The Weekly Round-Up# #216 With Deadly Class, Chew, Eternal Warrior, The Midas Flesh, Mind MGMT, Star Wars & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Deadly Class #1One thing that I haven’t been able to understand, since I first saw his art in Guardians of the Galaxy, is why Wes Craig is not a bigger-name artist.  This guy’s work is great, and so when I heard that he was partnering up with Rick Remender for a new creator-owned series, I had very high expectations.  Gladly, those expectations were met with this first issue of Deadly Class.  The series is focused on Marcus, a fourteen-year-old homeless kid living in San Francisco in 1987.  Through his narration, we get a real good sense of just how awful Marcus’s life has been, and Remender and Craig do a great job of showing us just how desperate he is for a better life.  Strangely, that opportunity comes his way at a Day of the Dead celebration where a group of cops try to arrest him (it’s hinted that he’s done something horrible, but I have no idea what), and he is rescued by a girl with a sword and a motorcycle.  From there we discover that there is a school for assassins that has been watching Marcus, and is willing to offer him admittance if he wishes it.  There are some elements of the story that don’t work (mainly the double-page spread that ends the book), but this book gets a solid recommendation based just on the portrayal of character and place.  I know that Remender is sometimes criticized for not being able to maintain the power and energy of his first issues, but this book feels very personal to the creators, and I’m very curious to see where it leads.  Another Image Comics success, I predict.

Quick Takes:

All-New Invaders #1Well, I have to say that that was disappointing.  As a kid, I scoured back issue boxes for every issue of the original Invaders series, as I loved the idea of superheroes being involved in real historical events.  I’ve been let down by every attempt at reviving the team since then, but figured if anyone could do it, it would be James Robinson and Steve Pugh.  Really though, this comic was pretty dull, and felt rather formulaic in its delivery.  Jim Hammond, the original android Human Torch has gotten a job as a mechanic in some small town that feels like the 50s never ended in it (people all chat with each other at the local diner, and there is not a Wal-Mart or morbidly obese person in sight), but all that falls apart when a Kree warrior woman shows up looking for something (you’d have to read All-New Marvel Now! Point One to find out what), and attacks the Torch.  The dialogue is hackneyed, as is the weird flashback to remind the Torch of where this particular adventure got its start.  Pugh, who is one of the best artists around, looks like he rushed through this issue in no time flat.  I don’t know if that’s the fault of the colouring or what, but I wouldn’t have even recognized this art as his.  I’ve been pre-ordering this book on the strength of the creative team, but it feels like they are both phoning it in on this series.  Again, very disappointing.

All-New X-Men #22.NOW – Continuing the yo-yo of quality that is Brian Michael Bendis’s writing in general, and on the X-books in particular, we get a pretty decent issue of All-New X-Men this week, making up for last week’s.  Past Scott and Past Jean get into a pretty entertaining argument, with poor Past Warren stuck in the middle, before a bunch of Shi’ar warriors show up to abduct Jean.  This is the beginning of the ‘Trial of Jean Grey’ cross-over with Guardians of the Galaxy (another inconsistently written Bendis book), which may prove to be interesting.  I find it very strange how this team (with Kitty and now X-23) live in the same place as Now Scott’s Uncanny team, but they don’t really show up in this title often.

Animal Man #27Jeff Lemire’s moving towards his big finale with this title, as the newly powered-up Buddy fights the last Totem of the Red, the rest of the creatures of that domain work to protect Maxine from Brother Blood, and Ellen finds herself in a real old-school looking jail cell in downtown LA.  This is not a bad comic, but it really does feel like Lemire’s said all he has to say with these characters.

Avengers #25 – Post-Infinity, Jonathan Hickman still has a large number of balls in the air, and it would appear that he’s moving his alternate reality incursion storyline into the main Avengers title as well as dealing with it in New Avengers.  AIM (these guys are everywhere these days – are they going to be in the next Avengers movie or something?) are pulling things out of a dimensional gateway, and manage to snag themselves the original Avengers, although luckily, Hickman is not borrowing too much from Bendis’s All-New X-Men playbook.  He is, I’m afraid, perhaps borrowing a little from the Bendis Guide to Writing Multiple Series, as things happening here contradict the way things are happening in Avengers World, making me wonder if these titles need to be read in a particular order.  I don’t understand Maria Hill’s hostility towards the team at the end of this issue, and have no idea in what order these stories are taking place.

Avengers World #2 – The first issue of this yet another Avengers title established three different threats for three different teams to deal with.  This issue, however, is basically a Smasher solo issue, as young Izzy finds herself a guest of AIM, on their rapidly advancing island.  I’m going to assume that this whole story takes place after the current arc of Secret Avengers, as AIM is making big moves (that are wholly reminiscent of the work that Jonathan Hickman did in his opening arc on Ultimates).  So far as character goes, Hickman and co-writer Nick Spencer do a good job, but the pacing of the plot left something to be desired.

Batman #27While there are some good parts to this issue, I’m really not enjoying Zero Year.  Scott Snyder is reworking the history of Batman in such a way as to cement the character as a technology-dependent hero who started out with a full stable of specialized boats and the like, and it doesn’t really give his obsessions, which were painted so beautifully in Frank Miller’s and David Mazzuchelli’s Batman Year One the space to explain his motivations.  The thing that really bothers me about this story arc though, aside from its unending length, is the way in which a key story element, the total blackout of Gotham, is given little space, and is not even always shown (unless, of course, James Gordon is running a generator to fully light his house so his kid can play with a dog).  Snyder’s doing some interesting things with Gordon’s character, but I’m not going to believe that the guy would have single-handedly fought off some crazed dogfight dogs, and then responded to the call that the Waynes were murdered.  Snyder is trying to cram too much into these issues in terms of playing on readers’ emotions, and isn’t taking the time to make the story work.  Between my waning interest in this story, and the way in which DC keeps searching for reasons to jack up the price of individual issues, I’m seriously considering dropping this title.

Bedlam #11 – I continue to enjoy the way that Nick Spencer is writing this book, effectively inverting the roles of Batman and Joker in this arc (I mean, The First and Madder Red), as Fillmore confronts the person behind a string of terrorist-like attacks.  My problem with this series is that the gaps between issues are really messing with my enjoyment of it; I find myself spending a good chunk of each issue trying to remember what’s going on.

Captain America #15Rick Remender has taken some time to build up the Iron Nail as a threat in this series, and now we learn that he is behind Nuke’s actions of late.  That confused super soldier is at the centre of this issue, as Cap, Falcon, and All-New Nick Fury try to turn him back to their side of things.  A solid issue, with some very nice Carlos Pacheco artwork.

Chew #39 – It feels like John Layman is bringing a number of different story threads together, as Amelia and Tony’s daughter go to work to snap him out of his depression.  This involves infiltrating FDA headquarters, and making use of some creatures I didn’t really expect to see again.  Another very solid issue, with a couple great scenes (the blender one made me cringe).

Conan the Barbarian #24 – Brian Wood’s penultimate issue manages to be reflective and mournful and full of action at the same time, which is not an easy trick to pull off.  I’m sad to see his run on Conan coming to an end, as he made me like a care about a character I’d never previously been interested in reading about.

Dead Body Road #2 – This very violent revenge road movie comic continues nicely, as our hero rescues the girlfriend of the guy who helped pull the bank job last issue from Lake’s men.  Justin Jordan and Matteo Scalera are making this book work quite nicely, if you’re looking for this kind of thing.

Deadpool: The Gauntlet #1It’s clear that Marvel is really pushing their digital-only comics these days, giving away the first chapter to this Deadpool story for free, re-launching Daredevil on-line, and starting an Iron Man story that is going to finish in an upcoming Annual.  This comic is alright, but not as good as recent issues of Deadpool’s main series have been under Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, who also write this book.  The story is supposed to take place in current continuity, and references the North Korean exploits that just ended in the main title, but the SHIELD agent currently living in Deadpool’s head is nowhere to be found here.  It was free, so I’m not going to complain about this book, but there’s nothing here that is going to get me to buy the future digital issues.

Eternal Warrior #5 – I had a hard time reconciling the way Gilad was portrayed in the first arc of this series with all his other appearances in the Valiant Universe.  That’s not an issue with this new arc, as writer Greg Pak has jumped us some two thousand years into the future, where Gilad is now the Eternal Emperor, and is protecting a small group of people in a world devoid of technology.  Or so it seems, until a mechanical creature shows up to cause havoc, leading to Gilad and his granddaughter taking a trip towards a city.  There’s a very good post-Apocalyptic vibe to this future, which was likely caused by Gilad’s killing of the ‘gods’ of the world.  The best thing about this issue is the art of Robert Gill, an artist who is new to me, but whose talent, evocative of a more detailed and polished Trevor Hairsine, is sure to attract the attention of the Big Two soon.

FF #16The second series to feature the Future Foundation comes to a close, as Ant-Man uses some weird comic science to give Dr. Doom a smack-down.  Most of this issue was a disappointment to me, as it always is when this series has focused on the adult characters, but it does end nicely with a big family party on the moon.  This title (actually, really, it was Jonathan Hickman’s first FF series) has introduced a number of introducing new characters to the Marvel Universe, and I hope we see them again in some way shape or form.  I’m particularly going to miss the Moloids.  I don’t know if James Robinson is going to keep them around in his Fantastic Four series, but I know that their presence would go a long way towards getting me to check the book out.

Hawkeye #16 – Marvel is now publishing these issues out of order, which is kind of strange, but since alternating issues feature different Hawkeyes, it doesn’t really matter.  Kate Bishop is back in the spotlight in this bizarre issue that has her getting involved in the life of a famous reclusive musician from the 60s, a cross between the Beatles and JD Salinger.  It’s a deeply strange story for a Marvel comic, but in Matt Fraction and Annie Wu’s hands, it works nicely.

Marvel Knights X-Men #3 – Brahm Revel’s take on the X-Men is working very nicely, as he has Kitty, Rogue, and Wolverine in a weird situation in a backwoods town in Appalachia.  He has a very good feel for these characters, and his new mutant, a young woman who makes memories corporeal, is really bringing the chaos.

The Massive #19Callum Israel is going after Arkady, a man from his mercenary past who is determined to shut down Ninth Wave.  This brings up a lot of stuff, and ties into things that Brian Wood has planted from almost the beginning of the series.  I’ve enjoyed The Massive from its start, but I’m very pleased to see some of the threads coming together.

The Midas Flesh #2 – I’m really enjoying this Boom mini-series written by Ryan North and drawn by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.  It’s a science fiction comic that posits that, had King Midas really gained gold transmutation abilities, the entire world would have been turned to gold.  Far into the future, our three heroes have discovered this gold planet, and are working to find the weapon that caused the change.  They’ve drawn the attention of the Federation, which is not a good thing, although they don’t know that yet.  North is packing a lot of story into this comic, with solid explanations of the comic book science at play, as well as substantial character work.  I am very thankful that the staff at my LCS pointed this book out to me, because I probably would have passed on it, and now I’m completely into it.  Look for it.

Mighty Avengers #5 – Luke Cage and Jessica Jones give Spider-Man the comeuppance he’s been deserving lately, while the rest of the team finds themselves in a strange situation in the wreckage of Attilan.  I’m really enjoying Al Ewing’s writing on this comic, and the way he’s handling a variety of characters I’ve always liked.  Unfortunately, Greg Land is still drawing this book…

Mind MGMT #18Matt Kindt brings us an excellent one-off story this month, which focuses on Ella, a young girl with an ability to speak to animals (sort of).  She is not exactly on board with the agenda of Mind MGMT, where she spent time training animal assassins, and ends up leading an exodus of her friends.  Kindt’s art is becoming lusher with every issue, and this issue looks amazing.  My favourite page is the one that imagines Shangri-La (the Mind MGMT training facility) as a page out of a Richard Scarry kid’s book.  Unexpected nostalgia is always the best kind…

Origin II #2 – I wasn’t all that impressed with the first issue of this series, but it really felt more like a prelude to things, so I thought I’d come back for the second issue and see what this series is really about.  Apparently, it’s about Mr. Sinister (before he’s called that) conducting weird experiments, and about Sabretooth (before he’s called that) helping some people I either don’t recognize or don’t remember from the first Origins series (it was a long time ago) to track down Logan, maybe so they can put him in a circus.  In other words, there’s nothing all that original going on here, and I don’t see myself coming back for the next issue.

Pretty Deadly #4 – While I still don’t rightly know what all is going on in this comic, I feel that the cast has finally coalesced, and I’m getting a better sense of how everyone in this mystical Western relates to one another.  Emma Rios’s art is wonderful in this series, and the writing is good enough that I can follow along.  I’m really just buying this for the art and the hope that the story will develop in such a way as to make more sense soon enough.

Sex #10I love what Joe Casey is doing with this book, as Simon Cooke finally becomes involved in his company, and a number of other characters, both old and new, go about their business.  Casey is slowly building to something, but just what that will be is being kept from us.  This is a book about going through the motions until they seem real, and that’s just what most of the characters are doing.  Except for Keenan, of course, who seems determined to bring Simon back to his old life.

Star Wars Legacy #11 – I’d forgotten that Gabriel Hardman was going to be drawing this arc in addition to co-writing it with Corinna Bechko, so that was a nice surprise.  This issue starts to dig into Ania Solo’s history a little, as she runs into an old friend, and someone else goes looking for her at her old junkyard.  This issue felt a little off compared to the first two arcs, mostly because of a strange later-years Lucasian scene involving Ania trying to ride a bucking bronco.

Umbral #3 – Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten’s new fantasy series keeps improving with each new issue, as the threat of the Umbral is becoming more clear, and as Rascal starts to gather another person to her cause.  Much of this issue is told in flashback, and it’s a little hard to tell when the transition is being made, and there is one big inconsistency (as some pirates’ bodies are discovered far from where they are shown being killed), but still, this is a very good comic.

The Walking Dead #120We’re now half-way into All Out War, and Robert Kirkman just keeps upping the stakes, as Negan and his people start lobbing grenades into Rick’s community, and Maggie gets a great scene.  This is such an excellent comic.

Wolverine and the X-Men #40 – This issue perfectly captures what I find to be the dichotomy of Jason Aaron’s X-Men writing.  Much of the issue is silly and inconsequential, as the school’s students deal with the two SHIELD agents who have infiltrated the institution by ‘bamfing’ them into weird spots like a zero gravity bowling alley.  It’s the kind of thing I’ve hated most about Aaron’s X-Men; a conscious attempt to recapture the fun of Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League, without the heart.  At the same time, though, Aaron also has Wolverine and Cyclops sit down and share a beer together, and try to talk out some of their differences.  Of course, Cyclops can’t fully explain his behaviour of the last two years, because it’s all been editorially-mandated and out of character, but I appreciate that an effort was made.  Aaron’s run on this title is ending soon, but it feels so far like his Amazing X-Men is more about the silly side of his approach, and it’s already starting to bore me.

Wonder Woman #27 – As DC’s New 52 continues to degrade into something about as appealing to me as mid-90s Image or Marvel comics were, there remain a (very) few gems, and Wonder Woman is certainly the shiniest of them.  Diana is looking for Zola and Zeke (again), as is Cassandra, while Apollo continues to torture the First Born.  Brian Azzarello does not move his plot along very quickly, but each issue is a joy to read, especially when the series’s showrunner artist, Cliff Chiang, is around, as he is this month.

X-Men #9I’m finding myself getting a touch bored with Brian Wood’s X-Men series these days.  The new Lady Deathstrike has taken her new team, including Arkea, to the UAE, and it seems that only Monet is fast enough to get there to deal with them.  The rest of the team spends much of the issue talking about what they should do, and Sabra is brought in, alongside some guy in a cape I don’t remember (Gabriel Shepherd? – internet research tells me he was in Wood’s first run on adjectiveless X-Men, which I now remember, but he didn’t have the half-cape then), but doesn’t do anything.  This book needs to tighten things up, and quickly.

X-O Manowar #21 – The Unity storyline is over, and Aric and his people are now basically in Guantanamo Bay.  Aric gets lots of opportunities to show how firm his resolve is, and Robert Venditti works things in such a way that he becomes useful to the American government.  This is a transitional issue, and it’s handled well.

Zero #5 – I really have to hand it to Ales Kot for completely upending my expectations of this series with this issue.  Zero had kind of settled into a pattern of showing us various moments from the life of Edward Zero, a black ops agent for a very secret organization.  Many of these stories have been set in the near future, and we’ve seen a framing device that takes place far into the future.  This month, Zero is recovering from the injury he sustained last issue, and is unwittingly in the middle of a bit of a pissing match between his handler and that guy’s superior.  It’s mostly a pretty sedate issue, until we get to the end, and it’s made clear that this series is something else entirely.  Will Tempest provides the art for this issue, and Jordie Bellaire’s flat, drab colours really accentuate his straight-forward way of drawing the book.  I really want to know what’s going on in this comic now; I liked it before, but it’s just become way more interesting to me.

Comics I Would Have Bought if They Weren’t $4 (or more):

All-New X-Factor #2

Black Widow #2

Cable and X-Force #19

Cataclysm Ultimate X-Men #3

Indestructible Hulk #18.INH

Iron Man #20.INH

Legends of Red Sonja #3

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #9

Unwritten: Apocalypse #1

Bargain Comics:

Scarlet Spider #20-25 – These issues round out this series’s run, and I have to say that I’ve enjoyed it.  Sure, Kaine has been a little too broody for a guy living in a luxury hotel suite, but I’ve liked the way that writer Chris Yost (with sometime co-writer Eric Burnham) have worked on differentiating this character from the rest of the Spider-Family.  It will be interesting to see how Yost plays with Kaine when he ends up in the upcoming New Warriors book, since he is definitely not a team player.

Well, that was my week of comics.  What did you read last week that you really liked (or really didn’t)?

 

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