The Weekly Round-Up #207 With Sex Criminals, Afterlife with Archie, Blooshot & HARD Corps, BPRD, Conan & More
by James Fulton on November 27, 2013

Best Comic of the Week:

Sex Criminals #3

Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals is easily the funniest, most touching, and most surprising comic on the stands today.  Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have found the perfect blend of humour, character development, titillation, and irreverence in this new series.

Suzie and Jon, who have only just met, have the strange ability to stop time when they orgasm.  Neither has ever met anyone else who can do this, and now that they’ve found each other, they are curious to see where their new relationship might need.  Which includes using their ability to rob banks, as we keep seeing in the comics’ framing sequences.

Most of this issue is given over to the rest of Jon’s growth and development, including his first time with a woman (his first time with a man gets some space too).  As the issue progresses, we get to see the new couple’s first visit to Cumworld, the porn-store that Jon has been frequenting since his pubescent days (complete with a dildo-fight), and a musical number in a pool hall.  Trust me, the musical number, which has the lyrics to a Queen song covered by Matt Fraction’s discussion of why they couldn’t use the lyrics to the Queen song, is worth buying the book for alone.

Zdarsky peppers this book with hilarious little visual gags (I’d like to know how much time he’s spent imagining Cumworld), while still making such a ridiculous concept feel perfectly realistic.

As great as this comic is, it’s only enhanced by the best letters page in comics, since at least the early days of Powers at Image.  The readers that write in treat this book as something between a traditional superhero comic and Dan Savage’s advice column.  Brilliant, disturbing stuff all around.

Quick Takes:

Afterlife With Archie #2I enjoyed the first issue, but with this second issue, I think I might just be hooked on this series. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla are giving us a great story, and a lot of familiarity with the characters is not all that necessary.  They widen the scope of their story some with this issue, as the zombie outbreak spreads, and a large number of the characters figure out what’s going on and move for safety.  Francavilla’s art is fantastic, and I’m beginning to like a number of the characters (although I was a little surprised to learn that Veronica’s father is Commissioner Gordon).  A nice surprise about this comic was the reprint of a 70s Gray Morrow story about a cat burglar who gets involved in some supernatural goings on.  Great stuff from cover to cover.

Animal Man #25 – Buddy confronts Brother Blood’s people at the Oscar’s while Maxine hides out in The Red.  To be honest, I’m getting kind of bored of this book.  Jeff Lemire’s a great writer, but I don’t feel that he’s putting the effort into this comic that it deserves, and while I love Rafael Albuquerque’s art, it feels a little off for this series.  I’ll give it a few more issues, but it might be on the chopping block…

Avengers #23 – As the Infinity event gets closer to its conclusion, so do the Avengers and their allies get closer to Earth.  In this issue, they need to run Thanos’s blockade, something that can only happen if they take back the Peak, SWORD’s orbital station.  Lots of action, and a few heroic moments for the cast, make this a pretty exciting comic.  I find myself getting excited for the big conclusion.

Bloodshot and HARD Corps #16More new recruits are brought into the HARD Corps, and they are all people who wouldn’t traditionally be chosen for projects like this.  They aren’t given much space for development though, as they are quickly sent back to the Harbinger Foundation to try to retrieve Bloodshot’s nanites.  This issue feels less well-paced than the other recent issues, and the fact that the characters on the cover are not all actual members of the book’s cast suggest that things are kind of being slapped together as we go…

BPRD Hell on Earth #113 – It’s great to see both Fenix and Liz Sherman getting their grooves back in this issue, as the two women have to face different issues and their own fears.  This has always been a great read, but I’m really happy with it since the series became a single monthly, instead of a rotating, and often overlapping, series of mini-series.

Conan the Barbarian #22 – Brian Wood’s last Conan story (for now at least) starts with this issue, which has Conan and Bêlit travelling into a forbidden land in search of treasure.  Flying apes, strange plants, and a sense of doom fill this new story, which is nicely drawn by Wood’s DMZ collaborator Riccardo Burchielli.

Daredevil #33 – It’s a little strange that Mark Waid (and apparently Chris Samnee, who still gets his usual ‘storyteller’ credit despite not drawing the book) has DD detouring through a bit of a monster story, as he helps Frankenstein, Werewolf by Night, Satanna, and their friends to retrieve some missing pages of the Darkhold.  The issue is drawn by the very capable Jason Copland, of Murder Book fame (with two Ed Brisson-written comics out this week, it’s a very Murder Book week), and looks very nice.  There are only three issues left in Waid’s run, and really, he has a lot to clean up before it’s over, having to finish off the Sons of the Serpent storyline, resolve Foggy’s cancer issues, and figure out where Matt’s going to land with the ex-DA he likes.

Eternal Warrior #3Greg Pak is working to expand the mythology behind the Eternal Warrior and the Geomancer, introducing a new pantheon of gods, including the God of the Wild and the God of Darkness.  I’m not sure how I feel about it – it gives the book a feel similar to that of Swamp Thing and Animal Man, with avatars battling on behalf of ancient entities, and I feel like it, and Gilad’s relationship with Geomancer Buck McHenry doesn’t fit with the way these characters were introduced in Archer & Armstrong (which we finally have confirmation happened after this story).  Still, Pak is a great writer, and the book is enjoyable.

Harley Quinn #0 – I most definitely do not like the character of Harley Quinn, but this comic features art from people like Becky Cloonan, Amanda Conner, Darwyn Cooke, Adam Hughes, Dave Johnson and Walter Simonson, so I couldn’t possibly pass it up.  It reads like an older issue of Deadpool, as writers Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti have a chat with Harley (inside her head) while she tests out a variety of artists for her upcoming on-going series.  The concept is kind of cute, but quickly ends up being annoying.

The Mysterious Strangers #6 – The team finishes dealing with the threat of Nazis from another dimension in the conclusion to this two-parter.  Chris Roberson and Scott Kowalchuk are having a lot of fun with this series, and it shows on every page.

100 Bullets: Brother Lono #6 – The slowing growing conflict between a Mexican cartel and the church that has given Lono sanctuary finally spills over into outright violence, as the cartel, believing Lono to be DEA, take him prisoner.  This series has been building slowly, and I can’t wait to see the payoff in the last two issues.

Secret Avengers #11Ed Brisson finishes off his debut Avengers storyline, as New Nick Fury, Agent Coulson, and the new Inhuman SHIELD agent fight another new Inhuman amid the general destruction of Infinity.  This is a solid comic, but I’m looking forward to the return to Nick Spencer’s regular storyline next issue.

Sheltered #5 – Ed Brisson and Johnnie Christmas’s survivalist take on Lord of the Flies continues to be a thrilling read.  A group of teenagers have killed their parents and taken over their survivalist compound at the behest of Lucas, a charismatic sort whose true intentions haven’t been revealed yet.  Discord is swelling among the kids though, and they are starting to get ready to fight back.  This issue marks the end of the first arc, but it ends with quite a cliff-hanger, so I can’t wait until the next issue comes out in the New Year.  The trade is coming out next month – if you are looking for an exciting and thought-provoking series, you should pick it up.  I just don’t recommend reading the Prepnet Survivalist pages (this month’s deals with the effects of a severe solar storm hitting the Earth) before going to bed.

Uncanny X-Men #14 – When this series started, Brian Michael Bendis introduced a small group of new mutants, and a couple of them have barely been given any screen time or character development since then, as the book has been very event-driven of late.  Now, he focuses the entire issue on Benjamin Deeds, the mutant with the ability to subtly morph into anyone standing close to him.  Emma Frost sees more potential in his abilities than the rest, and so she takes it upon herself to start training him in, naturally, the art of seduction.  I kind of question the comic’s unstated assertion that people are only made more comfortable by people who generally look like them, but Chris Bachalo has a lot of fun with this issue, and it’s lovely.  It’s nice to get a solid done-in-one after so much tying together in the X-books of late.

The Wake #5Scott Snyder and Sean Murphy’s undersea adventure series hit the half-way mark this month, which means that Snyder is really just finished setting up the real point of this series, as has been hinted at from time to time in issue prologues.  It’s hard to discuss what happens in this issue without spoiling anything, but it’s fair to say that the first five issues are Pitch Black to the next five issue’s Chronicles of Riddick.  Except with great art and hopefully a more coherent story.

Wasteland #50 – One of my favourite independent series hits the big 5-0, but the occasion is not really marked here (issue 25 was double-sized and in colour).  Instead, we have a number of confrontations, as Mary meets her father, and the conspirators find Marcus in a vulnerable position.  As always, Antony Johnston’s writing is flawless, and Justin Greenwood does a serviceable job of capturing the drama inherent in this story.

Wonder Woman #25 – The best book in the New 52 just keeps chugging along, as Strife makes plans to gain revenge on Wonder Woman and her band of friends, and Cassandra puts her plans in motion to get ahold of Baby Zeke.  Brian Azzarello’s writing on this book is just so smart, and Goran Sudzuka’s art is great.  While reading this, I was struck for the first time by the similarity between the way Azzarello shows the Olympians and how Neil Gaiman wrote the Endless in Sandman.

X-Men #7Lady Deathstrike makes her return (in another person’s body), while Monet shows up at the Jean Grey School, and Karima, the Omega Sentinel, starts putting her life back together.  Typically, all three of these storylines converge in some action.  I’m not sure why this particular X-team needs another telepath, but I’m pleased to see Monet being used again so soon after the conclusion of X-Factor.  Terry and Rachel Dodson join Brian Wood on this book, so it’s lovely, if in a slightly generic way.

X-O Manowar #19 – Cary Nord debuts a new look with this issue, making use of watercolour (or at least the effect of watercolour – it’s hard to tell when something is painted or digitally created these days), and it looks very nice.  Aric, in the middle of a burgeoning conflict with the world powers that want him and his people out of Romania, has to first resolve conflict within his own ranks.  Volo (who, every time I read his name, makes me think ‘Vous only live once’) challenges Aric for leadership, while Ninjak is given time to do his thing aboard the ship.  This Unity tie-in is a very good read.

Young Avengers #12 -Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are making the best super-hero comic that Marvel puts out right now (Superior Foes of Spider-Man is decidedly not a super-hero comic, so it’s easy to make that distinction).   The final fight with Mother begins, and while the team is backed up by a plethora of young heroes, things are still not going their way.  This book is so well-written it puts many other books to shame.  I’m really going to miss this once Gillen and McKelvie are gone.

Zero #3 – I really like the way that Ales Kot is constructing this series out of a string of one-off comics that jump around chronologically.  This issue has Zero infiltrating a ‘crowd-funding for terrorists’ party, backed up by the agent he is secretly in love with.  Things don’t go well though, and the mission runs into some problems.  Mateus Santolouco draws this issue, and his rougher pencils work very well here.  If you like espionage comics, I recommend this one.

Comics I Would Have Bought if They Weren’t $4 (or more):

A + X #14

Batwoman #25

Cable and X-Force #16

Cataclysm Ultimates #1

Indestructible Hulk #15

Rachel Rising #21

Red Sonja #5

Superior Spider-Man Annual #1

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #6

Bargain Comics:

Batgirl #15-23Reading Gail Simone’s Batgirl in a larger chunk like this allows the reader to get a broader sense of the book, in between tie-ins like Death of the Family, the weird replacement of Simone by Ray Fawkes, and the WTF? cover event.  Simone is doing some interesting work with Barbara Gordon, but doesn’t ever seem to have enough space or time to really make it effective.  Barbara believes (as does her father) that she’s done something terrible to her brother, although his appearances in Suicide Squad show that she’s wrong, and that’s interesting, but more interesting is the supporting cast that doesn’t get enough space.  Her roommate reveals that she’s transgendered, but it’s never picked up on again in later issues.  Barbara is building a bit of a relationship with Ricky, the boy who lost his leg in a bear trap in an early issue, but again, there’s not enough space for this plotline to really breathe.  The New 52 version of the Ventriloquist is introduced, but she’s nowhere near as bizarre and interesting as the original.  This is not a bad comic, but I don’t think I’d enjoy reading it in monthly installments, which is usually the way I like my comics the most.

Earth 2 #13-15 – I’d dropped Earth 2 when I learned that James Robinson would be leaving the book, but I was dissatisfied with it before that.  There are too many characters bouncing around this series who don’t show up for issues on end, and it became frustrating trying to keep track of what was going on with each.  This book also suffers from the complexity of the reboot given both to the Fourth World characters and the Justice Society in the New 52.  I don’t immediately remember each character’s deal the way I would with the ones I’ve been reading about most of my life.  In these issues, Steel takes a bath in an Apokalips Pit, the guy who runs the World Army talks a lot (again), Hawkgirl flies around looking for something or other that has to do with Green Lantern’s dead boyfriend, while Green Lantern, Flash, and Dr. Fate attack the country that Desaad (I think it was him) has taken over, while the Sandmen fight them.  Oh, and Mister Miracle and Big Barda show up for like three pages, while the new Batman shows up once.  It’s just too disconnected…

Red Sonja #1-4I’m glad I grabbed the first four issues of Gail Simone’s new Red Sonja series, because the first two didn’t do a lot for me.  As the story deepened though, and Simone provided some backstory for the character (this is the first I’ve ever read any of her comics), I started to get into the swing of things a little more.  There is definitely some potential in this story, which has Sonja facing off against a woman she views as a sister, after they spent a lot of time together in a dungeon once.

Album of the Week:

No Bird Sing – Definition Sickness – No city is pumping out better hip-hop (or perhaps just music in general) than Minneapolis, a statement supported by the new album from No Bird Sing.  This group is made up of lyricist Joe Horton (of Mixed Blood Majority), producer Graham O’Brien, and musician Robert Mulrennan.  Their sound is dark and lovely, with guest appearances from the wonderful Aby Wolf, Crescent Moon, and indie hip-hop demigod Sage Francis.  This is very much worth checking out.



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