Spandexless Reads 7/29/12 / by Anthony Rosen

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So what did you read this week? Today we're talking about the terrifically trippy, the scientifically spectacular, the absolutely adorable and every dark corner in between as we run down our favorite reads of the week. Feeling the unstoppable urge to join the conversion? Then tell us about your best reads of the week down below!

Alex Jarvis // Really does exist

To my right, right now, there are four empty beer bottles. I can attribute three of them to this week's issue of The Manhattan Projects which was, in a word, horrifying. It's this horror that makes the series particularly hard to define. It's a science-fction horror story that takes my childhood heroes (Einstein, Feynman, Oppenheimer, Von Braun) and drags them through the muck, as the things that made these men gods turns them into monsters. We're seeing their scientific instruments sharpened into spears used to stab at every noble intention they ever had.

Of course Hickman brings his knack for graphic design to each issue, while Pittara brings a very Frank Quietly-esque "pitted realism" (enough that I originally thought it was Quietly, which should only attest to the quality of Pittara's work). This last issue, full of alien physiology, guts and all, was far and away the scariest and most worthy of dread. If you want to see the Gods of Science descend into hell, pick it up.

Anthony Rosen // Still me!

I've been up to my ears in the collected works of Connor Willumsen. Connor's site is a showcase for works that tackle weird subject matter in surreal settings that make fantastic use of the browser as a canvas. I like his work for two reason's particularly, the first being that most of his pieces are fantastic exercises in bending how you view a comic on the internet, giving your eye a unique sense of motion as you fall through his narratives. The second, more relevant reason to you dear reader, is that his work is available for free. It's bizarre, trippy stuff that reminds me of both Aeon Flux (the show) and Fantastic Planet (the film). Hunker down with his weirdness, give it a shot to be what it is, and donate or purchase some of Connor's material if you're digging its vibe.

Patrick Smith // Library hobo (ask him about it)

This week it was all about BPRD for me with "The Devil's Engine" #3 and "Exorcism" #2, the latest chapters in BPRD's ongoing "Hell on Earth" saga. There are fewseries I hold in the same high regard as Mike Mignolia's Hellboy or BPRD, but truth be told I lean more towards BPRD because, as good as Hellboy is (and it is SO GOOD), BPRD consistently delivers everything I want in a comic book. These latest two miniseries were a bit disappointing, although I do think they had a point. Of the two, "Exorcism" felt stronger, giving us a simple story elevated by the contributions of Cameron Stewart. Besides co-writing, he illustrates the HELL out of some monsters in this issue. "The Devil's Engine" felt significantly weaker, but I think that has to do with the fact that this series is meant to set up the upcoming "The Return of the Master" miniseries.

Which brings me to what I believe was the point of these two miniseries. While Hellboy is about a monster trying to become a man, BPRD has always been about men becoming something monsters fear. "Hell on Earth" so far has seen the BPRD's heavy hitters beaten and broken, their sacrifices doing little to slow the coming apocalypse. That's what makes these two minis work for me, they mean to drive home the point that these once regular people have become the last line of defense in a war against an onslaught of unimaginable horrors. If "The Return of the Master" turns into the apocalyptic back breaker that it's being set up as, the only way the agents of the BPRD are going to stand a chance is if they become just as ferocious as the things they're fighting, and with the end of these two miniseries we get a few quick glimpses of what exactly that might entail. Needless to say that gives me chills and I cannot wait to see what happens next.

Sam Kusek // Dapper digressionist

I've been digging into vol. 3 of Jeff Smith's RASL, "Romance at the Speed of Light". For those of you who've been reading this dynamic mix of science fiction and noir, this is where the story gets intense. RASL is starting to experience more and more of the side effects associated with using the drift and coupled with the 48 hours Sal gave him to get the journals, his life is starting to fall apart.

Up until now, RASL has been a very insulated work, with tight dark panels and fast-paced storytelling. But in this collection, Smith is striving for a more epic feel, allowing the weirdness and science of RASL to really breath. All in all, this is a great installation that sets up what promises to be a dramatic, satisfying ending.

Beth Scorzato // Loquacious lass

Still on an all-ages bend, I read volumes 1 & 2 of Gronk, by Katie Cook. I'm really loving her style, both writing and art. I think she strikes a really great balance between a childlike innocence and adult issues in her main characters Gronk and Dale (respectively). I'm looking forward to diving into the continued story by reading online this week and will definitely be adding it to my webcomics rotation.

David Anderson // Captionist

So I noticed something funny a while back and thought I'd take a picture. Not very timely but I thought it was amusing.

--EXIT