1. Where Monsters Dwell (No. 3, Sept 2015, Marvel) – Garth Ennis, Russ Braun & Dono Sanchez Almara
A Feminist twist on the vintage fantasy adventure monster genre, Ennis & Braun’s craft brewed yarn reveals the golden era heroes for what they were: Serial scumbags. Follow the famous flying ace/general douche-bag Karl Kaufmann and the fiercely independent Clementine Franklin-Cox as they travel to a lost world inhabited by T-Rexs, Pteranodons, giant gators, and bigger-than-life great white sharks. Part of the fun of reading the newest iteration of Where Monsters Dwell is seeing how writer Garth Ennis has managed to so satisfyingly turn classical tropes on their heads. Issue #3 is particularly intriguing in the way that female masculinity is represented as Clementine and Karl stumble upon a “Paradise Island” type female utopia. An excerpt of the conversation between the mortal pair as they find themselves in the company of the Amazonians:
KARL: You told them I was your slave . . . ?
CLEMENTINE: They assumed and I confirmed. / And you should be grateful that I did, because males on their own don’t do terribly well around here.
KARL: What the hell does that mean?
CLEMENTINE: Well, the healthy ones are kept for their seed. The rest aren’t. / The way it was explained to me, most men who appear here immediately make all the wrong assumptions. When they’re disabused of those, they turn violent. There then follows an even more rude awakening. / So you will behave yourself, won’t you? All evidence to the contrary notwithstanding, I don’t think you’re a complete idiot . . . / It shouldn’t take you long to learn your place.
2. Negative Space (No. 1, July 2015, Dark Horse) – Ryan K Lindsay & Owen Gieni
If you’re a writer who has ever felt the world literally closing in on you, Lindsay & Gieni’s pathos-pregnant portrait of the tortured writer in creative limbo may just be the comic book title you’ve always been yearning for. A mystery thriller set in the not-so-distant future, Negative Space follows an unsuspecting down and out writer who is on the verge of suicide as he stumbles upon a series of wrist-slittingly sad sack moments that seemingly appear designed and coordinated to push him over the top. Little does he know that the multinational corporation Kindred is indeed pulling the strings. Reason being . . . unclear. Entropy readers in particular can expect to be emotionally bowled over by the “Run Away with Me” & 500 Days of Summer panels toward the end of the issue.
3. Giant Days (No. 5, July 2015, BOOM! Box) – John Allison, Lissa Treiman & Whitney Cogar
Quite obviously the best character-driven new series of the summer, John Allison & Lissa Treiman’s nostalgia bomb concerning a group of close friends in a college town is chalk full of everything you miss about the halcyon days of campus life. Fans who have been sticking with it from the start will appreciate how the end of year Hall Ball further complicates the intimate web between Susan, Esther, Daisy, Mcgraw, and Ed. Particularly refreshing in this series, if you haven’t jumped on board already, is how artist Treiman has gone out of her way to characterize femininity in a simultaneously well-grounded and playful fashion. In a medium that tends to go overboard when presenting female sexuality, Treiman and Allison should be applauded for how respectfully and dynamically they’ve managed to characterize Esther, Susan, and Daisy.
4. Sensations Comics Featuring Wonder Woman (No. 12, Sept 2015, DC) – Derek Fridolfs, Tom Fowler, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Matthew K. Manning, Georges Jeanty, Karl Story, Dexter Vines & Wendy Broome
Another fun elseworld take on the Wonder Woman mythos, issue #14 pairs our favorite Amazonian with none other than Poison Ivy, one of Bat-fandom’s most beloved antiheroines. Seeing Ivy in a Groot-like mother nature armor alone is worth the $3.99 price of admission. Not unlike how Spider-Gwen recently blew up with its own title primarily because of fan enthusiasm, one can only hope that enough eyeballs see this particular issue of Sensations Comics to magnetize fans to call for a Poison Ivy & Wonder Woman team-up title.
5. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (No. 4, Sept 2015, Archie) – Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa & Robert Hack
If you’re a diehard horror genre acolyte, this is the book tailor-made just for you: From Robert Hack’s muddy, yellowed color palate to Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s unrelentingly dark narrative. Even if you’re not particularly a genre fan, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina is by far and away the best written Archie title in the ever-increasing Archie catalog; do yourself a favor and ignore Archie vs. Sharknado and Archie vs. Predator. An excerpt from Aguirre-Sacasa’s increasingly horrific tale of forbidden love: “Once again, it’s midnight, the witching hour – – – / – – – and Harvey Kinkle is running through the woods. / Being chased by something . . . as old as the woods, themselves. . . . Mind you, Harvey Kinkle is young; he’s strong; he’s fast. / Tonight, though, it won’t matter. Tonight, if you are the kind of person who prays . . . / . . . pray for Harvey Kinkle.”