The Weekly Round-Up #468 With Other Darkness, Days Of Hate #10, East Of West #40, Star Wars #57 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Outer Darkness #1 – I’m a couple of weeks behind on this (thanks a lot Diamond), but it was well worth the wait.  John Layman and Afu Chan have put together a pretty impressive and intriguing long-form science fiction series that incorporates horror and dark fantasy in ways I’m not sure I’ve seen done before.  Basically, this is a Star Trek kind of set-up, but the Charon, the story’s version of the Enterprise, is powered by an ancient Sumerian god that needs to be fed sacrifices before missions. The captain, recently returned to the service for one last mission into “Outer Darkness”, the space outside of known space, has his own reasons for taking this mission, but we don’t know what they are.  Many more questions abound, and all of them have me already looking forward to the next issue of this series. It might be too early for comparisons to Chew, Layman’s last notable series, but I am getting the same sense that there is a rich backstory to this series, and a very complete world to explore.

Quick Takes:

Astonishing X-Men #17 – Matthew Rosenberg’s run on this title comes to a decent end here, in fact a much better one than the last couple of issues would have foretold.  Havok’s team has to work to help the X-Men, who are under attack from a bunch of Reaver-controlled Sentinels, and Kitty is still not sure what to do with Havok. Dazzler levels up in this issue, and kind of steals the show, which is nice to see.  Greg Land’s artwork is frequently unfortunate, but it works with this story. I’m not really sad to see this title going away again, as I’m hoping that the singular Uncanny X-Men can be more stabilizing for the mutant corner of the Marvel Universe.

Black Badge #4 – A whole lot more is explained as Matt Kindt continues to flesh out his black ops Scout concept, introducing us to the Rainbow Jamboree, the other coloured badges, and a group of scouts operating independently.  Kindt is having a great time with this book, throwing out new ideas as rapidly as he did with his Mind MGMT series. It’s good that artist Tyler Jenkins can keep up with him, and matches his weird ideas with a fine sense of design.  I especially like the nod to their last title, The Grass Kings, in this one.

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #7 – Jeff Lemire embraces his inner Grant Morrison, as he moves Colonel Weird through a Limbo realm full of characters that never got to exist.  I like what Lemire’s doing here, and enjoy Rich Tommaso’s work as a guest artist, but I like this book best when it’s focused on the main group of characters, and now that the truth behind their farm existence is revealed, I’m not sure that we’ll see more of what I always liked best in this title.

Days of Hate #10 – I don’t think I can possibly talk about this issue without spoiling it, except to say that Ales Kot both confused and then shocked me with this comic.  I’ve been a big fan of this series since it began, and as the title, which looks at a small cell of resistors working to undermine an even more authoritarian America than the one we see today, using very unconventional tactics.  This is a slow, meditative comic that has kept my attention from the start. Danijel Zezelj is a fantastic artist, and this is exactly the type of moody, complex story he’s best at.

East of West #40 – It’s big confrontations all around, as Babylon is given a choice, War and Death are finally face to face, and the House of Mao has to decide whether or not it’s going to go to war with The Nation.  This is not a book for new readers, but for those of us who have been on this ride from the beginning, it’s pretty exciting to see so many plotlines approaching their climax. Jonathan Hickman is the master of this type of long-form storytelling, and Nick Dragotta has only gotten better since this series began.  It should be one of the most respected and discussed books on the stands, and I expect that when all is said and done, this is a title that will be remembered for a long time.

The New World #5 – One of my biggest fears when I decided to start buying Ales Kot’s comics again (with the excellent Days of Hate above) was that he’s never been known for sticking the landing, often providing messy and unclear conclusions to his tales (or, in the case of The Material, just not ending them).  The end of The New World, which has been a delightful series, is alright, but a little ambiguous. Still, I did enjoy this title a lot, and like the way Kot imagines American culture moving. The revelation about the wall between the US and Mexico is pretty clever.

Punisher #4 – As this arc continues, I find myself enjoying it more and more.  Frank is in a holding cell in a NYPD station house when some of his old enemies come looking for him, giving Matthew Rosenberg and Szymon Kudranski the chance to pull out all the stops and give us a very exciting issue.  There is a lot of masterful chaos in this comic.

Star Wars #57 – Kieron Gillen has our heroes stranded on an isolated world, where they unexpectedly discover an agrarian utopia.  Gillen talks in the letters page about how maybe one of the biggest challenges for the main Star Wars cast to face would be a good reason to stop fighting so hard, and to just put down roots and live good lives.  It really shows how well he understands these characters, although he also remembers to include some action as the story progresses. Angel Unzueta works as a replacement for Salvador Larroca – they have very similar artistic styles, and he also does well in portraying these very recognizable characters.

Uncanny X-Men #2 – Things are better this week, as the X-Men break into two teams – one to deal with an army of Jamie Madroxes in Kansas, and the other to investigate dinosaur sightings in Montana, while leaving the students behind to deal with a protest outside the school.  I’m not sure what the story is with Madrox, but it makes me think I need to reread the last issue of the recent Multiple Man miniseries (which was kind of confusing) to make sure I haven’t missed something important. The end of this issue was a nice surprise, and I’m more inclined to be happy with this series now than I was last week.

X-Men Red #10 – I’m really late on this issue (thanks again Diamond), but it was worth the wait.  Tom Taylor is using this book to comment on the growing divisions and unrest in the world, but is also using it to show that there are alternatives to the way in which people are deciding to manage things.  As Cassandra Nova takes hostages on Genosha, and tries to convince the world that it is Jean’s doing, Jean responds with positivity and cooperation. It’s nice to see, and weirdly more exciting than it sounds.  It’s too bad that this vision is getting swallowed up by the new Uncanny series.

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

Batman #59

Doctor Strange #8

Immortal Hulk #9

Justice League Dark #5

Mr. & Mrs. X #5

Rumble #9

Shuri #2

Spider-Force #2

Spider-Geddon #4

Tony Stark Iron Man #6

Weapon H #10

Weapon X #26

West Coast Avengers #4

Bargain Comics:

Exiles #1&2 – I’ve never read any of the previous iterations of Exiles, but was attracted to this one because of writer Saladin Ahmed’s excellent work on Black Bolt.  He uses these first two issues to assemble an interesting team (I hate the little cartoon Wolverine character) and establish a credible, if familiar, threat. Things move at a good pace, and he is the first person in ages to remember that Nick Fury now lives on the moon and acts like a Watcher.  I feel like, once this initial plotline, which reminds me too much of the build-up to Secret Wars, is over, Ahmed could use this title to fix a lot of broken continuity. Javier Rodriguez’s art is pretty nice, and alternate future Kamala Khan is a lot of fun in her grumpiness.

The Immortal Hulk #1-3 – I think Peter David was writing the Hulk the last time I got this excited about the character.  Al Ewing is taking a horror approach to the character, and it is definitely working in these first issues. Issue three is a departure – as multiple witnesses share different recollections of a Hulk-related event, but the first two issues really establish a different kind of vibe than we’ve seen before.  Joe Bennett is a long-time favourite artist of mine, and his work looks as good as ever. I’m interested in the Sasquatch plotline and want to read more.

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