The Weekly Round-Up #433 With Dept. H #24, Chew #155, Descender #28, Outcast #34, Star Wars: Poe Dameron #25 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Dept. H #24 – Matt Kindt’s latest series comes to its end, and it’s a very impressive one.  This has been a very interesting series from the jump – a murder mystery set in a research station on the ocean floor, populated by an odd assembly of complicated characters, and against the backdrop of ecological disaster and widespread plague.  This issue focuses on Mia as she makes it to the surface, and has to decide how to proceed with the information (and potential cure) she has brought with her. This series has had Kindt’s usual unique but lovely artwork, enhanced by the painting skills of Sharlene Kindt.  The last pages of this series are beautiful. I hope it’s not long before we learn of Kindt’s next solo project (as his solo work is always my preferred way of coming across his stuff). With Grass Kings ending soon too, I’m sure he’s working on something new…

Quick Takes:

Batman #43 – The Poison Ivy arc has been weird, but I do appreciate the way in which Tom King makes characters like Pamela Isley so much more complex than what we usually see.  He even managed to work in a Harley Quinn appearance I didn’t hate, and that’s rare.

Cable #155 – I’m not a big Cable fan, but I did like the other comics I’ve read by new writers Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler (The Dregs, especially, and the promising Come Into Me) so I thought I’d give their Marvel debut a go.  I am intrigued by the story – Cable is being pursued by a techno-organic creature that has been chasing him since he was a child (yet another retconned element to Cable’s very full past), which decides to go after his daughter Hope first.  The setup is nice, and German Peralta’s art is wonderful. I think this storyline is going to turn on a nostalgia-driven ride through Cable’s past, which is probably the last thing we need right now as it’s happening absolutely everywhere, but it’s also kind of cool, and Thompson and Nadler are good writers.  I think I’ll continue to check it out (knowing Marvel, they are only on for one arc and then the title is going to get cancelled anyway).

Descender #28 – Wrapping up the two-part history arc, we finally see the first use of the name “Descenders” in this title.  We continue to look at the first time people met a race of robots, and the consequences that meeting would have for the planet Ostrakon.  We also get to see how that connects to the beginning of this series, and what it all means for Tim-21. This is another excellent issue, and one that makes me appreciate the long game that Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have been playing with this series.

Iron Fist #78 – I’ve only read the first issue of the Damnation event book, and so this crossover is a little confusing (a recap page would have come in handy here), as we see Danny face his personal demons before having to face actual demons in Las Vegas.  This issue gets some points for brining Fat Cobra into the mix, but overall, it was disappointing. I’m pretty sure this is the last arc of this series, and I kind of wish I’d gone with my gut and not preordered it. It is about Iron Fist, but the story is pretty disjointed, as it has to fit into whatever’s happening in the main event.

Justice League #41 – Priest, whose run is tragically ending soon, has made this the most woke and politically conscious Justice League arc ever, as the League tries to salvage their downed satellite from a politically fractious African nation.  All sorts of questions get raised about what role the League has to play in world politics, and also how they should respond to events happening right in front of them that put innocents at risk, but that intervention in will contradict their charter.  Throw in the Red Lion, Priest’s new version of the Black Panther, and Batman’s confrontation with The Fan, and you have a really solid issue. I think it’s a shame that Priest is going to be leaving this book soon – it’s beginning to eclipse his Deathstroke in my heart.

Kill Or Be Killed #17 – Once again, the new issue of Kill Or Be Killed is a masterclass in psychological comics.  Dylan is still in the asylum, but he’s stopped taking his pills, and become fixated on killing an orderly who is abusing patients.  As always, everything he does is so well rationalized that all of his actions seem reasonable, leaving the reader to question a lot of things about how we justify our actions.  This book is so good – Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are doing the best work of their incredible careers.

Moonshine #8 – Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso are both masters of creating a strong comics page, and pretty opaque in crafting an ongoing story.  I still am having a hard time following this series as a longer story, but am enjoying reading it scene by scene. Is that weird?

Ninja-K #5 – Ninjak’s mission against MI-6’s Acclimation Bureau, and his partnership with Ninja-C come to their conclusions this issue.  I’ve really liked this arc, which explores the past of the Ninja program a great deal, along the way fleshing out a corner of the Valiant Universe that we haven’t known a whole lot about.  Christos Gage is the right writer for this series, and has given it a very different feel from what Matt Kindt was doing.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #34 – This title continues to ramp up the excitement level with each issue.  Megan has been taken by the enemy, and that means they are getting closer and closer to Kyle and his small resistance community.  As this book adds cast members it doesn’t feel like it’s getting too big – instead the story seems tighter and more focused than it did before.  This is a good series.

Poe Dameron #25 – The fight to save Lor San Tekka is an interesting one, as the Resistance and the First Order square off in space.  Space battle scenes are always my favourite thing about Star Wars, so I enjoyed this issue a lot. I like the way that Charles Soule has been humanizing BB-8 in this series lately, making him a lot less annoying than the usual Star Wars droids.

Regression #8 – Things get a little weirder at the resurrection cult, while Adrian’s friend and the police detective continue to look for him.  This series is well structured, but this arc is not holding my attention as well as the last one did.

Rumble #4 – This volume of Rumble continues to be vastly different than the previous one, as it focuses a lot more on the relationships between the characters.  It also feels a lot more decompressed, which might just be an effect of David Rubín’s art. I’m enjoying John Arcudi’s writing, but am not sure I see the big picture for this storyline.

Southern Cross #14 – It has been a long time since we last saw an issue of this series, and it feels like things have changed a lot, as the book keeps getting weirder, but also a little more stilted.  I noticed that Andy Belanger, the book’s artist, is now also providing the script, which might account for the change in tone some. We get a lot of mashed-up movie tropes here – it’s a little Aliens, and a little the Blob, but it maintains its cool aesthetics.

Star Wars #45 – Kieron Gillen has clearly been given the mandate to incorporate more of the Star Wars Universe in this title.  The last arc leaned pretty heavily on Rogue One, while this one features cameos from Rebels characters. Luke, Leia, and the gang are getting ready to rescue the rightful king of the Mon Calamari from an Imperial prison, and that plan seems pretty involved.  This is a solid issue, full of good character moments. I feel like Gillen’s breathing some new life into this title.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #33 – The focus swings back to Kretchmeyer, who also decides it’s time to return to Baltimore and figure out his next moves.  David Lapham keeps taking this title into darker and darker places, and while that’s wonderful, it’s also a little disturbing.

Super Sons #14 – Talia al Ghul is going after Lois Lane as part of a weird attempt to test Damian, or win back control over him, and that gives artist Carlo Barberi some cool action scenes to draw.  Since hearing that this title is ending soon (as is just about every DC book I buy), my enthusiasm for the book has diminished some. Still, it remains kind of charming.

Tales of Suspense #103 – All questions about the apparent resurrection of the Black Widow get answered in this issue (apparently Matthew Rosenberg is the go-to guy for bringing characters back from the dead), which also features a rare appearance by Ursa Major.  It’s a good read.

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

Avengers #685

Doctor Strange Damnation #3

Guerillas Vol. 4

Harrow County #29

Harrow County Vol. 7

Incredible Hulk #714

Mighty Thor #705

Ms. Marvel #28

Superman #43

Thanos #17

Weapon H #1

X-Men Gold #24

Bargain Comics:

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 – I’m not really sure that the world was clamoring for a crossover event following up on Secret Empire featuring an odd assortment of characters dealing with Mephisto (looking a lot like Lorne on the old Angel TV show) taking control of Las Vegas.  Rod Reis is an interesting artist when used sparingly, but a stiff one when having to carry an entire issue. Aside from some good quips sent Captain Marvel’s way by other heroes, this is not a particularly entertaining comic. I got bored before I got to the end, and things really only picked up when Wong started hanging out with the ghost of a talking dog.  I also find it really weird that Falcon is stuck in the same comic as Mephisto again, after just getting out of that situation in his how title. Marvel’s just determined not to learn, aren’t they?

Jean Grey #7-10 – Reading this after the event it was basically designed to set up (Phoenix Resurrection) makes it all feel a little pointless.  I don’t like how young Jean was basically used as a plot point through the whole thing, and wasn’t given a whole lot of space to become her own character.  The teen X-Men from the past still strike me as problematic.

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