The Weekly Round-Up #470 With Die #1, Deathstroke #38, Winter Soldier #1, Star Wars #58, The Walking Dead #186 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Die #1 – Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans have a new series that makes good use of the recent 90s nostalgia boom as its backdrop.  A group of sixteen year olds play a role playing game on the shared birthday of two of them, and when their leader rolls his D20, they disappear for two years into a fantasy world.  Their leader, Solomon, is left behind. Now, everyone is in their forties, and the appearance of the die brings them back together. Gillen is a terrific writer, and this series builds on all of his strengths.  Hans’s art is often a little too dark for my tastes, but it works very well here. The characters in this book are interesting, and I’d like to know more about what’s going on. I’m not sure how long this is set to run for, but I’m definitely intrigued (and it has nothing to do with my being the exact age of these characters).

Quick Takes:

Deathstroke #38 – Priest has not told a straightforward story in years, and so we have Dev, who maybe doesn’t exist, paying a visit to Hosun while Two-Face takes Rose to Cambodia, and Slade continues to try to convince everyone that he’s not crazy, and that he really did go to outer space to battle aliens for two weeks.  This arc is pretty great, and continues to be unpredictable and weird. I never would have thought that my favourite DC comic would be Deathstroke, but Priest is finally the writer to take the character to his full potential.

Killmonger #1 – I think it’s a little strange that Marvel waited so long to put together a miniseries featuring N’Jadaka, Erik Killmonger, after he stole the Black Panther movie.  I was also a little trepidatious about it, because I have always liked the way Killmonger was portrayed in the Black Panther comics, especially during Priest’s run, and didn’t want to see him retconned into the film version.  Instead, writer Bryan Hill is giving us a view of the character’s early life, before his first return to Wakanda. It seems that Erik ran across some mercenaries employed by the Kingpin, and the offer to join them is made. The story is a little slow for an oversized first issue, but Juan Ferreyra’s art is the main reason I came to this book, and it didn’t disappoint.  Ferreyra continues to be an innovative artist, and he has a great page showing Killmonger being tossed out a window. Hill’s star has really been rising lately, and it’s nice to see him do books like this.

Lodger #2 – David and Maria Lapham give us a lot more backstory in this second issue of their odd crime series.  We see how young teenage girl Ricky met Dante, the man she is now pursuing across the country in an attempt to stop his murder spree.  This book has a very different feel from Stray Bullets, but is just as good. I still don’t know how David Lapham is doing both at the same time.

Ninja-K #14 – This series ends with Ninjak on the run from the British military, and going straight to Neville to address the situation.  When this title began, I was very happy with the way Christos Gage was writing it, but as the run progressed, I felt like it lost its way some.  I’m not sure what Killers, the follow-up series announced at the end of this issue is going to be about, or who is doing it, so I’m not convinced I’m going to follow it.  I am hoping Ninjak shows up in Livewire’s series though.

Star Wars #58 – Stuck on a remote world, Luke reverts back to his whiny farm boy self, while Han enjoys the relaxation, and Leia plots.  It’s nice to have an arc that slows things down and gives Kieron Gillen the chance to dig into these characters a little more without having them running for their lives.  

Uncanny X-Men #4 – Disassembled continues, and amplifies its generation gap theme as the X-Kids break with Jean’s way of handling the threat of Nate Grey, who is positioning himself as a sort of eco-mutant-Jesus.  This story works for me, but it’s beginning to feel a little padded. I do like that the nation of Chernaya, which has been a connective tissue for all of Matthew Rosenberg’s Marvel projects, shows up here. I miss the days of the 616 feeling like an interconnected and truly shared universe.

The Walking Dead #186 – It’s been a while since a new issue of The Walking Dead shocked me, but this one did, as another long-time character meets their end.  It looks more and more like the problems of the Commonwealth are impossible to ignore, although Rick, Michonne, and Dwight all see the solution differently. This comic feels relevant on a level that it never has before, as we get a sense that Robert Kirkman is commenting on America in a couple of ways (police brutality, and partisan inflexibility).  This is always a good comic, and it’s nice to see it stretching in new directions some.

The Wicked + The Divine #40 – It’s the beginning of the last arc, and Baal has plans for a big show at the O2 Arena that will allow him to destroy the Great Darkness once and for all.  Most of the issue is a collection of cellphone footage of the lead-up to the concert, and as always with this book, it’s a novel way to tell the story. I find this issue works really well, and where the last arc left my attention wandering, this one looks like it’s going to be epic.

Winter Soldier #1 – I liked Kyle Higgins on Nightwing, and I like Bucky Barnes, so I thought it would be worth giving this new miniseries a shot.  Bucky has decided to start helping people get themselves out of bad situations, running his own version of a witness protection program with help from Sharon Carter.  It’s a good premise, and the first issue runs pretty smoothly. I always find Rod Reis’s art very stiff, but I still enjoy it, and it’s nice to see this character getting some love.  Marvel does really weird things with Bucky – the last time he had his own book, he was a cosmic assassin, and when we last saw him, he was Odd Coupling it with Hawkeye. This is one of the more natural stories for him that I’ve read since he stopped being Captain America.

X-Men: The Exterminated #1 – I didn’t read this.  I’ll wait until after Extermination #5 comes out (even though I’m already reading Uncanny X-Men, which also comes after that story – comics are confusing).

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

Adventures of the Super Sons #5

Batman #60

BPRD Devil You Know #11

Cinema Purgatorio #16

Death Orb #3

Defenders: Immortal Hulk #1

Defenders: Namor #1

Doctor Strange #9

Immortal Hulk #10

Martian Manhunter #1

Shatterstar #3

Snotgirl #12

Sword Daughter #4

West Coast Avengers #5

Bargain Comics:

Domino #2-6 – It’s so nice to see Gail Simone back at her best, as she makes Domino the centre of a small team, and recaptures some of what worked so well in her Birds of Prey run at DC.  I’ve always been a Diamondback fan, and have come to really like Outlaw over these six issues. I also like the way Simone uses unlikely guest characters, like Shang-Chi, to help keep things interesting.  I’m glad this series got upgraded from being a mini to being an ongoing (for however long ongoings actually last at Marvel these days).

Domino Annual #1 – I even enjoyed the Annual, which helps to explain how Domino’s team came together, and includes a few other fun stories looking at some of Domino’s exes, among other things.

The New Mutants: Dead Souls #1-5 – This is a bizarre little series.  A variety of former New Mutants, X-Force, and X-Factor members have come together to work for Karma at some company, but really they are going around investigating paranormal things under Illyana’s command.  The set up is never clearly explained, nor is why these particular characters were chosen (to say nothing of why the title New Mutants is used), and so it takes a few issues for this book to come into its own, the best of this bunch being the last one.  Matthew Rosenberg is aiming for easy humor a little too often, and Adam Gorham’s art looks rushed throughout. There is potential here, but really, this is a strange use of these characters.

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