The Weekly Round-Up #409 With Stray Bullets Sunshine & Roses #28, Star Wars Darth Vader #6, The Walking Dead #172 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #28 – Orson, Beth, and Nina are still on the run, and coming apart at the edges.  Orson’s adoption of the vodka and coke-fuelled persona Derek is becoming increasingly problematic, as he keeps getting weirder and more aggressive, and as Nina keeps upping her cocaine intake.  Beth is the key to all this, but her need to be constantly entertained and filled with adrenaline has them taking bizarre risks.  Derek has a thing about bananas, and to be honest, I don’t understand what’s happening in the banana scenes in this issue.  I hope David Lapham fills us in soon, as I continue to love this title and his twisted mind.

Quick Takes:

Astonishing X-Men #4 – I am still disappointed by how routine this new series feels, but at the same time, I enjoyed this issue a little more than the previous three.  Most of the squad is trapped in the astral plane, where the Shadow King is tempting them with a better life, while he’s taken over Old Man Logan in the real world, and is causing problems.  Carlos Pacheco is a good artistic choice for this issue, even if I find his recent work less dynamic than earlier in his career.  I do wish this book kept a more consistent look, rather than have a different artist each month.

Batman #32 – The War of Jokes and Riddles finally ends, and with it, Bruce’s long explanation to Selina revolving around a mistake he made then, which doesn’t work as a credible error some years later.  This arc, like many retcon storylines in the New 52/Rebirth Bat-world, doesn’t carry a lot of weight with me.  There has been way too much focus on squeezing ever-bigger stories into Batman’s past, and they just don’t excite me very much.  As for something forward looking, the idea of Batman getting married (I didn’t spoil this – it was in the news!) doesn’t fit with the way the character’s been portrayed, nor does it seem like something he would choose to do.  Tom King should have spent a few years building their relationship, like in the Alan Davis/Jason Todd/Cawoman in a dress era, so that Bruce’s proposal wouldn’t be coming out of left field.  I don’t particularly feel any kind of way about whether or not superheroes should be married, but let’s face it, this one will get annulled or written out within a year.

Darth Vader #6 – Now that Vader has a lightsaber, and is healing from the injuries he incurred in the first story arc, the Emperor has him meet the Grand Inquisitor, which ties this series closer to the storylines from the Rebels TV show.  I like that the Inquisitors might get explored a little further, and that there does seem to be an overarching plan for the space between episodes three and four.

Deathstroke #24 – It appears that Kid Flash has been keeping tabs on his new teammates in Defiance, and weirdly recording his thoughts on a digital device that is not a phone.  Deathstroke outs him to everyone, and it gives us a nice chance to get to know these different characters a little better, as well as examine their differing opinions as to just what Slade is up to in working with all of them.  I’m really enjoying the new direction this book is taking, and am thankful that Priest has been given such freedom in shaping what remains a challenging book.

Iceman #6 – The Legacy rebranding takes hold, without a renumbering, because Bobby’s only ever had a pair of miniseries to his name before this, as Bobby gathers the surviving members of the Champions in LA to pay homage to the deceased Black Widow, but is soon more focused on going on his first date with another man, while Sentinels also show up in the city.  This is another highly character-driven issue of Iceman which is pretty strong, except for the weird rationale behind the Sentinel rampage.  I do hope we learn the story of the first time Bobby met Natasha though, as so far, he’s reluctant to tell it.  I really like the way Sina Grace is telling this story, and pouring so much of himself into it.

Iron Fist #73 – Danny’s back in New York, but a brazen theft in his apartment has him teaming up with a very reluctant Sabretooth to find the thief and retrieve his stolen property, while Choshin, the antagonist from the last arc, makes his way to NYC to come after Danny.  Really, I felt that the inclusion of Sabretooth was very forced; there’s no reason for Danny to go to him, especially when I don’t believe he and the mystery thief, revealed at the end of the issue, had any kind of past or relationship.  I’ve been sticking with this book mainly for Mike Perkins’s art, and because I know that Ed Brisson is an excellent writer, based on his independent work, but I’m less and less impressed with this book.  I might jump ship soon.

Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi – Captain Phasma #3 – The thing that bothers me about so many Star Wars comics is the way in which they are reluctant to do much with the characters they star.  We know nothing about Phasma, and so instead of learning about her background and motivations (save for the odd nod towards that), we instead have her on a planet of sea monsters, being put into a situation where she has to deal with the planet’s indigenous population when they threaten an off-world settler community.  Phasma, of course, cares nothing for any of this, as she has her own mission.  It’s a little hard to care about all of this.

Manifest Destiny #31 – My favourite historical fantasy series returns, with Lewis and Clark staying put in a site they know to be dangerous, as Lewis studies the see-through arch, and as Sacagawea recovers from childbirth, and the Spanish conquistador begins to make his ghostly presence felt.  It feels like this series is moving closer to its resolution with this arc, and that we might soon learn what the arches are.  This is a very inventive series.

Motor Crush #7 – Domino is back, but two years have passed, and it doesn’t look like they’ve been easy for her ex-girlfriend or her father.  We get the lay of the land, and find out that Crush has been effectively wiped out in the city, which is a problem, since Domino needs it to live.  As this second arc begins, I feel like this title is really starting to hit its stride, and I’m more impressed with the writing than I was before.  I continue to love Babs Tarr’s art on this book, and would happily keep buying it for that reason alone; it’s a bonus that I like the characters.

Paper Girls #16 – The paper girls are back, and now they’ve turned up on New Year’s Eve, 2000, and are separated.  This issue has giant robots, coded messages in newspaper comic strips, , and an Applebee’s!  As always, this is such a good read.

Regression #5 – I don’t think any more issues of this title have been solicited yet, and as this issue progressed, I thought that Cullen Bunn was wrapping up his story a little quickly.  Then, Adrian makes the decision to answer for the crimes he didn’t actually commit, and everything goes nuts.  This was a very effective issue as Bunn pulls a masterful bait-and-switch, and now I’m hoping that this book is just going to be on hiatus for a while, but will return, because I really want to know what’s going to happen next.  It’s odd that there isn’t anything in the letters page either way though…

Spider-Man #21 – Miles’s Japanese adventure comes to an end this issue, as we learn the identity of who was providing him with supplies for this mission (it’s really someone I didn’t expect) and watch as Brian Michael Bendis resolves a plotline he started in his first Iron Man run.  This is a decent issue, and I really liked the way Nico Leon portrayed Miles at a couple of different ages.  My Marvel list gets smaller and smaller, and I don’t read any other Bendis books now, but I can’t see ever giving up this title.

Star Wars #37 – This is Jason Aaron’s last issue, and to me, that’s a very strange thing, because were it not for the ads this week for Kieron Gillen’s first issue next month, I don’t think I would have known that.  This issue focuses on Scar Squadron, as their leader works to prove himself to Vader after their prior failure.  I have liked Aaron’s work on this book, but at the same time, am not sure how memorable his run has been, past his opening couple of arcs.  Sure, he introduced the wonderful Sana to the SW universe, but he really hasn’t done much to help the main characters grow – I feel like Gillen did more with Princess Leia in a couple of scenes of the Screaming Citadel crossover than Aaron did in years.  I like the backup story here about a Tusken raider, but that’s mostly because of Andrea Sorrentino’s beautiful art.  

The Walking Dead #172 – Michonne’s group continues to travel to meet with the people that Eugene has found, while the Hilltop is being rebuilt, and Rick is figuring out how to put his life back together.  This is a nice check-in issue that shows us what a number of characters are up to right now.  I like issues like that, although the surprise on the last page has me shook, and a little worried.

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

All-New Guardians of the Galaxy #11

All-Star Batman #14

Avengers #672

Batman: White Knight #1

Beautiful Canvas #4

Black Bolt #6

Cinema Purgatorio #12

Elephantmen #78

Elsewhere #3

Eugenic #1

Green Arrow #32

Hawkeye #11

Jessica Jones #13

Old Man Logan #29

Punisher: Platoon #1

Royals #9

Savage Things #8

Vistor: How and Why He Stayed TP

X-Men Gold #13

Bargain Comics:

Black Bolt #1 – I never thought that Marvel would publish a Black Bolt solo title, and even more surprising, that I would enjoy the first issue.  Bolt is stuck in an alien prison, which weirdly also houses Absorbing Man.  This issue is all set-up, but newcomer writer Saladin Ahmed shows some skill, and Christian Ward reins in his usually highly psychedelic layouts to tell a clear story beautifully.  I am going to be looking for more of this thing.

Green Arrow #24-29 – Green Arrow is a very good comic.  Ollie is accused of murder, but instead of preparing for his defense, he’s going across the country trying to put a stop to the Ninth Circle in a variety of places, and along the way, is working with the biggest names in the DCU.  The story is compelling, and the art is great – especially the issues by Juan Ferreyra, who is stupendous.  I’m thinking that I should be buying this book regularly…

Ms. Marvel #18-21 – I increasingly regret not continuing with this title when I purged a lot of Marvel books from my pullfile list.  The first of these issues focuses on Bruno in Wakanda, and is quite lovely, while the others have Kamala squaring off against a couple of familiar foes as the forces of gentrification make another stab at taking over Jersey City.  These are very good comics, full of charm.