The Weekly Round-Up #352 With Lazarus #24, Aliens: Defiance #4, 4001 A.D. #4, Star Wars: Han Solo #3, Saga #37, Micronauts #5 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Lazarus #24I am really loving this arc, which has the other Lazari pursuing the war between the families while Forever continues to recover from her injuries.  She confronts her father about her past and existence as an engineered being, and this leads her sister, who is trying to consolidate her own control over the family, to take some extreme steps.  This is always a deeply satisfying read.

Quick Takes:

Afterlife with Archie #10 – This oversized issue gives the spotlight to Josie and the Pussycats, as we sit in on an interview Josie gives to a music journalist about her rather long life (she was born in 1906).  Continuing with the theme of injecting a supernatural element into the lives of the residents of Riverdale, we learn that Josie and her bandmates are actually vampires.  It’s a solid issue, with typically amazing art by Francesco Francavilla.  The only thing that is a little frustrating about it is the fact that, since this book comes out so rarely, it’s going to be even longer before we get back to Archie and his crew to see what’s going on in the main story.

Aliens: Defiance #4The third artist since this series began, Tony Brescini, comes on for this issue as we dig into the story behind Zula’s injury and what motivates her.  She receives word from home (the concept behind this series is that Zula and an android have gone rogue and are hunting down Aliens to keep their corporation from getting any back to Earth) and has to decide whether or not to respond.  Brian Wood has done a fine job developing Zula’s character and playing in the Aliens world.

Astonishing Ant-Man #11 – It’s been teased since the first issue of this series, and now we’ve finally caught up to the point where Scott is in jail after rescuing his daughter from Cross Industries and deciding to take the fall for her.  I’ve really liked the way Nick Spencer has structured this title, and how he gives every member of the book’s rather large cast (except Giant-Man, weirdly) a moment or two to shine in this issue.  The two to three page recaps that have been starting each issue lately are going to really make this annoying when it’s read in a trade format though.

Bloodshot Reborn #16Ray figures out a lot of what’s going on on Blooshot Island this issue, as he works to formulate an escape plan.  I’ve found some of the main story beats in this arc a little predictable, but am really enjoying the execution of this story by Jeff Lemire and Mico Suayan.

4001 A.D. #4 – Matt Kindt wraps this up in a hurry, and spends most of the issue setting up the next arc of Rai, which further supports my argument that this should have always been an arc of that title instead of a standalone event.  It’s so tied in to what’s happened in Rai that a reader who tried it out because it was a Valiant event was likely lost, which can’t help but have a negative effect on future events.

Han Solo #3 – Mark Brooks continues to just kill on this miniseries.  Han and Chewie continue to participate in a very dangerous race, which is also a cover (although not a very good one) for them to gather some Rebel informants.  The stuff about the different informants not knowing who each other are, but knowing that one of them has been killing the others, is a little overly complicated, but when the book looks this good…

Jupiter’s Legacy 2 #3Were it not for the Jupiter’s Circle series, this issue wouldn’t have carried a lot of weight, as our heroes try to recruit Skyfox to help them in their fight to free the world from the superheroes.  I like this title, and am interested in Mark Millar’s story, but it’s Frank Quitely’s art that wins the day here.

Micronauts #5 – Cullen Bunn’s take on this old property continues to feel fresh.  Baron Karza sends a bunch of his Acroyears to retrieve Oz from his enemy’s custody, and turns into a centaur!  I always thought Karza looked coolest when in his centaur form.  Anyway, this is a quick issue, but it’s working for me.  I hope this upcoming Revolution event with other Hasbro properties does nothing to screw with this series.

Ms. Marvel #10 – Kamala’s understanding of ‘predictive justice’ gets put to the test this issue as she has to deal with her friend Bruno’s injuries, and that leads to her disagreeing with Captain Marvel and the group of cadets she’s been working with.  I still have a hard time accepting that there is an extra-judicial militia operating in Jersey City during this story, but everything else works very well.

The Pitiful Human-Lizard #9 Two issues in two weeks!  I’m not sure what’s going on at Chapterhouse, but it’s nice to get this much Human-Lizard in a row.  Our hero is invited to speak to a grade four class, and it’s all charming and amusing, as things always are in this comic.  I continue to enjoy Jason Loo’s work on this title a great deal, and feel that he’s continuing to grow a lot as a creator with each new issue.  

Saga #37 – It’s always great to see Saga return, even if things haven’t been going so well on the tree spaceship since Marko and Alana got their daughter back.  Their ship is in need of repairs, and the only option they have is to go to a war-scarred and difficult comet which has a connection to another one of the main supporting cast.  This book is always good.

Spider-Man #7 – I wonder if the long buildup to any kind of action in Civil War II was just so Marvel could drag three or four months worth of tie-in stories out of their regular titles.  This issue, which has Miles struggling with making a decision about where he stands on the whole Ulysses issue, all takes place before the attack on the Hulk.  It’s nice to get an opportunity to see how Miles processes decisions, and to give space to his mother’s worries about him, and to bring Bombshell back, but really, most of this issue is moot, because we already know what’s going to happen, because we read that over a month ago in CWII.  It’s frustrating, because without the event focus, this is my favourite Bendis book.  I’m just really tired of CWII at this point…

Tokyo Ghost #10I’d lost interest in this series over the last two issues, but found that Rick Remender and Sean Murphy ended this very well.  I don’t actually have anything more to say than that though…

X-O Manowar #49 – The penultimate issue of this series is one big fight between the Torment, large cosmic beings who have come to Earth eat everyone’s’ memories, and the combined forces of the Earth and the Vine.  It’s a big, exciting issue that ends in such a way that you can tell the last issue of this series will be pretty epic.  It’s good stuff.

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

Abe Sapien #36

All-New Wolverine Annual #1

Amazing Spider-Man #17

Americatown HC

Civil War II: Choosing Sides #5

Gotham Academy Annual #1

Guardians of the Galaxy #11

Howard the Duck #10

Insexts Vol. 1

James Bond #9

Nova #10

Silver Surfer #6

Sons of the Devil #10

Uncanny Avengers #13

Witchfinder City of the Dead #1

World of Tanks #1

Bargain Comics:

Alien Legion: Uncivil War #1-4I really feel like there is a lot of potential to tell some very good and exciting stories in the Alien Legion world, but I also feel like ever since Chuck Dixon became Carl Potts’s go-to writer for them, that potential has not been met.  This story, the first Alien Legion story in a very long time, published by Titan, is a good example of interesting story idea not really working.  The Harkilons, the traditional bad guys in this series, are going through a civil war, and the Legion gets involved with some refugees that are not what they seem (I’m sure Dixon, who is known for his right-wing views, was trying to make a point here).  Larry Stroman’s art, once again, is near-incomprehensible for long stretches, and I find I just couldn’t really care about what was going on.  Disappointing.

All-New Wolverine #7&8 – I’m beginning to really like this title, as Laura decides to keep young Gabby with her and try to give her a normal life, even though that involves midnight visits from Squirrel Girl, and the results of using Fin Fang Pheremones.  Tom Taylor is keeping this book surprisingly light, considering the general gloominess associated with this character, and it works very well.

Guardians of the Galaxy #5-8Remember how the old Justice Society comics from the Golden Age always had the team splitting up into teams of two to solve problems, and was never really a team book?  That’s kind of what Bendis is up to with this title too, as for three straight issues, pairs of Guardians fight the Badoon, and it’s all a little too similar and slow-moving.  Man, I miss the Abnett/Lanning era Guardians…

Mockingbird #5 – I find this title to be delightful.  Chelsea Cain has really made good use of Bobbi here, exploring her dislike of doing what’s expected of her, and fleshing her out more than any writer has before.  What I really like is that she’s finally moved past being ‘Hawkeye’s ex’, and hope that this title continues to see success.  I would really recommend the first trade.

New Avengers #12-14 – Al Ewing makes good use of Civil Wars II as cover for tying up many of the plot threads that began with this title, as SHIELD and the Maker both make their moves against Sunspot’s AIM at the same time.  There’s a lot going on in these issues, and they work well.  I’m not a huge fan of Paco Medina, but he’s much more palatable than original series artist Gerardo Sandoval.

Rat God #1-5Richard Corben is an undisputed master, albeit of a pretty narrow type of story, wherein a slightly confused man of just enough societal standing to be concerned with it runs afoul of the supernatural, usually in pursuit of a woman’s love, although sometimes at her hands.  Rat God is another example of Corben at his best, as a man pursues the woman he believes he loves to the remote Northern community of Lame Dog, where he finds pre-Columbian rituals still in place, and doesn’t seem to notice the rat-like qualities of many of the inhabitants.  If you like Corben’s stuff, this is one of his better more recent series.  I enjoyed it, without getting too hung up on how much it reminds me of other work of his.

Valhalla Mad #1-4 – I usually enjoy Joe Casey’s work, but sometimes his projects are just not for me.  This series is kind of a tribute to Lee/Kirby Thor comics, about a trio of Gods who come to Earth to party and speak in terribly irritating faux-Olde English.  It wore me out.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Battlepug Volume 1 – I love Mike Norton’s art, and thought that the general concept behind this series (that a barbarian rides around on a giant pug fighting bad guys) is amusing.  It’s weird that the book would work very well as an all-ages title, except for the naked woman who narrates the story.  It’s hard to know exactly who this book is for, but it is entertaining.

The Death-Defying Doctor Mirage Vol. 1I enjoyed this Valiant miniseries, especially the art by Roberto De La Torre, but felt that the story was lacking something; I’m just not sure what it was.  Halfway into the book, I found my attention wandered a lot.  Now that writer Jen Van Meter set up a status quo for Shan, I feel like the second miniseries might be a lot better.  I’m not always a fan of set-up.

Harrow County Vol. 1: Countless Haints – I finally got around to checking this series out, and I was very happy with it.  Cullen Bunn is an excellent horror writer, and Tyler Crook’s watercoloured art looks absolutely incredible.  The story is about a young woman who is starting to show signs that she may be a witch, which is not as surprising as it seems in Harrow County, which has quite a history of living with the bizarre.  This title is creepy and pretty in equal measures.

Shadoweyes in Love – Ross Campbell’s second book about Shadoweyes, a mutated teen girl in a dystopian future city continues to explore the themes that Campbell’s known for – relationships and ambiguity in identity.  Like Wet Moon and his other work, it’s very readable and quickly draws in readers, but being the middle volume of a series (that I’m not sure was ever finished), it frustrates in its lack of beginning or ending.


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