Osamu Tezuka Story – Toshio Ban


This is the largest manga volume I’ve ever read, and happily it’s one self-contained narrative about Osamu Tezuka, who is both the Walt Disney and Will Eisner of Japanese culture. And an unrepetant workoholic – he always seemed to be working on at least five different manga at the one time. The Osamu Tekuza Story is both a fascinating look at a hard-working artist and at how Japan has changed since the thirties. I recommend it.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Volume 1 – 2 Tom Holland

Imagine you’re an ordinary person in the DC Universe. Your world is a scary place, buffeted by bizarre forces you barely comprehend and constantly threatened by extraterrestrial megalomaniacs. The only thing that stops your emotional landscape from becoming a whirlpool of existential terror is the knowledge that you’re ultimately being protected by the moral paragons over at the Justice League. Sure, Superman sometimes goes a bit evil but that’s probably just Kryptonite poisoning, and if things get really bad maybe the Sandman can organise a massive sleepover to bend reality back into the right shape. There’s a MLK saying Superman scribe Elliot S. Maggin seemed very fond of, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”, which applies particularly well to the DCU.

Anyone who believes that in the world of Injustice: Gods Among Us is headed for a breakdown. This prequel comic to some fighting game I’ve never played applies Murphy’s Law to the Justice League in the most heartbreaking way possible, by showing how Superman becomes determined to enforce world peace after the Joker tricks him into killing his wife and their unborn child, and the dire lengths Batman goes to to oppose his reign. It’s brutal stuff.

Yet somehow the well-written characterisation makes it feel that this dark scenario is possible for these classic characters. I feel that too many modern Superman adaptions darken the character to make him more appealing to the audiences who loved The Dark Knight trilogy, and by that I’m referring to the more recent Zack Snyder films. Going dark misses the point of Superman. While his stories aren’t necessarily childish, they do generally have an optimistic view on humanity. And they’re silly, especially Jimmy Olsen’s bizarre transformations and anything involving bizarro, and that’s really an essential part of what makes Superman fun. Tom Holland understands this, and instead of writing his heartbroken Superman as a Frank Milleresque angstlord, his Superman takes his simplistic and intuitive approach to morality in a horrifically different, tyrannical direction. It’s a believable evolution from his classic persona.

Batman is the same as he ever was. Really, someone as grim as him hardly needs any adaption to the new status quo. Although his butler Alfred really steps up to the plate in this book, beating up evil Superman thanks to the strength he got from a reverse-engineered Kryptonian medical technology. But we didn’t know that at the time, so it was awesome.

You can tell by the way I’m raving on about these books that they had a profound effect on me. Maybe they’ll do something similar to you.

Kiss Me Satan: New Orleans is a Werewolf Town – Victor Gischler and Joan Ferreya


So this one’s about a demon attempting redemption by acting as heaven’s dogsbody, in one of those eschatological conflicts where predictably enough, each side is as bad as the other. He makes it to New Orleans, where he has to defend a trio of witches from the werewolf mafia. Didn’t work for me.

Flash: Rogues Revolution, Gorilla Warfare and Reverse – Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato


I read more of Francis Manapul’s and Brian Buccellato’s Flash run, and it’s still very good. If I read anymore I might become a Flash fan. While I appreciate The Spirit-style titles, they do make the layout a bit confusing at times.

Hawkeye: Little Hits and L. A. Woman – Matt Fraction


Hawkeye is some Robin Hood wannabe dude who hangs out with The Avengers. In his private life, it turns out that he owns an apartment complex which he’s constantly defending against a tracksuit-clad sunglass-wearing gang of middle-aged men. They say bro a lot.

I enjoyed it. I’d enjoy it more if I’d managed to catch the first one in the series, but maybe that’s what I deserve for sourcing my comics exclusively from public libraries.

Smaller-scale conflicts work great for a fairly un-superhero like Hawkeye. I’m thinking that if the MCU want to make another film on the cheap, they ought to consider adapting this storyline to film.

The Fifth Beatle: Brian Epstein – Vivek J. Tiwary


I dunno about this one. The true story is interesting but I had doubts about the script. It turns out that Brian Epstein was a gay man who was conflicted about his sexuality, which was especially tough for him given how homosexuality was basically illegal in sixties Britain. The backword said the author wants to develop this into a screenplay, and I think movie version of this book would be worthwhile with some more revision.

The Sculptor – Scott McCloud


It’s hard to say how big a deal, or indeed what sort of deal, Scott McCloud is. He’s the creator of the excellent comic Zot, which started out something like an Astro Boy pastiche and ended up exploring themes of adolescent angst, alienation and closeted sexuality. McFarlane also wrote Understanding Comics, a documentary graphic novel that explained the conventions of the medium it was created in, like speech bubbles. (It’s been a while since I read it.) He’s an influential guy. You could say that he’s the Scott McFarlane of comics.

The Sculptor is about a frustrated sculptor who sells most of his lifespan to Death, in exchange for the supernatural ability to reform any solid matter into any shape he pleases. Inconveniently, he falls in love a month before the date he agreed to die. Things escalate from there.

This is probably going to be a classic.