The Weekly Round-Up #440 With Calexit #3, Maestros #6, Oblivion Song #3, Star Wars: Darth Vader #16 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Calexit #3 – So while I’m very happy to see a new issue of this series, I was less pleased to learn that Black Mask has decided to put the book on a bit of a hiatus until after the summer (this issue was solicited to come out over a year ago).  Much like Young Terrorists, which this book feels like the grandchild of, Matt Pizzolo and Amancay Nahuelpan have put together a great cast of characters, and an interesting situation, but are taking their time in releasing the story. Jamil, the courier/drug dealer is transporting a notorious leader of the California resistance movement, and has to talk his way through a National Guard checkpoint, not knowing just how militant his charge is.  It’s a strong character issue, which looks great thanks to Nahuelpan’s art, but it left me wanting a lot more. I just hope it’s delivered somewhat soon.

Quick Takes:

Barrier #2 – The thought of weekly Marcos Martin art really does make me happy.  Now that the FCBD version of issue one is out, the series has shifted to it’s slightly larger, deluxe edition format.  The pages are still presented in a horizon format, to showcase Martin’s original webcomic art, and it all looks stunning.  An alien ship has abducted two humans – an English speaking American rancher, and the Spanish-speaking Honduran who had just snuck onto her land.  They are in an alien vessel, being observed and studied. Brian K. Vaughan does not translate anything, so the book shows a mix of English and Spanish (not to mention the colourful language of the aliens), which makes this a really interesting series to read.  I didn’t bother picking up the deluxe-ified edition of the first issue, as I’m happy enough with my free version (regular sized, not as nice cover stock, but otherwise identical I think). The rest of this is going to come out weekly, and I’m happy about that, as I’m looking forward to reading more.

Darth Vader #16 – Vader and the Inquisitors are close to Barr, the Jedi who has been helping the Mon Calamari.  His acolytes start to sacrifice themselves, and as we do, we learn who they were. This is kind of annoying, as I’d rather have gotten to know them more organically, and then have them stick around for a while.  To introduce and then dispose of a character is a little pointless. Anyway, Charles Soule continues to tell a very good story about the younger Vader, as he establishes his credentials, and as we learn of the tenacity of the Mon Calamari.  This has been a great arc.

Detective Comics #980 – As James Tynion IV gets closer and closer to ending his run, Batman and his friends are facing a Brother Eye-controlled Tim Drake and a mess of OMACs.  Spoiler is trying to save Tim, and along the way, we get the first acknowledgment we’ve seen in years that both Stephanie and Cassandra were Batgirl in another (the best?) timeline.  This is a really packed issue, as Batwoman also gets a few good moments in. I’m undecided if I’m going to stick with this title after Tynion goes – I was willing to give Bryan Hill’s run a chance, but not if DC is raising the price without adding a digital code.  It’s too bad, as Detective has been a consistent favourite since Rebirth happened, but I guess DC doesn’t really want me to be a customer much longer…

Maestros #6 – Steve Skroce goes all out in this visually insane issue.  The fight over a magical book that only Will can open has already destroyed the Earth, and now he and his friends stand against Rygol and Mardok.  This entire issue is full of painstakingly detailed action, and carries a few surprises. It’s a very good issue, that shows that Skroce is at the top of his game.

New Super-Man and the Justice League of China #23 – It’s a shame that there’s only one more issue of this excellent series remaining.  Gene Luen Yang has the team wrap up their adventure in North Korea, resolving the situation with Dragonson, the team’s new version of Aquaman.  Kenan is learning how to balance the yin and yang within him, and that looks like it will fuel the final issue. I do feel like this last story arc might have been rushed a little, which is too bad.

Oblivion Song #3 – Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici continue to impress with their work on this title.  We are getting an even better understanding of what has been going on in the extra-dimensional part of Philadelphia, as Nathan meets a resident who does not want his help.  I feel like Kirkman has some surprises in store for us, and that this search-and-rescue focus is not going to be the central concept for long. This is a very well-paced and thought-out series, and I’m hoping to settle in for a good long run with it.

Outcast by Kirkman and Azaceta #35 – Kyle organizes a quick rescue mission to get his sister back from the possessed, but that doesn’t turn out so well, as we learn why this arc is called Invasion.  This series has really picked up of late, and I’m enjoying it a lot more than I was a few months ago (although even when things were a little slow, I always thought it was a good comic). I wonder if I should be watching the TV show…

Port of Earth #5 – This excellent new science fiction series returns!  The Port of Earth is about just that – an alien port on Earth, and the controversy that has come along with it, especially after some aliens have visited human populations, leaving behind madness and mayhem.  The ESA is a police force designed to protect the aliens, and that is also kind of controversial, even among its own officers. This second arc follows closely on the first, as the mysterious alien makes his move, and the two officers we got to know find themselves in the middle of things once again.  I’m glad I took a chance on this title, as I’ve been enjoying it a lot.

Prism Stalker #3 – Sloane Leong’s wonderful science fiction series continues, and continues to be mindblowing in its originality and in the width and depth of its concepts.  Vep is training to help protect an academy colony on a strange world, where thoughtforms can be made, although she’s struggling with being able to do this. I’m really enjoying everything that Leong brings to this series, which has become a favourite of mine.

Resident Alien: An Alien in New York #2 – Dr. Harry phones the number he’s seen in a painting in an alien script, and this leads to him and his girlfriend’s father heading to New York together, where Harry might finally find someone else from his planet, or one of its allies.  Peter Hogan is foregoing the usual mystery plot for this series, and is instead focusing on Harry’s predicament as an alien trapped on Earth pretending to be human. As always, this is a very sharply written character study, and it’s all around pretty great comics.

Southern Bastards #20 – The Gut Check arc comes to an incredibly powerful ending.  Roberta Tubb has Coach Boss to herself, and is ready to exact some revenge when the longbow hunter comes into town and tries to kill Boss himself.  Things get a little wild, as we see a large number of plotlines converge, as Roberta comes to a major realization. This series is so slow in terms of its publishing schedule, but it always rewards patient readers with some very powerful storytelling.

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

Angelic Vol. 1 Heirs and Graces TP

BPRD Devil You Know #6

Domino #2

Exiles #3

Highest House #4

Hunt for Wolverine Adamantium Agenda #1

Incredible Hulk #716

New Mutants Dead Souls #3

Old Man Logan #39

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #304

Robocop Citizens Arrest #2

Wildstorm Michael Cray #7

X-Men Blue #27

Bargain Comics:

Secret Warriors #6-12 – I’m sure no one expected this series about a pretty random group of Inhumans forming a team to last very long, and so of course it didn’t, but along the way, Matthew Rosenberg appears to have made a strong case for giving him a ton of Marvel titles.  I like most of his writing here, but found that he really got Quake and Karnak wrong – they are unrecognizable when compared to their previous appearances. This book did make me kind of like Moon Girl, and I thought it was very cool the way that Rosenberg slid, in the background, some information about the fictional country of Chernya suffering political instability.  It’s become the focus of his Punisher run, and played a significant part in his Tales of Suspense. It’s that kind of Marvel coordination that I miss from the good old days.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Charley’s War Vol. 7: The Great Mutiny – With this volume of the seminal WWI British comic strip, Pat Mills continued to use the character of Charley to examine a number of aspects of the Great War.  He has Charley observing a widespread mutiny at a training facility in Etaples, and then has him complete a stint as a stretcher bearer, as a form of penance for his time spent in a firing squad, killing deserters.  Mills even does a really interesting thing, moving the action from the War to the 1980s, as a soldier who Charley saved during the intense fighting in Passchendaele, tries to figure out what ever happened to the brave youth.  As always, this is an intense series, made all the more so by Joe Colquhoun’s beautiful and detailed artwork. I really need to find a way to track down the last two volumes that I’m missing, as I want to be able to read the complete series.