ROB-BOX: First Menage-a-Trois

7/28/16

Why hello there Southern California Comics customers and people of the internet; resident comic reader and tall hair wielder, Robert of Boxley here! As part of my dedication to making the ROB-BOX the hippest and most up-to-date Southern California Comics blog in existence I will be doing my darndest to get you a new BOX every week (or so; I mean, who knows the future)! To that end, allow me to introduce the newest member of the ROB-BOX family, a little segment I like to call:

MENAGE-A-TROIS (OOH LA LA)

Actually, just kidding. Before we can get to our new segment, I need to tell you a little about the man behind the box. Now kids I am a, how you say, a history nerd. This, I have been told, is a hereditary flaw-my father was a history buff, and my mother an art history lover. But whereas old dad focused on the theatre of war and me ma immersed herself in the fine arts, I loved history for the stories. I devoured the Greek epics while my friends read Harry Potter (which I also read and loved-Gryffindor for life!) and I slept with a tome of the Grimm Fairy Tales by my bedside. Tales of heroic men and women fighting against the mythic dangers of the Earth were my bread and butter. But these were heroes of the past fighting against creatures, against threats, that were equally situated in history. Hercules completed all of his labors and murdered both of his wives long before I was conceived. The hand of brave Tyr presumably sat in Fenrir’s belly when I sat in my mother’s. This begged the question: where would I find heroes that I could travel alongside now?

Yes, yes, that was an unnecessarily long aside included entirely to state a fact you, keen reader, already know: I read comics. But it’s important that I make references to my love of mythology and folktales before beginning this section. Why? Because I voraciously devoured EVERY STORY I COULD FIND. The Eddas of Norse myth? Lay ’em on me. African folktales? Homie, you know I want ’em. I did not discriminate in the slightest. This translated directly into my comic addiction. I read DC. I read Marvel. I read Image. I read IDW. I read Black Mask. I read Magnetic Press. Can you imagine how distraught I was when I discovered that fellow fans sometimes limited themselves to titles from Marvel and DC, the companies colloquially referred to as “The Big Two”? Or worse, when I learned that some fans only partook in ONE of the previously mentioned Big Two? Woe was me! How could my friends limit themselves so? Immediately I assumed the Big Two preference was one of a tribalistic nature, not unlike the divide between fans of Biggie vs. those of Tupac, or the Playstation/Xbox conflict. The prejudice against independent companies was much easier to understand. Most people who read Marvel or DC grew up reading Marvel or DC, or they know folks who did. How many people do you know who grew up reading Oni press? But it soon became apparent that this ignorance was really at the heart of both issues. Those who grew up reading X-Men largely assumed DC held no similar treasures of teen angst for them, and so ignored the publisher. Where amongst Marvel’s everyday heroes could one discover a cunning, larger than life detective like Batman?

Thus, with ignorance as my established foe did I create this section, menage-a-trois. This oasis exists for the intrepid traveler who secretly desires to engage all corners of the comic world. Every week I’ll not only highlight my favorite reads from Marvel, DC, and the other guys (see? Menage-a-trois? Get it?) but I’ll offer a comparison title from other publishers to establish the “vibe” of the comic. Confused? Super! Let’s get to it!

MARVEL PICKS:

The Mighty Thor #9– This is an exceptionally easy suggestion to make, because it is the perfect culmination of things I love: Norse mythology; Jason Aaron’s clever, witty writing; stunning visuals from artist Russel Dauterman and colorist Matthew Wilson; and, most importantly, a main lead who is truly a hero. A hero who risks life and limb, a hero who inspires hope, a hero who fights for a cause, a hero who makes peace when possible, and who fights when necessary. At only 9 issues into the latest adventures of Jane Foster, you should absolutely be picking up Thor. This arc is particular has been delightfully expanding Jane’s rogues gallery while also tying the canon into Aaron’s previous work, Original Sin through the use of strategic villain appearances. Believe me, it’s satisfying. Similar Titles: Wonder Woman (DC)- Trul great runs of Wonder Woman (I’m looking at you Gail Simone and Greg Rucka) are well noted for displaying Diana as equal parts ambassador and warrior woman, and I think that Diana would feel right at home on the battlefield alongside Thor.

Black Panther #4– Black Panther is the most recent recipient of Hollywood fame. Thanks to the success of Captain America: Civil War, millions of people are now in love with T’challa (well, in love with the exceptionally handsome man who plays him, Chadwick Boseman, but tomato tomato). Black Panther has been a staple in the Marvel universe for years, but has recently seen an increase in visibility thanks to Jonathan Hickman’s New Avengers run and Al Ewing’s Ultimates. Now T’challa has his own series, written by political writer and Marvel nerd Ta-Nehisi Coates and illustrated by legend Brian Stelfreeze with colors by Laura Martin and Matt Milla, and what a grand series it is. Part Game of Thrones and part Superman, this series deals with the power struggles within Wakanda and T’challa’s place amongst his own people. Coates shows us the rival groups vying for power without villainizing or picking favorites, showcasing these factions as people truly concerned with the future of their nation. If the machinations of empires interest you in any way you don’t want to miss this series, especially with the events in this issue forcing T’challa to take a more… proactive role in his kingdom. Similar Titles: Superman: Red Son (DC)- It might surprise you to see me state that communist Supes and T’challa have much in common, but both protagonists struggle to be a man of the people and justly rule over their kingdoms, without explicitly being the absolute heroes of their respective books.

DC PICKS

Batman Detective Comics #937– I’ll be frank with you. Prior to DC’s Rebirth, if you had asked me which Batman title I was most anticipating I would have said King’s Batman or Synder’s All-Batman. That’s not to say I wasn’t excited for Tynion IV’s Detective Comics. I’m a Bat-family fan first and foremost, so team up book starring Batwoman, Red Robin and the newly returned Spoiler and Orphan sounded like it would be a lot of fun. 4 issues in, and this book has been so much more than just fun. While King gives us a clever reworking of the mysterious new hero trope and a chance to expand on Brucie’s resolve in the main book, Tynion, along with Alvaro Martinez on pencils and, Raul Fernandez on inks and Brad Anderson on colors, gives us a Court of Owls scale event right out of the gate. Batman is immersed in a terrible new conspiracy that requires the aid of his bat-babies, but don’t mistake this book for a Batman & Friends tale. Kate Kane commands equal importance in each issue, and the Bat-teens are fully realized characters, not just sidekicks. Even Clayface, who arguably receives the least screen time and could easily be written off as a gimmicky inclusion, feels like he belongs on the team. Now, until I read Synder’s All-Star Batman I can’t confidently say which Batman series is my favorite, but at the moment, Detective takes the cake. Seriously, pick up this book. Similar Titles: Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel)- Both teams have a similar dynamic, although this title is not as humorous as the Marvel title.

Batgirl #1– Barbara Gordon is a goddess, plain and simple. In her various incarnations throughout the years she has almost always been one of the most important street level heroes not only in the batverse, but in the entire DC universe. When the New 52 began, she was given her legs back, but at the cost of this prolific legacy, or so it seemed. She was once again just batgirl, but her time as the tremendously important and connected Oracle was seemingly erased. During Stewart, Fletcher and Tarr’s run on Batgirl they reintroduced Oracle into Bab’s past, reaffirming that she had, indeed been Oracle, provided of information to heroes worldwide. Even so, the action was primarily focused in Burnside, and Barbara was still a relatively inexperienced hero, not the confident leader she had been in the pre-flashpoint universe. This series appears to be building Babs back up to her former greatness by having her travel and grow all around the world. While I’m aware that rebuilding is the focus of basically every Rebirth title, it seems more relevant for Babs. She was one of the few who had their prestigious legacy gutted from them (like my poor, mistreated baby Superboy). If this first issue is any indication at all of the series to come, it looks like writer Hope Larson, artist Rafael Albuquerque and colorist Dave McCaig have an exciting odyssey befitting Barbara ahead. Similar Titles: Hawkeye (Marvel, specifically the issues about Kate Bishop)- I had a hard time thinking of a close 1:1 for this title, but this seemed close enough. Martial arts high jinks, sassy heroes with potential to surpass their elders, and finding oneself? They’re a match made in heaven.

INDEPENDENT PUBLISHERS

Predator vs. Judge Dredd vs. Aliens #1– I’m telling you this in confidence. CON.FI.DENCE. I… I don’t really care for Judge Dredd. Or Aliens. Or Predator. I know, I know. Trust me I know. I’m obviously a fool. But for whatever reason they just don’t do anything for me. I mean, I’ll watch Aliens when it’s on TV, and Ulises Farinas is absolutely killing it on IDW’s Judge Dredd series, and… Predator is a thing that exists that I am aware of. But while I am not a large fan of the individual properties separately, I am a SUCKER for crossovers. You have no idea. And I know enough about these dudes to know that a confrontation between them will be unfortunate for those involved and glorious for spectators. This issue, my friends, is not glorious, but promises violent, bloody glory on the horizon. This series ought to be called Predators vs. Judge Dredd and some other Judges vs. Aliens vs. Man-Animal hybrids, but I imagine that would have been harder to fit on the cover, despite being tremendously more intriguing. If you like even one of the aforementioned things, or, like me, enjoy the promise of unmitigated carnage, you should read this book. Similar Titles: Is this necessary? Do you really need to relate this to something for you to read it? I dunno, Batman: Vampire (DC)? Bruce fights Dracula, becomes a vampire and wrecks havoc. One can only hope something similar happens within the confines of this series.

Huzzah! I did it! I completed the first weekly ROB-BOX! All of you who doubted me can go drink a tall, cool glass of lemonade (or whatever drink you fancy) and stay cool! Hah!

However, after you’ve finished that relaxing drink, could you do me a favor? Maybe two? In the wake of SDCC we always strive to use our substantial success to enhance the store and your experience here. But to do that, we need your input. That’s right, YOU, reader of the ROB-BOX and probably very cool dude. We need you to send in your suggestions to our Facebook for things that you’d like to see included in the store, whatever it may be, however ridiculous (this is a joke. Do not suggest that we get robotic sentries or something of the like. It would be fantastic, sure… But a what cost? The lost of human jobs? The rise of our robot overlords? Nobody wants that. Don’t be that lowbrow, son.) So get your PERFECTLY REASONABLE suggestions together and send them to us!

Oh yah, my second favor. Well, to be honest, that favor is simply a thinly veiled promotion for the ROB-BOX. I ask that you, loyal, tremendously attractive reader, tune back in next week. I’ll be providing a whole new host of favorites, as well as a brand new comedy (!?) segment. Wild, huh?

Anywho, that’s it for today. Get out of here.

XOXO

Rob

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