Sitrep, June 2021. Time to talk about our feelings. Plus the first installment of Books From My Basement.

I don’t know about y’all, but the events of the last year have forced me to sit back and reassess a great many things about my life and its past, present and future. Including how I spend my time and who I choose to spend it with. I think more than anything, the year’s trials and tribulations have made me appreciate and cherish the relationships that are truly essential and enriching within my life. The ones worth all the time and trust and emotional investment I’m capable of giving them going forward. The kinda connections you simply can’t live without.

For me, this is one of those relationships.

This here, right now. This… thing… with you and I. This whatever this is we’re doing all up in your inbox together once a week or sometimes less often than maybe we’d like, I don’t know? What I’m trying to say is that this is a relationship I want to nurture. This is me nurturing it, right now. Do you feel nurtured yet? Check yes, no or maybe.

For real though, the last year has certainly made me reassess how I interact and connect with the people who truly make my living, and that’s all of you who so graciously read and support my work. I hope this newsletter can be a big part of that connection going forward, though not the only part. And even then, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I want this fucking thing to be. Sure, part of it will always be about the simple, crass hucksterism of saying hey, I have these new books out today or hey, there’s some shit in my online store you can buy if you want (which reminds me that you still have a few more days to use the promo code SWEETSIXTEEN upon check-out for a 16% discount on all oh god I’m a fucking huckster now aren’t I look away look away I’m hideous!!!). But as far as my part in this relationship is concerned, I promise I’ll do my best to actually have something to say when I message you like this, beyond the mere hucksterism. Even if what I’ve got to say is like now, where I’m mostly just talking about… having something to say. That counts. I’m counting that.

I imagine I’m not alone in feeling lately like I’m just now emerging from some sorta slimy goddamn H.G. Giger cocoon to blink through the afterbirth and see what sort of weird new cosmic creature I’ve become while the whole world fucking slumbered. For me, this is very much just the beginning of that period of change and rebirth. And that includes my work. This week I’m writing the first issue of a new series. It’s the third one of those I’ve written in recent months. With more to come. And that’s alongside some truly exciting and invigorating new chapters for some of the series of mine you already know.

The point is, all that same change and reassessment and reinvestment that I talked about earlier from within my personal relationships is also happening within my work life. And will be continuing to evolve and develop for at least the next year or so. So I think what I want this newsletter to be is a sort of road journal for that process. Dispatches from the reboot. So here you’ll get insights on specific stories or decisions I make along the way, or just thoughts on the different shit that’s bouncing through my Alabama brain when I’m working on something.

And again, this newsletter won’t be my only contribution to this newly remodeled relationship or ours. I’ve also started posting frequent news updates over at what I’m calling my Work Blog. The regular sort of announcements and solicits and previews of new releases and such, as they happen, all with my exquisitely-bearded thoughts sprinkled on top. That blog is part of the website I’ve continued to try and spruce up, adding the aforementioned online store and an FAQ and other such websitey things. For now, you can also still find me on Twitter and Instagram, but I’m envisioning a day maybe sooner rather than later when that won’t be the case, and this will become the only way for us to keep in touch, other than maybe the occasional late night tiki bar rendezvous, if you’ve got a good one of those in your town, and if you do please let me know.

And I actually mean that: please let me know about things, not just tiki bars but also mostly tiki bars. I want you to have a voice in this complicated, long-distance relationship of ours. If you’re reading this in email form, you can reply to this email address and I’ll see it. If you’re reading it online, you can reply in the comments section below. Hit me up with questions you want answered (I’ve recently answered the SOUTHERN BASTARDS one as best I can and believe me you’ll have more of an answer just as soon as I can give it), thoughts on specific stories, favorite Disney World rides, what the fuck ever.

Gonna be an exciting fucking time, that’s for sure. I’m sure goddamn excited. Thanks for coming along for the ride. Gonna do my best to make it worth your while.

Today’s Brand New Slam Bang Motherfucking Releases

See, told you I was excited. Look, I’ve talked a lot about HEROES REBORN already, about how it’s all about a return to joy amidst a time of darkness. I talked a bit more about that last week on my blog, about how the opening splash page of a bloody, smiling Power Princess from issue #6 (as so powerfully brought to life by artist Erica D'Urso ) was inspired by a real-life moment with WWE wrestler Becky Lynch. I was actually there ringside the night Becky became a legend, standing tall in the crowd, grinning proudly as blood poured from her busted nose, looking about as badass as a human being can. Grinning through the blood. That is the heart of HEROES REBORN. And with this week’s penultimate issue #7, focusing on the entire Squadron Supreme of America, we bring you lots more blood and hopefully a fuckload more grins.

THE MIGHTY VALKYRIES #3 is also out today, and look, if you’re not already on board for this series I suppose I could tell you all over again how amazing a writer Torunn Grønbekk is or we could talk about our old friend Jane Foster or about Kraven’s mustache, but, I mean, c’mon, the book looks like this:

Right, exactly. Moving on.

While you’re out, you can also pick up this little beauty today, the third volume of the complete trade paperback collection of my Thor run. This one collects the bulk of the Jane Foster-driven MIGHTY THOR series, mostly with art by Russell Dauterman and colorist Matt Wilson. Just in case you wanna, you know, read the book before you see the movie. I suppose we’ll have to talk about that movie at some point, won’t we?

Books From My Basement

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m working on the first issue of a brand new series this week. Which seemed like a good time to debut a new feature here I’ve been wanting to do for a while now, where I dive into the Scrooge McDuck bin of comics I keep in my basement, filled with all the books I’ve been collecting and reading since I was a wee little beardless tot, and re-read one of my old favorites so I can tell you why I think it’s so awesome. For this initial installment, since I was thinking of first issues, I went back to the very first first issue I ever read.

Actually I lied just now because I didn’t actually have to dive into anything to find this particular comic since it lives full time in a place of honor atop my basement spinner rack. This was one of the very first comics I ever read and the one I suppose I would credit most with injecting the insatiable hunger of a full-fledged comic junkie straight into my wide-eyed childish eyeballs. Before I discovered this book on a drugstore spinner rack sometime in 1983, I’d read an issue of this series or that series here and there. But ATARI FORCE was the first time I got in on a brand new comic book series from the ground floor. And I was hooked, right away. Looking back now, it’s easy to see why. This is a damn good comic by any decade’s standards.

If the gods were just (or existed in the first place) all would-be comic fans would be lucky enough to have their first pivotal reading experience rendered by an artist as utterly flawless as José Luis García-López.

Written by Gerry Conway (legendary creator of Punisher and Firestorm) and drawn and expertly designed by the absolute master José Luis García-López, who would become arguably the quintessential DC artist of the day, ATARI FORCE was the continuation of a story that started with a bunch of mini comics that came packaged with Atari 2600 games like Defender and Galaxian. Those mini comics told the story of the original Atari Force, operatives of the Advanced Technology And Research Institute, who rocketed through space fighting the evil machinations of Darth Vader cosplayer the Dark Destroyer. But forget those mini comics, you don’t need to have read those. I hadn’t when I first picked this issue up. This new series takes place years later and brings together a new generation of the Atari Force, a motley crew of sexy mutants and spacey weirdoes who are like the X-Men crossed with the drunkest freaks from the Star Wars cantina.

Seriously, either this comic was tailor-made for me or it was the fucking tailor that made me. It opens with an alien getting drunk outside Keno’s Yiktak on Roc’s World while your new favorite ass-kicking space tramps, Dart and Blackjak, are fighting their way through a bar full of alien thugs, at least until the Shock Cops show up. Then there are aliens who grow so massive they turn into mountains and dashing young Tempest fighting a Hunter Robot with his multiversal phase powers while grumbling about his asshole dad and Pakrat getting cornered while stealing the Klavian Crown Jewels (as you’ll learn, Pakrat REALLY doesn’t like being cornered) and the Dark Destroyer popping up just to kill a motherfucker and crush a giant diamond in his hand to show you how few fucks he gives, all before it ends with Dart and Blackjak about to get drunk, get naked and get busy on a planet of flesh-melting acid puddles.

I mean, that’s a goddamn comic that’s worth every bit of its 75₵ cover price.

(Fuck, 75 cents? Is that right? Am I a hundred years old?)

ATARI FORCE ran for 20 issues and one over-sized special, and you better believe I was there for every one. I doubt we’ll ever see it collected, given the Atari of it all, so I suggest you go dig through some dusty back issue bins and find your own floppy copies. And who knows what other sorta buried treasures you might discover along the way. I mean, all ATARI FORCE helped me discover was the direction for the rest of my fucking life.

This has been BEARD MISSIVES, direct from the Advanced Technology And Research Institute approved face of Jason Aaron.

This week’s newsletter has been brought to you by the new bird feeder I set up outside my office window next to the pineapple bird bath and the bunny family who are living inside a pile of sticks in my backyard, complete with baby, and the horde of fireflies that descended on the yard last night right after dusk and made me feel like all was gonna actually be alright with the world again.

Be loved. Be seeing you.

Jason Aaron

June 16, 2021

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