The Weekly Round-Up #311 With Star Wars: Vader Down #1, Huck #1, Wrath Of The Eternal Warrior #1, Bloodshot Reborn #8, Secret Six #8, Invincible #125 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Star Wars: Vader Down #1Compared to the regular Star Wars title, this issue which begins Marvel’s first Star Wars event, is exactly what I’ve been looking for.  Vader’s learned Luke’s location, and flies off to capture him, not expecting to immediately run into three squadrons of X-Wings when he comes out of hyperspace.  Mike Deodato does a fine job of delivering an exciting dogfight sequence, and now we get to enjoy a story about the Alliance trying to take the downed Vader out of the picture.  This is a very satisfying comic.

Quick Takes:

Astonishing Ant-Man #2 – I appreciate the Nick Spencer is finally reconciling his take on Ant-Man with his previous recent appearances.  This issue has him meeting Darla Deerling, who was his girlfriend in FF, unexpectedly, although maybe not quite as unexpectedly as he thinks.  I think it’s interesting that Spencer is having Scott narrate this story from some future date, when he’s in jail, yet still hasn’t told us how that comes to past.  This is a fun comic.

Bloodshot Reborn #8 – Bloodshot and Magic are getting close to the culmination of the story that started this series, as Ray figures out who has the rest of his nanites, and we learn where Bloodsquirt got to.  I’ve enjoyed Jeff Lemire’s work on this title (especially in comparison to Extraordinary X-Men, below), and am looking forward to seeing how he wraps this up.

BPRD Hell on Earth #137We keep moving towards a big conclusion, as Liz and Johan join McWhirter on his submarine, leading another invasion of Manhattan.  This book has been looking great lately (thanks to Laurence Campbell), and is really starting to feel momentous.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #3 – I never thought we’d see the return of Capwolf, a very unfortunate idea from the 90s, yet here we are.  Sam has been captured by the evil scientist who created Armadillo, and that leads to him being turned into Capwolf, which gives Misty Knight plenty of opportunities to come with the jokes.  It’s a solid, yet very old school, issue.  I’m liking what Nick Spencer is doing with this book.

Extraordinary X-Men #2 – I’d hoped that the second issue of this series would make me happier than the first did, but I’m not liking where Marvel has taken their X-books in the ANAD landscape.  We learn that one prominent character is dead, and we learn where X-Haven has been established (seems like a very poor choice).  We see that Cerebra now has a personality and is housed in a Sentinel which can teleport.  We see the return of a tired X-Villain, and see that Old Man Logan is grumpy.  Worst of all is the scene where Jean rescues a mutant from a beating, only to have the mutant turn out to be an Inhuman who also doesn’t like mutants.  I still believe that Jeff Lemire is being massively constrained by editorial directives, because this is not the same Lemire who is writing Bloodshot Reborn (completely ignoring his incredible creator-owned comics).  I’m going to stop preordering this title.  I already miss reading an X-Men comic, but I just can’t be bothered with this.  I’ll get all the issues I’ve ordered, but if this doesn’t improve dramatically before they run out, I’m done.

Huck #1The newest Millarworld comic features art by Rafael Albuquerque, which is always a good way to get me to buy something.  Huck is the only superpowered person in the world (so far as we know so far), and instead of fighting crime or saving the world, he sticks to the small town he grew up in, and tries to do a good deed every day.  When he decides he has to act, after Boko Haram kidnaps a large group of girls in Africa, his presence is exposed to the world.  This is an interesting take on Superman, and I’m always curious about Mark Millar trying something new in comics.  This looks to be a good series.

Invincible #125 – Trapped in his past body, Mark confronts his father on his secret plan to take over the world for the Viltrumites, and while it doesn’t go well, it goes a lot better than it did the first time around.  Robert Kirkman is wrecking havoc with his own timeline, but seeing as this is a comic he owns outright, he can do that.  I feel like this arc is breathing some new life into this series, and I’m curious to find out how lasting the changes Mark is making are going to be for his own reality.

The Mighty Thor #1 – I’m pleased to see this book return to the schedule, especially since, now that we all know who the new Thor really is, she can actually be the central character of her own title.  Russell Dauterman’s art is gorgeous, and the story is fine, although it’s once again a little too focused on Asgardian politics for my liking.  Odin is running the place like a despot, although he’s been out of the public eye, while Malekith is once again making his move, and consolidating his relationship with Roxxon.  This aspect of the story is boring; it is not an interesting enough plot point to hinge two series on (this and its precursor, Thor).  It’s interesting that Thor Odinson hasn’t been seen since the Secret Wars.  I’m not a huge Thor fan, but I’m intending to stick with this book for as long as Dauterman does.

Ms. Marvel #1I don’t really think this title needed a reboot, but G. Willow Wilson, Takeshi Miyazawa, and Adrian Alphona really come correct with this issue.  It’s been months since the world almost ended (which, we now know, everyone remembers), and Kamala’s been very busy becoming an Avenger, and because of that, there are a lot of things she hasn’t paid attention to, such as Bruno getting a girlfriend, and gentrification encroaching on her town.  I like this comic the most when it focuses on Kamala’s life (and I especially like the way Wilson is moving the focus away from Kamala’s differences and towards what makes her relatable), and while the adversaries she faces are often lame, the thought of her fighting against a nefarious form of gentrification makes me laugh.  This continues to be one of Marvel’s best books; I’m pleased to see that misguided line-wide interruptions can’t wreck that.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #4 – Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie take us on a little side trip this issue, as we look in on a couple of characters, DJs who hate each other yet are always drawn together, last seen in The Singles Club.  This is a nice solid issue, although I think I’m a little disappointed with this miniseries; I’m just not sure why yet.

Secret Six #8 – I don’t remember the last time I found myself vacillating more about a title than I have over Secret Six.  It started off horribly, got a lot better, and is now starting to fall apart again.  The magic users of the DCU are trying to stop Black Alice from creating great catastrophe, but they send villains to stop her, so her friends fight against them, and then hook up with some supposed Atlantean magicians to try to help Alice, although they are being manipulated.  The story is convoluted, and there are a number of things that don’t make sense (not the least of which is the idea of sending the team under the ocean.  When I compare this to the last iteration of Secret Six that Gail Simone wrote, which was a wonderful comic, I just don’t know why I’m continuing to buy this.

Spider-Woman #1I wish I understood what Alpha Flight is in the ANAD Marvel Universe.  We saw this group in the Point One book, and saw them referenced in Ultimates last week, and now it shows up again here.  Alpha Flight seems to have turned into SWORD now, and that’s a shame, because every time I see those two words together to get pretty excited (as a Canadian, I love the real Alpha Flight).  This is a fun issue, as Jessica, very pregnant, has to give up her superheroing career to go on maternity leave.  In a lot of ways, this is a non-issue, just setting up a very different kind of superhero comic, without telling much of a story on its own.  As the last iteration of this title was winding down, I found myself getting a little bored.  I’m not sure if Jessica’s motherhood is going to be enough to get me to stick around, no matter how much I like Javier Rodriguez’s art.

Star Wars #12 – This arc wraps up with the usual main characters reuniting in helping Luke escape from the Empire on a smuggler’s moon.  This is a good action issue, which also goes a long way towards resolving the whole Han Solo’s wife thing.  I didn’t love this arc, and am hoping that, after the Vader Down event, Jason Aaron keeps his plotting more focused on the main characters and their collective struggle.

Tokyo Ghost #3 – Rick Remender and Sean Murphy take our protagonists to Japan, where a constant EMP is rendering technology useless, and where people live by a new form of Bushido.  Danny is beginning to recover from his years of technological addiction steroid use, although, of course, things are not all they seem.  Murphy is doing some pretty incredible design work in this book.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #1This is the second time that Valiant has killed off or depowered a character at the end of one of their events, only to bring the character back immediately in a new series.  It seems that when Gilad dies, which has happened before, he goes to paradise, where his children and a woman who loves him waits, although he always chooses a different path, through hell, to return to the Earth.  It’s an interesting concept (although I’m not sure how I feel about the Valiant Universe adopting a basically Judeo-Christian concept like this, especially seeing as the character predates that stuff).  Artist Raúl Allén’s art is fantastic, and I’m not going to be going anywhere so long as he’s on the book.

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

Batman and Robin Eternal #7

Boy-1 #4

Cognetic #2

Dark Horse Presents #16

Deadpool #2

Doctor Fate #6

Junction True HC

New Avengers #3

Rachel Rising #37

Tet #3

Uncanny Avengers Annual #1

Uncanny Inhumans #2

Bargain Comics:

Convergence: The Question #1&2Man, do I miss the days when buying DC comics meant you got work by writers like Greg Rucka and artists like Cully Hamner, featuring characters like Renee Montoya or Huntress or Two-Face, who had long, established histories and who showed growth over time (even if that time is only two issues).  Even with the stupid structure of Convergence weighing on this book, this stuff is decent.  Is it bad that it evokes nostalgia for the good old days of like 2010?

New Avengers #1 – I actually really like the concept behind this new version of the New Avengers – that Sunspot has taken over AIM, and has assembled an Avengers Idea Mechanics team, utilising characters from the Young Avengers, the last version of Mighty Avengers, and a few others.  I would absolutely be buying this on a regular basis were it not for Gerardo Sandoval’s 90s throwback artwork.  That’s what kept me away from Guardians 3000 too.  It’s too bad, because Al Ewing is probably going to do some cool things with this comic (although, I also wish Squirrel Girl wasn’t around).

Twelve Reasons to Die #1-4 – When I picked these comics out of a $0.50 bin, I thought this series was four issues long, not six.  I doubt I’ll be tracking down the rest of this though, as it didn’t really keep my interest very well.  This book has something to do with Ghostface Killah, and stars Anthony Starks as the enforcer for an Italian mob family in Italy.  Starks wants to be ‘made’ and when that isn’t going to happen, he begins to take over crime for himself.  The backup story, about a guy trying to collect every pressing of a cursed record, is more interesting, but very inconsistent.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

CalibanI was intrigued by this Avatar comic by Garth Ennis and Facundo Percio, because I like science fiction and thought that it would be a chance for Ennis to turn his usual skills towards an Alien-like story.  Really, though, this was a big letdown.  A vessel gets intertwined with a derelict alien ship in warp (wasn’t this an episode of Farscape?), and that makes the crew vulnerable to an electrical impulse-based predator.  The problem is that we are most of the way through the book before we get a complete explanation, and most of the character development doesn’t begin until well past the halfway mark, and even then, it’s pretty cursory.  I found it very hard to care about what was going on in this comic, and some of the sequences really didn’t make sense.  Was Ennis just fulfilling some kind of contractual obligation with this?  It feels like the last album a rapper submits when they are finishing off a four-record deal with a label they don’t enjoy working for anymore.

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