The Weekly Round-Up #323 With Ms. Marvel #4, Star Wars: Darth Vader #16, New Suicide Squad #17, Ninjak #12 & More Deadpool Free Comics!

Best Comic of the Week:

Ms. Marvel #4This issue is a perfect one to give someone you want to get to start reading Ms. Marvel.  It starts with an excellent family scene, showing that Kamala’s brother is planning on getting married, and moves into a nice bit about how busy Kamala is between school, family, and the Avengers.  Unlike this week’s issue of ANAD Avengers, we get a really nicely balanced look at all of her different responsibilities, as she comes up with a possible solutions to all of her problems which is obviously going to lead to more problems that really shows her personality.  I missed regular artist Adrian Alphona on this issue, but enjoyed the work of Nico Leon, who matches Alphona’s style nicely.

Quick Takes:

Abe Sapien #31 – For the second month in a row, Abe is relegated to a cameo appearance, as we check in Strobl, who has found his way to the Black School.  My interest in this series is dropping rapidly, and I think I’m at the point where it’s time to cull it from the pull-file list.  In almost three years, very little has happened in this book.

All-New All-Different Avengers #5We’ve been hearing a lot from the comics press that the current comics industry is experiencing a resurgence of the 90s, in terms of sales gimmicks like variant covers, art styles (just look at an issue of New Avengers), and now, it seems, sloppy storytelling.  This issue is a mess.  Kamala Khan writes some fan fiction about her teammates, stops a monster, and then gets accused by the Vision of purposely endangering the people around her.  Captain America kicks her off the team, which upsets Nova, who also gets kicked off for questioning that decision.  We learn that the Vision is manipulating all of this.  Then, as the team goes to respond to an emergency, Cap and Iron Man talk about making out with Thor instead of the fact that they just fired a quarter of their team.  Then we learn that the bad guy in a suit is really Kang in what appears to be a throwaway moment.  None of the characterizations match up with how people are portrayed in their own books.  Miles Morales is basically interchangeable with Peter Parker.  Sam Wilson is quick-tempered.  Thor is a reckless hedonist.  This book is a mess.  I was looking forward to seeing Mark Waid write a title like this, but I’m finding it very disappointing.  I’m going to stop preordering it, which means that Waid has a couple of issues to turn things around, before I’m gone (too bad those issues are mostly going to be part of a crossover I have no intention of buying all of).

All-New Hawkeye #4This series (by which I mean this current version and the previous pre-Secret Wars one by the same creative team) is finally picking up a little.  Jeff Lemire splits the story between the current day and Kate Bishop’s unhappy childhood, much as he did with Clint in the first arc.  In the present, Clint convinces Maria Hill to let him retrieve the Inhuman children that have been central to this book since Lemire came on board.  Up until this point, I’ve mostly been reading this for Ramon Perez’s beautiful artwork, but now I’m beginning to think I can start enjoying this series for the story as well.

The Autumnlands #9 – This is a surprisingly quiet issue of Autumnlands, as Kurt Busiek has Learoyd and Dusty rest up in a village of sheep which is suffering from a mysterious water-borne illness.  I like the way Busiek is having Dusty question so much of what’s going on around him, as we get closer to realizing some of the secrets of this world.  I really love this series, and while this was a relatively slow issue, it did a lot to help build things.  I love Benjamin Dewey’s art on this comic.

Black Canary #8Although much of this issue left me thinking that I’d missed an issue, I enjoyed seeing Black Canary thrust back into the type of story that I’m used to the character being a part of (i.e., not a story about a band).  Dinah’s been captured by some people, and is locked up with Vixen, while her supposed aunt tries to manipulate her into doing something.  It’s kung fu weirdness time, and while that’s cool, the sudden shift in location and style is jarring.  I also have no idea if this is the first time that Vixen has been used in the New 52, and didn’t really understand where she came from.  My guess is that Brenden Fletcher had a longer story planned out for this arc of the series, but that the Rebirth plans, whatever they are, are forcing him to mess with the pacing and order of his story, so he can be finished at a certain time.  That’s disappointing, as this should still be a very solid read.

Black Science #20 – It’s great to see Grant back on task, as he starts to go looking for his missing family.  Instead, he finds himself revisiting a planet he’s been to before, and finding the body of one of his friends from earlier in the series.  I like the way that Rick Remender has plotted this series, and love the work that Matteo Scalera is doing on this book.  There are a lot of problems Grant needs to fix, and next issue promises to be a big one!

Darth Vader #16Vader returns to the planet that was featured in the Annual a couple of months ago, to put down some unrest, while he also has to deal with some of the fallout of the Vader Down event.  This is a solid, if unremarkable, issue.  This book really needs Dr. Aphra to give it focus and an emotional centre.

Descender #10 – At first, I thought this issue featured Ladytron, the old WildCATs character, but instead, it’s Queen Between, the leader of a group of cyborgs, and the ex-wife of a central character.  Jeff Lemire continues to expand the story in this series, and it continues to be a very interesting book.  We get our first glimpse a life on the homeworld of the robots, as Tim-21 begins to get to know his people, and Andy continues to search for him, and the UGC discovers that everyone’s favourite little robot might be a massive threat.  Dustin Nguyen’s work in this book is beautiful.

Hellbreak #10 – Our heroes are still in the fragment of Hell that is patterned after One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.  Cullen Bunn uses this issue to explore the character of Dieter, the team’s heavy munitions expert.  We see through flashback that he’s always been a pretty violent guy, and that with that violence comes a great deal of shame.  Brian Churilla’s art has been excellent in this series, but with this issue, he starts to explore a much looser style that is interesting, although at times a little harder to follow.

Injection #7This issue reminds us of the other characters in this series, which is a little bit of a shame, because I was getting a lot of enjoyment out of Vivek Headland’s spotlight.  Warren Ellis injects the concept of the Injection into Headland’s case, which seems to involve both the sex life of ghosts and a European militia that is serving human ham as an intimidation tactic.  Great stuff here…

The Last Contract #2 – There’s a lot to like about this new crime series written by the incredible Ed Brisson, but one thing that I really enjoy is that the story is set amid the less-than impressive towns that make up the east and northeast of my home city, even if there’s nothing particularly obvious about these places.  Brisson is a writer who should be getting a lot more press than he is; he’s incredible.

Letter 44 #23 – The last issue of this book had some big surprises, and now we spend this issue processing and managing all that has happened.  On Earth, President Blades (who is a lot more grey than he was last month) has to figure out how to pick the 666 people who will be allowed to survive the coming destruction of the planet, while on the Clarke, everyone needs to figure out what their next steps will be.  What continues to make this series so good is the way in which Charles Soule weaves in plenty of small character moments amid all the sweeping politics and science fiction.

Low #11We’re back in the world of Low, and this time around, the focus is on Tajo and Bella, the two sisters who have only just found each other after many traumatic years apart.  Rick Remender continues to build new things into this series, and now he leaves us questioning one sister’s loyalty to the other, and her real reasons for wanting to track down their mother.  This is a great series, always made interesting by Greg Tocchini’s unusual artistic choices.  I’m glad to see it back for a new arc.

Manhattan Projects: The Sun Beyond the Stars #4 – I didn’t really expect Jonathan Hickman to end this miniseries the way he did, but I still found this to be an enjoyable conclusion to things.  It’s been ages since the last issue came out, and that always hurts a story, but my hope is that when Manhattan Projects returns, it will be complete and come out on time.  I also hope to see some of the main characters back on Earth again soon.

The Massive: Ninth Wave #3 – Another done in one story has us joining Mary and Mag on a mission to a remote island the United States government has basically given to an oil company, despite the island being the only home to a rare species of wolf.  These stories have been great, although I miss seeing them building towards a larger storyline, like they did in the main The Massive series.  Still, this is the kind of thing Brian Wood is very good at, and I will always be there to buy it.

New Suicide Squad #17I was pretty excited to see that Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra were taking over this title, as they are both creators whose work I enjoy.  Of course, a title that I’ve historically loved but have recently had no interest in getting creators I like means that it’s time for DC to pull the carpet out from under everything and have a ‘rebirth’.  Anyone who’s read Revival knows that Tim Seeley is good at writing for the long term, but my hope is that when he started this arc, he knew that it would (assumedly) lead to the end of the series, and he planned accordingly.  The first few pages of this comic meant nothing to me, but once we got to the Squad itself, things picked up a great deal, as they are sent to protect a powerful man from assassination.  Ferreyra’s art is great, and I love the creative layouts he uses during the pivotal battle scene.  Like Ales Kot’s too short stint with the Squad, I am going to enjoy this until DC wrecks it.

Ninjak #12 – I feel like this Operation Deadside story arc is a little too padded, and doesn’t really make good use of Ninjak.  I can understand why Valiant would feel the need to try to fix the Shadowman character, as his series was the weakest of their relaunch, but am not sure they’re handling it right this time either.  It’s very rare for me to lose interest while reading a Matt Kindt comic…

No Mercy #7The cast of this book is continuing to scatter, and while for some that means visits from parents in the hospital, or trips to a gift store before heading for the US and minor celebrity stardom, for others it means being abducted by a rebel group in a forest.  I really enjoy the work that Alex De Campi and Carla Speed McNeil are doing in this comic, and am enjoying it even more now that the story is sprawling.

Old Man Logan #2 – OML goes after the Hulk in this issue, as he tries to prevent his terrible future from coming true, only to find that the Hulk in the ANAD era is not the one he knew.  Great art from Andrea Sorrentino makes this series a winner.

They’re Not Like Us #11 – When a series features characters with a proven ability to alter other’s perception of reality, it’s hard to trust what’s going on.  Syd wakes up cuffed to a hospital bed, with Kenna in the bed next to her’s.  Apparently Kenna mindwiped everyone that was at the club where our usual main characters were in conflict with another group of powered individuals, and things have gone very wrong.  The thing is, I have no idea if anything in these scenes is true, as it’s possible that Kenna is just messing with Syd some more.  Later, they are shown as being out of their beds and cuffs, and I have no idea how that happened.  This is a very good series, but the delay between this issue and the last one really hurt things in terms of how the story has been flowing.  I’m curious to see where this book goes next, as I want to know what’s going on.

Totally Awesome Hulk #3I’m still enjoying this series, but I wish that it was a little more compressed.  Not all that much happens here, as Amadeus fights Fin Fang Foom in a memorable fight, and then still has to deal with Lady Hellbender, who is looking for the strongest monster on Earth.  We also see where Amadeus entered Bruce Banner’s story in the flashback.  One thing that this series makes me wonder about is the actual status of the Avengers in the post-Secret Wars universe.  Who is She-Hulk calling when she calls in an emergency?  Some of this stuff really needs to be clarified.

The Ultimates #4 – As much as I’ve been enjoying this series, I worry that if it’s going to stay so focused on Adam Brashear, the Blue Marvel, I might lose interest.  Al Ewing has already spent a lot of time in his various Mighty Avengers series looking at the Neutral Zone, and so returning to that well too often is getting a little dull.  That said, I enjoyed getting a look at Brashear’s career, and am interested in the new version of Galactus that this series is pushing.  

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

Agents of SHIELD #2

All-New Wolverine #5

All-New X-Men #4

Batman #49

Batman and Robin Eternal #19

Deadpool #7

Death Defying Dr. Mirage: Second Lives #3

Gotham Academy #15

Guardians of the Galaxy #5

Harrow County #9

James Bond #4

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #2

New Avengers #6

Silk #4

Snow Blind #3

Bargain Comics:

Archie #1 I don’t much care for Archie comics, but I like Mark Waid and love Fiona Staples, plus this was a dollar, so worth checking out.  They do a good job of updating the characters and making them more technically-savvy, but there wasn’t enough here to interest me in reading this title long-term.  Staples’s art is great, although I would have loved to see Alana or Marko snuck into the dance scene.

Astro City Volume 2 #1-3 – I’m slowly starting to read all of the Homage issues of Astro City, either in trade or in singles.  These three issues are very good (except for the way Brad Anderson thinks school girls dress in the mid-90s), as Kurt Busiek expands his universe, and tells more stories about the characters that debuted in the first series.  I liked getting a better look at the First Family, and think that their adventures could be more interesting than the Fantastic Four, who they are based on.  These are some very solid superhero comics, and I regret not having read them twenty years ago.

Vertigo Quarterly: SFX #1 – Like most of Vertigo’s recent anthologies, very little of this is memorable or worth reading.  There is a very disturbing short featuring an earwig and a man’s head that will stick with me.  I remember when Vertigo was the home of challenging horror, dark fantasy, and actual adult themes.  Half of this stuff would fit in a children’s anthology from Boom!

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Haunt of HorrorI’m a sucker for some Richard Corben art, even though that usually means I’m stuck reading his short adaptations of work by Edgar Allen Poe.  That’s what half of this trade is (the other being adaptations of HP Lovecraft, a writer I know little about, aside from whatever is going on in Alan Moore’s Providence).  These are some very good stories, with some interesting staging decisions, such as making a Poe poem be about gangstas.  Corben is an institution, and it’s nice to see that he’s working so much these days.

Nemo: Heart of Ice – You know, I’d been getting pretty bored with the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and after Century came out, I decided that it was a sale-price only purchase for me.  The first of the Nemo graphic novels is kind of disappointing.  The new Nemo (the granddaughter of the original Captain Nemo) makes her crew go on a pointless Antarctic expedition to prove a point, and weird stuff happens.  As I read the story, I enjoyed it enough, but at the same time, I was always aware of the extent to which I didn’t really care about it.  Kevin O’Neill’s art is always enjoyable, but I’d have expected more from this book.  Disappointing.


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