The Weekly Round-Up #351 With Deathstroke Rebirth #1, Generation Zero #1, Rom #2, Star Wars #22, Thief Of Thieves #34, ApocalyptiGirl, Noble Causes & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Deathstroke #1I’ve missed the layered complexity of Christopher Priest’s writing, which is in full effect in this issue, as Slade rescues his old friend, and then has to deal with the various plans he’s set in motion to effect that rescue.  While all this is going on, we get a few flashbacks that show Slade’s family life from earlier in his career.  This stuff is all very good, although someone picking up this first issue without having read the Rebirth one-shot would be incredibly lost; really this is issue two of this series.

Quick Takes:

Aloha, Hawaiian Dick #5 – B. Clay Moore brings this latest Hawaiian Dick series to a close, and sadly Jacob Wyatt, who drew the first four issues, only provided layouts, although Paul Reinwand did well maintaining the feel and atmosphere of the title.  With his friend dead, Byrd goes after Masaki in a pretty violent issue that sets up future Byrd stories, but that also necessitates a title change for the comic.  I’m glad to see that this came out again, and that it finished on schedule.

Batgirl #2I think that Hope Larson might be sucking me into this book.  I didn’t love the first issue (aside from Rafael Albuquerque’s excellent art), but this issue, which has Barbara continuing her voyage of discovery through Asia, and ending up in a MMA gym in Singapore, has a lot of charm going for it, and is deepening the mystery of ‘the teacher’, whoever that is.  It’s a good comic.

Blue Beetle Rebirth #1 – I really like the character of Jaime Reyes, and I loved his first title, written by John Rogers with Keith Giffen.  When he was rebooted in the New 52, I still liked his comic, but I found that it relied too heavily on some of the work done in that earlier series, retelling it more than building on it.  Now, with this Rebirth one-shot, it seems that Giffen (now co-writing with artist Scott Kolins, apparently) is both introducing new story elements (like the magic that Dr. Fate talks about) while relying on some things that have become too overused with this character (best friend’s crimeboss aunt, for example).  Adding Ted Kord as an enthusiastic Alfred character is interesting, but threatens to become annoying pretty quickly.  Similarly, while I think he’s improved a great deal, I’m not sure where I stand on Kolins’s art here.  It’s much more palatable than his Flash work of a decade ago, but something about it still bugs me.  I’d like to support this title, mostly because of the depths of my respect for and faith in Keith Giffen, but this launch didn’t do enough to grab me.  Maybe I’ll give it one more issue.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #4This issue was extra-sized (and extra-priced) but really, very little happened in it, and definitely not enough happened in it to put the Civil War II banner on the cover.  We basically get a recap or two of the Standoff event, more scenes from Steve’s retconned childhood, we check in with the Thunderbolts and the new Quasar, and see how Sharon Carter is trying to take over SHIELD as Maria Hill is getting the boot.  None of these plots move forward very quickly, and the issue just kind of limps along.  I love what Nick Spencer has been doing on the Sam Wilson title, and really feel like the set-up he’s given Cap in this title could be amazing, but this constant need to over explain is killing this book.  I don’t think it comes naturally from Spencer (read Morning Glories – he doesn’t like to explain anything); instead I feel like there is a ton of editorial interference slowing this title down and wrecking what could be a legendary run.

Captain Marvel #8 – I think that this is exactly the comic I’ve been waiting for since Civil War II started, in that it finally really digs into Carol Danvers’s thought process and approach to using Ulysses’s abilities to predict the future to save lives.  And, in the process, it revisits a truly terrible Secret Wars II era villain, and has as much Black Panther as an issue of his own comic does.  This was a very well written issue by Ruth and Christos Gage, accompanied by Kris Anka on art.  I think it’s essential to the series, filling all the stuff the Bendis just glosses over.

Chew #57There are only three issues left, yet Tony once again finds himself working at Mason Savoy’s behest, however unwillingly, as we learn just what led to the chicken virus which is so fundamental to this comic’s main plotline.  Great stuff, as always.

Dept. H #5 – I feel like Matt Kindt does a very good job of capturing the claustrophobia that would come with living on an undersea research base very well, as Mia finds her brother, and as contact is finally made with the surface, although that provides some very conflicting information.  This is a very interesting title, and Kindt has keep a base level of tension running throughout from the start.

Detective Comics #939 – Of all of the Rebirth titles I’ve started reading, I’m pretty sure that Detective Comics is my favourite.  James Tynion IV has captured the right feel for a Batman team book, and keeps the story moving at a good pace.  The Colony is making its last desperate move on Gotham, sending drones to take out people it perceives as possible threats.  I like the way Tynion has given Red Robin a lot of space to shine, as I think he was a character much changed by the New 52 reboot, and I’m not all that familiar with him now.  Eddy Barrows is doing great work here as well, although I think I’d be happier if he were doing every issue and it was coming out on a monthly basis.

Exodus: The Life After #7Esmé is building an army to take on Jude’s church, while Ernest Hemingway finds himself stuck watching parades at Disney World.  This series has taken a real turn since the characters left the afterlife, and while it’s still settling into this newer status quo and updating us on everyone, it’s still very entertaining.

Faith #1 (2nd print) – I guess that Valiant is really pushing this title, as they printed up a ton of this comic and gave them away to retailers (who, in turn, gave it to me).  I think that Jody Houser is doing good work here, having Faith trying to establish a new life for herself outside of the Renegades, and maintain a secret identity (seeing as how people call her Faith more than they do Zephyr when she’s in costume), but this title isn’t really for me.  It reminds me a little of Silk, but I find that book more dynamic.  I do wish this title great success though; I’m not mad when I realize I’m not the target audience for a series.

Generation Zero #1 – I always liked the Generation Zero crowd when they showed up during Joshua Dysart’s excellent Harbingers run, and am pleased to see that they are being put to use again, in this new series written by Fred Van Lente.  It seems that the team is spending its time helping people in trouble, and so they are summoned to the town of Rook, a formerly depressed part of Michigan that has undergone a developmental miracle.  Keisha, a black punk high school student is our POV character.  She’s convinced that her boyfriend was killed after discovering a secret about the town, so she’s called the team in for help.  This is a very solid beginning for what promises to be a very strong part of Valiant’s new line-up.

International Iron Man #6Brian Michael Bendis and Tony Maleev are now using this series to tell the story of Tony Stark’s biological parents, which, of course, involves a rock star SHIELD agent.  I like this type of story from Bendis a lot more than I do his superhero work; it kind of reminds me of Alias.

Invincible #130 – I heard this week that Robert Kirkman and company are planning to call it quits with Invincible in the near future, and while I’m going to miss this excellent series, I fully applaud creators who come to the end of a story and don’t decide to keep it running past its prime.  This is another very good issue of this long-running title, as Mark visits Earth and decides that he really just wants a peaceful life with his family, although it doesn’t look like the Viltrumite Empire is going to allow this to happen (although, if it does happen, that would be a good reason to finish the title, wouldn’t it?).

Island #10 – Farel Dalrymple returns with a nice long chapter of Pop Gun War which takes up most of this issue, and is predictably unpredictable, bizarre, and very cool looking.  Gael Bertrand has another beautiful silent story, and then there is a short Zooniverse story that rounds out the book.  Island continues to be a favourite of mine, but the Zooniverse stuff leaves me cold (even though I thought some of the ideas in this story, about a race that wishes to be eaten by other races, but is not allowed for legal reasons, to be funny).

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #20As Kyle is held prisoner by the possessed, we get to see some of the other goings on about town, as his daughter is offered a spot in an elite school (trust me, it reads more sinister than it sounds), and Reverend Anderson starts to do some detective work.  This series is moving along at a very good pace.  Has anyone watched the TV show?  I haven’t heard much about it.

The Pitiful Human-Lizard #8 – For I think the first time, Jason Loo is joined by a guest writer, Fred Kennedy, for a strange story about a seagull-handed new villainess named Gull Girl who ends up working at the H-L’s office.  As always, a pretty funny issue.

Rai #16 – Throughout the 4001AD event, this series has been showing scenes of earlier Rais’ lives, and this issue brings us back to the beginning of this series.  Really, I think that these issues could have been left out, and that 4001AD should probably have just run in this title.  It’s been a little underwhelming compared to other, more successful Valiant events.

Renato Jones: The One% #4 – Kaare Andrews uses this issue to further flesh out the childhood relationship between Renato and Bliss, before having Bliss’s father go full Trump and launch a campaign to “make America hate again”.  I really like the way that Andrews applies a Batman/Punisher approach to the current state of inequality in America, and am enjoying this book a great deal.

Rom #2I’m enjoying the Rom series, but have a lot of misgivings about the way in which IDW wants to embed him into a Hasbro-verse so early in his run.  I have no intention of reading the Revolution event series, and when I saw that the solicitation for October’s issue of the regular series made specific reference to that event, I decided to not preorder it.  I like what Christos Gage and Chris Ryall do in this issue, fleshing out Rom’s character, and providing him with potential allies in his fight with the Dire Wraiths, but think that IDW is rushing into this crossover stuff that is going to kill my interest in the series.  

Star Wars #22 – This is the kind of story that I like to see in this series.  Jason Aaron has our regular heroes leading an attack on a Star Destroyer this month, which is part of a larger plan.  Jorge Molina does a great job drawing Star Wars tech, which not every artist is able to pull off as well.

Thief of Thieves #34 – While I didn’t see any need for this title to continue after the end of its last arc, I’m glad it’s back, and that writer Andy Diggle is focusing on telling what is basically a fun heist story without as much emotional baggage as the earlier arcs.  Redmond is competing with two other thieves to break into a converted Russian missile silo.  This is very enjoyable stuff.

Wonder Woman #5I think this issue was hampered by my general lack of Wonder Woman knowledge (as I’ve said before, I really only know the Azzarello/Chiang run, although I gave both John Byrne’s and Gail Simone’s runs shots back in the day), because I have no clue who the woman Etta Candy went to see is, and that kind of threw off the pace of the issue for me.  Liam Sharp is doing great work on this book though; it looks terrific.

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

Amazing Forest TP

Civil War II Ulysses #1

Extraordinary X-Men #13

New Avengers #15

Nighthawk #4

Pretty Deadly Vol. 2

Snotgirl #2

Sombra #2

Uncanny Inhumans Annual #1

Bargain Comics:

Agents of SHIELD #3&4These Standoff tie-ins are okay, except that they really just repeat scenes from New Avengers for much of them, while also trying to maintain their own plot, about the Quantum Drive thing.  It feels a bit forced in places.

All-New Wolverine #5&6 – Tom Taylor finishes the first arc off well, leaving Laura in a position where she may have her own little Jubilee-like character to look after, which will do a lot to humanize her.  This is a decent series.

Batman and Robin Eternal #16-24 – This large chunk of this series really starts to pick up towards the end, as Mother unleashes a complicated doomsday plan (involving mental control of everyone under eighteen) and a large group of heroes respond.  There were a lot of cooks in the kitchen while this title was being made, with the effect being that it’s kind of a mess a lot of the time, but it has its moments.  The secrets behind Batman’s involvement in Harper Row’s life really didn’t work for me though.  I do need to track down one more issue to finish off this series (I already have #26) and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all ends.

The Multiversity Guidebook #1Multiversity was a real disappointment, wasn’t it?  I think the fact that all of this stuff has been swept aside in Rebirth says something about that.

New Avengers #7-11 – My biggest issue with this title since it launched is that I don’t like the art of Gerardo Sandoval, who only drew one of these issues.  With a more traditional artist like Marcus To, Al Ewing is really able to show just how good the concept of the Avengers owning AIM can be, when used properly.  I’d like to get caught up on this title and keep reading it, as I love the cast list, but of course, this being Marvel and this being an Ewing book, it’s about to get cancelled and relaunched.  So tiring.

Nova #6&7 – I still think it’s strange and a little backwards that Sam’s father has been revealed to be a cone, and over these two issues, Sam has to deal with another clone, and then the place where the clones come from.  I would like this title a lot more if it wasn’t so decompressed, and wasn’t stuck in an endlessly repeating cycle of storylines (as Sam prepares to head off into space to find his father, again).

Red Wolf #4I know that the internet has said not to buy this book because of writer Nathan Edmondson, and while I don’t know if he’s the creep he’s been made out to be, but I do know that he’s a good writer, and that Dalibor Talajic is a great artist.  I don’t know how I feel about the cover though, which has Red Wolf being hung with a snake.  It is not really how Marvel’s only Native character with a solo book should be portrayed…

Silk #5&6 – I’m really liking this book, and the way Robbie Thompson has taken a one-note character like Silk (who, we should remember was first introduced as unable to keep her hands off Peter Parker) and made her a much more complex and interesting character, while also giving the Black Cat some of the better scenes we’ve seen from her in years.  It’s a good comic.

Where Monsters Dwell #3-5 – I have no idea what this had to do with Secret Wars, or why Marvel would have felt the need to publish this miniseries, aside from perhaps protecting a trademark.  At the end of it all, it’s an amusing Garth Ennis story about awful people, an Amazon-style tribe of women, and racial stereotypes of Pacific Islanders.  If you’re down, you already know what it’s going to be like.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

ApocalyptiGirl: An Aria for the End Times

by Andrew MacLean

I enjoyed Andrew MacLean’sHead Lopper, so I decided to pick up his earlier graphic novel, ApocalyptiGirl, when I saw him exhibiting at TCAF this year.

This is a fairly typical post-Apocalypse kind of story.  Aria is on her own, aside from the cat that she found who now travels with her everywhere, searching the ruins of a major city for something.  Her day usually consists of singing the arias that she is named after, and trying to get Gus, a large robot of some sort, working again, while also chasing any signals she happens to pick up.

She’s not completely alone in the city though – there are two warring groups, the Blue Stripes and the Gray Beards, who she mostly avoids.

This not being a very long book, it’s not long before there’s a lot of mayhem going on, as a Stripe finds her makeshift home in the subways, and she has to fight for her survival, just as she finds the thing she’s spent years looking for.

MacLean has a refreshingly minimalist approach to his artwork.  The drawings are lush and colourful, and while they are detailed, they are also very stylized.  It was his artistic approach that attracted me to Head Lopper, and it works well here too.  This was a decent read.

Noble Causes Vol. 3: Distant RelativesOnce again, a very enjoyable volume of this series about superherodom’s most dysfunctional family.  Jay Faerber tosses in the concept of alternate realities to make things ever more confusing, as we learn everything about Frost’s parentage, and as Liz seeks anonymity.  I really like this series, and am glad that I’ve ‘discovered’ a book that I completely missed when it first came out.