Happy Fifth Week! Typically, the fifth week tends to be fairly slow, but I picked up 10 books, including last week’s monster tome that was Batman #50. That’s right, I’m still testing those DC waters for something fun and interesting…still waiting for it…
Back to the Future #6 –
After the first 5 issues taking the form of multiple, quick vignettes throughout different travels of Doc Brown, this issue really gives me what I was hoping from the title, something that is really only possible in this type of medium — Back to the Future Part 4! We start this new arc from the perspective of Marty following the end of the 3rd movie. Marty and Jennifer are back in 1986, his family is successful, Biff is a combover-sporting weasel-y truck washer, but we see that things are, well, too boring for Marty following all his adventures. Without Doc and the Delorian, Marty’s finding it hard to move on with his normal, teenage life. Though the revelation of a second secret lab is overly convenient, it does forward the plot into a place that puts Marty as the time travel veteran and Doc as the novice. I’m looking forward to the rest of this arc — here’s hoping that Barber and Gale continue to put together a compelling story. And a quick word on Ferreira’s art? Beautiful.
TMNT Deviations #1 –
Taking a page out of the old Marvel What If? comics, TMNT presents an alternate reality where a simple change results in the complete death and destruction of everything. While alternate stories are one of my favorite tropes, this exact thing was my biggest complaint with those issues, in that they suppose that the original way the story happened was the “best” way.
To digress, here’s a good one from What If?, Volume 2, #60, which focused on my favorite X-couple, Cyclops and Jean Grey. This issue came out right around when they got married in X-Men #30. It presents three stories. The first one tells the heartwarming tale of if they got married earlier, which results in the All-New All-Different team, including Professor X, being killed. The second shows if they never got together, which results in the not-so-terrible Cyclops becoming evil. The third? Wolverine and Jean get together, ultimately resulting in the Dark Phoenix and the destruction of the entire universe.
Back to TMNT, this issue shows what would happen if, instead of just Leonardo being corrupted back in the City Fall story arc, all the Turtles joined Shredder and the Foot. The answer? Everyone dies. Seriously. Splinter, Shredder, Hob, Kitsune, Casey, Hun, Karai, Alopex, and a TON of other random soldiers. The story is fine, the art is good and consistent with the usual main title, but this is another installment in the alternate realities filled with everyone meeting their end.
Black Science #21 –
As Grant makes his way back through the multiverse (or whatever it’s called in this book) to find his missing family and crew, we reach the end of the Godworld arc in dramatic fashion. The beacon that he has been tracking turns out to be on a dead Rebecca, the woman that Grant was cheating on his wife with and who also sabotaged the mission in order to find a dimension where her brother was alive. Thanks to the ship, Hal, we find out that this body is not “our” Rebecca, but rather this dimension’s version of her. Grant tracks her down and, in the end, commits her to a lifetime of suffering as payback for what she did to him. There’s some poetic justice here, even if it is maybe a bit heavy handed. Remender and Scalera do amazing work with this title and as Grant moves on to find the next members of his team, I’ll be happy to see what happens next.
Saga #35 –
I’m not going to say anything here that hasn’t already been said by people much more eloquent than me, but in brief, Saga continues to do nearly everything right and perfect and shocking and fun and dramatic and whatever this book is great and if you’re not reading it you’re missing out of something magical.
Batman #50 –
In their penultimate issue on the title, Snyder and Capullo make a supersized anniversary issue something special — not a collection of shorter stories from different creative teams (which so often happens to pad out page numbers in the interest of making a thicker, more expensive issue), but a HUGE conclusion to Superheavy (part 10!), their ongoing story about Gordon-man and his creepy boneflower villain, Mr. Bloom.
Synder does a excellent job in showing some restraint; in the wake of Bruce’s return as Batman (a conveniently completely healed Batman as he turns over the book to another creator in one more issue), he still keeps the focus on Gordon. As Bruce himself says to him, talking about Bloom, “he was your monster, Jim”. The Batman-mech suits were a bit much for me and I’m happy to see them go, plus Gordon trades his mohawk back for a mustache at issue’s end, which is totally the right move. I don’t completely understand what was going on with the Robin character here and what his brother’s deal was with Bloom, but overall, it was a good conclusion and you can see Synder moving the pieces back towards the “status quo” in preparation for his departure.
If there’s anything that may take alternate reality stories out of my Favorite Thing To Read In Comics spot, it’s this — the Handbook! Pure, unadulterated information on comic characters, events, items, locations — there’s something just so satisfying about these comics. I used to LOVE the Official Handbooks of the Marvel Universe and the Who’s Who in the DC Universe issues (and the backs of the ’90s era trading cards), which tended to be the only places to find out more information about things that I didn’t know much about (in those pre-wiki days).
Currently, when Marvel does put out a Handbook, they do target the content to where the publishing line is focused towards. In this issue, there is an update to X-23/Wolverine, but the rest of the content is VERY Cinematic/TV-related – updates to Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Thor, Spider-Man, Ant-Man, the Inhumans, and Vision plus new entries on Darren Cross, Agents of SHIELD, and Lash. There’s also Spider-Gwen, Silk, Warbringer (who just died?), and inexplicably Phantom Eagle.
But the best part is the 10-page entry on Battleworld, the reality mash-up planet from the recent Secret Wars crossover. Though the actual story was frustrating to get through, the most interesting part was just seeing the different realities that made up the planet (and trying to guess what they were from the original promotional material, which we did here). This entry gives short paragraphs on all the domains, explicitly describing all the differences in reality. I WISH Marvel had released something like this during the actual crossover (or maybe during one of the LOOONG delays between issues even?).
All-New X-Men #7 –
Oh, poor Toad. From lackey to terrible solo D-list villain to X-school janitor to now depressed, delusional, and drunk. After leaving the school (where I thought he actually had some nice moments under Jason Aaron’s writing) and being dumped by the now-equally-crazy Husk (R.I.P. Generation X characters being loved and cared for by the X-writers), Toad is hoping to change the world by killing the young Cyclops, which he predicts will alter reality and make things for mutants better. Hopeless does a good job writing Toad, making him sympathetic in addition to just plain pathetic. Ultimately, the issue ends with Cyclops presumably dead (but of course he’s not) and the X-Men all sad and stuff. It’s another fine issue, but nothing great.
Darth Vader #18 –
What Marvel has done really well with these Star Wars books is kept both the main title and Vader inextricably linked together in the same overall storyline, making these books very much cinematic in scope. You can, for the most part, read either title by itself and get a good story, but by reading both you get an excellent story. The Vader title is, by no accident, darker than its sibling title and though Larroca’s character art is very good, his backgrounds, settings, and panel structure are somewhat bland. This issue is a lot of lead up to a big fight coming up next, but is still an overall good read.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #6 –
CROSSOVER TIME! If you would have told me that I would be super-excited for a Howard the Duck-Squirrel Girl crossover title, I would have rolled my eyes so bad that I’d need to wear my glasses on the back of my head. BUT, this book is great. So great. Ryan and Chip are two of the absolute funniest writers working right now (please please please go read Ryan’s To Be or Not To Be – a choose your own adventure Hamlet – or B to the F – a review of the Back to the Future novelization) and Erica’s art on this book is some of the greatest stuff I’ve seen.
X-Men ’92 #1 –
Spinning out of that aforementioned terrible Secret Wars, X-Men ’92 gets its own ongoing title, chronicling the adventures of the X-Men from a world that resembles that of the 1992-97 animated series. Sims and Bowers do really well with capturing the voices of the cartoon on page form, from Gambit’s talking in the third person to Rogue’s strange metaphors (“those new kids are gonna have it rougher than a hickory switch!”) to Storm’s constant yelling (written, of course, in bold and all caps). There’s a great nostalgia factor here for fans of the series. What I didn’t attach to, though, was some of the new stuff, including the villain of this arc, Alpha Red. I understand the need to add to the universe (and that it’s not a book adaptation of the cartoon), but I wanted more goofy references to the past. Overall, though, it’s a fun read.
I think that, overall, I’m getting back to being my usual fairly positive self, huh? I’m hoping this tone continues into next week, which will be giving us the first issue of the new Black Panther title (written by comics-newcomer Macarthur Genius Ta-Nehisi Coates) and a bunch of crossover titles in Spider-Women and more Avengers Standoff and Apocalypse Wars. What was in your Weekly Haul this past week? Tell us below in the comments!