The Weekly Round-Up #423 With Mister Miracle #6, Star Wars: Darth Vader #10, Dejah Thoris #0, Bloodshot Salvation #5, Phoenix Resurrection #3 & More

 Best Comic of the Week:

Mister Miracle #6 – In another brilliant issue, Scott and Barda fight their way through some sort of New Gods facility, all while discussing making some renovations to their condo.  Once again, Mitch Gerads does a terrific job of exploiting the nine-panel grid to pack the visuals with information and to play with how events are structured, while Tom King works in some surprises and keep things unpredictable while, on the surface, making things seem kind of mundane.  It’s a very cool issue.  I’m sad that we’ve hit the halfway point of this series, as part of me wants it to continue for years.

Quick Takes:

Bloodshot Salvation #5 – The first arc comes to an end, as Ray confronts Magic’s family, and needs a bit of an assist from a friend, as his nanites have been shut down.  I’m enjoying this series, although I’m very sick of comics stories that have a thread taking place in the future.  It’s time for a ban on that…

Daredevil #597 – I’ve really been enjoying the Charles Soule’s run on Daredevil.  In this latest story arc, the Kingpin has become mayor of New York, and Matt Murdock has agreed to serve as Deputy Mayor, although it now appears that Fisk is doing this to sideline and control Murdock, while he has the police out looking for Daredevil.  At the same time, Muse has escaped.  There’s a lot going on in this book, and it’s all interesting.  Stefano Landini has been doing a fine job on the interior of this book since Ron Garney left, but I must say that I really don’t like the very simplistic covers by Dan Mora that we’ve been seeing lately.  The book looks like a throwback to old younger audience books, or like the Cover D variants that Valiant was publishing for a while.  This book should be jumping out on the stands better than this.

Darth Vader #10 – Vader’s first confrontation with a Jedi comes to its end with this issue, which does a good job of portraying the ruthlessness of Vader’s character.  Charles Soule is doing a great job of charting the beginnings of the Empire in this book, and I like that a lot.  It’s very different from Kieron Gillen’s take on the same character, but that was set at a very different point in Vader’s life.  This feels like it fills in some essential gaps.

Dejah Thoris #0 – I don’t know the first thing about Warlord of Mars, Dejah Thoris, or any of it, but when given a free comic (even a $0.25 one), I’m going to give it a shot.  Amy Chu does an alright job of building up this story, which has the young Dejah questioning her father’s approach to prisoners and wild animals, but there wasn’t enough here to interest me in coming back for more.  It’s fine comics, it’s just not for me.

Detective Comics #972 – The Bat-Team is having to deal with Clayface, who has returned to his evil self as part of the Victim Syndicate’s plans for Batman.  It’s all very good, although the event that happens at the end of the issue to make this story drag on for at least another couple of weeks feels very forced.  I like the way Tim’s becoming more and more paranoid, and hope that continues to get explored for a while.

Eternal Empire #6 – As much as I really don’t like dragons, I continue to really enjoy this book.  The second arc starts, and it explains the parentage of Rion and Tair, and their connection to the Empress who controls almost their entire world.  There is a lot of information in this issue, as the future of this series becomes clear.  Sara Vaughn and Jonathan Luna are putting out one very good fantasy comic.

Grass Kings #11 – The mystery of Jen Handel is solved, as Archie explains his relationship to the dead woman, although in some ways, more mysteries are revealed.  I like this series, but my strong dislike for stories centred on events from years before that are still fresh and relevant in everyone’s minds left me inclined to get annoyed with this arc.  I hope that the next one stays more focused on the present day, as I question the stability of the Kingdom with all the secrets knocking around in it.  I want to learn more about what’s currently going on there…

Justice League of America #22 – This book is swinging back towards tedium again, as the Might Beyond the Mirror makes her move, and it involves curing Frost, and then getting her to live with her in some sort of theoretical plane of existence (all while being carried around on litters by hipster lumberjack types).  Overall, this title has been a disappointment, as it often gives hope of becoming very good, and then falls short.

New Super-Man #19 – I was a little surprised to see that Gene Luen Yang decided, after the big ending of the last issue, to make this one a one-off set a ways back in Kenan’s continuity.  Laney Lan, the reporter who he’s met multiple times, knows the truth about Kenan’s parents, and is struggling to decide if she should write their story or not.  Yang adds some interesting stuff into Laney’s story, giving her reason to be sympathetic to Kenan.  I like this book a lot, although I would have thought that this issue, which has Laney complaining about the interests of her bosses, would have talked a little more about press freedom (and the lack thereof) in China.

Phoenix Resurrection #3 – I think it’s time to admit that I’m not really enjoying this series that much.  Joe Bennett, an artist who I’ve admired for a very long time, has handed in rushed looking work that is not at all clear at the end of the issue.  Kitty and the X-Men are rushing around the world in full force, but not really accomplishing much.  In whatever reality she’s in, Jean is coming off as a pretty lost character, nothing like the stable and strong woman we were used to.  Other than the certainty of Jean’s return, I’m not sure what this book is hoping to accomplish, especially if this solid and self-sacrificing character returns to us a bit of a headcase.

Port of Earth #3 – I’m so glad I took a chance on this new science fiction series by Zack Kaplan and Andrea Mutti.  It is set in a future where aliens have provided the Earth with clean water-based energy technology in exchange for building a refueling port off the coast of California.  The series follows two Earth Security Agents who are tracking a rogue alien that should not be on Earth.  Kaplan does a terrific job of building tension between the two agents, and their varying levels of agreement with the rules and regulations they are expected to follow that tend to prioritize alien over human life.  What also makes this series work so well is the way in which Kaplan takes time to explore the results of these changes on Earth.  This issue looks at how the change in energy technology has impacted the planet’s economy, and the workers in various sectors who had their jobs made redundant.  It’s a very well thought-out comic.

Punisher #220 – I’m now fully all-in on Matthew Rosenberg’s Punisher.  This issue has Frank continuing his mission in a Soviet breakaway republic.  He begins to liberate camps full of political prisoners and “undesirables”, which draws the attention of the men Nick Fury Jr. sent him to find in the first place.  It’s a solid action issue, and I like the way Frank interacts with his War Machine armor.

Royal City #9 – Tommy continues to narrate this story, turning his focus on Richie, who has finished high school but doesn’t seem to be doing anything with his life.  I love Jeff Lemire’s approach to this very ordinary story of a family that doesn’t really seem to know each other very well.  He really captures the perspectives of the teenage characters well, and knowing what’s going to happen to these characters makes things a lot more poignant.  Also, this has some of the nicest art Lemire’s done.

Saucer State #6 – I’d thought that this was going to be the end of this series, as it had been solicited as a six-issue mini, and I’ve read nothing more about this comic.  As it turns out, this issue ends on a huge cliffhanger (after also showing us a minor one), and now I’m a little torn.  I did not enjoy this arc as much as I did the original Saucer Country series, because for that book, Paul Cornell slowed down and built his story more organically. Since moving the book to IDW, it’s been a hectic race to fit as many crazy ideas as possible into each issue, and I felt that it lost sight of what made it cool and interesting in the first place.  I’m going to have to think about whether or not I want to bother with the next arc.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #31 – When the Sunshine and Roses arc began, about three years ago, I never expected it to run for this long (and be this consistently released).  David Lapham is doing the best work of his incredible career on this book.  This issue has Kretch and Annie tracking down Beth, Nina, and Orson, while Spanish Scott sends a killer to get them as well, after “Derek’s” antics get the trio some press.  As always, this is a funny and unpredictable comic, and a master class in offbeat crime drama.

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

Avengers #675

Coyotes #3

Curse Words Vol. 2 Explosiontown

Head Lopper #8

Hellboy and the BPRD 1954 TP

Ms. Marvel #26

Old Man Logan #33

Postal Vol. 6 TP

Secret Warriors #12

Wildstorm Michael Cray #4

X-Men Blue #19

X-Men Gold Annual #1

Bargain Comics:

Defenders #2-7 – I don’t agree with this grouping of heroes being called the Defenders, regardless of what Netflix might tell us, but I do think that they naturally fit together.  It really feels like Brian Michael Bendis is forcing Netflix continuity into the 616, as Cage, DD, Iron Fist, and Jessica Jones work to stop Diamondback from taking over crime in New York.  I like how this book makes a nod to Miles Morales’s title in one spot, but the appearance of Deadpool into things really throws the book out of whack.  David Marquez’s art is great here.

Kingpin #4&5 – I really liked Matthew Rosenberg’s series about a woman tapped to ghostwrite Wilson Fisk’s autobiography, although I’m not sure he stuck the landing as well as he could have.  I do think that the strength of the writing on this series is why Rosenberg has become Marvel’s new go-to writer.