The Weekly Round-Up #382 With Lazarus #26, Divinity III #4, Moonshine #6, Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Lazarus #26 – There were a few unexpected things that popped up in this long-delayed issue of Lazarus that I didn’t expect, from the appearance and demeanor of one Lazarus, through the outcome when Forever joins with two fellow Lazari to deal with him.  I’m sad to see that Michael Lark is taking a break from the title for a while, but am interested in the upcoming miniseries which is going to take a closer look at some of the other characters in the book, and feature work by some talented guest artists.  Greg Rucka writes a powerful essay about Donald Trump in the back of this issue that should be required reading.  I know not everyone would agree, but I like my comics to be political as hell.

Quick Takes:

Aliens Defiance #10 – Brian Wood’s taken a really different approach to storytelling in the Aliens universe with this title, and I think it’s made this one of the most interesting Aliens comics (or stories in general) I’ve experienced yet.  Zula and her friends have no choice but to return to Earth, even though that decision will likely mean the end of Davis’s experiment in making himself human (he’s an artificial being), and might give Weyland-Yutani samples of the alien to study or clone.  Still, the group thinks they have a way around all of this, although their plan is kept hidden from the reader, who is left a little confused by the end of this issue.  Still, I find myself looking forward to the next one very much, as I want to see where this is going.

Black Widow #12 – The Black Widow is a character who, I feel, has rarely been used effectively, especially in a solo title, which makes it clear that Mark Waid and Chris Samnee’s run with the character is easily the best in her history.  This last issue wraps up her conflict with the Recluse and her pre-teen assassins, and like every issue in the run, features some balletic action sequences.  I hope that Waid and Samnee continue to work together, and that we see something new from them soon.

Deadly Class #27 – This issue shows us Saya’s history, as we learn about her place in the complex system of Japanese yakuza families, and how and why she ended up at the assassin school, as well as why her brother has been after her for so long.  It’s a solid issue.

Divinity III #4 – As the latest Divinity series comes to a close, we get a meditation on the importance of literature (or schlock) in providing developing minds with a template for the world and how to act in it.  Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine has used this series to introduce some interesting new characters to the Valiant Universe that I hope we will get to see again some day.  The end of the issue teases something called Eternity, which looks like it could be interesting.

Generation Zero #8 – As the team has figured out what is behind the power system in Rook, they have to deal with an angry empowered teenager.  I’ve enjoyed Fred Van Lente’s writing on this book a great deal, but am getting the feeling that this series isn’t going to be around past this current arc.

Justice League of America #3 – This issue has the team working against Lord Havok’s Extremists, taking them on one at a time while Vixen helps the leader of the resistance to mount an offensive against Havok himself.  I liked this issue more than the last one, but at the same time, I found that it’s hard to care a whole lot about what’s going on, when the countries and people depicted here are new characters that were given no time to get developed or become worthy of our interest or sympathy.

Mayday #5 – I’ve found Alex De Campi and Tony Parker’s 70s Soviet adventure comic to be very exciting and impressive, and that continues through the end of the series here.  The best thing about this comic is the news that Agent Felix will return in a future miniseries.  De Campi is quickly becoming a favourite of mine, and reading this issue it’s easy to see why.  She balances character and action beautifully, and shows a strong understanding of the value of place in setting up the story and making it unique.  Everyone should pick up the trade of this series if you haven’t been reading it.

Moonshine #6 – This is a pretty chaotic issue of this series, as New York gangsters mix it up with Appalachian bootleggers, all while a new werewolf arrives on the scene.  It’s a bloody and slightly confusing issue, but the image of the wolf’s lower fangs emerging out of a man’s eye sockets will stick with you.  I feel like, if this book were more on time, I’d have found this issue clearer.

Ninjak #25 – After spending a couple of issues gathering the Shadow Seven for a job, Matt Kindt seems to dispatch a lot of them in a hurry this issue, as the group moves into Darquewood, looking to kill Master Darque.  Roku, of course, may have other motives.  This stuff is fine, but it’s getting a little dull.

Occupy Avengers #5 – I feel that this series is not doing a good job of living up to its original concept.  I assumed that Hawkeye and his companions would be travelling around the country looking for problems to address, and that many of them would be linked to the inequity that is so central to the modern American experience.  Instead, he more often stumbles across the typical Marvel stuff (LMDs, aliens) as he travels without any real purpose.  This issue, a broken-down van lands Clint, Red Wolf, and Nightshade in Dungstown, a smelly little spot on the map, where the locals are intensely paranoid about outsiders, though with good reason.  I still enjoyed this issue a fair deal, especially Gabriel Hernandez’s art (which I’ve missed since The Vision ended), and was impressed that I had to do some Googling to remember who a character in a wheelchair was.  I just wish the ‘occupy’ in the series title meant something.

The Old Guard #2 – Greg Rucka takes time to fill in a lot of blanks with this second issue about a group of immortals.  We learn how they’ve found each other, and what the limits of their immortality appear to be.  We also learn a little more about the threat they face, as there now exists video evidence of them reviving.  As they face this threat, they also learn of Nile, a new immortal, and feel that they need to reach out to her.  Rucka writes this book very well, and seeing regular Leandro Fernandez art takes me back to the days when Vertigo was still a vital imprint.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #26 – Now that Kyle’s met his father, and Anderson has killed the leader of the possessed (or so he thinks), things are starting to move quicker in this book.  We are starting to get a better idea of what has been going on in this series, and the extent of the threat the world is under.  As always, this is a good series.

Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #6 – Even though the prospect of Malcolm Reynolds and the crew of Serenity deciding to go to war with the Alliance is an interesting one, I don’t think I’ll be joining them in their future travels.  This miniseries was a disappointment.  It had the characters that I grew to love, but the story was so plot-driven and focused on being big that it did not contain the charm of the original TV show, and therefore could not effectively hold my interest.  It’s too bad, but that’s how it goes with licensed books sometimes.

Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #1 – Space Riders was one of the first Black Mask books I was turned on to, and I really liked Alexis Ziritt’s thick lines and solid colours.  This book, about a space-faring band of do-gooders, has a retro feel to it that owes a lot to Jack Kirby, while being very modern and self-aware.  It’s good, fun stuff.

Spider-Woman #17 – It’s such a shame that this series has come to its end, as it was truly one of the best that Marvel has been publishing lately.  This is a typically charming issue, as Jess decides to hold a party for her superhero friends to introduce them to Roger in his new role as her boyfriend, and of course, things don’t go as planned, between their silent judgement and the fact that her infant son Gerry chose this day to manifest powers.  Dennis Hopeless did a wonderful job of tightening the way in which Jess has been defined in the modern era with this series, and made very good use of Porcupine and Ben Urich throughout.  Veronica Fish’s art through these last issues has been impressive and emotive (although I never quite got over Javier Rodriguez leaving the title).  I’m going to miss this book.

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

All-New X-Men #19

Cinema Purgatorio #9

Infamous Iron Man #6

Inhumans Prime #1

Lobster Johnson: Pirates Ghost #1

Old Man Logan #20

Rom #8

Star-Lord #5

Thanos #5

Visitor: How and Why He Stayed #2

X-Men Prime #1

Bargain Comics:

All-New Wolverine #15&16 – Tom Taylor has reintroduced Kimura and the trigger scent to this series, and I still like it!  That’s never happened before.  Usually, when Laura falls back into those tropes, I get really tired of her, so that says a lot about how well this series has been built.  I especially like Djibril Morissette art on issue fifteen – this guy is going to be a big deal soon.

Mosaic #1 – My expectations going into the first issue of Mosaic were pretty low, because I haven’t really heard a lot of good chatter about the title.  It’s a decent revamp of Deadman that has a nice gritty feel to it.  Geoffrey Thorne made a good transition into comics, and Khary Randolph’s art is very nice.  This has already been cancelled, right?  I should probably trade-wait the rest of it.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

My Friend Dahmer

by Derf Backderf

I’m sure everyone has seen, after someone shoots up a mall or school, the interviews where their neighbours talk about how quiet and normal they were.  My Friend Dahmer is an exploration of cartoonist Derf Backderf’s memories of growing up alongside, and sort of being friends with, notorious serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer.

They attended high school together, and Dahmer became a source of obsession and hilarity for Backderf and his friends, who formed a Jeffrey Dahmer Fan Club, mostly out of appreciation for his imitation of his mother’s cerebral palsy-suffering interior decorator.

Basically, this book is one part memoir of growing up in a boring little place, a faithful reconstruction based on well-sourced interviews, articles, and books, of the troubled childhood of Dahmer, and a very successful attempt to weave the two together.

Dahmer was not a happy kid.  His parents argued a lot.  His mother suffered from untreated mental health issues, including a tendency to have standing seizures.  Dahmer himself, ashamed of his homosexuality, began to fixate on roadkill, weird animal experiments, and necrophilic fantasies, which later informed his choice of victim and murderous methods.

What this book also reveals is the cluelessness of youth, and the callous ways in which teenagers can use and drop people who they feel do not meet their social standing.

I liked this book (really, I’m a sucker for most books with detailed endnotes), and am glad that Backderf didn’t rely too much on obvious tropes or reactions to things.  It’s slightly disturbing to find how funny some of this stuff really is, but I think that’s human nature, which Backderf explores nicely.

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