If this week’s comic roundup proves anything, it’s that there’s always room for variation in style, even amongst the biggest publishers. Take the trade paperback collection of Howard the Duck and the newest issue of Doctor Strange: Howard is pure chaos, meta-gags, and silliness that extends even into the comic’s covers and press material. One of Howard the Duck’s issue recaps from Marvel drolly describes the comic as “an issue we like to call 'Howard the Duck Volume Six, Issue Seven!’” On the other side of the spectrum, Doctor Strange pivots into a plot-heavy, fairly absurd story just in time for the release of his new blockbuster. Comics have always a flexible genre, and with a big enough stable of characters, the best in the business make sure to churn out something for everyone. Also reviewed this week: a new fantasy comic and a comic book history of comic books.
Doctor Strange is in hell with Satana, Satan’s daughter, and he’s trapped there. Satana feels that the demand for entertainment in hell is outpacing their supply of talent, so she’s tricked Doctor S. into staying in hell to act as a sort of guest star. After eating some nasty hell-food, Strange has to astral project into his own intestines to fight off the threat. When he returns home, he’s off to fight one of his classic enemies. For a comic that just got a big boost in interested parties thanks to the Benedict Cumberbatch-starring film, this sure is a plot-thick and bizarre issue of a comic. But maybe that makes this a bold, and even clever move on Marvel’s part.
The brilliant writer/artist team behind Action Philosophers, Fred Van Lente and Ryan Dunlavey, tackle the entire history of comics in this new IDW series. Based off older works that they’ve updated, this colorful, bouncing, light-hearted history lesson takes readers from The Yellow Kid up to the near-present though issue #1 doesn’t get that far. Plenty of artistic flair and engaging asides help round out this must-read for fans of comic history, highly recommended.
Howard the Duck is one of the strangest characters in the Marvel stable (and that’s saying something). The anthropomorphic duck-man private detective who once starred in his own movie got a fresh rewrite last year. This volume collects the second half of his adventures, which include trips to Brooklyn, an encounter with actress Lea Thompson—who starred with him in the movie adaptation back in 1986—and a meta-examination of the shelf-life of a comic character. Highly recommended for fans of offbeat comics but who still need the occasional cameo from Spider-Man.
This brand new comic from the writer of MIND MGMT follows Boone Dias, a science-minded adventurer who travels back and forth between the Earth and a magical realm known as Ether. He helps solve crimes by using science, a concept the creatures of Ether have a hard time understanding. In this first issue, Boone’s asked to help solve a high-profile murder. The artwork of David Rubín really shines in this book, mixing the fantastic with Boone’s gadget-clad figure seamlessly.