The Weekly Round-Up #356 With Deadly Class #22, Micronauts: Revolution #1, Saga #38, X-O Manowar #50 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Deadly Class #22 – School is back in session, and we meet a new group of students at the assassins’ school.  Some of the surviving characters are shown, as Shabnam struggles to hold on to the power he gained during finals, with every one of his ‘new friends’ looking to supplant him, while Saya is in pretty rough shape.  The end of the last arc was brutal, and while we are given a pretty obvious hint as to what happened to Marcus, I refuse to believe it yet.  It’s strange having an issue narrated by someone other than Marcus, but Rick Remender and Wes Craig have built up a deep well of trust where this book is concerned, so I’m curious to see where they take things.

Quick Takes:

Aliens: Defiance #5 – I feel like Brian Wood has hit his stride with this series, as Zulu and Davis find a massive refueling station infested with aliens, and work to rescue the sole survivor, just as some Colonial Marines also arrive.  Wood makes good use of the moral ambiguities the main characters live with, and continues to build them into interesting characters.  It’s nice to see Tristan Jones back on this book, and I hope he continues here.  

Batgirl #3 – I’d decided to give Batgirl until issue three to impress me, and while I feel like the storyline relies on way too many coincidences to be credible, I am enjoying Hope Larson’s story, and especially enjoying Rafael Albuquerque’s artwork.  I’m not ready to commit to this title yet by adding it to my pullfile list, but I will be getting the next issue.

Bloodshot Reborn #17 – The end (mostly, there’s an epilogue issue still to come) of the Bloodshot Island arc has Ray confronting Deathmate, and we learn just what Project Rising Spirit has been up to.  Jeff Lemire’s done a fine job with this series, and while I don’t like that it’s being rebooted and turned into Bloodshot USA in a couple of months, I’m going to be sticking with the title.  I have been very impressed with Mico Suayan’s art on this arc.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #13 – Sam’s fight with the Americops, a repressive private policing firm that has been profiling minority communities is interrupted this issue by his fight with USAgent, who has been sent by the corporate fatcats behind the Americops.  I really like the way that Nick Spencer has woven current political and racial issues into his run on this book, and gives us a realistic portrayal of some of the challenges Sam is having to face as a very visible black superhero who represents a nation that is not good to him.  I feel like this book walks a fine line, and am curious to know how it’s been received in some of the places in America most touched by racial strife.  

Captain America: Steve Rogers #5 – It’s obvious why this issue was so late, seeing as it shared a last page with last week’s CWII.  This issue is more ‘Guildenstern and Rosencrantz Are Dead in Civil War II’, as we see ‘evil’ Cap sneaking around the sides of scenes from the main event, as he tries to work Ulysses’s abilities to his own purposes, while continuing to pretend to be loyal to the Red Skull.  I think that Nick Spencer’s original idea of rewriting Cap as a Hydra agent had some potential, but the embroilment of that story into a line wide event has both diluted its force, and minimized its already shaky credulity.  This book has become a pretty big disappointment, in stark contrast to how good the Sam Wilson title is (which is much less event-mandated, more or less ignoring the CWII banner on this week’s issue).

Captain Marvel #9 – This title has had some issues retaining creators, it seems, seeing as the original writers have given over to the Gages, who have done a find job of working with the nonsense of Civil War II, but new artist Thony Silas has clearly never seen a picture of Puck before, drawing him just a couple of inches shorter than Aurora.  I’ve really gotten bored of CWII.  Stuff happens in this comic, but I think I’ve already forgotten what it is.  I’m not continuing with this title when it relaunches again this fall.

Deathstroke #3 – Slade goes to see his daughter Rose, also known as Ravager, who is the target of a hit herself.  We also see how Slade lost his eye.  Priest’s run with this title continues to impress, and I was pleased to see him reunite with his Crew collaborator Joe Bennett, who I’ve long thought of as one of the most undersung artists working in the business.  I am really enjoying this title, and see that Priest hasn’t missed a step since his Black Panther days.

Descender #15 – This whole arc has been exploring the various main characters’ pasts, and this issue focuses on Andy and Effie, as we follow them through their time at an orphanage, through their marriage and early work as scrappers, until Effie began to feel sympathy for the robots that everyone was destroying.  As has always been the case with this book, Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen take a very personal approach to these characters, and that is the book’s real strength.

Detective Comics #941 – Okay, I officially hate this Night of the Monster Men arc.  I’m not even sure I understand what’s going on now, between the Batman/woman motorcycle action, the citizens of Gotham being upset by red sludge in a cave, and the transformation of Gotham Girl.  Since Rebirth started, Detective has become one of my favourite titles, but this crossover event, scripted by the usually excellent Steve Orlando, has been working to change that.  A very regrettable decision, especially after the power of the last issue of this series.

Generation Zero #2 – Fred Van Lente introduces the rest of the team in this issue, as Keisha slowly meets them all, and tries to integrate them into life in her town, which is against her cop father’s wishes.  Van Lente is such a good character writer that the fact that not a lot of story happens here doesn’t really matter all that much.  It’s a good read.

Island #11 – Ancestor, the serial by Matt Sheean and Malachi Ward ended a long way from where it started (both in actual locations and times in the story and in terms of what the story was about), which I wasn’t really expecting.  I think I liked the first half of this tale a lot more than the end.  Grim Wilkins launched a new story, Mirenda, which was lovely, but another wordless one that might have benefited from some exposition.  Still, it’s Island, so I enjoyed it.

Micronauts: Revolution #1 – I have no interest in the Revolution event, and thought about dropping the two IDW books I’m currently buying (Micronauts and Rom) because of it, but since I’ve enjoyed what Cullen Bunn’s been doing with the main Micronauts book, I thought I’d check this out.  It’s probably good that I did, as there’s nothing here that has to do with whatever Revolution is (except, perhaps, for the last page), and really, this reads like the next issue of the regular series.  IDW, if you want to aim for mainstream crossover success, perhaps Civil War II is not what you should be emulating…

Ms. Marvel #11 – More CWII boringness, with more discussions of the pros and cons of predictive justice, but at least it will have some long-term repercussions for this title as Kamala makes a break with Captain Marvel, and a longtime friend makes a break with her.  I’m really, really bored of CWII taking over the series that I usually enjoy.

Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta #21 – Reverend Anderson really kicks butt this issue, as he takes on the group of possessed people holding Kyle, and learns just how deep the problem runs in his town.  Kirkman keeps this title moving pretty quickly, but not a lot more than that happens this issue, which doesn’t even check in on any of the subplots running.  It’s good stuff, but it’s over in a hurry.

Saga #38 – A few unexpected things happen in this issue of Saga, ranging from a six-month layover on Phang, the adoption of a large tribe of locals, and the death of a character who has been prominent in this book since the first issue.  BKV and Fiona Staples do their usual fine job of keeping this book moving, as new story possibilities are always popping up.

Spider-Woman #11 – And here we are again, with yet more CWII stuff gumming up an otherwise excellent series.  Jess is mad at Carol, so they argue.  I think I’ve been here before, just with a different superhero.  Blah blah blah.

Star Wars #23 – This is a really fun and exciting issue, as the team tries to make their stolen Star Destroyer stay together long enough to make it to a planet under siege by the Imperials, Han and Leia fight/flirt, and Luke gets to know Sanaa a little better.  This has been a very strong arc, finding time and space for every character to shine, while presenting a story that’s different from what we’re used to seeing.  We don’t hear as much about Marvel’s Star Wars line lately, but it continues to be very good, if not better than it was earlier.

Teen Titans: Rebirth #1 – I’m not entirely sure why I picked this up, because I usually find the Teen Titans an exercise in frustration (little known fact:  I absolutely hate Raven and anything having to do with Trigon, on a level that is completely irrational), but I like Jonboy Meyer’s art, and really like Damian Wayne.  This is very much a setup issue, as each member of the team gets a few pages of character establishment before being abducted by someone.  Nothing about this issue makes me want to get the next one, except that I do like the art.  I’m probably going to pass though.

Thief of Thieves #35 – We’ve finally hit the point in this very long heist thriller for a car chase, and Andy Diggle and Shawn Martinbrough give you one of the best car chases you’ve ever seen in comics.  This newest arc is a lot more fun that most of the previous ones, now that Redmond has moved past his familial baggage.  Good stuff.

The Totally Awesome Hulk #10 – I’m not sure I’m buying this angrier look at Amadeus after Bruce Banner’s death in CWII.  This issue has the Black Panther, in a Hulkbuster suit, pursuing Amadeus as he decides to act out on his rage, and it feels a little forced.  Part of the problem is that we didn’t get enough of Amadeus as the Hulk before CWII got started to really understand how he would feel.  I wish this title would slow down and stop being so decompressed.

The Ultimates #11 – As tired as I am of Thanos being used as the ultimate bad guy, I do like the way Al Ewing has the Ultimates work to stop him in this issue.  I’m sad to see that Kenneth Rocafort is off this title after this issue, as his unique approach to layout is part of what made this book work so well, although I do like his co-artist Djibril Morrisette’s style.  I wish this title weren’t getting relaunched; it makes me worry that sales will just drop faster and it will be cancelled, like every other good Avengers-style comic Ewing has written.

Wonder Woman #7 – The fight with Urzkataga comes to a close, as Wonder Woman and Cheetah face the god and WW figures out a few basic things about his nature.  This was a solid action issue, and a pretty enjoyable one at that.

X-O Manowar #50 – I really see this series as a huge accomplishment for Valiant; fifty issues (plus a large number of one-off specials and annuals) by a single writer is pretty unheard of these days, especially without a single reboot along the way.  Robert Venditti’s run comes to a close with the end of the conflict with the Torment, and a solution to the problems of the Vine.  It’s a solid issue, with a few unneeded but decent backup stories tacked on (including some Javier Pulido artwork!).  I was a bit disappointed to see that the title is being relaunched in 2017, although if it’s being written by Matt Kindt I’ll have to check that out.  Valiant closes the doors on their flagship title here, and I think they should be very proud of it.

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

Astro City #39

Civil War II: Kingpin #3

Extraordinary X-Men #14

Leaving Megalopolis: Surviving Megalopolis #6

New Avengers #16

Nova #11

Snotgirl #3

Witchfinder: City of the Dead #2

Bargain Comics:

All-New X-Men #9-11 – The Apocalypse Wars issues of this series have Genesis and Beast travel back in time and meet young En Sabah Nur long before he becomes Apocalypse.  Dennis Hopeless’s writing is sharp here, but as usual, I didn’t enjoy Mark Bagley’s work at all, and found that in the end, this storyline didn’t really do much to further develop Evan.

The Mighty Thor #8 – Although I’ve dropped this title, I like to check in on it, mostly for Russell Dauterman’s wonderful art.  Every time I do, however, I can’t help but think about how much more interesting this story would be if Thor/Jane Foster got more screen time.  This issue is about evenly divided between her and Dario Agger, and I feel like that might be one of the few issues where she appears that much.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Bodies – There were a few Vertigo miniseries that came out over the last few years that I basically ignored, and am now slowly starting to check out.  This one, written by Si Spencer, features four overlapping stories set in different eras, drawn by Dean Ormston, Phil Winslade, Meghan Hetrick, and Tula Lotay.  It’s a very nice looking book.  The story is a little hard to follow in places, dealing as it does with recurring murders, serial killers, and the same bodies showing up time and again over hundreds of years.  At the end of the day, it was an interesting and experimental book, and I credit Vertigo with giving something like this a try.