Three entirely different kinds of things to choose from this week, from socially important, to dark and funny, to high pulp adventure! Something for everyone! Or three things for someone with depth!
Kevin Keller #10
Despite being about a Gay Teen, the first nine issues of this comic haven’t been dramatically different than any of the other Archie romance comics, except with a different set of romantic couples. There’s been some light acknowledgement of bullying, but it’s largely treated it as just another way to be. This issue changes that up and confronts the anti-gay sentiments head-on.
It all starts with Kevin and his boyfriend Devon sharing a rather chaste good-bye kiss as Devon heads out of town. And a local busy-body trots out the disgusting line and think of the children (despite her own child telling her that it’s no big deal and she should learn some tolerance.) And then Pop kicks the bigot out of the Choklit Shoppe. (Yay, Pop!)
Veronica records all of this on her phone and posts it to YouTube before anyone can tell her not to, and it goes viral. Kevin ends up on Ellen, facing off against the Angry Mom. Ultimately, it’s the Angry Mom’s daughter who comes out and makes a plea for acceptance, and she storms out.
This was the first kiss for Kevin, and a bit of a landmark. Archie Comics seems to have known that the usual suspects would object, and the whole issue is a takedown of their repulsive politicizing of what should be left as innocent teen love. Plus it features Ellen, who is a personal hero of mine! I’m really happy that this title exists for young people (gay, straight, or any other persuasion) to discover, and maybe feel a little better about their place in the world.
The Superior Foes of Spider-Man #2
This is an odd title, but it’s got a genuine sense of humor about it. It’s also rather dark, following the lives of the new Sinister Six (which is only five members, and they have an extended discussion about this.) It’s not easy being a villain these days, what with endless team meetings, lawyers that make you wish you’d called Saul instead, and the gorram Punisher.
Okay, it’s not really the Punisher, it’s the Chameleon, who we know is really pulling the strings of team leader Boomerang. He’s cranky that instead of going after the MacGuffin that he’s after, the team took a night off to raid an exclusive restaurant and eat delicious food. Unfortunately for Boomerang, one of his crew witnessed the actual meeting after the fake-Punisher presumably scared them all off, so that’ll come back to haunt them.
So far, the Superior Foes aren’t particularly Superior, and in a world with a much more vicious Spider-Man than ever before, their semi-competent brand of dangerous villainry is not going to end well. But it’s a well written title, and the fact you know it’s going to end in a train wreck is what keeps it interesting. And there’s another last page surprise in store for our long-suffering lead, sure to make keeping the team together, getting the big score, and staying out of the public eye even harder. It’s almost not worth strapping on the exploding boomerangs some days.
Atomic Robo: The Savage Sword of Doctor Dinosaur #2
The reason it works is nearly entirely the character of Doctor Dinosaur himself, a hyper-intelligent, villainous, well, dinosaur. With a lot of ego and desire to one-up Atomic Robo, and to be fair he’s largely successful. But he’s got fantastic dialogue, such as this, when Atomic Robo is not impressed by the announcement that Dr. Dinosaur has a Time Bomb:
Fool! What you do no realize is that “Time Bomb” does not refer to a mere timer mechanism, but the very essence of the weapon! For the Time Bomb is an instrument to destroy time itself! Specifically, the previous sixty-five million years! Although, of course, it does run on a countdown timer, but that is mere happenstance.
Honestly, if that doesn’t grab you, there’s not much I can say to change your mind. And it’s full of that style of fantasticness. I love it.