The Weekly Round-Up #426 With Eternal, Eternity #4, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #16 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Eternal

Written by Ryan K Lindsay and Eric Zawadzki
Art by Eric Zawadzki
Black Mask has become one of the most exciting and interesting publishing house over the last couple of years, and one that is very hard to pin down.  I somehow didn’t know that Eternal was coming out, and so its appearance on the shelf at the comic store this week was a nice surprise.Eternal is a Northern European story in the tradition of NorthlandersBlack Road, or Viking.  A small settlement is populated only by women and children after the men left and never returned.  As such, they’ve become the target of brigands and an evil sorcerer named Bjarte.Luckily, they are protected by Vif, a shieldmaiden and leader who has honed the women into an effective and aggressive fighting force.  They take the fight to Bjarte, although the consequences of that are not what they were looking for.The writer of the original story, Ryan K. Lindsay, had envisioned this as a smaller story, but the artist, Eric Zawadzki, of the exceptional Black Mask book The Dregs, expanded the story, adding longer scenes and many rich visual elements, really making the story his own.And it is because of Zawadzki that you would want to buy this affordable OGN.  He excels at grizzled and dirty characters, and portrays the landscape beautifully.  Dee Cunniffe’s colours add so much to this book.I really liked this comic, and look forward to reading it again and poring over Zawadzki’s art.  I would love to see him collaborate with Brian Wood on another book like this again soon.

Quick Takes:

Deathstroke Annual #1 – Christopher Priest really doesn’t believe in telling linear stories, and so we have this oversized bit of a puzzle, which brings the existence of the Defiance team to a close.  Slade’s “kids” make a number of decisions that make the further existence of the team basically impossible, while Slade himself struggles with his vow to never kill again and seek reformation.  It’s a story that requires close reading, but a rewarding one.  I was excited to see Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz together on the art, but if I’m being honest, it was a little underwhelming.  I think I’m more enamored of the cleaner art that this title usually sports now.  

Detective Comics Annual #1 – I’m not sure we needed a retelling of Clayface’s origin, especially coming when it has instead of three months ago, but it’s a serviceable story with nice art.  There’s just not much more to say about it than that.

Doctor Aphra #16 – There are two stories playing out in this series right now.  In the main storyline, Aphra is stuck doing the bidding of her psychotic former droid, and is trying to figure out how to get out from under his control, while in the other, she is beginning to fall for an Imperial officer who keeps crossing paths with her.  Both are pretty entertaining, and the balance struck between them works very well.  

Eternity #4 – The latest in the Divinity series comes to an end, and I rather hope that’s all we’ll see of this book for a good long time, although Matt Kindt does leave one dangling plotline available if needed.  It’s felt like the law of diminishing returns has been affecting this book since Divinity II, and while it’s lovely, it’s not really holding my attention anymore.

Falcon #4 – Four issues into this series, it feels like the first time that it’s really about Sam Wilson, but that seems to stem from his having been sent to Hell, and having to confront some people from his past.  I feel like this Falcon series is taking too long to find its feet, and that could be because a metaphysical Blackheart and Mephisto driven story might not have been the right way to start things off.  I was happy to see the other Falcon, Joaquim, show up for a bit, and for Patriot to be given the chance to shine, but I’m still not enjoying Joshua Cassara’s art and Rachelle Rosenberg’s muddy colours very much.  I’m hearing that this book is close to getting the axe, so I guess I don’t have to worry about whether or not it’s going to improve for much longer.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #33 – Lots has been happening in this book lately, as Robert Kirkman really intensifies the pace.  The Reverend’s followers discover an enemy in their midst, while the hunt for our heroes gets closer to finding them all.  Kirkman took a long time building this story, and it feels like we are starting to see some real pay-off from that.  This series is usually overshadowed by a lot of other Image books, but it really is very good and deserves more attention.

Space Riders: Galaxy of Brutality #4 – Fabian Rangel and Alexis Ziritt have created an interesting world – a mix of Kirby, underground comix, and heavy metal, but never really populated it with enough character or heart to make the reader care about it.  It looks hella cool, but the story did nothing for me.  I am going to pass on any future volumes.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi – DJ: Most Wanted #1 – I didn’t really like The Last Jedi, although I’m not angry about it (it seems like if you have thoughts you are putting on the Internet, it has to be one extreme or the other).  One thing that I thought was completely pointless in the film was the whole subplot involving Finn, Rose, and the code-breaker, who is but isn’t DJ.  I found it slowed the movie down, and didn’t contribute a single thing to the plotline, aside from giving Finn something to do.  When I ordered this one-shot, though, I hadn’t seen the film yet, and because I pre-ordered, I felt obligated to buy it.  I like Kev Walker’s art, but really did not enjoy this comic.  There’s a whole attempt made by Ben Acker and Ben Blacker to craft a story that plays with casino heist tropes, but it all falls short because nothing makes me care about or like this character.  I hope this is the last we’ve seen of this guy.  

Tales of Suspense #101 – I am really loving Matthew Rosenberg’s approach to this title.  He has Hawkeye and Bucky working together, uneasily, to try to figure out if the Black Widow is really back.  Their work brings them into contact with former SHIELD agent Sally Blevins (Skids, from X-Factor/New Mutants!), and leads to a very exciting chase sequence on a bridge.  I like that the narrative appears to shift with each chapter, and Travel Foreman’s art is the nicest I’ve seen from him.  The revelation at the end of the issue wasn’t really a surprise, but I’m still left with a lot of questions, and want to see what happens next.

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

All-New Wolverine #30

Astro City #50

Avengers #678

Defenders #9

Elephantmen #80

Incredible Hulk #712

Invincible Iron Man #576

Jean Grey #11

Jessica Jones #16

Moon Knight #191

Old Man Logan #34

Punisher Platoon #5

Über Invasion #11

Bargain Comics:

Silver Surfer #13&14 – Dan Slott and Michael Allred did a fine, fine job on their two Surfer series.  Focusing on the Surfer’s relationship with the normal human Dawn Greenwood led to a very different take on the character, and provided them many opportunities to tell weird little Silver Age science fiction stories.  This two-part concluding story is emotional and sweet, and closes things off nicely.  

Thanos #9-12 – Jeff Lemire did a fine job of reviving Thanos, a character who has been way too over-utilized lately, while also making good use of Starfox, a character we don’t see often enough.  I enjoyed this run, until it started getting a little too metaphysical.  I don’t know that we need an ongoing Thanos series, but it’s cool that it exists and that it seems to be surviving better than a lot of other Marvel titles that I would think would be more popular.

Thanos #13 – Donny Cates is the big new writer at Marvel, and I’m not at all familiar with his previous work.  His first issue of Thanos is entertaining, but I’m very done with time travel stories, and so when he ends up on Earth in the far future, I started to groan.  I also half expected him to run into Old Man Thor from Jason Aaron’s earlier days.  Also, and this is a very minor point, but artist Geoff Shaw, who does a fine job on the rest of the book, makes Lockjaw look like a baby Chewbacca in one panel, and it really bothered me.  I’m a little curious to see where this storyline goes, but don’t have the highest of expectations.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Murder Book – I became a fan of the writer Ed Brisson because I picked up his first self-published Murder Book comic at TCAF many years ago.  Since then, he published more of these stories himself, and then had short stories in the back of Near Death, and in Dark Horse Presents.  This book collects them all, and features artwork from some great artists, including Jason Copland, Michael Walsh, Simon Roy, Johnnie Christmas, Declan Shalvey, JD Faith, and some others.  These are great evil little stories that usually hinge on some kind of twist that the reader is not supposed to see coming.  The longer stories, about people who work as assassins, have faked their deaths, want to hide murders, or who just have some pretty bad luck, work better than the shorter ones.  As a collection, these stories prove just how much Brisson, who went on to write such great comics as Sheltered and The Violent, really is.

The Red Virgin and the Vision of Utopia – I know very little about the Paris Commune, so I got quite a lot out of this biographical graphic novel by Mary and Bryan Talbot.  It is framed as a conversation between a young woman and the great feminist thinker Charlotte Perkins Gilman, as they talk about Louise Michel, a revolutionary woman who worked to bring about the Commune, and was exiled to a small island off Australia for her trouble.  Mary Talbot, an academic, crafted a very interesting story that keeps returning to the theme of Utopian fiction.  Bryan Talbot is, of course, an absolute master of the art form, and keeps things visually interesting.  This is an impressive project that, I’ll confess, I heard nothing about when it was published in 2016.

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