The Weekly Round-Up #419 With Mister Miracle #5, Star Wars #40, Aliens: Dead Orbit #4, Bloodshot Salvation #4 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Mister Miracle #5 – It’s Scott and Barda’s last day together before he is to return home and be executed by Orion.  Tom King and Mitch Gerads provide us with an issue that is touching and poignant, examining the different ways in which a special day can go wrong yet remain special.  Funky Flashman makes an appearance, trying to spin the execution for PR purposes, and we almost make it the entire issue without being reminded that “Darkseid is.”  Once again, we are given a great story that is told in a very technical and organized manner, and with a surprising twist at the end.  This is a mindblowingly good series.

Quick Takes:

Aliens: Dead Orbit #4 – It’s been a long time since the last issue of James Stokoe’s Aliens miniseries came out, although it’s understandable that each issue would take a long time to draw, seeing as Stokoe’s work is so intricate.  This was a very good Aliens series – Stokoe found some new things to explore in the standard “alien on a enclosed space vehicle” plotline, and came up with some novel ways to get rid of the things.  His art is brilliant, and always worth the price of admission.  Any chance he’ll return to Orc Stain now?

Bloodshot Salvation #4 – This was a pretty unexpected issue, as it is completely focused on Pete and Danny, a pair of kids growing up on a remote farm with a single abusive father.  It follows some familiar tropes, but Jeff Lemire and Mico Suayan don’t really shy away from the viciousness of these kids’ lives, until they decide to finally do something about it.  Throughout the start of the issue, I kept wondering who these characters were, thinking that perhaps they were linked to Daddy and his cult, but instead, their backstory is being used to set up a new character that we’ve seen in the future scenes of the previous issues.  It’s a bit complicated, this series, but it’s definitely working for me.

Daredevil #596 – DD’s on the run after Mayor Fisk puts the entire NYPD after him, and that affords us with some cool chase scenes.  After that, Charles Soule throws us, and Matt Murdock, a pretty big plot twist that I think will be interesting to see play out.  I’m enjoying this storyline, which has Fisk using his new position as mayor to prosecute some old grudges (which no actual non-politician put into a position of power would do, right?).

Dept. H #21 – After this, there are only three issues remaining in the series.  Matt Kindt takes us ever closer to learning who killed Hari, as Roger, his life-long companion and documentarian reveals all of his secrets to Mia.  It’s a great issue, showing us much of Hari’s career and incredible discoveries.  Kindt’s art, as always, is gorgeous.

Detective Comics #970 – Red Robin works around the clock to strengthen his vision of the team, although that puts his relationship with Spoiler at risk.  At the same time, more threats appear that are working to paint the team in a negative light in the public eye.  All this coincides with Clayface’s possible cure.  James Tynion IV has been writing one big story since he started on this series, and it’s really interesting to see how so much of it is starting to come together now.  I love books that are this well planned and executed.

Falcon #3 – I’d hoped that more of the kinks in this series would get ironed out by now, as writer Rodney Barnes continues his story of demonic influence in Chicago politics and race-relations.  Falcon and Patriot (with some help from Brother Voodoo) are working to stop Blackheart’s plans, while trading a few too many pop culture references as they do it.  I do like the idea that Sam’s uncle was a part of MOVE, the black liberation group from Philadelphia, and still have faith that this title will improve.  I just wish it would come a little more quickly…

Grass Kings #10 – More and more people are looking into an old mystery in the Grass Kingdom, as the focus shifts to Maria, the newest arrival.  Matt Kindt has a bigger story going on here than I originally assumed at the start of this arc, as new events suggest that Jen Handel’s death might be connected to the other killings in the area.  This continues to be an interesting and unpredictable series.

Justice League of America #20 – Prometheus gets dispatched kind of quickly, which finally makes some space for some team-building, or tearing down, as the case may be.  Lobo pushes Frost into making an admission, in a scene that is very well written and gives me hope that this series might finally meet the potential that I’ve felt it’s had all along.  I’m also very intrigued by the figure watching the Ray at the end of the issue – is it the certain Grant Morrison creation that I’m hoping it might be?

Maestros #3 – Things move really quickly in this issue, as Will has to face his two foes, and watch as they attack his capital city.  Steve Skroce’s story is playing out very well, and as expected, his pages are gorgeous.  This is a solid title.

New Super-Man #18 – I’ve felt for a while that this series would likely end with this issue, and it certainly feels like Gene Luen Yang was expecting much the same thing, wrapping up almost all of his long-running plotlines.  Happily, the series is going to continue, with a bit of a name change, and that’s great news, as with this issue, young Kong Kenan really comes into his own as a hero and as the avatar of both yin and yang.  Yang’s writing on this book has been terrific from the start, and it’s cool to see how much Kenan has grown as a character over the last year and a half.  I’m glad this series is going to be sticking around.

Port of Earth #2 – I am quite impressed with this new science fiction series that looks at the ramifications of Earth entering into a business agreement with an intergalactic energy company.  The book is split between a TV interview that sheds more light on that agreement, and two cops who are tracking an alien that has come to the mainland, where it shouldn’t be, and has killed a human.  Zack Kaplan balances the Aliens or Predator aspects of his story with his criticism of corporate interest, and a larger, nascent conspiracy theory.  It’s a good read.

Punisher #219 – I think that I am going to be sticking with Matthew Rosenberg’s new take on the Punisher.  Frank shows up in the nation of Chernya, wearing Jim Rhodes’s War Machine armor, and gets involved in a dispute between an old farmer and the local military.  Rosenberg’s writing is sharp on this book, and I liked the way the differences between Frank’s use of the armor and its AI’s understanding of how it should operate are shown.  Rosenberg’s work here is not as strong as his Black Mask comics, but still, it’s got potential.

Royal City #8 – This is a pretty quiet issue of Royal City.  Still in the 90s, Jeff Lemire has young Tommy take a ride with his brother and his friends, where he tries weed for the first time, while his older sister takes a pregnancy test.  It’s a lovely issue, as Lemire steeps us in the sadness that comes from the knowledge of how Tommy’s story has to end.  To make things even more melancholy, Lemire includes a tribute to the recently deceased Gord Downie, which weirdly doesn’t mention that Downie was in the Tragically Hip, and that misrepresents the year of Chanie Wenjack’s death by one hundred years.

Rumble #1 – John Arcudi returns with the cast of Rumble, giving us a nice recap of the previous volume of the series (which serves as a nice introduction for new readers), and setting up the new storyline.  David Rubín has taken James Harren’s place as series artist, and I’m pretty impressed with what he brings to the table.  This book is full of fun and visually interesting monsters, which is something Rubín is very good at drawing.  His takes on some of the characters from the last volume are pretty fresh.  I wish Arcudi and Rubín success with this relaunch.

Star Wars #40 – What I’d hoped for, when Kieron Gillen took over Star Wars, was that we would get a much more character-driven approach to this series.  That’s the case here, where between an attack on a drilling citadel and some Force stuff, we get a great exchange between Luke and Leia about duty and what drives them forward.  Gillen is such a great writer because he can handle the big screen stuff, but embeds so much character into it.  My enthusiasm for this title is picking up again, although Salvador Larroca’s increasingly photo-referenced work is beginning to bother me more than it ever did before.  I think it’s because of Carrie Fisher…

The Wicked + The Divine Christmas Annual – If you’ve been reading this series since it began, you are likely going to enjoy this collection of stories from the earlier days of the current Pantheon, as we see different cast members hook up or hang out together.  There’s a lot of sex in this issue, and almost as many laughs.  Kieron Gillen is joined by some great artists (Kris Anka, Chynna Clugston Flores, Emma Vieceli, Rachel Stott, and the incredible Carla Speed McNeil) for this oddball book full of fan service.  Imagine if Marvel let him do the same things with Star Wars!

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

All-New Wolverine #28

Amazing Spider-Man #792

Bug: Adventures of Forager #6

Harrow County #28

Jean Grey #10

Royals #12

Secret Warriors #10

Weapon X #12

X-Men Blue #17

Bargain Comics:

Abe Sapien #32-36 – I’d given up on Abe’s solo title, because it never seemed to go anywhere, and these last five issues feel much the same.  Abe’s big confrontation with the antagonist who had been in the title since the first issue didn’t feel all that momentous.  Were it not for the art by the Fiumara brothers, this book would have been completely forgettable.  I miss the days when the BPRD’s title was a month-in, month-out favourite.

The Mighty Thor #23 – The last pre-Legacy issue wraps up the storyline about the War Thor, while also nudging Jason Aaron’s long-running Malekith storyline forward a tiny little bit.  I hope that Aaron starts to wrap some of this stuff up soon, as it’s been a good long time.  Valerio Schiti does a good job of filling in for Russell Dauterman here.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Black-Eyed Kids Vol. 1: The Children – I pretty much remain underwhelmed by Aftershock’s publishing line.  I thought that this might be a cool horror series, but it really felt like it was just checking off boxes on a list of genre tropes.  There are some creepy kids and adults who have black voids for eyes, and they are going around murdering and recruiting, while a few characters, such as the divorced father of one of the kids, tries to figure out what’s going on.  I am usually a fan of Szymon Kudranski’s art, but the colours here are pretty dark, making some pages hard to follow.  I don’t see myself coming back for the second volume.


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