The Weekly Round-Up #365 With Savage #1, Saga #40, Serenity: No Power in the ‘Verse #2, Star Wars Annual #2 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Savage #1 – Savage is an interesting book.  The beginning shows us a teenage boy attacking and killing a dinosaur before going to his house.  The rest of the book is a flashback, showing this boy as a teenager, trapped on a remote island with his parents – a bad boy soccer player and his wife.  I’m often impressed by B. Clay Moore’s writing, so I wasn’t all that surprised to enjoy this so much, and am always up for some new Lewis LaRosa artwork (he handles the present-day sequence).  Valiant is approaching a Turok-like character from a different angle than the usual, and it’s got my attention.  This is worth checking out, as is any book published in Valiant’s beautiful ‘prestige’ format.

Quick Takes:

Batman Annual #1 – I’m not sure we need any more Batman short stories, but there are some decent ones here, all of which have a Christmas theme to them.  There’s some excellent artwork from Declan Shalvey and Bilquis Eveley too.  

Black Widow #8 – Now Natasha is off to try to catch all of the young girl assassins that have been set loose in the world, and that takes her and the Weeping Lion to the White House, where one such young lady has infiltrated a group of school girls going on a tour.  It’s another excellently choreographed issue, as Chris Samnee continues to impress.

Deadly Class #24 – As we get to know the new students, I find that I like them more and more, especially compared to the group that has coalesced (grudgingly) around Shabnam.  Rick Remender and Wes Craig do some excellent character work in this issue, as we get more insight into just who Zenzele is, and as Helmut has to deal with a particularly toxic case of gas to hilarious effect.  I love this comic.

Exodus: The Life After #9 – I think there’s only one issue left in this truly wonderful and bizarre series about an afterlife, and that means that both Jude and the Great Potato (aka God) turn up again, just as a full-blown religious war kicks off in the stand-in for Disney World.  The high point of this issue is when Ernest Hemingway leads a group into a ride that celebrates conformity and commerce.  Joshua Hale Fialkov has managed to get away with some very seditious and sacrilegious stuff in this series, and that’s why I love it.

Generation Zero #4 – Fred Van Lente is making this my favourite Valiant comic, as the team prepares to take on the town of Rook, and as Keisha forgets to pick up her little brother, making him a target for the Cornermen who are making the city so unsafe.  From last issue’s look into the mind of a very privileged teenager to this issue’s building sense of dread, and revelations about the technology that underpins the town, Van Lente is doing some very cool stuff.  Francis Portela is basically the new Darick Robertson, and he makes the book look terrific.  Good stuff.

Ms. Marvel #13 – I can’t tell if this comic was originally supposed to come out before the American election or not.  Kamala learns that Hydra has secretly redistricted Jersey City as a means towards winning the mayoralty, until Kamala and her friends mobilize the city to vote in record numbers.  There is a lengthy part wherein she basically educates everyone on how to register and vote (this part is a little heavy-handed and obvious), and generally, she brings a sense of optimism to the concept of democracy that has to feel like a giant kick in the teeth, now that we know how the whole thing worked out.  The issue ends on a note of optimism that is a little hard to actually feel right now.  I guess that’s what superheroes are for though – to provide hope when things look bleak.

Old Man Logan #14 – I hope that regular artist Andrea Sorrentino is just taking a short break from this title, as Lemire and new artist Felipe Andrade move away from the flashback/forward structure of the last thirteen issues, to instead send OML on a mission looking for Jubilee.  This has him teaming up with the Howling Commandos (the recent monster-filled iteration) and facing off against Dracula and a ton of vampires.  I’m not sure I’d be into this kind of thing long-term, but for a single arc, I’m okay with it.

Saga #40 – This was a bit of a bleak issue, as warring factions flee Phang, Prince Robot gets high, and various characters look like they are going to have to compromise their core beliefs, once again.  Saga is always a great read.

n – More fun with the crew of the Serenity, as they learn about a new cell-based resistance movement, get some mail, and run into River’s fellow augmented warriors.  If I’m being honest, I found just about everything about this issue to be completely predictable, which is a shame, as I really really miss Firefly.  I just find that, in the wake of the film, there aren’t as many spaces left for interesting stories to be told.  Oh, and RIP Ron Glass, who played the most interesting character on the show.

Seven to Eternity #3 – Rick Remender and Jerome Opeña spent three whole issues setting up this new series, and I think it was a wise decision, although it did ask a lot of the reader to figure out a lot of what’s happening on his or her own.  The title of this series makes sense now, as the main character joins a group of heroes on a quest to save the world.  I love the depth of Opeña’s art here, and am pleased to see that this book is probably going to be around for a while, like Remender’s Black Science and Deadly Class (I have no idea what’s going on with Low).

Sex #33 – As with every issue of Sex, a lot of stuff happens, and things feel like the stuff that’s about to happen will be even bigger.  Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski put out a very good comic here, and I almost never hear anyone else talk about it, which is a shame.  It’s among Casey’s best work.

Star Wars Annual #2 – Kelly Thompson and Emilio Laiso give us a very good story about an underwater engineer turned dock worker who decides to hide an injured Princess Leia from the Empire, despite having a lot of resentment towards the Rebellion in general, and Leia in particular.  It’s a very good study of both characters, and provides some interesting insight into Leia.  Laiso’s art is lovely, in a Terry Dodson kind of way, and a nice surprise.

The Totally Awesome Hulk #12 – I’m hoping that we are done with the self-pitying Cho that we’ve been seeing lately, as Marvel tries to make it seem like Bruce Banner’s death has real impact in the Marvel Universe.  I do like the ending of this issue though, which has Amadeus and Hawkeye meeting to discuss everything that’s happened.  It’s really beyond time for Civil War II to be finished.  

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

Extraordinary X-Men #16

Guardians of the Galaxy #14

Inhumans Vs. X-Men #0

New Avengers #18

Skeptics #2

Uncanny Inhumans #16

Witchfinder: City of the Dead #4

Bargain Comics:

All-New All-Different Avengers #13&14 – I question if there was ever really a plan for this book.  These two issues are ostensibly tie-ins to Civil Wars II, but they are both focused on individual characters, more or less.  In the first, the Vision travels through time to try to kill Kang as a baby, but it looks like instead he becomes responsible for creating him (because if there is one character in the Marvel Universe who needs to be made more complicated, it’s Kang).  In the other, the new Wasp and the regular Wasp do some stuff that didn’t really interest me.  I really don’t think this is a run that’s going to be very fondly remembered – it’s been much more about setting up other series.  Most of the run has been about organizing the conditions for the Champions to be launched, issue 14 is a lead-in to the Wasp’s upcoming book (which I can’t believe anyone is clamoring for), and issue 13 sets up the current Avengers book.  Disappointing stuff, really.

Grayson #20 – I feel it’s a lasting shame that Tom King and Tim Seeley weren’t able to complete their run on Grayson, because the writers that came after them – Kelly and Lanzing – may have closed up shop adequately, but the level of quality is just not what I’d gotten used to on this book.  That’s why it’s taken me so long to get around to getting this issue, and it wasn’t much to write about.  It’s all good though, because I’m mostly enjoying Tim Seeley’s work on Nightwing in the Rebirth world.

Grayson Annual #3 – Here Lanzing and Kelly better captured the feel of Seeley and King’s work with Dick and Spyral, as we see four short stories featuring him alongside heroes like Azrael, John Constantine, Harley Quinn, and Green Lantern Simon Baz (I think that’s his name).  This Annual has some nice art, although the framing sequence felt pretty off, as did Constantine’s bi-curiosity.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

City of Clowns

Written by Daniel Alarcón
Art by Sheila Alvarado

I picked up the graphic novel adaptation of Daniel Alarcón’s short story, City of Clowns.It is the story of a young man in Lima, Peru, named Oscar, but called Chino.  His father has recently died, which has made it impossible for Chino to hide from the fact that his father had another family.

Chino’s mother has become close with her husband’s mistress, and has even gone to live there, while Chino feels himself somewhat lost, and prone to wandering the streets of Lima.  He is supposed to be on an assignment, reporting on the ubiquitous clowns that fill the streets, but is largely unable to concentrate.  He ends up posing as a clown himself for a while, while also sharing with the reader his memories of his father and his childhood.

Chino, whose family had come to Lima from a poor mining town, had been given the opportunity to receive a quality education thanks to the kindness of his mother’s employer, yet he never quite felt a part of his peer group.  Having to help his father renovate and maintain his peers’ homes did not make it any easier (although his inevitable involvement in the robbery of their homes did help salve his wounded ego).

This is a hard story to describe without the benefit of Sheila Alvarado’s expressive art.  She lays things out beautifully, and uses the images to enhance the story in a way that is uncommon in literary adaptations.

I’m a big fan of South American writers like Roberto Bolaño, and see some clear parallels between some of his writing, this graphic novel, and the brilliant Daytripper, one of my top five favourite comics, by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon.  Perhaps it’s just because Chino ends up writing his father’s obituary, but I thought of that book numerous times while reading this.

I highly recommend this comic.

Tales From Beyond Science – This collection of oddball short stories all drawn by Rian Hughes is equally charming and forgettable.  He and his writers, Mark Millar, John Smith, and Alan McKenzie had some fun updating the kind of weird fifties and sixties stories that first got him interested in comics, but there’s nothing particularly lasting about this book.  Nice art, though.