The Weekly Round-Up #454 With Crude #5, Gideon Falls #6, Ninja-K #10, Mage: The Hero Denied #11, Star Wars: Poe Dameron #30 & More

The Best Comic of the Week:

Crude #5 – This is the pivotal issue of this series, as Piotr discovers the real reason why his son left home to come live in the harsh Siberian oil town, and we also learn about the connections between the oil company that runs the town and the gangsters that are trying to take it over.  Steve Orlando has put together a thrilling series that really resonates. This would make a great, and kind of groundbreaking, action movie.

Quick Takes:

Astonishing X-Men Annual #1 – When Charles Xavier was brought back in the pages of Astonishing X-Men, I wondered why, and how long it would be before we found him being manipulative again.  Not long it seems, as he crashes a reunion of the surviving original five X-Men, and gets them to help him solve a problem, without actually telling them what the problem is. I’m a big fan of Matthew Rosenberg’s work at Black Mask, and have really liked some of his Marvel books (especially his Punisher), but found this story to be a little dull.  His two issues of the Astonishing X-Men series have been much better; I wonder if this was an editorially-mandated Annual…

Extermination #1 – Once again, I fell for the hype, and decided that I needed to pick up Extermination as it starts off whatever is next for the X-Men.  The surprise though was that it was actually a pretty decent comic, as Ahab, a character from the future that I hate more than almost any other (Can he be any more boring a character?) comes to the present to hunt young Scott Summers, and someone else from a future comes after young Bobby Drake.  There are a couple characters killed off this issue, one of which is a big deal if it sticks, and I came away from it with the sense that writer Ed Brisson is looking to clarify and simplify some of the confusion that surrounds the X-Men these days. Pepe Larraz proved during the Avengers No Surrender story that he’s great at big ensemble casts, which is important when a comic features two Jean Greys and one Rachel.  I have been really liking X-Men Red, and want that book to be left alone, but at the same time, between this issue and the announcement of the upcoming Uncanny X-Men relaunch, I have hope that the X-Men might return to prominence soon.

Gideon Falls #6 – Getting into the Black Barn gives Andrea Sorrentino a chance to go pretty crazy, and this issue looks great.  It’s interesting that there really aren’t any more secrets revealed in this issue, or anything more explained; instead, the mystery grows even more.  Jeff Lemire and Sorrentino are doing great work with this series, and I look forward to the next arc starting in October.

Mage: The Hero Denied #11 – The Matchstick family are finally taking control of things again, as Maggie and Hugo make use of their new magic arsenal to try to escape their confinement, and as Kevin and Miranda follow the Questing Beast to try to find their way to them.  Matt Wagner has developed these characters to the point where they really feel like a credible family, and that informs and enriches the story in a number of ways.

Manifest Destiny #36 – This book has fallen way behind schedule, but proves itself worth the wait once again.  Lewis and Clark have the opportunity to retake the fort from some of their rebellious men, and Yorke, the man enslaved to Clark, gets the chance to prove who he really is.  This is a great series, and this latest arc has shifted things away from the fantasy of the American West and into the horror that is the American heart. It’s very well written, and looks great.

Multiple Man #3 – For a book that stays amusing, this is also incredibly bleak.  Jamie (or the dupe of Jamie that managed to survive his death) is in the future fighting a despotic Jamie along with a bunch of enhanced Jamies, but that starts to go wrong.  It’s a much better showcase of Matthew Rosenberg’s talents than the Astonishing X-Men Annual I discuss above, although I’m a little worried that Jamie will end up in a place of prominence in the X-books when this is all said and done, and I kind of prefer him as a character who only shows up every few years.

Ninja-K #10 – Ninja-H has returned, and not unexpectedly, he’s a dangerous killer.  This issue felt a little paint-by-numbers after the first arc did such a good job of establishing the Ninja Program.  Maybe this issue didn’t click for me because of Larry Stroman’s artwork. It’s not as tortured, anatomy and perspective wise as I’m used to from him, but his strange layouts (razor-thin full length panels to show dialogue, for example) left me cold.

Poe Dameron #30 – We are getting close to the end of this series, as Charles Soule continues to show us what Black Squadron was up to during The Last Jedi.  Is it just me, or is the Star Wars line shrinking a little at Marvel? This is an exciting issue, but I still don’t remember most of the secondary characters’ names.

Proxima Centauri #3 – Farel Dalrymple chose to focus this issue on Sherman and his difficulty in managing his adolescent emotions and hormones, as we get an issue of Sherman arguing and then going biking with his friends, which allows Dalrymple the chance to draw some truly bizarre backgrounds.  I still don’t really know what this series is about, beyond the general feel the cartoonist is going for. I like it, but doubt I could really recommend it to anyone or explain it.

The Wicked + The Divine #38 – As I’ve said with the last couple of issues of this series, as it gets closer to its end, it really is not holding my attention like it once did.  I think Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are brilliant creators, but something about the scope or shape of this story has lost me. I wonder if it would work better for me in trade…

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

Batman #53

Cinema Purgatorio #15

Doctor Strange #4

Ether Copper Golems #4

Hunt for Wolverine Claws of a Killer #4

Infinity Wars #2

Peter Parker the Spectacular Spider-Man #308

Rumble #6

Star Wars Beckett #1

Thor #4

Tony Stark Iron Man #3

Weapon H #6

Weapon X #22

The Wild Storm #16

Bargain Comics:

Old Man Logan #39-41 – With regular Logan coming back, I guess it is time to get rid of his placeholder from the last few years.  To that end, Ed Brisson is having OM Logan face up to the fact that his healing factor is not working properly, and that his age is catching up to him.  We have a good two-part story that is basically a Glob Herman story, and then Logan is stuck dealing with Kraven the Hunter. These are decent comics, and part of the reason why I’m willing to take a chance on Extermination and the upcoming weekly Uncanny X-Men.

Snotgirl #2-10 – There’s something very likeable about Snotgirl, Bryan Lee O’Malley and Leslie Hung’s comic about fashion bloggers, allergy pills, and millennial friendships.  There’s also something completely disjointed about it, as two trades into the story, the book hasn’t really found sure footing from which to tell its story. There are murder mysteries and other dangling subplots that would probably really infuriate me had I read this as it came out over a year and a half.  The character work is great, for the most part, although Lottie, the main character, is kind of hard to like very much. Hung’s art is very nice, but O’Malley isn’t able to get me to believe in this story the way I could with Scott Pilgrim.

Über Invasion #7-13 – I love reading a small stack of Über in one sitting, because I find I fall into the rhythm of the book much better than I would if I read it whenever a new issue came out.  Kieron Gillen’s epic speculative history war comic is pretty incredible for the level of detail in both its writing and in Daniel Gete’s art. These issues continue the story of the enhanced German invasion of America in 1946, and check in on all of the main characters.  There’s a lot of devastation, discussion of strategy, and gross body modifications – in other words, everything this series is about. It’s very, very good.

Vertigo Quarterly: SFX #2-4 – These late stage Vertigo quarterlies really started to suffer.  Many of the stories feel like audition pieces, and most of them are too short to really accomplish anything.  There is some lovely art in here, but I don’t think a single story stuck with me.

The Wild Storm: Michael Cray #7&8 – I enjoy Bryan Hill and N. Steven Harris’s work on this book, but since it became more about showing alternate versions of DC heroes (Wonder Woman and John Constantine in these issues), I do find my interest to be slipping.  I am glad that there aren’t more Wild Storm spin-offs than this.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Indeh: A Story of the Apache Wars – As a Canadian, I don’t know all that much about Geronimo, Cochise, or the Apache Wars (but know a lot more about Big Bear, Louis Riel, and the Northwest Rebellion).  To that end, I was curious to learn more from this graphic novel, which is beautifully illustrated by Greg Ruth and written by the actor Ethan Hawke. I’m not sure that it satisfied my goals – I do have a little more insight into who the Apache Warriors and leaders were, and how awful the Americans they encountered were, but I found that the narrative jumped around a fair amount and wasn’t always clear.  As a primer on this conflict, I guess it does a good job of providing some images, and a general overview of what happened. It did whet my appetite to learn more, but as a standalone piece, it doesn’t quite make the cut.