Comics Alternative, Episode 239: Reviews of Herman by Trade, Rise of the Dungeon Master, and Eternal Empire #1

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This week Andy and Derek look at three new titles, each one visiting the fantastic in one form or another. Before they jump into the reviews, however, they discuss some of the big comics news from the past week: the announcement of the 2017 Eisner Award nominations and Free Comic Book Day. The guys don’t go into too much detail about the Eisner nominees because they plan on devoting an upcoming episode to that topic. However, they do briefly mention the curious situation surrounding the nomination of the Love Is Love collection in the Best Anthology category. They have much more to say about last Saturday’s Free Comic Book Day. Both guys share some of their experiences at their local shops and the free comics they got there. Listen to the podcast’s FCBD episode for more details.

But then the Two Guys get into the heart of this week’s show. They begin with Chris W. Kim’s Herman by Trade, coming out this week from SelfMadeHero. Although on the surface this appears to be a more realistic narrative, its fantastic elements become apparent in the transformation of the title character who has the ability to change his appearance and mimic others’ abilities at will. As both Derek and Andy point out, this is an unusual story that sticks with you long after reading.

Next, they turn to a new graphic biography that is all about fantasy, Rise of the Dungeon Master: Gary Gygax and the Creation of D&D (Nation Books). The art is by Koren Shadmi, but the book is written by David Kushner, based on a profile he wrote for Wired magazine in 2008. What’s most notable about this brief biography is the narrative point of view, almost entirely presented in the second person. This is fully in keeping with the spirit of role-playing games, where in this case the the narrating presence is, in essence, your “dungeon master” guiding your awareness as you enter the creators’ biographical realm.

Finally, Andy and Derek conclude with the latest collaboration from Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn. Eternal Empire #1 (Image Comics) is a fantasy set in a distant world that, as Andy points out, is reminiscent of Game of Thrones. In fact, the guys spend a good bit of time speculating on the originality of this series, wondering if the unique elements will become more apparent in the issues to come. And while Andy isn’t sure if he’ll stick around to find out, Derek is going to give Eternal Empire a chance, especially given his appreciation of the Luna brothers’ previous comics, and especially Luna and Vaughn’s previous series Alex + Ada.

Deconstructing Comics #485: Alex and Ada: Robots done right?

Alex and AdaAlex and Ada is Jonathan Luna and Sara Vaughn’s critically acclaimed 15-issue series about human interaction with A.I. It raises some interesting issues, but does it handle them well? Have the same ideas been explored better elsewhere? Tim and Kumar open up the machine and take a look.

Deconstructing Comics site

Comics Alternative Podcast Episode 72: A Review of Six New Comic Book Titles

Comics for Kids with Backhoes

6-ComicsThis week Gene and Derek take a look at six new titles. They begin with a discussion of two new works from Image Comics, the first three issues of Alex + Ada (Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn) and Deadly Class #1 (Rick Remender and Wes Craig). They go into depth on both titles, especially Craig’s art in Deadly Class and the narrative pacing in Alex + Ada, which ultimately leads to a discussion on panel sequencing and story decompression. Next, they look at issues #1-3 of Letter 44, written by Charles Soule with art by Alberto Jiménez Albuquerque (Oni Press). They discuss its unique take on science fiction within the context of recent politics. From there, they turn to recent #1 issues from three other publishers: David Lapham’s Juice Squeezers (Dark Horse Comics), Bill Willingham and Sergio Fernandez DaVilla’s Legenderry (Dynamite Entertainment), and Curse from BOOM! Studies (written by Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel, with art by Riley Rossmo, Colin Lorimer). In this episode, the Two Guys with PhDs are all over the place, moving from all-age comics to Bush-era politics to licensed characters to horror titles to science fiction to steampunk to Reagan’s Morning in America. There’s a lot packed into this show…more bang for your buck!

So enjoy, won’t you?

This week’s incidental music is brought to you by
great compilation A Hard Nights Day: 45 Classic Singles: A History of Stiff Records

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