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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 12/30/2015

Welcome back comic book fans to another episode of the Crank File. We’re on the cusp of a new year, a time journalists love because it means kicking back and compiling “best of” lists instead of doing any actual writing. If they were really clever, they would just write their regular columns in list format. But while some are looking back at the year past, I have my sights set squarely ahead towards Wednesday’s new books. So without further ado, my final list of cool comics for the year. Goodbye 2015, we hardly knew ye.

Here’s what I’m reading this week


The Top of the Pile: Locke and Key, Shades of Terror Adult Coloring Book



Publisher: IDW

Art: Gabriel Rodriguez

Color yourself a fan! Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s wonder-filled world of Locke & Key produced gorgeous, detailed pages of comic book art… and the best of those illustrations is collected here for your coloring enjoyment!

Don’t worry, an adult coloring book isn’t anything sleazy. Although not technically a comic book, I’m a huge fan of Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s horror comic and also a huge fan of coloring. I can’t wait to crack open a fresh 64-pack of Crayolas and recreate some of my favorite pages from the series.


The Mainstream One: Batman Europa #3



Publisher: DC

Words: Matteo Casali

Art: Giuseppe Camuncoli

Weakened by a deadly virus, Batman arrives in Paris to find some answers. But with The Joker along for the ride, Batman’s guaranteed to face terrifying challenges as they follow a trail that leads to their common enemy.

The temporary truce between eternal enemies is revealing fascinating and disturbing angles to complex the Batman and Joker relationship. I had high expectations for the story and so far it has delivered a solid setup that has me anxiously awaiting the next issue. But what has really made Europa a stand out Batman series is the tremendous interior artwork. Gorgeous.


The Indie One: Spawn #259



Publisher: Image

Words and Art: Todd McFarlane

BEGINNIG ‘THE SATAN SAGA WARS!’ – THE FOUR-PART STORY CHRONICLING THE FINAL FATE OF WANDA SIMMONS’ SOUL! THIS STORY WILL FOREVER CHANGE THE WAY SPAWN WILL LIVE HIS LIFE! In the entire run of the SPAWN comic, our hero has never had to face his greatest threat: Satan himself! Starting with this issue, Al Simmons will come face to face with Lucifer for the very first time. A battle of epic proportion will begin and the prize is… Wanda’s soul. This story will forever change the way Spawn will live his life. Join us on this historic odyssey as Spawn takes on the Evil entity that gave him his powers way back in issue #1.

Spawn was my first. The first book that I purchased and read regularly, anticipating each new issue as it came out month to month. I loved this series back when Todd had a creative hand in it, so I’m so excited to see the Spawn creator back in the saddle. Toss in a throw down with Satan and you have my full attention.


The #1 One: Rocket Racoon and Groot #1 (Superlog variant)



Publisher: Marvel

Words: Skottie Young

Art: Filipe Andrade

ROCKET RACCOON BREAKS BAD! There’s a new criminal mastermind in the galaxy, and it’s…ROCKET RACCOON?! How did this happen? SERIOUSLY, HOW DID THIS HAPPEN, YOU GUYS??? Groot knows, but he’s not talking! Well, he is talking, but all he’s saying is…oh, you know. Diabolical danger, madcap mysteries and astonishing adventure abound as SKOTTIE YOUNG and FILIPE ANDRADE return to tell tall tail tales of Rocket Raccoon, now with the adorable, arboreal Groot along for the ride! If you love adventure, animals, outer space and just about anything in between, this is the book for you!

This week’s “#1 one” was originally going to be Obi-wan and Anikan #1 but for some reason Marvel is asking retailers not to sell this book, even though it was solicited for and shipping this week. So instead I’m picking another buddy book, featuring the cutest pair of bounty hunters in the galaxy. It’s weird to see Skottie Young’s name on a book but not as the artist, but he’s proven to me with the diabolically funny I Hater Fairyland that he has writing chops to match his outlandish artistic sense. Love the Superlog variant.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover: Justice League #47 (Jim Lee variant)



Publisher: DC

Words: Geoff Johns

Art: Jason Fabok

Super-star artist Jason Fabok returns as the second act of ‘DARKSEID WAR’ begins! As the members of the Justice League struggle with their new Godhood abilities, Wonder Woman must turn to the beings that have fought the Anti-Monitor before: the Crime Syndicate! Plus, what secret does Grail hold that will change Diana’s world forever?

Jim Lee’s cover is another winner in Harley’s Little Black Book. I just wish they could figure out how to make a polybag that doesn’t damage 99% of books. Oh, the actual story is pretty damn fantastic as well.


Happy new year guys and gals! Carpe Comics!



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The Crank File: What I’m Reading This Week 11/18/2015

Welcome back comic fans, to a very solemn episode of the Crank File. Thoughts and prayers go out to the people of France and the friends and families affected. It’s weird, trying to drum up the conversation about comic books after a tragedy like this occurs. The bulk of our super hero books are bursting off the pages with glorious depictions of battle. The Marvel and DC universes are literally on the brink of annihilation every 5 years or so. These scenes of mass destruction, which while looking undeniably awesome, feel macabre in light of real life acts of violence. But here we are. So hopefully we find something to enjoy this week. Something to talk about and take our collective minds off that craziness knocking just outside our door for a while. Something uplifting, something that reminds us why we remain courageous in the face of great danger, and why good triumphs over evil, every single time.

Here’s what I’m reading this week.


The Top of the Pile: Ms. Marvel #1 Marvel



Words: G. Willow Wilson

Art: Takeshi Miyazawa, Adian Alphona, Ian Herring

The internationally-beloved, butt-kicking, smack-talking, most adorable super hero makes her triumphant return. Look out world, Kamala Khan is back and officially an Avenger! Yup, the dream to end all dreams has happened for Kamala. She’s toe to toe with the best of the best, but will being one of Earth’s mightiest heros be everything she imagined? Is being a celebrity hero as wonderful as Kamala has hoped? Plus: WHO IS THAT WITH BRUNO??

One of the most popular and endearing comic book characters of our generation, Ms. Marvel is not only a teenager and female, she’s Muslim. There is currently NOT a lot of good-will towards Muslims in the world. I wonder if we will eventually see this creeping into Kamala’s world. Marvel has a unique opportunity to have her say something socially relevant. Or maybe she’ll just battle mutants and inhumans. Either way, this is the same critically acclaimed creative team from Ms Marvel volume 1, so I’m pretty sure that they’ll crush it. Grabbing the Sara Pichelli 1:25 variant if I see it at a decent price.


The Mainstream One: Batman Europa #1 DC



Words: Matteo Casali

Art: Jim Lee, Giuseppe Camuncoli

Superstar artist Jim Lee returns to the Dark Knight with this premiere issue! The impossible has happened and Batman is on the verge of being taken down by an enemy he cannot defeat: a virus for which there is no cure! And the only hope for his salvation is The Joker! Who infected Batman, what does the Clown Prince of Crime know, and how will the Dark Knight get that information? Together, the enemies crisscross Europe, desperate to find answers before time runs out.

I was so stoked when I saw that this book was finally coming out. Batman Europa was originally scheduled for release in 2004, and again in 2011. Better late than never I suppose. One of my all-time favorite comic book artists is doing pencils and inks for the #1. Jim Lee, the man who sparked my love of comics at the tender age of 10 with his run on 1992’s X-Men, is returning to Batman. For one issue. The remaining three issues of the mini series will have different artists. And cue sad trombone music.


The Indie One:  Tokyo Ghost #3 Image



Words: Rick Remender

Art: Sean Murphy

Led and Debbie find their target in the Gardens of Tokyo, a messianic figure that keeps the island free of all technology.

The second issue of Tokyo Ghost was every bit of good that I was hoping for and my expectations for issue #3 are through the roof. It’s Rick Remender and Sean Murphy for crying out loud. The Tokyo Ghost creative team has way too much talent to be overlooked.


The #1 One:  Huck #1 Image



Words:  Mark Millar

Art: Rafael Albuquerque

In a quiet seaside town, Huck uses his special gifts to do a good deed each day. His neighbors return the favors by keeping his abilities a secret. But when a newcomer alerts the media, a firestorm erupts, sending Huck on an adventure that will change everything.

It’s Mark Millar so of course it has already been optioned, and although option doesn’t mean that it will see production, Huck already has built a bit of buzz around itself. Mark Millar’s series typically start off strong and the preview of Albuquerque’s artwork is breathtaking. Definitely worth a look.


The One I’m Buying for the Cover: I Hate Fairyland #2 Image



Words and Art: Skottie Young

Does Gert die by the axe of her assassin, Bruud The Brutal? Spoiler. Probably not

Unfortunately I wasn’t able to afford the Vader Down 1:5000 variant, but I’m happy with this crass cover for I Hate Fairyland. Skottie Young goes completely for broke on the visuals in his deranged twist on a cute fairytale and it totally pays off. His drawings never fail to make me laugh. I imagine Skottie read a lot of Calvin and Hobbes growing up. And did a lot of psychedelics.


The Speculation One:  Martian Manhunter #6 DC



Words: Rob Williams

Art: Eddy Barrows

A new female Martian warrior emerges as the mystery of our four heroes and their connection to the late J’onn J’onzz is finally revealed, and the Martian invasion reaches its deadly endgame.

Female iterations of traditionally male characters are all the rage right now. The fact that she’s a warrior hints that she’s probably a Green Martian, not a White Martian pacifist like Ms. Martian M’gann M’orzz. It could be a new character. No telling if this one will stick around, but at $2.99 I’m willing to take a gamble.


Carpe Comics!