I decided to start this blog mostly to talk about older comics that I think are weird or interesting, but with a name like “Wednesday Reads” I think it’s important to at least talk a little bit about what I’m reading week-to-week. So I decided, every Monday I’ll look back at the previous Wednesday and discuss my top three single issues in a little bit more detail than I do in the weekly Wednesday Reads thread on Twitter.
This was a pretty stacked week with the final few Future State titles from DC, some more King in Black tie-ins and pretty much all of my favourite indie books coming out on the same day. In terms of honourable mentions, I Breathed A Body from Aftershock is a book that I haven’t seen many people talk about but I’m enjoying a lot, Crossover has gone from being a title I rolled my eyes at to a book I’m excited for every month and I was happy to return to The Vault in X-Men but I’m so used to done-in-ones that I was a bit disappointed to see a cliffhanger. With that said, my top three comics for the week of February 24th, 2021.
Ice Cream Man #23
(W. Maxwell Prince, Martin Morazzo, Chris O’Halloran & Good Old Neon)
Ice Cream Man has been one of my favourite comics for the past few years, so it’s no surprise whenever it ends up being the best comic I read in any given week because it’s just that good. If you’re unfamiliar with the premise, each issue is a done-in-one horror story of the creeping dread variety with the only thing connecting them being the titular Ice Cream Man who torments the protagonists for his own cruel enjoyment.
Each issue plays with the rules and formats we expect from comic books in different ways and I’ll admit that when I saw how much prose was in this issue, I got “The Clown at Midnight” flashbacks but Ice Cream Man uses its prose segments to build tension brilliantly. At the end of the first prose piece, you know exactly how the story ends, so when it cuts to the full-page splash of things moments before disaster, it just enhances the feeling of dread.
In a way, Ice Cream Man #23 feels like the spiritual successor to Ultra Comics #1. Every turn of the page brings you closer to a tragedy that you know is coming and only you can stop it from happening by putting the book down. It even ends with a comment on how we can’t know what happens to characters in a story after it finishes unless someone tells another story. No-one is telling stories within the medium of comics quite like Ice Cream Man and this was one of my favourite issues of the series so far.
The Department of Truth #6
(James Tynion IV, Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth & Aditya Bidikar)
Speaking of favourites, I can’t remember the last time a new series grabbed me quite like The Department of Truth has over the last six months. It’s an X-Files take on conspiracy theories where reality is determined by mass-consensus; if enough people believe the world is flat, then the world might just be — and have always been — flat. So far the series has followed a new recruit the department but this break between arcs gives us a deeper look into the history of the world, with stunning guest art from November’s Elsa Charretier.
Charretier is really the star of the issue and shows just how versatile a talent she is, adapting to the two separate eras so boldly that you’d think there were two different artists for the two different segments. There have always been Darwyn Cooke influences in Charretier’s work but she really leans into it for the framing sequence set in 1963, an era that Cooke himself spent a lot of time in with work like DC: The New Frontier. However, the bulk of the issue takes place in 1000 AD — or does it? — and features a style that is wholly her own, with vibrant fairy tale colours from Matt Hollingsworth.
The Department of Truth has had a fairly narrow scope so far with its focus on Cole’s journey down the rabbit hole, but this issue opens everything up to the entire history of the human experience. It feels in many ways like a golden era Vertigo title and for the first time it seems that Tynion has plans for the series to go that long, which I’d be more than happy with because I am all-in on this series in a way I haven’t been for something in a long, long time.
Future State: Aquaman #2
(Brandon Thomas, Daniel Sampere, Adriano Lucas & Clayton Cowles)
This is going to sound harsh, but I don’t know if Aquaman: Future State does anything exceptional, but everything it does it does incredibly well. It’s a well-told superhero story with familiar characters in new situations and stunning art from Sampere and Lucas. I’ve been waiting for Jackson Hyde to really get the spotlight since he was introduced over a decade ago and this two-issue miniseries is everything I’ve wanted from him, with the added bonus of fleshing out Andy Curry, who I can’t wait to see grow up on the page.
One of the biggest challenges of drawing an Aquaman title is getting across the underwater nature of many of the scenes, but Daniel Sampere really stands out with this issue. His art is fantastic throughout the comic, but the underwater scenes are especially captivating with Adriano Lucas’ colouring tying everything together. I especially love how much white Lucas uses when rendering the water, it really makes it pop off the page/screen.
Brandon Thomas has been one of the real standout creators coming out of Future State, with this and his Outsiders back-ups in The Next Batman being highlights of the two-month event. I haven’t read any of his previous work like Horizon or Excellence but I’m making catching up on them a priority. It was just announced that he’s launching a new volume of Hardware as part of Milestone Returns and is doing more with The Outsiders in Batman: Urban Legends but there’s been no news about Aquaman in Infinite Frontier, so hopefully we’ll see more from him later in the year.