The Weekly Round-Up #388 With AD (After Death) Book Three, Eternal Warrior: The Awakening #1, Regression #1, Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

AD (After Death) Book Three – This incredible collaboration between Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire took longer to come out than anticipated, but it was worth the wait.  This series is a blend of prose writing and comics, published in oversized books.  Jonah is a member of a very long-lived society where people’s memories don’t last for much longer than a hundred years.  Jonah has kept his memories alive through journaling, and has decided that it’s time to leave the sanctuary where the last people live, convinced that he’s heard a signal from the world they left behind.  This final issue lays bare all the secrets of this world, including the ones that Jonah has not been able to remember.  Snyder demonstrates the depth of his writing on this book, giving Jonah a complicated history and character, while Lemire’s illustrations really enhance the story.  I found this to be a very unique project, and am glad that it finished while the earlier stories were fresh in my mind (my memory sometimes not being anywhere near as good as Jonah’s).  Great stuff.

Quick Takes:

Black Panther & The Crew #2 – I’m enjoying Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey’s story in this book, but am a little surprised that they are taking such a slow approach to ramping up the story.  Storm and Misty Knight continue to investigate the death of a Harlem activist that they both knew well, and their investigation, which is moving slowly, takes a couple of strange turns, as they are almost killed, and as a certain Wakandan king makes an appearance.  I find it interesting that Coates and Harvey decided to retcon Ororo’s Harlem days into the Australian outback era X-Men, instead of the previous period when they lived in Westchester.  I’m still struggling with the timeline here, and Misty being a police officer again.  Her depiction here does not agree with how she’s shown in the Sam Wilson title, and that bugs me.  Still, I like the way Coates is using this title to explore questions of colonialism, and I love Butch Guice’s art as much as I did when I was a kid.

Copperhead #13 – Bronson has not actually quit her job, and she goes about investigating the death of the Mayor, while Boo, her former deputy and now mayor, colludes with local business interests.  I’m glad this book is back on the stands, although I still miss original artist Scott Godlewski a great deal.

Detective Comics #956 – The end of the League of Shadows story spares no punches, as we see Cassandra fight Shiva, while the Colony debates destroying a big chunk of Gotham to stop this threat.  James Tynion IV continues to make this the most effective team (and Bat-) book of the Rebirth era.  Great stuff.

Eternal Warrior: The Awakening #1 – I appreciate that Valiant keeps putting out the occasional random one-shot to keep their characters in people’s’ minds, but I’d rather that Robert Venditti told a modern-day story about Gilad, or one that was set in a more exotic, unexpected time.  It’s always barbarians fighting.  Wouldn’t it be cooler to see Gilad in Paris in the 20s, or in a location not commonly associated with him, like South Africa, during the Boer War?  Anyway, this is fine, but I feel like I’ve read it before.

The Fix #9 – Nick Spencer is currently one of the most talked about writers in comics, but that’s for his work on Secret Empire and Captain America, when the book he’s working on that deserves the most recognition is The Fix, which is all kinds of brilliant and hilarious.  This issue has Roy investigating a very high-end brothel run by, basically, Estelle Getty.  Somewhere in the middle of all the mayhem is a very cogent argument about how much more difficult it is for actresses to be successful and rich than it is for actors in Hollywood.  Spencer and artist Steve Lieber have such good chemistry when they work together, and this book is really enjoyable.  

Grass Kings #3 – This title about a secessionist community that has a tense relationship with its closest town is becoming a new favourite of mine.  In this issue, we learn who the mysterious woman who has shown up at the King’s place is, and how she’s connected to the Sheriff of Cargill.  Someone followed her, and that looks to put the community in even more trouble.  Matt Kindt is taking it slow when it comes to spooling out his plot, and artist Tyler Jenkins’s work, especially his colours, is beautiful.  Also, weirdly, this is the second book in the last few months to feature a sky burial.  That’s odd.

Justice League of America #6 – I didn’t love the first arc of this series, but was determined to give it a fair chance.  This issue is a lot more of what I’m looking for with this book.  There is plenty of action, but it’s balanced with a lot of strong character moments, and the sense that this team is starting to really come and work together.  I am more interested in the Ray, the Atom, and Vixen than I am any other character, and it’s good that at least two of them got chances to shine here.  I even find Lobo starting to grow on me…

New Super-Man #11 – What I really appreciate about this book, and many other of the Rebirth titles I read, is the way in which the writers are not focusing on telling stand-alone arcs, but are instead embracing a more old school approach to telling serialized stories in a shared universe.  While Kenan learns to use his newly-developed super speed alongside the Chinese Flash, Wonder Woman and Bat-Man investigate a creature that has links to Wonder Woman’s past.  Toss in a cameo by Amanda Waller, and Gene Luen Yang continues to provide an entertaining story.  Billy Tan is a good fit for this book, art-wise.

Redline #3 – Now I’m really glad that I stuck with this humorous science fiction police story set on Mars, as with each issue, it keeps getting better.  Coyle, our downtrodden hero, has raised the ire of more powerful people, causing him to act drastically while tracking down the secrets behind the recent bombings that have been taking place.  This is the first work I’ve read from writer Neal Holman, and artist Clayton McCormack, and now they are both creators I’m going to be watching for.  I feel like they are both at the start of strong careers.

Regression #1 – I’ve long since lost track of how many comics Cullen Bunn writes in a given month – it seems like he might not even know, the number is so high.  This new title, Regression, which features terrific art by Danny Luckert, is not one that I’m going to be able to forget though.  It is about a guy named Adrian, who is plagued by terrible nightmares about being cut open in a ritual of some sort, and by daytime hallucinations of insects and general filth.  A friend recommends he go see a hypnotist, who attempts a past-life regression on him, hence the book’s title, and then some truly unexpected stuff happens.  Luckert has a nice open style that works well with the general creepiness of this title.  I don’t often go for straight-up horror comics, but this has my attention.

Renato Jones Season Two: Freelancer #1 – Kaare Andrews brings back his anti-1% title just as America becomes under even more obvious control of the uber-rich.  His response?  Make one of his central villains into the President (and you can guess who the model for that character is).  I like Andrews’s art a lot, although I do find that his plotting and storytelling can be a little confusing.  Still, this is a bold and attractive series, which can provide a bit of a visceral release to people who need it these days.

Star Wars: Screaming Citadel #1 – It’s time for another Star Wars crossover, this time pairing Luke with Dr. Aphra, as the good doctor manipulates Luke into helping her access the Rur crystal that she recently acquired.  This involves a visit to one of the more Goth-y corners of the Star Wars universe.  I liked this issue, especially Marco Checchetto’s art, and Kieron Gillen’s sharp dialogue.  I’m hoping this event will revitalize the main Star Wars title, which has felt a little stagnant over the course of the last arc.

Titans #11 – I haven’t been reading Titans at all, but since it crosses into Deathstroke, my favourite DC title, and since Priest is one of the architects of this story, I bought this issue.  Slade is upset that his oldest son is dead, and has decided to try to use the Flash’s powers to fix that problem.  To that end, he kidnaps Wally.  There’s some other stuff going on with the Titans, but I didn’t really catch all of it.  Still, Dan Abnett kept my attention here, and this is the first I’ve seen art by Brett Booth in a very long time (not that that was draw, really).

More Free Comic Book Day Stuff

I Hate Image – I haven’t checked out any of I Hate Fairyland so far, so I have no idea who the murderous little girl that tears through the entire Image universe in this one shot is.  The setup and execution reminds me of that old Fred Hembeck Kills the Marvel Universe, complete with the high level of self-reference.  I think Skottie Young is funny, but I don’t think I’ll be getting the series.

Kid Savage – I don’t think I knew that Joe Casey and Ilya had released the Man of Action graphic novel that is excerpted here.  I wonder if stores would have known to perhaps have extra copies on hand.  This is a weird choice as Image’s ‘other’ FCBD title, as it really has no profile.  Still, while this isn’t really my thing, I did like Ilya’s art in it.

The RAID Anthology Primer – This collection of shorts from a local studio impressed me.  Collected here is work by Irma Kniivila (with a very Island style story), Ian Herring & Dan Macintyre (whose first Junior Citizens comic was a TCAF hit for me a couple of years ago), and Tonci Zonjic, who is always fantastic.  I hope to see more from this studio…

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

All-New Wolverine #20

All-Star Batman #10

Amazing Spider-Man #27

Avengers #7

Black Cloud #2

Bug The Adventures of Forager #1

Godshaper #2

Harrow County #23

Ms. Marvel #18

Old Man Logan #23

Secret Warriors #1

Shadows on the Grave #4

Silver Surfer #11

Uncanny Avengers #23

Weapon X #3

X-Men Blue #3

Bargain Comics:

The Mighty Thor #9-15 – I gave up on this title a ways back, because I was tired of how Thor seemed more like a supporting character in her own book.  That’s been fixed, and these issues show a more Thor-centric approach to the title.  I don’t think I like the idea of Mjolnir, Thor’s hammer, being sentient after all this time, but I’m willing to see where Aaron takes it.  Russell Dauterman’s art is just incredible, and I’m genuinely surprised that he hasn’t become the go-to artist for events or special issues now; he’s like a very exciting Steve McNiven.  I’m beginning to rethink not buying this comic…

The Unworthy Thor #1-4 – Okay, dropping the Thor books really was a mistake.  This cosmic look at Thor Odinson, in the throes of depression, is pretty exciting, and has a sustained guest appearance by Beta Ray Bill.  These are good books.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

The Shadow Hero

Written by Gene Luen Yang
Art by Sonny LiewI’ve long been a fan of Gene Luen Yang, Sonny Liew, and the characters of the Golden Age of comics, so The Shadow Hero, a graphic novel that reinvents the mostly forgotten character The Green Turtle was right up my alley.

The Turtle experienced a very short publishing run in 1944, as a comics artist named Chu Hing tried to give America its first Asian hero, although he was coloured as if he were Caucasian, and his face was never shown.  The title didn’t last past a handful of issues, but I suppose he made enough of an impression that Yang and Liew decided to revitalize him.

This is the story of Hank, the American-born son of two Chinese immigrants living in the fictional Pacific city San Incendio.  Unknown to everyone, before coming to America, Hank’s father agreed to be the host to the Tortoise Spirit, which lived in his shadow.

After a run-in with some bank robbers and the Anchor of Justice, the local superhero, Hank’s mother decides that she wants him to become a hero, which she views as better than becoming a meek grocer, like his father.  He’s forced into months of training, but his first foray as a hero is a disaster.  Later, he discovers that his father is being mistreated by the local Tong, and that leads Hank on a series of adventures that will establish him as a true hero.

Yang’s writing, from his own cartoons like American Born Chinese and Boxers & Saints, through to his work on DC’s New Super-Man is always tight, and his love for his characters and his purpose in writing this book is clear.  He both avoids and embraces some of the racial stereotyping so inherent in the Golden Age, and provides us with a lot of depth.

Sonny Liew, who has most recently worked on Doctor Fate at DC, is a very talented artist (I loved his Malinky Robot comic).  There’s a real chemistry between him and Yang in this book.

I would be very happy to see or read more of the Green Turtle’s adventures.

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