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 big week for DC with Infinite Frontier #0 and a couple of big post-Future State launches and while I didn’t vibe with the anthology as much as I hoped I would, I dug Suicide Squad #1 a lot and I’ll talk more about The Swamp Thing in a minute. Marvel had a great week for teen books with Power Pack #4 and Runaways #34 pairing excellently with each other and I really enjoyed some of the King in Black tie-ins like Thunderbolts and Gwenom vs. Carnage. Those are honourable mentions for the week; keep reading for my favourite three issues from the week of March 3rd, 2021.
The Swamp Thing #1
(Ram V, Mike Perkins, Mike Spicer & Aditya Bidikar)
Ram V is the man with the midas touch at the moment, coming off critically acclaimed indie work like Grafity’s Wall and These Savage Shores, he’s made a real splash in the DC Universe with work on Justice League Dark and Catwoman. If anyone is going to relaunch and recontextualise Swamp Thing for 2021, there was no better choice. This is a slow burn of an issue where we’re introduced to the new Swamp Thing after the inciting incident which is slowly turning him into the new avatar for The Green but everything about our new lead makes me want to know more and the little bits we see of the big new villain seems really exciting.
Mike Perkins is an artist that’s always been really hit and miss for me. I liked him as the pitch-hitter for Steve Epting on Captain America and his Union Jack miniseries was a lot of fun, but his more recent work on Iron Fist and Lois Lane hasn’t hit the spot for me. However, I think horror is really where he excels — he drew Marvel’s adaptation of The Stand a decade ago — and this is probably the best work of his career, especially with the gorgeous double-pages spreads in this issue. Mike Spicer’s colours deserve their own shout-out too as the perfect compliment to the horror Perkins’ is inflicting on us and I was psyched to see Aditya Bidikar’s work on a big two title; the custom balloons for The Pale Wanderer are a particular highlight.
The one small criticism I have of The Swamp Thing #1 is that the final page doesn’t feel as impactful as it could have been. When I read a debut issue, I want that last page to be the moment that really grabs me by the collar and demands my attention and the cliffhanger here feels a bit more understated, like V is writing for the trade rather than the single issues. It doesn’t detract from how good the rest of the issue is, but it feels like a rare misstep from a creator who is absolutely killing it everywhere else.
(Zeb Wells, Stephen Segovia, David Curiel & Ariana Maher)
If there’s a word to describe Hellions and its place in the X-Men line-up, it’d be consistent. Every month, no matter what, Hellions gives us twenty pages of quality mutant mayhem starring the unlikeliest line-up of characters. It’s consistently funny, it’s consistently exciting and it’s consistently compelling in its treatment of its core cast; I care more about Nanny and Orphan Maker in Hellions than I care about A-List mutants like Colossus and Beast in X-Force. Zeb Well has infused these characters with so much pathos and heart that I’m incredibly invested in their every decision.
Hellions #10 is primarily a chance for Wells to write Arcade and Sinister to trade barbs while the former has the latter at his mercy and it’s genuinely funny in a way that a lot of superhero comics struggle to be. Interspersed with the main story are vignettes of the different team members trapped in their greatest fantasy which give us a great insight into the team in some surprisingly disturbing ways. Wells and Segovia do a great job of flipping a trope on its head by having Empath confronted by all the people he’s ever hurt but instead of it resulting in a breakdown, Manuel De La Rocha just sees an opportunity to cause even more pain.
Stephen Segovia’s an artist who has come along way from the Leinil Yu clone he was on titles like Dark Wolverine and Thor: The Deviants Saga. I do think he’s underrated when it comes to the emotional moments that Hellions really relies on though. He’s known as an action artist and he does absolutely bring it there but the moments between Psylocke and her daughter in Arcade’s fantasy world need an artist to bring it emotionally and Segovia infuses it with all the heartbreak and hope that it deserves.
Demon Days: X-Men #1
(Peach Momoko, Zack Davisson & Ariana Maher)
I really didn’t know what to expect from this comic and I didn’t really have any expectations going into it, but it really did blow me away. I knew the premise was Marvel characters through a feudal Japanese lens but I wasn’t quite expecting to be introduced to a beautiful new world of characters that I could easily get lost in. The core of the story stars Sai — Demon Days’ version of Psylocke — who is a wandering warrior that gets recruited to deal with a village’s demon problem but from there it grows into a rich story
What I liked most about the reimaginings within this issue is that despite being called Demon Days: X-Men, it doesn’t limit itself to characters within the X-Men bubble. There’s a take on Venom who is a giant snake living in a cave while The Hulk is an Oni that wreaks havoc on a small village and Black Widow makes a small appearance towards the end where she seems to be a headteacher or some kind of guardian of children. It’s a more expansive vision of the Marvel Universe than you’d think it would be based on the title and it just gives Momoko more tools to play with in future instalments.
While the story is compelling and the reimaginings are creative, the highlight of this issue is Momoko’s art which is some of the most beautiful work I’ve seen in a monthly comic in some time. The landscapes are breathtaking, the character designs are captivating and the personalities of each member of the cast shines through their facial expressions. I’m certainly late to the game to proclaim Momoko as one of the best finds in recent years but I just can’t wait to see what seshee does next and I’m excited to see how the world of Demon Days grows from here.