Variant Edition | Devin R. Bruce
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Author:Devin R. Bruce

Hey everyone, this week at work has been a KILLER for your old pal Devin so this column’s going to be a short one. The good news is that because there will only be a few sentences per item. the concentration of enthusiasm will be explosive BECAUSE I WILL WRITE IN ALL CAPS AND USE MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!

Okay, I won’t torture any of us with that nonsense. But still: short and to the point! Explosively exciting! Packed with Vitamin D! Let’s go!

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Cover to Killraven #2 by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer. Buckle them swashes, Killraven!

Cover to Killraven #2 by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer. Buckle them swashes, Killraven!

The 1970s was a weird time for mainstream comic books, with the two big publishers trying to supplement their traditional superhero offerings with titles inspired by a variety of other genres: kung-fu movies, exploitation, horror, and sci-fi. One of my favourite weird titles from Marvel at that time was Killraven, a sequel to The War Of The Worlds where the Martians had enslaved Earth and entertained themselves by watching human gladiator matches. Killraven was a gladiator-turned-freedom-fighter who, with the help of his fellow escaped gladiators, fought for freedom in this post-apocalyptic world wearing only a navy blue speedo and attached suspenders. It was a great littl series, but a very 1970s concept. That’s why Alan Davis & Mark Farmer’s 2002 Killraven miniseries was such a delight; the script felt like a slightly updated version of the swashbuckling adventures from thirty years earlier, but with Davis & Farmer’s glorious art giving it that much more of a stylistic punch. There were even panels that echoed some of the work that the great P. Craig Russell did on the original series in the 70s, but with the clean and muscular Davis/Farmer touch. The smile on my face grew with each issue I read, and by the end of the series my heart honestly felt a little lighter than when I started. It’s adventure and heroics and swordfighting and also robots and martians and gladiators in very little clothing. What’s not to like?

Hello all! I’m going to get this out of the way right now: I’m not going to talk about any comic books this week. It’s just that kind of week where most of the comics I’ve read have been okay-to-middling, and I’m not going to try and force myself to come up with something positive to say about them. Especially not when there have been so many other awesome things in television, music, and movies this week. Comics will be back next week, I’m sure, but for now: onwards!!

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photo-for-lady-dynamite

I’m not quite halfway through Netflix’s Lady Dynamite, but the amount of time I spent scream-laughing at the first five episodes means that I’m pretty confident recommending that people watch it. I mean, I’d recommending it anyway, as I am a big fan of the show’s star Maria Bamford, who stars in the show as “Maria Bamford.” The show is based on her life, going from being a fairly successful standup comic to having a breakdown and spending some time in institutions and now trying to figure out how to live life on her terms. The show is non-linear, metatextual, irreverent, experimental, and hilarious; the first five minutes of the first episode involve Maria talking directly to the camera, which slowly morphs into a commercial parody that starts eating itself, which turns into a daydream that Maria was having while she was forgetting to film her show. The supporting cast is full of solid comedic talent, including Fred Melamel as Maria’s struggling manager Bruce Ben-Bacharach, Mary Kay Place and Ed Begley Jr. as Maria’s parents, and Mo Collins putting in a commited and hilarious performance as Maria’s childhood friend. It’s really Bamford who holds the entire thing together; it’s a showcase for her amazing talent, and she throws herself into every scene, whether it’s the bleaker scenes when she’s in the midst of recovery from bipolar disorder, the full-colour intensity of the first chapter of her success, or her trying to keep things together in the present. Lady Dynamite is a show that is the perfect showcase for her comedy, brilliant and hilarious and smart, and I am going to relish finishing it this weekend.

Well. That was unexpected.

Spirit_Darwyn_Cooke

I was absolutely hollowed out by the news of Darwyn Cooke’s death from cancer this past weekend. I know I’ve talked a lot in this column about being shaken by the death of an artist I admire and respect, but Cooke’s death is a real kick in the gut. For someone who was still such a vital and creative force, a vibrant and volatile person with a love for life and art, to leave us at only 53 years old…it’s left me feeling pretty hollow. Cooke was one of my favourite comics creators, of any era; I loved his old-school style, the way he brought real character from a handful of lines, and how his best work felt like it was about to come to life at practically any moment. I honestly can’t think of a comic that he worked on that I didn’t like (though granted, I haven’t read all of them just yet). His love letter to the Silver Age of DC comics, New Frontier, absolutely captivated me when I first read it, a twenty-something man just getting back into comics. Let’s forget about the fact that it’s one of the best Martian Manhunter stories ever written. It’s what most mainstream comics fans think of when they think Cooke; bright primary colours, the pages humming with a zest for action and life, classical art style married with a modern storytelling method.

Hello and happy Friday all! This week after Variant Edition’s Free Comic Book Day celebrations has felt like it’s gone by in an eyeblink, though that may be partly due to the fact that the week after a holiday always feels like it’s moving at double time to me, and also partly because as I complete my transition into an Old ManTM time keeps slipping, slipping, slipping into the future. That’s okay, though, because if the future keeps bringing me anything like the goodies I stumbled across this week, I say bring it on.

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Moon Shaped Pool

So Radiohead dropped A Moon Shaped Pool on Tuesday and AAAH NEW RADIOHEAD ALBUM AAAH

*breathes*

Okay. I should probably say something just a little bit more coherent than that. Let’s try again.

This week’s column features two very different dystopian sci-fi books, a hip-hop masterpiece, and the fourth installment of a video game series that (until recently) I didn’t care anything about. It’s been just that kind of a week, folks. Let’s get right into it!

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Cover to The Infinite Loop #2 by Elsa Charretier.

Cover to The Infinite Loop #2 by Elsa Charretier.

The most visually stunning comic book I read this week was, hands down, the French comic book Infinite Loop. Written and lettered by Pierrick Colinet and illustrated and coloured by Elsa Charretier, Infinite Loop is a meditation on freedom, love, and identity disguised as a time travel adventure story. The future is a place that has gotten rid of emotions as unnecessary distractions at best and the cause of all human misery at worst. Fighting against this new world order is a group of terrorists called the Forgers, who are disrupting the integrity of the timeline, creating “anomalies” as part of the chronal backlash. Fixing the timeline and disposing the disruptions is up to a special group of agents, and Teddy is one of the best. She’s basically the best of the best, aloof and untouched by emotion, and never lets the job get the better of her. That is until the latest anomaly she’s assigned to destroy is a young girl with purple hair, who makes Teddy re-evaluate not only her mission, but her stale and emotionless world as well.

Hello everyone! I don't know how things have been with you all, but for me this week has gone by overwhelmingly quickly. It must be all that cool stuff that I've been filling my life with! That's right, my brain and my heart have just been packed full to the brim with awesome things lately. So many things in fact that I am going to do a bit of a rapidfire infodump, highlighting some of the best things that I've experienced over the last two weeks in a handful of sentences each. Hopefully there will be a something for everyone! This week one of my favourite...

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I had a plan for this week's article. Then Prince died and I had to throw it all away. Last night I wrote a mammoth article about how much Prince meant to me, and to so many people all over the world. And this morning, thanks to the mysteries of the internet, it was nowhere to be found. I am gutted, and I just don't have it in me to write it over again. So, sorry everyone. I'm just too raw and broken right now, after pouring my tired and broken little heart on the day that Prince died, to dredge it all up to try...

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Hello and happy Friday to everyone! It’s been a wonderfully sunny start to my spring and I’m feeling upbeat and eager to dive even further into 2016. I mean sure, a lot of what I’ll be talking about today might not seem sunny and optimistic, and that’s because, well, they’re not. But it is worth looking into, and that’s the best thing as far as I’m concerned. What’s been concerning me this week? Let’s find out!

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Cover art for The Punisher #13 by Marco Checchetto.

Cover art for The Punisher #13 by Marco Checchetto.

After finishing the second season of Daredevil a little while ago I realized I’d never given Greg Rucka’s 2011 run on The Punisher a fair shake. Or any shake at all, really. I had stayed away from it because I respect Rucka as a writer and creator and I have a very particular preferred version of The Punisher, and I didn’t want to be disappointed. But then I remembered, “Oh yeah, avoiding things that might be good because they might end badly is a terrible life philosophy,” and I started reading the dang book. Quickly enough I discovered that Rucka had, unsurprisingly, written a very good book, mainly by taking an angle at the story that I’m surprised few writers had done before. Specifically that Frank Castle is often more interesting as a catalyst than as a character.

Folks: this past week was the longest week of my year so far. Coming down off the high that was Spring Break 2016 and all the funtimes that involved, this week was like a five day hangover. Now that it’s Friday again I feel like I can just about make it through…wait, it’s the weekend again! Never mind, everything’s fine, forget I mentioned it. Let’s just go through a quick summary of the great things that helped me get through the past week.

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Black_Panther_1_Cover

I had been looking forward to this week’s New Comic Book Day with a lot more anticipation than normal. I mean, I am a fan of New Comic Book Day in general, but this week was the debut of the new Black Panther series, so my excitement had hit extreme levels. As long-time readers of this column may remember, I love the Black Panther, and this new series has a very impressive pedigree. The writer is Ta-Nehisi Coates, a journalist, author, and 2015 MacArthur Genius Grant winner, making his comics debut. The artist is Brian Stelfreeze, whose work on the Catwoman/Demon story in Wednesday Comics was one of the highlights of a series that was chock full of great comics art. And the colours are by Laura Martin, who has worked on titles like The Authority, Planetary, JLA, and Astonishing X-Men, and whose name is basically a guarantee of quality. With a roster like that working on one of my favourite Marvel characters, the book had a lot to live up to.