The Best Comics in January Part 1: Deadpool at His Deadpooliest

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

Hawkeye #16: don't know why I don't follow Hawkeye more closely. I have literally never read an issue I didn't think was absolute genius. Part of that is Matt Fraction, who is easily one of the top ten comic writers working writer now, and a big part of it is that non-powered heroes always try harder.

Kate Bishop has taken the mantle of Hawkeye out to Los Angeles to try for a career as a private eye. She manages to land somewhere between Nancy Drew and Buffy Summers on the scale of detective effectiveness, and somehow that makes her all the more sincere and endearing.

This case finds her helping out a member of a Beach Boys-esque '60s group who is pretty obviously a fill-in for Brian Wilson. For almost half a century he's been working through mental illness to complete a mysterious masterpiece that now finds itself leaked onto the Internet. Bishop takes the case, befriending the old hippie and learning a great deal about the entertainment world and the magic of music. It's short on action, but extremely long on good vibrations. If some aspiring short film maker was looking to make a first class Hawkeye story, I'd nominate this one.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Deadpool: The Gaunlet #1: I treat Deadpool like I treat ICP... there are people who like him way too much and that always makes me keep a small distance. That said, I wasn't passing up the chance to see Wade Wilson take on Dracula.

This is a hard copy that comes from a free code to unlock the new digital service Infinite Comics, so if you want to ease the transition from paper to pixels it's a pretty good way to start. There's no arguing it's actually a hell of an explosive beginning.

Wilson foils an assassination plot out of the back of a helicopter in what may or may not be a weird Bondian dream sequence (Complete with amusing opening title song... in a comic... It's Deadpool, remember?) to find himself being molested by a vampire as he sleeps on a park bench. This leads to Wilson's usual bumbling but effective method of dealing out the pain, including a staking with an umbrella that is so perfectly timed I swear it moves on the page.

Oh, and John Denver was a mercenary, apparently. Good to know.

Rating: 7 of 10

This story continues on the next page.

Dead Boy Detectives #1: With Sandman coming back it's also nice to see my favorite non-Death spin-off also going strong once again. Edwin Paine and Charles Rowland are back on the case as two spectral Hardy Boys solving mysteries and staying one step ahead of Death before she comes to collect them.

This time, they're heading back to where it all began, the St. Hilarion school where the both were killed. It was in these horrible halls that sadistic headmasters and vicious bullies turned life into a veritable hell, then a literal one during a time when Lucifer evicted the sinners from his domain.

Underneath it all is a young girl whose famous performance artist parents have left here strange, but hopeful. She was part of what was supposed to be a grand performance piece where her family was allowed to steal a Van Gogh, only for a separate group of real thieves to turn it into a near fatal actual crime. It's a bit darker than you would expect, but still an amusing little niche in the Vertigo line.

Rating: 6 of 10

Letter 44 #3: When Barack Obama took over the presidency from George W. Bush it was the first time I had ever heard of the legendary letter that each president leaves his predecessor. The contents of the letter are completely confidential, and could contain anything from hidden intelligence to a highly-evolved knock knock joke.

What if that letter read, "Aliens are real, and all the wasteful government spending is actually being funneled towards space defense in case they're hostile. Good luck"? In Charles Soule's new book it's precisely that.

President Blades desperately wants to end a war, reform healthcare, and otherwise be a stand-in for our current commander in chief. He's unable to do that with resources tapped for a possible invasion, and wants to try and bring the knowledge of the aliens public in order to refocus his aims. Just like so many leaders in real life, though, President Blades finds that being in charge can be the strictest slavery of all. It's a very interesting read with an inventive premise. If it gets a little too close to reality at times, there is at least zero gravity sex scenes to make-up for it.

Rating: 6 of 10

Seekers of the Weird #1 Today's all-ages entry is a brilliant occult adventure story from Brandon Seifert. Siblings Max and Mel are flunking classes at school and are terrified of telling their parents. However, mom and dad seem a little distracted. Probably has something to do with the horde of monsters that attacks them later that night and kidnaps them.

Now Max and Mel team with their Uncle Roland to infiltrate the hidden Museum of the Weird, a Tardis-like space where all manners of magical and dangerous objects are collected. Their family is the custodians of the museum, but evil forces are threatening it.

It's little different from a million other "child finds out they're secretly special" stories, but it does off the same clever twists and quips that made Seifert's Witch Doctor such a compelling book. Throw in great art from Karl Moline and you won't be able to put it down.

Rating: 7 of 10

Tune in tomorrow for Part 2.

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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