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A Saturday’s Worth of Comics

Recently, I got to spend a particularly lazy Saturday catching up on comics I’ve either missed or been meaning to re-read. Rather than talk about one of those books in particular, I figured it might be nice to cover them all quickly in one post – and also share a look at my weekend!

Our first stop is The Revue Coffee Bar in Fresno, CA’s Tower District. As my wife, Kat, planned out her forthcoming Etsy store, I cracked open Jason Aaron and Ed McGuinness’s Avengers.

Jason Aaron Paco Medina Avengers Thor Hulk
In case you couldn’t tell, this is NOT Ed McGuinness art.

Or rather, I should say Jason Aaron, Ed McGuinness, and Paco Medina’s Avengers. When this particular Avengers run was announced, Marvel made a big deal out of the fact that Ed McGuinness was on the book. The preceding No Surrender event also should have given McGuinness a few months’ worth of lead time.

But by issue three, Paco Medina (who worked on No Surrender!) began picking up a number of pages per issue. Issues four and five are a majority Medina, while he and McGuinness split issue six.

Medina and McGuinness Mash Up Nicely

I really like Medina’s work, so I was not chuffed about seeing his Thor, Black Panther, and Iron Man in these pages. I just wasn’t expecting it! The artists’ styles mesh fairly well, though Medina’s Avengers are much leaner than McGuinness’s. Medina handles the intimate between-battle moments better than McGuinness does, while McGuinness brings it when illustrating the huge battle at story’s end. The mash-up works, but it still feels like a mash-up at times.

Overall, Avengers had a number of good bits, but felt kind of basic. The story serves its purpose and sets up more-interesting plot points that are sure to pay off in the future, but the action felt uninspired at times.

I wrapped up Avengers and read a freaky bit from this month’s Wired magazine before Kat and I walked around the Tower District, looking for somewhere to rent this May. But it turns out, no one advertises rentals in Fresno! We struck out on finding “For Rent” signs, but we did find a great thrift store and a new taqueria. I did not read any comics while we were there, because I was too busy eating delicious chicken tacos and drinking horchata.

Berlin Circa 1928 Meets Fresno Circa 2019

Afterward, we returned to our current apartment in North Fresno, where I performed some podcast publication preparation and then joined Kat by the pool. Even in California, it’s too cold to go for a swim in February, but Kat enjoys sticking her feet in the hot tub.

While Kat warmed her feet, I enjoyed reading the first fifth of Jason Lutes’s Berlin.

Just sitting by the pool, reading about the rise of fascism. You know how it is.

Despite recommendations from multiple sources, I’d held off on reading Berlin for fear of it being a massive downer. If I want to take a look at how fascism and extremism can slowly overtake a country … well, I can just read the U.S. news.

But Berlin has been very good so far, and definitely worth the time I’ve spent with it. It has also not been a major bummer.

While I have a hard time keeping track of ALL the story’s characters, the “lead” protagonists are all very interesting. I identify particularly with Kurt Severing, the reporter who wonders about the weight and impact of his words, and measures them against the weight and impact of others’. (In that scene, Lutes uses lettering to cleverly transform the indistinct sound of typing into each writer’s distinct ideas. It’s quite good.)

There is a lot to consider in Berlin, and you all may be in for a more robust report after I’ve finished reading the full, 500-page volume. For now, I will say that Berlin seems to deserve the praise it’s gotten, both from critics and my friends who have recommended it. I am still hoping it will not depress me too much.

When in Rome, Do as the Zombies Do

With our trip to the pool finished, Kat and I huddled inside. As Wisconsin natives, you’d think we wouldn’t get cold during the California winter. But our apartment sits in the shade all day, and our heater is … let’s be charitable and say “inefficient.”

So wrapped in a sleeping bag, I caught the end of Saturday’s Magic Pro Tour Mythic Championship coverage, while Kat made us a nice dinner. Post-dinner, I stayed huddled up, made us some tea, and read some slightly less serious comics.

Calvin and Hobbes Zombie Strip

Calvin and Hobbes is one of the things that ties Kat’s and my’s relationship together. Both of us read these strips as kids, and the book pictured above is actually Kat’s! (All of my Calvin and Hobbes books, many of which duplicate Kat’s, are at my parents’ house.)

I chose to re-read some Calvin and Hobbes in hopes that we’ll soon discuss it on Waiting on the Trade, and I chose to use a picture of this strip because Kat and I both had no idea what “When in Rome …” meant when we were kids. However, neither of us questioned it! We just rolled with it, as I’d imagine most younger readers do. You don’t care so much about not knowing things when you’re a kid.

We recently gifted some Calvin and Hobbes books to our nephew for Christmas, and he loved them as much as Kat and I did when we were kids. Re-reading these strips now, thirty years out from when they were created and twenty-some years from when I first found them, they still feel timeless. They are still packed with ethos and imagination. And they might be the actual BEST all-around comic.

Sharp Colors, Lines, and One-Liners Drive Runaways

Continuing the day’s trend of “finally getting to comics I checked out from the Fresno County Library” (which has a fantastic collection, by the way), I finished the evening with a sprint through the second volume of Rainbow Rowell, Kris Anka, and Matthew Wilson’s Runaways.

Anka Wilson Rowell Runaways Molly Adoption
Great colors, great designs, and great one-liners. That’s what keeps me reading Runaways.

I always feel as though I read Runaways too quickly, which speaks to how well the creative team works together. The book’s character beats, action scenes, colors, and pacing combine seamlessly into a story that feels much more fully-formed than, say, that first volume of Avengers I read in the morning. There’s a unified vision at work in Runaways, and the book profits from it.

Rowell and Anka deliver throughout the second volume, but Matt Wilson CRUSHED it on colors, especially in issue 12. Anka’s designs and Wilson’s colors lend an air of importance and inevitability to … well, to discuss the moment any further would be a spoiler. But suffice to say, the back of this book contains some big changes!

With that, I took to bed and called it a day (after reading one more article in Wired). Hopefully, this post provided some insight into what a day’s worth of comics looks like for your humble author – that is, on the days I find enough time to read some books!

If you want to let me know what a “day’s worth” of comics looks like for you, you can do so by either dropping a comment below or finding me on Twitter. Until next time, I hope you find some time to catch up on comics you’ve been neglecting!

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