1. All-New Doop (No. 4, Sept 2014, Marvel) – Peter Milligan, Federico Santagati, David Lafuente & Laura Allred
As I write this, it’s already the better half of Day 3 of San Diego Comic-Con. With much of the media attention on cosplay outfits and celebrity appearances, it’s natural to forget that Comic-Con is fundamentally a nonprofit with primarily educational aims. Hence, all the introductory workshops and academic seminars. Which leads me to this week’s pull-pick: All-New Doop. You’ll likely find no other comic book this month that is as deconstructive of the medium than Peter Milligan’s All-New Doop. Though not as celebrated as Alan Moore or Grant Morrison, Milligan was part of the so-called 80’s “British Invasion” of American comics that prioritized a greater sensitivity to language than their American counterparts. Here is but a sample of Milligan’s account of how the marginal X-Men character Doop may have been the product of the Swedish director Ingmar Bergman:
[H]e remembers when he was young, in the deep marginalia. Like most creatures here, the Doop family were marginal characters, born from dreams or wild imaginings . . . / In the case of the Doops, they were the product of the fertile imagination of a Swedish film director. / A genius called Ingmar Bergman. At least, this was the creation-myth Doop was fed. / From an early age, he was told that he’d ruined his parents’ marriage. / He supposed this had to be true. / But as far back as he could remember his folks had never seemed to have much time for each other. / Doop hadn’t meant to split his parents asunder. He was an inquisitive child. He didn’t want stories. He wanted to see his roots for himself. / So, one day he traveled to the real world beyond the margins [to Ingmar Bergman’s hospital room, Karolinska Hospital, Sweden, 1957]. / For a number of continuity reasons, Doop had always been forbidden to do this. / He didn’t get to meet Ingmar Bergman. / But he did make Papa Doop really mad. / So mad that he packed his imaginary novels and left, never to be seen again. / Mama Doop didn’t like being a single parent. / And she knew who she blamed for making her one.
2. X-Statix (No. 9, May 2003, Marvel) – Peter Milligan, Michael Allred & Laura Allred
If the prohibitive costs of attending Comic-Con is keeping you away, no worries. Probably the best place to get a comics education these days is at your local retailer’s – the bargain bins are an ideal place to start. Rifling through Amoeba’s dollar bins this week, I found a beautiful used copy of X-Statix #9. Reading Peter Milligan and Michael Allred’s surreal deconstruction of the United States’ ever-increasing, ever-collapsing entertainment economy, I’ve come to appreciate the logic of having Doop as the byproduct of Ingmar Bergman’s imagination. After all, Doop in this issue of X-Statix is quite literally playing the role of an enigmatic Swedish documentarian as he films a reality TV show/movie about his fellow team members. Low sales having prompted the title’s cancellation in 2004, Peter Milligan is still to this day a polarizing name for X-fans. Labeled as an enfant terrible by many, he’d notoriously have the habit of alienating his readership by satirizing unspoken fan expectations: in the very first issue of X-Statix, for example, Milligan in punk rock fashion kills off virtually the entire team. That and his penchant for exploring alternative sexuality is why I’ll continue to read anything by Peter Milligan.
3. Rat Queens (No. 7, July 2014, Image) – Kurtis J. Wiebe & Roc Upchurch
Not a total shocker that Sex Criminals beat out Rat Queens for Eisner’s Best New Series at this year’s Comic-Con. What is a little surprising is how relatively few readers are picking up this series. Even with the Eisner nomination, Rat Queens isn’t even tracking on Diamond’s Top 100 Graphic Novels sales in June. Meanwhile titles like Saga and Sex Criminals are selling like hotcakes as they make the monthly top 25. What gives? It’s an inspired book! Perfect for anyone who seeks humor and pathos in their sword and sorcery adventures. I’d hate to see this title disappear because of fan neglect; I can’t name another series right now that genuinely showcases an all-female led team.
4. Dark Horse Presents (No. 75, July ’93, Dark Horse) – Alexandro Jodorowsky & Moebius, Charles DeLint & Charles Vess, Charles Moore & Andrew Robinson
The news of Dark Horse founder Mike Richardson bringing back its flagship book Dark Horse Presents later this year, got me going through Amoeba’s long boxes for older Presents issues I’d never read. Jodorowsky and Moebius’ announced team up on this cover is what immediately caught my eye. The subject matter of the story made me grin from ear to ear: Jodorowsky and Moebius pit a professor of Heideggerian ontology who has renounced Christian theology against his pregnant mistress who intuits that their unborn child is the next prophet for the whole of mankind.
5. Cyclops (No. 2, Aug 2014, Marvel) – Greg Rucka, Russell Dauterman & Chris Sotomayor
Perhaps the biggest surprise this week was Greg Rucka’s Cyclops. Had zero expectations for this title, didn’t particularly care for the character growing up, had every expectation of disliking this book – but ended up liking it. Picture a sixteen-year-old Scott Summers, before he becomes the staid Cyclops, going out on a series of space adventures with his estranged dad who happens to be a space pirate-slash-cowboy. Jack Sparrow meets Han Solo. Cowboy Bebop meets Star Wars.