The Weekly Round-Up #324 With Bitch Planet #7, Starve #6, Blood Feud #5, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #4, Star Wars #16 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Bitch Planet #7 I’m so happy to see that this book has returned to a more regular schedule, as the work that Kelly Sue DeConnick and Valentine De Landro are doing in it is pretty incredible.  This series serves two purposes – it is telling a pretty exciting and thought-provoking story about a prison for women in a future where the control of women has become the foundation of society, but it is also providing a very unique space within the comics industry for discussion of feminist ideology and action.  Both aspects of this comic make it compelling (although I admit that without the awesome story, I would not be reading the fascinating backmatter).  This issue moves the plot along nicely; Maki tries to continue in her job of putting together a viable Megaton team for an upcoming game (imagine if a team that won the Super Bowl were expected to play against a bunch of women prisoners) after losing one of her most valuable players, while that lost player’s father arrives at the prison to build the stadium, and is kept in the dark about her death.  The structure of this series is pretty complex and always interesting.  De Landro is doing some of the best work I’ve ever seen from him.  And the letters page and backmatter are awesome.  More people need to be reading this comic.

Quick Takes:

American Monster #2One of the most interesting things about this comic so far is that I am still not very clear on just which of these characters is supposed to be the titular monster (although, I’m sure that the subtext is that in America, everyone is a monster).  We get a little deeper into life in this small town this issue, as police have to deal with a dead dog, the badly burned man is treated with suspicion after his car blows up, and the girl who flashes her breasts for money gets filled in more as a character.  I’m interested in where Brian Azzarello is taking this comic, especially since I don’t know if this is a miniseries or an ongoing title, and Juan Doe’s art is great.  I haven’t read any of the other Aftershock titles yet, but this one has impressed me.

Avengers Standoff: Welcome to Pleasant Hill #1 – I don’t know why I always end up allowing Marvel to suck me into their events like this.  I am barely reading any of the titles that will be associated with this event, and I don’t understand yet if this story is going to be structured as something that needs to be followed from title to title with numbered chapters, or if each tie-in will stand on its own.  Either way, I’m only buying the Captain America and ANAD Avengers issues (and that title I’m looking to drop right afterwards).  I picked this up because I enjoy Nick Spencer’s writing a lot, including his Marvel work.  Some guy who lacks his memories ends up in Pleasant Hill, a nice little town stuck in the late 60s or early 70s.  He keeps running into trouble when he tries to leave the town, but eventually gets used to life there, until someone looking a lot like Tony Stark teaches him that things are not what they seem.  I think the last page was supposed to be a big surprise, but it didn’t do much for me.  Unfortunately Marvel used Mark Bagley as the artist for this book, so everyone looks the same (the guy that looks like Tony Stark isn’t Tony Stark but I can be forgiven for thinking that way, since Bagley can only draw a few faces).  This has not created any interest for this event in me at all.  Unfortunately, I preorder my books.  Here’s hoping that Spencer can still make this event worth reading.

Blood Feud #5This was a very fine vampire story by Cullen Bunn and Drew Moss.  We don’t really need any more vampire stories, but I liked the Southern-fried take on this one, which started as a feud between two large clans, and ended up as an exercise in heroism for a pair of local good ole boys.  

Devolution #2 – Rick Remender and Jonathan Wayshak continue their Heavy Metal-feeling post-Apocalyptic miniseries, having the main character work with a few of the rednecks that have captured her to escape.  We saw no more of the people on the moon from the first issue, whose inclusion I didn’t really understand, but the story continues to be a very good read.  I’m not a huge Simon Bisley fan, but Wayshak does a good job of working within his usual interior style.

From Under Mountains #5 – I enjoy this series a great deal, especially Sloane Leong’s beautiful artwork, but man, sometimes very little happens in an issue.  This one is like that, pretty, but over pretty quick.

Huck #4I enjoyed getting Huck’s full backstory in this issue (as, I suspect, he did as well), and really liked the ET-inspired cover.  Mark Millar is very good at slightly sappy, movie-ready projects, and this one is no different.  Rafael Albuquerque’s art on this book is so nice; I much prefer it to his American Vampires stuff, which was already very good.

Imperium #13 – It’s time to get some of the more established anti-Harada forces into play in this series, as Livewire makes a run against Harada’s financial situation, before being recruited by HARD Corps to help them figure out how Gravedog is still able to run off their network.  All this is happening while other nations are beginning to side with Harada’s plans for the world.  From the beginning, I’ve been impressed with the way Joshua Dysart has mixed current news with a realistic look at how people with exceptional powers would behave in this world.  This continues to be the best series Valiant puts out.

The Mighty Thor #4 – There has been a lot of conflict in the various realms that make up Norse mythology, but a lot of that comes to a head this issue, as the Light and Dark Elves make plans for the future, and as rioting comes to Asgard.  I’m getting a little bored of Jason Aaron’s story here – I’d much rather see this book actually focus on the new Thor – but Russell Dauterman’s art is a treasure, so I’m sticking with this title.

Power Man and Iron Fist #1For a few years now, I’ve wondered if I should be back issue hunting the original PM&IF series, at least the Christopher Priest run, because I don’t have a lot of experience with the concept, but like the general idea of pairing a blaxploitation character with a kung fu craze derived character and letting them just hang out together.  I’m sure it’s gold.  This latest take on the duo, featuring writing by David Walker (who is new to me) and Sanford Greene (who is not) has a fun start, although I’m not sure I want to keep reading about how the pair are ‘family’ for long.  They reunite to help out an old friend (I’m vaguely aware of the backstory here, but think a little more exposition could have helped) who is perhaps not being completely honest with them.  Greene’s art is very nice and the writing is strong, but I’m not sure I see the potential past an arc or two.  Granted, Marvel’s only interested in keeping a series running long enough for two or three trades, so I guess that doesn’t matter to them.

Secret Six #11 – There just always seems to be something wrong with this series.  The pacing feels very off in this issue, which has Batgirl attack Catman in a park before confiding in him to get his help in protecting Strix.  When they fight, there were sound effects that said things like “Selfie” which makes no sense.  Back at home, Strix gets a makeover, while Ralph (who is for some reason still not going by the name Ralph) gets a phone call.  The launch of this book was completely bungled from the beginning, and I don’t think I’m even going to wait until the Rebirth stuff happens to jump off.

Sex Criminals #14This series really can’t go wrong.  In this issue, the usual high level of honesty about sex turns into a very high level of honesty about Matt Fraction’s writing, as he and artist Chip Zdarsky chat their way around what is probably a pivotal, if ultimately uninteresting, scene of conflict between Suzie and Ana.  This time around, the most interesting stuff is happening with the secondary characters, although they are given very little space.  This kind of thing could get old, but Fraction and Zdarsky manage to keep it fresh and amusing the whole way through.

Spider-Woman #4 – Jessica gives birth and fights Skrulls in this issue, which still gives us no clues as to who the baby’s father is.  Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez have been doing fine work on this book since the relaunch, and that continues here.  It’s a pretty quick read though, which is kind of annoying.

Squadron Supreme #4 – After a very strong start to this series, I find my interest starting to fizzle.  To begin with, the entire Weirdworld concept is not all that compelling to me, yet Marvel is working as hard to promote it as they are the Inhumans.  How many series are set or taking place on Weirdworld right now?  Why, if Black Knight is supposed to be running the place in his own series, is Doctor Druid running it in this one?  Is there a rule that says that C- or D-list former Avengers have to be in charge there?  This issue feels very disjointed.  Thundra takes the team to Weirdworld, where most of them promptly lose their powers, and one of them betrays the others.  There is barely time to register this surprise, which might have come as more of a surprise had we been given more than three issues to get to know this team, before some other stuff happens that I find hard to care about.  I really had high hopes for this title, but if the next issue is like this one, I’m going to have to put it on watch.

Starve #6I’m really happy to see Starve back for its second arc.  Gavin makes amends with his wife (who tried to kill him in the last issue), and sets about rethinking his plans to destroy the celebrity chef TV show he created.  Brian Wood is using this series to explore inequality in America, and is using this new, kinder version of Gavin to do it.  Danijel Zezelj has long been one of my favourite comics artists, and so I find delight in reading each and every page of this series.

Star Wars #16 – It feels like Jason Aaron and Leinil Francis Yu really have the Star Wars formula down for this new arc.  Leia and Sana Starros (the former Mrs. Solo) take Dr. Aphra to a secret Rebel prison (which is promptly attacked) while Han Solo and Luke Skywalker bungle a pretty simple supply run.  I’ve loved the way that Kieron Gillen has written Aphra up to this point, and while Aaron doesn’t seem to have the character quite right, he gets pretty close.  Yu is an interesting choice of artist for this series, in that he’s often a little loose with some identifying details (for example, the bounty hunters that attack the prison do not look Star Wars to me), but he’s always dynamic and exciting.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #12David Lapham’s characters have been spending months planning a robbery of the strip bar where Harry operates his criminal empire, so of course, it only takes a few panels before the whole plan falls apart.  The problem is that Beth, who has hidden herself in an outer room of the club, has no idea what has happened, as Orson runs around trying to fix things in time to salvage their plan.  Spoiler alert:  he doesn’t manage very well.  This is a wild issue, with a real manic energy to it, and it’s a lot of fun.  This arc of this series has been lighter than the last one, but no less satisfying for it.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #4 – I’ve gotten pretty bored of watching Gilad work his way out of Hell (although not of looking at Raul Allen’s pictures while he does this), so I’m pleased to see where the next arc is going to take our hero.  This series has some solid potential, but needs to pick up the pace a little more to make this work in the long term.

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

Amazing Spider-Man #8

Batman and Robin Eternal #20

Crossed Badlands #94

Dark Horse Presents #19

Doctor Fate #9

Rachel Rising #40

Robin Son of Batman #9

Silver Surfer #2

Snowfall #1

Uncanny Inhumans #5

Bargain Comics:

EGOs #8I like EGOs, but the book comes out so rarely, and I read it really late, so I had no idea what was going on in this issue.  I should probably just give up on it, right?

Guardians of the Galaxy #4 – The Guardians finally finish their fight with Hala (the person, not the destroyed Kree homeworld), but that’s not the only problem they have to deal with.  Guardians is fun, like it normally is, but there’s not a whole lot to hang on to here.  Very glad I’m not paying $4 a pop for this.

Hellboy in Hell #7&8 – I know that Mike Mignola has a large and dedicated fan base, but I don’t understand why people aren’t getting bored with his Hellboy stuff.  It really just feels like the same thing over and over again.  I’m done.

Sandman Overture #5&6 – I gave up on this Sandman prequel title for two reasons – the delays killed what little enthusiasm I had for the series, and I found the story to be pretty boring.  I picked up these last two issues purely for JH Williams III’s artwork, which is beyond brilliant.  Really, the Sandman series was not served at all by dragging it out for this last stab at some market share on DC’s part, and like Before Watchmen, is probably better left forgotten.  Except for how pretty it is…

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Astro City: ConfessionThe second Astro City trade is pretty excellent across the board.  Kurt Busiek introduces us to the young man who becomes the Altar Boy, the sidekick to the mysterious Confessor, during a story that encompasses a dark time for the city.  Superhumans are made to register their powers, while a killer stalks one neighbourhood.  The point of view narration works very well to tell us a story that Marvel and DC would feel the need to turn into a massive crossover event.  I regret not reading this stuff sooner, but have recently picked up the rest of the Homage run, so it’s all good.


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