The Weekly Round-Up #384 With Grass Kings #2, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #6, Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight #1, Seven To Eternity #5 & More

Best Book of the Week:

Grass Kings #2 – Matt Kindt expands his story with this issue, as the sudden appearance of a girl in the lake sets Robert, the ‘King’ of the Grass Kingdom, into reveries of his daughter, and as the authorities in Cargill make their move against the squatter kingdom.  This is a very interesting series, which I feel has a lot more to reveal to us.  Tyler Jenkins’s watercolours feel a little more rushed in this issue, but are still quite lovely.  This is one of the more intriguing series on the stands right now.

Quick Takes:

Black Panther & The Crew #1 – I enjoyed this comic and Ta-Nehisi Coates’s writing a great deal, but have some serious continuity issues with it that really bothered me.  The story starts in the 1950s, with an activist superteam, but then when it moves to the modern day, I can’t tell if the story is set in Marvel’s current continuity, or a few years before.  Despite the book being called Black Panther & The Crew, this is really a Misty Knight solo story (with one prominent X-Man tossed in for good measure).  The thing is, Misty is on the police force in this comic, and has her bionic arm.  I always thought (as confirmed by Wikipedia) that Misty lost her arm and then left the force, and her appearance here is very different from how she is shown in Captain America: Sam Wilson, even though she makes reference to her relationship to Sam.  As well, Misty ends up fighting earlier versions of the Americops, who are also in the Cap series, but here they are robotic, and she mentions that Sam will later fight the human versions of these private police contractors.  If I choose to leave aside these problems, which is admittedly difficult for me, we are left with a solid book about a cop who is investigating possible wrongdoing by corrections officers, leading to the death of a long-time activist and former costumed character.  This stuff feels very relevant and is handled well, with the man’s family trying to avoid conflict in the street.  It’s clear that Coates is working to capture some of what worked so well in the Luke Cage TV series, especially in his depiction of Harlem, and anyone who has read his incredible Between the World and Me would know that he is definitely qualified to write about police brutality and overstep.  In fact, this is closer to what I expected him to sound like on the comics page when he started writing Black Panther.  Butch Guice’s art is always welcome in my home, and I’m curious to see where Coates and incoming co-writer Yona Harvey take this story, and how they can plausibly pull in T’Challa and Manifold to what looks like a Harlem problem.

Captain America: Sam Wilson #21 – While you could argue that this issue spins its wheels a little in advance of Secret Empire, it does a good job of recapping the series so far, and provides each of the supporting characters a good moment or two of their own, while Sam decides to quit being Cap in protest after what happened to Rage.  I still say this is the superior Cap series.

Copperhead #12 – The mystery of who killed the mayor deepens while Sheriff Bronson’s professional and personal lives become a lot more complicated, leading to her making a rash decision.  I still miss Scott Godlewski’s art on this title, but Drew Moss is doing a fine enough job of taking over for him.  

Detective Comics #954 – James Tynion IV pulls off something with this issue that hasn’t happened a lot lately; he makes Ras Al Ghul incredibly cool again, as we learn how he’s played Batman where the League of Shadows is concerned, and then suggests an uneven alliance to stop Shiva and her people.  At the same time, the Colony makes its move, while one of Batman’s last remaining allies makes hers.  This was a good issue.

Doctor Aphra #6 – Aphra’s first arc comes to its end, as the story behind Rur and Ordu is revealed, and as she does her usual self-preservation thing.  This was a solid arc, and I’m looking forward to the upcoming crossover with the main Star Wars title, which could use a little more focus about now.

Drifter #18 – Drifter is moving itself squarely into Lost territory with this latest issue, which I believe is the penultimate one in the series.  Confronting one’s failings becomes a lot more intense in this issue as doppelgangers start showing up, and the population of the town start to understand how they came to be there.  I didn’t, up to even a couple of months ago, think that Drifter would move into this territory, and I’m not sure if it’s going to provide a satisfying ending or not.  At the same time, Nic Klein’s art on this series has always been great, and it’s always been a thought-provoking read.  I just think that I always react negatively when a science fiction story incorporates elements of magical realism; I like to keep my genres separate I guess.

Immortal Brothers: The Tale of the Green Knight #1 – It’s nice to see the Anni-Padda brothers again, especially when being written by Fred Van Lente, but this retelling of an Arthurian legend leaves me wanting something more contemporary.  Still, a good read, although maybe not $5 good…

Justice League of America #4 – Lord Havok and the Extremists get taken care of at the end of the first arc, and my hope is that the book will now focus more on team building and not so much on large sweeping stories.  There are a lot of interesting characters in this book who haven’t been given any real space to shine yet.

Micronauts #11 – I’m not sure how I feel about the direction this title is headed.  I’ve been finding it more enjoyable of late, as the team has come together and been working to help the scientist who helped them, but it looks like it’s going on hiatus to be replaced by a series featuring Baron Karza, and I don’t think I care about that.  Cullen Bunn has not made Karza a credible character or threat in this book, and so he comes off as a Darth Vader wannabe, and that’s not all that interesting to me.  I think I might be done with this comic now…

Motor Crush #5 – A lot more is made clear in this issue, as Domino begins to learn about her past, and confronts the mysterious man who seems to know a lot about her.  I’ve been enjoying this book a lot, and feel like this is one of the strongest issues of it to date.  Babs Tarr makes this comic look amazing.  I’m so much happier reading this book than I was the creative team’s Batgirl.

New Super-Man #10 – Kenan’s adventure in America continues, as Superman gets involved, and we learn a few new things about Master I-Ching.  I like this book best when it’s not interacting too much with the DCU outside of China, so while this issue was fine, it relied too much on things I know nothing about (i.e. Lex Luthor’s Rebirth status, and whatever happened in the Superman Reborn event).

Redline #2 – I was on the fence about the first issue of this comedic science fiction mystery story set on Mars, but when I gave that book a second read, I decided I should also give it a second chance.  This issue works better, as a terrorist bombing targets the boss lady we met in the first issue, and the agents start to track down leads as to what is really going on.  It’s a little weird reading the opening sequence, which features a bombing run being carried out against the indigenous people of Mars just a day after Trump dropped his ‘mother of all bombs’ on Afghanistan, but that also provides some interesting context to reading this book.  I think I’m on for the duration now.

Seven to Eternity #5 – Rick Remender is taking a very long road with this book (as are the main characters), as he focuses as much on character development and interaction as the actual plot of the story, which has the five surviving heroes taking their enemy across the world to stop his influence over most people.  It’s a very interesting approach, although occasionally hard to follow.  Jerome Opeña’s art is incredible.

The Wicked + The Divine #28 – Another arc ends as we learn a few more things, such as Woden’s true identity, and about some of Annanke’s last moments.  As always, this series continues to build upon itself in new and interesting ways, altough it’s never all that clear where it’s actually heading.  That’s what I love about it.

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

Amazing Spider-Man #26

Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #7

Guardians of the Galaxy #19

Harrow County #22

Hellboy and the BPRD: 1954 – Hell Moon #2

Kingpin #3

Mercury Heat #12

Mosaic #7

Old Man Logan #21

Power Man and Iron Fist #15

Rom #9

Silver Surfer #10

Weapon X #1

X-Men Blue #1

Bargain Comics:

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye #2-4 – I was intrigued by the first issue of this series, but not enough to pay full price for it.  These three issues leave me in roughly the same place – I like this book when I read it, but it almost immediately leaves my mind, and does not exactly put me in a place where I desire to read more of it.  I thought that including Wild Dog might up my interest, but the character is really just hanging out in the background.  I’m also, after years of reading Powers, really tired of Michael Avon Oeming’s storytelling, although any scene with Cave’s tunnelling car is pretty cool.

Civil War II: The Oath #1 – It was interesting to give Nick Spencer the chance to write a complete talking heads issue bridging Civil War II and Secret Empire, one that solidifies Steve Roger’s place as head of SHIELD, and suggests that his Hydra loyalties were long buried, which does make the last fifty years of Marvel comics more understandable.  Is this an essential chapter of anything?  I doubt it, but it helps to clarify a few things.  Also, I find Rod Reis an interesting artist – he’s like a very static Bill Sienkiewicz.  I can’t decide if I like his work or not…

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Youth is Wasted – I’m not sure why I’ve avoided the work of Noah Van Sciver for all of my life, except for a general dislike of his brother Ethan’s work, but I’m pleased I fixed that error by reading this excellent collection of his cartoons.  Van Sciver writes about unhappy young men and their travails with love and life in the service industry (if they are lucky enough to work there).  His stuff is a little bleak, but also strangely affirming.  I’m definitely going to be looking for more of it to read now.