Fan Expo Round-Up:
I went to Fan Expo 2017 this last week, and had a pretty good time. I was able to clear a few items off my list, some of them things I’ve been looking for for years. I tracked down missing issues of Dazzler, Hourman, New Defenders, and Xombi, so expect all of those to be material for future Retro Review columns.
I found that most of the vendors left more recent material at home this year, so I didn’t do great in terms of getting caught up on recent series that I’m too cheap to pay full price for. Sunday was a lot better for this, as people began to lower their prices.
Fan Expo did a much better job of crowd control than they did in previous years, making it way easier to get in and out of the building compared to previous years, and it seemed like most of their employees actually knew where things were this year. Again, this is a huge improvement over previous years, which were often exercises in frustration.
It was cool to swing through Artists’ Alley. I did pick up the RAID Studio anthology, which is a gorgeous book, and got it signed by a number of the creators. Jason Loo handed out a pair of excellent Pitiful Human-Lizard mini comics.
In all, it was a good experience this year, and I look forward to going back next year.
Best Comic of the Week:
Planetoid: Praxis #6 – I’m sad to see the second Planetoid miniseries come to its end. Ken Garing has done an incredible job with this story, fleshing out the world and characters, building a very look at a community in opposition to a corporation that has limitless power over them. Garing had multiple threads weaving through this story, and ties them up neatly, while leaving space for him to return to this world again some day. His art is terrific, especially in the way he approached the design and feel of everything in this comic.
Bankshot #3 – Alex De Campi’s latest miniseries feels very much like a proof of concept for an action movie, but it still works well. Chriscross’s nice clean art makes the action sequences in this book a delight.
Black Magick #7 – After issue five, Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott went to DC and worked on Wonder Woman for almost two years. The last issue of this book was a flashback one, so it’s been a long time for me to remember just all of what’s going on in this comic. Because of that, I spent most of this issue a little confused, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying Scott’s beautiful art. A recap page would have been nice though…
Black Panther #17 – T’Challa and Storm fight against more creatures invading Wakanda from another realm, in this beautifully drawn issue. This larger story is a little inconsistent – last issue featured N’Kano and a lot of other characters where this one is really just the former royal couple and some Hatut Zeraze – but it works on an individual level.
Black Panther & The Crew #6 – It’s a shame that this title didn’t survive longer than this, but I think it’s as much a victim of Marvel’s attempt to turn the Black Panther, a brilliant character who has only rarely supported his own book, into a franchise. Ta-Nehisi Coates and Yona Harvey had a cool story for this book, about the Marvel villains behind gentrification in Harlem, that spoke to many facets of the real world, but I guess it didn’t catch on, kind of like Priest’s brilliant Crew book from back in the day. This ends well, and serves as a bit of a prequel to Coates’s current BP run, so we might see some of these threads again in that title.
BPRD The Devil You Know #2 – I can’t escape the feeling that I’m really kind of bored by this title now. I think that without John Arcudi as co-writer, and with many key characters dead, there’s just not enough to hold me on this book. It’s a disappointing realization, but over the last few years, I’ve found that I’ve gotten very bored with Mike Mignola’s other titles. Maybe it’s time to let this one go too.
Deadly Class #30 – The new students, and Petra, take a road trip to Mexico together, and basically argue with one another the whole way. Quan is pulling some strings here, as he and the reader know who they are really going to see, but he doesn’t know that they are being followed. I love this title, and find that the characters feel more and more real all the time.
Edge of Venomverse #5 – Trust me, I know better than to get involved in a Spider-Verse knockoff, but then I found out that this issue was drawn by James Stokoe, whose art is brilliant. Even though it features a Venom/Deadpool mash-up character and is written by someone I’ve never heard of, I thought I had to give it a shot. Storywise, it’s the typical annoying Deadpool schtick, but Stokoe’s art is great. Truthfully, I’d rather read the last issue of Aliens: Dead Orbit though…
Justice League of America #13 – The Microverse storyline continues, and while it’s okay, I’m not sure how much I care to learn all the shifting rules and structures of that society in order to find Ray Palmer, a character I’ve never liked very much. I like this book best when the team is united and there is more focus on character development (like the last few pages with the Ryan Choi Atom and Killer Frost).
Paklis #4 – Dustin Weaver’s anthology title is a bit of a delight. Most of this issue is given to the latest chapter of the Amnia Cycle, the science fiction storyline that is the spine of this series. Weaver has talked about taking a very organic approach to this story, and it shows as it continues to sprawl and add dimensions. Some of this chapter is set in the city of Zoohurst, where buildings are built to resemble animals, and the art is stunning.
Rebels: These Free and Independent States #6 – After the last issue finished off the story arc, I wondered what Brian Wood had planned for the last few issues of this series. This one focuses on a younger George Washington, as he takes a Virginian scouting party into the Ohio River Valley, and decides to liberate a British fort that has fallen into French hands. Wood’s characterization of Washington is interesting, as is this look at the type of skirmish that led to the Seven Year’s War (which the Americans strangely call the French and Indian War). I guess the choice of Virginia for a story about nascent American nationalism, coming out in August of 2017, is unintentional irony…
Saga #46 – Brian K. Vaughan has Marko confront his feelings around abortion as Alana undergoes an operation from a very shady character, while Petrichor and Prince Robot share a moment. As always, this is a solid issue of Saga that is really pretty sad.
Secret Empire #10 – Even though I really enjoyed the last two issues of this event, I kind of knew not to expect much from the conclusion. To begin with, Steve McNiven’s art is really dull, especially compared to just about everyone else who worked on this event. How much better would the fight between the two Steve Rogers (don’t ask) have looked had it been drawn by Andrea Sorrentino? Anyway, things conclude. Except, of course, for the inevitable Omega issue, and the Generations one-shots which are given the flimsiest of reasons to exist. I’ve seen a lot of people online hating on this event, but I liked it. I just wish that the ending could have had a surprise or two. Granted, I also hate the last half hour of most movies, and the last episode of just about every TV series or season I watch…
Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #3 – This series is pretty over the top and crazy, but at the end of the day, lacking in any real heart. Maybe it’s just the long delays between issues, but while I appreciate the Kirby-esque metal aesthetic, I don’t know that I care about the story.
Star Wars #35 – Han and Chewie are tasked with moving a Hutt prisoner, but of course, it’s not long before they’re stuck dealing with threats both inside and outside of the Millennium Falcon. Personally, I feel like Jason Aaron telegraphed everything revealed at the end of the issue a little too much, but it’s still an enjoyable issue.
Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #27 – Annie and Kretchmeyer are on the road, and while they haven’t quite perfected knocking over convenience stores, they are committed to working together. Annie suggests that they go looking for Kretch’s long-lost little brother, but as with all things in this series, that turns into a straight-up disaster. David Lapham loves to mess with these characters, and the result is always brilliant.
There’s Nothing There #4 – This is such an odd, but really enjoyable comic. Reno, warned that she will be killed by a spirit unless she can keep herself in the public eye, parties and livestreams a sex tape, with rather amusing results, while other forces move against her. I love the way Patrick Kindlon has captured so much of the present moment and millennial culture in this book, and kept the plot moving forward at a quick pace. It’s a little refreshing to see a comic where the main character is so hapless and not proactive. I look forward to seeing how this all ends with the next issue.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
All-Star Batman #13
Generations: Hawkeye & Hawkeye #1
Infamous Iron Man #11
Jean Grey #6
Uncanny Avengers #26
X-Men Blue #10
Avengers #1.1-5.1 – It’s great to see Mark Waid and Barry Kitson working together again, but this miniseries set between the original Avengers #16 and 17, when Cap has to figure out how to make his new team of Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Quicksilver work as a team, is a little disappointing. It’s entertaining, but the villain, Avenger X, is just a little too obvious and that the team takes so long to figure her out stretches my disbelief.
Dark Horse Presents #6-28 – I’ve been letting these pile up for a long time now, so it was good to work my way through the pile (although there are still a few issues I haven’t read yet). Like most anthologies, this is a pretty mixed bag of comics. There are some great strips in here (chief among them being Carla Speed McNeil’s incredible Finder series), some mediocre ones, and some that I didn’t care for at all (like the long-running Kyrra series). I like that Dark Horse has moved away from including their licensed properties in here, with the exception of Tarzan, but sadly, I think that there is too much filler and not enough stuff that blew me away.
Defenders #1 – I don’t like when Marvel allows its movie or TV projects to dictate what books it publishes. Because there’s a Netflix series called The Defenders, that does not mean that we need a new Defenders title featuring the characters from the show, none of whom have been traditionally associated with the Defenders name. Setting that aside, Brian Michael Bendis uses a rather weak reason to get the team together – Diamondback, the villain from the Luke Cage show, tries to kill all four heroes in the middle of the day, and apparently knows who Daredevil is, despite the fact that this knowledge got wiped away from even his closest friends in his own title recently. Beyond that, this is a good enough comic for a Bendis book. David Marquez does a great job, and works in a cameo by Proposition Joe, a great character from the TV show The Wire. I can see myself continuing to read this series, but always being a little bit annoyed by its existence.
Robin Son of Batman #6-10, Detective Comics #47, We Are Robin #7, & Robin War #2 – I wonder what the long-term plan for Dick Grayson was coming out of the Robin War event, as it left him in a very different place from the beginning of Rebirth. Anyway, the Robin War event is disjointed and weird, reminding me how strange the idea of making James Gordon Batman was. The Robin issues are decent, especially the ones written by Patrick Gleason, whose art is the real draw once again.
Secret Six #12&13 – Late New 52 books are really pretty weird. I’m not sure what Gail Simone wanted to do with this book, which really hammered home the idea that this group of misfits could become a family. She rushed all the emotion, unlike her earlier Secret Six run which built itself so much more organically. I think I’m only missing another issue or two to catch the end, but I don’t think I care enough to track them down.
The Week in Graphic Novels:
Hip Hop Family Tree Vol. 3&4 Gift Box Set – Ed Piskor’s extensive study of hip hop history continues to amaze me. These two books cover 1983-1985, and with them the real emergence of hip hop as a business. While we still get inspiring stories of artists emerging with a need to perform (I never knew that KRS-One was in a homeless shelter as a teenager) or rock a party, we also see the growth of hip hop as a business, as industry types, and Hollywood, come looking to cash in. Piskor’s storytelling jumps around a lot, as he moves from one or two-page strips at times to random interjections, but I like this approach as it gives us a sense of just how many things were happening at the same time. I want to learn more about the MOVE organization in Philadelphia. I love this series, and hope that Piskor’s upcoming X-Men project doesn’t derail it.
Postal Vol. 1 – I liked the first two trades of Matt Hawkins’s Think Tank, so I thought I’d check out this series, which is co-written by Bryan Hill. It is set in a town populated only by criminals and sociopaths. The main character, the town’s sole postal worker (who is the son of the mayor and has Asperger’s Syndrome, which is no longer a thing) is upset to learn that his father, who founded the town, is coming back to take it over again. There is some nice character development, but I’m not sure that the story held me enough to bring me back for the second volume.
Tags: Fan Expo, Fan Expo 2017, Fan Expo Canada, Fan Expo Canada 2017, The Weekly Round-Up