The Weekly Round-Up #255

Best Comic of the Week:

She-Hulk #9 – I was very disappointed to hear that Charles Soule and Javier Pulido’s wonderful She-Hulk series is being canceled.  This has been a smart and funny book that makes good use of Jennifer’s law degree, and gives some under-utilized Marvel characters, like Hellcat, a place to shine.  This current storyline has Jen defending Steve Rogers in a wrongful death lawsuit involving events from before he became Captain America, which is being tried by Matt Murdock.  The courtroom scenes are as good as any you’ve seen on TV, and Soule provides a workaround as to why Murdock would be trying so hard to damage the credibility of Marvel’s greatest superhero.  This is a very good story arc, and I urge people to check this gem of a series out before it’s too late.

Quick Takes:

Amazing X-Men #12 – I should have been more excited about a story arc featuring Alpha Flight and the Great Beasts, but with this one, Chris Yost and Craig Kyle just used a few too many of the standard story elements that always accompany these characters, while Carlo Barberi did his usual thing, to make everything look very cartoonish and decompressed.  This story should have been better, especially considering how much I liked these writers arcs on New X-Men and X-Force.

Avengers #37 – Lately I’ve been seeing more and more complaining about the nature of Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers, but I have to say that I’m really liking all this ‘Time Runs Out’, eight-month jump stuff.  This issue helps to explain a lot of stuff, as Steve Rogers leads a team of SHIELD Avengers to the last known location of Reed Richards and the rest of the Illuminati, although they are long gone.  We get an understanding of how the world has reacted to the knowledge of the incursions, and the existence of the Cabal.  It’s a pretty dark storyline, and I’m sure some of it will be immediately reversed through some kind of last minute time thing, but I always like darker takes on the future, and can really appreciate the level of planning and organization that has gone into this series.  I also like having Hickman write the Fantastic Four again, even if it’s only half of them, and we are in an Avengers comic.  I don’t know how pleased I was to see Mike Deodato drawing, but I guess it’s not a real Avengers story in the 2010s unless he’s drawn part of it.

Avengers & X-Men: Axis #3I don’t know if I’m just a little thick, but I don’t really understand what this series is about.  The Red Skull gets taken out this issue, with six more issues to go.  The Avengers and X-Men, who have cooperated so well lately, get into an argument over who gets to keep the Red Skull after they take him out, because Charles Xavier might still be alive in his head, but somehow, they can’t agree that putting him in Avengers Tower, which is more secure, but with X-Telepaths around to work with him, would be a good idea.  In fact, the easier solution is for Havok to break up with the Wasp or something.  Is the whole point of the ‘inversion’ to make everyone act like adolescents?  Is that why Evan is Apocalypse-sized now?  At least Leinil Francis Yu is a much better artist for a book full of characters than Adam Kubert.  I had higher hopes for this event than what I’m seeing here…

Cyclops #6 – New writer John Layman comes aboard this month, and he continues to write this title in the lighthearted vein started by Greg Rucka.  Scott and Corsair are back with the Starjammers, and Scott’s continuing to have a hard time adjusting to life in space.  When an old enemy of Corsair’s lures them into a trap, things don’t look too good.  I love Layman’s work on Chew, but am happy to see that he’s not as off-the-wall on this book as he is there.  New artist Javier Garron does a fine job, and matches the mood of the story perfectly.  I was worried this book would flounder when Rucka left, but I think that Layman might be a good choice to replace him.

The Delinquents #3 – I am loving this title, which has Archer & Armstrong teaming up with Quantum and Woody to find a mythical hobo treasure before the evil forces of the agricultural corporation Mondostano do.  Artist Kano has a ball with the layout of this issue, and James Asmus and Fred Van Lente’s writing is consistently hilarious.  I’m already hoping that there will be a Delinquents 2 after this mini-series closes down next month.

The Dream Merchant #5This book has lost all momentum with me for being so late, but I honour my preorders, not wanting to give my favourite retailers grief, so I still bought and read this.  I think that Nathan Edmondon’s story might work in trade, but I’ve stopped caring completely.  (This book was supposed to come out last September).

Elephantmen #60 – I’ve been a supporter of Elephantmen since it began (which caused me to go back and get caught up on Hip Flask), but I’m getting increasingly disappointed in the slow pace with which Richard Starkings is working through his story.  This issue was much better than the last’s bizarre tribute to artist HR Giger, but I’m getting a little tired of how little happens of consequence in each issue.  I’d like to see Starkings get through this whole story about Sahara, Obadiah, and their baby.  It’s dragged on way too long.

Lazarus #12 – All of the families that control the Earth in Greg Rucka’s future have gathered for a conclave, which means that we get our first good look at how some of these groups interact with each other.  Most interesting, since we see this world through her perspective, is watching Forever interact with the other Lazari.  When given time off to enjoy herself, she heads straight for the gym, where she ends up sparring with her opposites from other families, at least one of whom is a rival.  From the beginning of this series, I’ve enjoyed the depth of thought that Rucka has put into building this world, and it’s very cool to see that planning begin to play out in this kind of setting.  I’m also finding that Lazarus, in addition to great writing and great art (by Michael Lark), has one of the most interesting and thought-provoking letters pages in comics today.

Letter 44 #11I’m not sure how long Charles Soule is going to keep this series running, but I’m not sure he can pack more big moments into a comic than he has in this one.  The President of the United States is facing a huge political fight at home (led by an old friend), while on the Clarke, the astronauts are facing a number of problems, from a failing ship to a dying infant to a potentially compromised crewmember to increased activity by the aliens.  This is a truly amazing science fiction series in which Soule continues to find ways to surprise.  Oh, and the President repeals Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  I love this book for its blending of topicality and fantasy.

Multiversity: The Just #1 – Grant Morrison is clearly having a lot of fun with his Multiversity one-shots, as he uses this one to poke fun at the current interest in superhero comics among the hipster community.  This issues is set on Earth-16, where the children of the traditional DC heroes have taken on their parents’ mantles, albeit in a world that no longer needs superheroes, because the robots left behind by Superman before his death keep everything and everyone safe.  That’s left a lot of powered individuals with nothing to do with themselves, except throw big hedonistic parties and ‘train’ by reliving their former adventures.  Damian Wayne is Batman, and he’s dating the daughter of Lex Luthor.  Superman is Chris Kent, and he is not happy about Damian’s choice of girlfriend.  When Megamorpho, the daughter of Metamorpho commits suicide, many of the world’s heroes try to figure out why, and it appears that the culprit is the ‘haunted comic’ that has been showing up in all of the Multiversity one-shots so far.  We get little in the way of forward movement on larger Multiversity plot, but it is a thrill to see versions of a ton of characters that got wiped out in the New 52 reboot.  My problem with this issue lies with the art.  Ben Oliver is a terrible choice for a personality-driven issue, as his characters all look pretty generic.  He also doesn’t bother with backgrounds, so most of this comic is a string of pictures of static individuals who.  I don’t know why DC would choose an artist like him (who I think of as an Ariel Olivetti knock-off, and I do not like Olivetti) for such a high profile book.  I couldn’t help but think about how amazing this comic would have been had it been drawn by Kevin Maguire.  At least the next Multiversity is by Frank Quitely…

Pop #3Curt Pires and Jason Copland’s adventure series which pokes fun at the music industry is a decent read, but it’s falling into pretty typical genre pacing.  I do like Copland’s art though.

Revival #24 – Dana’s back from New York, and the story is starting to spread itself out again, as we check in on a number of different characters, and figure out what Holt’s tunnel is being used for.  Tim Seeley is making it more and more clear that there is something wrong with the revivers, as they continue to exhibit ever more bizarre behaviour.  This series is always enjoyable, but for me, the high point of this issue was a scene in Martha’s dormroom, where we got to see her Doomtree posters again.  It’s the coolest thing that Mike Norton does with this title, and it adds a sense of authenticity to it.

Secret Avengers #9 – It’s beginning to feel like Ales Kot is pulling all his various plotlines together, in what has to be one of the stranger (and most literary) Avengers book ever published.  I like this series, but wish that more happened in each issue.

Sheltered #12 – This story finally reaches its next logical level, as the outside world finds out what’s been going on at Safe Haven.  The local police have found bodies at the farm house, just as the two girls who have escaped the survivalist camp overrun by the community’s vicious children arrive to talk about what’s been going on.  Of course, the kids are not about to give up their homes, and it looks like the next issue might be the bloodiest one yet.  Ed Brisson has put together a terrific and unique story in this series, and artist Johnnie Christmas is doing some great work here.

Starlight #6You have to hand it to Mark Millar, the guy knows how to write a satisfying (if Hollywoodishly predictable) ending for his mini-series.  Duke McQueen leads the people of a distant planet in a fight against the powerful aliens who have conquered their world.  It ends just as you would expect, with some emotional catharsis wrapping up the last few pages as well.  Millar’s done a good job with this Flash Gordon homage series, and I was especially pleased with Goran Parlov’s beautiful art, which felt like a tribute to the great Moebius in many places.  In all, this was a very successful series.

Stray Bullets Killers #8 – Eli and Virginia are having problems after the events of the last issue, and so have taken a break from one another.  This means that no one is around to protect Eli from his manipulative cousin, who wants him to take his girlfriend to get an abortion.  As usual, Eli wants to fix everything, and ends up making it all much worse when he takes the girlfriend to the Finger’s beach house, which is being watched by a rival criminal organization.  David Lapham always makes this series extra suspenseful, because we as readers are never too sure about what might happen.  Lapham can be pretty vicious towards his characters, and this issue is no different that way.  Apparently this is the end of the Killers story arc, although it leaves a lot of things in the air.  I look forward to Stray Bullets returning in January with the next arc.

Stumptown #2 – Greg Rucka is off and running with this issue, which has Dex beginning to investigate the beating of her friend after a soccer game.  Apparently soccer is a really big deal in the Northwest, and there is suspicion that this beating is a soccer hooligan thing involving rival Seattle fans, although Dex is not so sure.  She’s joined by a fellow investigator from Seattle, and that creates some nice tension in the issue.  Justin Greenwood would not have been my first choice to draw this newest arc, but he’s getting a good handle on these characters.  I still miss Matthew Southworth’s portrayal of Portland though; this newest volume doesn’t have the same visual sense of place that I get from Rucka’s script.

The Walking Dead #133Since jumping forward in time at the end of the All Out War arc, Robert Kirkman has given us a pretty idyllic view of the post-zombie apocalypse, as people have been cooperating, building things, and enjoying the sunset.  Now, though, he’s brought a new threat into the mix, and it is pretty scary.  I don’t want to give much away, but the potential consequences of this new threat are pretty big.  I like the way this issue blends action with more of the good life, and I’m wondering if the new arrivals in Alexandria, who Andrea spends time chatting with, are in some way connected with the new story element.  As always, this book remains an excellent read.

The Wicked + The Divine #5 – The Pantheon gathers to decide what to do with Lucifer, who has escaped prison and gone on a bit of a rampage.  There were two surprise moments in this issue that have me looking forward to the next arc, which starts in two months.  What didn’t surprise me is that Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are at the top of their game…

Zero #11 – Lately issues of Zero have been a little too quick, but they are still great comics.  In this one, Edward Zero has settled down in Iceland, snowed in by the ash of an erupting volcano.  The problem is, his is not the kind of past you can escape from, and some people come looking for him.  The story is pretty simple, but with this script, Ales Kot gives artist Ricardo Lopez Ortiz space to shine, drawing everything from love scenes to action.  Ortiz reminds me of Toby Cypress, if he wore his manga influences a little more on his sleeve.  I’m enjoying Zero, but am getting a little tired of the slow pace of the series.  Earlier issues felt a little more substantial.

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

All-New Invaders #11

All-New X-Factor #15

Amazing Spider-Man #8

Aquaman #35

Axis Hobgoblin #1

Batman Eternal #29

Bodies #4

Deadpool #36

Death of Wolverine Logan Legacy #2

Five Ghosts #13

Memetic #1

New Warriors #11

Secret Origins #6

Star-Spangled War Stories #3

Unwritten Vol. 2 Apocalypse #10

X-Force #11

Bargain Comics:

Captain Marvel #1-6Reading the first six issues of the new Captain Marvel series, a couple of things stand out.  First, write Kelly Sue DeConnick has gotten a lot better at pacing out a story so that each issue can have an exciting moment or two while still furthering the overall plot.  Secondly, it’s amazing what the right artist can do for a title.  The first CM series by DeConnick was mostly drawn by Dexter Soy, an artist whose work I like, but whose darker art didn’t fit the light-hearted style of DeConnick’s scripts.  David Lopez is just about perfect for this book, with his airier, more expansive figures, and great facial expressions.  This title is working much better than it was before.  The story has Carol following up on some refugees from the Builder War in the Infinity event – J’Son, the leader of the Spartax, is trying to run some refugees off a planet that his people gave them, and Carol comes to their defense, even though they don’t all want her help.  A supporting cast coalesces quite naturally, and DeConnick’s sense of humour fits better than it did before.

Spider-Man 2099 #3-5 – I find I’m really enjoying Peter David’s new series featuring the Spider-Man of the future in today’s world.  To begin with, Miguel doesn’t suffer from the endless emotional turmoil that wears me out when reading regular Spider-Man comics, and it’s always nice to see David just do his thing.  The first two issues here tell a story involving Spider-Slayer armor, the Scorpion, and a corrupt Middle Eastern regime trying to hold on to power.  It’s good.  The fifth issue is a tie-in with Edge of the Spider-Verse, and it shows Morlun going around killing other Miguel/Spideys on alternate Earths.  Rick Leonardi draws this issue, which I’m sure is a particular thrill to readers of the first 2099 series.  I just liked it because I’ve long been a Leonardi fan, and we don’t see his work enough.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

The Tooth

Written by Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee
Art by Matt Kindt

The Tooth, the beautifully designed hardcover published by Oni Press back in 2011, is a strange love letter to the earlier days of the Marvel Universe, when Stan Lee and his friends made comics that blurred the line between superheroes and monsters.

Graham Stone has come to his recently deceased grandfather’s house to decide what to do with it, and his grandfather’s strange collection of occult artifacts.  Graham is attacked by some creeps working for a local wizard, and soon enough, his life is unrecognizable, as he becomes the host of The Tooth, a man-shaped creature that grows from a large tooth now wedged into Graham’s mouth.

The Tooth is an Incredible Hulk-like creature, with an origin story that harkens back to Ancient Greece.  He has to protect Graham and his fiancée, and find a way to help them stop the wizard dude.  Oh, there’s also a big dragon in here, as well as another monster fight that happens in a dentist’s office.

Writers Cullen Bunn and Shawn Lee have a lot of fun with the old school Marvel stylings of this story, from the bombastic narration, the editor’s notes, and the fake letters pages and ‘bullpen bulletin’ style announcements that pepper the story.  Leaving the homage aside, this is a decent enough story that is fun to read.

Matt Kindt is one of my favourite artists for the singularity of his style.  It works well here, although someone less effectively than it does on his own titles like Mind MGMT or 3 Story.  He has a way of making the most outlandish ideas (and really, what’s wilder than a yellowish seven-foot tall tooth fighting monsters?) work on the comics page.

This was a good read on a quiet weekend, and I’m sure this book was a lot of fun to make.



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