Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 04/21/2021

Did a significant historical event occur when you could say: you were there?

Hell, the last year has been one elongated example of that, I suppose. But there are moments that you know matter. The dominant part of the word ‘history’ is ‘story’ and there are so many stories in those moments that we are privileged to see when those present bear witness to them.

I’m kinda feeling historical this week; let’s get to the list:

IDW Publishing

Voyage to the Stars #4

(Ryan Copple, James Asmus, Connie Daidone)

Definitely a historical moment for me. I was privileged to interview Felicia Day about this podcast comedy saga when it first started, and in all honesty, didn’t know what I was in for. I thought that Felicia would overwhelm me with her personality, after seeing her in shows like Supernatural, The Guild, etc., her gifts of comedy and timing are well-known.

I interviewed her about her role in the comedy podcast Voyage to the Stars, which is what this comic is based on. Created by Ryan Copple, he also lends his comedy writing talents to this book.

Set in the year 2263, this comic follows the adventures of the crew of a space station known as the ASHA, situated on the edge of a wormhole in space. Ostensibly to understand its properties better, but it really is just about dumping Earth’s garbage into another location. Then, an alien space ship shows up and that’s when we see the personalities of Tucker, Elsa, Stewart, Sorry (the Alien AI) and Nico interact and then the wackiness ensues.

When I interviewed Felicia, I asked her about the improvisational nature of the show. Performers like Colton Dunn and Janet Varney are well known for their skill in improv work. Felicia’s no slouch either, so it was a surprise to me to learn how scripted it really was. Not to say it was exclusively scripted, and some improvisation did occur, but the show’s relaxed and carefree nature seemed so effortless; it was like they were just hanging out with each other and simply having fun.

The art may be a little too ‘cutesy’ for the tone of the show. The humour is sarcastic, acerbic at times and definitely has themes that I don’t think are reflected by the art. But, hey … that’s just my own visualization of the characters acting as bias, I guess.

I’m excited about this comic, to be honest. After all, it’s a visualization of the characters in a really entertaining show, but it’s also a change in dimension because a comic can’t be improvised. So, to see this fully scripted and not lose any of its humour is definitely something I was glad to see.

Image Comics

Time Before Time #1

(Declan Shalvey, Rory McConville, Joe Palmer, Chris O’Halloran)

It would be remiss of me to omit a story about time-travel in a review that’s themed about historical moments!

Declan Shalvey demonstrates that he’s not just a gifted artist. In tandem with Rory McConnville, Shalvey shows us his writing side in this really engaging tale about the criminal commercialization of time travel. In the future, when people really need to escape their past, they can give their life-savings to the Syndicate to escape INTO their past.

When Time Pod Driver Tatsuo realizes what a crappy card he’s drawn, he looks to get out. He toys with the idea of stealing a time pod so that he and his friend, Oscar can escape their crappy lives, but when events go awry, well, that’s when the story really begins.

A great concept and a really fun story. Plus, the 37 page count means that you get a lot of story in one book. I like seeing characters development and backstory which gives the reader a sense of the dynamics that are at play in the beginning of the story. An excellent foundation for what promises to be an exciting an interesting book. I look forward to reading more of this story going into the past in the future!

Hey Kids! Comics! V2 #1 Prophets and Loss

(Howard Chaykin, Gustavo Yen, Ken Bruzenak)

Back again for Round Two and Howard Chaykin’s account of the disguised yet actual history of comics does not fail to disappoint.

If you were fortunate enough to catch Volume One of this series, then you learned some sordid details of the history of comic creation that may have surprised you. However, if you were a devotee of this medium, then you could marvel (heh, no pun intended) at the way that Chaykin artfully obfuscates the names of the actual creators to present us with an historical fictional account of what obstacles the comic industry faced in its critical publishing years.

From the “Red Menace” scare and morality awakening in the 1950’s to the restructuring of comics into a format that could stand the test of these times, Chaykin also shows us the profiles of prototype professional comic readers who would grow up to be professional comic creators in their own rights.

The history of comics is a media story that is fascinating in its own right. While there have been scholars like Sean Howe who have given us a canonical view of this industry, Chaykin presents it to us in a dramatic way that not only tells us a story but shows the reader the professional and creative integrity of these creators who were not only trying to hone their craft but also simply try to make a living at doing so.

These were people who followed their hearts and their gifts in a time where the world was against the publication and outright dismissed comics as a serious medium of artistic expression. In the public perception, they were mere funny books that were only good for juvenile audiences, and when child psychologists dismissed them as appropriate for kids, that spelled their doom. This book looks at that trend in American society and presents it as essential knowledge for any popculture aficionado.

But that’s Chaykin’s gift. He can decisively hold a mirror up to Society and accurately render it to an audience with not just a message but with honesty.

Comics may be a noble artform now, but Chaykin reminds us of its sordid origin story.

History may not always be honest, but rest assured, that’s what you’ll get from Howard Chaykin – and we thank him for it.

The Good Asian #1

(Pornsak Pichetshote, Lee, Loughridge, Jeff Powell, Dave Johnson, Will Dennis)

I have always had a love for the pulp-era crime noir stories set in the 1930s, but this one not only has me wishing I was there, but that it could have happened.

America, and to be frank, the entire Western World has a history of entrenched racism built into its past. Why? Because the British Empire that spanned all sides of the globe was white and convinced that the Empire would bring civilization and prosperity in the same way that the Roman Empire did two millennia before it. Today, we can now imagine stories that went against the grain of regular society, even including the United States in the 1930s with a fictionalized account of an Asian-American Police Detective and how he tries to bring justice in San Francisco.

To be honest, I never would have thought of this angle. Why? Because of my own filters. But, why not? In that time, the Chinatown scene would have been a vibrant one in San Francisco and the wave of Asian immigrants to North America (including Canada) was a massive one. I know from my own studies and teaching of Canadian History the massive effect of Chinese immigrants coming into Canada had on our society. They helped to build a transcontinental railway, linking two sides of our country together when it was only barely 25 years old. Canada, owes a lot to those immigrants and they were not given their due thanks.

The same goes for America. After all, in this comic there is a brief historical background that informs readers that, even under an immigration ban, there was an entire generation of Asian-Americans who came of age, while they were not even welcome to the country. Asian-Americans who contributed to America’s growing economy and formed a vital part of its heritage.

I like this book. You see, I like characters, but I like characters who have merit, and that’s Edison Hark.

In this story, his presence not only incites violence and prejudice from his fellow police officers, but also fear and resentment from his fellow Chinese. He’s a man of both worlds but belongs to neither. Guided by his own moral compass though, he steps over both boundaries in order to not only do what’s right, but what’s right by his people, as far as his power will allow him.

There’s lots of meaty substance to this character. An intriguing background, tons of internal dialogue (which has the effect of placing the reader inside the character’s mind – a great film noir technique) and a unique motivation that makes this character a curiosity to the reader.

Pichetshote has got a winner here. While this writer is quick to applaud the contributions of colleagues, I think a little bit of spotlight is allowed as well. After all, this reads like an authentic piece of this time period, but the inclusion of an unlikely Asian cop in this environment makes it unique as it allows for racism to be highlighted by its context. It’s a brilliant juxtaposition.

I feel like a witness to history reading this book and the story quality is more than engrossing, it’s relevant. We can identify roots of the wave of Anti-Asian hate in this book that has engulfed Western society in the last year: colonist mentality intertwined with white superiority, which sets the background for this story and shows us, that despite the setting of the 1930s, the sentiment is still current.

This comic is a significantly historical event. I’m eager to see this story continue, and I was glad to see it when it first started. I just hope I was able to give its proper justice, but let me just say that I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Until next week!

Pick of the Week: The Good Asian #1

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About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.