Welcome, lovely listeners, to Issue 29 of Comics Squee. Each podcast our panelists, cowled crime-fighting crusaders, discuss the comic books, graphic novels, and general sequential art geekery that excites them.
Our superpowers are tangents and tentacles.
Joining me are regular squeesters: April Taie, leader of the Geek Girls Meetup in San Diego; and John Oliver, a dark fantasy author online at JohnWOliver.com.
Taking the revolving 4th chair this issue is our guest, Didi Tee. He works at ComicKaze, our friendly local comic shop and my prime source for graphic novels and indie comics.
In this issue of Comics Squee we have: a retired lady spy called back into action for revenge ; new adventures for the classic caped crusader ; a trio of silent comics ; and everyone’s favorite rabbit samurai.
Before we start, a reminder this podcast has chapter images (if your player supports m4a). You can also pause the podcast at any time to search the internet for books we’re squeeing about so you can look at pictures of the art whilst, at the same time, we talk about it.
John Oliver: Velvet by Ed Brubaker (writer), Steve Epting (artist), Elizabeth Breitweiser (colorist) (starts at 000:02:36.950)
We’ve mentioned Velvet several times on the podcast before. This spy comic from Brubaker and Epting is set in the 1970s, during the height of The Cold War. Velvet Templeton is a retired field agent who now is just a member of the secretary pool. Until she’s framed for the murder of another spy.
John loves the cosmopolitan, Cold War setting. The comic takes place in Europe, so the reader gets to ‘visit’ several different countries; from England to Russia, to Italy, to Monaco. There are glamorous costumes in the book but it’s also gritty.
Epting does a fantastic job with the art in Velvet; it’s both dark and detailed. There’s depth in that darkness. And Elizabeth Breitweiser’s coloring is gorgeous; keeps the noir feel and works great with Epting’s shadows.
The series is a little slow moving. It took John 3 issues to determine if he liked it. There’s a lot of backstory, and it feels like one long continuous story. They get the period really well, and it feels like a spy movie from the ’70s with slow build. We recommend reading Velvet as a trade, as the story reads better as whole instead of cut up into monthly installments.
Chriss: The Batman ‘66 comic by various creators (starts at 00:13:00.037)
DC has been doing these new Batman ’66 stories with the classic Caped Crusader. One glance at the cover and that IS Adam West as Batman. That IS Burt Ward as Robin. And that continues on with the rest of the cast.
Each issue is a stand alone, self contained story. So you get a complete ‘episode’ with each one. And there’s a different creative team on each story. So the art varies. The first trade collection starts with a Riddler story, goes on to The Penguin and Mr. Freeze teaming up to use a moving iceberg to block Gotham harbor. And there’s a great Batgirl versus Ertha Kit’s Catwoman story, too.
It’s wonderful fun and feels like a real continuation of the classic TV show in the best possible way.
April: Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai (starts at 00:18:15.987)
Yay, rabbit samurai! This creator owned comic has been ongoing since 1994. It chronicles story of a ronin during the Edo era, who is an anthropomorphic rabbit. And he’s not the only one; all the characters are animals doing people things. And there’s a great, wide variety of animal people; bats, rhinos, pigs, pandas, etc.
Usagi Yojimbo is very much in that classic samurai action genre. So there is a lot of death and killing, but it’s never graphic or gratuitous. Stan’s got a great cartooning style. When someone dies their eyes become Xs and their thought bubble is a little skull.
But it’s not just combat. There’s ghost stories, tea ceremony info, unrequited love, and comedy. And it’s so well researched. So much research!
Currently there are 28 bound volumes, put out by both Fantagraphics and Dark Horse. April recommends starting at the beginning, but Chriss says just start with whatever volume you get your hands on first. This is a series you can get at the Public Library or buy used if budget is an issue.
Didi Tee: Monsters! and Other Stories by Gustavo Duarte (starts at 00:31:01.050)
This book is a collection of several silent comics by Brazilian cartoonist Gustavo Duarte, published by Dark Horse. Gustavo has a great style, with expressive faces and every line serving a purpose. They’re each black and white with a single highlight color.
The stories in Monsters! vary from an old bartender telling a story about defeating giant monsters destroying the city, to a guy getting turned into a pig by aliens, to birds/bird people going to great lengths to avoid their fate and run from Death.
And they’re all silent. There’s no words. No sound effects. The comics are entirely dependent on Gustavo’s expressive cartooning to tell the tales. The pages are so brilliantly composed. And when there is violence is very much cartoon violence, with no gore or threat or ick factor.
Question Time: What’s your favorite TV adaptation of a comic? (starts at 00:37:12.062)
I posed this query to our lovely listeners on the Twitters and Book of Face
Tamahome02000, who suggested this Question, chimed in with the Doctor Strange TV movie from the late ’60s. Another listener chimed in with the new Arrow show.
- 5a) Tangent 1: Pet ’em if you got ’em (starts at 00:37:17.467)
- Didi Tee:
The Flash from the 1990s, with the padded suit and Mark Hamill playing The Trickster
Fantastic Four: Worlds Greatest Heroes cartoon. The ’70s Wonder Woman where she’s a spy is fun. Ultimate Spider-Man is good.
Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, Batman: The Animated Series (a classic), Young Justice League cartoon, Super Friends.
What We’re Looking Forward to Reading Next (starts at 00:56:21.125)
Finishing up the last arc of Matt Kindt’s Mind Management
It Was The War of The Trenches and Run Like Crazy, Run Like Hell, both by Jaques Tardi.
The Black Widow trades that follow the things she’s up to when she’s not an Avenger; very dark, gritty, and espionage-ey.
- Didi Tee:
East of West, and what Hickman will do with the new Marvel Infinite Crises kind of thing. And re-re-reading his collected run on Fantastic Four