The Weekly Round-Up #330 With Power Lines #1, Saga #35, Omega Men #10, Star Wars: Darth Vader #18 & More!

The Best Comic of the Week:

Power Lines #1I’ve enjoyed Jimmie Robinson’s books The Empty and Five Weapons, but was more interested in this series, which mixes Native American history with modern racial tension in the Bay Area and superhero fantasy.  We meet Derrick, a young man who is the newest member of a crew who travel into a wealthy town to throw up some graffiti tags.  While running from the police, Derrick taps into the Power Lines, a mystical region of power that has not been used since American subjugated the area’s first inhabitants in the 19th century.  We also meet Sarah, who is very likely a Donald Trump supporter, who has had her phone stolen by one of Derrick’s friends.  Her and her son track the phone to Derrick’s high school, and when one of the boys looks like he’s going to start a fight with her son, Sarah also taps into this power.  We don’t know a whole lot about what the Power Lines mean yet, but Robinson has set up an interesting situation, and caught my interest.  Some of the scenes are a little uncomfortable to read, as Robinson doesn’t shy away from the worst aspects of both groups, making them into caricatures of gangstas and middle class racists, but I like books that confront some of this nonsense.  His art is rougher than it has been on his last two titles, and that suits things here.  I’m just not sure about the mid-riff baring wife beaters…

Quick Takes:

Black Science #21Grant has tracked down another member of his group in another dimension, and while he was hoping to find his children, he’s instead found Rebecca, the woman who is responsible for them being lost in the first place.  This is a harsh issue, but comes full of justice.  Black Science has taken some interesting turns with this arc, and Rick Remender promises even bigger ones when it returns from a short hiatus.  I look forward to it, because I love this title.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #7 – Here we are, seven issues into Sam’s title (one more than his last run got), and the comic is almost entirely about Steve Rogers.  I don’t feel Marvel has given Sam enough of a chance to catch on; this issue, which is oversized, and at $6, overpriced, is a Standoff tie-in, and full of back-up stories.  Standoff is a pretty slow-moving event.  I’ve skipped four of the previous seven chapters, and am not the least bit lost (making me wonder if anything important is happening in the books not written by Nick Spencer).  Steve tries to get help for Maria Hill, meets Kobik, and has something huge happen to him.  Meanwhile, Bucky and Sam meet up, and try to find Steve.  It’s all pretty by-the-books, really.  The backup stories are decent, and with names like Joss Whedon, John Cassaday, Tim Sale, Greg Rucka, and Mike Perkins attached to them, strictly A-list, but also pretty paint-by-numbers backups.  Whedon has Cap arguing about his image during WWII.  Sale does his best Steranko.  I like Rucka’s story best, which has Cap attending the ballet to help protect a dancer.  

Daredevil #5The Tenfingers arc comes to an end as a Hand monster attacks the temple, and Blindspot has to stand against his mother.  This was a very successful start to Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s new take on Daredevil, and I’ve been enjoying it.  I’m still very impressed with the approach that Garney is taking to drawing this book, and always like something that Soule has written.  The next arc involves Elektra, which might be a little too soon in the run, but should prove to be interesting.

Darth Vader #18 – I think that, with this arc, Kieron Gillen is proving that this comic needs Dr. Aphra in it for it to work.  Vader is fighting an insurgency on a mining world, and being betrayed by his rival, and while things are visually interesting, the story lacks heart.  Aphra provides a lot to this series; I hope we see her back soon, after she’s finished being loaned out to Jason Aaron and the parent Star Wars title.

Elephantmen #69 – This should be a huge issue, as Hip and his allies go to war with the Hyenas that have invaded LA, while Horn goes after their masters, but it comes off as feeling kind of awkwardly paced and anti-climactic.  The last few issues of this series have been feeling that way a lot, like a lot of the momentum that has built up over the years has dissipated.  I feel like I need to reexamine how much longer I want to stay with this title.

Four Eyes: Hears of Fire #3This is one surprisingly bleak comic.  Enrico is working for the man who is now living with his mother, and hates it.  He’s training Four Eyes, his runt of a dragon to fight, and he hates it.  Everything he does is done out of anger, and that same anger is now causing him to destroy the only positive things he has in his life.  Joe Kelly is giving us an emotionally brutal comic, and that’s even before Four Eyes has to fight against a much larger and stronger dragon.  Great stuff, if sometimes hard to swallow.

The Omega Men #10 – Open war has broken out, and this entire issue is given over to showing how the Omega Men, including Kyle Rayner, have joined with the people of Karn to fight against the Citadel.  Tom King excels at using a single issue to tell a complete chapter in a story, and that is a big part of why this series has been so good.  Two issues left!

Pastaways #9 – Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins wrap up their time travel saga with a big fight.  The earlier issues of this series were a little more interesting, because the focus was more on how these time-lost travellers viewed our century, and showing us some very cool technology they brought with them, but then I usually prefer beginnings more than I do endings.  I’m now very pumped for Dept. H, the next Matt Kindt project (which he is both writing and drawing).

Revival #38We get a glimpse of life through Cooper’s eyes this month, as he misses his mom, and as his father’s girlfriend takes him to visit his friend Jordan, who is in the Reviver internment camp.  This is a series that just keeps chugging along under its own power, and never gets dull.

Saga #35 – Storylines are beginning to converge, as Hazel’s teacher prepares to bust her out of her internment prison just as her parents show up on Landfall to try to rescue her.  At the same time, The Will has tracked down the planet where Prince Robot has been hiding out, only he’s off with Marko and Alana.  I can’t help but feel like something terrible is going to happen in the next issue, although with this excellent series’s track record, that shouldn’t ever be a surprise, should it?

They’re Not Like Us #12 – Since the last few issues have had many scenes where Tabitha has discovered that people are projecting false realities around her, I find it very hard to trust anything of what I see or read in this book.  That makes it hard to follow the story, as I’m constantly looking for clues that something other than what we expect is going on.  This is a smart series, but over the last few issues I’ve found it becoming harder to follow as new characters are dropped in, often without introduction or explanation.  Still, this is well worth following.

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

All-New X-Men #7

Batman and Robin Eternal #26

Crossed Badlands #95

Faith #3

Suiciders: King of HelL.A. #1

Tet TP

Xed #2

Bargain Comics:

A-Force #1&2I didn’t much like the Secret Wars miniseries that had this name, but this series is off to a fun, light-hearted start, and manages to find a reason to assemble such an odd group of female heroines.  I know that this title has already shed itself of G. Willow Wilson, who was the main reason I checked it out.

Astro City: The Dark Ages Book Three #1-4 – I find that I’m not enjoying this Dark Ages stuff as much as I did the earlier Astro City stories.  It’s cool how Busiek used the story of two brothers looking to avenge their parents as a way to cover a lot of history in his world, but I find it a little hard to believe that a grown man would be this focused on tracking down the guy who killed his parents when he was a kid.   

The Fiction #1-4 – I was very impressed with this Boom! miniseries.  It’s a story about four people who, as children, used magic books to access a fantasy world, where they had adventures.  One of the four kids went missing while in this world, and after that, the three who remained drifted apart and became adults.  Now, two of them have to come together when the third goes missing and they believe that he’s returned to this world.  This comic would be particularly enjoyable to someone who misses Mike Carey’s The Unwritten.  The art, by David Rubín, is very nice, and the writer, Curt Pires, shows a lot of promise.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Crossed Vol. 9 – I have never been a fan of Daniel Way’s writing, and his six-part story, ‘Grave New World’, reminds me of why this is.  I had a real hard time telling characters apart, and Way has this way of introducing sub-plots at random, without making it clear how they are going to connect to the main story.  I never got invested in this story, about a group of people who have been surviving the Crossed outbreak by staying aboard a military boat, and are led by a messianic madman.  By contrast, Simon Spurrier’s story, about an Australian man driving a very long truck, and lording over a harem of women he has saved, is much more effective.

Finder: Third World

by Carla Speed McNeil

I am a huge fan of Carla Speed McNeil’s Finder, having come late to the title after Dark Horse published a couple of very handsome omnibus editions.  She’s described her masterpiece as “indigenous science fiction”, and that’s very much on display in this graphic novel.

Third World follows her main character, Jaeger, through three loosely structured segments of story.  In the first, he’s in Anvard, a gigantic domed city, working as a courier for a delivery company.  We follow him through a few of his odder jobs, including his helping an old woman find her way to her family.  The stories work well together to give us an idea of the depth of planning McNeil has put into this world.

The second story has Jaeger lost, for the first time, in an open environment town called Third World, among many other names.  In this place, he meets a few other Ascians (the nomadic people who adopted him), although they are not of his tribe.  This section addresses issues of indigenous land rights, artistic representation, and respect for burial rights.  It also gives us a dramatic look into Jaeger’s role as a Sin-Eater among his people.

The final, shortest, section, has Jaeger turn up in Javecek, another domed city that is known for the sheer number of infectious diseases that inhabit it.  Here, Jaeger is exposed, and infected with a citizen’s cancer, as a way of healing her.  The story ends with him being put in a difficult position by his employers.

McNeil’s work is brilliant.  Her art is fantastic, and with this book being in colour (a Finder first), she is able to really expand on the depth of her world.  The copious explanatory notes at the back of the book really enhance the reading experience, as there is so much about this world that cannot be explained through the comics pages alone.

I did first read these stories in Dark Horse Presents when they were serialized, but reading them together in this format puts things in a different light.  First, I was a little surprised to see that there wasn’t really a clear narrative through this whole book.  I also felt the ending was more unsettled than I would have liked, but knowing that there are new stories coming out in DHP right now helps rectify that.  The truth is that Finder is all about journeys, so in many ways, it makes sense that Jaeger’s tale doesn’t wrap up in easy segments.

I was going to wait for the next trade, but reading this makes me want to track down the new DHP issues (and reread the Omnibuses).