The Weekly Round-Up #366 With Motor Crush #1, Ninjak #22, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #1, The Walking Dead #161 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Motor Crush #1 – I enjoyed Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babbs Tarr’s work on Batgirl, but am happier to see them launching their own title at Image.  Motor Crush is a very exciting new comic.  It’s set in a world that worships motorcycle racing, and centres on Domino, an up-and-coming racer who also participates in unsanctioned cannonball runs in a (pretty unconcealing) disguise.  This issue builds this world, and shows us how things work, without really explaining too much.  There is some sort of substance – a drug or a stimulant, called Crush that racers covet (and enter the violent Cannonballs to obtain), but when one person drinks some, he ends up exploding.  Domino loses her stash, which leads her to make a desperate choice, and which pits her against the ‘producers’ who run the races.  Tarr’s art is excellent here, and the race scenes are incredibly exciting.  I have the expectation that this is going to end up being one of my favourite new series.

Quick Takes:

Aliens: Defiance #7 – Brian Wood is approaching the Aliens universe from a completely original direction with this series.  In this issue, we learn that Hollis, the woman the Zula and Davis rescued from a space station, has one of the aliens inside her, and she decides to harvest it for study.  There are some pretty harrowing scenes in this issue, as Hollis figures out how to get the creature out of herself and keep them both alive.  I’m very appreciative of Wood’s work here, as it’s one of the most cerebral takes on this property yet, and that makes it very novel.

Arclight #3 – I’m very happy to see this title, by Brandon Graham and Marian Churchland, which was at first a part of the 8House anthology series, return and continue after a very long wait.  The thing is, I don’t remember much of what was going on in the first two issues, although I do remember not really understanding a lot of what was going on.  In that sense, this issue wasn’t much different, as I don’t really understand the plot.  I also don’t much care, because Churchland’s art is truly lovely.  I should dig out the first two chapters and read them again with this before issue four comes out.  I feel like this is a comic that would read better in trade anyway.

Batman #12 – I was very impressed with Mikel Janín’s art in this issue of Batman.  The entire issue is taken up with Batman fighting his way through Bane’s fortress to his throne room, and the layouts and choreography in the issue are top shelf.  Janín was great on Grayson, but his work here makes that book look like it was done in a hurry.  The narration for the issue consists of a letter Batman wrote (or at least thought about writing, since you probably wouldn’t put this stuff on paper) to Catwoman, and it provides an effective backbone to the action.  To be blunt, I’m a little tired of the constant circling back to Batman’s loss, but I can totally understand that he wouldn’t be past things yet.  We learn why this arc is called “I Am Suicide”, and get a good look at Tom King’s understanding of the character.  Still, this is very much Janín’s issue, and he owns it.

Black Science #26 – Rick Remender keeps switching things around in this series.  We’ve gotten used to seeing just how bad things are back at home, now that Block is gathering his other-dimensional counterparts to help him profit off the Pillar technology, but now Pia has discovered that one of her companions have returned to Earth, and of course she expects it to be her brother.  This is a Remender book, so of course, no one gets what they want.  

Doctor Aphra #1 – I’d found Dr. Aphra to be the most exciting character in Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader series, and I’m pleased to see her get her own title.  Anti-heroes can be a lot of fun, and Aphra, the murdering amoral archaeologist who travels with a pair of psychotic droids and a Wookie bounty hunter, is a great one.  I like how this book gives Gillen the chance to tell smaller stories set in the Star Wars universe, and am happy to see Kev Walker back on a regular title.  I hope this sticks around for a while.

Invisible Republic #13 – My favourite political science fiction epic continues, as Maia has to defend her temporary home on Asan in the past, and as Croger travels to meet with Maia across a river literally teeming with dead bodies in the present.  I like that Croger is both responsible for, and completely ignorant of, many of the developments that have happened on Avalon since he published Maia’s memoirs, and I look forward to getting a fuller understanding of the present facts for myself.  Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman are doing very impressive work with this series, and it looks great.

Island #13 – I still love Island, but this anthology series is feeling less and less dense, with more silent or almost wordless strips taking over more of the book.  It’s all good though – I trust Brandon Graham and his collaborators to keep surprising with each new issue.

Micronauts #8 – I thoroughly enjoyed this issue of Micronauts, as the team complete their escape from the American military and discover a small city of beings from their universe.  It’s taken a while for this title to establish itself and gain its footing, but I feel like Cullen Bunn has things well in hand now.

Midnighter and Apollo #3 – This is another title that has taken a little while to find its footing, but is now starting to work a lot better, as Apollo and Neron play a boardgame in Hell, and as Midnighter embarks on a quest for a mystical weapon that stands the best chance of helping him rescue his beloved from Hell.  Fernando Blanco does some very nice work on some of the finer details of life in hell this issue.

Moon Knight #9 – I found that Jeff Lemire and an impressive group of artists’ approach to Marc Spector’s mental illness to be quite touching in this issue.  Marc confronts his various alter egos in the Egyptified New York City and one by one absorbs or kills them so that he can be whole and healthy again.  The way the art shifts from one artist to another works pretty seamlessly, which is surprising when you see how different their styles are, and Lemire’s writing is very sharp.  I am really enjoying this series, and am curious to see how Marc’s coming confrontation with Khonshu will go.

Nightwing #10 – Dick moves to Blüdhaven this issue, and in a lot of ways, it feels like a relaunch of the title again.  Tim Seeley spends much of the issue setting up the new status quo, having Dick apply to volunteer to work with youth, and showing us that the mayor is desperate to turn the town’s reputation around.  I’m interested in where this is headed, although I had hoped that Raptor would be sticking around this book for a while longer.  Marcus To does a good job as the new artist, but I’m completely confused as to who the person revealed at the end of the issue is.  This being a biweekly book, I won’t have to wait long to find out.

Ninjak #22 – Matt Kindt and Cafu give us a mostly silent issue, as Ninjak receives a tip as to the whereabouts of Roku, and has to fight his way through a ton of monks to get to her.  It’s a decent enough issue, and the surprise at the end does make me a little more interested in what’s happening in the next arc, as I’ve been getting a little bored of this series lately.

Providence #11 – For months I’ve been hoping that this title will pick up some, and now it has in a surprising way, as over the course of this issue, Alan Moore moves the action from Robert’s investigations into the occult to the modern day, as he picks up threads from his earlier Avatar series Neonomicon.  It’s a weird, kaleidoscopic issue, but it helps bring a lot of cohesion to the project (and gets props for a cameo by William S. Burroughs).

Revival #45 – We finally see Em’s murder in this issue, as we move ever closer to the big finish.  Dana thinks she knows how to solve the problems of her community, and she sets out to do this, just as the local militia and the military make their moves too.  Tim Seeley has spent a lot of time building this story, so it’s exciting to see all these various threads and hints that were around from the beginning are going to come together.

Shade the Changing Girl #3 – Shade is trying to settle into her new body and life on Earth, but being inside a teenage sociopath who is feared and hated by everyone does not make high school easier for her.  I continue to enjoy Cecil Castellucci and especially Marley Zarcone’s work on this title.

The Walking Dead #161 – With the Hilltop on fire, Carl works to save people, and the Whisperer War continues to rage around him.  This is a very effective issue, because you really can’t put it past Robert Kirkman to kill off a major character at any moment.  I also like the way in which he’s setting the groundwork for a coming conflict with the Saviors in the midst of all this chaos.  Great stuff, as always.

The Wicked + The Divine #24 – It’s a new year, and as everyone still struggles to process all that happened with Ananke, it seems that Persephone has taken charge of things, more or less, and while busy getting to know just about everyone in the Pantheon on a physical level, is also interested in establishing just how involved Woden was in Ananke’s plans.  As always with this series, there’s a lot of great stuff here.

The Woods #28 – Each issue lately has been a big one, and James Tynion IV and Michael Dialynas top themselves again with this issue.  The kids make their way into the city, thinking that it might hold the secret to getting them home, but Isaac, who interfaces with the city, starts falling apart in a hurry, and things do not look good.  At the same time, something huge happens back on Earth that is going to have big consequences for the rest of the series from here on out.  Great stuff.

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

All-New Wolverine #15

Avengers #2

Champions #3

Clone Conspiracy #3

Coldest Winter HC

Nova #1

Rise of the Black Flame #4

Scarlet Witch #13

Superman #12

Über Invasion #1

Unworthy Thor #2

World of Tanks #3

Bargain Comics:

A-Force #4-7 – I continue to find this a very strange little book.  It’s entertaining and kind of fun, but when you consider how differently three of the main characters (Medusa, Captain Marvel, and She-Hulk) get portrayed in all other comics, including the ones they headline, I’m not sure what the goal is here.  This series is in continuity, but doesn’t fit well with it.  Talent Cardwell’s art is very nice though, and that makes it worth buying.

Death of X #1&2 – This series is supposed to be filling in the eight-month gap between Secret Wars and the ANAD relaunches, yet so much of what’s going on with the Inhumans seems to be set after the first few issues of their All-New title.  Beyond that, I’m not sure how much we are supposed to care about discovering that the Terrigen Mist is killing mutants, since we already know that.  What I’m more interested in is learning why Marvel needs to repeat things to the extent that Jamie Madrox, who once died from the Legacy Virus, also needs to be the canary in the M-Pox coalmine.  Are there no new ideas?  And why is Iceman hanging out with Cyclops’s negative X-Squad?  And, if Goldballs was also chosen to be a retroactive sacrificial lamb, why is he perfectly healthy in Spider-Man? Oh wait, I know the answer to that – Brian Michael Bendis.  I’m very tired of poorly coordinated event books.  It doesn’t give me a lot of hope for IVX or whatever that’s called.