1. That’s Because You’re a Robot (June 2014, Image) – David Quantick & Shaky Kane
The word of the day is “one-shot.” Defined loosely as a self-contained story written as a standalone issue, my favorite one-shot this month has to be the buddy-cop satire That’s Because You’re a Robot. The strapline says it all: “Two cops: One of them is a robot – only they don’t know which!” Given that one-shots sometimes serve as working scripts to garner interest in potential television series, one can easily see how Quantick & Kane’s irreverent vision of a mutant-infested Los Angeles in the distant future could succeed as an animated show on Fox’s Saturday night Animation Domination HD hour. A sample of the dialogue:
JEFF: I know I’m not a robot, Matt.
MATT: How’s that Jeff?
JEFF: Because I don’t feel like a robot.
MATT: Maybe you don’t feel anything because you are a robot!
JEFF: Maybe you’re the robot.
MATT: How can I be a robot? I’m Jewish!
JEFF: What’s that got to do with it?
MATT: Who ever heard of a Jewish robot?
JEFF: You could be a golem.
MATT: What the hell is a golem?
JEFF: It’s a Jewish robot. Like you . . . A Jewbot!
2. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles In Time (No. 1, June 2014, IDW) – Paul Allor, Ross Campbell & Bill Crabtree
Though technically not a one-shot, this debut time travel issue is conveniently self-contained. Think of it as an appetizer to producer Michael Bay’s TMNT reboot. Having recently rewatched the 1990 live-action Ninja Turtles movie what struck me, beyond the childhood nostalgia, was the degree to which Judith Hoag, the actress who played April O’Neil, stole that movie. Megan Fox as April O’Neil is certainly a step down; although, on the upside they’ve finally gotten past that cutesy Muppet design of the turtles into something a bit more menacing. When Peter Laird sold the rights to the franchise to Nickelodeon in 2009, fans hardly cared. By all accounts, the turtles had no future in the live-action realm. However, if IDW’s current successful run of TMNT and Nickelodeon’s $125 million investment is any indication, it looks as if the turtles are still salvageable as a comic book movie franchise.
3. Lumberjanes (No. 1, June 2014, Boom! Box) – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen & Maarta Laiho
Summer camp as it should’ve been. Already in its second printing, fangirls are eating up this new fantasy adventure series about a group of five scouts who have a knack for wandering away from camp and stumbling onto adventure. Especially endearing are the mix tape/song lists at the end of each issue. And, of course, the Lumberjanes pledge: “I solemnly swear to do my best / Every day. And in all that I do, / To be brave and strong, / To be truthful and compassionate, / To be interesting and interested, / To respect nature, / To pay attention and question / The world around me.”
4. Silver Surfer (No. 3, Aug 2014, Marvel) – Dan Slott, Michael Allred & Laura Allred
Out of all the names of comic writers synonymous with summer fare, Dan Slott’s is certainly among the most revered. Arguably the best writer of Spider-Man in the last 30 years, he has now taken on Silver Surfer with astonishing results. An incredulous man in gold armor with an unreal sword cutting his way into time and space, Dawn Greenwood’s mission of stealing and restoring an impossibly giant cosmic heart for a goddess queen, a young astronomer named Norrin Radd from the planet Zenn-La who rides a surfboard and is protected by something called the Power Cosmic: none of this should work. It should all belong in the dustbins of 60s era, Stan Lee goofiness. But somehow Slott has made it work. With intelligence, humor, and wit – he has made readers, once again, believe.
5. Flash Gordon (No. 2, May 2014, Dynamite) – Jeff Parker, Evan Shaner & Jordie Bellaire
Never say never. Portland-based comic book writer Jeff Parker’s reimagining of the 1930s Flash Gordon proves that even something as dead as a character who is a Yale graduate polo player can be revived and re-mined – if put in the right hands. As his take on various Marvel and DC properties have proven, Parker just has a knack for finding what’s cool about a character and dropping him or her in impossible situations. If fun, space adventures is your jam, Jeff Parker’s Flash Gordon will not disappoint.