Inside Pulse 12

The Weekly Round-Up #343 With 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #2, Captain America: Steve Rogers #2, Star Wars: Darth Vader #22 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

4 Kids Walk Into a Bank #2This Black Mask series by Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss is an absolute delight.  The four kids in the title are curious to know more about Paige’s father’s connection to four men who have been showing up in their lives, and Paige’s increasingly aggressive behaviour lands her in jail for a little while, giving her the opportunity to find out more and more.  Rosenberg keeps the plot light and amusing, while still packing in some strong character work and the occasional surprise for the reader.  The real star of this book is Boss, who does some wonderful, Chris Wareian things with layout, and makes each character feel like a fully realized individual.  This is a very impressive series that is steeped in early 90s nostalgia.

Quick Takes:

Black Panther #3 – While perhaps not a whole lot happened in this issue of Black Panther, you cannot deny that Ta-Nehisi Coates and Brian Stelfreeze are giving us one beautiful comic.  From the opening pages, which recap Wakanda’s history and develop the character Tetu, all paired with a poem by Henry Dumas, through the Laura Martin’s colours when T’Challa and his War Dogs confront Zenzi and Tetu in a forest, this book is gorgeous.  This story sprawls quite a bit here, with more of Shuri in another world, and the Midnight Angels continuing their work, but I don’t mind that at all, since I trust that everything will be resolved well, and since each individual storyline is so compelling.

Bloodshot Reborn #14Bloodshot finds himself on Bloodshot Island, where he and some of the earlier versions of him (from the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, and others) spend their days being hunted by Deathmate, a very powerful character.  Jeff Lemire is always doing something interesting with this book, and Mico Suayan’s art is fantastic.  I was worried that this arc would be borrowing too much from Arrow, but that was unfounded.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #2 – I’d like to know if this issue was always planned to be written this way, or if Marvel blinked after the fan reaction to the last issue, and hastily decided to toss out this issue, which has the Red Skull recap the Pleasant Hill storyline, and then explain the big ending of the last issue.  It feels too soon to me – I would have rather seen a year of stories about double agent Cap, leaving the reader to figure things out.  I guess Captain America is too prominent a character, and has too big a role to play in Civil War II to let something like that happen.  That’s a shame though, because what could have been a memorable run will now feel like it’s not such a big deal.  Now we just have to wait for Kobik to put things to rights again…

Captain Marvel #6When I originally heard that the writers who launched this series were already leaving the title, I thought that I might drop it, but knowing that it’s Christos Gage taking over (alongside his wife Ruth), I figured it might be worth giving it one issue.  I now feel bad for having any doubt, as they use this issue to help clarify a few things about how the Alpha Flight organization operates, introduce a Canadian ambassador who looks a lot like our current Prime Minister, and work to show why Carol is so fired up about using Ulysses’s gifts in Civil War II.  A lot of dots get connected here, while still giving readers a good story.  As well, Kris Anka’s work is great, and the issue brings back Dr. Minerva.  I’m definitely grabbing the next issue, despite the fact that I didn’t preorder it.

Darth Vader #22 – In the build-up to the end of this series, Kieron Gillen and Salvador Larocca basically just have Vader continue to mow his way through Cylo’s people.  This time around, he faces off against Voidgazer and her cybernetically-controlled Rancor.  It’s all good, if you like this series, but it’s lacking the substance of the first fifteen issues or so.  Maybe that’s because Dr. Aphra, Triple-Zero, and BeeTee are barely in this issue…

East of West #27 – The first half of this issue has a lot of talking heads, as the Chosen meet and squabble.  Things take an unexpected turn, though, and then really go to hell.  Nick Dragotta does an incredible job this month, making the conversation part of the book stay visually interesting, and then really going nuts in the action sequence.  This title is building to some very big things right now.

Jade Street Protection Services #1I can understand why my colleague Matt Graham is so excited about this new Black Mask series, which reads like an all-girl mash-up of Deadly Class, Gotham Academy, the Breakfast Club, and Harry Potter.  The story is narrated by Emma, a nonverbal autistic girl, who attends Mattsdotter Academy, where she is trained, along with other girls about her age, in the use of magic and weaponry.  This world, created by Katy Rex and Fabian Lelay, seems pretty complicated in terms of its rules (magic-users aren’t allowed to make things with their hands, not even knit), so when the girls decide to sneak out of detention and run into their teacher up to no good, we get the idea that this is a big deal, even if all of the ramifications of it aren’t immediately clear to us.  I like the character work and the amount of thought put into this world, and like Lelay’s art, so I’m probably going to be returning for the next issue.  I’m curious to know how this book relates to its title.  Another winner from Black Mask!

Jupiter’s Legacy 2 #1 – Mark Millar and Frank Quitely return to their epic story about what happens when the children of superheroes decide to kill their parents and take over (nothing good, but then you knew that, didn’t you?).  I like this title a lot more having read Jupiter’s Circle, which told stories about the older characters, and worked well to develop things to a much greater level than we saw before.  Frank Quitely is, of course, amazing here, as Chloe and her family travel around the world gathering supervillains who might be able to help her stop her relatives.  It’s Millar, so you know exactly what you’re getting into, but it is effective.

Micronauts #3Cullen Bunn is keeping my interest with this title.  Obviously, this is not Bill Mantlo’s Micronauts, but I don’t think I’d want it to be either.  What’s interesting is seeing what Bunn is keeping from the original run, and what he’s adding into the mix.  I am interested in learning more about the Pharoids, and would like to know more about Acroyear.  I think I am happier with Max Dunbar’s art on this title than I am David Baldeon, although I wonder why he disappeared after just one issue.

Plutona #5 – This charming series by Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox ends a little darker than I’d expected it to, but I’m not mad at that at all, as I like endings that aren’t predictable.  Lemire and Lenox really impressed with this series, about a group of middle school kids who come across the dead body of their region’s greatest superhero, and have to decide what to do with her.  The character work in this series is very strong.

Sex #29 – This series by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski just keeps chugging along.  It’s full of interesting subplots, each of which get a few pages every month or two, and Casey does a great job of keeping all these balls in the air.  Sex is serial comics at its best, and is a welcome counterpoint to the arc-driven comics that we are so used to now.

Spider-Man #5I’m really not sure how I feel about Goldballs becoming a supporting character in this title, but beyond that, I’m liking everything else I see here, including the cameo by Jessica Jones (this is turning into Brian Michael Bendis’s greatest hits).  There’s an interesting scene between Maria Hill and Miles’s father, while our heroes confrontation with the Black Cat is interesting.  I’m sad that Sara Pichelli is leaving the book for at least as long as Civil War II lasts, but hope she’ll be back immediately afterwards.

Starve #10 – Brian Wood and Danijel Zezelj bring their food TV series to a very satisfying conclusion, as it looks like it might be possible to really stick it to all-powerful TV execs from time to time.  I really enjoyed this series, and Wood’s study of family, wealth, foodie culture, and how food can improve the lives of people in marginalized communities.  I’m always happy to see new work by Zezelj, who has been one of my favourite artists for a very long time now.

X-O Manowar #47 – As we get closer to the end of this series, Robert Venditti continues to raise the stakes, bringing in some ancient god-like figures who have always been the subject of Vine legends and fear, to wreak further havoc on Aric’s people.  I get that we are building for a big finish, but after dealing with the Armor Hunters, then that Borg-like thing, this feels like it’s too much too soon.  Still, I love Roberto de la Torres’s opening pages which recap some of the Vine’s history.

Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:

All-New All-Different Avengers #11

Daredevil Punisher #2

Extraordinary X-Men #11

Grayson Annual #3

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #5

Lobster Johnson: Metal Monsters of Midtown #2

Mockingbird #4

Silk #9

Suiciders: Kings of HelLA #4

Uncanny Inhumans #11

Uncanny X-Men #9

X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #5

Bargain Comics:

Uncanny Inhumans #5-7 – Charles Soule is slowly regaining my interest in this series, as he introduces The Quiet Room, a nightclub/co-working space that Black Bolt runs now.  There are a bunch of odd events that take place there on the same night, and we get to watch as Bolt and his crew try to figure things out.  Best part?  Ahura promising to make Ennilux ‘great again’.  I’m tempted to think about adding this to the pull-file…

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Dreamcave

by Stanley Wany

This was largely an impulse purchase for me at TCAF this year, as I was attracted to Stanley Wany’s art, and the idea of reading a story set in tribal Africa, a setting and place not depicted enough in comics.

The story centres on a young man who believes that things in the world are getting worse and worse, and that he can help fix things by going on an epic journey and asking his departed elders for their help.

The journey takes him eventually to the Dreamcave of the title, a place where the ancestors wait, as does an ancient lion.

It’s hard to know what’s real and what is imagined in this book, but that is its strength.  Wany doesn’t provide a lot of written explanation, leaving a lot to the art and the reader to suss out.

His art, which looks like it’s done in pen and ink, is often as sparse as his narration, but carries a lot of weight with it.

This book is the middle part of a trilogy, but stands alone perfectly.  Apparently the first book and this one only become connected at the end, and that book hasn’t been made yet.  I hope that means I can grab the first and third books at TCAF next year, because I want to know more about this world.

The Resistance

Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Juan Santacruz, Francis Portela, Paul Fernandez, and Christopher Shy

I remember when this series first was published at Wildstorm in the early 00s, and deciding not to buy it even though I was, by that point, a fan of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti’s collaborations.  I don’t remember my reasoning at the time, but have come to recognize that it was probably a mistake, as this is a very good comic.  Although, to be fair, had I just read the first issue, I might not have gone back to it.

The Resistance tells the story of a group of fighters working to free humanity from the GCC, the governmental organization that runs a future where births are strictly rationed, and where Big Brother would look like a benign minor control system.

Our point of view character is Brian, a computer genius and illegal birth, who draws the attention of the GCC when he tries to help his dying grandfather.  He ends up getting help from Surge, the leader of a resistance cell, who brings him on board.  Over the course of this trade paperback, which collects the original eight-issue series, we get to know the other members of the cell, FTP, Version Mary, and others, and watch as they strike a powerful blow against the GCC.  We also get to watch as a compassionate GCC agent is betrayed by his partner and ends up working with the very people he previously saw as enemies.

It’s clear that this series was originally intended to be an on-going one.  Gray and Palmiotti lay the groundwork for a lot of future character development, especially with regards to Version Mary, who is the product of a long-lived genetics program, and is the target of a cult, but I guess sales were not there to support the book.  On the last pages, the characters even joke about how, if they were to save the world for democracy, no one would ever be around to see it.

This is a nice looking book, with good work by Juan Santacruz throughout.  I’m not sure how this Wildstorm series ended up at IDW, or if the four or five pages painted by Christopher Shy were included in the original series, since I think of Shy as being IDW’s boy.  Either way, this was a solid collection, and I’m glad I picked it up.

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