The Weekly Round-Up #225 With Deadly Class, Alex + Ada, Eternal Warrior, Hellboy, Sandman Overture, Star Wars Legacy & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Deadly Class #3Rick Remender started this series off strongly, and I think it might just be getting better with each new issue.  Marcus and his new lab partner (whose name doesn’t show up this issue) are tasked with killing a vagrant for a school assignment, and Marcus’s attempts to turn this pairing into a new friendship go pretty awry, mostly because of his own personality issues.  The characterizations feel pretty nuanced, especially with the way the issue ends, and Wes Craig’s art continues to be incredible.  I love the opening sequence, which has the boys running and jumping across the rooftops.

Quick Takes:

Alex + Ada #5 – I continue to be impressed with this series from Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn.  The newly-awakened Ada doesn’t react well to having sentience (she’s a robot), but Alex continues to be a stand-up guy and guides her into the world.  This is a pretty unique romance comic, and I really like the pacing and art.  Recommended.

Amazing X-Men #5 – The Nightcrawler/Azazel/pirate story has come to its end, and not surprisingly, Kurt is now back with the X-Men (this doesn’t really count as a spoiler, since Marvel has already announced that he’s getting his own title).  I’ve really not liked this arc at all, and not just because of the reliance on Azazel and the Bamfs to make it work, but also because everyone dressed up like silly pirates.  I’d be done with this title if it weren’t for the recent news that Craig Kyle and Christopher Yost are coming on board to write it.  I hope things get less silly.

Avengers #27Further down this column I accuse Jonathan Hickman of treading water in New Avengers and just writing the same sort of issue over and over again.  I read that book first, but I feel much the same way about this title, as the rather uninteresting story of some evil Avengers brought over to the 616 by AIM scientists just keeps dragging on and on.  There are a couple good moments, such as the genuine surprise of who is in the Iron Man armor, but something needs to start happening in this book soon.  Perhaps there are just too many Avengers books.  Also kind of annoying is the way in which All-New Invaders #1 is reprinted in this book.  I’m glad (and slightly surprised) that Marvel didn’t raise the price due to the extra pages, but I can’t think of a better way to signal to the market that some of the All-New launches are not attracting the sales Marvel was hoping for.  Personally, I’ve dropped Invaders, and don’t need to read it again.

Avengers Assemble #25 – Speaking of there being too many Avengers books, Avengers Assemble, the title with the least purpose, is cancelled with this issue.  Kelly Sue DeConnick (and allegedly Warren Ellis, although past his name in the credits,  I don’t detect his presence at all) wraps up her Inhumanity tie-in storyline about Toxie Doxie trying to steal Inhuman cocoons, and still works at establishing Spider-Girl as a bigger player in the Marvel Universe.  For some reason this book has four artists, making things look really inconsistent.

The Bunker #2Joshua Hale Fialkov and Joe Infurnari are exploring a familiar theme – the old question of whether or not it’s right to change the past to make the present better, but are doing it in an interesting way, by having a group of friends confront the facts of their future lives after a bunker full of documentation appears in our present.  This issue mainly focuses on Grady, who is set to become President one day, and begins to raise questions about how accurate the information is, and if Future Grady can be trusted.  It’s a very interesting series, and I’m enjoying it.

Dead Body Road #4 – There aren’t a lot of car chases in comics, and after Matteo Scalera drew the hell out of the one that takes up almost this entire issue, very few artists will feel unintimidated enough to try to draw more.  This is a very exciting issue, as our heroes interrogate a guy in the back of a van while speeding down a highway, being chased by a gang of bikers.  Very exciting stuff, and some great art.

Deadpool #26 – It’s time for another ‘inventory’ issue of Deadpool, and this one has our hero working to save Nick Fury from time-travelling Adolf Hitler in the 1950s.  These issues are always a lot of fun to read, and it’s great to see how Scott Koblish adapts his art to suit the time period the comic is supposed to be from.  Cable guest stars, and New Nick Fury has a hilarious cameo.  I think that the next issue, which is over-sized and over-priced, is going to be my last, as I don’t like the fact that Marvel is going to be upping the price of this book, but I’m probably going to be pretty tempted to keep getting the issues that come out between arcs.

Eternal Warrior #7We continue to read about Gilad’s adventures in the far future, where the storyline finally starts to connect to the first arc, set in present day.  Gilad is now looking for the King who has forced people to build radioactive robots, in the hope that he can save his young granddaughter from radiation sickness.  This book is working very well since it moved to the future, and became very unique in Valiant’s lineup.  I am really enjoying Robert Gill’s art, and expect that he’s going to become pretty big.

Fatale #21 – We are very much in the homestretch of Fatale now, and that means that we are finally seeing more of Josephine in the present day, as she stashes Nick some place safe, and starts to make her own move against the cultists that have pursued her for decades.  As is always the case with an Ed Brubaker/Sean Phillips comic, just about everything in the book is handled perfectly.  I’m very excited to ride this out to the end.

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 – The Trial of Jean Grey comes to a close, and once again, the Guardians become supporting characters in their own book, as this is really another issue of All-New X-Men.  Brian Michael Bendis does give Rocket Racoon a couple of good lines, but the majority of the book is about Jean Grey levelling up in terms of power, and about Guardian and the Imperial Guard acting completely out of character.  It’s interesting to me that, if the Shi’ar are now to keep away from the Earth, two of them (Kubark and Warbird) are still serving with the X-Men.  Maybe Bendis doesn’t read the other X-books, and didn’t know that.  I’m not sure he read Infinity, and that whole thing about how the entire galaxy owes the Avengers bigtime.  I’m not sure I’m going to stick around with the Guardians now.  This book has never really charted its own course.  The first arc was pretty forgettable, and since then, we’ve only had the shoehorning of Angela onto the team, some Infinity crossovers, and an X-Men crossover.  Now, the book feels completely lacking in direction, as Captain Marvel and Venom get added to the cast for reasons I don’t understand, and Nick Bradshaw, an artist I don’t much like, comes onboard.  I wanted to like this book, but it’s just not doing it for me.

Hawkeye #18We’re back in LA and checking in on Kate Bishop as she finds out that her mysterious cat food aisle friend has also run afoul of Madame Masque.  The Kate issues of Hawkeye are a lot of fun, and a lot of credit for that goes to artist Annie Wu, who brings a light sensibility to things.

Hellboy 20th Anniversary Sampler – I’m not one to turn down free comics, especially when they feature new art by Fábio Moon.  There are two very standard Hellboy stories here, and a pretty standard early BPRD one (with art by Cameron Stewart).  I’m not sure that this book would convince a new reader to wade into the last twenty years of Mignola-verse history, but this is a very nice looking book, and the price is right.  I remember buying the first issue of Hellboy in the 90s, and it really makes me feel old to admit that that was twenty years ago.

Manhattan Projects #19 – The last issue of Manhattan Projects ended unexpectedly, and so does this one, even though in story-time, only a few seconds have passed.  Basically, we’re back in Oppenheimer’s head, as the two Oppenheimer brothers vie for control.  As is always the case with this series, it’s a fun issue, and hard to predict.  Ryan Browne draws this issue, and the mindscape scenes look like his work, but the scenes happening in the outside world look a lot like Nick Pitarra’s art.

Iron Patriot #1It really feels like All-New Marvel Now! is taking a page from DC’s playbook, and is tossing a bunch of new titles into the world featuring characters that have never really been able to hold down their own book for long.  Unlike the New 52, however, Marvel is slanting a little towards the indie sphere, and choosing creators that have more street cred to them, such as writer Ales Kot (Change, Zero) and artist Garry Brown (The Massive).  I’ve always liked Jim Rhodes, but his last series, Iron Man 2.0, didn’t end very well.  What I found most interesting about this issue, which resituates Rhodey in New Orleans, and brings his father and genius niece as supporting characters, is that Tony Stark is not even mentioned.  It feels like there is a conscious decision being made to distance Rhodey from Tony’s shadow, and I think that can only be a good thing.  His new plan is to only be involved in domestic operations, stepping away from the War Machine guise completely.  Of course, not everyone on Capital Hill is happy about that, and so plans are afoot to scuttle his mission.  This is a good start, although there was a lot of set-up without much action taking place (aside from a couple pages of oil-based Gulf monsters); I’m hoping that Kot finds a better balance going forward, as this title is going to have a bit of an uphill battle (as are a lot of the A-NMN! line).

Marvel Knights X-Men #5 – Brahm Revel brings his X-Men story to a very satisfying close, as Wolverine, Rogue, and Kitty Pryde find a resolution to all the backwoods drama they’ve been tossed into by trying to help a pair of mutant teenagers.  Revel is an accomplished cartoonist, and I really liked the indie sensibility he brought to the X-Men.  The best part of this comic, to me, is the news in his afterword that he intends to work on finishing up his excellent series Guerillas now, which I’ve really missed.

The Massive #21With the end of the Bloc art, things really (and finally) all seem to click into place.  Callum Israel has his final confrontation with Arkady, a man from his mercenary past, and coming out of this confrontation, the entire Ninth Wave organization reorganizes and agrees on a new direction.  There have been hints of the supernatural in this series, which is about environmental and economic collapse, since it began, but now it looks like Brian Wood is ready to make that a primary focus.  I’ve seen some reviewers complain that this series feels like it lacks direction at times, but I think that complaint has been put to rest now.  As always, this is a good read.

The Midas Flesh #4 – This title, which is a pretty well-thought out and exciting science fiction adventure, keeps taking darker and darker turns.  The first issue, which was half-set in the days of King Midas, had a pretty lighthearted feel to it, but now, halfway through the series, we have our protagonists squaring off against a massive enemy ship, and wrestling with the fact that the only way they can save their own lives is to kill a thousand people.  Very good stuff from writer Ryan North and artist Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb.  People should be buying this in larger numbers.

Mind MGMT #20 – In this issue, Matt Kindt introduces us to the former agents of Mind MGMT who could never fit in to society easily, mostly because of their peculiar physical appearances.  Things mostly focus on Jim, a giant.  This is interesting because it immediately reminded me of Three Story, Kindt’s earlier graphic novel about a giant.  Always one to play with layout, Kindt uses a lot of narrow vertical panels that run the length of the page, helping to accentuate Jim’s stature.  This title is always a rewarding read, and this issue is no different, with an interesting meta ending that hints at problems coming Henry Lyme and his crew’s way.

New Avengers #16.NOWI’d expected, what with this issue getting the .NOW fake #1 treatment, that Jonathan Hickman would move his story of incursions of other realities into a new direction.  Instead, for the third or fourth issue in a row, we see a few of our heroes looking through a device to another world, where we watch that place’s heroes (this time analogues of the Justice League, with Dr. Fate tossed in) stop an incursion.  It’s nice to see Rags Morales doing some work at Marvel, as I’ve always liked his art, but I’m getting pretty bored of reading the same thing over and over again in this series.  I feel like Hickman is spinning his wheels until Original Sin comes along to derail his storyline, and that only after that event is over will we get to some kind of conclusion on this plot.  That might be longer than I’m willing to wait though.

Pariah #2 – Even though I still haven’t found a copy of the graphic novel that launches this story, I’m enjoying this title quite a bit.  The Vitros have started settling into routines on their derelict space station; some are mining nearby space junk for useful components while others have found other ways to keep themselves busy, including launching attacks on the Earth’s economy.  Our narrator this month is tasked with tracking down the perpetrator of this prank, and it gives us a good opportunity to meet a few more Vitros, and see how their society is developing.  I love Brett Weldele’s artwork, but am also impressed with the writing by Philip Gelatt.  I especially like the episodic nature of this series so far, and wonder if every issue is going to be narrated by a different person.

Sandman Overture #2Hey, this series is still coming out!  It’s been a while since the first issue, but when you see JH Williams III’s pages, you wouldn’t dream of complaining.  His work is gorgeous, but then we all already know this.  Story-wise, I’m not as happy.  I love the poetic nature of Neil Gaiman’s writing, but the story is not all that clear to me yet, and I’m not sure why Daniel would be included in the beginning of the issue, if this is to work as a proper prequel.  I feel like Gaiman is moving through the tropes that he is best at – philosophical conversations about characters’ different aspects of themselves, confused madwomen who hold the key to a plot point, and journeys with cats.  I was concerned that this series would be nostalgic fanservice, instead of something that said something new about this iconic character, and it looks like I might have been right.  Maybe the next issue will click better for me.  It will definitely be beautiful, so I’m looking forward to it, whenever it might come out.

Satellite Sam #7 – I’ve been enjoying this series since it began, but I don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud reading an issue before now.  Michael, working his way steadily downward on his spiral, gives a ton of booze to the cast and crew of the TV show a couple of hours before air time, with hilarious results.  Other things happen, most of the depraved or just morally questionable, as we get a little closer to learning why someone might have wanted to kill Michael’s father, if that is what happened.  Matt Fraction’s TV period piece is chugging along quite nicely, and I’m still amazed at how well Howard Chaykin’s art suits this title, which is not something I would have expected.

Serenity Firefly Class 03-K64: Leaves on the Wind #3I love this comic.  Jubal Early’s on Serenity, and Zack Whedon writes his character perfectly, but he’s kind of lost track of how many people are on the ship, giving Kaylee the opportunity to really shine.  Another familiar face shows up, as the crew has to figure out how they can rescue Zoe and get the Alliance off their backs.  Great stuff.

Sex #12 – It’s another exciting issue of Sex, as Keenan goes through an initiation to infiltrate The Breaks, a huge crime organization, and the Old Man reveals that he’s trying to find out about someone who I figure is going to be the Sex equivalent of Ras Al Ghul.  Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski are doing a great job with this title, which has become a favourite of mine.

Skullkickers #25 – Sure, it’s exciting to see a new issue of Sandman come out, but what’s even more exciting this week is the return of Skullkickers, even if I’m kind of confused by the number of Rexs (three) and the number of Rolfs (also three) that show up between the covers.  Jim Zub’s series is always funny, and this book is always welcome in my pull-file.

Star Wars Legacy #13 – Ania Solo is on her own on a hostile planet being chased by a mysterious bounty hunter, while her friends are looking for her.  This is a nicely character-driven issue, with great Gabriel Hardman art.  I’m sad that he and his co-writer Corinna Bechko are going to have to wrap up this series by the end of the year, because I’m getting a lot of enjoyment out of it.  It would have been nice if Disney, in transferring the Star Wars license to Marvel, decided to keep this title and Brian Wood’s running, especially since both Wood and Hardman have done a lot of work at Marvel.  Oh well…

Superior Foes of Spider-Man #10 I don’t understand why Marvel would schedule a fill-in issue of a comic, and then have it come out a week after the last issue.  If the creative team needed a breather at that point, wait a month and then release the fill-in.  Anyway, the store I shop at got shorted last week, so I’m only reading this now.  It’s a solid fill-in, written by James Asmus and drawn by a variety of artists, showing some stories featuring Boomerang, Overdrive and the Beetle, and guest-starring Hercules.  Asmus approaches the same tone that Nick Spence has set in this title, but doesn’t quite get there.  I think it interesting that Spider-Man is featured so prominently on the cover but doesn’t appear inside.

Survive #1 – Survive is the epilogue to Cataclysm, as heroes gather to eulogize Captain America, and plans are made to dismantle SHIELD.  Brian Michael Bendis checks in with a number of key characters, and Miles and his squad decide to start working together in a clear lead-in to The New Ultimates.  What’s strange about this comic (aside from the fact that the cover prominently features Storm and the Falcon, neither of whom have speaking roles in the comic) is that there are no ads for the upcoming three new Ultimate titles.  That seems kind of stupid, doesn’t it?  Usually Marvel pads a book like this with previews pages from the new titles.  Considering the diminishing returns of the Ultimate line over the last five years, you’d think they’d do more to promote it now.

Umbral #5It’s taken a while, but now I find myself really getting into Umbral, especially now that Antony Johnston has started addressing some key events in the backstory that are helping to explain everything that’s going on in the comic now.  Rascal and her crew are still on the run from the Umbral and the authorities, but they are gathering allies and getting ready to fight back.  Christopher Mitten’s art is looking great.

Uncanny Avengers #18.NOW – Rick Remender lands us in the future, where the Wasp is just about the last human living, and her, Havok, and Beast are the only resistance to the mutant-run regime.  Things look bleak, especially since Magneto has gone back to his megalomaniacal mutants-only stance, and is working with the Blob.  At the same time, it’s unlikely that every non-mutant in the Marvel Universe, and the Earth, are all gone.  I’m pleased to see Daniel Acuña back on the art; I find Steve McNiven’s stuff a little boring.

The Wake #7 – This series is moving very quickly, as Leeward is sentenced to serving as a rower on a cruise ship (you have to love Sean Murphy’s ability to visualize some crazy ideas) where she has problems with the man she sees as responsible for her parents’ death, and gets attacked by a giant merman.  Scott Snyder never slows down, and keeps giving Murphy the opportunity to shine.  Great stuff.

The Walking Dead #124All Out War continues, and things look a little grim on the Hilltop, as Negan’s plan to infect as many people as possible looks like it could be effective.  Once again, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard provide excitement.

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

All-New Ghost Rider #1

All-New X-Factor #5

All-Star Western #29

A + X #18

Indestructible Hulk #20

Legends of Red Sonja #5

Miracleman #4

Origin II #4

Rachel Rising #24

Real Heroes #1

Savage Wolverine #16

Silver Surfer #1

Suicide Squad Amanda Waller #1

Superior Spider-Man #30

Superior Spider-Man Team-Up #11

Uber Special #1

Vandroid #2

Bargain Comics:

Batwoman #27I was impressed by Marc Andreyko’s first issue of Batwoman, and was considering adding it back to my pull-file list (I dropped the book when JH Williams left the title), but I’m glad I held off.  This issue, half of which is drawn by Francis Manapul, tries to recap the entire career of Batwoman during a drug-induced vision, and really, not much else happens.  I think I read it all in less than five minutes.

Five Ghosts #7&8 – The Lost Coastlines story arc starts off well, with Fabian Gray hooking up with a thief and a pirate crew to steal a ship and head out to sea looking for a mythical island.  The story is a little too decompressed for my liking, but I really enjoy Chris Mooneyham’s art.

Guarding the Globe #1-6 – I think it was an oversight that I never bothered with this spin-off from Invincible, especially since Phil Hester is one of the most underrated superhero writers working in the industry. This series (and, presumably its successor, Invincible Universe) follows many of the superheroes that run in Invincible’s orbit, especially focussing on Brit and a couple of the other more prominent characters who don’t get a lot of screen time in the main book.  Like with Robert Kirkman’s writing, Hester has a number of plotlines going at the same time, making this feel like an old-school, pre-decompression comic.  Todd Nauck’s art is very nice as well.  Time to track down the Universe back issues I think.

The Week in Manga:

Mail Vol.1Mail is a manga series written and drawn by Hosui Yamazaki, the artist of Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, which is just about my favourite manga series.  In Mail, we follow the exploits of a private detective, Reiji Akiba, who has a gun that can shoot ghosts and trap their restless spirits in the bullet.  Each chapter in this book stands alone, and has Akiba arriving to help stop a haunting.  The book doesn’t have the light-hearted tone of Kurosagi, and is missing out the most in terms of character development.  It’s only in the very last chapter that we learn anything about Akiba, and the book has no regular supporting cast.  At the same time, Yamazaki’s stories do draw in the reader, and he creates a good deal of suspense.  I especially liked the story about the woman who discovers, while driving on a highway, that her new car is haunted.

 

So that was my comics week.  What did you read?  Let us know!

 

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