The Weekly Round-Up #376 With Dept. H #11, Generation Zero #7, Old Man Logan #18, Star Wars: Poe Dameron #11, The Walking Dead #164 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Dept. H #11 – Now that we’ve gotten a lot of the different characters’ backstories out of the way, it’s time to focus on Mia again, as she tries to get back to the business of solving the riddle of her father’s death, which is more than likely connected to the continuing efforts to sabotage the undersea station.  Matt Kindt’s story is becoming ever more complex, and impressive.  This is a nice dense read, as we begin to learn why Mia is so untrusting of her friendships.  Great stuff here.

Quick Takes:

Batman #17 – Two weeks ago I remarked on how much David Finch’s art dragged down what has been a strong run since Finch’s last arc, and that continues to be the case here.  Tom King, in constructing this I Am Bane storyline, has a lot of moving pieces, and while that’s not unusual for his writing, he’s usually paired with an artist who is better able to make that visually interesting and clear.  That’s not happening here, and so I’m left uncertain of what’s happening on some pages, and of who some characters are on others.  I’m looking forward to this arc, which also has a stronger feeling of editorial interference than any since King’s first arc, being over and this book getting back on track.

Batwoman: Rebirth #1 – I’ve been on the fence about this comic, and while this one-off introductory issue is pretty (Steve Epting is always good, and I like some layout homages to JH Williams III’s work with the character), it just recaps comics that I read not all that long ago.  Batwoman is still a very new character (in this form), so I didn’t need a look back over her history, but I hope it makes the book more appealing to new readers.  I’ll give the regular title a few issues, as I love what James Tynion IV has been doing in Detective Comics; I remain sceptical of Marguerite Bennett’s writing, however.

Black Panther: World of Wakanda #4 – The story is starting to catch up to the first appearance of the Midnight Angels in the regular BP series, as Aneka sets the pair on their current path when she investigates a village leader who is having his way with local girls.  I’ve enjoyed exploring the backstory of these two characters, and look forward to seeing the conclusion of their arc next month.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #19 – Rage is on trial, and while Sam is determined to help him, the system really is stacked against a large black defendant, even if he is a superhero.  Nick Spencer continues to use this title to dig into the racial and partisan divisions in America, and to do it expertly.  I especially like the nod to his terrific Superior Foes of Spider-Man in this issue.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #11 – This book has been way too slow-moving since it launched.  This issue spends ever more time setting up the Secret Empire event, as Cap bares his soul to his closest friend (who is not Sam Wilson, by the way), while a favourite C-list character stumbles over Cap’s biggest secret.  At the end of the day, I’m not all that excited by this book.  I respect that Nick Spencer is trying something different, and like how deeply he’s thought about and planned things, but I’m also a little bored, and find I don’t care all that much.  After the next issue, I’m pretty sure I’m dropping this title (March was the first month where I was ordering knowing that the digital copies were gone, and culled my pull-file list accordingly).

Daredevil #17 – We finally start to learn why and how Murdock got the world to forget he was Daredevil, as he goes to confession and Charles Soule fills in the backstory.  I’ve really liked Soule’s run on this book, so much so that I’d kind of forgotten that DD was living in San Francisco not all that long ago.  It’s nice to see this get filled in, but I hope this arc isn’t too long.

Doctor Strange #17 – I’d started losing interest in this title, and had decided to drop it, when Jason Aaron pairs up with the incredible Frazer Irving for an issue, and restores my earlier esteem for the title.  Strange is looking for Wong, who has been taken over by Mr. Misery, and is looking for ways to hurt Strange.  This is an absolutely gorgeous issue.  If Irving’s drawing the next one, I know I’ll end up picking it up.

Ether #4 – Every issue of Ether, Matt Kindt’s and David Rubín’s fantasy series, has shown glimpses of Hazel, Boone’s love interest and assistant, but this issue gives us her backstory, and shows her connection to the Ether.  It’s a very strong issue, as it helps us better understand that strange world, and works to set up the end of the series.

Generation Zero #7 – The team is getting closer to figuring out what’s going on at Rook as they work to rescue a captured Zygos.  Fred Van Lente is, as always, on point here, and makes this one of Valiant’s most enjoyable titles.

Horizon #8 – Once again, Brandon Thomas and Juan Gedeon add a new layer to their story, as Zhia is attacked in Chicago and begins to suffer memory loss, which looks like it could endanger her mission on Earth.  This is a very complex story, but a rewarding one.

Invincible #133 – The twelve-part end of Invincible begins with a funeral, a wedding, and the return of regular series artist Ryan Ottley.  This is a classic issue, with a great blend of family drama and large-scale plot movement.  I’m going to miss this title when it’s gone, but agree that it’s probably time for Robert Kirkman to wrap things up.

Kill or Be Killed #6 – Dylan’s first encounter with the police since beginning to work as a vigilante serial killer leads to the story expanding quite a bit, as a detective upstate starts to put things together, as does the Russian mafia.  This is an excellent series (with a fun Image tribute variant), but what comic by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips isn’t?

Manifest Destiny #26 – The Lewis and Clark expedition are facing a new, more existential threat, as they start to hunker down in their newly constructed fort for the winter.  This title keeps things weird and kind of awful for them, so we know it won’t be a boring winter.

Nightwing #15 – I’m considering dropping Nightwing, as the last arc didn’t do all that much for me by the end, but then Tim Seeley and guest artist Minkyu Jung go ahead and give us this excellent one-off story that focuses on Dick’s new relationship with Shawn.  It’s a very charming issue, albeit with an ending that has left me with some dread.  I don’t know Jung’s work, but I’m very impressed by it.

Old Man Logan #18 – This finishes off this rather weird Brood arc, and while the whole thing is gorgeous (thanks to Andrea Sorrentino), this story really didn’t do it for me.  It’s all good though, as I’ve decided that this book is not going to survive the culling anyway.

Poe Dameron #11 – It bothers me that it wasn’t until I’d decided to drop this title that it started getting a lot better, as Terex pursues Dameron while arguing with the First Order.  Phil Noto’s work on this title is really very good.

Savage #4 – I’ve really been enjoying this series, which is about a boy who has grown up in the Faraway, Valiant’s version of the Savage Land, fighting dinosaurs and keeping away from a tribe of men who remind me of Lost’s The Others.  What’s worked so well on this book is the division of art between Lewis LaRosa’s modern day framing sequence, and Clayton Henry’s flashbacks.  That gets blurred in this issue as Henry’s part of the story catches up with LaRosa’s, and he draws some of the modern events too.  I found it a little jarring and confusing, especially given the difference in the level of detail the two artists use to tell the story.  Still, Savage has been great, and I’m pleased to see that it will return, much in the style of Valiant’s Divinity books, I imagine.  

Sex Criminals #16 – It’s great to see this title return from a rather long hiatus, but as most of the issue is circling around story material we’ve seen before, I found that I got a lot more enjoyment out of the letters column than I did the actual comic.  Sex Criminals is a truly ground-breaking comic, but I’m not sure where it’s going in terms of the big story.  Each individual page is gorgeous and entertaining, but for the first time, I’m not sure that it’s adding up to a whole lot.  I love the Wicked + Divine style tribute variant cover though.

Spider-Man #13 – I’m enjoying this crossover with Spider-Gwen more than I expected to.  I was going to drop this title (despite how much I love Miles), and now am thinking that it might be the Marvel title that gets saved from the culling I’d intended.  This is how it always begins for me…

Super Sons #1 – I love Damian Wayne, especially when he’s written by Peter J. Tomasi, so I thought I’d give this book featuring him and Jonathan Kent a shot.  It’s a charming comic, that has the two young heroes teaming up.  I’m not sure if I’m going to stick with the title, as it feels targeted towards a younger audience, but this was a strong enough debut that I’ll likely grab the next issue.

They’re Not Like Us #14 – Plans are being made, and a lot of characters are being moved around the chess board.  I still enjoy this title, but am starting to lose track of who some of the newer characters are.  Simon Ganes’s art is terrific on this book.

Ultimates^2 #4 – A lot of the cosmic stuff going on here is pretty confusing, as the newly merged Order and Chaos go after Galactus, but the stuff with the Ultimates facing off against the Troubleshooters, in all their New Universe glory, is pretty awesome.  In fact, it has me wondering if it’s finally time to read some of the original New Universe (DP7 is the only title I’d probably dive into, out of love for Mark Gruenwald).  I do wish Al Ewing would focus more on the actual team, as I love this lineup.  Travel Foreman’s art has never looked so good.

The Walking Dead #164 – Alexandria has been overrun by thousands of walkers, yet the plans and training of the community end up working out a lot better than anyone could have expected.  I liked seeing the way the tactics played out, and appreciated the smaller character moments that Robert Kirkman worked into this issue.  I do worry that it was all a little too easy though…

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

Angel Catbird Vol. 2

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #5

Clone Conspiracy #5

Dark Horse Presents #31

Dead Inside #3

Gamora #3

Green Arrow #17

Invincible Iron Man #4

Silk #17

Star-Lord #3

Superman #17

Uber Invasion #3

Uncanny Inhumans #19

Uncanny X-Men #18

USAvengers #3

Wild Storm #1

Bargain Comics:

All-New, All-Different Avengers #15 – This title was really not meant to be, and it’s conclusion, which features a weird sideways Year One story narrated by Heimdall to Thor, is kind of pointless, except possibly as an advertisement for the .1 series currently running.  You’d have thought that seeing Mark Waid and Andy Kubert working on the Avengers would be exciting, but it’s really just tired.

Avengers #1 – This title got off to a good start, thanks to Mike Del Mundo’s beautiful art.  I like the idea of the team moving into the Baxter Building and being bankrolled by Peter Parker, and I like seeing Hercules back on the team.  I feel like Kang has been hugely overused as a villain lately, but am interested in seeing where this title leads.

Champions #1&2 – Compared to the stilted storytelling of their ANAD Avengers, the first two issues of this series were surprisingly fresh feeling.  The dialogue between the young team members feels a little forced in places, but Mark Waid has a good feel for these characters, and it was nice to see Viv Vision again.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Journalism – This collection of shorter pieces by Joe Sacco is, like all of his work, pretty fascinating.  Sacco reports from Iraq, Chechnya, Malta, and India, looking into displaced persons, migration, and war.  His journalism carries a real force of presence to it, and is balanced and very carefully considered.  The fact that he has to draw everything he saw forces him to slow down and think about a situation from many angles.  It’s utterly depressing to see that, since he reported on the flood of East and West African migrants into Malta, things have only gotten worse for people trying to cross the Mediterranean for a better life.  This should be required reading for anyone supporting ‘extreme vetting’ of migrants.