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Friday Five: 5 Comics About the Magic of Everyday Life

This week's Friday Five features five comics books that talk about magic. And life. And where the two intersect. Or don't.

Wicked + Divine

The Wicked + The Divine (Kieron Gillen & Jamie McKelvie, Image, 2014/15)

This is absolutely a capital-G-Great comic, with stunning art and an exceptional high concept premise: perpetually reincarnated divine avatars, reappearing (briefly and wonderfully) every generation to inspire the mundane. The whole thing, see, is a metaphor for art, y'know - with the gods as creators, living their (literal) fifteen minutes of fame and bringing magic to the masses. And, in WicDiv (as the tumbleyoot say), that's hammered home in pretty much every conceivable way: the gods are artists, and use their holy platform to make everything from dance videos to long-form Medium-esque rants. 

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That's One Impressive Pair Of Ironies

Red One

Team One Comic tries its best to be alert to the subtleties of its subject matter as well as trying to bring some political awareness and sensitivity to bear. Issue #1 of Red One from Image Comics offers a challenge or two on this front. If you're being ironic about sexism in a visual medium it's hard to avoid it looking like sexism, and that's assuming it's meant to be ironic in the first place.

Red One herself is a Soviet-era super-agent, so Jared takes the opportunity to have a rummage around among the various Soviet and Russian super characters scattered across the comics landscape for this show's 3&1.

Not a Hoax! Not a Dream!


This issue, an X-Man dies!

They didn't use that cover line, as they didn't want to give it away, but at the risk of spoiling something thirty five years old, One Comic spends some time with the issue that gave the world the (first) death of Jean Grey: Uncanny X-Men 137. Double-sized and ending a story years in the making, this is one of the most famous Marvel comics of all time. But how does it hold up? And how much difference does the editorially-mandated change to the ending make?

And to round things out, we consider the best and worst of the X-Men retcons - mostly the worst, because they're all pretty bad.

Holy One Comic, Batman!

Batman 43

So Batman's not Bruce Wayne, there's a new man (with a terrible haircut) in a new Bat-suit, everyone knows Clark Kent is Superman, he's hanging out with Alfred, and Bruce has a new girlfriend with "fridge fodder or secretly a villain" written all over her. Plus, there's a new villain in town and he's pretty creepy. Say hello to Mr Bloom.

Batman #43, by Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo is the latest One Comic. Highly acclaimed as a highlight of the New 52, their run has taken a definitely different turn with this new status quo.

And for this show's Three and One, Bex looks at superhero origins, in anticipation of yet another telling of Batman's in Batman vs Superman

The Gardens of Ladies - One Comic Gets Its Euphemism On


The One Comic team tries to avoid being too continually mainstream in our choice of comic to cover, and in pursuit of that goal we've landed on Volume 1 of Sunstone, from Top Cow/Image.

We marked this one explicit for a reason: in Sunstone there's nudity, there are "adult themes" (as they say on the film classifications) and there's some graphic language. Much of this - though not the nudity - is shared in the team's discussion.

But it's not all smut. Sunstone surprised and provoked us in a number of ways. No, seriously.

Zot! The Complete Black & White Collection by Scott McCloud

Cogolj3cB8gXEthAl52IhcKIKW2pmYA+Gl!w8rbMsYH!BRIAG5OUet9tcq9F2XjffXkZsjELHH1dotzfe59Az0QlsOj5uNIjDVK!VrUaAbeWsW1OYzkgsRAdZgmVYczuThe first two-thirds of Zot! (1987 - 1991) are certainly enjoyable enough. Scott McCloud creates a fun, thoughtful, and zany superhero pastiche featuring the invulnerable teenaged Zot and his Earth-pal, Jenny.

Zot fights surreal foes who are rarely menacing, except in their ability to provoke existential crises. The 'villains'  often embody abstract concepts, and rare do little more than rant and, er, make art. These portion of Zot! are oddly charming, although not spectacular - perhaps because, as a superhero epic, we're expecting more in the way of action. Or, at the very least, palpable tension.

The superhero stories pick up some assistance from the notes at the end of each arc. I'm generally not so fussed about this sort of whatnot, but McCloud is nothing if not a thoughtful creator. Especially as a reader that's not familiar with art and its history, having McCloud explain his influences and ambitions was surprisingly useful. Similarly, McCloud draws thoughtful connections between Zot! and its autobiographical inspirations as well - how his personal life changed his work (and possibly vice versa).

If Zot! stopped two-thirds of the way through, it would've been an educational read, and an enjoyable one. And that's about the end of it.

But... then there's the final third of the collection, the 'Earth Stories'. Which elevates Zot! to being one of the best comics ever created.

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New Archie; A Lot Like The Old Archie

All-American icons don't get much more iconic than Archie, so the launch of a new Archie #1 felt like a suitable subject for the One Comic team's attention. Written by Mark Waid and with art by Fiona Staples, the creative credentials are impeccable. But how do you relaunch something as timeless and specific as Archie?

And on the subject of timeless - Jared looks at some eternal comicbook romances. Aw.

Friday Five: 5 Fantastic Fictional Girls & Women

Anne-of-green-gablesThis week's Friday Five guest is Zen Cho, author of the Crawford Award-winning short story collection Spirits Abroad and editor of Cyberpunk: Malaysia. Her debut novel, Sorcerer to the Crown, is out soon from Ace (US) and Pan Macmillan (UK), and has already been receiving (well-deserved) rave reviews.

Zen's short story "The Four Generations of Chang E" is collected in The Apex Book of World SF 4, released at the end of August. 

Zen's chosen the topic of "Five fictional girls and women that I will love forever" - please join in with your own favourites in the comments!


Anne from Anne of Green Gables (L. M. Montgomery)

Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert of Prince Edward Island put in an order for an orphan boy to help them out on the farm, but they get a girl instead. Thus begins one of the most enduringly popular works of children's literature, featuring one of literature's best girls, the eponymous Anne.

It's hard to write a character who is meant to be universally charming and make her universally charming, but Montgomery somehow managed it. This comes not just from Anne's whimsy, but the fact that Anne is actually pretty good at life. She's orphaned at birth and exploited throughout her childhood, but she manages to hang onto optimism. She saves babies with ipecac and turns down scholarships so she can look after the people who took her in. I'd read another fourteen books about her. There's no one quite like Anne. 

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10 Excellent Indie Comics From The Sequential Summer Sale

Complete_Bojeffries_Saga_CoverIn one of the least-difficult challenges we've ever been issued, the One Comic team were tasked with recommending ten titles from Sequential's summer sale

Our selections from the app's wide range of indie comics are all below, but there are more to choose from... The only hard part was narrowing it down to ten. 

The Bojeffries Saga (Alan Moore and Steve Parkhouse) is Moore tells the story of an extended family living in a council house in his native Nottingham. And I'm not sure what more you need to know*. Originally published in Warrior magazine, but then later cropping up all over the place, this collection includes a new story bringing the Saga up to date.

* Well, except that they include a vampire, a werewolf and a small child that generates nuclear energy. And one story is presented as a Gilbert and Sullivan light opera. And so much more. (Jon)

Boo! (edited by Andrew Waugh and Paul Harrison-Davies) is another anthology comic packed with British talent. I read it when it was first released - despite being (ostensibly) a 'horror comic for children', it is a lot of fun for readers of all ages. The stories range in the type of terror they inspire. Jonathan Edward's "School Dinners" is a charmingly goofy urban legend. Gary Northfield's "The Devil and Billy Beetle" is Gorey-esque in its surreal vision. Warwick Cadwell's "Night Piper" is folklorish and Andrew Waugh's "The Visitor" is just, well... flat out scary. A lot of fun. (Jared) 

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One Comic + Puns = A Bad Match


Over at One Comic Mansion ("One Comic Assemble!") we try not to talk for talking's sake, as seen in this not-even-twenty-minutes show about issue one of Mercury Heat. We got in, said what we needed to, and got out again. And in passing, we talked a bit about a series called Whiteout from Oni Press, which you should definitely check out.

But back to the matter at hand. Listen here, or add the show to your feed: