*Obie, through his dabbling in arcane magiks mixed with ancient corrupt business practices, has had not just the colors of his fur switched, but a complete overhaul of his work ethic as well…I think I’m kinda okay with the mishap.
Not sure what “Comics Lust” is about? Take a look at the Introduction to “Comics Lust” post or take a look at the static “Comics Lust Table of Contents” page to jump to a topic.
Alone Again Or: Non-Big-Two, Solo Superheroes (Part 1)
In a past chapter, I looked at some non-Big-Two comics that focused on superhero teams, but there are plenty of superhero comics out there that focus more on the struggles and wins of the individual. That’s what we will begin looking at here today.
Invincible(Written by Robert Kirkman, illustrated by Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, colored by Bill Crabtree, published by Image Comics beginning in 2003)
Invincible just finished its massive 144 issue run, and I have to admit that I am woefully behind on this spectacular series; something which I fully intend to correct this year. To be honest, I’m only about halfway through the series (Volume 14 is the last trade I read), but this is only the result of losing track of this marvelous accomplishment from Kirkman, Walker, and Ottley, and not a statement on the material itself. Invincible tells the story of Mark Grayson, a senior in high school with a lame fast food job, whose life is otherwise unremarkable…until after a frustrating day on the job he tosses a bag garbage into the next county. Life’s about to change for Mark as he struggles to understand the rapidly developing powers he inherited from his superhero father. But with great power comes great responsibility and that responsibility becomes a crushing burden as Mark’s life completely falls apart in the wake of a family tragedy. Thankfully, Mark finds others like him to help him through the tough times, especially one particularly interesting girl. Just writing this little blurb makes me want to start from the beginning and work my way through the entire saga of this very adult-oriented comic. Yes, the art style and colors suggest a happy-go-lucky superhero fest, but be warned: Invincible deals with some highly personal subject matter and is incredibly violent and bloody. This comic is harsh, but it does have the occasional lighthearted and humorous moments to lift your spirits and keep you loving the main characters. So, with 144 issues, you got your work cut out for you and it is definitely worth starting at the beginning with issue #1. But also keep in mind that once you’re sucked in you can delve even deeper into the Invincibleverse with the side books Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe #1–2 (2006), Invincible Presents: Atom Eve #1–2 (2007), Invincible Presents: Atom Eve and Rex Plode #1–3 (2009), Invincible Returns #1, Invincible Universe #1–12 (2013), It might seem like a hefty undertaking to dive into Invincible, but once you get started I suspect you’ll have no problem plowing through this great comic.
The Black Beetle(Everythinged by Francesco Francavilla, published by Dark Horse beginning in 2012)
The biggest gripe I have with The Black Beetle is that there simply isn’t enough of it…yet. For anyone who’s followed Donist World for a while, you know that I positively love Francavilla’s work; I’m sitting on my couch and looking at a poster of a particularly stunning alternate cover he did for Chilling Adventures of Sabrina #2 as I write this. His line work is minimalist, his storytelling masterful, and his otherworldly colors are unlike anything I have ever seen, so imagine my joy when I learned that he was both writing and illustrating his own love letter to pulpy costumed heroes. The Black Beetle is Colt City’s self-proclaimed protector who seeks to thwart both the underworld threats of seedy crime bosses and bizarre, costumed freaks alike. Armed with an array of impressive weapons and vehicles, the Black Beetle must use his wits and fists to keep his city safe from the secret threats few know exists. With any luck, we will one day see the long-rumored The Black Beetle: Necrologue, but for the time being, you can feast your eyes on Francavilla’s two gorgeous hardcover books: The Black Beetle: No Way Out (2013), and The Black Beetle: Kara Böcek (2017).
Miracleman(Written by Alan Moore and later by Neil Gaiman; illustrated by Gary Leach, Alan Davis, John Ridgeway, Rick Veitch, John Totleben, and Mark Buckingham; published by Eclipse Comics beginning in 1985)
Okay, okay, simmer down, Denizens. At least simmer down if you were about to shout, “But Marvel recently put out those individual issues and hardcover collections.” To this I need to remind everyone that Miracleman was originally published back in the days by Eclipse, who went out of business, whose rights were bought up dirt cheap by none other than Todd McFarlane, who held onto those rights intending to put Miracleman into his Spawn comic, who then was locked for years in a legal battle with Neil Gaiman, Marvel then joined the fray on Gaiman’s side to ultimately win publishing rights back, Marvel then put out all of the previously published material in issues and hardcover collections with new colors and letters, and then…nothing. Nothing. Marvel and Gaiman talked up finally finishing the tale that halted abruptly back in 1993, but three years after the last reprint debuted, we’re all still waiting to see what happens next. But, this should not stop you from reading Moore’s revamp of the long gone Marvelman character from the ‘50s. Published between Moore’s deconstruction of Swamp Thing and the industry-defining Watchmen, Miracleman follows Michael Moran, an average-joe type character who gets caught up in a crime scene and suddenly realizes there’s more, much more, to him than he or his wife could ever have imagined. Bristling with newfound (or rather long-forgotten) powers, Miracleman learns that another of the “Miracleman Family” yet lives and that is when everything goes from good to far, far worse. To say this series is one of the comics that affected me the most in my life is a vast understatement. Beautiful, tragic, grotesque, traumatic, hopeful, this series has it all, especially when you get to the issues magnificently illustrated by Totleben. Issue #15, in particular, features some of the most horrifying images of what happens when a deranged and nigh-unstoppable superhuman decides to go on a rampage. Moore spends 16 issues tearing Mike Moran’s world apart and putting it back together again ultimately solving all the world’s problems before handing the series off to Gaiman, who then wrote eight impressive issues as well as contributing to a three-issue anthology titled Miracleman: Apocrypha (1991), which unfortunately might be a challenge to get ahold of as it has not yet been reprinted. I won’t lie to you, Denizens, Miracleman is going to be an emotionally rough book to read, but stick with it, it is WELL worth the turmoil you will put yourself through.
Irredeemable(Written by Mark Waid, illustrated by Peter Krause and Diego Barreto, published by Boom! Studios beginning in 2009)
What do you do when the most powerful hero in the world, The Plutonian, goes mad and starts killing villains and former team members indiscriminately? What could turn a peaceful, benevolent being into such a horrific monster? Such are the questions raised in Irredeemable. Okay, technically, this comic is about a former hero of the Earth going hardcore evil, but, hey, he was technically a hero to start with before becoming the worst and deadliest villain of all time. A bit of a stretch for this topic, but it came to mind and I remembered just how addictive the series was. Irredeemable ran for 37 issues and one special, but also had a sister book, Incorruptible, that was published at the same time and focused on one of the Plutonian’s greatest villains, Max Damage, who decides to change his wicked ways and become a hero. I never read the thirty-issue Incorruptible—something I fully intend to remedy at some point this year—but Irredeemable is a compelling story that I definitely need to read again in the near future.
There are plenty more superhero solo adventures to talk about, but those are for another day. Plus, you have 144 issues of Invincible to get to.
This Week’s Reading List
Descender #27(Written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Dustin Nguyen, lettered and designed by Steve Wands, published by Image Comics)
After the amazing “Rise of the Robots” arc, Descender is back with what looks to be the origin of the dreaded Harvesters as we travel back 4000 years in the past with two new characters. Yes, I want to get back to TIM-21 and Telsa, but as long as we explore more of this fascinating world I'm as happy as can be. Gorgeous art and an immersive story continue to make this series my favorite comic being published for going on three years now. The next issue cannot come soon enough. VERY HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Mage: The Hero Denied #6(Written and illustrated by Matt Wagner, colored by Brennan Wagner, lettered by Dave Lanphear, consulting editor Diana Schutz, design and production by Steven Birch, published by Image Comics)
Kevin becomes obsessed with finding the questing beast. Magda just wants to live a fairly normal life, but even she may not be able to resist the pull of forces beyond her control. Oh, the stresses family creates. Plus, the Umbra Sprite will stop at nothing to get the Fisher King. Still loving this awesome series. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Lazarus X+66 #6(Written by Greg Rucka and Erik Trautmann, illustrated by Tristan Jones, colored by Santi Arcas, lettered by Jodi Wynne, edited by David Brothers, published by Image Comics)
The miniseries comes to an end, and what a truly terrifying ending it is. This issue shows us the history and current abode on the deadliest Lazarus of all: The Zmey—also known as “the dragon” and “the Beast”. Not only did the Zmey easily murder one of Forever Carlyle’s Lazarus teammates, he also nearly killed her, Sonja, and Joacquim as well. After learning a bit more about this man-made monster, it’s easy to see why the Zmey is so very feared. Now, I’m good and ready for the series proper to return in April. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!