It’s hard enough to write one comic book series due to the pressures it puts on a writer. To have to churn out script after script, paying close attention to both character development and exciting action scenes, can be challenging. Especially if that book is published on a monthly schedule.
Now try pumping out five different comics a month. Yikes.
Yet somehow Jason Aaron manages to pull of this Herculean feat while still retaining his sanity. Better yet, he has built a collection of books that are worth readers’ time and money solely for how well he manages to offer up compelling character drama in between things blowing up. Lots of things.
Here are his five series, each one worthy of your attention in different ways.
– The Mighty Thor: This series is really on top of it’s game as one of the best Thor comics to ever be released, let alone in the past decade. Aaron takes his time to showcase the inner workings of Jane Foster, the current wielder of Thor’s hammer, as she does her best to not only fight a war against an evil collective from the nine realms of reality, but also against a losing battle with cancer.
Aaron’s depictions of Jane are some of the best that she has received. Her stubbornness to not receive any kind of magical aid for her cancer shows the kind of will she has, along with her pushing through to carry the power of Thor into battle. Readers will instantly feel for the plight Jane goes through as they watch her adventures unfold. The only downside to this series is the required reading of Aaron’s previous volumes on the character, Thor: God of Thunder and Thor, as well as the event series Original Sin, in order to fully understand the context to whats going on.
–Doctor Strange: “Magic comes with a price,” as characters warn the Sorcerer Supreme in this series from Aaron. Initially following Strange’s antics and misadventures in the everyday world of New York City, dealing with disturbances in the magical underbelly, the series takes a dramatic turn when a group of inter-dimensional invaders come looking to wipe out all of magic.
While there are interesting moments of characterization in between the amazing visuals – provided by Chris Bachalo – Aaron’s depiction of Strange can be seen as a bit too similar to Tony Stark. There are also moments when Aaron chooses to build tension and mystery to last throughout his planned run, as opposed to giving readers the story beats they want or deserve. Yet the book has begun to really find it’s groove on the new “Last Days of Magic” storyline, so this is the time to get on board.
–Star Wars: Everyone loves Star Wars, and when Marvel regained the rights to publish Star Wars comics they enlisted Aaron to helm the flagship title. Telling new stories in the three years between A New Hope and The Empire Strikes Back, Aaron follows the adventures of Luke, Han, and Leia as they continue their fight against the evil Empire, and Darth Vader himself.
Aaron really excels at capturing the essences of the main trio of characters, each line feeling like quintessential Star Wars. Each successive arc of Star Wars feels like a lost movie script unearthed from the vaults of Lucasfilms. Accompanied by top artists like John Cassaday and Stuart Immonen, this book is a fun read all around. The only downside is the recent “Vader Down” storyline, which saw the book crossover with the other Star Wars series Darth Vader.
–Southern Bastards: If the previous three books were Aaron showcasing his skills at fantasy and sci-fi, this is his take on gritty crime drama – unfiltered and chock full of cursing and B.B.Q. This book follows the trials of the citizens of Craw County, Alabama as they go about their drab and depressing lives. The book focuses on the high school football coach and resident crime lord Euless Boss, looking at how this powerful man reacts as his crime empire begins to crumble around him.
Aaron’s deft abilities at characterization are in full effect in this series, as the people the reader is introduced to become realized and sympathetic within the span of a single issue. From the enforcer who just wants a shot at being an important figure to Boss to the old man who returns to Craw County and decides to take a stand, Aaron paints a vivid depiction of life in the south in which there are no “heroes” and “villains.”
–The Goddamned: It’s telling that Aaron’s “weakest” book is also his most manic and in-your-face. Taking readers back to Biblical times, before the “Great Flood” came and cleansed the Earth, the series follows the mythic Cain as he tries to find some purpose to a life that is never-ending. With a maniacal Noah looking to build himself a flood at any cost, the characters are what really drive the momentum of this series.
It’s fantastic to see Aaron teaming up with his Scalped cohort R.M. Guera, bringing another wild tale of debauchery that puts others to shame. Yet the book has yet to reach the heights that Scalped did, and it’s hard to compare the two series’ as one reads this book. For readers who haven’t experienced the crime series (and you should), this may not be an issue. For those who have, it’s a burden. This is also unabashedly an “adult” comic – nudity and swearing abounds – so anyone with a light stomach may not want to turn to this series.
Each of these books offers up something fresh and unique to readers of all kinds. From traditional superhero fare to dark tales of morality, Jason Aaron excels at making readers care about each one of his characters right from the first page of his many comics.
Each of these series are available at comic book shops in individual issues.