Top of the Hump: Best Comics 4/5/23
We review the best books from this Wednesday's selections. No April fools here.
Top of the Hump is a new weekly column where we select our two favorite comics of the week. This Wednesday, we're celebrating a killer pair of Image Comics, I Hate This Place and Love Everlasting.
How do you react to anxiety on the page? Some comics that traffic in it send us into a state. Then there are other comics where the anxiety sings. You're jittery as hell reading them, but their panicked energy puts you in a high for whatever reason.
Both I Hate This Place and Love Everlasting cause heart palpation, especially where they've currently imprisoned their characters. The turmoil Gabby, Trudy, and Joan find themselves in is the appeal of their books. We're all here to watch them suffer through it, but we've also fallen for these protagonists. Our worry for them has us wringing our hands continuously, which is a really awful thing to occur when we're also holding comics. High grades, our issues will never have.
I Hate This Place and Love Everlasting ranked significantly within our Best Comics of 2022 episodes. And we were lucky enough to chat with Kyle Starks about his series and Tom King and Elsa Charretier about their series. In both cases, they were just getting started with their books. Now, we're a trade paperback into their tales, and we have a better understanding of just what the hell is going on. Not a total understanding. I Hate This Place and Love Everlasting are weird ass books, and they seem only to be getting weirder, but that weirdness has a method to it. As the process becomes semi-clear, the anxiety ratchets up. We're waiting for release but that tantric tease has us buzzing with enthusiasm.
Brad's Pick: I Hate This Place #7
Writer: Kyle Starks
Artist: Artyom Topilin
Colorist: Lee Loughridge
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Kyle Starks promised that I Hate This Place would cram every kind of horror into its pages, and with last month's issue, he introduced the ultimate evil - family. Help Spiders are one thing; Mister Durant is a grotesque working on a whole other level. And, of course, Trudy's religious zealot daddy would observe the nightmares plaguing the ranch and see God's wisdom. Yikes. Big time yikes.
I Hate This Place #7 is an exhilarating, high-stakes confrontation with our main characters spending most of the page-time strapped to chairs. Every panel seemingly brings us closer to disaster, and while I cannot imagine this comic without Gabby or Trudy, I also don't trust Starks and Topilin to keep them safe. There is simply too much gnarly action surrounding them. Sooner or later, someone is gonna get got.
Issue seven concludes with an "Oh shit" cliffhanger presenting yet another genre staple, but it's baffling to consider how it will play out in this particular story. Wait, actually, that's the pre-cliffhanger cliffhanger, cuz I Hate This Place #7's final surprise ignites another set of possibilities. Kyle Starks just won't settle for one ending. He's too dang generous.
Artyom Topilin is firing off some of his best work ever. His sequential storytelling is as smooth as it is speedy, and the acting is better than most live-action performances. Of course, where he shines with the most devilish delight is with the monsters and the mayhem. Every glimpse of The Horned Man we get further cements him in my imagination. What an icon.
I Hate This Place #7 absolutely rips. More, please. Now.
Lisa's Pick: Love Everlasting #6
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Elsa Charretier
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Designer: Emma Price
Love Everlasting #6 sorta starts like a number one issue, not a sixth issue. Honestly, you could probably jump on board with #6 and be perfectly fine going forward, although you'd miss out on a lot of that stress and curiosity. It would be best if you grabbed that first trade paperback. Honestly, it's the comic bringing me the most joy these days, and any Comic Book Couples Counseling fan would jive with Love Everlasting. I can't imagine anyone reading this paragraph that hasn't already gotten on board with this comic because we endlessly shout about its greatness.
And it's only getting better.
In issue six, Joan lives out her horrifying romantic life filtered through a beatnik prism. She's "Too Hip for Love," with her parents desperately trying to set her up with a straight arrow rather than the goateed freaks she usually shakes it with on the dance floor. Don, who's a real Clark Kent-lookin' fella, makes an impression, and since she's already getting bored with this dimension (or whatever it is), she might as well fall for him so the Cowboy can send her off to the next round of heartache.
Then, something that's never happened before happens. I'll say no more, but the twist allows for an easy entry point for new readers while providing a ghastly escalation from what previously occurred. Tom King and Elsa Charretier continue to savagely eviscerate all the romantic tropes while slowly revealing more and more of Joan's true character. What's going on? Still have no idea, but I'm damn well compelled. Love Everlasting is an essential comic book with stellar artwork and a hypnotic narrative. Missing an issue should be a sin.