The novelist/comics writer/editor/Archie exec gives his recommendations for this week’s column. And they are good ones!
By ALEX SEGURA
When Dan asked me to write one of these, I’ll admit, I was a bit nervous. Not because I’m worried about talking about what I’m reading – I do that all the time. But because there’s so much good stuff out there in fiction, nonfiction, comics and so on – I may not know where to stop. But let’s try it out anyway:
LAZARUS by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. I love this book – the entire package is a crash course in world building with heart. Rucka’s taken us to a future that doesn’t seem that far off and peppered it with believable characters from every social class with Forever as the central star. I have no idea where it’s going and it’s the first comic I read when it hits. Rucka and Lark – no slouches with sterling comic resumes – are at the top of their game. (Image)
AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla. I know, I know, I know – I work at Archie. But honestly, I was reading this book before I made the switch over, and I’m so happy that I not only get to keep reading it, but I also get to be part of the process – even if it’s just seeing Francesco’s amazing art come in and watching him bring Roberto’s chilling story to life. You guys are in for a treat with #6, which flips the entire series upside down and cements this as the best horror comic on the stands. This is the perfect mash-up, featuring characters and concepts we all love with the bone-chilling horror that Roberto writes so well. It fits together so seamlessly, it’s disturbing.
STRAY BULLETS by Dave Lapham. I’m not really sure what lead me to go back and re-read this series a few weeks ago, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. A few days later, I’d powered through the legendary initial run and the just-as-good new mini-series. This is a true crime comic – telling stories from the dark alleys of the big city and the deceptively serene views of suburbia. The series introduces characters left and right, and you could see yourself following each one for 40-odd issues. Stray Bullets, though, is greater than the sum of its parts and comes together to form an epic tale of betrayal, revenge, lust, grit and one girl against the system. (Image)
FATALE by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweister. Speaking of crime and noir – wow, what can I say about Fatale that hasn’t been said already? I’ve loved the team of Brubaker and Phillips since Sleeper, but Fatale really kicks everything up a notch. Melding Lovecraftian horror with old-school noir storytelling through a shattered looking glass. This is not a “wait for the trade” series by any means. Great characters, finely executed cliffhangers, femme fatales, twisted villains. … Yeah. That’s the stuff. (Image)
NO PLACE TO HIDE by Glenn Greenwald. Warning – if you read this book, it’ll change how you look at everything you do in terms of technology. No joke. As some of you know, Greenwald was the journalist who first posted information based on the documents Edward Snowden had leaked from his time with the NSA, causing a firestorm that now sees Snowden living in exile in Russia and the American people much more aware of just who might be watching. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg for this chilling memoir, which chronicles Greenwald’s initial encounters with Snowden, the series of stories that defined his career and his detailed analysis of the key documents themselves. Eye opening and disturbing but essential. Something everyone should take time to look at, because it affects you.
JACK AND JOSIE and SAVE YOURSELF by Kelly Braffet. I’m writing about both of these books because I couldn’t decide which one I loved more. Yes, loved. Braffet is one of my favorite novelists out there now, and it all starts with her characters: real, quirky, flawed and relatable. Her thrillers – whether dealing with two creepy siblings on the run or small-town youths getting into more and more trouble because there’s not much else to do – grab you from the first page and don’t let up. Which isn’t to say these are nonstop, eye-popping action novels. No way. It’s actually the character moments that make these books so wonderful. The only bad part of a Kelly Braffet novel is that it has to end. That feeling of sadness when you’re out of pages to read is the worst. Check her out.
See what I mean, though? I’ve name-dropped a ton of stuff and I don’t feel like I’m even halfway done. OK, so let’s hop into the speed round, where I’ll name-check a bunch of stuff I’m reading and enjoying with a quick snippet of context:
— Chris F. Holm’s THE COLLECTOR series: A kick-ass comic series in prose form. Supernatural noir with a wry grin. Three books to read – start now.
— LOVE & ROCKETS: Los Bros. Hernandez. Nuff said. (Fantagraphics)
— AMERICAN VAMPIRE by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque: The book that put Scott on the comic book map is still my favorite work of his, and it’s charging along with such power you can almost feel how happy these guys are to be back at it. Vampires done right. Forget the rest. (Vertigo)
— THE HOLLOW GIRL by Reed Farrel Coleman: A bare-knuckles tutorial in P.I. fiction. The final Moe Prager novel closes out the series perfectly and made me want to go back and read the previous eight. We’ll miss ya, Moe.
— THE BEATLES by Bob Spitz. The definitive bio on the greatest band ever. Basically a greatest hits collection of information most hardcore Beatles fanatics have gleaned from previous books, this tome (900+ pages) still manages to synthesize everything capably. My one gripe is the fast forwarding that seems to happen post-Revolver and how the post-Beatles era is covered with what felt like a shrug. But by then, I’d read 900 pages, so I shouldn’t complain.
Alex Segura is a novelist and comic book writer. His first crime novel, “Silent City,” came out last October via Codorus Press. Alex has also written a bunch of comics, including ARCHIE MEETS KISS, a few one-and-done Archie stories (“Occupy Riverdale” being one) and more. By day, he heads Archie’s publicity and marketing and oversees the editorial side of the company’s superhero titles, which will be relaunching later this year. He’s from Miami and lives in New York.