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Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing
Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing

The Most Interesting Comics of the Week

Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing
Robert Wilson IV/IDW Publishing

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. The Life After

By Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo
Oni Press

A comic about religion in the surveillance age

At the start of The Life After, a young man named Jude breaks the monotonous routine of his life, forcing his way off the bus he takes every day to chase after a woman he’s never met. What seems like a romantic moment of a guy getting up the nerve to meet the girl of his dreams quickly turns into an even bigger moment that begins to reveal Jude's world for what it really is. When he then meets deceased novelist Ernest Hemingway, the only other person who sees the world for what it truly is, that's when the comic really gets started.

Joshua Hale Fialkov is looking to tell a story about religion - being watched over by a higher power - in the surveillance age and he sets it in an afterlife where everything is a false, Matrix-like construct with faceless individuals monitoring and orchestrating every move. When he deals with big concepts about life and death, Fialkov manages to do it with a sense of fun and adventure. He is a respected writer whose star has been on the rise. After stints writing for DC and Marvel, Fialkov has been focusing on creator-owned works like his digital comic The Bunker, released through Comixology’s Submit program. Here he is working with the artist known as Gabo (real name Gabriel Bautista), whose cartoony but detail-oriented style helps balance the theological heaviness with a sense of sci-fi fun.

Here’s a preview.

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2. Benson’s Cuckoos

By Anouk Ricard
Drawn & Quarterly

A comic that's like 'The Office,' but with funny animals

Anouk Ricard is a French cartoonist most known for her award-winning series of children’s graphic novels, Anna and Froga. Her first graphic novel intended for grown-up readers is the office place comedy Benson’s Cuckoos.

Describing the comic as "The Office with funny animals" feels a little reductive, but there truly are a lot of similarities. It takes place within a company that is populated by comically disgruntled employees who work for a hilariously inappropriate boss. There’s even a budding office romance between Sophie (a dog) and Richard (a duck) that has as many false starts as The Office’s Jim and Pam. We are introduced to the cuckoo clock company through the new guy, Richard, as he tries to become accustomed to his eccentric co-workers. When he finds out that the guy he was hired to replace has gone missing, Richard realizes things are even stranger than he first thought.

Anouk Ricard’s humor is dry and subtle and she draws in a straightforward and simple style that manages to make these animals seem familiar.

Drawn & Quarterly has some preview pages here.

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3. Knuckleheads Vol. 1: Fist Contact

By Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV with colors by Jordan Boyd
IDW

A bro with newfound superpowers has to put down the Xbox controller to save the world

In Brian Winkeler and Robert Wilson IV’s Knuckleheads, a slacker named Trevor K. Trevinski is granted superpowers by an alien who gives him a weapon called the “Crystal Fist” (it looks like a pair of brass knuckles made out of ice). What does Trev do with his newfound power? Mostly use it to play Xbox and get free Netflix. That is, until a giant Kaiju shows up and starts wrecking the city. Trev and his roommate Lance then find themselves unexpectedly propelled into action.

This previously digital-only comic draws its inspiration and humor from TV series like It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the British comedy Peep Show. It becomes an ensemble comedy once Trev saves a drunk British girl named Emma and a pizza delivery guy named Guy who both wind up sticking around for the adventure. Also, there's a dog with whom Trev’s Crystal Fist allows him to hilariously communicate. The humor is laden with pop culture references that may end up dating it, but it is refreshingly snappy and quite funny.

With this first collected print volume hitting comic shops via IDW Publishing, they are just the latest success story to get their start through Monkeybrain and the latest to see a widely released print collection come out thanks to the close relationship between the two publishers.

Here’s a preview.

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4. We Go Forward

By Shen Anigansen
Owl Turd Comix

A look at life within a side-scrolling video game

Webcomics inspired by video games are so prevalent these days that it’s easy to disregard them. However, We Go Forward, which artist Shen Anigansen posted to his Tumblr this week, is profound and touching. It draws on a common trope in side-scrolling video games — the fact that you can’t go backwards — and creates a clever and even sad little story from it.

It’s a quick read and beautifully drawn in a really pleasing 8-bit style so go read it now.

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Disney/Marvel Studios
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Afternoon Map
Marvel vs. DC: This Map Shows Each State’s Favorite Comic Universe
Disney/Marvel Studios
Disney/Marvel Studios

Which comic book company is the best: Marvel or DC? This is a perennial argument on middle-school playgrounds and Reddit threads, but this map, courtesy of USDish.com, might just give us a definitive answer. The information here is broken down by state, using information provided by Google Trends to give us a clear winner of not only the most popular comic book company but also the most popular individual hero in each state (let’s show a little respect to Indiana for championing the Martian Manhunter).

According to the map, Marvel is the most popular publisher in 37 states, with DC trailing behind at eight, and five additional states coming to a 50/50 stalemate. The totals weren’t a blowout, though. In certain states like Mississippi, Iowa, and Pennsylvania, the favored company only won by a point. And just because a state searches Google for a specific publisher the most doesn’t mean an individual character from the opposing team isn’t its favorite—Hawaii is listed as favoring Marvel overall, yet they love Aquaman on his own. Same with DC-loving Maryland showing Black Panther some love (helps to have a big movie coming out). Take a look at some of the most notable state preferences below:

So how did Marvel amass so many states when there are just as many DC TV shows and movies out there? Well, according to Andrew Selepak, Ph.D., a professor in the department of telecommunication at the University of Florida, and director of the graduate program in social media, the answer lies in the depth at the House of Ideas.

“While Superman and Batman may be dominant characters,” Selepak said in a statement, “the DC Universe offers few other well-known heroes and villains and when these other characters are presented to the audience in film and on TV, they often are less than well-received.” This is opposed to Marvel, which launches new heroes on the big and small screen seemingly every year.

Does this map tell the whole story? That’s up for debate. When it comes to comics sold, DC and Marvel are always in a close battle: In January 2018, DC had six of the 10 best-selling comics of the month, placing four of the top five. Marvel, meanwhile, had three, while Image Comics had one with The Walking Dead. In terms of overall retail market share, though, Marvel eked out DC 34.3 percent to 33.8 percent.

This is a battle that's been raging since the 1960s, and for an industry that thrives on a never-ending fight between good and evil, we shouldn't expect the Marvel vs. DC debate to be settled anytime soon.

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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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