The Weekly Round-Up #438 With The Wilds #2, Aliens: Dust to Dust #1, Saga #51, Star Wars: Darth Vader #15, X-O Manowar #14 & More

 Best Comic of the Week:

The Wilds #2 – Vita Ayala has taken a pretty different and interesting approach to what is essentially a basic zombie story.  In her world, the ‘zombies’ have been taken over by a type of bacteria that has them growing flowers or other fauna on them (which looks very cool in Emily Pearson’s hands), and they follow some very different rules from what we’re used to seeing.  Also of interest is the way in which survivor settlements have developed a form of indentured servitude among the Runners, the people who scavenge for supplies and courier between settlements. There are a few plotlines here, involving intrigue in the compound, some irregular behaviour among the infected, and some interpersonal stuff that makes me think this series is gearing up to run for a long time (I thought it was a mini).  I’m curious about these characters, and where this series is going, but am also having a hard time believing that the Runners all work alone – that just doesn’t seem like a good idea. Anyway, Pearson’s art is beautiful, but sometimes her action scenes are remarkably stiff. Beyond that, this is interesting and worth checking out.

Quick Takes:

Aliens: Dust to Dust #1 – I’m a big fan of Gabriel Hardman, who writes and draws this book (without his usual co-writer, Corrina Bechko).  This latest take on the Aliens property takes place on a small Weyland-Yutani colony world, beginning in the middle of an attack by the aliens.  A young boy and his mother, who at the beginning has a face-hugger on her, try to get from their home to the port where evacuation shuttles are taking off.  This issue is all-action, and has a mounting sense of suspense that works really well. Hardman’s dark pencils work really well here, and his story is compelling.  He was a good choice for an Aliens story.

Darth Vader #15 – The war between the Imperials and the Mon Calamari heats up, as Darth Vader becomes just one character in this sprawling story.  Personally, I like it this way, as Vader can be a little boring, and I think Charles Soule is doing a good job of keeping him interesting by keeping the action focused on other places.  This has been a good run, filling in some gaps in the larger Star Wars story, and showcasing Vader’s leadership style. Giuseppe Camuncoli has been great on this title.

Days of Hate #4 – Once again, Ales Kot and Danijel Zezelj impress with this layered and complex series about a pair of terrorists making their way across the country.  Huian, the ex-wife of one of the terrorists is surprised to see that the government agent that’s been interrogating her is at her parents’ house when she goes there to visit, and we are given further proof that the government in this near future is the problem.  Kot has slowly made Huian the central character of this series, and has made it clear that we are not really sure which of these characters should be trusted. She does two unexpected things in this issue, and it’s that stuff that really keeps me glued to this series.  Well, that and Zezelj’s wonderful artwork.

Detective Comics #979 – As much as I’ve enjoyed Detective Comics since Rebirth began, I really hate Brother Eye and the OMACs, which have become a go-to in the DCU for the last decade.  Since much of this issue rotates around Ulysses using Brother Eye to turn the Colony soldiers and a Bat-family member or two into OMACs, I started getting really bored. Pity.

Doctor Aphra #19 – This arc comes to its conclusion, as Aphra’s schemes all come to their conclusions, and we learn the fate of the last of her crew, and see what happens between her and the Imperial she’s been showing a romantic interest in.  This arc has had Kieron Gillen sharing the writing duties with Simon Spurrier, and it feels like Aphra is in good hands. This was a great arc, with some very strong moments in its closing episode. Good stuff.

Grass Kings #14 – Matt Kindt’s and Tyler Jenkins’s series is almost over, and that means that the stand-off with the FBI comes to a tentative end, and we get incredibly close to learning the identity of the killer who may or may not have been hiding in the collection of eccentric squatters that make up the Kingdom.  This has been an interesting series, but too much has hinged on the truth about old events, and I always find that stories like that end up revolving around a few too many coincidences to be believable. Still, I love Jenkins’s art on this book, especially with the higher quality paper and coverstock that it’s printed with.

Justice League of America #29 – Steve Orlando’s JLA was definitely a very flawed title.  It had a very interesting team lineup, and Orlando took a few of the characters – Frost, Atom, and Ray in particular – on interesting journeys, while underutilizing others (especially Vixen, who needs a higher profile).  There were a few too many Big Ideas that were handled too quickly, and some weird concepts that really just fizzled out. At the end of it all (which this issue is), it didn’t make sense for a book about a team that spends most of its time in other dimensions, Europe, the Microverse, and in the past, to be named Justice League of America, and the idea that the team serve as a conduit between superhumans and regular people never went anywhere.  With all that said, I would probably keep buying this book, while I don’t think I’m going to spend any time or money on the event and book that is replacing it in DC’s publishing schedule. I really believe that this book, and these characters, have a place in DC’s lineup, but it’s whatever. Orlando’s new series at Image, Crude, already has me much more interested and excited than this title ever did. Here, Orlando was trying too hard to be a 2018 Grant Morrison, whereas I feel like his creator-owned stuff allows him to just be himself.  I’d rather read that any day.

Kill or Be Killed #18 – One of the things that I appreciate most about this series, although it’s not something that I think about very often, is the way in which Ed Brubaker has nested a few different storylines inside the main one.  This series is Dylan’s story, but occasionally that means that a whole issue gets devoted to Lily, the detective from the burbs who has been looking into the vigilante killings from the beginning, and even when they have an open and shut case against the guy who took up Dylan’s crusade after he stopped, she keeps digging.  This is a cool procedural issue that has a cool twist at the end, and which guarantees that the few issues remaining in this series are going to be exciting. Brubaker and Sean Phillips have made this the best title of their long partnership (until, I imagine, the next one comes out – they just keep getting better).

Regression #9 – I think Cullen Bunn is starting to lose me here.  I enjoyed the tighter plotting of the first arc, but as this second one introduces a cult that exists across multiple lifetimes, I find I’m getting a little bored.  I do like Danny Luckert’s art a lot, and suspect he’ll be a big name soon.

Saga #51 – Lately this series has been feeling like each issue is simply moving each of a bunch of a different plotlines forward, but with this issue, as some of those lines converge, things feel a lot tighter.  Robot’s news story is approaching publication, which means that some of the cast may be leaving soon, and another long-time character looks to be killed off. I enjoyed this issue, and am happy to see it moving forward at a quicker pace again.

The Terrifics #3 – I was hopeful that this title might become a favourite, but I’m not looking to continue with it after this issue.  First off, the reasoning behind this team of heroes becoming a team is pretty weak – they all touched an antenna in the dark multiverse, and now can’t be more than a mile away from one another without dying.  It has potential, but feels forced. I do like how Mister Terrific is portrayed as such a grouch, but the childish banter between Metamorpho and Plastic Man feels very forced and grates pretty quickly. Actually, Metamorpho, and his whole situation with the Stagg family, grates on just about every page.  Phantom Girl is interesting, but not interesting enough to carry the series. This issue’s big threat is a war wheel device that Terrific is able to disable by cutting a couple of wires. Also, I really don’t care about whether or not anyone finds Tom Strong, because I believe that Alan Moore’s characters should just be left alone unless he is working with them.  I think it’s also worrying that the third issue of this series, which is supposed to be part of a line focused on artists and not writers, has a fill-in or new artist in Joe Bennett. I’ve been a fan of Bennett for a long time, and much prefer him to the pretty dull Ivan Reis who launched this title, but also don’t believe that he’s calling many of this shots here.  Jeff Lemire does not have the best track record with corporate team books (his JLU was alright, his X-Men was terrible), and he’s not doing enough here to keep me coming back.

X-O Manowar #14 – I’m not a big fan of Ariel Olivetti’s artwork, so was disappointed to see that he was the artist on this issue.  Aric returns home from his time in space, and apparently a lot has changed on Earth during that time, although I guess we have to wait for Harbinger Wars 2 to know what that is (despite the fact that I read a good proportion of Valiant’s books).  I’m tired of this series always flashing back to Aric’s barbarian childhood, and am worried that the next story arc looks like an extended example of that.

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

All-New Wolverine #34

Avengers #690

Doctor Strange #389

Doctor Strange Damnation #4

Exiles #2

Harrow County #30

Hunt for Wolverine #1

Invincible Iron Man #599

Mighty Thor #706

Moon Knight #194

Pervert GN

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #303

X-Men Blue #26

Bargain Comics:

Black Bolt #9&10 – I really think that Saladin Ahmed is a writer to keep an eye on.  His work on this series has been very impressive, and I especially like the way he writes Captain America at the Absorbing Man’s funeral.  There have been some unexpected turns throughout this series, and that’s impressed me. I wish Ahmed was writing something with more appeal to me than the Exiles now, but it feels like his comics career is just beginning.  I also really like Christian Ward’s art on this title – it really fits the content perfectly.

Hawkeye #14&15 – Kelly Thompson’s Hawkeye is a really fun read, especially when it focuses on the dynamic between Kate and Clint.  It’s too bad this series doesn’t actually exist anymore…

Jean Grey #11 – I had somehow expected that the conclusion to Teen Jean Grey’s monthly series might in some way inform the events in X-Men Red, which focuses on Adult Not Dead Jean Grey, but it really doesn’t.  Instead, we have Teen Jean argue with the Phoenix force one last time, and that’s about it. Was this title supposed to be more than it ended up being, or was it always intended to be one long tease for Adult Jean’s return?

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