We all know that phrase: Go Big or Go Home! It’s a clarion call to seize the day and to live large. It’s not always the best advice, but sometimes it’s just what’s needed. So during this crazy lockdown time, let me call your attention to a few treasures that literally decided to “go big!” while we all stay home.
Joker/Harley Quinn Criminal Sanity
Written by Kami Garcia
Art by Mico Suayan and Mike Mayhew
Black Label, an imprint of DC Comics
While I’m generally not a big Harley Quinn fan, I’ve been a big Mike Mayhew fan ever since his days on Topps’ Zorro and Lady Rawhide with the incomparable Don McGregor. Mayhew has gotten even better over the years, and today he entertains readers with his off-the-charts artistic talent in the new Joker/Harley Quinn series.
This story is a multi-part series told in thirty-two page increments in DC’s oversized Black Label format. To me, it has the feel of a European comic. Much of story is told in B & W , and that makes it so very, very evocative of an old Warren or Marvel Magazine.
The “other artist” Mico Suayan, is just fantastic. I’ve enjoyed his work on Valliant’s Bloodshot. Suayan unfurls his artistic wings with majesty and grace in this larger-than-usual formal.
So, while this story – yet another incarnation of Harley Quinn – isn’t really designed for me, the art, presented in this unconventional format, is a treat for all of us.
As I was reading TKO’s Sara, my wife noted that these oversized comics wouldn’t fit in ‘those comic book bags’ that we all use to entrap our comic treasures. She was right.
Instead of purchasing the collected trade paperback, I bought 6 issues of their oversized comics. They come in a VHS-style collectors’ case for easy bookshelf storage. The story was memorably heartbreaking (I don’t know much about the Russians in WWII) and the art by Steve Epting was – unsurprisingly – exceptional. These books were just oversized enough so that they throw longtime readers a curveball. A fresh and engaging curveball, to be sure.
I talked a little bit about TKO last week, and how I was especially impressed with their program to give a percentage of revenue directly to comic shops. Nice work, TKO.
Back when we lived in my Ridgewood, this wonderful family moved in next door. The husband was kind of into Green Arrow. I took that as my signal to “let the brainwashing begin”. I loaned him my Green Arrow comics, a few Green Lanterns and so many more. Of all the new series I introduced him to, one of his favorites was Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark.
This innovative series is all about a grim future but is really a clever platform for a biting commentary on class hierarchy. After twenty-something issues, Rucka and Lark pivoted to a different format. Instead of a monthly (-ish) traditional comic, the series was reborn (and retitled as Lazarus Risen) as an oversized quarterly ‘prestige format’ comic. I’m not sure if we even use the distinction of prestige format any more, but to be sure: that heavy cover stock is a lovely treat. It gives the story literal heft to synch it with the narrative gravitas.
The longer stories provide more time to reach out and pull you into this world that Rucka and Lark have created. Another benefit to this bigger format is that it allows the inclusion of short stories, robust letter pages and even book recommendations.
The Wasp – Small and Mighty
Written by John Sazaklis
Art by Shane Clester
Golden Books, an imprint of Random House’s Children’s Books
There’s one in every crowd, right? “On the other hand” , maybe small is better. At the supermarket checkout, I couldn’t stop myself from buying a Little Golden Book called Wasp- Small and Mighty!
It’s astounding to me that a character like Marvel’s the Wasp is so accessible to the public. Astounding and wonderful. There was a time when the only way to read stories starring the Wasp was to hunt through back issues bins for old issues of Tales of Astonish.
The Big Finish
Collectors and fans always seem to enjoy, time to organize and clean their collections. I see a lot of that during lockdown. And while odd sizes are the bane of many a collector… so what? I’m really enjoying all this big stuff.