The Weekly Round-Up #417 With Batman Annual #2, Eternity #2, Black Magick #9, Star Wars: Poe Dameron #21 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Batman Annual #2 – Tom King’s Batman is so frustratingly inconsistent, but we seem to be in a good patch right now.  This annual examines Batman’s relationship with Catwoman, as she keeps breaking into Wayne Manor to steal from him, and to leave behind a calling card.  Lee Weeks draws the parts of this issue that take place in the past, and they are lovely, as expected.  Michael Lark draws the last pages, which take place in the future, and which are particularly emotional.  This is really the first place where, in the recent hubbub around Batman’s proposal, I can see this relationship making sense.  This was a very good use of the expanded story pages the Annual provides.

Quick Takes:

Black Magick #9 – It feels like a lot of things are beginning to converge in this issue, as the Aira make their move on Rowan’s house, and she has to deal with the consequences of her having shot a man last issue.  Greg Rucka and Nikola Scott continue to do impressive work with this very good title, while also continuing to keep a lot of important information from the characters and the reader.

Eternity #2 – Matt Kindt and Trevor Hairsine are creating the cosmic aspects of the Valiant Universe, and are doing it in such a way that Jack Kirby would be very proud of.  We are given a tour of a surreal and exciting world here, and it’s all very cool.  I do kind of think that this must be the end of the Divinity series of miniseries though, as while it’s building so much in the greater Valiant U, it’s not doing much for Abram or Myshka…

Horizon #16 – I’m a couple of weeks late in reading this, thanks to Diamond, but it was worth it.  Our main characters continue their attack on an important government installation, while Lincoln, the superhuman opposing Zhia’s plans, is actually trying to form a partnership with her.  We learn Lincoln’s darkest secret, and it’s pretty dark.  I like how completely Brandon Thomas has upended my thoughts on so many of the characters in this book, making the heroes appear to be pretty awful at times, and making the main antagonist the most sympathetic character in the book.

Justice League of America Annual #1 – I’m really not sure what’s going on with Kelly Jones’s art these days.  I went through a phase where I was a big fan of his dark atmospheric work, especially on characters like Batman, but I think he is completely the wrong artist for this oversized story about Lobo and Black Canary travelling into deep space to save the flying dolphins that Lobo loves from an individual from his past.  Okay, I also hate Lobo, and especially the dolphin-loving side of him.  Steve Orlando doesn’t quite get Black Canary as well as he does some of the other characters in this title (who don’t appear here), and I found this story needlessly decompressed to stretch out to the length of the annual.  This was a disappointment, although maybe I just need to face the fact that that is my usual response to JLA.  I just really want to like this book.

Kill or Be Killed #14 – Dylan makes his move on the Russians in this issue, making himself and Kira safe from their attention, although he’s not as content with that as you’d think he would be.  Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are nowhere close to being done with these characters, as new information about Dylan’s brother puts everything that’s happened in this book so far in whole new light.  This is such a great series…

Lazarus X+66 #5 – This issue focuses on Seré Cooper, a famous journalist who has found herself on the outs with the Carlyle family after seeing some things she should have in the regular Lazarus series.  Now she’s working to restore her position by digging into the story of what happened to Jonah Carlyle, although that might not work out the way she was hoping.  This is a very well-written and impressive issue, as Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann continue to build on their world.  Bilquis Evely’s art fits very nicely with the usual style of this series.  In all, very good stuff here.

Manifest Destiny #32 – This series makes a bold move this month, giving over almost the entire issue to Irene, a servant girl working in Lewis and Clark’s expedition.   Even more bold is the fact that almost the entire issue is in French, Irene’s language, as she shares her journal with the reader.  Being a good Canadian, I was able to understand and/or puzzle out about ninety percent of what I read, which made me feel hella smart until I discovered a translation at the back.  This is a cool issue, and once again, Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts should be applauded for creating a very different brand of historical fiction.  I’m a huge fan of this series.

Motor Crush #8 – It feels like this series is really underway now, as Domino finds a new ally and makes a plan to get a new supply of crush, the engine accelerant she needs to inhale (long story that) from the people who have done their best to ruin her life.  Babs Tarr’s art makes this series a delight to read, and I’m starting to think that Catball, the flying camera/internet drone that follows Domino around is 2017’s answer to Lying Cat.  So long as I try not to think too hard about the storyline and some of its elements that don’t really make sense to me, this book is a lot of fun.

Poe Dameron #21 – Leia Organa gets a lot of screen time in this issue, as she becomes the point person on the rescue of Lor San Tekka from the vault where he was apprehended trying to steal an ancient Jedi artifact.  Charles Soule continues to build on Poe’s and his squadron’s characters, which is nice.

Renato Jones Season Two: Freelancer #5 – The second season of Kaare Andrews’s anti-rich wraps up with a couple of surprises.  I like this series, but I always feel like Andrews is rushing some of his concepts, and not really giving them space to breathe before he moves on to the next idea.  The political satire takes a back seat to the action in this issue, which I suppose is necessary, but feels kind of unfortunate.

War Mother #4 – I’d be a lot happier if Fred Van Lente were writing a monthly Valiant book.  This miniseries ended up a bit of a disappointment, as it introduced a few story elements that had to be hastily concluded, and weren’t really explored in depth.  I mean, this is all fine, but I don’t know why Valiant needs to keep returning to the far future anyway.  I’m more stoked to see Van Lente returning to Armstrong soon…

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

Batman: Creature of the Night #1

BPRD Devil You Know #4

Green Arrow Annual #1

Jean Grey #9

Moon Knight #189

Old Man Logan #31

Secret Warriors #9

Super Sons Annual #1

US Avengers #12

X-Men Blue #16

Bargain Comics:

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #5-8 – Gerry Duggan’s new Guardians comics have a good feel to them.  They are too beholden to the movies, and I hate the use “Infinity Stones” instead of gems, but it feels like Duggan is trying to do something that Bendis never did with his run – actually build on the characters.  The biweekly nature of this title means that every second issue is a solo flashback, which is kind of disruptive when reading them all in close proximity, but which allows for an impressive array of artists – Samnee, Kuder, Smallwood, and To to be on the book.  I like this a lot more than Duggan’s Deadpool.

Guardians of the Galaxy #19 – Brian Michael Bendis’s last issue with the team is actually much more entertaining than a lot of his run, although having the team dispatch with Thanos and the Annihilation Wave so easily doesn’t really fit with Thanos’s profile in the Marvel Universe.  Bendis was not good to the Guardians, trying to stick too close to the movie version of the characters, while also feeling the need to fill the team with Earth heroes like the Thing and Kitty Pryde.  Also, the less said about Angela, the better.

Secret Warriors #1-5 – This oddball collection of Inhumans has a lot of potential, but its debut was a little too connected to the events of Secret Empire for it to really work on its own.  Matthew Rosenberg is a great writer, but isn’t given the space here to make these characters his own, which is unfortunate.  I like Javier Garrón’s art, and would be interested in seeing where this book went after Secret Empire, but since it’s already been canceled, I doubt I’ll bother.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Charley’s War Volume 2: 1 August 1916 – 17 October 1916 – This classic war comic strip is really very incredible.  Pat Mills has poor Charley, his everyman private, wind up on one of the first tanks used in the Somme, facing punishment after refusing to shoot an officer in a firing squad, and facing the threat of the German “Judgement Troopers”.  This book is always exciting, and Joe Colquhoun’s art is so evocative of emotion and the time.  Meticulously researched, and filled with memorable characters, it blows my mind that this book is not consistently used as an example of greatness in the comics field.

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