Welcome to another installment of the Crank File, the only place on the web that cranks without first looking both ways.
I headed out to Poughkeepsie New York over the weekend with the girlfriend. Whenever I’m traveling to a new place, I like visiting a local comic shop in the area. This trip brought us to Alterniverse in Hyde Park. It was a small shop, with only a dozen or so longboxes apart from the current books lining the wall racks. The store owner Anthony greeted us warmly and explained how the store was organized and we got to digging. Asides from an occasional regular popping in and inquiring about a Magic tournament, we were the only customers in the store. We’re getting to the end of the row of boxes when an older gentleman, probably in his 60’s, walks into the shop. He quickly browsed through a couple of short boxes before heading over to the new release rack, where he picks out a copy of ElfQuest: Final Quest. He brings it up to the counter and says to Anthony, “Thank you for carrying my book and for having it displayed prominently on the shelf.” It was Richard freaking Pini, co-creator of Elfquest. For those of you unfamiliar, Elfquest is one of the longest running and most successful independent comics ever published, a high-fantasy tale written and drawn exclusively by husband/wife duo Richard and Wendy Pini since 1978. Richard was super cool and what began as a random visit to a local shop turned into hanging out with a legend; just four nerds in a small shop talking comics and elfs.
Rest in peace Mr. Cooke. Here’s what I’m reading this week:
The Top of the Pile: Civil War II #0 (Noto variant)
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Olivier Coipel
What it is: From the creative team that brought you House of M and Siege comes a blistering first chapter in Marvel’s new explosive event. Watch as the players are introduced and the table is set for a storyline that fans will be talking about for years.
Why we love it: I usually am wary of these line-wide events, but I enjoyed with the first Civil War series and felt validated that a comic book was willing to explore larger social issues. After seeing the Civil War movie this weekend, I feel that the underlying argument of security vs freedom is as relevant today as it was ten years ago.
The Mainstream one: Spider-man #4
Words: Brian Michael Bendis
Art: Sara Pichelli
What it is: Miles is just finding his feet in the all new marvel universe; the media is growing obsessed with his skin color and now he has to share his own book with a hot new mutant who goes by the name of… wait for it… All this and the Queenpin of New York, the Black Cat, has set her sights on this new Spider-Man. She has put out a hit on his head and now no one is safe!
Why we like it: Bendis makes two appearances on this week’s list and there’s no denying that Marvel’s goldenboy is at the top of his game here, writing a contemporary Spider-man story that feels miles more relateable than Slott’s Old Man Parker. If you enjoyed Tom Holland’s take as an adolescent Peter Parker then you know how much fun a young Spider-man can be.
The Indie One: Manifest Destiny #19 (James Harren variant)
Words: Chris Dingess
Art: Matthew Roberts
What it is: Lewis & Clark didn’t lead the first expedition west? nor were they the first to encounter the biggest mammal in all the land: Sasquatch!
Why we like it: So happy that Manifest Destiny is back. I don’t know if MD is my favorite Image title, but I can’t think of a book that I have more fun reading.
The #1 One: Tank Girl: Two Girls One Tank #1
Words: Alan Martin
Art: Brett Parsons
What it is: Fresh off the back of their latest calamitous chapter comes this shiny new Tank Girl tale from series creator Alan Martin and artist extraordinaire, Brett Parson! Expect a healthy dose of delirium and plenty of ball-crunching action in this high-octane crosscountry skirmish that asks the question: is this world really big enough for two Tank Girls? Strap yourself in, folks; It’s gonna be one helluva ride!
Why we like it: Probably not actually picking this one up, but wanted to point out the best/worst title I’ve heard in a while.
The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Superman American Alien #7 (Jock variant)
Words: Max Landis
Cover art: Jock
What it is: After a massive explosion rocks downtown Metropolis, Clark finds himself face-to-face with a white-skinned alien riding a flying motorcycle-and the eyes of the world are all on this so-called Superman! But when Clark’s attempt at reason fails and the bounty hunter reveals some unpleasant truths about Clark’s own alien origin, a brutal showdown begins! Superstar artist Jock reteams with Max Landis for the epic series finale to SUPERMAN: AMERICAN ALIEN!
Why we like it: Jock created an iconic Batman cover with his chilling joker portrait on the final issue of Detective Comics #880. He may have just done it again with the final issue of Superman American Alien #7. An instant classic.
That’s all I got this week. Until next time, carpe comics!