The moment I read the official summary of Earthdivers, I sat up and started listening.
In the climate apocalypse of 2112, a group of “outcast Indigenous survivors […] figured out where the world took a sharp turn for the worst: America,” and hatched a plan to “send one of their own on a bloody, one-way mission back to 1492 to kill Christopher Columbus before he reaches the so-called New World.” That’s what we call a good hook, a true shot and chaser with the name of the series’ first story arc: “Book One: Kill Columbus.”
Author Stephen Graham Jones (The Only Good Indians, My Heart Is a Chainsaw) and artist Davide Gianfelice (Daredevil Reborn, Northlanders) have turned out a first issue that makes good on the hype. With that kind of concept, Earthdivers could easily be a grindhouse affair, but Jones and Gianfelice are crafting something more layered, already full of character and emotion, despite the heavy lift of establishing a whole universe, plot, and action in just one 36-page first issue.
(Also, just look at that Rafael Albuquerque cover! A single image that condenses everything the story is about into a single image: A hero, Columbus, death, and the treacherous seas of American history. Incredible.)
I’ll be watching Earthdivers with great interest.
What else is happening in the pages of our favorite comics? We’ll tell you. Welcome to Monday Funnies, Polygon’s weekly list of the books that our comics editor enjoyed this past week. It’s part society pages of superhero lives, part reading recommendations, part “look at this cool art.” There may be some spoilers. There may not be enough context. But there will be great comics. (And if you missed the last edition, read this.)
I think my favorite — and the most telling — detail of Earthdivers #1 is that our group of young time-heist assassins can only send one person back, and they choose our hero, Tad. And it’s not because he knows anything about violence, or rigging a ship — it’s because his ability to speak eight different languages is more valuable to a time-travel mission than anything else.
Pour one out for the Machine, the best new Marvel Comics character of the past couple of years; the sarcastic, loving, and oddly innocent Celestial-created artificial intelligence that is the Earth itself. Writer Kieron Gillen debuted the Machine as the unreliable narrator of his and artist Esad Ribić’s Eternals, and (in a metaphor for creating a successful Eternals book in the first place) something so corny and earnest never should have worked, but it did. I’m very sad to see the Machine get hard rebooted into its robotic former self.
The team behind X-Men Red just cannot stop dropping microphones in every single issue and you’d think it would become boring — but then writer Al Ewing and artist Madibek Musabekov drop this panel of Storm assuming the late Magneto’s role in mutant politics while framing herself in a re-creation of his helmet using her own clouds. I hope X-Men Red goes on forever.
Speaking of art that just works, artist Phil Hester on writer Tom King’s pure, unselfconscious noir detective yarn, Gotham City: Year One. Slam Bradley, a relic of Detective Comics’ fist-throwing detective fiction past, must navigate a world of high society and deadly criminality to solve a Gotham City-colored Lindbergh kidnapping: Infant Helen Wayne (Batman’s aunt, if you’re keeping score), abducted from her stately home.
I feel like I’ve seen a lot of Kaya, a new series written and drawn by Deadly Class’ Wes Craig before the first issue hit shelves, with several pages running in Image Comics’ anniversary anthology. So I knew it was a story about a warrior sister with a techno-magical arm escorting her scholar brother through a fantasy wasteland to find his destiny, but I didn’t know there was a hot lizard boy with flowy blond hair named Seth who is in unrequited love with her, and I love that.
Another thing I love? How obvious it is that the folks behind Sword of Azrael, writer Dan Watters and artist Nikola Čižmešija, have watched Neon Genesis Evangelion. It’s long past time somebody brought an anime/manga sensibility to DC’s foremost recovering, brainwashed-by-his-dad, assassin for an even more secret and evil sect of the Templars. This rules.
Who wore it better: Miracleman’s parody of superlatively influential strip comic Krazy Kat, or…
…Edge of Spider-Verse’s parody? It’s very funny to me that both of these comics came out in two different anthology issues from the same company in the same week.