The Weekly Round-Up #394 With Royal City #4, Aliens: Defiance #12, Star Wars: Darth Vader #2, Invincible #137 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Royal City #4 – Jeff Lemire’s quiet examination of a family is really very impressive.  Pat is at the centre of this issue, as he begins to write again, and has to face some hard truths about himself, growing older, his writing, and his relationship with his dead brother.  It’s very powerful stuff.

Quick Takes:

Aliens: Defiance #12 – Brian Wood’s foray into the world of Aliens comes to a very strong close, as we learn the fate of Zula, Hollis, and Davis, and have it driven home, yet again, that while you can’t defeat the military-industrial complex, you can, at times, achieve some small victories.  I enjoyed this run, as Wood made the actual running from and killing of aliens secondary to his storyline, which was really about just how tough a young woman Zula is.  It’s good stuff, and should read great in a collection.

Batman #25 – Why, oh why, do we need yet another Batman story set in his earlier career?  Why do we need another Joker story again?  Especially one that doesn’t address the whole “There are 3 Jokers” thing that was set up in Rebirth?  I really believe that Tom King is one of the best writers to launch a career in the last decade, but his Batman is just too often falling short of my expectations.  This eight (!!!) part story about the war between the Joker and the Riddler, which is going to feature just about every guest appearance you can think of, in terms of Batman’s rogues, looks like it’s going to be a tedious thing.  It might be what gets me to drop this title.  

Batwoman #4 – The first arc is finished, and all it’s really done is establish that Kate spent some time with pirates and smugglers, and I don’t know if that’s added anything to her character.  This comic is quite pretty, thanks to Steve Epting, but I’m not sure that the story has really gripped me yet.  I think that I’m going to give it a couple more issues, but I’m worried that when Marguerite Bennett goes solo on the writing, there’s not going to be much to keep me here.  Already, this book feels very far away from how Kate is being portrayed in Detective Comics.

Black Hammer #10 – This is another excellent issue of this series, as we look back on the time that Slam Bradley tried to update himself for the 90s and had some issues with his shoulder pads during a fight.  Barbalien has an ill-advised meeting with the priest he’s been friendly with, while the Sheriff confronts his wife over her involvement with Sam.  This book keeps taking darker and darker turns, and I feel like we are getting closer to learning the truth behind the heroes’ imprisonment.  

The Black Monday Murders #6 – Things keep getting darker in this book about how money really does rule the world.  The Detective investigating the titular first murder takes an educational trip to Washington, while other cast members begin to move against one another.  This is a pretty interesting book, and it looks like it’s speeding up story wise, just as Jonathan Hickman cuts out a lot of the textual matter that made it a thicker, longer read before.

Captain America: Steve Rogers #18 – Steve gives an address to the leaders of the world, as this issue fleshes out some of the things happening in the main Secret Empire title.  I love the way the Black Panther is portrayed here, but I was hoping for more conflict between Steve and Namor, like the cover suggests.

Daredevil #22 – Charles Soule is a lawyer as well as a comics writer, so it’s no surprising that he can pull of a convincing set of courtroom scenes, as Daredevil testifies in a trial, and lands at the centre of an argument about whether or not costumed heroes should be compelled to reveal their identities.  It’s an interesting argument, and does set DD up for a slightly new approach to doing his job.  I like that he’s portrayed in his classic red costume in court; the new suit is cool, but it makes sense that he’d return to the familiar look to win over a jury.

Darth Vader #2 – Charles Soule is taking an interesting approach to this book, as we watch Vader wade through a group of clone soldiers tasked with inventorying a Jedi outpost.  There are no heroes or sympathetic characters here, and it’s interesting to see the clones’ perspective on the event of the Emperor’s galactic takeover.  I can’t help but think that Soule is commenting on Trump supporters who are likely to lose their health care and jobs, but still support the man.

Dept. H #15 – It’s time to really look at Mia’s history as the survivors scramble to get to a safe place as the undersea station is beyond repair.  Matt Kindt’s art, and Sharlene Kindt’s painting of it, are so beautiful in this book.  There are some very impressive pages this month.

Doctor Strange #22 – I am really enjoying this rather bizarre foray into Secret Empire.  Strange and Spider-Woman are being forced to work with the Kingpin in their attempt to rescue Manhattan from the Darkforce Dimension, and to do that, they rely on the Kingpin’s knowledge of where a magical arsenal is located.  Niko Henrichon’s art is incredible, and I am still very surprised to see that he is on a book like this.  It nicely replaces the much-missed Spider-Woman title, although I don’t know if this creative team is going to be sticking around after Secret Empire ends.  I hope so.

Horizon #12 – There are a couple of surprises this month, as we see that there have been connections between Earth and Valius for a while now.  The team has had to move their timetable up by quite a bit, as things start to fall apart, and the Earth is forced to realize just how bad things really are.  This is an interesting and non-conventional science fiction series that I’ve been enjoying.  I look forward to seeing what the next story arc has to bring.

Iceman #2 – I’m still not all that clear on where this title is headed, but I did enjoy this issue, which has Bobby teaming up with Kitty Pryde to rescue a new mutant.  This is the first they’ve been alone together since Kitty came back to the X-Men, and it’s a little awkward, seeing as they used to date.  Kitty’s upset about the fact that Bobby never came out to her, and that fuels much of the conflict in this issue.  Sina Grace’s writing on this book is very nice, and the art is fine – I don’t know who the regular artist for this book is going to be, as the two pencillers that drew this issue weren’t on the first.

Invincible #137 – The war with the Viltrumites comes to Earth, bringing the full-blooded Viltrumites that have been living there in secret into things.  Robert Kirkman is pulling out all the stops in this storyline, and I love it.  I wasn’t all that surprised to see that Robot is taking this opportunity to further his own plans.

Old Guard #5 – The first story arc comes to a violent conclusion and the group has to deal with a traitor amongst them.  Greg Rucka’s writing on this book is quite strong, and I’ve grown to like these characters quite a bit.  I hope the break between arcs isn’t a very long one.

Super Sons #5 – This continues to be a pretty delightful read, as Jonathan’s anger about having to move to Metropolis causes him to turn to Damian for help, and it looks as if their friendship and partnership is going to grow into a real thing.  Peter Tomasi is just so good with these characters…

Ultimates^2 #8 – I have no idea how or why this has a Secret Empire banner on it, as most of the issue is given over to Galactus having a confrontation of sorts with Ego the Living Planet, and the rest of the issue sets up the coming fight to save Eternity.  Al Ewing is joined by guest artist Aud Hoch, whose very Moebius-inspired art is pretty terrific.  This continues to be one of my favourite Marvel comics, even when it doesn’t feature any of the usual main characters.

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

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #4

All-Star Batman #11

Britannia: We Who Are About to Die #3

Crosswind #1

Darth Maul #4

Few #6

God Country #6

Green Arrow #25

Head Lopper #6

Invincible Iron Man #8

Luke Cage #2

Mighty Thor #20

Nick Fury #3

Nightwing #23

Poe Dameron Annual #1

Rapture #2

Royals #4

Shaolin Cowboy: Who’ll Stop the Reign #3

Shirtless Bear-Fighter #1

Silver Surfer #12

Superman #25

USAvengers #7

Victor Lavalles Destroyer #2

Weapons of Mass Destruction Alpha #1

Wild Storm #5

X-Men Gold #6

Bargain Comics:

Mosaic #2-6 – Geoffrey Thorne has done an admirable job of constructing this new character, and has made his backstory pretty interesting.  I’ve never been a fan of Deadman comics, and in a lot of ways, that’s who Mosaic is, but there are enough differences between the characters to keep me intrigued.  Also, I thought that the obligatory use of Spider-Man as a guest star was handled very well.  This book has been canceled already, hasn’t it?  Oh well…

Silk #9-16 – Silk is a pretty delightful book, especially the earlier issues in this pile.  I really enjoyed the parts with the Black Cat and Mockingbird, but then found the trip to the Negative Zone to look for Cindy’s parents to be too silly.  The Clone Conspiracy tie-ins got tedious quickly, as it’s clear they needed to not add anything to that larger event.  This book has a lot of potential, but forced tie-ins are the best way to kill that.