The Weekly Round-Up #288 With Starve #1, Injection #2, Rebels #3, Nameless #4, Unity #19 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Starve #1Brian Wood does dark near-futures well, as does Danijel Zezelj, and this new Image title feels like it is really playing to both of their strengths.  Gavin Cruikshank is a celebrity chef who lost everything in an economic meltdown.  He moved to somewhere in Southeast Asia (it looks like Madripoor) to live a bohemian life of street food and kickboxing matches, where he subsisted for years.  Now, his former network wants to capitalize on the success of his TV show, which he is still contractually obligated to complete, and they are dragging him back to New York.  He discovers a city that has changed a lot – the divide between the rich and poor is gaping – and begins the fight to reclaim his career, money, and daughter.  This is a dark book, but that’s what Zezelj does best, and like much of Wood’s work (DMZ, Mara, Demo) extrapolates nicely from where we are today.

Quick Takes:

Black Science #15 – Rick Remender continues to constantly switch up what is happening in this title, making it the least predictable comic on the stands.  Grant is busy trying to cure an alternate world of a plague that his alternate unleashed, while his friends work to fix the Pillar so they can finally go home.  The Shaman, who was effectively kidnapped by the group near the beginning of the series, and who finally began to speak up for his own opinions last issue, decides that they all need to be stopped before they cause any more damage to the multiverse.  This is another intense issue punctuated by an excellent chase scene.  Unlike with his Marvel work, here Remender really knows how to pace a comic, and there is just no stopping Matteo Scalera on this book.

Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #9I think, post Secret Wars, Marvel could do a lot worse than to put Al Ewing on a major title.  His work on this book, and its predecessor, has been very good, especially considering the sheer number of editorially-mandated crossovers and nonsense that kept the book from ever reaching its potential.  This last issue is, in many ways, the first that actually played with the book’s mandate to show the Luke Cage’s team is made up of regular people helping other people.  It’s the last few hours of existence, as the Earth is about to collide with another Earth, and we check in on all of our main characters, and on the supporting cast.  Ewing uses the last few pages very effectively, getting right to the core of what makes the superhero concept work.

Chrononauts #4 – Just how Hollywood has Mark Millar become?  His madcap time travel story is a lot of fun, and Sean Murphy’s art in it is incredible, but the whole time I read this comic, all I could envision was the eventual buddy sci-fi comedy movie it will become.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m not used to happy endings being quite so happy in comics.

Copperhead #8 – I’ve been impressed with Copperhead, the science fiction Western series that has finally made me stop missing Firefly, from its beginning, but I think this might be my favourite issue yet.  Boo, the Sheriff’s deputy, has been captured by a gang of outlaws with an axe to grind with the Sheriff, and spends the issue escaping from them, getting recaptured, and generally messing with their heads.  It’s a fun issue that provides some more insight into this frequently grumpy character, and it looks great.

Crossed Plus One Hundred #5Alan Moore’s work on the future of Avatar’s tentpole book has been very interesting, as he’s used it as an opportunity to explore language, religion, and society one hundred years after a cataclysm.  He packed a lot of information into the first four issues, laying the groundwork for a dozen possible storylines, but also deftly dropping clues that something was going on with the ‘infecteds’, suggesting that they were developing religion.  In this issue, everything is laid wide open, as we learn who the person in the framed photos are, and see what a carefully selected and controlled ‘Crossed’ culture would look like.  This issue is pretty creepy, as I was expecting something bad to happen with almost every page, until I realized the scale of what was happening.  Moore only has one more issue on this title, and I’m looking forward to seeing how he wraps up his run before handing the reins over to Simon Spurrier.

Descender #4 – Tim-21 and his robot companions are being taken to the UGC central planet, when they are again attacked by scrappers, who seem to know to look for them.  This issue does nothing to advance the mystery of how Tim can be connected to the giant robots who decimated the solar system, but it gives us a lot of insight into Telsa, the UGC commander, and gives us lots of cool visuals by Dustin Nguyen.  I wasn’t sure when this comic started if it was going to be a mini-series or an ongoing (ever notice how rarely Image shares information like that?), but it really feels like Jeff Lemire and Nguyen are settling in for the long haul on this book, and I’m perfectly okay with that.

Gotham Academy #7 – It’s strange that this series received a lot of promotion around the fact that Damian Wayne would be joining the cast, yet by the end of the issue, it looks like he won’t be staying at the school.  Strangely, it also seems like he no longer has the powers he acquired while returning from the dead.  This is an okay issue, focusing on Maps and a possibly magic quill pen, but it felt silly and too all-ages, even compared to the first story arc.  I’m thinking that this book is being increasingly targeted towards a younger audience, and while there’s nothing wrong with that, it doesn’t really interest me.

Injection #2Two issues in, and things are starting to take the shape of a story in this new series by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey.  The book looks very good, and all the individual character-driven pages read great, but I’m not clear as to what this series is fully about yet.  This has a definite Planetary vibe to it, but if all the people in that book were a little older, and not at all interested in doing what they do.

Nameless #4 – This series becomes committed to being a Grant Morrison comic with this issue, as all sorts of weird things happen, and as a reader, I’m left unsure of what is ‘real’ and what is not.  Chris Burnham is the right artist for this book, which is about an ancient asteroid that had been home to aliens, or angels, or alien angels, approaching the Earth.  The last page looks like a tribute to Crossed.

Rebels #3 – I find it interesting that so far, Rebels, Brian Wood’s American Revolution series, is more interested in the relationship between Seth, our main character, and his wife, than in showing the actual revolution.  Seth returns home from a mission he ran for Ethan Allen, and tells Allen and his wife about it, before heading out on his next assignment.  I like this approach, as it humanizes the characters, and makes this book feel different from any other war comic I’ve read.  At the same time, it makes for a bit of a slow start to things, although I imagine it’s going to pick up soon.  This issue is the first of a six-part arc, and Wood really is taking his time developing Seth’s character (we see more of his childhood through flashbacks).  This is definitely a book that’s caught my interest.

Saga #29 This arc is really racking up a body count, as a couple more characters leave the world.  The Last Rebellion is looking to sell Hazel to Wreath, while Marko flees the Robot Empire, and Sophie tries to collect some dragon sperm.  Saga never bores me, and this arc has felt like a pretty big one.

Unity #19 – So imagine that Vandal Savage spend millennia as a snarky teenage or twenty-something girl, and that’s who you get with the War-Monger, a foul mouth talkative new threat to the Unity team.  Most of this issue is spent showing her past, and how she’s dealt with groups of heroes who have wanted to stop her before, and then we see her in a brief fight with Ninjak.  It’s a first that a threat comes to the team, instead of their being assigned one.  There are a variety of artists on this book, but Matt Kindt’s script pulls everything together nicely.  I just hope that this arc isn’t going to feature each character fighting War-Monger on their own, as the last arc was a string of solo tales.  Lately Unity is lacking unity…

The Walking Dead #142 – Ever since Robert Kirkman moved the story up a year or so, we’ve been hearing about an upcoming fair.  That day is finally here, as Alexandria welcomes people from all the other communities to come and have a good time.  Rick doesn’t get to partake for long though, as Maggie comes to tell him that Carl has run off to look for the daughter of the leader of the Whisperers.  I always love a solid issue of The Walking Dead, and I like how a few previously minor characters are getting more and more screentime.

Weirdworld #1It feels strange to be buying so few Marvel comics right now, like I’m back in the mid-90s or something.  This series (I presume it’s a mini-series), which is a part of Secret Wars, is drawn by Mike Del Mundo, written by Jason Aaron, and features Arkon.  These are all things that interest me, in that order, so I thought I’d take a chance on it.  Del Mundo’s art is as good as it was on the Elektra series, but here the zaniness of the story fits it better.  Arkon is trapped on a very strange place, called Weirdworld, and has been wandering it, looking for a way home, and mapping it, for many months.  There are ogres, dragons, and underwater monkeys, as well as a tiresome old Marvel villain with ties to the Arthurian court.  I enjoyed this book, mostly for the art, and could see myself perhaps picking up the next issue.

X-O Manowar: Valiant 25th Anniversary Special #1 – I’m very glad that Valiant doesn’t ever double-ship their books, but they do put out a lot of random one-shots, often with no apparent reason.  That’s what this ‘anniversary special’ is all about, but it is also a pretty interesting comic, as it gives the origin of Shanhara, the armor that Aric wears, and shows how that armor became the centrepiece of Vine culture for millennia.  There are some problems with this concept, because I can’t believe that Vine culture lasted in such a monotheistic way for such an extended period of time (granted, we only have our own history to compare that to, and we are a world of a plethora of religions and faiths; maybe another world could do it differently), and I wonder why Shanhara’s personality would not be more of a presence in the armor, given the way her existence was explained.  Anyway, Cafu’s art is nice, although I could have done without the recap of the first issue of the series.

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

1602 Witch Hunter Angela #1

FBP Federal Bureau of Physics #21

Harrow County #2

Inhumans Attilan Rising #2

Rachel Rising #34

Secret Wars 2099 #2

Silk #5

Silver Surfer #12

Starfire #1

Strange Sports Stories #4

Ultimate End #2

Bargain Comics:

Daredevil #15.1 – I’d expected this issue to read more like Matt Murdock’s book, but instead, it’s a pair of stories set in DD’s past (written by Mark Waid and Chris Samnee, and drawn by Samnee and Peter Krause) which don’t reveal anything new or too spectacular about the character, with a framing sequence which is oddly set before #15 (which makes me think this should be #14.1).  I mean, if you like Waid DD, you’ll like this comic, but it does not have any reason to exist.