The Weekly Round-Up #371 With Southern Bastards #16, Invisible Republic #14, Ninjak #23, Star Wars: Poe Dameron #10 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Southern Bastards #16 – Coach Boss and his main flunkies go to visit a star football player from their next game because of how desperate he is to stop his losing streak.  Things end up a lot more violent than he expected, but because this is Jason Aaron and Jason Latour, about as violent as the reader should expect.  This book continues to be very powerful and impressive; I just wish it came out a lot more often.  

Quick Takes:

Captain America: Steve Rogers #9 – Most of this issue is given over to Maria Hill’s trial for the events of the Standoff event, which came before Civil War II, where I think she also acted kind of questionably, but that doesn’t get discussed much.  I’m getting more than a little bored with the flashbacks to Steve’s youth with Hydra, and think that this book is not going to survive the culling I’m instituting because of Marvel’s decision to drop their digital codes (which I’m going to be mentioning a lot this week, as it’s forcing me to really stop and think about which Marvel titles I’m going to be keeping).  I don’t care that this is all foundational to Marvel’s next big event; I’m bored.  The Sam Wilson title is way more entertaining.

Daredevil #15 – So Matt is feeling guilty about what happened to Blindspot in the last issue, and that’s understandable, but for some reason he’s decided to assuage his guilt by paying villains to try to assassinate him.  It’s a little odd, as is the priest Matt meets, but I trust Charles Soule at this point to keep the story interesting and original.  I’m also really happy to see Goran Sudzuka back on art duties, as I’ve always loved his work.  I’m currently paring back the Marvel section of my pullfile, in the wake of their decision to drop the digital codes, but this book is safe for as long as Soule stays this good on it.

Deathstroke #10 – We continue to travel through Slade’s origin, watch him get interrogated in the current time, and check in on Joseph and Rose as they make some new friends.  I especially like the way that writer Priest explores the Hmong community of Minnesota in this issue, as Rose gets to know her mother’s people.  I am continually impressed and challenged by this book, which is how it always works when Priest is writing.  Cary Nord’s art fits this title very well.

Detective Comics #948 – I was nervous when I saw that James Tynion IV was going to be joined for this issue by co-writer Marguerite Bennett and artist Ben Oliver, as I don’t believe either creator lives up to the hype that surrounds their names.  I still feel that way having read the issue.  Batwoman gets the focus, as this is the lead-up to her own title relaunching soon, as the Colony makes a move to recover Batwoman’s father, and there’s some stuff with human-seagull hybrids being made by the decomposing Monster Man left over from that previous mini-event that I also didn’t like that much.  When Tynion is the sole writer of this book, it’s great.  When he isn’t, it isn’t.

Invisible Republic #14 – This title continues to ramp up in terms of tension and danger, as the narrative is spread across three different time periods, although the fact that the contemporary story is happening forty-some years after the flashbacks doesn’t spoil or give away anything.  I think this is one of the smartest and most politically astute comics on the stands.  As Corinna Bechko and Gabriel Hardman dig deeper into the various political eras of Avalon, I can’t help but think of the current political climate, which has changed so much since this series was begun, but with its interest in totalitarianism, also has come to reflect it in some unfortunate ways.

Jessica Jones #4 – I’ve been pretty frustrated with this title since it started, but finally, with this issue, Brian Michael Bendis explains a lot of what’s been going on between Jessica and Luke.  Sadly, the content is coming a little late in this very decompressed title, as I don’t think I’m going to stick with it either (if the digital codes were still a thing, I would have happily kept buying this title though).  I do love the way Michael Gaydos draws New York in this issue.

Moonshine #4 – This Prohibition era werewolf story by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso is terrific.  No one handles confusion and dread the way they do.  I’m enjoying this a whole lot.

Motor Crush #2 – The first issue of this new series really grabbed my attention, and this second one doesn’t disappoint, as we begin to piece together a lot more information about Domino.  Now we know that her father adopted her, and we meet her former girlfriend and mechanic, as well as get a little more information about just what Crush, the drug that everyone in the illegal race world is chasing.  We also get a beautiful and exciting chase sequence, thanks to Babs Tarr.  This is a very impressive new title.

Motro #3 – I continue to be blown away by the strangeness and awesomeness that is Ulises Fariñas’s Motro.  This issue has our super-strong hero following a vision given to him by a frog wizard, and later cementing his control of his adoptive father’s army.  This book is completely unpredictable and utterly bizarre, with terrific art.  Good, good stuff.

Ms. Marvel #14 – This is a typically charming issue of Ms. Marvel, as Kamala figures out that one of her guildmates from her favourite video game is stalking her, although it all looks more complicated than that.  It makes me sad to say this, but I think I’m going to be dropping this title now because of the whole digital code thing.  I like this book a lot, but the stories are pretty slight and decompressed, and not really worth the extra money now.

Namesake #3 – Steve Orlando’s latest Boom! series has been pretty impressive.  It’s set in a mystical realm that connects to Earth only every seven years, and features a character who has a father from both worlds.  He’s gone to the other world now, and learns just who his one father really is, and this leads to him wanting to make an alliance with a rival to stop that evil man.  This is a very complex world that Orlando’s created, but also a pretty fascinating one.  Jakub Rebelka’s art is very nice, but this issue feels a little stiffer than the last two, I’m just not sure why.

New Super-Man #7 – Now that the first arc is out of the way, Gene Luen Yang is taking the time to further develop the members of the Justice League of China, to hint at an upcoming Green Lantern character, and to make use of the Great Ten’s August General in Iron.  This is a very solid issue that helps cement this book as one of my unexpected favourite Rebirth titles.  New artist Billy Tan is a good fit for this title.

Ninjak #23 – Matt Kindt seems to keep circling back on himself in this series, as Roku goes about putting together the Shadow Seven for one final mission, which will also need Ninjak’s help, despite the fact that they all hate each other.  It’s still entertaining, but it’s beginning to feel a little recycled.

Occupy Avengers #3 – Hawkeye and Red Wolf are in Chicago for a fight-then-teamup with Nighthawk and his partner Nightshade.  David Walker’s structure for this story is weird, in that it relies heavily on a dispute between Clint and Nighthawk that doesn’t happen in this issue (and that I never read anywhere), and that the main plot device depends on some events that are told in flashback halfway through the issue.  Other than that, it’s a solid superhero story with nice art by Carlos Pacheco.  It’s not exactly about the types of societal ills that I expected this series to cover, but I’m down to give it a few more issues, even without the digital code.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #24 – There’s a lot going on in this issue, as the Reverend gets the leader of the possessed alone in a basement, and decides to take out some of his frustrations on him (in a brutal scene that only Kirkman could write), while Kyle worries about his daughter.  A new character at the end of the book makes things even more mysterious, as things really begin to ramp up.  This is a smart, and very well-plotted series.

Poe Dameron #10 – I was getting ready to cut this title loose, and had Marvel cancelled their digital codes program even three months ago, this book would have been gone.  Since then, however, Charles Soule has been slowly building on Agent Terex’s character, to the point that I’m now quite interested in seeing more of his story.  This issue shows us how he gave up his dream of bringing back the Empire, and how he first discovered the First Order, all while keeping us entertained with the travails of Poe and C3PO as they try to retrieve the droid they are looking for.  I think I might still drop this book from my pullfile list, but I can see myself possibly continuing to buy it off the stands.

Power Man and Iron Fist #12 – David Walker’s story is getting more and more complicated, with large numbers of characters all gathering to fight things out in a building owned by Tombstone, which is also set to explode.  I like this book, and especially like Sanford Greene’s artwork, but as with so many Marvel books, I don’t think I’m going to stick with it now.

Shipwreck #3 – I feel like it shouldn’t take three issues, in today’s comics market, for a series to begin to take shape, especially when that shape is still largely obscured and uncertain.  I found Warren Ellis’s discussion of how the moon Titan is the closest thing to Earth in the solar system, and his suggestion that one good methane release is all it would take to wipe out life on Earth, but the rest of this book, like the two issues before it, remain stubbornly obscure, and worse, not all that interesting.  Is Ellis just phoning this one in?

Spider-Man #12 – I really wish that this book wasn’t entering into a crossover with Spider-Gwen just as I’m having to assess whether or not I keep or drop most of my Marvel titles.  This is the most Miles-centric issue we’ve seen in months, and between the way Bendis writes the character, and especially the way Sara Pichelli draws him, I’d like to stick with this, but I don’t want to have to start getting issues of a title I’m not interested in to understand it.  Miles is looking for his missing father when Maria Hill shows up and sends him to Gwen’s dimension, which is where she thinks his father has gone.  It’s kind of weak plotting, but it’s so nice to see Miles back in the middle of his title again.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #20 – As I feared, it’s another Amy Racecar/Lil ‘B issue, and while this one gives some important insight into what’s really been going on in David Lapham’s odd side-story issues, I never like these as much as I do the regular story issues.

The Totally Awesome Hulk #14 – The two-part love letter to NBA player Jeremy Lin ends this issue, and I guess it’s a perfectly fine comic, but I think it’s a little silly and too celebrity-obsessed.  This title is definitely not living up to its potential, which is what I hoped would happen once Civil War II stopped wasting our time.  I am pretty sure that I won’t be continuing with this book starting in March.

Wonder Woman #14 – This issue marks the end of artist Nicola Scott’s tenure on the book, which is sad because she’s been excellent, and also great news, because it means she can go back to working on Black Magick, her superior Image book with Greg Rucka.  This issue has Diana fighting Ares and dealing with the SEAR group (a little too quickly for my liking).  It looks like the even-numbered issues are going to continue to take place in the past, which I find a little odd.  I’ve liked this book, but it is probably the weakest of the Rebirth titles that I’ve committed to.

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

All-New Wolverine #16

All-Star Batman #6

Beowulf HC

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #4

Grave Lilies #1

Guardians of the Galaxy #16

House of Penance TP

Inhumans Vs. X-Men #2

Lobster Johnson: Garden of Bones One-Shot

Mighty Thor #15

Shadows on the Grave #2

Silk #16

Skeptics #3

Uncanny Avengers #19

Uncanny X-Men #17

Bargain Comics:

All-New Wolverine #9-14 – Tom Taylor has made this a very entertaining title, as Laura and Gaby get roped into the Civil War for a bit in a story involving Old Man Logan, and then later, Laura is hit by the trigger scent once again, and made to murder an entire small town.  I like the way the character of Gaby balances out the usual darkness that comes with an X-23 comic.  I’m almost tempted to start picking this up regularly.

Superwoman #1-4 – I was interested in checking out this series, and remain intrigued by it, except for the complete and total immersion it requires in other Superman titles, especially Action Comics.  This book focuses on Lex Luthor almost as much as it does Lana Lang, and often references events that I don’t know anything about or understand just by reading this title.  Phil Jimenez has made Lana a very interesting character, and I love that Steel and his niece are such important supporting characters, but there’s just so much that I don’t understand going on.  I do like how much story is packed into each other, and enjoy Jimenez’s art, and that of Emanuela Lapacchino; I just can’t see myself continuing to read this as it stands because I have no desire to read Action Comics.