surprise that Aaron’s take on Wolverine’s team of X-Men is one of the lightest and funniest books that Marvel is producing. It makes sense really, as the book is about the staff and children of the Jean Grey School, set up by Wolverine, to insure that not all mutant children are brought up to be combatants. As unexpected as it was, Aaron is proving himself with this book to be more than a one trick pony, a truly varied writer, something that such contemporaries as Brian Azzarello have arguably yet to do. Accordingly, Marvel have teamed Aaron up with artists with quirky/cartoony styles. Of these Chris Bachalo is tried and tested, becoming a fan favourite years ago, but newcomer Nick Bradshaw, is keeping up admirably, fast becoming the Art Adams of a new generation (if a little quicker). Top Fun!
So that’s it, they may not be your own favourite ongoing comics of the moment, but I don’t think that anyone could argue that they aren’t outstanding comics in general. The important thing though is that you go out and buy comics, if not these then others more to your liking, because the monthly comic is still a great medium, especially to those out there who want to be ahead of the game. Go ahead, set the trend, be the one to create the buzz.