The Weekly Round-Up #411 With Bitch Planet: Triple Feature #5, Invincible #141, Maestros #1, Sherlock Frankenstein & The Legion Of Evil #1, Journey To Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #4 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Bitch Planet: Triple Feature #5 – The last issue of this anthology series is easily the best of the bunch.  Matt Fraction and Elsa Charretier give us a great family Christmas story, as the holiday is ruined by an aging grandmother who is not so willing to accept the new status quo.  The story is called “Everyone’s Grandma is a Little Bit Feminist” and it’s really funny.  The second story, by Jon Tsuei and Saskia Gutekunst, plays with Hollywood’s reluctance to cast non-white actors, even in non-white roles.  The final story, by three writers with the last name Nyambi (Bassey, Eyang, and Nyambi) and artist Chris Visions, plays with the way white people want to be black, with, in this case, disastrous results.  All three of these stories are so on-point and devastating in their truths.  I’m so ready to see Bitch Planet come back on the stands, although I don’t think any new issues have been solicited yet.

Quick Takes:

Batman #33 – The War of Jokes and Riddles is finally over, so we are back to the present.  Batman and Catwoman are riding through a desert trying to get into a city or country called Khadym, which is off-limits to superheroes, by order of the Justice League.  The Tiger, from Tom King’s Grayson run, makes an appearance, which is cool, as does an old Bat-villain.  The rest of the issue revolves around Alfred telling the collected Robins that Bruce has proposed to Selina, which for some reason, he is keeping a secret.  King gets a good joke about Scott Snyder’s whole Bat-run into the Robins’ conversation, but this issue still felt disjointed and odd.  Joelle Jones comes on to draw this issue, and it looks great, except that Alfred looks nothing like we are used to seeing him, and I had no idea which Robin was which (okay, I could pick out Duke).  I thought that Tim was in the scene, until the dialogue made it clear that the smallest character was a sixteen-year-old-looking Damian.  This title consistently shows potential, and then just falls apart on the details.  Maybe if I read more DC books, the name Khadym would have some significance to me, but I spent most of the issue wondering why it would be such a big deal for Batman to go there – even after the revelation of who is there was shown, it doesn’t seem like Justice League business to me, but Bruce’s incursion there is worthy of Superman’s attention?

Dept. H #19 – As our characters get closer to the surface, we get closer to the truths behind everything that’s happened in this book so far.  This issue gives us a closer look at Bob, the security chief, as the surviving crew make their way to a transfer station on their long trip back to the surface world.  Matt Kindt continues to impress with this book, which has only one arc left to it.

Doctor Strange #26 – For whatever reason, Marvel needed yet another filler issue for this title before next month’s Legacy renumbering and new creative team takes over.  I wouldn’t have picked this up, but the art is by the wonderful Nico Henrichon, and for that reason, I enjoyed this issue, even though John Barber’s story about Strange and Zelma looking for magical artifacts and fighting ancient spirits is very standard stuff.  It has been a real treat seeing Henrichon drawing comics again.

Horizon #15 – With each new issue, my enjoyment of this title grows a little.  This month, though, it grew a lot, as Lincoln gets the chance to deliver a villainous monologue to Zhia that helps fill in all the backstory for how the Earth got to be in as rough a shape as it is in this near future, but that also reveals Lincoln for who he truly is.  It’s a very well-written issue that felt very rewarding after sticking with this title from the beginning.  I think this is one of those lower-profile Image comics that way more people should be checking out.  It’s very good.

Invincible #141 – The fight with the Viltrumites is done, but not everyone is recovering.  Mark and his dad have a very emotional and affecting conversation this issue, as Robert Kirkman moves us towards one last big problem in this series – what to do about Robot and his control of the Earth.  This was a very touching issue (it’s hard to discuss it without saying why), and it further brings home to me just how much I’m going to miss this book when it’s gone.

Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #4 – Man this series came out in a hurry.  I’m not sure how successful this title was in the final analysis.  If its goal was to make it clear that Phasma is a badass, writer Kelly Thompson waited until the very end of the series to make that clear.  There’s always a problem with titles that depict bad people as their central character.  If they don’t create in their reader a sense of empathy or care for that character, there is little to no incentive to keep reading.  But, if they make a character like Phasma into a hero, or even just a form of anti-hero, it’s going to be hard to see her otherwise in her future movie appearances.  I think that Kieron Gillen toed the line beautifully in his Darth Vader series, but that’s largely because he filled the book with interesting supporting characters, and left Vader in the shadows.  Anyway, while I enjoyed Marco Checchetto’s art, I don’t think this has me more interested in or excited about The Last Jedi.

Kill or Be Killed #13 – Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips finally take us to the scene that started this whole series, with Dylan blasting his way through a building full of Russian mafia.  Before that, though, we get a long exploration of Dylan’s feelings about his father, who committed suicide when Dylan was quite young.  It’s interesting to see how his thoughts change, especially after his mom reveals something he’s never known about his family before.  It is the quiet introspective moments in this series that work the best, as Brubaker explores mental illness from a unique perspective.  This is a very smart comic; I just wish that I wouldn’t always worry I’d already read each issue before I start it, because the covers look so similar.

Maestros #1 – I am a fan of Steve Skroce, and so even though I’m trying to tradewait more titles, I ended up grabbing the first issue of his new Image series as soon as I flipped through it.  Skroce is playing with magic here, as the exiled son of the powerful ruler of a magical land gets sucked into the family business after all of his other relatives are killed.  The issue is split between the present day story, where Willy, who has been using his magic to enhance other people’s’ willies, discovers what happened, and a flashback to when he first learned about his magical heritage.  This book is amusing, feels well-planned, and is gorgeous.  I’m definitely coming back for the second issue.

Mage: The Hero Denied #3 – Kevin Matchstick has to hit the road to protect his family, as the creatures just keep coming after him.  It’s great to see Matt Wagner back at this title.

Poe Dameron #20 – My guess is that shortly after The Last Jedi comes out, this title is going to be cancelled, or perhaps relaunched and set between Episodes VII and VIII.  Right now, Charles Soule reminds Poe and his people that he’s supposed to be looking for Lor San Tekka, who just happens to show up at the start of this issue, looking for an artifact designed to be used by Jedi and Sith alike.  Soule checks in with all of the principle characters, and gives Leia a good scene that helps underscore the differences between the old Rebellion and the current Resistance.  There is so much about this era that needs to be fleshed out, so I’m happy to see Soule chipping away at that.

Sherlock Frankenstein and the Legion of Evil #1 – I love Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston’s Black Hammer series, but was surprised to see that it got a spin-off title when it went on hiatus.  David Rubín has stepped in to draw this miniseries, which features Lucy running around looking into the disappearance of her father and the other heroes ten years prior.  She’s really looking for Sherlock Frankenstein, the Doctor Doom of this world, not knowing that he had reformed and was hanging out with Gail at the time of the cataclysm.  This is a solid issue, as Lucy sets out on her investigation, and as Rubín gets to design and draw some very cool characters.  I still would rather read the main title, but I’ll take this for now…

Super Sons #9 – All the stuff about magic inter-dimensional clay lost me, but as always, I love the way that Peter Tomasi writes Damian and Jon, making this a fun and charming comic every month.  I like the way the boys’ friendship has grown over the last nine months, and look forward to seeing that continue.

They’re Not Like Us #16 – I used to really enjoy this book, but the ridiculously long delays between issues, which coincided with Eric Stephenson introducing a ton of new characters into the title, have killed any momentum the book had, and any enthusiasm that I felt for it.  I don’t really know what’s going on in this book anymore, and even sadder, I no longer really care.  I think there is another issue or two that have been solicited and preordered, but after that, I’m done.

War Mother #3 – Fred Van Lente’s latest Valiant title keeps chugging along, and it’s fine, but I’m still not all that sure I understand why this book exists, as it doesn’t tie in to Rai’s story at all, but is set in the same era.  Anyway, it’s good.

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

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #12

Astro City #48

Cable #150

Champions #13

Generation Gone #4

Generation X #7

Green Arrow #33

Incredible Hulk #709

Invincible Iron Man #593

Luke Cage #166

Mighty Thor #700

Peter Parker Spectacular Spider-Man #5

Shirtless Bear-Fighter #5

Secret Warriors #7

Superman #33

Wild Storm #8

X-Men Gold #14

Bargain Comics:

Nick Fury #1 – Okay, I hate the way that Marvel sidelined the real Nick Fury in favour of his ‘son’ who looks just like the movie version of the character.  But, this is a comic written by James Robinson (which is not as cool as it used to be) and drawn by ACO, so I was curious to check it out.  I liked ACO’s work on Midnighter, and on this done-in-one story, Robinson lets him go a little nuts as Fury does a high tech James Bond number of a Hydra casino.  It’s a very comic book comic, and that makes it great, while also doing nothing to develop Nick Jr.’s character.

Noble #1 – I really liked the Catalyst Prime Free Comic Book Day comic, mostly because it was written by Christopher Priest, but found that the subsequent titles were a little hard to find.  Noble sounded interesting, so I thought I’d check out this first issue.  I like it, but it’s incredibly decompressed, with most of the issue being given to a fight between the guy on the cover and some mercs in Argentina.  I don’t really know who anyone is, and find it hard to care about much of what’s happening.  I do like Roger Robinson’s art, but think this is a trade-wait situation.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Faster Than Light Vol. 1 – I remember being curious about this Image series when it launched, and I’m glad I took the time to check it out.  Brian Haberlin has put together an interesting story about mankind’s first exploration of other worlds, after the secrets of faster than light travel have been discovered.  A big ship, the Discovery, is sent out to contact other species, while a second, secret ship, has been sent on another mission.  The Discovery’s crew make some strange contacts, and things are a little Star Trek like, while also being aware of being Star Trek like.  This title has a lot of potential, but the characters blend together a little too much, and there are a few too many plot inconsistencies (I find it hard to believe that the same crew that showed stringent decontamination protocols in an early chapter would shortly be inviting unknown races aboard for chats).  I’m curious enough to want to grab the next volume.

 

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