Look, I can “report” comic book “news,” too.
Welcome back to Waiting on the Trade, a monthly comics book club for people who don’t have time for monthly comics!
In this episode, guest host Tyler Marifke practices some everyday magic, as we discuss Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo, and co.’s Doctor Strange: The Way of the Weird.
Good fantasy stories follow rules. Which is to say, the stories take place within worlds that bend reality’s rules yet remain internally consistent. In some cases, these stories even go so far as to make their world’s rules central to their narrative – which is the case in Kamome Shirahama’s Witch Hat Atelier.
However, the best fantasy stories are not content to spell out and stick to their rules. Instead, the best fantasies break their rules in surprising, dramatic, and often foreshadowed ways. Which again, is what Witch Hat Atelier does. More than anything else, it is Witch Hat Atelier‘s constant, clever focus on breaking and bending its own rules that makes it worth reading.
Yes, Batman is vengeance. Yes, he is also the night. But underneath all the Dark Knight’s sturm and batarangs is a semi-normal dude who, when written correctly, enjoys the everyday moments of life just as much as he enjoys punching the Riddler in the face.
With that in mind, I have chosen to counter the internet’s many, many lists of “most epic” or “most badass” or “most sociopathic” Batman moments with a list of my own: A list of ten times that Batman proved he is just as human as you and me. In this post, you will see Batman enjoy eating food, spending time with his friends, and dicking around on the internet. If the thought of seeing Batman smile makes you cringe, this post is not for you. If the thought of Batman testing baby formula on his skin makes you giggle, this post is most definitely for you.
Because I am who I am, I inevitably receive a gaggle of fantastic comics each Christmas. This year, my friends and family gifted me four wonderful books, and while I have not yet finished all of them, I figured I’d post my initial thoughts on each here – as both a thank you to my loved ones, and a way of telling you all where you should spend the Amazon and Barnes & Noble gift cards you received for Christmas. (Yes, I received some of those, too.)
Friend, secret Santa, and regular Waiting on the Trade co-host Callum Smith started Christmas early by sending over the first volume of Head Lopper. I know this comic has been on Cal’s shortlist of “comics to discuss on the podcast” for some time, and after reading it myself, I can see why. This book does a ton of things that are right up Cal and my’s respective alleys, within a sword and sorcery world that’s easiest to pitch as a mash-up of Hellboy and Adventure Time.
The titular Head Lopper does, of course, lop heads. And if you’re into colorful, kinetic, D&D-style action, you’ll definitely find it here. However, I suspect Cal is particularly fond of this book because he loves Agatha the Blue Witch – an absurdly comic personality who is just a head, yet is one of the story’s most animated characters. While I have not quite finished this first volume (which is partly Cal’s fault, as you’ll see later), Head Lopper is a real treat. I’m stoked to discuss this comic with Cal and WOTT co-host Patrick FitzGerald-Fleck at some point later this year, especially because I think Pat will love the fantasy-novel-style maps that precede each chapter.