The Weekly Round-Up #303 With Grayson #12, Book Of Death #3, Ivar Timewalker #9, Thief of Thieves #31, Weirdworld #4 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Grayson #12I’m being much more conscious of the price of DC books, seeing as they lack a digital code, and have resisted buying some books I’d be interested in were the price point lower.  I don’t think, however, that I’ll be able to give up Grayson, which is just such a good series.  In this issue, Dick returns to Gotham, but is quickly brought back into the Spyral fold by Agent Zero.  He’s given time to say goodbye to his Bat-Family though, and were are given a poignant set of scenes as he tries to explain his faked death to the people he’s closest to in the world.  Of course, this being Grayson, there’s something else going on as well, and that is why I like this book so much.  Tom King and Tim Seeley are doing some great work on this title.

Quick Takes:

Batgirl #44 – As much as I enjoy regular artist Babs Tarr’s work on this title, I find I’m really loving it when Bengal takes over, even though I still believe his work would look better in a European-sized comic.  Barbara figures out the whole tiger plot, and gets some help from an unexpected new ally.  As always, it’s a fun, light issue.  I like that Luke Fox is going to be a regular member of the supporting cast, but I hope we get to see him suit up as Batwing from time to time.  There is potential there, even if it was mostly squandered in his own series.

Book of Death #3 – Where the first two issues of this series focused on the greater Valiant Universe, by this point, the book is very much Gilad’s show, as he and the Geomancer from the future try to figure out who and where Master Darque is.  This issue had a bit of an Animal Man/Swamp Thing vibe, as Darque uses corrupted animals to try to find his enemies.  Robert Gill is really impressing me with his art on this title; I believe he’s going to become a very big artist soon.

Elephantmen #66It looks like a pretty major character gets killed off in this issue of Elephantmen, which opens with some very beautiful pictures of Los Angeles from a bird’s eye view.  This book is always a good read, but increasingly, it seems to circle back over the same themes and tropes, without any forward progression.  There is yet another discussion of Mappo’s transgenic techniques, and that takes away from the urgency of the story.  I’m not close to wanting to stop reading this book, but I do wish it would get a little sharper.

Gotham By Midnight #9 – I’m sad to see that this title is one of the ones getting the chop soon, but my hope is that Ray Fawkes is being given enough time and space to bring the larger story he’s been writing to a close, especially since this issue is probably the best one of this series to date.  Jim Corrigan and Lisa Drake have been brought in for questioning by IA, and we get what starts off as a pretty standard ‘box’ episode, except for the fact that Corrigan houses the Spectre.  Juan Ferreyra, who is one of the most criminally underrated artists in the business, just slays this issue, especially over the last few pages.  This is an intelligent, interesting, and genuinely surprising comic.  I guess it’s no wonder why it’s not selling better at DC…

Invisible Republic #6 – The second arc of this title launches with a general upping of the stakes.  In the flashback section, Maia starts to work with the resistance, and learns just where her cousin stands in the organization.  In the present, Babb meets Maia for the first time, and begins to understand why it is important to her that she gets her journals back, and controls her narrative.  At the same time, a new element is added to the story, namely an exiled Baronness who has returned to Avalon and who has her own plans.  This is a very smart and well-constructed book, and the deeper I get into it, the more interesting I find it to be.  Great work by Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman.

Ivar, Timewalker #9 – After last issue’s big ending, the future of this title looked uncertain.  Of course, Fred Van Lente always has a plan in place, and that involves Neela going back to the moment when Ivar originally turned on the Boon, and grabbing him to help her put a stop to her other self’s plan to destroy everything.  This issue is enjoyable, especially given early-Ivar’s unadvanced views on things like the place of women, while he and Neela travel through a newly created Valiant multiverse.  Great stuff.

The Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #3As Secret Wars continues to get pushed back (and extended), more of Jonathan Hickman’s other projects are seeing the light of day, and is to be expected, they are superior.  This issue has Yuri Gagarin, Laika, and their companions fleeing justice on a faraway space station to deliver a genocidal escaped slave to his people’s homeworld so he can destroy it.  This is a very fun issue, as we learn a few more things about the new cast of the book, and enjoy watching Hickman and artist Nick Pitarra cut loose.

Nameless #5 – Really, I’m past the point of knowing what’s happening in this comic.  Between the lengthy delays between issues, and the reality-altering elements of Grant Morrison’s plot, I’m feeling pretty lost, not sure if this issue is a prelude to the series, or if the main character is dealing with a re-written reality, or if everything is happening inside his head.  I feel like I’m reading this now for Chris Burnham’s excellent artwork, and will reread it after the whole series has been released to get a better understanding of what the story’s actually about.

Reyn #8 – Reyn has to decide between rescuing his friend or supporting his other friends, as everyone works to absorb the new knowledge they’ve gained about their world.  This book continues to entertain, even if it is a little too decompressed for me.

Rumble #7 – As John Arcudi and James Harren continue this series, it becomes richer in backstory and in character development, making it much more interesting to me.  I felt that the first few issues had Harren pulling most of the weight with his unique art style, but now Arcudi has me interested in these characters and what’s going on.

Thief of Thieves #31Sometimes there’s nothing more satisfying than watching some bad people get away with doing some very bad things.  Conrad shows up to testify at Celia’s trial, but the proceedings are interrupted by the appearance of Redmond.  This arc ends in just about the perfect place to finish the series, but I’ve thought that before, and I’m very curious to see where this title heads next.  Andy Diggle’s solo work on this book took a little time to click after Robert Kirkman handed it over to him, but now I’m really enjoying what he’s doing with it.  Shawn Martinbrough, as always, is brilliant.

We Are Robin #4 – I’d decided to drop this title, mostly because of the $4 price, and the fact that after three issues, I didn’t really know any of the characters aside from Duke.  Then, this issue came along, and has me rethinking my decision.  To begin with, this issue is drawn by James Harvey, who I am unfamiliar with, but who is brilliant.  He uses some very unique page designs, constructing some pages out of almost collages of small panels, and his art is just great, in a very indie way.  The issue focuses on Riko, one of the Robins, who is feeling badly after the death of her colleague.  She is lured by a group of teenagers looking to photograph ‘capes’, and ends up meeting Batgirl.  This issue goes a long way towards cementing Riko’s character, and the larger purpose behind the Robins, and it does so in a lighthearted but compelling way.  If Harvey is doing future issues of this book, I might stick with it (although the big Robins cross-over coming up makes me want to give up on it now).

Weirdworld #4Weirdworld has been fun, if a little slow moving, but with one issue to go after this, I think that Jason Aaron may have not left himself enough space to adequately bring things to a close.  Arkon’s search through Weirdworld has brought him to a region of Swamp Things, ruled over by Jennifer Kale, who is looking to unseat Morgan Le Fay as the Baroness of this realm.  She’d like Arkon to help her, but he’s just looking for home.  Really, I’m buying this book for Mike Del Mundo’s brilliant art, so the generally uninteresting story doesn’t much bother me.  I am, however, not intending to keep buying the relaunched version of this book when the All-New All-Different stuff starts, because I see that Sam Humphries is going to be writing it, and I have yet to like a single thing he’s done at Marvel (I do, however, remain a big fan of his Sacrifice miniseries and his man-dog love one-shot, whose title I forget).  I also want to point out that this is the only Marvel comic I bought this week, and I remain thankful to Marvel for putting together a line-wide event that has been so easy to skip, and then completely screwing up its scheduling, saving me a lot of money.

Wolf #3 – This issue of Wolf helped make a lot of things more clear, like why Wolfe is immortal, and gave a better sense of what’s going on with the young girl, the Anti-Christ, who is staying with him.  I think I like it better when Ales Kot works on longer form stories, at least until we find out that all of this is a hallucination by Paul Bowles or something.

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

1872 #3

Astro City #27

Burning Fields #8

Hellboy in Hell #8

Inhumans Attilan Rising #5

New Deal HC

Wilds End: Enemy Within #1

X-Tinction Agenda #4

Bargain Comics:

‘68: Jungle Jim #1-4This third ‘68 mini works better than the previous one, because it is focused on a smaller cast of characters.  The Jungle Jim character is a soldier who has outfitted himself with bamboo and burlap to prevent zombie bites, and who has gone into Laos to honour the request of the man who saved his life.  Manon is a French missionary running an orphanage who is having problems with the Viet Cong.  All their stories collide, alongside a ton of zombies, in this chaotic comic.  While his art is very inconsistent, artist Jeff Zornow shows a lot of promise, and has some pretty amazing pages in here.

‘68: Hallowed Ground One Shot – It’s interesting to me how, even when Mark Kidwell sets one of his ‘68 stories outside of Vietnam, that conflict is still central to the story.  This one-shot follows a war veteran who has holed up in a rural church with a few survivors, as zombies surround the place.  It’s a pretty straight-forward set-up and story, but Kidwell makes it interesting.  I find it curious how much smarter the ‘68 zombies are than your usual movie or Walking Dead zombie, but not always.

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