Lots of great comics to choose from this week. I thought all of the second issues in The New 52 were better than the first issues, and the two new mini-series they introduced were enjoyable additions to their lineup. Come check out what I read!
PENGUIN: PAIN AND PREJUDICE #1
Written by Gregg Hurwitz
Art by Szymon Kudranski
This issue is my pick for best book of the week. The first issue of this five-issue mini-series features a retelling of Penguin’s origin. There are no major deviations from what has come before, and he is still the leader of the underworld in Gotham City. What I found engaging and ridiculously fun was that the creative team manages to make the reader both sympathize and despise Penguin. Oh, he had a rough life, but instead of rising above it he takes out all his pain on everyone around him.
Writer Gregg Hurwitz delivers a fascinating narrative into Penguin’s psyche. Oswald Cobblepot uses his station as a mob boss to carve out everything he was denied in life. If you do so much as bump into him he will ruin you. It seems he is in control and treats everyone like they do not deserve to be in the same room with him. I can almost see how his well-built façade comes crashing down inside his head at the end when Batman shows up and ruins Penguin’s perfect fantasy of control.
Szymon Kudranksi’s art is photorealistic and moody as hell. The dark, twisted world in which Penguin immerses himself comes alive on the page. I have never read a comic by this artist, but I can promise you I will never make that mistake again.
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Last week, I read King of Flies, which was a fun-filled romp through drug-addled suburbia. While enjoyable, I needed a break from all the sex and violence I’d been reading lately. I wanted something that would be fun, light-hearted, and could be enjoyed by anyone who picked it up. I found that in SIDEKICKS, written and illustrated by Dan Santat, published by Arthur A. Levine Books.
Metro City, like all major metropolitan cities, has its own superhero, Captain Amazing. But, after another long and difficult battle against a group of supervillains, he realizes that he is getting old and needs a sidekick. So starts the 30-day countdown until sidekick tryouts. When not out battling the forces of evil, the Captain relaxes at home with his faithful companions: Fluffy the hamster, Shifty the chameleon, Roscoe the dog, and Manny the cat. Fluffy wants nothing more than to be Captain Amazing’s sidekick but he’s the smallest in the house. Soon enough Fluffy and Shifty are out on the town getting into trouble and it’s up to Manny to teach them how to fight crime. And so begins the Fluffy’s adventure to prove he can be a sidekick.
This is one of the finest all-ages books I have read in a long, long time. It is aimed directly at kids ages 8-12 and is perfect for them. Santat, who has been writing and illustrating kids books for several years now and is the creator of The Disney Channel’s The Replacements, has done something equally amazing: he’s made this accessible to younger kids and complex enough for older kids like me, too.
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