The Weekly Round-Up #315 With Invincible #126, Star Wars: Dark Vader Annual #1, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #2, From Under Mountains #3 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Invincible #126I think we all know that Robert Kirkman is a bit of a bastard to his characters, and he’s really been putting Mark through the wringer lately.  The Reboot? arc has been great – Mark’s been returned to his younger body, and having to relive his life with all the knowledge he has gained over the years, which has made him a much better hero.  This issue, we learn how and why this has happened, and he’s given the choice between continuing on this path, or returning to the life, and infant daughter, that he’s left behind.  It’s a bit of a monkey’s paw thing though, and this issue is setting up what are sure to be great stories to come.  I’m a little bummed out that the book is going on hiatus until the spring, but I would rather see Kirkman and Ryan Ottley continue to work at the top of their game, so don’t mind all that much.

Quick Takes:

The Autumnlands #8 – Kurt Busiek adds a new layer to his fantasy series as we see the first human other than Learoyd, and as he and his companion run into trouble while trying to stay ahead of their enemies.  This whole issue focuses on these two characters, which is a shame, because I like seeing the rest of this civilization, but as always, this is a solid issue.  Benjamin Dewey’s art is terrific.

Batgirl #46 It’s interesting that both this issue and this week’s issue of Ms. Marvel look at the topic of gentrification as villainy (see below).  The writers are throwing a lot of stuff into this issue – Barbara’s new research project leads to some problems, but we also get a new storyline featuring Spoiler, and learn that some old friend that we’ve never heard of before is coming to stay with Babs.  In a lot of ways, this feels like it’s setting up a more old-school arc, with stories happening that might not all be directly related to each other, and that’s a good thing.  I found my attention was starting to drift with this title, but this issue kept me more engaged.

BPRD Hell on Earth #138 – As we move closer and closer to whatever big finish is coming for this series, the emphasis on big events, like numerous characters confronting the Black Flame in person or on the mental plane, the more I miss the more character-driven stories.  This looks great, but it reminds me of when I get tired of TV shows during the last couple of episodes of a great season.

Crossed Plus One Hundred #12 – Things are not looking good for the people of Murfreesboro, as some of the refugees that have been coming into town effect a coup, and then try to launch a counter-attack on the organized group of Crossed.  This series never lets me down.

Darth Vader Annual #1Much like last week’s Star Wars Annual, this is really feeling like a straight-up cash grab.  It’s a decent enough story about Vader performing some Imperial style realpolitik on some mining planet, but it doesn’t add anything to to the character or to the larger story that Kieron Gillen is telling about him in his regular series.  The art by Leinil Francis Yu and Gerry Alanguilan is very nice, but I could have easily skipped this one.

Descender #8 – This issue focuses on Andy, the childhood companion of Tim-21, who is now a bounty hunter of sorts, hunting robots.  He’s on Tim’s trail, but that leads him into conflict with some UGC fighters, and to a bizarre visit to a ‘haunted’ world.  Jeff Lemire’s writing is very good here – he does a lot to develop Andy – but the real star of this book is Dustin Nguyen, who is becoming more and more abstract, and whose space scenes are beautiful.

Exodus: The Life After #2 – It’s time for our main characters to finally meet God, also known as the Big Potato, as their plans for change in the afterlife lead to all sorts of problems for the middle manager we’ve been seeing since the first Life After series began.  This is a deeply strange comic, and one that deserves more attention than it has gotten so far.

From Under Mountains #3This title is more impressionistic than anything else, as the storyline moves at a glacial pace and is a little obscure, but this is also a lovely, lovely book.  I’m really enjoying Sloane Leong’s work on this book, and fully intend to reread it all in one sitting some day, so that they pacing issues aren’t as apparent.  This is the type of comic I love being able to support, even if each issue leaves me wanting more.

The Goddamned #2 – This is a very dark and mean-spirited comic, but I like it a lot.  Jason Aaron and RM Guera are showing us what life was like as Noah was preparing to build his ark, and Aaron’s Noah is one horrible person.  He chops his way through locals as well as trees, feeding people to his ‘unclean’ animals.  At the same time, Cain, searching for his own death, is being built up as the closest thing to a hero this time period has.  It’s interesting to see this kind of examination of Christian mythology, and I wonder if there is going to be any sort of backlash from the rightwing nutbars who see these stories as foundational, literal truth.  I’m hoping for a well-curated letters page soon.

Huck #2 – Huck deals with his newfound celebrity by trying to help more people, as the folks in his town all collectively blame the new girl for exposing their friend.  Rafael Albuquerque’s art gives this series a gentle quality that is very different from his work on American Vampire.  I like this title, but this issue felt very slight, leaving me with not much to say about it.

Imperium #11Imperium continues to be my favourite Valiant comic, as Joshua Dysart moves a large number of characters around like pieces on a chessboard.  Harada has to go into his sleep chamber, and that gives the Vine the opportunity to attack his base of operations.  The story is split between the present day and the late 60s, as we learn more about the history of Vine/Harbinger Foundation relations.  I really like the characters Dysart has written into this book, and would struggle to have to name a favourite.

Ivar, Timewalker #12 – I’m really going to miss this title.  Fred Van Lente did a fine job of replacing his Archer & Armstrong with this frequently funny run featuring the last of the Anni-Padda brothers to get his own title at the relaunched Valiant.  This storyline, which has had Ivar and his new friend Neela jumping through time and alternate realities to stop the Null, a group trying to erase all time, has been a lot of fun.  This issue brings things full circle, and sets up a bunch of new possibilities for future storylines.  This series will read really well in one sitting.

The Mighty Thor #2 – Much as I felt about Jason Aaron’s first Thor run, there is way too much Asgard and Malekith stuff to really keep me interested here, but Russell Dauterman’s beautiful art and unique use of perspective and framing of images continues to make this title a must-buy.  The first issue of this latest relaunch was very much focused on Thor; this issue is not, preferring to spend most of its time on her various adversaries, and way too much on Loki, who after Al Ewing’s amazing series, needs a bit of a rest.  Still, I’m going to keep buying this book for as long as Dauterman is drawing it; I just wish that it was actually about its title character.

Ms. Marvel #2This relaunched series is working really well, as we see that Kamala has become a much more proactive hero, and is starting to face more established Marvel villains when she discovers who is behind the high-speed gentrification taking place in her city.  I love that this now qualifies as a villainous scheme – the displacement of a lower and middle class in favour of generating real estate wealth is true villainy.  I feel like G. Willow Wilson and Takashi Miyazawa have really hit their stride, and I love that Cliff Chiang is doing the covers now.

Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #5 – The focus of the series shifts back to David Kohl with this issue, as he tries to figure out whether or not he should use his stored up magic to try to help Emily with her problem.  The thing is, no one, including David, much thinks that Emily is worth helping.  There’s a lot of the same old same old going on with this volume of Phonogram.  I like Gillen’s writing, and love Jamie McKelvie’s art, but I’m starting to question whether or not they had a lot more to say on this topic.

Secret Six #9 – I’m still having a pretty hard time with this book.  Gail Simone keeps working in nods to the previous, pre-New 52 versions of these characters, and that does nothing more than make me realize how much better the previous Secret Six series was.  Some of our heroes are going around pulling up alabaster columns which are somehow holding Elder Gods in check, but they can also kill them or something?  This title really needs an editor and a direction.  With those things in place, this could be a very good comic.

Sex #26A major character in this series either dies or transcends humanity in a sequence that looks very cool, while all the other plots inch forward.  Joe Casey takes his time spinning out his story, but I don’t mind that at all, as I find this series endlessly interesting.

Tokyo Ghost #4 – Rick Remender and Sean Murphy remind us that we are never far from our past, as we learn that some former enemies of Teddy’s, in fact, the people who caused Teddy to become Ned in the first place, are in the Japanese paradise where our heroes are seeking refuge.  Murphy captures a beautiful, yet brutal, Crouching Tiger vibe in this issue, which is one of the stronger ones of this series so far.

The Wicked + The Divine #17 – The incredible Brandon Graham has drawn this issue of WicDiv, making it the most visually unique of the series so far.  The spotlight is on Sakhmat, the cat god character, and how she has been reacting to the stress of being a god figure/pop icon for three years.  It’s an odd issue, but of the three Kieron Gillen comics that came out this week, it’s my favourite.  Of course, I love anything Graham does, although I think this is the first time I’ve seen him drawing to someone else’s story.  

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #2Robert Venditti gives us more backstory on Gilad and the rewards he has to turn his back on every time he dies, and decides to return to the world to continue his fight.  This is a very quick issue, but it does shed some important light on the character, before he starts fighting a whole mess of demons.  Raúl Allen continues to impress with his layouts and pencils.

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

All-New Inhumans #2

All-New X-Men #2

Batman and Robin Eternal #11

Cognetic #3

Crossed Badlands #91

Dark Horse Presents #17

Deadpool #3.1

Justice League United #16

Squadron Supreme #1

Superman American Alien #2

Ultimate End #5

Uncanny Inhumans #3

We Are Robin #7

Weirdworld #1

Bargain Comics:

Inhumans: Attilan Rising #5Charles Soule does an interesting thing with the end of this miniseries that almost makes having read the whole thing worthwhile.  This was not one of the better Secret Wars tie-ins, mostly because it said nothing new about these characters at all.  

Uncanny Inhumans #1&2 – Charles Soule is getting me closer and closer to actually picking up this title on the regular.  I’ve always had a fondness for Kang the Conqueror, and Soule makes good use of him here.  I also find the inclusion of Beast and the Human Torch to be credible; I’d been afraid that they were both going to be retconned as Inhumans.  I still don’t like the amount of support Marvel is giving this title over almost everything else they’re doing (using a superstar like Steve McNiven on a book with low sales has got to hurt the bottom line), but I am getting more and more interested in what Soule is doing here.