The Weekly Round-Up #435 With The Justice League #42, Star Wars #46, The Walking Dead #178 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Justice League #42 – I am really going to miss Priest’s Justice League when the coming relaunch happens.  This issue has the League continuing to try to find a path through a regional African squabble, while getting played by Ja Zaki, the DC evil version of the Black Panther.  Deathstroke shows up for a bit, further complicating things, while the threat of The Fan looks like it’s finally been dealt with. This is a great issue from start to finish.

Quick Takes:

Astonishing X-Men #10 – ACO was a good choice for this strange issue, as the X-Men try to get to Proteus, who has turned a small British town into a psychedelic theme park of craziness.  I’m getting tired of this title – I had really high hopes for it, which have been squarely transferred to X-Men Red now.

Batman #44 – Tom King gives us another of his highly structured one-off issues, as Selina goes “shopping” for a wedding dress, and we are given a variety of scenes from their long relationship.  It’s a very pretty issue, thanks to Mikel Janin and Joelle Jones, but it raises a question in my mind. A recurring image since the Bat and Cat got engaged has been to show them lying in bed together, and that surprises me as I really don’t know how Batman has the time to sleep, especially between the hours of 2 and 7 AM, as he does in this issue.  When does he do his heroing? Is Catwoman making him too soft?

Deathstroke #30 – Priest launches the Deathstroke Vs. Batman arc with a typically complex plotline that reveals a connection between Alfred and Wintergreen, and which has Batman declaring war on Slade.  I’m a little confused by the fact that Slade is back in his Icon suit and not in Arkham Asylum (maybe this issue is set back a touch in continuity?), but trust Priest to make everything clear eventually.  He writes a mean Batman, but I find myself rooting for Slade from the jump. This should prove to be a very memorable story arc.

Doctor Star and the Kingdom of Lost Tomorrows #2 – Jeff Lemire’s take on Starman continues to be pretty interesting, even as it has very little to do with the Black Hammer series it spins out of.  We learn just why Star’s son doesn’t want anything to do with him, and get a lot of very nice Max Fiumara artwork. I really would rather wish that Lemire tighten his BH stuff up some, instead of turning it into the springboard for a whole new superhero universe, but at the same time, this is a good comic.

Iron Fist #79 – I like the way that Ed Brisson pulls out some deep cut characters for this story about Orson Randall waging a series of fights in Hell in order to get his life back.  Danny is, of course, supporting his somewhat mentor, but a demon called D’Kay has a whole other scheme in the works, and while it’s a little obvious, it should make for a good next issue.  I think there might be only one issue left in this series, which is a shame, but it’s never really clicked either…

Marvel 2-In-One #5 – I’d thought that Chip Zdarsky would be taking Ben and Johnny through a rapid succession of other universes, but instead it looks like they’re going to be spending a few issues on this one world, where Dr. Doom merged with Galactus and has eaten the entire cosmos except for Earth.  This is a very enjoyable comic, with a really strong sense of character. Of course, now that a new Fantastic Four series has been announced, I’m not sure this title is long for the world…

Motor Crush #11 – The second volume comes to a pretty riotous end, as we get some crazy race action, and finally learn (the beginning of) the truth of Domino’s background.  This is a fun issue, but I’m kind of on the fence about returning to the series for the next arc. I feel like the story has become a little predictable and clichéd, so the only real draw to return for is Babs Tarr’s art, which is actually pretty motivating.  I’ll see how I feel when it gets solicited again.

The Punisher #223 – Frank’s time in the troubled nation of Chernya comes to an end, as he finally confronts the military dictator he’d been sent to stop.  Matthew Rosenberg has made me interested in the Punisher again, although that’s largely because I enjoy seeing him pilot the War Machine armor, and I continue to think that this has a lot of story potential for this character.  The next arc has him in the United States, and that might get interesting, or it might fall back on familiar Punisher tropes and bore me. We’ll have to see…

Rise of the Black Panther #4 – This issue shows T’Challa’s first meeting with Dr. Doom, while N’Jdaka gets acquainted with Wakanda.  I’ve been enjoying this series, which ties together threads from the Panther’s earliest appearances and encompasses various retcons that have happened.  It is a solid, wordy read, and makes use of Hunter, the White Wolf, a character I really liked back during Priest’s day. I did notice that the pace of this comic is decidedly slower than I’m used to now, but I don’t see that as a bad thing.

Sex Criminal #23 – More and more, Sex Criminals is creaking under the weight of its various subplots.  The main characters get a lot less screen time than they used to, as we have so many people we need to check in on.  That’s fine with me though, as the book has had a much more regular schedule of late; were it to start falling behind again, it would be very hard to remember everything happening here between issues.  I also feel like it might be lacking a little in the magic that made the first few arcs so unique. Maybe Jon and Suzie need to be together for this series to work.

Spider-Man #239 – Lots happens in this issue, as Miles calls in some friends to help him stop his uncle from turning over a stolen helicarrier to his secret benefactor.  This is a good issue, but as Brian Michael Bendis’s tenure with his most endearing character gets ever shorter, I’d rather see more of the long-running subplots in Miles’s life get dealt with.

Star Wars #46 – I am very happy with Kieron Gillen’s run on this title.  Leia puts her plan to rescue the king of the Mon Calamari into action, which involves a very complicated set of maneuvers, including using Chewbacca as a living hand towel.  Gillen has a great balance between humor and action, and really gets these characters. This arc is a lot of fun.

The Walking Dead #178 – I guess it’s not really a surprise that we figure out things aren’t as good as they seem in the Commonwealth.  Michonne and her daughter have a very nice scene together, as do Maggie and Sophia. This title just keeps moving along, being very consistently enjoyable.  

The Wicked + The Divine #35 – More big secrets are revealed this issue, going back to the very first pages of this series.  Kieron Gillen always plays the long game in his creator-owned titles, but it still comes a surprise to learn just how much of what’s happened over the three plus years this title has been around have been lies or obfuscations.  It’s impressive.

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

All-New Wolverine #33

Amazing Spider-Man #798

Avengers #687

Black Bolt #12

Head Lopper Vol. 2: Head Lopper and the Crimson Tower

New Mutants: Dead Souls #2

Redlands Vol. 1: Sisters by Blood

Snotgirl #10

Superman #44

X-Men Gold #25

Bargain Comics:

All-New Wolverine #28-30 – The end of the Orphans of X arc is really very good.  Of course, that means that writer Tom Taylor should leave the title, and it should get relaunched.  He’s made Laura a character I like more than I ever have before, and I think it’s a real shame that his tenure with her is up (although I do like that she and Honey Badger are in X-Men Red, which he is writing).  I’m also very impressed with artist Juann Cabal, who I think is someone to watch. I probably should have been reading this title all along (although I don’t like the fact that they are now doing an Old Woman Laura arc – I’m so sick of time travel in comics!).

Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man #298 – Chip Zdarsky’s Spidey is pretty enjoyable, but maybe a little looser than I’d like.  The Black Panther just kind of randomly shows up, and I’m having a hard time keeping track of Spidey’s problems. It’s nice to see Adam Kubert’s art again, even though he didn’t draw the entire issue.

Superman #33-36 – Even though this arc was written by Peter Tomasi and Patrick Gleason, it lacked the usual charm I’ve come to expect from them.  The Superman family is taken to Apokolips, along with Lex Luthor, to fulfill some kind of prophecy or something, and there’s a ton of chaos, as well as way too many artists.  I don’t know what the state of Apokolips is in the Rebirth universe, and this really didn’t clarify anything for me. After picking up too many filler issues by mistake, I was happy to see the regular writers back on the book, but it still left me a little cold.  The Super Sons of Tomorrow arc which followed was much tighter.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Hellblazer: Hard Time – There was a stretch where I’d stopped reading Hellblazer, and so never actually read Brian Azzarello’s run.  I’ve picked it up in trades lately, and was excited to read this first volume, which has Constantine in an American prison, and was drawn by Richard Corben.  It’s a pretty dark comic, informed by maybe a few too many binge-watchings sessions with HBO’s old Oz series. Constantine looks weird throughout this book – Corben rounds his face out a little too much, and prison garb doesn’t suit him.  I liked this, and found it to be one of Azzarello’s more accessible stories.

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