Written by Steve Orlando
Art by Fernando Blanco
Published by DC Comics
Midnighter is this amazing, hyperviolent Batman character who has a computer brain that tells him how to kill people. That sounds ridiculous and one-note, I know. And DC has plenty of disturbing extremes of violence. But hear me out. Midnighter is actually richly textured, with humor and tragedy and fear. And he’s gay.
Steve Orlando has been writing Midnighter’s amazing solo book in the New 52, and the character has had this terrific open sexuality, hooking up and flirting and punching out bad guys. But the absence of his boyfriend, Superman analogue Apollo, has been looming over the series, and in this new miniseries, Orlando gets to show what he can do with a great gay romance.
This week, the guys stop some pirates and save some kids, then have some friends over for dinner and talk about their views on the necessity of violence. In the background, wicked Dr. Bendix enacts a vengeful plan against the black-leather antihero. And yes, Apollo and Midnighter have a two-page sex scene – for those of you who might be put off by that, there’s no nudity or explicit language; for the rest of us, it’s really, really hot.
So here we have an issue of a comic book combining fight scenes and domestic happiness. It’s amazing, it’s exciting, it’s normal, it’s like every love story and it’s unlike every love story. It’s about being gay, and it’s also not just about that. It’s a book that could not have launched without years of increasing diversity in mainstream comics, and it’s going to make it easier for future books to really represent the breadth of who people are. You are going to love it. When you come to Ultimate Comics to check out the new North Raleigh store or pick up your Comicon tickets (which are selling out fast), give this one a try.
MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics
Written by Marguerite Bennett and Cameron Deodio
Art by Audrey Mok
Published by Archie Comics
I read Archie comics as a kid, and five years ago, I would have rolled my eyes at the thought that anyone was still enjoying this simplistic Americana. Then Archie and Val from the Pussycats had an interracial love story, which opened the doors for new gay teen Kevin Keller. Which brought in grownup readers and supported the masterpiece horror story, Afterlife With Archie. Which translated to the supremely scary Chilling Tales Of Sabrina, the reinvention of Archie as a smart comedy, the tightly creative Jughead, and now this modern take on Archie’s favorite band.
Bennett and Deodio take readers to the beginning this issue, following Josie as she puts together a band with her best friend, Melody, and their new friend, Val. Josie has to learn to drop the ego and work as a band in time to play a set at a concert benefitting, of course, animal rescue. Longtime rival Alexandra is making trouble, and supercute Alan M is waiting in the wings, but the bulk of the book is about the rich characterization of the three bandmates.
This comic works perfectly. It’s a treat for longtime fans of the comic, the cartoon, or the underappreciated 2001 movie version. It also stands alone, even from the other Archie books. The jokes are fast and effective, with new ways to skewer hipster culture, and each woman has a distinct voice. Melody steals every scene with her delightful combination of innocence and savvy, and it’s worth noting that she has both men and women on her phone’s dating app screen. Archie comics has moved sexual diversity to the fore, and having Melody has a bisexual woman without making it melodrama draws positive ties to the spiritual sister book, Jem And The Holograms.
I love this book. I am shocked at how many of my favorite books this year are Archie Comics titles. Even if you’re not reading any of the others, this is an issue to pick up. Then talk to the staff at Ultimate Comics to get it on your pull list, so you can enjoy it every month.
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics
Written by Rick Remender
Art by Jerome Opena
Colors by Matt Hollingsworth
Published by Image Comics
Rick Remender teams up this week with a couple of old friends, Jerome Opena from Uncanny X-Force and Matt Hollingsworth from Fear Agent. Together, they build a fantasy world bleeding with dark horror and challenge our obedience to fear.
The Osidis family live an honorable life in exile from the lands of the Mud King. The King, also called the God Of Whispers, controls vast and terrible magic, but the most important power he has is to manipulate minds. Instead of raising an army, he makes his enemies kill each other and themselves. Zebediah Osidis is the only man to refuse to submit to him. The story picks up when the Mud King’s monstrous forces finally find Zeb’s family and force son Adam into an impossible decision to save the lives of the few survivors.
The story is dark and beautiful, and the art makes it even better. Opena’s concept is a fantasy world blended with Wild West and outer space elements, with magic that flows in curls and waves but kills despite its beauty. Hollingsworth places careful glows around the magic, making even mundane colors like red and blue into scary distortions.
Come on down to Ultimate Comics and check this out, and if you like it, look for trades like Uncanny X-Force and Fear Agent at the big opening of Ultimate Comics in North Raleigh October 1st!
– MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics
After more than thirteen years as the Triangle’s premier source to fuel your comic book addiction, retailer Ultimate Comics will open the doors at its first ever Raleigh location on Saturday, October 1st. Fans are invited out to celebrate the milestone at the store’s Grand Opening, where they can get free comics, listen to live music, and meet some of the industry’s top writers and artists who will be on hand to do sketches and sign autographs.
The store is the latest addition to the Ultimate family of comic shops, which includes other locations in Durham and Cary, and owner Alan Gill says it’s an opportunity to bring the company’s community-focused approach to the Capital City.
“For us it’s not just about selling books,” says Gill, whose success with Ultimate has spawned both the Durham-based North Carolina Comicon and Raleigh’s Oak City Comicon. “It’s about being a place where fans of all ages and interests can come together to celebrate what they love. That’s what’s driven Ultimate all these years, and it’s what we’re really excited to bring to the comic and pop-culture loving community in Raleigh.”
The Grand Opening kicks off at 10am, when fans are encouraged to come in costume for a chance to win two weekend passes to this year’s North Carolina Comicon. More information can be found at www.UltimateComics.com
Ultimate Comics Raleigh Grand Opening!
6320 Capital Blvd #109
Raleigh NC 27616
Massive grand opening party!
October 1st, 2016 from 10am
Free graphic novel for the first 250 attendees
Free cake and drink!
Signings by comic books pros including:
Tommy Lee Edwards
Cosplay Photography by TJ Carr
Come dressed as your favorite character for a chance to win two weekend passes to this year’s NC Comicon
Music by members of rock legend: Jack the Radio!
Written by Gerard Way
Art by Nick Derington
Published by DC Comics (Young Animal imprint)
I have it on good authority (from Gothic Harry Potter fanfiction) that Gerard Way is “a major hottie.” And I have personal experience that his Umbrella Academy series prove him to be a daring creator, blending elements of the fringe into something consistently entertaining, if not always easy to follow on the first read. And I know for a fact that he is headlining this November’s North Carolina Comicon.
This week sees the first book from his new DC imprint, Young Animal, a collection of books aimed to enhance the stranger aspects of the DC universe. It’s fitting that he goes first, giving us his interpretation of notable DC weirdos, the Doom Patrol.
I have read this issue a couple of times, and a plot summary won’t really explain the book, but I’ll try: Casey Brinke is the best ambulance driver in town. She and her partner take a break from spiritual philosophy to respond to a hit and run. Instead of a human, they find a battered robot that Casey takes home, setting a chain of events including a violent change of roommates, a tiny universe inside a half-eaten gyro, and an interdimensional business meeting to market a new kind of meat.
It’s strange, but it’s compelling, and just like Umbrella Academy stories make for great trade paperbacks, I am sure that Doom Patrol will have a sixth issue that completely changes the way we read this opening chapter. Grab a copy to get signed when Gerard and his Young Animal team come to town in two months, and keep an eye out for Durham’s own Tommy Lee Edwards on Young Animal’s Mother Panic series November 9!
-MATT CONNER for Ultimate Comics