1. Rocket Girl (Vol. 01, July 2014, Image) – Amy Reeder & Brandon Montclare
15 year old Dayoung is a detective with the New York Teen Police Department from a parallel reality in the year 2013, the past, going forward in time to the year 1986, the present, to save the past’s future from colliding with the present’s past. Confused yet? Putting aside the convoluted plot, what will hook even the most casual of readers, is Amy Reeder‘s beautiful art. What piqued my interest was the Korean characters on Dayoung’s helmet and cosplay costume; non-Korean speakers will be surprised to learn that it’s merely the phonetic spelling of Dayoung.
The trade paperback, which collects issue 1-5, comes out this month and devoted fans of Amy Reeder are echoing Gail Simone’s sentiments: “I need this. You need this. Everyone needs this.” Originally from Colorado, Reeder broke into the comics industry via Tokyopop’s Rising Stars of Manga competition. If you’ve ever wondered about the behind the scenes, business side of the comic book industry, Reeder and Montclare’s podcast is a good starter. Here is an excerpt of a recent conversation between Reeder and Montclare on the topic of Rocket Girl’s $9.99 Image cover price:
BRANDON: If we ever reprint [Rocket Girl] I wonder if we won’t jack up the price to a regular price, because it’s not like we’re going to have this ongoing series forever and ever that we want people to get a first bite of.
AMY: Well, keep in mind that that $9.99 price actually cuts us out of the earnings. . . . The drop is something that we take the whole entire hit for. . . .
BRANDON: Pretty much. We’re still making money. [But] because of the print costs, we only make slightly [more than we would have had we sold a regular $3.50 single issue] . . . It’s not really about the finances of a trade paperback, but you have a ten dollar trade paperback, and six dollars is going to the retailer and the distributor . . . Four bucks goes back to us through Image, but [of] that four dollars . . . Image actually takes a small percentage . . . because it’s a backlist item, it’s something that they’ll constantly sell. On the single issues they take no percentage, they just take a fee. When you add it all up together, [selling a $9.99 trade paperback] will make you just a little more than if you were selling a regular $3.50 comic.
2. Ms. Marvel (No. 6, Sept 2014, Marvel) – G. Willow Wilson, Jacob Wyatt & Ian Herring
Ranked #61 in overall sales during the month of June, I wish I had the power of public relations to persuade more people to pick up G. Willow Wilson‘s Ms. Marvel. Ardent retailers, like Alter Ego’s Marc Bowker, are trying their best to get the word out: “Ms. Marvel is one of the best books that Marvel comics is publishing right now. . . . In order for this industry, this art form that we all love, to continue, we need to get new characters on the printed page, we need to get new bodies into the stores, new blood into the comic book industry. Kamala Khan is a brand new character appealing to people of all walks of life. . . . I don’t know how many ways to say it. You’re probably sick of me saying it: But if you haven’t checked out Ms. Marvel, do yourself a favor.”
3. Batgirl (No. 33, Sept 2014, DC) – Gail Simone, Fernando Pasarin, Jonathan Glapion, Matt Ryan & Blond
Forget Joss Whedon. Forget Zack Snyder. If I could meet only one illuminato at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con, it’d have to be the great Gail Simone. Author of my favorite JLA story arc The Hypothetical Woman (i.e., the six issue episode that pitted Wonder Woman, Flash, Green Lantern, Batman, and Superman against a North Korea type dictator), Simone is by far the most resourceful talent to have rejuvenated some of the most anemic properties in the Marvel/DC universe (e.g., Red Sonja, Wonder Woman, Batgirl). Even when she misses, as she did with DC’s The Movement, one can’t help but admire her political alacrity, her cheerful eagerness to speculate on Feminism, emancipatory totalitarianism, and the utopian desire – all in the pages of a comic book. Hit or miss, good or bad, I’ll read anything by Our Lady of the Red.
4. Silver Surfer (No. 4, Sept 2014, Marvel) – Dan Slott, Michael Allred & Laura Allred
One of the ingratiating aspects of today’s comic book industry is the relative pervasiveness of husband and wife creative teams. If you were a fan of Michael Allred’s retro style of Madman comics in the 1990s, you’ll certainly take to Michael and Laura Allred’s depiction of Dan Slott‘s modern Silver Surfer. Ranked #58 in the overall sales during the month of June, what boggles the mind is how Slott’s other title Amazing Spider-Man is consistently in the top 5. You’d think there would be some carryover from one readership to the next. After all, good writing is good writing. Alas, the numbers show that fanboys don’t necessarily follow the talent. They flock to the familiar. Nostalgia trumps novelty.
5. Lumberjanes (No. 4, July 2014, Boom! Box) – Noelle Stevenson, Grace Ellis, Brooke Allen & Maarta Laiho
Though it doesn’t track on Diamond’s monthly top 100 comics list, Lumberjanes is one of those perplexing titles that continues to receive considerable social media attention and critical acclaim. However, four issues deep it’s quite clear that what’s attracting all the buzz isn’t really the writing; if we’re honest with ourselves there is a lot to be desired in the pages of Lumberjanes. Why such feigned enthusiasm for the book? My theory is is that people desperately want a book like Lumberjanes; that is, a book that captures the effervescent magic of camp and the camaraderie of girls. There is a demographic gap in the market, and the Big Two (i.e., Marvel & DC) simply aren’t meeting that demand. Boom! Box should be applauded for attempting to fill that gap. But unfortunately Lumberjanes hasn’t quite delivered. Not yet anyways.