It's time for you to see what all this Black Panther fuss is about. Also, we can explain the topless woman.
__Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet – Book 1 by Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze__
We've already talked a lot about Marvel's new Black Panther comic, and if you've been averse to the notion of buying comics one month at a time, here's your chance to get on board. Book one of A Nation Under Our Feet collects the first four chapters of the biggest superhero comic of the year, and it is excellent—both as an introduction to superhero comics and an outstanding achievement that the hardcore will enjoy just as much.
It starts with everything falling apart: T'Challa, better known as the Black Panther and King of the fictional nation of Wakanda, has an uprising on his hands. His country—an African nation that prides itself on its superior technology, learning, and isolationist politics—has been laid low, following attacks by superpowered threats from other worlds that should have never happened. And now, the people are blaming T'Challa for their ills—and they might have a point.
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Brian Stelfreeze, and colorist Laura Martin have crafted a story that shows why Black Panther is one of the most compelling characters in the Marvel pantheon, a literary work of grim poetry about the superhero who is not merely a superhero but a ruler too. It's a turbulent tale that reflects turbulent times. It's about a modern people with deep cultural pride who look around and see their nation in disarray, and begin to interrogate themselves and their government, in a grand struggle to define who they wish to be as a nation while opportunists circle around, seeking to exploit unrest. Comics really don't get much better.
TL;DR: The most important Marvel comic of 2016, and a good intro to the most exciting Marvel movie in the works.
__Doom Patrol by Gerard Way and Nick Derington__
Comics are strange. They're an unassuming, even irrational medium—a single comic book is usually a slim 32-page thing that costs between three and four dollars, and depending on the comic, up to a third of those pages can be ads. Buying one might make little sense—they're fragile and brief and really start to pile up quickly—but then a book like Doom Patrol comes along. Oh, you'll say. This is why comics are a thing.
Doom Patrol is a weird comic, one that makes very little sense the first time through. That's by design, though. Written by Gerard Way, former frontman of My Chemical Romance, with art by Nick Derington, Doom Patrol is actually a reboot of an acclaimed DC comic book from the '80s, a book that radiated strange and helped establish DC as a place for groundbreaking, heady comics in the late '80s and early '90s via its Vertigo imprint. It's a rep the publisher has lost lately, and Doom Patrol is a vibrant, colorful, first step back towards that: A story about EMTs and robot-men, about how the secret of the universe might be hidden in the humble gyro, and a man who plays synthesizers in the middle of a park.
Comics are strange because they should be strange. Doom Patrol is a promising reminder why: Because as unassuming as they are, few things can surprise you like a comic. Few things can appear so simple yet reveal themselves to be so complex. Doom Patrol is a book that's fun to read even if it is a bit baffling. Like a lot of the best comics, you'll finish it quickly, and then immediately start again, to try and find what it's really about.
TL;DR: The guy from My Chemical Romance is really good at comic books. You should check it out.
__The Fix, vol. 1, by Nick Spencer and Steve Lieber__
If you are reading GQ.com and enjoying yourself, you will probably like The Fix. It's a Shane Black-esque caper about just how hard it is to be an old-fashioned criminal these days when (1) all the really big crimes are pulled off from behind a keyboard, and (2) you and your partner are kind of morons that owe a little too much money. Oh, and there's a third (3) thing: You're both supposed to be cops, too. The Fix is one of the best comedies of the year, a story two hopeless crooks who talk too much and scheme too big and the massive cascade of dominoes that they tip over with their antics. It's also about the hero cop that's going to bring them down: a beagle named Pretzels.
If you are reading GQ.com and enjoying yourself, you will probably like The Fix.
That's a premise as strong as they come, but The Fix has a strength beyond its very funny plot and well-written banter: artist Steve Lieber. Comics—being a visual medium and all—is an industry full of good artists, men and women who regularly render beautiful, meticulous work that's often worth admiring for far longer than it takes for you to read the words on a given page. But few artists are as good at visual comedy as Lieber, a draftsman who knows how to make his characters act comedically and when to break the fourth wall with diagrams and graphic asides to the reader. It's the rare comic that is funny not just because of what its characters say and do, but how they say and do them.
TL;DR: The closest comics have ever come to Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. The comic where that topless woman at the top of the article comes from.
__Angel Catbird, vol. 1, by Margaret Atwood, Johnnie Christmas, and Tamra Bonvillain__
No one really saw this coming when it was announced in December, but here we are: Acclaimed writer Margaret Atwood, famous for a litany of groundbreaking novels, from The Handmaid's Tale to Oryx and Crake, is about to release a trilogy of young-adult graphic novels. With the spectacularly-named art team of Johnnie Christmas and Tamra Bonvillain, Atwood's first foray into comics looks utterly bizarre and totally unexpected.
Angel Catbird is about…an Angel Catbird, and I think I can explain. It, like many great comic book stories, begins with a freak accident in which a geneticist's own work turns him into a freak of nature: Part bird, part cat, and vaguely angel-shaped. Simple, yeah? Cool, because it only gets stranger—in the second volume, which will be out next year, Angel Catbird will take on a vampire/cat hybrid, and everyone involved in making this oddball comic must be having the time of their lives. All things considered, September is turning out to be a terrific month for great contemporary writers making their comics debut.
TL;DR: Margaret Atwood is making a comic! Aren't you curious?