The Weekly Round-Up #337 With Turncoat #3, Dept. H #2, Revenger + The Fog #1, Civil War II #0, X-O Manowar Annual 2016 #1 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Turncoat #3This Boom! series has quickly become a favourite of mine, and I’m sad that there’s only one issue remaining.  Alex Paknadel has created a fascinating science fiction world, and in this issue, has Marta, his disgraced ex-police officer discover a huge secret about the Mayor and many of the people who were left in power after Management, the alien race the colonized the Earth, left.  Artyom Trakhanov continues to blow me away with his art and sense of design on this title.  One thing that I keep wondering about, however, is what the rest of the world is like, since I don’t believe that Management only conquered the New York area.  Perhaps more stories set in this world are coming?

Quick Takes:

Astonishing Ant-Man #8 – Nick Spencer and guest artist Brent Schoonover eschew the usual format of this book, which always starts with Scott narrating from prison, to instead spend most of the issue following a group of four D-list criminals who get recruited by Scott for some sort of plan involving protecting his daughter, who is working for the Power Broker.  There’s a lot here that (very intentionally, I think) reminds me of the excellent Superior Foes of Spider-Man, and that increases my enjoyment of this book even more that usual.

Black Road #2As Magnus continues along the Black Road, we get to know more about him as a character, looking into his past as a fighter, and seeing in action his peculiar sense of pride.  Brian Wood is squarely back in Northlanders territory with this comic, and it’s pretty great to see.  I love a good historical comic, so I’m all over this, especially its exploration of pagan/Christian relations in northern Europe.

BPRD Hell on Earth #141 – This is a very solid ghost story, as Mike Mignola and Cameron Stewart continue their interlude tale.  I’m never upset with Mike Norton’s art, but I do feel like this book is slipping lately.

Civil War II #0 – Yes, I’m buying yet another big event book against my will.  This preliminary title serves to check in on three main characters in the upcoming story.  She-Hulk is upset when a client of hers who was fighting an entrapment case gets convicted.  War Machine has a chat with President Obama about his future political aspirations which pokes, in a very veiled way, a bit of fun at Donald Trump.  Captain Marvel chats with Doctor Samson about how busy she is.  And, we are introduced to Ulysses, the Inhuman who was central to the FCBD story, which is clearly set long after this issue.  This is not a bad comic, but it doesn’t give me much in terms of the premise of Civil War II, nor does it create excitement for that event.  I’m not going to be mad at Olivier Coipel for drawing a book ever, but that doesn’t mean he’s exactly pushing himself with this comic.

Clandestino #3As Amancay Nahuelpan continues his story about a guerrilla fighter in a Latin American dictatorship, I have to wonder if there are going to be any characters left in the story or maybe even the country, the way he is going.  This is an interesting series from Black Mask, with wonderful art.

Crossed Plus One Hundred #16 – This now the second issue of this series to appear in two weeks, which is kind of strange for this title.  It looks like new artist Martin Tunica has been working overtime to get this book back on schedule, and it kind of shows in his art, which is tighter in this issue than it was in the last.  Future figures out what’s been going on with the new tribaladies that she met recently, and as usual, Salt is steps ahead of her.

Dept. H #2 – I am fully in love with this new series from Matt Kindt.  Mia is in a deep ocean research station trying to figure out who killed her father, and it looks like her rocky relationship with her brother Raj is really going to affect things.  Of course, this makes Raj look like a suspect, but there’s no way Kindt is going to make things that obvious so early in the story.  This book is full of great art, and very strong character development, and it’s really caught my attention.

Drifter #11It looks like things are getting worse in town, as the Wheelers, the indigenous lifeforms on this planet, surround the town, although no one knows to what end.  Ivan Brandon continues to make this title pretty opaque, yet always interesting.  It really requires close, careful reading, and that is something Nic Klein’s gorgeous artwork deserves.

International Iron Man #3 – We connect a few more dots in the Tony/Cassandra story, as Bendis continues to retcon whatever he wants into Tony Stark’s life, and we see some of the new capabilities of the Iron Man armor.  This issue is fine, but I don’t really know why we need this second Iron Man title.

Invincible #128 – Mark is still getting adjusted to life with his family after his long absence, and while he’s focusing on himself, it looks like things are bad for Allen, the United Planets, and maybe for Earth as well.  There’s always a lot happening in this series, and after so many years, Robert Kirkman is showing no sign of slowing down.  This is a massively underappreciated title.

Karnak #4After a lot of buildup, Karnak finally finds the Inhuman he’s been searching for since the first issue.  Of course, it goes without saying that “things aren’t all what they seem.”  I like this title, and like the art, but don’t believe that Roland Boschi is the right guy for a mostly silent issue with extended fight scenes.  Warren Ellis is writing this like he’s still working with Declan Shalvey or something…

Manifest Destiny #19 – I’m very happy to see the return of Lewis, Clark, and their expedition, even though most of this issue is in fact focused on an earlier group of soldiers who ventured West.  Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts have imagined a very interesting wilderness, but have taken a very character-driven approach to this series, and that is what makes it successful.

Micronauts #2 – I don’t know what’s going on that, for the second issue of this new series, we have a different artist than we did for the first, but I found this issue more enjoyable than that one on a number of levels.  Cullen Bunn has our heroes crash onto a planet which quickly becomes the centre of attention for two rival organizations – the Space-Gliders of Baron Daigon, and the Acroyears of Baron Karza.  We don’t know a whole lot about this comics world yet, but I like seeing how Bunn is remixing a lot of the story elements from the Marvel series.  I also prefer Max Dunbar’s art to David Baldeon’s work on the first issue, although someone needs to figure out the scale of the Biotron unit compared to the other characters.  Stuff like that drives me crazy.

Mirror #4I’ve been enjoying the work of Emma Rios and Hwei Lim on this series, but I’m finding myself getting more and more confused as the book progresses.  Some big stuff happens in this issue, but I’m not all that sure I can explain it.

Old Man Logan #6 – Logan’s respite in the Northwest Territories doesn’t last long, now that the Reavers have come to town and are hunting him.  This issue is another excellent showcase for Andrea Sorrentino’s fantastic art, which is what makes this title so unique and worth reading.  I do like the way Jeff Lemire writes Logan, but with a lesser artist, I don’t think this comic would keep me as engaged.

Power Man and Iron Fist #4 – The supersoul storyline reaches its end, as Sanford Greene is given tons of space to go wild on the art.  I don’t think it counts as a spoiler to say that PM & IF are back together, and I think that this comic, under David Walker, has a bright future.  This was a nice surprise amid the flood of ANAD Marvel books.

Rai #13 – While 4001 AD runs in its own title, and it’s series of one-shot tie-ins, Rai’s own book goes back in time to visit the lives of some of the earlier Rais.  This one features the very first, and how his conflict with the Raddies set the stage for Father’s development over the following thousand years.  It’s nice to see an artist different from Clayton Crain on this book, although the effect is that New Japan looks a lot less futuristic.  David Mack’s cover is incredible.

Revenger + The Fog #1 I picked this up as an impulse buy.  This is the first of a four issue miniseries by Charles Forsman, which is available only through subscription on his website, unless you happen to shop at a store as cool as the one I do.  It continues (I guess) the story of Revenger and her friends, The Fog, who fight bad guys in the 1970s.  The book fits within the same general aesthetic as comics by Michel Fiffe and Benjamin Marra, in that it really embraces the comics of an earlier era, while being somewhat aware of what comics are like today.  I enjoyed this first issue, but am not sure I’d keep coming back for more.

The Sixth Gun #49 – After so many years, the conclusion to Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s epic series is almost upon us.  This is the penultimate issue of this excellent title, and as such, time is spent arranging the two sides that are about to square off to determine the shape of the world to come.  A favourite character makes his return this issue, and we learn a lot more about Drake Sinclair’s true purpose in life, although it’s not clear if he knows as much as we now do.  Great stuff.

Spider-Man #4 – I found this to be a very weird, poorly balanced issue of Spider-Man.  To begin, Ganke outs Miles to Goldballs for reasons that are not completely clear.  Afterwards, angry about this, Miles goes swinging through the city, where he is pursued by some heat-seeking missiles.  As is so often the case, Brian Michael Bendis ignores his other plotlines, and the book feels very decompressed.  Sara Pichelli’s art is nice, but I’d like more substance in each issue.  

Spider-Woman #7 I don’t care a whole lot for the Spider-Women event, mostly because I don’t like it when series I enjoy get disrupted by something editorially-mandated, but I did enjoy the interplay between Jessica Drew and Jesse Drew, her Earth-65 counterpart.  I also liked the Joelle Jones artwork, but that’s not a surprise.

Squadron Supreme #7 – This title is feeling more and more disjointed, as Dr. Spectrum alternates between chatting with and fighting Toro in a secret alien installation deep beneath the ocean.  Hyperion flirts with a waitress, while Nighthawk meets and fights with the long-standing 616 version of himself.  The art is mostly by a fill-in artist, and it looks like it was done in a hurry.  My interest in this title is starting to slip, and I wonder if it’s time to think about jumping off it.

Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #7 – Gilad has been captured by an old foe he’s never met before, and is now trapped in a complicated Labyrinth.  Much of this issue is given over to developing the antagonist, who so far has remained nameless, and artist Raúl Allén is given a lot of space to shine.  This is a very interesting take on this character, and I like it.

X-O Manowar Annual 2016 #1I wish that Valiant, when making these massive annuals, actually told a single story in them.  There’s nothing wrong with this book, which has a few stories and some framing pieces, but there’s also nothing particularly new here.  We see Aric as a kid, but we’ve seen that before.  We see Commander Trill get angry with Vine plantings, but we’ve seen that before.  Colonel Capshaw’s story is perhaps the most novel, but even it feels familiar.  With X-O Manowar set to end soon, I would have liked a complete story about Aric and the armor.

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

All-New Wolverine #8

Astro City #35

Crossed Badlands #98

Dark Horse Presents #22

Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol. 2

Doctor Fate #12

Guerillas Vol. 3

Silver Surfer #4

Star Wars Kanan Vol. 2

Stray Bullets Vol. 5

Superman American Alien #7

Uncanny Avengers #9

Unfollow Vol. 1

Xed #3

Bargain Comics:

Doctor Strange: Last Days of Magic #1In typical Marvel fashion, this one-shot fleshes out Jason Aaron’s terrific Doctor Strange story with a few stories that add nothing to it.  Sure, there’s some nice art in here (by Leonardo Romero and Mike Perkins in particular), but I could have done without this.  I’m glad I didn’t spend $6 on it…

Spider-Women Alpha #1 – I’ve been ignoring the Spider-Women crossover event, but am still buying the Spider-Woman issues, because I like that title.  I was pleased to see how this whole event began, especially since most of this issue is given over to Jessica Drew just hanging out with Cindy Moon and Earth-65 Gwen Stacey.  Vanessa Del Rey drew this, so it looks terrific.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Zenith Phase OneThis handsome hardcover collects Grant Morrison and Steve Yeowell’s work from 2000AD, which was originally published in 1987 and 1988.  There’s a definite Miracleman influence here, as the book centres on a selfish superhero who gets dragged into actually helping people (instead of just being a recording artist) when some extra-dimensional elder gods try to come to our plane of existence through inhabiting the twin brother of a Nazi superhuman.  It’s a decent read, and there are glimmers of who Morrison would become later, but it’s not terribly memorable.


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