The Best Comics in November: Gail Simone at Her Finest Yet

Each month the staff at 8th Dimension Comics picks out the best book to review. Look for Part 2 tomorrow.

Leaving Megalopolis: Gail Simone is one of those comic writers whose shopping list I would read if she published it... particularly if it was drawn by someone as stellar and gritty as J Calafiore. Leaving Megalopolis is a standalone graphic novel that the two industry badasses managed to fund through Kickstarter, and thank the comic gods they did.

The story follows a universe where pretty much every basic hero template you can think of all inhabit one large, New York-esque city. You've got your Superman stand-in, Flash, Spider-Man, etc., etc. The heroes aren't really important. What is important is the carnage that happens after they all team up in order to take down an enormous alien creature. The day is saved at first, but in its death throes the creature infects every single hero with a terrible nihilism and sadism. The result is that megalopolis becomes a charnel house where former saviors rape and murder for fun, allowing no one to leave even as they themselves are unable to escape.

Simone offers a multi-dimensional script that tackles dozens of different issues all at once. In some ways Leaving Megalopolis is a testament for and against the comic industry itself, as it constantly pushes the envelope as far as acceptable violence and the perceived loss of innocence that comes with leaving behind the light-hearted capers of old.

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On the other hand, it's also a fantastic dissection of what happens when you abdicate your power to those on high, failing to realize that they too have flaws. It's not that Overlord, Fleet, and his ilk are geared toward massacre and domination, it's just that when they snap under the weight of their own sudden illness there's not much normal humanity can do about it.

The grim journey of officer Mina as she attempts to lead survivors out of the city like it's some kind of superpowered Walking Dead story deserves to be up there with Cormac McCarthy's The Road, or at least the same level as The Last of Us. Brilliant, beautiful book that should be essential reading for a comic fan.

Rating: 10 out of 10

Piece continues on next page. 

Forever Evil: A.R.G.U.S. #2 One of the best trends of the modern comic era is how intensely it is fascinated by the idea of regular people in a world of superpowers. Of course there's always Batman, but in DC you've got Red Hood and the Outlaws to explore, and the brilliance that is Hawkeye over in Marvel thanks to Matt Fraction. Add to that list Steve Trevor, a character that for years I referred to only as Wonder Woman's boyfriend.

In the wake of a disappearance by all the various Justice League members, Trevor and his A.R.G.U.S. crew find themselves under siege as their entire operation is compromised in a massive information leak. Operatives all over the world fall as various super-villains and crime groups gleefully attack. Only Trevor and a handful are left.

Sterling Gates takes us through Trevor's assumption of his Nick Fury-like role at the request of the president himself, and shows what an incredibly capable solider he is even in this world of gods. How would the United States government react and respond, more importantly ensure the safety of its citizens, in a time of living weapons like Superman? The consideration of that question makes for absolutely fascinating reading, and throwing Trevor against his mirror image in Deathstroke makes for extra gravy.

Rating: 8 of 10

Mr. Peabody & Sherman #1: This week's children's entry is a revisit to the time travel adventures of Rocky & Bullwinkel second-stringers Peabody and Sherman. Personally, I always thought that the dog genius and his boy had the better-written adventures, and IDW gets a chance to prove it.

The book starts off nicely, with Peabody remarking in his typical smarmy style about his own brilliance and the love he has for his adopted boy. He invents a time machine on a day off in order to give Sherman room to run around in, all the while making a series of Flash, Doctor Who, and Back to the Future jokes. Then it's off to prehistory to try and help man invent the wheel and let the Mayans know about the typo in their famous calendar.

Sometimes it's hard to consolidate the views in children's entertainment these days. Scooby-Doo makes Andy Warhol and Pinhead jokes no child would, or should, get, and Peabody & Sherman falls into that category as well at times. I honestly wonder how that sort of things plays to a kid who has no frame of reference for the pop culture in-jokes. At times it makes me wonder how stuff that is perfectly obvious to a 30-year-old geek will be re-interpreted later by a 3-year-old one.

Until then, though, it's a real fun book with a little education involved as well.

Rating: 7 of 10

Jef has a new story, a tale of headless strippers and The Rolling Stones, available now in Broken Mirrors, Fractured Minds. You can also connect with him on Facebook.

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