The Weekly Round-Up #327 With The Vision #5, Jupiter’s Circle #4, Head Lopper #3, Ninjak #13 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

The Vision #5While I’ve been impressed with this series since almost the beginning (I had to read the first issue twice before it really grabbed me), I have felt at times that I’d like more of a focus on the Vision himself.  This issue gives us that, as he is questioned by the police in the death of the child his son fought with earlier.  Things for the Vision family are falling apart quickly, and that is made very clear this month, as our hero’s wife shatters as hard as the dining room table.  Tom King makes great use of a Shakepeare quote to set up the first half of this issue, and then has the Vision narrate a list of thirty-seven times he’s saved the Earth as a framing technique for the second half.  The writing in this book is very effective.

Quick Takes:

The Bunker #15 – After a longer delay than I would have liked, we are back in the strange world that Joshua Hale Fialkov has created.  Heidi’s new girlfriend confronts Future Grady this issue, and that gives us some insight, but not actually a whole lot.  I feel like it’s time for this series to start moving a little more quickly, although I do continue to enjoy it.

Crossed Plus One Hundred #14 We get a close look at Future’s life now, which involves her and Mostaqba trying to raise an infected child.  We also get to look at some of Salt’s later writing, as Future cracks his code, and see what Cautious has been up to since taking up with the Gapplers.  As this series continues, Simon Spurrier continues to find new avenues to explore, keeping it interesting.

Descender #11 – This is a fantastic issue of this series, closing out the second arc, as we learn that the Hardwire might just be the terrorists the UGC claims they are, and that the differences between Tim-21 and Tim-22 are larger than we thought.  Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen do great work on this series, and as it progresses, I feel it just become more nuanced.  I’m eagerly awaiting this title’s return in June.

Doctor Strange #6 – Stephen pulls out all the stops in his big fight with the Empirikul, but it’s not enough.  This is a pretty big issue, as it appears that magic is being killed off in the Marvel Universe.  Chris Bachalo does some very amazing things in this issue, which includes some odd little vignettes about how the death of magic affects various people who live off of it.  I’ve been very impressed with Jason Aaron’s take on this character, and look forward to reading the rest of this arc.  I’m a little annoyed about the upcoming one-shot companion to this storyline, but will probably end up buying it anyway, because I’m weak like that.

Head Lopper #3Every time I’ve bought an issue of this quarterly series, it takes me a while to get back into Andrew Maclean’s story, but then after a few pages, I find myself completely invested in the story.  This issue has our hero fighting an ancient monster that needs to eat a female virgin on a nightly basis, while the witch head meets a potential suitor.  This series is a lot of fun.

Jupiter’s Circle #4 – It’s really nice to see Chris Sprouse working on this book; I really enjoy his art.  The team has to set their differences aside when their Lex Luthor stand-in villain steals their powers, although this upsets some characters’ long-range plans.  I often forget that this is a prequel to the Jupiter’s Legacy series; I think the lack of a JSA book at DC has me missing some old school superhero stuff, and I’m happy reading this as a replacement for that concept.

The Last Contract #3 – Ed Brisson is continuing to climb in my esteem, and is probably on a very short list of my favourite writers right now.  This series continues to excite, as an old, slightly senile, hitman is forced to revisit his career because of a mysterious blackmailer.  There’s a lot of mayhem in this issue, as an old partner of our protagonist’s comes back to try to kill him, while the young man he’s saved falls into the hands of his enemy.  The art, by Lisandro Esterren, is becoming more and more interesting to me, as it begins to channel Toby Cypress in a lot of scenes.  This is a very impressive series, and I like how it’s almost exclusively set in the ring of suburbs that surround my city.

The Massive: Ninth Wave #4This is another one-off story featuring Callum Israel’s Ninth Wave group in the time before the amazing series The Massive.  Brian Wood is so good at structuring a single-issue.  This one takes place off the coast of India.  A notorious fishing vessel which uses illegal methods has captured three members of Ninth Wave, and have been holding them for fifty days, while the Massive and the Kapital have pursued them.  Now, the Captain has committed suicide and is attempting to scuttle the ship with the Ninth Wave prisoners still on board.  This is a very exciting issue, that carried a strong sense of suspense throughout.

The Mighty Thor #5 – The civil war in Asgard comes to a sudden conclusion when an unexpected event (although I’m not sure how unexpected such an event should be) occurs, and we also see the return of a character not seen since before Secret Wars.  I remain very torn by this book – I find Jason Aaron’s writing to be stiff, and not always that interesting, but the broad strokes of his story keep me wanting to know what’s going to happen.  And, of course, Russel Dauterman’s work on this title is superb.  I just wish there was more focus on Thor.

Ms. Marvel #5This issue is such a delight that it actually had me laugh out loud at one point.  Kamala and Bruno have created some Kamala-doppelgangers to help her balance out the many demands on her life, but they’ve begun to multiply exponentially, and now Jersey City is full of bubble-headed golems that look like our hero.  On top of this, the preparations for Kamala’s brother’s wedding continue, as we meet his betrothed’s family and get a few more opportunities for familial hilarity.  G. Willow Wilson and Nico Leon balance things out nicely in this comic, making it a pleasure.

New Suicide Squad #18 – Tim Seeley and Juan Ferreyra’s second issue on this series is even more effective than their first, as we learn just what has happened with the Squad, and what the head of a coffee company has to do with it all.  Seeley introduces the Rose Tattoo concept, from Warren Ellis’s Stormwatch, into the New 52, and we start to understand what’s going on with the British man who’s been visiting Amanda Waller.  Ferreyra’s art on this book is terrific.

Ninjak #13 – The Operation Deadside arc comes to an end, as Ninjak and Punk Mambo confront Shadowman and make their return to Earth.  This was a decent story arc, but I prefer Ninjak in more traditional roles.  The Deadside stuff annoyed me in Shadowman’s own series, and it feels very out of place here.

No Mercy #8I’m sad that there was no textpiece recounting another of Alex De Campi’s travel stories from her youth, but otherwise, this issue is once again a treat, as the various American kids continue their separate journeys in Mataguey.  Sebastian (who used to have a different name) is with the nun’s brother’s people, and reveals an interesting tidbit suggesting he has more knowledge of the country than we would have expected, while others of the teens continue to reunite with their families, make their ways home, or just try to experiment in psychedelic mushrooms.  I hadn’t expected that the story in this series would get this fragmented, but I’m enjoying it, and especially enjoying the art by Carla Speed McNeil.

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

Agents of SHIELD #3

All-New Wolverine #6

Amazing Spider-Man #9

Batman and Robin Eternal #23

Guardians of the Galaxy #6

Harrow County #10

Howard the Duck #5

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #3

Mockingbird #1

Snow Blind #4

String Divers TP

Uncanny Avengers #7

War Stories #17

Bargain Comics:

Astro City (Vol. 2) #14-20This seven issue saga tells the story of Steeljack, an old supervillain who wants to live a regular life, but can’t quite stay out of his former world, when he is hired to figure out who has been killing minor supervillains, and instead stumbles on a large plot.  As is always the case with Busiek and Anderson, this is a masterful story.

Miracleman by Gaiman and Buckingham #1-5 – I really enjoyed reading these issues of The Golden Age, the first post-Alan Moore Miracleman.  Unlike Marvel’s earlier reprints, I own all of these in their original Eclipse publication, but haven’t looked through them in years.  It’s nice to see them in this recoloured format.  Each issue contains one or two self-contained stories designed to let us see what life is like after Miracleman changed the world.  Each story looks at some different aspect of things.  We get a story devoted to how spies and secret agents live now, and another about the repeated resurrection of Andy Warhol.  Gaiman always has done the one-off story rather well, and his writing doesn’t seem a pretentious as some of his other work from that era does now.  I find I much prefer Buckingham’s work at this stage in his career to the more cartoony work he’s done on Fables for the past few years.  I’ve heard recently that the new issues, finishing Gaiman and Buckingham’s story have been delayed, and generally feel that Marvel has bungled their use of this property, but that doesn’t take away from this older work at all.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Prince of Cats

by Ron Wimberly

I’ll admit that I haven’t read or really even thought about Romeo and Juliet since I was in Grade 10, so I’m sure that much of the innovation and coolness of this book was lost on me.  Even still, The Prince of Cats, Ron Wimberly’s adaptation of Shakespeare’s famous play, set in Brooklyn and featuring rival sword-wielding gangs, is pretty amazing.

The titular prince is Tybalt, of the Capulets, who spends his days and nights roaming his neighbourhood, trying to raise his status in the Duel List, a ranking of neighbourhood sword fighters.  He’s interested in Juliet, but is also happy to spend time with Rosalyn.

Wimberly’s characters spill blood on the dance floor, and chase each other through and atop moving subway trains.  His kinetic art propels the story along, often evoking Kyle Baker and Dark Knight-era Frank Miller.

Wimberly does some very cool things with language here, blending Shakespearian English with hiphop slang in a way that ends up sounding natural and not as affected as you might expect.

This entire project feels very organic and cool.  I’ve heard that Wimberly, who also drew rapper MF Grimm’s biographical book Sentences, is currently working on adapting Saul Williams’s brilliant MartyrLoserKing album into a graphic novel with him.  I cannot wait to see how that project turns out.