Right now is a high time to be a fan of all things pop culture. Whether you have an unfettered love of comic books or have an insatiable thirst for your news sprinkled with the funnies, there’s a little something for everyone and their wide and varying tastes. If you’re jonesing for consuming something new but don’t know where to start, I’ve compiled some of the pop culture fare I’m personally adoring right now. Hopefully, you’ll find a morsel or two that appeals to your particular passions. Read on, y’all!
Marvel Comics’ Star Wars line (comics)
I’m a hard sell when it comes to Star Wars. While most folks who know me assume that I’ll consume All Things Star Wars just based on my pop culture proclivities, the fact is that aside from the original trilogy, I’ve really never found myself pulled into any of the various TV series, novels, or comic books that the Universe Lucas Built has inspired. However, now that Disney owns LucasFilm and Marvel, I decided to give the comics a spin when I heard that Marvel Comics would be producing its own Star Wars line. While Marvel’s involvement drew me in, what kept me reading were the creative teams behind the series, particularly writers Kieron Gillen (Darth Vader) and Jason Aaron (Star Wars), whose investment in making characters we only think we knew feel shiny and new and exciting.
Related: Review: Darth Vader #1
The Silent End (novel)
A self-described horror novel delivering on the promise of said horror is rare, but one for young adults? Even rarer. Rarest of all is a book that combines those elements and is populated by teenage characters that feel like fully-formed people in their own right. However, that’s what author Samuel Sattin has done with The Silent End from Ragnarok Publications, providing readers an experience that gives nods to Stephen King’s It and Stand By Me and that coming-of-age tradition but feels whole and apart and distinctly its own. Were I still teaching high school English, The Silent End would have a shining place on my syllabus.
Related: Review: The Silent End
Two Brothers (graphic novel)
I read a great deal of comic books on a monthly basis. It’s a confluence of both my interests and the necessity of my work as a pop culture writer. And while I have a pretty hard and fast rule of only reviewing comics that I enjoy, it’s that rare graphic novel that makes me consider my own relationships and alternately make me joyful and sad in the process. Brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba’, the creative team behind Dark Horse’s graphic novel Two Brothers, evoked just that reaction from me, leaving me a bit shell-shocked upon finishing their tale—in a good way. Adapting the beloved Brazilian novel The Brothers by Milton Hatoum, Moon and Ba’ are able to stay faithful to the original story, while building a reading experience in a way that only the comic book medium affords storytellers.
Related: Review: Two Brothers
Alias/Marvel’s Jessica Jones (comics/Netflix)
If you’ve been keeping up with FreakSugar, you know that we’re all sorts of jazzed about the upcoming Netflix series Marvel’s Jessica Jones, based on writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos’ comic book Alias starring the superhero-turned-private detective of the same name. While the show doesn’t technically premiere until November 20 on the streaming service, early series synopses and trailers indicate that the Krysten Ritter and David Tennant vehicle will keep the hard-edge and rich character development that made the comic such a joy to read. If you eager to learn more about Jessica’s world prior to the November start date, give the comic series a look, which is collected in paperback and hardback now. I’ve been re-reading my own whenever I get a free minute, and I’m amazed how Bendis made me care so much for Jessica and her universe in just a scant couple dozen issues.
Related: Flashback Friday: Alias
Late Show with Stephen Colbert; The Daily Show with Trevor Noah; Last Week Tonight with John Oliver; The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore (TV)
Commentators and critics have tried to read the tea leaves as to why viewers, especially millennials, have such adoration for Colbert and the rest of his contemporaries, but it’s not really a secret: While the series they produce are packed with the funnies, the hosts never talk down to the audience, nor do they try to bullshit us, either. Week after week, they remind us that the best way to continue speaking truth to power is by being well-informed in a way that the nightly news and the 24-hour clusterfuck of cable news networks fail to do. Whether it be from Colbert sliding in political commentary as the new host of The Late Show to John Oliver doing in-depth analyses of news stories that often slip through the cracks, no time is better than right now to be entertained and informed by a single program. And hey, Jon Stewart is coming out of retirement! All of the happiness!
Related: Jon Stewart and Responsibility: A Thank You to The Daily Show Host
Writer Scott Snyder, artist Jock, and colorist Matt Hollingsworth continue, month after month, to spin tales of the macabre that pierce both the fear of the supernatural and of the recesses of the human heart in Image Comics’ Wytches. In detailing the trials of young Sailor and her family, who have moved to a New England town to escape Sailor’s past, the creators show how humans often can’t outrun their past and will sometimes go to unthinkable lengths for self-preservation and advancement.
Jem and the Holograms (comics)
Based on the 1980s cartoon of the same name, writer Kelly Thompson and artist Sophie Campbell’s updated take on the truly, truly, truly outrageous exploits of Jem and her band of fellow rockers. While I was never a huge fan of the original series, this incarnation of Jem leaves me with a smile on my face every time I read an issue. It’s brimming with fun, phenomenal character designs, and an overload of heart. The title is always the first book I read the week it comes out every month and, in a market vying for consumers’ attention week after week, that’s saying something.
Related: Review: Jem and the Holograms #5
We’re only two episodes into the CBS series starring Melissa Benoist and Calista Flockhart and already I’m hooked. As a rule, I haven’t really found a lot of the TV superhero fare all that engaging, but the show featuring Superman’s cousin Kara as she navigates her way becoming a hero in her own right has a lovely combination of sweetness, action, and well-defined characters that’ll keep me tuning in for now. A big hat tip should go to the writers and actor Mehcad Brooks for their depiction of Jimmy Olsen, a character, for the first time, I want to get to know and see each week.
What Scott Snyder and artist Greg Capullo have achieved with their work on Batman since the title was rebooted in 2011 is staggering, adding vibrant, compelling stories to mythos that span over 75 years. While each creator has an intricate understanding of what makes the Batman tick, they’ve managed to make his world appear new, keeping readers guessing what’s coming next month. Need proof? Former police commissioner James Gordon is the current Dark Knight protecting Gotham City’s streets. And it works! From their spin on the Joker to making the conceit of a Gordon-as-Batman believable, Snyder and Capullo give readers both entertaining yarns and interesting ways of viewing a superhero they only thought they knew.
Do you have any pop culture morsel you’ve gotta have month-in and month-out? Let us know in the comments!