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The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

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. Big Trouble in Little China #1

Written by Eric Powell with John Carpenter; art by Brian Churilla
Boom! Studios

Now we can finally find out what happened when Jack Burton drove off at the end of the movie.

People have tried in the past to turn John Carpenter’s 1986 cult classic Big Trouble in Little China into a comic. Top Cow Comics were going to do it back in 2009, but their plan never materialized and they eventually lost the license. Now, Boom! Studios is really going to make it happen and they’re doing it with the help of Carpenter himself.

Big Trouble in Little China #1 picks up right where the movie left off. Jack Burton (played by Kurt Russell in the film) has said farewell to Wang, Miao, Gracie, and the rest and drives off in his big rig, The Pork Chop Express. Unbeknownst to him, one of the monsters they fought off has stowed away in the back of his truck.

Boom! has brought a top notch creative team in to bring this to the page. Eric Powell is the creator of the popular comic The Goon and rarely works on anything outside of that series, but he could not resist the opportunity to create a sequel to one of his favorite movies. Artist Brian Churilla got a lot of attention for his recent Secret History of DB Cooper comic and has a clean, cartoony style that fits right in. On top of all that, John Carpenter has given his blessing on this series and has provided some input on the story.

Here’s a preview.

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2. Safari Honeymoon

By Jesse Jacobs
Koyama Press

A couple spend their honeymoon on a guided safari on another world.

Jesse Jacobs’ last graphic novel By This You Shall Know Him, is probably in my top 5 favorite comics of the past half-decade, which makes his latest, Safari Honeymoon, one of my most anticipated books of the year. His comics are weird, smart, beautifully designed, and always surprising.

In Safari Honeymoon, two affluent tourists pay a presumably exorbitant fee to spend their honeymoon in an alien world full of cute but dangerous wildlife, deadly parasites, infections, temporal disturbances, and strange, confusing landscapes. The couple’s journey is both terrifying and hilarious but constantly trippy.

Jacobs is great at drawing weird creatures that make you stop reading for ten minutes just to stare at the page to soak it all in. In between these hallucinatory interludes, though, he tells a really engaging story about men and women in the wild.

Here’s a preview

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3. Blindsprings

By Kadi Fedoruk
blindsprings.com / TheHiveworks.com

Sometimes a fairy tale princess shouldn’t be saved.

Recently, a reader recommended a webcomic in the comments section (I’m always looking for new comics to check out—especially webcomics—so please recommend some below). Blindsprings is a magical fantasy about a young girl named Tammy who lives in a lush forest straight out of a fairy tale. In fact, she soon meets a young man named Harris who knows of her from reading fairy tales. Harris soon leaves for school to study magic, while Tammy is involved with some sort of secret group of forest spirits. Years later, Harris returns to “save” Tammy and bring her out into the world. But that may not be what Tammy really wants or needs.

Kadi Fedoruk is an amazing young artist whose work would look right at home at Disney, although you can see other influences as well. Blindsprings looks like what would happen if Frozen’s Princess Anna wandered into the world of Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away. There is definitely a mysterious undertone to this that elevates the material above simple children’s fantasy though, and it hints at darker things to come.

Jump in and catch up on the story here.

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4. Afterlife With Archie Vol. 1: Escape from Riverdale

Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa; art by Francesco Francavilla
Archie Comics

There’s trouble in Riverdale when the dead begin to rise from their graves.

Undoubtedly the biggest surprise in comics the past year has been Afterlife With Archie, a new series from Archie Comics that takes the Riverdale gang and mashes them up with just about the last thing you’d expect: zombies. It’s understandable to want to dismiss this as trite bandwagon-jumping, but great reviews and impassioned word-of-mouth praise from readers have made this a hot-selling comic. Now, the first collected volume is about to hit bookstores and potential new audiences.

When Jughead’s pet Hot Dog is killed in a hit and run, he turns to Sabrina the Teenage Witch to bring him back to life. However, the dark magic Sabrina uses spreads out of control and Hot Dog is not the only corpse to rise from the dead in Riverdale. Soon, Archie and the gang are on the run and no one is safe.

This is the first book that Archie Comics has ever published that is meant for mature readers, and with its success it won’t be the last. Writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa just announced a new series that will focus on Sabrina The Teenage Witch in a similarly dark way. His collaborator, Francesco Francavilla, is a design-oriented comic book artist who has been making a big splash on Tumblr over the past year with his fan art posters for TV shows like Breaking Bad and True Detective. He brings that same, strong use of simple, bold color and graphic shadows to this comic to give it a look that feels true to the style of 1950s horror comics as well as the Archie comics of that same era.

Find out more about the book here.

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DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
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The Dark Knight Is Returning to Theaters, Just Ahead of 10th Anniversary
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
DC Comics, Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.

Believe it or not, July 18 will mark the 10th anniversary of the release of The Dark Knight, the second entry in Christopher Nolan’s game-changing superhero movie trilogy. To mark the occasion, Showcase Cinemas—the movie theater chain behind the Cinema de Lux experience—is bringing the movie back to select theaters on the east coast for limited screenings on February 8 and February 11, /Film reports.

Many people consider The Dark Knight the best film in the Batman franchise (Tim Burton and LEGO-fied movies included). The film currently holds a 94 percent “fresh” rating with both critics and audiences on Rotten Tomatoes, making it the highest-rated movie in the Batman universe.

Much of the film’s acclaim came from Heath Ledger’s brilliant turn as The Joker—a role that won him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar (making him the only actor to win that award posthumously). Even Michael Caine, who plays Bruce Wayne’s ever-dutiful butler and BFF Alfred, admitted that he wasn’t sold on the idea of bringing The Joker back into Batman’s cinematic universe, after the character was so ably played by Jack Nicholson in Burton’s 1989 film, until he found out Ledger would be taking the role.

“You don’t try and top Jack,” was Caine’s original thought. But when Nolan informed the actor that he was casting Ledger, that changed things. “I thought: ‘Now that’s the one guy that could do it!’ My confidence came back,” Caine told Empire Magazine.

To find out if The Dark Knight is playing at a theater near you, visit Showcase Cinemas’s website. If it’s not, don’t despair: With the official anniversary still six months away, other theaters are bound to have the same idea.

[h/t: /Film]

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BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
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10 Amazing Facts About Stan Lee
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images
BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP/Getty Images

Comic book legend Stan Lee’s life has always been an open book. The co-creator of some of the greatest superheroes and most beloved stories of all time has become just as mythical and larger-than-life as the characters in the panels. In 2015, around the time of Marvel’s 75th anniversary, Lee had the idea to reflect on his own life, as he said, “in the one form it has never been depicted, as a comic book … or if you prefer, a graphic memoir.”

The result, published by the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster in 2015, was Amazing Fantastic Incredible: A Marvelous Memoir—which was written by Lee with Peter David and features artwork by cartoonist and illustrator Colleen Doran. Here are 10 things we learned about Lee, on his 95th birthday.

1. HIS WIFE IS ALSO HIS BARBER.

As a bit of a throwaway fact, Stanley Martin Lieber (Stan Lee) reveals the secret of his slicked back mane on the second page of his memoir. “My whole adult life, I’ve never been to a barber,” he writes. “Joanie always cuts my hair.”

2. HIS CONFIDENCE COMES FROM HIS MOTHER.

Amazing Fantastic IncredibleCourtesy POW! Entertainment[2].jpg

Stan Lee writes that as a child he loved to read books by Mark Twain, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H.G. Wells, and others, and his mother often watched him read. “I probably got my self-confidence from the fact that my mother thought everything I did was brilliant.”

3. YOUNG STAN LEE WROTE OBITUARIES.

Before writing about the fantastic lives of fictional characters, Stan Lee wrote antemortem obituaries for celebrities at an undisclosed news office in New York. He says that he eventually quit that job because it was too “depressing.”

4. CAPTAIN AMERICA WAS HIS FIRST BIG BREAK.

A week into his job at Timely Comics, Lee got the opportunity to write a two-page Captain America comic. He wrote it under the pen name Stan Lee (now his legal name) and titled it "Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge." His first full comic script would come in Captain America Issue 5, published August 1, 1941.

5. HE WROTE TRAINING FILMS FOR THE ARMY WITH DR. SEUSS.

After being transferred from the army’s Signal Corps in New Jersey, Lee worked as a playwright in the Training Film Division in Queens with eight other men, including a few who went on to be very famous: Pulitzer Prize-winning author William Saroyan, cartoonist Charles Addams (creator of The Addams Family), director Frank Capra (Mr. Smith Goes to Washington [1939] and It’s a Wonderful Life [1946]) and Theodor Geisel, better known as Dr. Seuss.

6. HE DEFIED THE COMICS CODE AUTHORITY WITH AN ANTI-DRUG COMIC.

In 1971, Lee received a letter from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare asking him to put an anti-drug message in one of his books. He came up with a Spider-Man story that involved his best friend Harry abusing pills because of a break-up. The CCA would not approve the story with their seal because of the mention of drugs, but Lee convinced his publisher, Martin Goodman, to run the comic anyway.

7. AN ISSUE AT THE PRINTERS TURNED THE HULK GREEN.

The character was supposed to be gray, but Lee writes that the printer had a hard time keeping the color consistent. “So as of issue #2,” Lee writes, “with no explanation, he turned green.”

8. HIS WIFE DESTROYED HIS PRIZED TYPEWRITER.


Rich Polk/Getty Images for Entertainment Weekly

According to Lee, during an argument, Joanie destroyed the typewriter he used to write the first issues for characters including Spider-Man and The Fantastic Four. “This happened before eBay," he writes. "Too bad. I could’ve auctioned the parts and made a mint.”

9. A FIRE DESTROYED HIS INTERVIEWS AND LECTURES.

When Lee moved his family to Los Angeles, he set up a studio in Van Nuys where he stored videotapes of his talks and interviews, along with a commissioned bust of his wife. The building was lost to a blaze that the fire department believed was arson, but no one was ever charged with the crime.

10. HIS FAVORITE MARVEL FILM CAMEO WAS BASED ON ONE FROM THE COMICS.

Beginning with the first Spider-Man film in 2002, Stan Lee has made quick cameos in Marvel films as a service to the fans. He says that his appearance in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) was inspired by the story of Reed and Sue Richards’ wedding in Fantastic Four Annual Volume 1 #3, in which he and artist/writer Jack Kirby attempt to crash the ceremony but are thwarted.

All images courtesy of Touchstone unless otherwise noted.

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