Top of the Hump: Best Comics 2/9/22
Another hump day, another pull box dump. We pick our favorite new comics for the upcoming Wednesday.
Top of the Hump is a new weekly column where we select our two favorite comics of the week. This Wednesday, we're celebrating Juni Ba's viciously relevant anthology series Monkey Meat and Dave Baker and Alexis Ziritt's cyberpunk pulp adventure Night Hunters.
Our first February #NCBD is a little light but still stacked with several titles worth exploring. We plunged into this week's advanced copies, and the two titles we were most excited to devour delivered on their promise. It's the kind of week where the two of us (Brad and Lisa) had to fight over who got to claim what as their picks, but we totally came to a calm, cool, and collected decision that did not involve any arguments or name-calling (uh....).
Entering 2022, we're more optimistic about comics than ever. There's a little something in the market for everybody; all it requires is a little looking to find the right book for you. Looking at the two titles selected below, you couldn't find two more opposing vibes, although both have a satirical bite to them. What you do with that chomp is totally up to you.
Lisa's Pick: Monkey Meat #2
Writer/Artist: Juni Ba
Letterer: Juni Ba
Publisher: Image Comics
Full disclosure: we're in the bag for Juni Ba comics. When we first read Djeliya, our minds popped. We knew we would read whatever comics came next from the cartoonist, and we also knew that we had to have him on the show. Graciously, he agreed to spin by the Love Nest for a chat, and the conversation was everything we wanted.
We're only two issues into his new Image Comics anthology series, but we may love it even more than Djeliya. Considering how much we adored his debut graphic novel, that notion almost seems blasphemous, but Monkey Meat is Juni Ba's kitchen-sink comic. Whatever wild ideas are tumbling through his brain are propelled upon its pages, and the result is a sharp, angry, frenetically imaginative playground.
The second issue follows a new resident on Monkey Meat Island. Haricot is a shy kid who feels the world crushing on his back, and he finds escape in the manga he devours. His parents want him out of their hair, so they dump him at the Monkey Hotel. After a violent encounter, Haricot seeks justice through another unusual island resource. No spoilers, but it's sugary sweet.
Ba tells Haricot's story primarily in black and white, replicating propulsive manga paneling. Of course, Ba also has a few visual tricks in his back pocket. As Monkey Meat #2 jets toward its conclusion, you can sense a Twilight Zone/Tales from the Crypt twisty message coming, but its arrival feels anything but forced.
If Monkey Meat is not already in your pull box, you'll want to correct that immediately. This is a series with legs, and we can hear the call of the future. Either it's a legendary run destined to sell perennially, or all those hip comic know-it-all-types will be hailing its name from the shadows for years to come. Monkey Meat is a classic in the works.
Brad's Pick: Night Hunters TP
Writer: Dave Baker
Artist: Alexis Ziritt
Letterer: Robert Negrete
Publisher: Floating World Comics
One hundred years from now, two brothers struggle for survival in Venezuela. It's a Judge Dredd-like future, meaning whatever decisions you make, the outcome looks wretched. Dave Baker and Alexis Ziritt show us the hell we're creating on this planet and the misery we're inflicting on our children. But don't think Night Hunters is this ultra-serious finger-wagging sci-fi saga. Nope, it's a gnarly, radical trip into a cyberpunk future. It sucks for those stuck there, but it's a blast for those reading.
Ziritt first broke onto the scene with equally mental comics like Space Riders and Tarantula. These books owe as much to outlaw indie cartoonists like Spain Rodriguez as they do 2000AD or their wannabe cinematic successor Robocop. And if Ziritt does have a film influence, it's probably the imagination sparked by VHS box art rather than the contents within. Night Hunters is the product of a kid imagining what The Bronx Warriors is about rather than actually finding out.
Most importantly, Baker and Ziritt are clearly having a ball crafting Night Hunters. There's a glee to its horror and atrocity, and the enthusiasm is infectious. Night Hunters is a comic that causes you to interject audibly. I let a few "God Damn"s and "Dude"s slip as I turned its pages, and you want others to join such a raucous genre party. This is a comic you share. With a vengeance.