All Comics, No Capes

Nick WilsonBooks, Inside WITS

When people learn that I read comic books, they tend to assume they are of the superhero variety. While I have nothing against most who don capes, cowls, and other superhero paraphernalia, they are not my favorite. Here are six comics that I have enjoyed.

Voracious by Markisan Naso, Jason Muhr, and Andrei Tabacaru 

Nate is enjoying his life as a chef in New York City until his sister dies. He moves back to his hometown to mourn and lick his wounds. To Nate’s surprise he inherits his uncle’s entire estate, including a time traveling suit that takes him back to the Cretaceous Period. He inadvertently discovers that dinosaur meat is delicious and decides to open a restaurant to secretly sell his new creations. I love the way the story pivots with every reveal along the three volumes. The art really shines in its depictions of dinosaurs in all their forms. And there are recipes. No dino meat? No problem. There are substitutions.

Bingo Love Vol 1: Jackpot Edition by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge, and Joy San

Hazel sees Mari for the first time at church bingo, and it’s love at first sight. But it’s the 1960s, and the world isn’t ready for their kind of love.  They are separated by their families and pressured to have a conventional family. Almost 50 years later, Hazel and Mari reunite at bingo, and their lives are turned upside down once again. These Black queer grandmas get a second chance at the love they were once denied. The art conveys the emotions of the characters so well, and the vibrancy of the colors adds to the overall tone of the book. The Jackpot Edition contains a collection of short comics set in the Bingo Love universe. Here I should disclose that one of the stories does have capes. It’s a fantasy, so I’m not counting it.

Submerged by Vita Ayala, Lisa Sterle, Stelladia, and Rachel Deering 

The only thing worse than having to save your irresponsible little brother is doing so on the night a hurricane is about to hit. That is the situation that Ellie finds herself in as she descends into the underground on a rescue mission. At least that’s what she thinks. She ends up on a journey that’s altogether different. The art really excels when the more fantastical elements come into play. The book is mostly done in blues, yellows, greens, and purples. The colors shift as the story progresses, which adds to the overall mood.

My Boyfriend is a Bear by Pamela Ribon, Cat Farris, and Saida Temofonte. 

Nora has been unlucky in love. Then she meets the perfect partner. The problem is that he is a literal 500-pound American black bear. This presents some obvious… complications. This book is cute, funny, and surprisingly touching. We follow Nora and Bear as they navigate the challenges and comprises in their relationship. They have some unique issues (like hibernation), but their desire to make the relationship work is generally relatable. The art is charming and perfectly captures both the silly and heartfelt moments.

Victor LaValle’s Destroyer by Victor LaValle, Dietrich Smith, and Joana Lafuente

This book continues where Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein left off, in contemporary America.  We follow two storylines on a collision course. In one, Frankenstein’s monster is no longer able to isolate from humanity. He destroys everyone and everything in his path. In the other, Dr. Baker, a descendant of Dr. Frankenstein, is consumed by grief and anger. Her twelve-year-old son was murdered by a police officer, and she is determined to bring him back to life. Like the original story, there is a mix of science fiction and horror (gore). The art is stunning, especially the splash pages and larger panels.

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki

Rose goes to Awago Beach every summer with her parents. She rides her bike and hangs out with her friend Windy. It’s supposed to be a break from their regular lives, but this year is different. Rose is growing up, and her interests are changing. Her parents are fighting, and there’s something going on with her mother. It all comes to a head when a local teen finds herself in a bad situation. The art is black and white, with lots of detail and a wonderful sense of movement.