What Are You Reading? | ‘Porcelain,’ ‘Godfell,’ ‘Local Man’ and more

See what the Smash Pages crew has been reading lately.

Welcome to What Are You Reading?, our look at what the Smash Pages crew has been checking off their “to read” list lately. Today’s reviews include first issues of Godfell and Local Man, as well as Porcelain and some classic DC Comics Presents.

Let us know what you’ve been reading lately in the comments below or by tagging us on social media.

Corey Blake

Living in a time where there are more comics that exist now than could ever be read in a lifetime is a maddening experience for a completist like me. How does one actually read selectively? Won’t the unchosen comics feel rejected? I can’t live with that guilt! But somehow we must press on.

Porcelain by writer/artist Maria Llovet and letterer Saida Temofonte is absolutely stunning. It’s an eery twist on classic fairy tales and storybooks like Alice in Wonderland, Wizard of Oz and Little Red Riding Hood. A young girl is drawn into a funhouse that turns children into dolls, setting you up for countless nightmares. The atmosphere is so rich with crazy designs and fantastic staging. Llovet’s art is remarkable and her singular vision is a feast. I’m floored people aren’t throwing Eisners at her.

I recently dug into the DC Universe Infinite archives for some good ol’ fashioned José Luis Garcia-Lopez superhero comics. At the recommendation of Tom Bondurant, I read DC Comics Presents #1-2 by Martin Pasko and Garcia-Lopez with inker Dan Adkins, colorist Jerry Serpe, and letterers Ben Oda and Clem Robins. And it sure did the trick of hitting that classic DC nostalgia I was wanting. Originally published in 1978, the two-part tale teams up Superman and The Flash in stopping two warring alien factions from destroying each other and Earth. There’s time travel shenanigans with cameos by the Legion of Super-Heroes and Reverse-Flash. There’s fun alien designs and a race to the end of time. There’s dubious time travel theories. And it all looks exactly how you’d want it to look. Completely satisfying comics.

JK Parkin

This week I read two new series that had great first issues, the kind that make you want more. First up is Godfell, the new fantasy series by Christopher Sebela, Ben Hennessy, Triona Farrell and Jim Campbell that’s published by Vault Comics. As a war-torn veteran tries to make her way home after years of battles, she finds one very big obstacle in the way — the god, Khor, has died and fallen from the heavens, leaving a very giant corpse in her way. What’s the old nursery rhyme about “Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, must got through it”? Oh yeah, the bear hunt! Anyway, Zanzi and her somewhat unwanted companion, Neth, make it to Khor’s body and, well, must got through it.

This one had me with the premise, and the team spends this first issue doing some world -building — introducing Zanzi and Neth, and also showing us a little of the makeshift civilization that’s popped around this giant body of a god. I think that’s the part that intrigues me the most — the spiritual and economic implications of this giant dead god, who could be seen as both a sign or miracle, and also as an opportunity for commerce. Also, there’s a lot of scenery to chew on here, from the fantasy world Zanzi travels through to the area around the dead god, and the skills of both Hennessy and Farrell really shine in the creation of this world. Now that we’ve seen what the world outside looks like, I’m looking forward to reading the second issue and finding out about the one inside the gigantic corpse.

The other first issue I read this week was Local Man, the new Image Comics title by Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs, along with colorists Brad Simpson and Felipe Sobriero. It introduces us to Crossjack, a down-on-his-luck superhero who returns home to live with his parents after something happens. This is definitely an Image Comics series — it’s set in that very loose shared universe where Youngblood and Spawn and Savage Dragon always existed in, with references to Cyberforce, Malebolgia and Brigade. Crossjack and the team he was on, Third Gen, are new creations, but the creators have a lot of fun suggesting they were around during the early Image heyday, and the comic is even split into two stories — one about Crossjack’s current dilemma, and one very 1990s Image story about the team (which has members like Cutting Edge, Softkore and Neon who feel like they came right out of a Liefeld comic).

We don’t know yet what exactly happened to Crossjack, just that he screwed up royally and was fired by the team. Whatever he did was so bad that even when an old enemy shows up at Crossjack’s local bar and the former shield-wielding takes him down, his old team shows up to remind him that he can no longer use a shield in battle, per his contract termination. (“It was a garbage can lid,” he says in his defense). The issue ends with a murder and a mystery, and oh yeah, it’s all a lot of fun. It’s like taking the best of Seeley’s work on Revival and his way too short run on the Bloodstrike reboot, along with all the intrigue Fleecs brought to Stray Dogs, and packaging it into something that serves as a tribute to that era of comics while transforming it into something new. I also like how both creators get to use their artistic chops to the best advantage here, with Fleecs drawing the present-day, more noir scenes while Seeley tackles the Third Gen flashback story.

My one complaint has nothing to do with the creative team or even the story. I read the comic on the Comixology app, and in print it’s a flip book, and whoever converted the story over didn’t change the order of the second story so it read sequentially. Instead, it’s basically told backwards, which was jarring and kind of sucked because you end up reading the last page first, before you realize something is wrong. Given everything going on with Comixology right now, it’s not surprising, but it doesn’t serve as a great omen for the future of the service.

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