Friday, May 05, 2023

A Month of Wednesdays: April 2023


DC's Legion of Bloom #1 (DC Comics) The theme for this DC seasonal 80-page giant—the by-now familiar prestige format anthology—is, as the pun title sort of alludes to, spring. This means appearances by plant-related characters like Swamp Thing, Poison Ivy and the Floronic Man*, and stories that have something to do with the arrival of the new season. 

My favorite of the eight stories is probably the final one, written by Dave Wielgosz and drawn by the great Riley Rossmo. A Superman story entitled "We Just Have To Make It To Spring," it opens with Clark Kent's farmer father confiding in him what a hard time of year winter is, and then speaking the title of the story. Flashforward to Clark's adulthood as Superman, and a look at  how stressful his life is. This is conveyed through pages broken into calendar-like grids, and filled with snippets of mostly off-panel adventures that seem to be typical Superman stories, but all, like, good ones that I wouldn't mind reading more of: A visit from Mr. Mxyzptlk, Booster Gold and Blue Beetle hijinks causing trouble, the menace of Titano, an appearance of a Luthor-lead Superman Revenge Squad, a battle with a Starro-controlled Captain Marvel, and so on. There are also plenty of guest-stars, ranging from Steel to Plastic Man to Superboy. 

The point is, of course, Superman has a hard time sometimes too, but as rough as things may get, he just has to make it to spring.

The other stories are all competently written and drawn, but none of them really rose to the level of being great superhero stories. These include Poison Ivy going incognito to work at a floral shop but betraying herself by using her powers; Batman dealing with an especially creepily rendered (by artist Hayden Sherman) Floronic Man; Blue Beetle and friends having their spring break interrupted by "Florida Man" Anima-Vegetable-Mineral Man (which seems a bit of a waste of a great villain);  the very unofficial team of Titans West** going up against a cult lead by The Queen Bee; a Swamp Thing and Flash team-up; Captain Carrot's many babies accidentally getting into his special carrots; and, finally, Wonder Woman's friend Sig having a reunion with Jack Frost, who is delaying the arrival of spring. 

All in all, it's not a bad way to spend $10 on superhero comics. 

It's Jeff #1 (Marvel Entertainment) I've a simple rule regarding comics: If the art team of Gurihiru draws a comic, I buy it. I have not been let down so far. This is a collection of short comics ranging from just a few panels to a few pages in length, all featuring the baby quadrapedal landshark from writer Kelly Thompson's brief West Coast Avengers revival (where he was adopted by Gwenpool, but seems, like Snoopy in Peanuts, to belong to everyone in the gang to a certain extent). 

The comics in It's Jeff, which I believe all appeared online somewhere I don't read previously, are written by Thompson and drawn, as I earlier alluded to, by the incomparable team of Gurihiru, who draw some of the best versions of the Marvel superheroes, a huge swathe of whom appear in this issue. 

The stories are all short and sweet, and really show off by Gurihiru and Thompson's story-telling chops, given that there are no dialogue or narration in the stories, with the sole exception of  Hawkeye Kate Bishop calling "Jeffrey!" and  "Jeff!" a couple of time, and Jeff saying some version of "Mrrrrr" a couple of times.

My favorite is probably "Pool Party", which seems to feature the entire Marvel Universe sharing a pool and all wearing their own individualized swim wear. As someone who adores Gurihiru's art, it's great getting to see them draw so many different characters. There's also a Thanksgiving story, "Jeffsgiving", which features a whole bunch of Marvel characters in cameos (Including one character I didn't recognize; who's the blue-haired girl sitting between Tony and America Chavez?). 

I can't recommend this book highly enough for Marvel fans, and I hope Thompson and Gurihiru do more.


Komi Can't Communicate Vol. 24 (Viz Media) Komi and Tadano go on a date...but not until after Komi's Komi-like father press-gangs Tadano into going on an aquarium date with him (and Shosuke) to test if he's really worthy of his daughter or not. It's as much fun as always.


A First Time For Everything (First Second) I interviewed children's book author and graphic novelist Dan Santat about his extraordinarily fun and funny coming-of-age memoir, in which he travels to Europe and falls in love for the first time. You can read it here. 

Shazam! Thundercrack (DC Comics) If you've read EDILW for a while now, you probably know that I'm a guy with a lot of opinions about the Captain Marvel character, like the fact that he should be called "Captain Marvel" and not "Shazam." So it was a great pleasure to talk to cartoonist Yehudi Mercado, who did a kid-friendly story featuring the character set in the continuity of the original movie (and who managed to work in a version of Mr. Tawky Tawny). You can read our conversation here.

*But not, oddly, plant-like Green Lantern Medphyll, who is the only character on Juan Gedeon's cover who is not also featured in a story within the book. Perhaps he was intended to be featured and his story got cut in favor of the Captain Carrot or Superman story, as neither of them appear on the cover.  

**Consisting of Bumblebee, Flame Bird and Hawk and Dove.