Read Comics: Gore and Old Ladies in This Week's Pull List

Our stand-out books of the week include 'Saga,' 'The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl,' and 'The Goddamned.'

Folks, Gail Simone herself was a fan of Emily’s Box: Week One, so let’s get this party started! I’m gonna coast on that success forever.

This week yielded another issue of Saga, the reigning king of comic narratives, and the only comic that I have to read while standing in the store, waiting in line to check out. The story remains fascinating, the art is clean and colorful, and Vaughan shows no signs of slowing the plot’s momentum. It’s the queer, crude, sentimental Star Wars-esque comic we all deserve.

Saga, however, was not the only star of the show this week. Dark Knight III continued, and I found it even easier to sing its praises, despite the weird Wonder Woman art that appeared online yesterday.

We also got some adorable updates to Squirrel Girl, Moon Girl, and Hellcat (who’s about to be relevant to non-geeks, as it looks like she’ll play a big role in Jessica Jones next season). Some disturbing comics continued, and Rick and Morty continued to coast, which was not what I predicted weeks ago.

Here’s the rundown:

Dark Knight III: The Master Race #3

Batman’s inner monologue strikes exactly the same tone as it did in Frank Miller’s original works, so that alone feels like a triumph. As he surveys his aging body, he concludes in this issue that the “fire” that made him Batman has officially “gone out,” and that his Robin will take up the cause of protecting Gotham.

Batman also trudged through the snow to find and revive Superman, which allowed them to enact that hateful banter that DC is currently making an entire film out of. The comic is also doing a lot of half-hearted work with timely media: I spotted jokes about Twitter, jokes about YouTube makeup vloggers, emojis, and Donald Trump sprinkled throughout. It feels like Miller is trying to make a connection between societal decline and … internet fads? It’s not clear yet, but it’s possible these are all just things Batman would hate.

Anyone who’s ever powered through an entire series simply because of its prestige, like The X Files or The Sopranos will understand The Dark Knight’s continued appeal.

Patsy Walker, A.K.A. Hellcat! #3

I fell for Patsy while reading Marvel’s holiday special (Gwenpool also shone in that one, so I guess the volume did its job). Her world is full of inside jokes and upbeat heroes just looking to make extra cash on the side, and I can respect that angle. If reading A-Force is the main course over at Marvel, breezing through an issue of Patsy Walker is like that lightly-flavored sorbet that you eat at fancy dinner parties. Pleasant, easy, and a welcome palate cleanser. She’s Squirrel Girl without all the footnotes and cutesy rhymes.

Plus, this week we met Doctor Strange, which makes Hellcat #3 relevant to MCU fans in two ways: Doctor Strange hits theaters this November, and Hellcat is soon to be a household name as well.

Ironically, Jessica Jones fans may not take to Hellcat, which employs a similar tone to shows like iZombie or Jane the Virgin.

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #4

The Hulk punches Devil Dinosaur in the face, and then kisses his own bicep! If you’re a fan of a more serious Hulk (or a more serious superhero world in general), Moon Girl is not for you. I read her regularly, however, because I’m fairly certain she’ll lead the fifth or sixth phase of the MCU, since she’s a super smart little black girl with adorable pigtails and lavender round glasses. I believe in some circles Moon Girl is pronounced “Quvenzhané Wallis.”

This week’s issue ended with Hulk leading Devil Dinosaur away from a heartbroken Moon Girl, so we’re in for a goofy, colorful reunion in March. This one’s harder to pin down as far as television goes. If you’re the kind of adult who still watches Sailor Moon re-runs, or if you’re looking forward to the Nancy Drew reboot, Moon Girl is a piece of cake.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #5

Squirrel Girl is the most consistently funny Marvel comic on the market because its lead hero isn’t a funny asshole like “Merc With a Mouth” Deadpool, but instead a Leslie Knope type who leaves villains mildly bewildered. Fans of Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine — which both embrace the same kind of nutso (hehe) optimism and quick, pun-heavy asides — will enjoy Squirrel Girl’s adventures with her regular-squirrel sidekick Tippy Toe.

The Goddamned #3

The Goddamned is as weird as it is beautiful. It’s one of the bloodiest comics currently running, but its watercolor aesthetic makes every image of gristle and bone look lyrical. The comic is a kaleidoscope of brutality, spinning through pages of atrocities carried out by a large cast of characters who are all connected through a vaguely Biblical theme.

It’s a rare dystopian fiction that feels ancient, as if we’re looking at something we aren’t meant to see. Anyone who watches Fargo, enjoyed Hannibal, or finds the slower parts of Game of Thrones intriguing will have the patience for this comic.

Outcast #16

Outcast is truly Robert Kirkman’s masterpiece, and I’m hoping fervently that the TV adaptation will do as well as The Walking Dead has. The comic, as opposed to Kirkman’s other work, is quiet and pressurized, built on long, meaningful glances between characters and punctuated with short bursts of violence.

This week gave us a particularly brutal exorcism, and furthered the plot toward Kyle finding out what the deal is with him and demons. Why are they so into him, and yet weakened by his presence, but only sometimes? The art, in this case, is stronger than the comic’s plot, though Kirkman still has time to pull it together with a couple big reveals. Folks who enjoyed The Following, and now enjoy The Fall, The Killing (or any other “The [blank]” show, really) will understand and appreciate Outcast’s dark and gloomy look at small towns and religion.

Saga #34

First of all, anybody can enjoy Saga. I’ve bought the first volume as a birthday present for so many friends and relatives that it’s hard to keep track at this point. If you’re not reading it now, start immediately. It doesn’t matter what you watch on television, but you’re especially bound to like it if you enjoy anything from Modern Family to You’re the Worst.

As for this week’s developments, Vaughan and Staples uncharacteristically gave us a good look at all of the main players, including Hazel, her parents, the transsexual prisoner, Sir Robot and his adorable son, the Will, Sweet Boy, and Ghus. It was a solid issue all around, checking in with everyone in quick succession without introducing any new worlds. It’s also exciting to hear both Hazel and the Robot Boy speaking in mature and intelligent voices as they grow.

Rick and Morty #11

So this issue, like many other Rick and Morty comics, isn’t great, but I’m chalking it up to Fowler not being on the team yet. The issue’s B-plot, in which Summer and Jerry have themselves a Freaky Friday situation and Summer almost has to have sex with her mom — while inhabiting her dad’s body — is a lot stronger than the A-plot. Rick kidnaps Morty and takes him to a room where he forces Morty to play a Roy-type game for several pages, with no real conclusion.

That’s the problem with Rick and Morty as it currently exists in comic book form: Each issue feels more like a non-enthused novelization of the show, rather than a continuation of what makes the cartoon so intelligent and darkly funny. Hopefully, once Fowler takes over in writing the comics, they’ll start to become worthwhile companion pieces to the cartoon. For now, they just sort of look good piled up together next to your Meeseeks doll.

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