Yup, I let the books pile up for two weeks AGAIN and what did that get me? All these reviews!
Exodus: The Life After #5 –
Exodus remains one of the strangest yet one of the most interesting books that I read. For those not following along, this comic follows the adventures of Gabe (who is Jesus, yes that actual Jesus), who has been living in purgatory, as he meets people (including Ernest Hemingway) and tries to understand his place in the great battle between Heaven and Hell. Happy light fare, right? Most recently, Hemingway was made into the new God, replacing the cryptic and slacker “potato” God, and Gabe again had his memory restored. And in this issue? All things go nuts. Heaven’s agents try to kill our heroes while Hell goes on the offensive and, ultimately, Potatogod deus ex machina-s the whole thing, setting Gabe up for his next revolution. The art is solid and the story is a perfect mix of weird and fun.
GrizzlyShark #1 –
From the mind and pencil/pen/digital drawing implement of your choosing of Ryan Ottley, the long-time artist on Invincible, we’ve got a new series about a…grizzly shark? Yup, that’s right, a vicious land shark who attacks and brutally kills anyone with the smallest amount of exposed blood. Ottley first approached this character back in 2010 and (I believe) this first issue is a color reprint of that material. His art style here is not the tight lines that you may expect from his work on Invincible; it’s much sketchier and free-flowing. As for the story? It’s gruesome and gory and over the top/campy, which is fine if you like that stuff. For me, though, it read very much like a lesser version of the stuff that Ryan Browne does in God Hates Astronauts.
Jupiter’s Circle #5 (of 6) –
As the team is now reunited with still two issues to go, of course Millar is going to use these remaining moments to destroy everything once more. Skyfox, who has been the vocal dissenter of his former team, is now back with his old friends and finally makes the big step of talking to Brainwave, with whom he had accused of using his powers to brainwash his old girlfriend away from him and into Brainwave’s arms. It’s a humbling moment for Skyfox, who Millar has obviously set up as the reader/outsider-surrogate, and is pointed by Brainwave admitting to the act, causing Skyfox to go nuts and the team, in their confusion, turning on the raging hero. It’s all set up for the final issue and it’s been a great ride.
The art switch mid-issue is very dramatic and the second half of the book is just not as appealing and the front half. I’m hoping Sprouse will be back in full-force for next month’s conclusion.
Detective Comics #51 –
And here I thought we were done with the whole Gordon thing? Despite the turning back the reins to Bruce and Gordon getting rid of the mohawk youthful appearance, this issue of Detective Comics missed the memo and starts a new (at least 2 issue) arc focusing on a who-knows-how-old-he’s-supposed-to-be Gordon going back to the Marines to do…something. No Batman. Just sand.
Earth 2: Society #11 –
Abnett is juggling a ton of characters in this book — a literal whole Earth-worth of characters — and though the heroes do have some nice moments, overall the book just feels stretched thin. I think back when their counterparts were all in the JSA, back when DC’s universe was condensed all on one Earth, and the mix of young and old heroes led to dynamic moments. Here, though, it’s just more of the same conversations about peace or war, Batman doing everything perfectly all the time, and Wildcat taking punches.
Green Arrow #51 –
I get Green Arrow via a DC mail-order subscription. This issue, like many, came nearly destroyed, a tear down the spine with the covers almost completely detached, and folded and battered corners.
The condition of the book itself is in better shape than the story being told in the issue. It’s terrible. Sorry, everyone, but it’s just a mess.
Green Lantern #51 –
No question, Sandoval’s art on this issue, his first of hopefully many, is fantastic. But the story? It’s no wonder that DC needs to do another universal reboot/relaunch/resomething. Is this filler? Is this an attempt an interesting story? I’m not sure. But, I will say that I’m looking forward to Rebirth in order to get the current state of books like this and Green Arrow back on track.
Superman #51 –
This was an interesting turn. After the events of Superman and Action Comics #50, where our hero’s powers were returned after a long, crazy stretch of insanity and everything seems to be moving in a more positive direction, this issue tells us that Clark is dying.
Yup, he’s dying and he asks Lana to bury him next to his parents and he flies off with Lois to tell her all about his past. There’s something about whoever trying to break into the Fortress of Solitude’s computer network (what, like Supes is on AOL or something out there?) and a young escaped criminal becoming imbued with powers and calling himself Superman. Is this Tomasi’s version of Death and Return of Superman? I don’t know, but what I do know is that I was hoping for some classic Superman and we went right back into another “fighting against death” story (after the last 3 fighting against death stories). Janin’s art, on the positive, is beautiful, and was worth the price of admission, but I was hoping for something more uplifting in the story.
A-Force #4 –
After the apparent death of Dazzler last issue (but don’t worry, roller disco fans because she’s still got those dumb resurrection powers from her New Excalibur days), the rest of the all-female superSWAT team go up against the all-too-powerful/all-too-undercharacterized Antimatter. I like Wilson and Thompson’s writing — the characters have EXCELLENT internal consistency with their voices and they also show a lot of respect from past continuity here (again, with Dazzler’s powers and her history with Mystique, which is finally addressed after she disappeared from the pages of Uncanny X-Men a while ago). My biggest issue with this comic was that I wasn’t sure what the role of this team was. A-Force in the pages of Secret Wars was a good gimmick — an all-female superhero world — but in the main Marvel universe this group didn’t seem to have a particular place. Thankfully, though, this issue closes with a new “business plan” for the crew, something that may be very fun to watch.
All-New X-Men #8 –
Hopeless and Diaz give us a one-and-done focused on Beast, who is conceding that science has failed at getting him and his friends back home to their original time. As a last-ditch effort, he goes to Dr. Strange (has Marvel made it clear enough that Strange will be in the movies soon?) for help using magic to do what science cannot. It’s a boring issue, focusing on characters that don’t interest me, and the fighting is catalyzed by that dumb Bamf Pickles. (WHY THAT NAME???)
All-New All-Different Avengers #8 –
And this issue made me understand why no one is talking about this crossover! It’s because it doesn’t matter at all! I look forward to the day that I’m not, I don’t know, hoodwinked into thinking that Marvel understands how to do crossovers that aren’t blatant grabs at selling books over telling stories that are interesting. In this issue, of all the assembled heroes, it is none other than Deadpool who saves the day, gets the Cosmic Cube girl Kubik to return their powers, and get us into the “Omega” issue concluding this crossover. There was no development here whatsoever and, though Waid’s dialogue is great, the plot is a bust. Kubert’s art has been the high point of this series so far for me and it’s excellent here too.
Amazing Spider-Man #10 –
This issue made me realize something important about Dan Slott. He is the modern-day equivalent, at least for me, of 70s-80s era Chris Claremont on X-Men. While this issue is focused on Spidey’s continued assault against Scorpio and his Zodiac (and we get some interesting reveals about his identity and the nature of his henchmen), Slott has been and continues to lay the groundwork for other plots — Doc Ock inside the Living Brain, old villains being recruited by a mysterious person. This is the type of comic writing that I love and miss.
Black Panther #1 –
This new series has been getting a lot of mainstream media attention, much thanks to Coates’ writing — the MacArthur Genius, National Book Award winner, and social-political commentator moves from prose to the comic pages here, hoping to make Black Panther, in his words, into “some kid’s Spider-Man”. He’s signed onto this title for around a year of issues (if I remember correctly) and the slow pacing of this first issue definitely sets up the general direction of his run. I’ve never been particularly interested in Black Panther so I don’t presume to know a ton about the character, but Coates does a really excellent job at forming a fresh look (at least for a fresh reader) at T’Challa and Wakanda.
T’Challa is a good person, but a troubled person. He’s been on the losing end of some big battles up until now, which then has made him act in anger and vengeance. His country balances on the edge of deep-rooted tradition and the newest and most advanced technology. T’Challa makes efforts here to sort out and balance being a son, a brother, a king, and a soldier, all while his subjects rebel and he mourns his losses. It’s really a lot all at once, but I guess when you’re swimming in that Genius Grant money, you’ve got the brains to juggle all of it.
Darth Vader #19 –
Such a mixed issue here. On the plus, Vader’s portrayal is really interesting to see — powerful but temperamental, a figurehead but ultimately under the foot of the Emperor — and I suppose that the C-3P0 and R2D2 stand-ins are funny enough. But, the antagonists here are ultimately forgettable and Larroca’s art, which I remember in the late ’90s and ’00s being excellent, looks rushed and unfinished. Next issue gets us back into Emperor-related stuff, a well-deserved change for this title.
Deadpool #9 –
I still have mixed feelings about the taming of Sabretooth that happened as a result of the terrible Axis story from 2014 (I was much more interested in reading more about Havok’s inversion, a storyline that never happened), but Creed’s newly-developed conscience about his past misdeeds have put him right in Deadpool’s target. To catch those who are not reading up: a long time ago, Sabretooth helped brainwash Deadpool into killing his own parents. Deadpool thinks that Sabretooth was the one who killed them and hasn’t yet found out the terrible truth.
This issue starts off with a particularly bloody fight between the two kinda-heroes, which is exciting to see, but then moves away from any resolution in order to drag the story out for a few more issues. I like the concept, but completely the execution.
Empress #1 (of 7) –
Wow. Really. It was Immonen’s name on this book that sold me — he can draw anything and I’m on board, this issue is beautiful — but Millar’s story here is excellent in this first issue. The story here is about a common woman, elevated to queen by marrying the king of a brutal, gladiator-type planet, who escapes his iron-rule, along with her three kids, with the help of her bodyguard. In fairness, there’s not much in terms of characterization in this VERY fast-paced premiere, but the story itself is a good-enough launching point.
Guardians of the Galaxy #7 –
Damn you, Art Adams, for making such amazing covers that have nothing to do with the story whatsoever. Though Thing doesn’t ride a space horse and cut alien gladiators down with a sword, he does team up with Rocket to rescue some slaves from the Badoon and, in the process, get into a relationship with an alien. It’s a fun issue for sure and, though he’s not Adams, Schiti’s art on the interiors is very good. Next issue looks to be focused on Groot and Venom — not as interesting for me as this pairing was.
Mockingbird #2 –
Though we’ve moved away from the medical humor mostly and jumped into fairly-typical superheroics, the lightness of this book remains apparent. For fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lance Hunter’s voice will be familiar (though he’s not drawn to match actor Nick Blood, he’s certainly been de-aged to his 20s/30s) and Bobbi’s portrayal is tough, take-charge hero stays true.
Moon Knight #1 –
The eighth number one issue of Moon Knight arrived this past week and, for a character that I happen to like, he’s proven to be successful in short bursts only. Lemire is a mixed bag for me — either I really love what he writes or it comes off as scattered and unfocused.
This issue is excellent. Mental illness is always the obvious focus of Moon Knight, at least in the last few series, but Lemire takes it a bit further. Instead of multiple personalities, the backbone of Bendis’ run for example, the question here is if Marc Spector is Moon Knight at all or if he’s a person with mental illness imagining himself in fantastical scenarios. There’s nothing answered here in this first issue, only questions being raised, but it’s a well-constructed opener. The art by Greg Smallwood, who worked with Brian Wood on part of Moon Knight’s last run, is also great.
New Avengers #9 –
Well, this is a whole mess of nothing important. While I like the idea of a bunch of lower-tier characters making a name for themselves, this book is doing nothing for the cast. Fighting a Godzilla with an American Flag tattoo? Really? On the bright side, Marcus To’s art is a ton better than Sandoval’s over-deformed characters and I’d love him on a book that has more universe-relevance than this one.
Old Man Logan #4 –
Bummer. Here I thought that we were going to get a universe-romp with Logan slashing his way through villains. Instead, we get a nice few pages of Captain America trying to knock some sense into Logan which immediately transitions into him being mopey and then meeting up with Extraordinary X-Men #1. Uneven and disappointing.
Spider-Gwen #7 –
In the second installment of the Spider-Women crossover, despite the title of the issue, the focus here is mostly on Jessica Drew, Spider-Woman, as she gets an understanding of what Spider-Gwen’s world is all about. This provides us with cameos from this Earth’s versions of the Fantastic Four, Reed Richards, Howard the Duck, and She-Hulk. Robbie Rodriguez has retired from comics, sadly, and has been replaced with the mononymed Bengal (mysterious…), who does a nice job recreating the more frantic look of the title.
Spider-Man #3 –
And, from miles away, I can hear Remy scream with glee as Goldballs gets inserted into the ongoing cast of this book. I could write about how the story is great and the art continues to be amazing, but I’ve got to respond to the 500 texts from Remy about how this is the best moment ever.
Spider-Women Alpha #1 –
In an effort to get all three of the popular Spider-related female characters together, Marvel has orchestrated a crossover that is actually smoothly done. All three characters, already friends, get together for lunch on Spider-Gwen’s earth and, due to the machinations of other-Earth’s S.I.L.K., get trapped there. There’s some implications about Silk getting to see her alt-family, which I’m sure will be explored in her title’s issues, but the more interesting thing for me is seeing Jessica react to being trapped away from her newborn son. The art is not my cup of alternate-reality tea — it’s muddy and uneven — but the characters themselves are fun to read.
Star Wars: Poe Dameron #1 –
I really like how Marvel is using the comics to expand out the between-the-movies moments. This title reveals some of the backstory leading up to Poe’s meeting with Lor San Tekka, seen in the opening moments of The Force Awakens. Of course, things aren’t easy and Tekka isn’t in the first place that Poe and his Black Squadron look, but it’s nice to flesh out the new expanded universe here.
The backup is a Chris Eliopoulos joint, a fun cartoon story about BB-8 playing robo-matchmaker between a pilot and technician.
Star Wars Special: C-3PO #1 –
And talking about expanding the Star Wars mythology into the comics, we FINALLY get the answer to the question that everyone was asking…how did 3PO get that red arm???
Yeah, exactly, it doesn’t really matter so much how he got the arm and that’s the problem. The story itself is actually quite nice — it humanizes the droids in a way that may border on too on-the-nose but it weaves moments of friendship and sacrifice — but it’s within the framework of a plot note that is near-irrelevant.
Uncanny Avengers #8 –
As the team slowly wakes up from their Cosmic Cube-induced brainwashing, Rogue gets front-and-center billing in this issue, as it is her training from Professor X that allows her to personally break free. As for how she then gets everyone else to “wake up”? Well…comics! Because it just happens.
Uncanny X-Men #6 –
I love Angel. Unapologetically. I know that he’s just a guy with wings who dodged stuff and, because it’s a pretty weak power, they decided to turn him into a blue killing machine in the ’80s. I liked his relationship with Psylocke and I loved when he got his wings back in the late-’90s. I even liked the switching back-and-forth from metal to feathered wings and, yes, I didn’t mind the mind-wiped Angel from the days of the Jean Grey School. I’ve been waiting for Bunn to focus on him and it certainly makes sense that the Apocalypse Wars would be the time to do it. More questions are raised than answers, but if it’s in the name of sorting out what’s up with Warren, I’ll play along.
The B-plot focuses on Sabretooth and Monet going into the sewers and being confronted by Callisto (no tentacles!), who is out to kill Creed for his past acts, in particular killing the Morlocks during the Mutant Massacre (which just happens to be the same story that resulted in the initial amputation of Angel’s wings). It reminded me of one of my FAVORITE X-Men issues (and one of my first), Uncanny X-Men Annual #18 (from 1994), when Sabretooth and Shadowcat go into the tunnels and are attacked by the Morlock Caliban.
Bunn is doing an amazing job with this title — could it be the best X-title out there right now?
Web Warriors #6 –
This is more of a cool-down recovery issue, coming off the heels of the Electro stuff and the apparent deaths of Spider-Girl (Mayday Parker) and Spider-UK (Billy Braddock). Note: don’t worry, they’re totally fine. This issue brings the team to Pavitr Prabhakar’s (Spider-Man India) world to fight his version of Venom (quick fight) and is narrated by Spider-Man Noir.
Wow, everything that I wrote in that last paragraph is insane.
X-Men ’92 #2 –
Oh, Dracula. I understand your ties to the X-Men. I get it. It just doesn’t mean that I have to like it. In this issue, there’s a ton of good ’90s (and ’00s) stuff that I love — Generation X and X-Statix characters, Gamesmaster, Fitzroy, Shinobi Shaw, and Fabian Cortez being shadow cabal-y, Rogue AGAIN fighting a bear — but there’s also Dracula. And, sadly, Jubilee is now a vampire. Yup, one of the more underwhelming moments in the past decade of X-comics has now made its way into one of the most lighthearted, continuity-light books around. Boo.
And that’s it from the past two weeks! A lot of books, not so many coherent thoughts. What was in your Haul these past weeks? Leave a comment below!