Graphic Novel Wednesday: The Best Comics of August

BotmThis month, we explore the concept of returning, be it revisiting new work with fresh eyes or exploring new concepts in a familiar setting. The below four graphic novels represent our thematic favorites in August.

Programming note: Regular readers, we sneaked into August with a Wednesday post this month but will be back on schedule for the last Friday of September.


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By Chance or Providence by Becky Cloonan (Image Comics): Becky Cloonan, comics’ dark conjurer, presents three of her previously self-published stories (“Wolves,” “Demeter,” and “The Mire”) in one gothic package. Newly colored by Lee Loughridge, the stories are otherwise from the pen and mind of Cloonan, an increasingly rare opportunity to see the creator alone in her element. And in this collection, Cloonan elects to quietly put the “evil” in medieval. It’s easy to get lost in the fantasy world details that she crafts: the lines spinning through heads of hair, the menace in the forest shapes that give way to bloody prints, the weary postures of her characters. But Cloonan proves a deft hand at narration, of knowing when to let her artwork carry the supernatural through all three stories of curses, betrayal, and choices, yet the tales never lose their humanity. By Chance or Providence celebrates and laments loss, a void that calls to readers from a primal, melancholic plane all Cloonan's own.

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The Customer is Always Wrong by Mimi Pond (Drawn and Quarterly): Welcome back to the Imperial Café in Mimi Pond’s second fictionalized autobiography, a follow-up to her entertaining Over Easy, where protagonist Madge continues her dream of professional cartooning but must wait tables in the interim. Pond peppers Madge’s work and personal life with repeat customers and coworkers, the latter having aged not so gracefully from the previous volume. Where once lighter drugs gave way to charming hijinks, they are here replaced with much harder substances and individuals abusing them. Pond’s storytelling and water-colored artwork continue to prove endlessly readable, however, even as Madge steps to the periphery of the connected stories in her life. For the full context, new readers will want to start with Over Easy, but Customer stills serves up a full course with the questions it poses, about ourselves and the stories we tell and are told.

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The Mighty Thor Vol.3: The Asgard/Shi'ar War by Jason Aaron, Steve Epting, and Russell Dauterman (Marvel Comics): Jane Foster is Thor, a status quo shift that sent ripples through fandom and the Marvel universe. While the initial changeover was a bit murky, Thor is now back to swinging the hammer and battling gods in the colourful cosmos—enough to make Jack Kirby proud. The key storyline in this latest volume involves a pair of Gods who, in their boredom and hubris, challenge Thor to a contest of faith. Meanwhile, evil Dark Elf Malekith continues his storming of the Realms, and Thor must form a super-team to finally face him. The colors by Matt Wilson astound, brightly filling the spaces between Russell Dauterman and Steve Epting’s lines. Cheer for the universe-threatening, flying Viking ship battle sequences, and give credit to Aaron for including deep cut characters like Gladiator, Quentin Quire and Lady Sif.

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The Lost Boys by Tim Seeley and Scott Godlewski (Vertigo): Tell the truth: you’re at least a little bit curious about whatever happened to the gang who survived The Lost Boys, cult vampire flick from the 1980s. No? OK, just me, then, but I’ll happily rejoin Sam, Michael, and the Frog brothers as they once again defend Santa Carla from undead bloodsuckers. Yes, the original film is a prerequisite, but I’m willing to bet most have enough of a passing familiarity—remember the sweaty, over-muscled saxophone player who gyrated to a beat all his own? If you smile at that reference then you’re the perfect audience for this return trip, complete with 80s cheesiness and B-movie plot. A new gang of vamps are in town; no mullets this time, as the Blood Belles are an all-female coven, but the song remains the same. Writer Seeley captures what made the original so goofy and spooky, and Scott Godlewski’s cartoonish portrayals match all the mugging and mayhem that keep fans sharpening their stakes.


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Comments (1)

Those Steve Epting pencils on the Thor book are sure to be gorgeous. His work always is! Thanks too for the heads up on the new Becky Cloonan book too, Omnivoracious.

Posted by: Ed Catto | Thursday August 31, 2017 at 7:17 AM

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