The Weekly Round-Up #446 With Shanghai Red #1, Days Of Hate #6, Ninja-K #8, Star Wars: Poe Dameron #28 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Shanghai Red #1 – I was on the fence about this new series, but I’m really glad I picked up the first issue.  Christopher Sebela is not really a writer I trust, but his passion for this project shines through, and he delivers a very dense first issue that beautifully establishes the situation and a couple of strong characters.  Jack and some others were shanghaied three years ago, which means they were basically kidnapped in Portland and shipped out on a boat where they have basically lived like slaves. Now, with their contract up, and they are given the choice to join the crew or make their own way in China, Jack takes the decision out of everyone’s hands, in a particularly bloody way.  The rest of the issue digs into just who Jack is, and that holds a surprise or two for the readers. Sebela and artist Joshua Hixson do a great job of portraying the brutality of the era, as this revenge story launches in high gear. I’m definitely going to grab the next issue.

Quick Takes:

Batman #49 – Joker and Catwoman get to spend some quality time together, as Tom King has them acknowledge their shared criminal past (which, at times, sounds like it might have starred Adam West) while they wait to see which of them is likely to die of their injuries first.  Mikel Janin makes their fight look incredible, and King does make a good go of figuring out how to make the Joker an interesting character (personally, I think that’s basically impossible at this point). I’m ready for this wedding to happen, just so we can stop reading about the build-up to this wedding.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #3 – It looks like Jeff Lemire and Dean Ormston are finally refocusing this book on the crew of heroes, and the mystery surrounding why they are trapped in a small town.  Lucy explores some more, and we get a little cameo by Gus from Sweet Tooth that made me pretty happy. This is a good series, but with all its side projects, it feels like it’s been stretched way too thin of late.

Cable #158 – I wonder how much restraint it took Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler to not go straight to the X-Force era when putting together their story, which has touched on various points of Cable’s past.  Metus, the being made from Cable’s techno-organic virus, comes after Cable’s team, as we get to see one of Nathan’s earliest battles with the creature. It’s a fun issue from a nostalgia standpoint, although the inclusion of a holographic Deadpool feels a little gratuitous (but the fact that Deadpool acknowledges makes it all good, on a meta level).  This has been a very good arc, but I’m concerned by the lack of solicitations for Cable for August and September. I’d like to see these writers stick with the character…

Captain America #704 – Mark Waid’s underwhelming run, capped off by two alternate future stories, limps to its conclusion as Cap’s descendant has to deal with the double threat of a Kree invasion and the return of the Red Skull.  Having reached the end of the story, Waid didn’t need to pad the issue with a bunch of random flashbacks to different eras of Cap’s history; this should have been a three-issue arc that got dragged out unnecessarily while waiting for the chance to relaunch the book once again.  I’m hoping that Ta-Nehisi Coates has a lot more to say about Cap when his title begins in a couple of weeks.

Crude #3 – Steve Orlando and Garry Brown’s new revenge thriller is really different.  Piotr has gone to a Siberian petrochemical fiefdom trying to investigate the death of his son, only to find himself getting tied up in the conflict between the company and a mob trying to take over.  This is a layered and nuanced story that also serves as an impressive character study. I’ve liked Orlando’s independent work a lot, but think that this is, so far, his best title. Brown is also doing great work on this taut series.

Daredevil #604 – Charles Soule introduces us to an order of Catholic priests who have been fighting monsters for centuries with this issue, as it becomes time to take the fight to the Hand.  Soule has laid out this storyline masterfully, and gives this issue a surprise ending that I really didn’t see coming. It’s good stuff.

Days of Hate #6 – As this series hits the halfway mark, Ales Kot shows us a lot of what has been happening behind the scenes, as we learn just where Huian stands on things, as we’ve seen her as either a collaborator or as someone who has been betraying her wife.  Kot has put together a pretty fascinating study of life in a post-Trump America (or, even worse, perhaps late into his second term?), where hatred is the rule of the day. Danijel Zezelj once again proves why he has long been one of my favourite artists, but it is really Jordie Bellaire, who beautifully colours a forest scene, who impresses me the most in this issue.  There’s going to be a six month hiatus before we return to this world, which is a shame, but it allows some of the revelations of this issue time to resonate. Really, with all the hatred directed towards immigrants right now, and the increasingly reprehensible actions of the Trump government, I’m worried that, by August when the next issue comes out, it will feel like it falls short of reality.

Deadly Class #35 – Marcos faces his darkest urges, and comes out the other side, except that the other side is still full of murderous Yakuza guys, and a crazy Southern girl.  This arc ends very well, if bloodily, and we lose a major character. In many ways, I prefer this series when it’s a little quieter than this arc has been – I love the character moments the best – but this has been one exciting run of issues.

Gideon Falls #4 – The mysteries deepen in Gideon Falls, as the priest investigates and learns about a secret society that has been worrying about the Black Barn for a few hundred years.  He doesn’t readily believe what he learns, and heads to the sheriff for her take on things. At the same time, Norton’s therapist finds herself going deeper and deeper into his paranoid world.  This is an interesting series, with terrific art by Andrea Sorrentino. I’m very curious to see where it’s all headed.

Moonshine #11 – For a series about werewolves in the Prohibition era, we’ve seen precious few of them.  That all changes here, as we get a lot of werewolf prison labour camp action. It’s good stuff, especially with Eduardo Risso’s art, and the site of two escaped convicts, one white, the other black, running off together reminds me of Azzarello’s excellent series Loveless, which I now kind of want to reread.

Ninja-K #8 – Ninjak and his new Unity-like squad attack the group of immortals who are up to no good, and it leads to some cool fight scenes, and the sort-of return of an old friend.  This has been a good arc, even though it keeps referencing the Deadside, which I hate.

Poe Dameron #28 – Since this book jumped up to the moments after The Last Jedi, I’d been wondering how much longer it would last.  We found out this week that it’s ending soon, and while I’ve enjoyed it, I’m probably okay with that, especially since I’m sure Marvel is going to be replacing it with something else that might help flesh out the post-Episode VI universe a little better.  The first half of this issue retells the Battle of Starkiller Base, which we didn’t need, and then sets up the story of what’s happened to basically every character that Charles Soule has developed who never showed up in the movies. I’m expecting a bloodbath.

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

Amazing Spider-Man #801

Avengers #3

Champions #21

Doctor Strange #2

Ether Copper Golems #2

Hunt for Wolverine: Claws of a Killer #2

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man Annual #1

Tony Stark Iron Man #1

Weapon H #4

Wild Storm #14

Witchfinder: Gates of Heaven #2

X-Men Gold #30

Bargain Comics:

Bug!: The Adventures of Forager #1-6 – This series is fun, as Michael Allred and family send the classic Jack Kirby character who died during the Cosmic Odyssey down a strange path of self-discovery and run-ins with various Kirby characters (and, oddly, Deadman).  As a tribute, it’s good stuff, but it doesn’t do much to differentiate itself from the bulk of Allred’s work. Forager could be almost any character, aside from the constant mention of the smell of crushed ants (and really, who would be able to recognize that odour?).  I think this was the most appealing of Young Animal’s entire line; that imprint has been a disappointment.

Jessica Jones #15&16 – When Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Gaydos first told the story of how the Purple Man used and more or less destroyed Jessica Jones, it was chilling and powerful.  It also became the basis of the first season of Jessica’s Netflix show, which was a bold choice. So, of course, that means that Marvel would need to bring the two characters back together in a new story that just looks to repeat the highs of the earlier one, only in a more wordy way.  It’s unnecessary.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Hellblazer: Freezes Over – Continuing my dive into Brian Azzarello’s run on Hellblazer, I was pleased to see that this volume has art by the late great Steve Dillon and the much-missed Guy Davis (what is this guy working on?), in addition to Azzarello’s usual collaborator, Marcelo Frusin.  The guest artists bookend the main story, which has John turning up in an American diner during a snowstorm. While he’s there, a trio of murderers show up as well, and we get Azzarello’s take on the genteel murder mystery dinner. It’s a fun story, as is the one about Constantine being hired by an American back in his punk days to a clock that can predict the future.  I miss Hellblazer.

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