The Reading Pile #23

Want to know why I think reading The Walking Dead, these days, is like listening to a lot of Rolling Stones’ albums? Keep perusing as this and other eternal questions may be answered in The Reading Pile right now!

Apama 1, Hero Tomorrow Comics, 4/2018
Writers: Ted Sikora, Milo Miller
Artist: Benito Gallego

We are starting out with a book that was published in April (!) of last year as it was one of my favorite reads this issue.

Some quick background on this book, published by Hero Tomorrow Comics out of Akron, Ohio. I was given this at a shop in Cleveland when celebrating my 14th wedding anniversary. Soooooo, the book idea stemmed from an award winning Independent film: Hero Tomorrow. The creators have also successfully found funds to publish through various Kickstarter campaigns since 2015.

First let's talk about the art. It reminds me of a lot of things: like early fifties war comics, the Steve Canyon comic strip and Jack Kirby art before he was doing super hero comics. I think it is a little bit better than a lot of indie comic art I've been reading lately.
The colors pop in this book and it’s a fun, accessible read with a kind of campy narration that reminds me of Spider-Man from the seventies.

Going bullet list to summarize:

  • Protagonist's name is one Ilyia Zjarsky, who is a dreadlocked ice cream truck driver in Cleveland. Kind of an eccentric loser whose truck gets egged in the opening pages, nice.
  • Illyia goes for a walk in the woods, is knocked unconscious, dreams weird animal dreams and we are introduced to the Apama animal and then he awakens and finds himself in a strange tribal cave.
  • In said cave he discovers an unusual scroll of a map with instructions on how to become the mysterious Apama animal.

Nothing special at this point, but before my patience wears thin, things start to get better. Once Ilyia becomes the Apama he starts having hillarious interactions with animals that he can now understand. This book is FUNNY y’all. I laughed out loud several times.
He also accidentally wreaks havoc on an in production Flaming Carrot movie! My only qualm is it ended as things started getting great. My musings are doing this book no justice.

Is this book worth your time? I think it is as I found it highly enjoyable and I am a fairly hard sell. 4/5

The Batman Who Laughs 3, DC Comics, 2/13/2018
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jock

So the big reveal here is TBWL is going to poison Gotham using an old water pipe system that was never torn down. Wow, ingenious! Sarcasm. Though this plan is dumb, this was still a fun issue with a confrontation with The Grim Knight, interesting interactions with The Penquin, The Joker escaping the Bat Cave and Batman losing his mind on the last page was a cool visual and built some suspense. Fierce B cover, too. Still, I wish the “plan” to wreak havoc was something a little more interesting or unique. 3.5/5

The Devils 1, Antarctic Press, 2/13/2019
Writer: Matthew Spradlin
Artist: William Allen Reyes

Ok, I knew nothing about this book, but I read about it in Andy Tomberlin's Indie Spotlight Series and Clint Joslin also spoke about it in the CBSI writer’s room. Never let it be said I can’t be influenced by my comic bros.

Cover art is cool and has that detailed yet accessible style I am always talking about. Interiors are competent, but I wish there was a tad more detail in everything, to be honest. On second thought, why do I like art from Apama, but think this leaves more to be desired? I guess it's a preference thing. Check out some panels below and see what you think. This is a World War 2 comic and I liked the story. The Allies have the Japanese cornered on the island of Ramree and are pushing them towards the swamp. Both sides are reluctant to go there because, well, you know, things are bound to get incredibly chaotic fighting in swamp lands. ALSO, some of these Japanese soldiers are committing various unspeakable acts towards women. AND something is going on in said swamp.

I liked this. Is it worth your time? I think so. 3.5/5

Postscript: a savvy CBSI MeWe member, one Comics Wail, pointed out there's a mobile app for The Devils. I tried it out: animated videos pop up when you frame the page with the app on. Marvel used to do stuff like this and it can be very cool.

Old Lady Harley 3, DC Comics, 1/2/2019
Writer: Frank Tieri
Artist: Inaki Miranda

Beautiful mess this is. Any issue that starts off saying “Please Insert Mind Chip Now” makes me immediately want to close the book, but I persevere and keep going. References to conflicts on the U.S./Lexico border…no comment necessary.

Then we flashback to Harley’s first reservations about being with Joker…this is cool. We cut to some chaos: Harley fights alongside Red Tool and Killer Croc with Joker’s Clockwork Orange looking henchmen looking on, keeping tabs. Checkout the Bane Twins!!!
So silly, I do think this $&#% is funny. Harley is injected with something and is transported to Barbara Gorden’s “Matrix episode of Sex in the City.”

This all makes no sense, I’m just going with it. Another great panel and soon we cut to a pissed off Old Man Joker.
Embrace the Chaos. Triple whoah, dude. 3.5/5

Quick Hits

Walking Dead 188 – I think reading this book is like listening to a lot of records by the Rolling Stones: most of the songs are just boring filler, but the highs are enough to keep you listening. I feel that way about this title. I really like Charlie Adlard’s art and the familiarity of some of the characters keeps me looking forward to each issue. But this book is just getting so formulaic in its conflicts and I do wish there was some kind of SOMETHING to this Princess character, but she’s just another in a long line of ho hum characters at this point.

Savage Sword of Conan 1 – I really disliked the idea of another Conan book, I really did. We already have Jason Aaron’s Conan, why do we need another one? It was deftly pointed out to me, by one Mike Morello, that Marvel did run the two series concurrently in the seventies. I love Conan and love the Alex Ross cover so I went ahead and got a copy. Great read and has a very seventies vibe. This is worth your time if you don’t mind paying the five bucks. Oh, and there will be ANOTHER Conan title (Age of Conan: Belit) coming soon. Grumble, bellyache, grumble.

Daredevil 1 – REALLY didn't care for the Man of Fear series, but I dig Chip Zdarsky and was hoping this would be good.

This is just a start over DD story, at first I’m like “really, why?” but it’s done so well that I don’t mind treading over some of the same ground. Visual storytelling is excellent. I was impressed with this, but it better be great with a $4.99 cover price.

That's all for now. Much love to my comic bros, you know who you are. Signing off with a plea for positivity; be good to each other and read some comics.

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