Box Brown/First Second
Box Brown/First Second

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Box Brown/First Second
Box Brown/First Second

Every Wednesday, I write about the most interesting new comics hitting comic shops, bookstores, digital, Kickstarter, and the web. Feel free to comment below if there's a comic you've read recently that you want to talk about or an upcoming comic that you'd like me to consider highlighting.

1. Andre the Giant: Life and Legend

By Box Brown
First Second

Box Brown depicts the tragic life of Andre the Giant in his own inimitable style.

Graphic novel biographies are fun because you get to see the subject’s life interpreted through the idiosyncrasies of the artist's drawing style. There's a wonderful synergy that’s apparent when reading Box Brown’s Andre the Giant: Life and Legend because Andre seems to be born right out of Brown's graphic, geometric style. He exaggerates the unbelievable size and laid-back demeanor that pro wrestling fans came to love about Andre.

The subject of professional wrestling is a natural match for comics, I think, but it is a hard one for creating a factual biography of any of its participants. Brown explains in the book’s introduction how the need to maintain the illusion of wrestling being “real" is ingrained in anyone involved, especially from the era of the ‘70s and ‘80s. Interviews with retired wrestlers can be an unreliable source of information as they are constantly putting on a charade. But Brown does an admirable job of working with the facts of Andre’s interesting and tragic life via a series of vignettes.

We see Andre Roussimoff go from a boy living on a farm in rural France to an international superstar thanks to a condition called acromegaly that caused his body to never stop growing and would eventually kill him. Brown portrays many aspects of Andre’s character: his loneliness, his penchant for off-color jokes, his friendship with fellow wrestlers, and his estranged relationship with his daughter. Andre comes off as a likable character, but not exactly the gentle giant you might expect.

You can read a preview of Andre The Giant: Life and Legend here.


2. This One Summer

By Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
First Second

The new young adult graphic novel from the award-winning team of Jillian and Mariko Tamaki.

This marks the much anticipated return of Mariko and Jillian Tamaki to the world of young adult graphic literature. The two cousins (Mariko is the writer and Jillian illustrates) first collaborated on 2008’s Skim, which won a number of awards for its story of adolescent outsiderism.

With their follow-up graphic novel, This One Summer, the Tamakis again provide a thoughtful, original and, beautifully illustrated story of young girls learning how to grow up. Rose and Windy are friends who see each other once a year when their families spend summer vacation in the same sleepy beach town. They’re both at that age when they’re too old to hang out with their parents but too young to hang out with the local teenagers who hang around the general store, drinking and partying. Rose finds herself captivated by the sexual drama she observes between two teenagers while, at the same time, she becomes alienated by the building tension between her parents.

This One Summer does not travel down the well-trodden path of your typical coming-of-age summer dramas with simple moral lessons. Instead, the Tamakis explore how disconcerting the grown-up world can seem to a twelve year old girl who wants so badly to be a part of it but can’t quite comprehend the unspoken glances and complicated sexual dynamics.

This book will be a thought-provoking read for teenagers and young adults whose memories of this age are still fresh in their minds. It is a masterful piece of storytelling that is sure to garner more awards for this creative team. Jillian Tamaki has already become a very influential illustrator in the past few years, but her work here is a revelation.

Here’s a preview of This One Summer.


3. Manifest Destiny Vol. 1

Written by Chris Dingess; art by Matthew Roberts; colors by Owen Gieni
Image Comics/Skybound

What if Lewis and Clark discovered some real strange supernatural stuff on their expedition?

The conceit behind Manifest Destiny, Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts' new series for Image Comics, is a good one: President Jefferson has sent Meriwether Lewis and William Clark into the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase territory not just to establish a western route, but also to document any strange and mysterious creatures they come across along the way. What makes this such a great read is the way historical fiction is mixed with a sense of fun and outlandish adventure.

Dingess and Roberts are relative newcomers to comics. Dingess has written for the SyFy channel’s Being Human and Roberts has done some work for Image, but this is his first ongoing title. Together they’ve created a story that is part Master and Commander and part Lost, which amounts to a well-researched period piece with lots of sci-fi trappings.

Manifest Destiny was an immediate hit and the first issues sold out instantly. This week sees the release of its first collected volume (as well as a simultaneous release of the 6th issue.)

You can read a preview here.


4. Comics Unmasked: The Digital Anthology

By Various
British Library in London/Sequential App

Some of the greatest British comics made by some of the best creators to ever work in the medium.

The British Library in London has a new exhibit running through August called Comics Unmasked that explores the history of British mainstream and underground comics. It focuses on the more “anarchic” and adult works that challenge categorization, sexual and social norms, and the overall status quo. It is the largest ever comics exhibition in the UK.

To celebrate that exhibition, a digital anthology containing many works from the show is now available for free through the excellent digital comics app Sequential. The 150-page collection has excerpts from creators such as Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Pat Mills, Bryan and Mary Talbot, Posy Simmonds, Eddie Campbell, Dave Gibbons, and more.

This is a fantastic way to peruse the broad range of comics that have been produced by some of the greatest writers and artists to ever work in the medium. It’s also a great way to introduce yourself to Sequential’s comics app. They sell a lot of fantastic digital graphic novels, many with a more European flavor than are available on Comixology.

Find out more here.


5. A Body Beneath

By Michael DeForge
Koyama Press

Collecting the early work of one of today’s most influential young cartoonists.

A Body Beneath collects bits and pieces from issues 2 through 5 of Michael DeForge’s much lauded but hard to find one-man anthology comic, Lose. The reason it doesn’t contain anything from issue 1, as DeForge explains in the book's intro, is that he can’t bear to look back on how rough his early work looks. Even if that is true, he sure seemed to be the fully formed Michael DeForge that we now know by issue 2, where he explores body horror and laces with intricately grotesque imagery and casually funny dialogue.

DeForge's moment of self-deprecation makes for an apt comparison to the comically down-on-himself Chris Ware and, in many ways, DeForge is the next-generation Ware. In Lose, he explores artistic experimentations that remain readable because of his sharp sense of humor and surprising storytelling. As a result, he has become an influential nexus in an array of talented young comic creators who are pushing beyond the observational sensibilities of ’90s and early '00s era indie comics while moving into a fusion of fantasy, horror, auto-bio, surrealism, and pornography.

While this year’s Ant Colony is probably the better gateway into reading DeForge, A Body Beneath is a great way for DeForge fans who missed out on the early issues of Lose to see how he has developed as an artist over the years.

5 Records Black Panther Has Already Broken

Black Panther isn’t just a success—it’s a phenomenon. Based on the Marvel Comics character created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, the movie has already grossed well over $1 billion at the worldwide box office, and it’s not exactly slowing down, remaining at the top spot for a fourth weekend. It’s currently the seventh-highest grossing movie of all time at the domestic box office, trailing heavy-hitters like Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic Park, and Titanic.

It’s also a huge win with critics and audiences, as it currently holds the best Rotten Tomatoes score for a Marvel movie, beating out The Avengers, Spider-Man 2, and Iron Man. With all of the praise and money pouring in, we’re taking a look at five records Black Panther has already broken.


February has typically been seen as a soft month at the box office, especially where blockbusters are concerned. But in 2015, Deadpool changed all of that by taking in a record $130+ million over its Valentine’s Day weekend debut. While that was a record at the time—and even more impressive for a movie with an R rating—Black Panther left that total in the rearview, taking in around $202 million in its first weekend in theaters. That was good enough for the highest February weekend of all time, but that’s not even all of it.

The movie’s $75+ million Friday was the highest ever February debut and the biggest opening day overall for a solo superhero movie—exceeding the likes of 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises and 2016’s Captain America: Civil War. It also holds the record for the biggest February preview day ($25.2 million) for its late-night Thursday screenings before its official Friday premiere.


Chadwick Boseman in 'Black Panther' (2018)
Disney/Marvel Studios

In 2017, director F. Gary Gray’s The Fate of the Furious took in an impressive $1.2+ billion at the worldwide box office, with $226 million of that coming from the United States. For a while, that was the biggest box office win for an African-American filmmaker both domestically and internationally. But after its opening weekend, Black Panther was already at $200 million, and after the President’s Day holiday that came immediately after, it had amassed another $40.176 million—easily giving director Ryan Coogler the crown of helming the highest-grossing film for an African-American director (and cast) in the United States (even when adjusting for inflation). And before its run is over, it will certainly top Furious’s worldwide total.


Not even a galaxy far, far away could stand up to Black Panther. Star Wars: The Force Awakens used to hold the crown for the highest-grossing Monday at the box office with $40.110 million but was topped by Panther’s $40.176 million.


Added to that, Black Panther now owns the Marvel record for the highest-grossing Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, as well as the best first Marvel week overall, coming in at $292 million, compared to The Avengers’s $270 million in 2012. It also topped every other Marvel movie’s second weekend with $108 million and only trails The Force Awakens for the best second weekend in history.


Black Panther came out of the gate strong with the biggest debut for a solo superhero movie ever at $75.81 million. Then, after 27 days in theaters, it topped them all, becoming the highest-grossing solo superhero movie in U.S. history, beating out the $534.8 million held by The Dark Knight Rises. This means it topped all the other Iron Man, Captain America, and Spider-man solo movies on the character's first attempt. It still has some work to do to topple the $623,357,910 of The Avengers, but nothing is off the table at this point.

However, these numbers don’t take inflation into account. So while it trounced Spider-man’s 2002 domestic take of $403 million, you’re comparing it to ticket prices from 16 years ago. In reality, Sam Raimi’s first Spider-Man would have made $637 million today—and that Avengers total would jump up to $705 million.

Myles Aronowitz, Netflix
10 Super Facts About Jessica Jones
Myles Aronowitz, Netflix
Myles Aronowitz, Netflix

Jessica Jones is back! After a more than two-year wait, fans of Marvel's rough-around-the-edges superhero-turned-private eye are celebrating the arrival of her Netflix series' second season (and binge-watching it accordingly). Here are 10 things you might not have known about the character.


In 2001, writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos created Jessica Jones for MAX Comics, an imprint of Marvel. As the star of the comic book series Alias, Jones was the first character created for the new publishers, which allowed for more explicit content than its parent company.

Born Jessica Campbell, she got her superpowers when her family was in a tragic car accident with a military vehicle carrying radioactive chemicals; Jessica was the only survivor. After several months in a coma, Jessica was adopted by the Jones family. Shortly thereafter, she discovered that the chemicals had given her special abilities, including super strength, resistance to physical injury, and the power of flight (though she never quite mastered that one).


Before Jessica Jones arrived on Netflix in 2015, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg had originally developed a series based on the superhero for ABC in December of 2010. The pilot, which was originally called A.K.A. Jessica Jones, featured references to Tony Stark and Stark Industries, and acknowledged the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, ABC passed on the series in 2012. A year later, Netflix partnered with Marvel and Disney for four new live-action TV series and a mini-series. Rosenberg was brought on to develop, produce, and write a new version of Jessica Jones, which joins the Marvel/Netflix roster of TV shows, including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, and The Defenders, a team-up miniseries.


Krysten Ritter in Jessica Jones
David Giesbrecht, Netflix

Jessica Jones made her first appearance in Alias #1, as a former costumed superhero who left her post to become a private investigator. Alias ran for 28 issues between 2001 and 2004. Co-creator Brian Michael Bendis originally made the story’s protagonist Jessica Drew, a.k.a. Spider-Woman, but created Jessica Jones instead, “Which is good,” Bendis told USGamer, “because had we used Jessica it would have been off continuity and bad storytelling.”


Jessica Jones went to Midtown High School in Queens, which is the same high school Peter Parker attended. In fact, Jessica had a crush on Parker while they were classmates. He believed they had a special connection because both of them had lost their families under random and tragic circumstances. After Peter Parker became Spider-Man, Jones (not knowing it was Parker) saw the web slinger protect their school from the evil Sandman, which inspired her to use her superpowers for good. 


David Tennant and Krysten Ritter in 'Jessica Jones'
David Giesbrecht, Netflix

Jewel was the identity Jones adopted for her first attempt at being a costumed superhero, and she didn’t do much to make a name for herself. It wasn’t until she came under the mind control of one of Daredevil’s foes, Zebediah Killgrave (The Purple Man, who is portrayed by former Doctor Who star David Tennant), that Jones saw any real action. Ordered to kill Daredevil, Jones arrived at the Avengers Mansion, where she battled the Scarlet Witch, Iron Man, and Vision. Fortunately, she was spotted by her longtime friend Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel), who took her to safety. After another several months in a coma, Jones was watched over by S.H.I.E.L.D. and eventually regained her mind and identity with the help of some psychic therapy, courtesy of the X-Men’s Jean Grey.  


The super-pair met when Jones donned the hardened vigilante identity Knightress. After dealing with the supervillain the Owl, Jones and Cage had a drunken one-night stand. They then started to have an on-again/off-again relationship. Then she became pregnant with their daughter, Danielle, who was named after Daniel Rand (Iron First), Luke’s best friend.


Mike Colter as Luke Cage in 'Jessica Jones'
Myles Aronowitz, Netflix

After marrying Cage, Jones joined the New Avengers and changed her superhero name to Power Woman as a tribute to her husband’s superhero identity, Power Man. But due to the stress of the job and the potential threat to their new family, the pair left the New Avengers and started a new life. Cage later started up another superhero team called the Mighty Avengers, but Jones, annoyed and irritated with her husband, opted not to join because she wanted to raise Danielle instead. 


Bendis followed up the success of Alias with The Pulse in 2004. It centered on Jones taking a job as a “vigilante analyst" with The Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. Working alongside reporter Ben Urich, Jones was tasked with uncovering the true identity of Spider-Man, but ultimately discovered that the Green Goblin was really Norman Osborn (which did not sit well with Osborn).


During Marvel’s Civil War, Iron Man and Captain Marvel confronted Jones and Cage about registering with the authorities under the Superhuman Registration Act, which enforced a “mandatory registration of super-powered individuals with the government.” Unwilling to register, Jones and Cage were forced to go underground. 


James McCaffrey, Krysten Ritter, and Rachael Taylor in 'Jessica Jones'
David Giesbrecht, Netflix

Jones’s longtime friend Carol Danvers was originally going to appear in an early version of the TV show. Her character was scrapped and replaced with Trish "Patsy" Walker when the series moved from ABC to Netflix. Marvel then decided to feature Carol Danvers as the star of her own feature film, Captain Marvel, which is due in theaters in early 2019. Oscar-winner Brie Larson will play the title role.

“Back when it was at ABC Network, I did use Carol Danvers," showrunner Melissa Rosenberg explained. "But between then and when it ended up on Netflix ... the MCU shifted, and it also shifted away from the universe in the [comic] book ... But as it turned out, Patsy Walker ended up being [a] much more appropriate fit with Jessica. It was better that her best friend was not someone with powers. It actually ends up being a really great mirror for her.”


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