1. SpongeBob Comics (No. 32, Apr 2014, United Plankton Pictures) – Derek Drymon, Jerry Ordway & Rick Neilsen
Stephen Hillenburg and crew have managed to make the comic book version of SpongeBob comparable to the animated television series. Especially endearing in this particular issue is an informal introduction to Esperanto, one of the world’s most widely used self-constructed languages. Created in 1887 by polyglot and physician Leyzer Leyvi Zamenhof, the great hope was to disseminate a more rational, universal language that was both post-political and anti-nationalist. Alas, Zamenhof – a man who was both ahead of his time and in many ways outside of time – inhabited a Europe that was the furthest place from a post-political world without irrationality: All three of his children – Adam, Sofia, and Lidia – would die in the Holocaust.
Of course, knowing a little of the history behind Esperanto, it may seem odd, maybe even a tad offensive, to see Esperanto so lightheartedly employed as the language of the underwater citizens of an ancient lost city in a SpongeBob comic. But on the other hand, Zamenhof’s end-goal was to popularize and indeed naturalize Esperanto. And, of course, that means exposing it to children first. His daughter Lidia, who took a particular interest in her father’s linguistic efforts and who would later teach Esperanto in classes, would’ve almost certainly approved of transmitting Esperanto through American comic books. Here are some translated phrases in Esperanto found in issue 32 of SpongeBob:
Al Foriri (This way out)
Fari vi paroli Esparanto? (Do you speak Esperanto?)
Vi estas amiko? (Are you a friend?)
Mi portos vin al la reganto. (I will take you to the Governor.)
Veni kun ni! (Come with us!)
Sekvi vojo! (Follow the road!)
Kiuj interrompas mian ekzercon? (Who interrupts my exercise?)
La libro estas sur fajro! (The book is on fire!)
Vi detruis nian altvaloran libron de historio kaj scio! (You destroyed our precious book of history and knowledge!)
Preparu por la batalo! (Prepare for battle!)
2. Harley Quinn (No. 7, Aug 2014, DC) – Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti & Chad Hardin
Temporarily gave up on this title a few issues back, but the resolution of the arc that started all the way back in issue 1 has pulled me back in. Beyond the explanation of exactly who is putting out the bounty on Harley’s head, the big treat with this particular issue is the advancement of the Harley Quinn/Poison Ivy relationship. Thank you husband and wife team Connor and Palmiotti for keeping the Harley Quinn universe fairly hermetic from the wider DC-verse. Whatever’s working tonally about the madcap series is partly due to the fact that we have yet to see the Joker or Batman cross Harley’s path.
3. Batgirl (No. 32, Aug 2014, DC) – Gail Simone, Fernando Pasarin & Jonathan Glapion
Been underwhelmed by most of the Bat titles this year, but Gail Simone’s take on Batgirl has certainly peaked my interest. Always a good sign when reading a mid-arc issue makes you want to go back and read all the back issues. Particularly impressive given the many constraints and checklists any writer on a Bat title has to go through. Simone just has a distinctive way of humanizing her heroines that goes above and beyond the average cape and spandex writer. Now if they could only modernize that ridiculous cosplay outfit.
4. Rocket Raccoon (No. 1, Sep 2014, Marvel) – Skottie Young & Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Almost makes you wish there were plans for a Rocket Raccoon standalone live-action movie. Didn’t expect to have as much fun as I did with this first issue. There’s a gnarly crunchiness to Young’s drawing style that is only accentuated by Beaulieu’s fantastical color palette. If irreverent Cowboy Bebop-adjacent, space adventures is your jam – look no further.
5. Thor: God of Thunder (No. 24, Sep 2014, Marvel) – Jason Aaron, Agustin Alessio, Esad Ribic & Ive Svorcina
If you’re still on the fence about Thor, this is the series that will convert you. This month’s epilogue issue marks the month of bittersweet transitions as Brian Azzarello winds down his run of Wonder Woman and Geoff Johns comes on to Superman. Prepare to be thunderstruck as Jason Aaron does everything in his writerly powers to bring out the sheer humanity of Thor as the Gods of Asgard decide to leave Earth, but not before leaving a parting gift.