Some comics I read for sheer entertainment. Ridiculous over-the-top plots! Antics, hijinks, wisecracks, and impossible events! Sometimes that’s just what I’m craving. So here they are for your reading pleasure.
Mystery Society, co-created by Ashley Wood and Steve Niles, written by Steve Niles with art by Fiona Staples. Letters by Robbie Robbins, Chris Mowry, and Shawn Lee.
Nick and Anastasia Mystery are a glamorous celebrity adventurer couple who investigate paranormal secrets. Nick is currently in jail. Doesn’t seem to bother him much. You see, Nick was caught sneaking into Area 51 to investigate a secret military project. Which he found. Which really pissed off the folks running it. It was tough to stay two steps ahead even with this kind of help.
With Nick in the clink, it’s up to Anastasia, the girls (Sally and Nina), an undead crimefighter, and a robot with Jules Verne’s brain to get him out and save the day. And find Edgar Allen Poe’s stolen skull. Because that’s the kind of thing they do.
Buzz by Ananth Panagariya, illustrated by Tessa Stone.
You didn’t know you needed an underground spelling bee comic book, did you? BUT YOU DO! High school student Webster is inadvertently drawn into a back alley, unsanctioned spelling bee and discovers his true gifts and a world rife with rivalry, intrigue, and secrets. This isn’t your grandma’s safe, polite spelling bee. Oh no…
Which world will he choose, the safe mainstream or the exciting yet dangerous new world? Can he really trust the Outlaw King and the Black Queen? What is his sister so afraid of? Hopefully he’ll be brave enough (and survive long enough) to find out!
My New Fighting Technique is Unstoppable by David Rees.
He’s better known for Get Your War On, the anti-war comic (see it in my post about war comics). MNFTIU uses a similar medium, captioned clip art. It’s completely ridiculous and over the top, even before Snoopy shows up. I can’t stop laughing at the absurdity of it all.
The dialogue is probably about 30% profanity. I have a long wait before my seven year old can read it with me. I am waiting very patiently.
Bandette by Paul Tobin and illustrated by Colleen Coover.
I’ve always been a fan of Coover’s fun art style, and Tobin is a good storyteller. Bandette is an irrepressible Parisian teenage master thief with the proverbial heart of gold… and an affinity for first editions of good books. The police love to hate her but sometimes need her help. Her rival “Monsieur” wants to save her life, even though she’s after his reputation as the world’s greatest thief. The ballerinas and street urchins just want to help. And poor Daniel! Will his heart belong to the mysterious Bandette forever? Plus, female matador!
This book has a retro, French/Belgian adventure comics feel, like Tintin, but completely fresh. I can’t wait for a followup. Book Two was just recently announced, yay!
Atomic Robo, written by Brian Clevinger, art by Scott Wegener, colors by Ronda Pattison, and letters by Jeff Powell.
Robo is a sentient nuclear-powered robot built by Nikola Tesla in the 1920s. He fought in the second World War and inherited Tesladyne, a corporation devoted to science. Weird science. And occasionally violent science, such as kicking the butt of a walking Egyptian pyramid, or repelling a vampire invasion from another dimension. It’s like pulp, and monster movies, and that friend who wisecracks so much that you can’t stop laughing.
Atomic Robo and the Fightin’ Scientists of Tesladyne (linked above) is first, and all seven following volumes are good. So is the companion series Atomic Robo: Real Science Adventures.
Guinea Pig, Pet Shop Private Eye written by Colleen AF Venable and illustrated by Stephanie Yue.
There are five books in this series, and they are all hysterical. If we buy this for Boy Detective, I’m going to end up stealing it. Often. We may need a rule about who gets which books on which days. There’s a bookworm guinea pig named Sasspants. Her best friend is a mouse named Hamisher who thought he was a koala but later wants to be a dragon. They live in a pet shop where the owner can’t remember what to label the cages… and there’s always a mystery afoot.
The fish are all named Steve. The chinchillas have a pet mouse they carry around like a tiny dog, and they dress him up. Trust me on this one. You won’t be sorry.
Killer of Demons, written by Chris Yost with art by Scott Wegener. Colors by Ronda Pattison and letters by Thomas Mauer.
File under “my fave is problematic” because I really enjoy this book, BUT you should skip this one if you’re triggered by mental illness and violent behavior being linked. The truth is that people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of violence than perpetrators, and you need to keep that firmly in your mind when you encounter fiction that depends on the “crazy serial killer” trope. The setup here is that Dave Sloan, who works in an ad agency, can’t decide whether he’s mentally ill or chosen by God to kill demons. (I ended up believing the latter for many reasons. If I hadn’t, this would have felt creepy.)
(Gosh this page is blurry! Argh, sorry, will try to fix!)
So far Dave’s been choosing demon killing, but slaying when he suspects he may be a hallucinating murderer is not going well for him. Having a brother who’s an FBI agent and dating a cop shouldn’t help matters any, but for various reasons it doesn’t complicate his life of crime a.k.a. his holy mission. This book is completely outrageous. The ad agency’s relentless strategies to addict the entire population to smoking! The Satanic teenage cheerleader stripper who shows up to kill Dave! C-Man and I could not stop laughing when we read it the first time, and it holds up very well with repeated readings.
Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. by Warren Ellis, with pencils by Stuart Immonen, inks by Wade Von Grawbadger, and colors by Dave McCaig with Paul Mounts. Letters by Chris Eliopolous and Joe Caramagna.
This is possibly the most ridiculous comic I’ve ever read, and I adore it. Warren Ellis took a bunch of obscure, ignored Marvel Comics characters and made a team, then signed them up to work for a corporate subsidiary supposedly fighting Bizarre Weapons of Mass Destruction. But it doesn’t go as planned. Ellis has so much heart for superheroes, but he also loves to mess with the genre, so this sendup is hilarious.
Lots of wisecracks, lots of stuff blowing up, and lots of profanity replaced by strings of little skull and crossbones characters. Stuart Immonen is one of my favorites in comics for drawing people, so it’s a win on the art as well!
Rat Queens by Kurtis J. Wiebe, with art by Roc Upchurch, and letters by Ed Brisson.
C-Man is over the moon for this book. It’s crack for people with D&D experience. Four gals of various races and cultures who all love a good brawl, getting drunk, and making their livings as itinerant adventurers. The drunk part happens probably more than it should.
It’s bloody and full of profanity, as well as drinking and drug use. And it’s about four gals who kick all kinds of ass in a fantasy setting, which has too often been about gals getting rescued. Well played.
[Note added January 2015: Artist and co-creator Roc Upchurch was arrested for domestic violence and has been removed from the book. Stjepan Sejic will replace him.]
Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff.
Ergemoglu Selim is a Turkish soldier who isn’t much good at actual soldiering, though he does brew excellent tea. In Constantinople in 1807, that’s not a recipe for career success in the military. Selim has at least one other skill, speaking English, which brings him into contact with adventurer and thief Delilah Dirk. She’s imprisoned, he’s assigned to question her… which somehow ends with his head on the chopping block, accused of abetting her escape. Spoiler alert: he gets away.
The book is named for Dirk, and she is a kick-ass woman with awesome hair that defies the laws of physics. Selim, though, is the narrator and the heart of the story. She’s the impetuous adventurer, he’s the realist. It’s not an odd couple dynamic, but a complementary pair of friends who didn’t know how much they needed each other until they met. She brings him out of his shell, and he finds his place in the world. And it’s quite funny.
And that’s the list of my favorite incredibly fun comics! If you have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments – and thanks for sharing on social media or with friends!