The Weekly Round-Up #475 With Criminal #1, Oblivian Song #11, Star Wars #59 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

Criminal #1 – It’s nice to return to the Criminal world, as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips dive back into the comic they are best known for, and bringing us back to Teeg Lawless and his son Ricky.  Ricky has to get some money to make bail for Teeg, but the method he uses gets him in trouble with Hyde, leaving Teeg in a position where he has to get a lot of money, and quickly. At the same time, he learns that one of his closest friends has died, and he heads out of town to attend his funeral.  Brubaker and Phillips are always incredible together, and this double-sized (yet regular-priced) issue gives a lot of space where new readers can get familiar with this seedy and sad world, and where returning readers can meet up with some familiar faces. I’m so happy to learn that this return is a long-term one, with several stories lined up.

Quick Takes:

Aliens: Dust To Dust #4 – I’m glad that Gabriel Hardman’s Aliens series has finally come to its end.  Hardman has some new ideas in this series, which features a young boy who believes that his mother might live on in the Alien that burst out of her chest, but the story is a little too short to properly explore that, and the long delays between issues really hurt things.  I’m a big Hardman fan, especially when he works with his wife Corinna Bechko, and would much rather see him return to their Invisible Republic series.

Cemetery Beach #5 – This series is turning into one long chase sequence, but I’m fine with that.  Warren Ellis eschews the little world building we’ve seen in previous chapters to simply focus on our heroes’ continued attempts to escape pursuit on this weird colony world.  Jason Howard gives us flying sailboats, weird armored vehicles, and many more unique visuals along the journey. It’s not Ellis’s most intellectual comic, but it’s good stuff.

Deathstroke #39 – Things just keep getting weirder while Slade is stuck in Arkham.  It’s hard to tell what is real, as Slade is manipulated by a few different people, the threat of an alien invasion looms, and Joseph decides to make use of Solomon Grundy’s body for a while.  Priest makes this the most compelling DC book on the stands, and one that I haven’t gotten bored with at all over the length of this run. It really is a complicated and rewarding series.

Die #2 – A new Kieron Gillen series is always cause for celebration, and this one is no different.  Gillen and artist Stephanie Hans have created a fascinating world – it’s a D&D fantasy world, designed by a precocious teenager in the early nineties, and while it wears its influences on its sleeves, it’s also more complex and original than the standard fantasy series.  What also makes it interesting is that the five members of the party having to travel through this world don’t want to be there, having escaped the place as teenagers, only to be dragged back now, when they are in their early forties, and thought they had left this stuff behind.  Gillen fills this book with great character work, while Hans gives it a unique look. I’m very curious to get to know this place more, and trust that as usual, Gillen has thought of every aspect of life here.

Iceman #5 – Sina Grace’s return to Iceman ends kind of unspectacularly.  There’s not really been anything wrong with this five issue run, but it definitely has lacked the charm of the first run.  Bobby takes on Mister Sinister on his own, and saves the Mutant Pride Parade that came out of nowhere last issue. It’s whatever.

Miles Morales Spider-Man #2 – I am increasingly convinced that Saladin Ahmed is the perfect person to be writing this book.  In this issue, he has Miles work out a reluctant team-up with the Rhino, and begin to figure out who is using children in tactical suits to commit crimes, including the little cousin of Miles’s maybe girlfriend.  Ahmed has a great handle not just on Miles, but also on the Rhino and the villain of this issue. Javier Garron is also a great choice for the art, which has a lot of character to it. If this book stays like this, it’s likely to be a Marvel favourite for me.

Oblivion Song #11 – I’m impressed with how quickly this book has climbed to being one of my favourites in the last year.  Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici are giving us a very exciting and original comic, full of strange creatures and long, slow-burning mysteries.  Ed and Nathan find themselves on opposite sides of a question that shouldn’t be up for debate, and Nathan has to figure out how to try to save the most people after a small chunk of Philadelphia has been sent to Oblivion.  There are some great new creatures in this issue.

Outer Darkness #3 – I love a good complicated science fiction series with a lot of backstory to it.  It seems that this is what John Layman likes too, as he continues to take us on a tour of the world he’s invented (with artist Afu Chan).  This month, the crew of the Charon stops to investigate an old distress signal, with the result being that we learn what happens to characters that die in this world.  Layman and Chan are really impressing me with this book, leaving me wanting to know more every month.

Punisher #6 – Frank has been captured by Baron Zemo, and is his guest in Bagalia, the criminal-run country that is falling on some hard times (I feel like perhaps Matthew Rosenberg is suggesting that Zemo and Trump have some things in common in the early pages, as unreasonable tariffs lead to important shortages).  This is a very dark book, but it works very well, especially with Szymon Kudranski drawing it. I’ve really liked Rosenberg’s approach to the Punisher.

Star Wars #59 – The heroes’ quiet sojourn on Hubin looks to be coming to its end, as Luke finishes his transmitter, which causes him to overstay his welcome, and a ship arrives.  Who is in it? Some characters I didn’t expect to see again, that’s for sure. I continue to enjoy Kieron Gillen’s run on this book.

Uncanny X-Men #9 – The team is in for a big fight with Nate Grey, and I still can’t escape the fact that his anger and need to destroy everything just doesn’t fit with his character.  There has not been near enough done to establish why Nate is acting this way. The writers are working overtime to make it clear that the younger X-Men are ready to be heroes, but the idea of Rockslide and Glob Herman holding off Magneto, Storm, Omega Red, and Blob is ridiculous.  Everything about this issue felt a little too rushed, as the creators work to set up next week’s conclusion to the story.

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

Adventures of the Super Sons #6

Avengers #12

Batman #62

Black Order #3

Domino #10

Eclipse Vol. 3 TP

Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man #1

Man Without Fear #2

Martian Manhunter #2

Thor #9

United States Vs. Murder Inc. #5

X-23 #8

Bargain Comics:

Hunt for Wolverine: The Claws of a Killer #1-4 – This H4W miniseries doesn’t quite work for me.  I was alright with Deathstrike, Sabretooth, and Daken working together to find Logan, but when they start thinking that Deathstrike’s father and Creed’s son are working with Soteira, things get a little too weird and unclear for me.  Also, if there’s a glowing device that takes away their healing factor, why can’t they just get out of range, instead of having to go destroy it? Some of this stuff needed a lot more editing.

Hunt for Wolverine: Weapon Lost #2-4 – The idea of a team comprised of Daredevil, Misty Knight, Frank McGee, and Cypher is a weird one, but Charles Soule kind of makes it work.  Of the Hunt miniseries that I’ve read so far, this is the least self-contained, as a fight with Albert (from the Hama/Silvestri days) leads to a discovery in some corporate office that carries into the conclusion of this whole event.  I guess, with this book being written by Soule, he had to do more of the heavy listing than the other miniseries writers. This was all a bit of a drawn out mess, but I do like the idea of so many pockets of the Marvel Universe working to find Logan.

Hunt for Wolverine: Dead Ends #1 – Those pockets converge some, when Tony Stark and Daredevil sit down with Kitty Pryde to compare notes, but not enough really happens in this book.  We do learn more about how Soteira is a threat, but not why. Eighteen comics to set up the Return of Wolverine is really a little too much. Marvel needs to tone this nonsense down.

Moon Knight #198-200 – I’ve been a Moon Knight fan since I was a kid (one day, once I get to one of my most inaccessible longboxes, he’ll be the focus of some Retro Review columns), but find that in the last twenty years, people have done some very strange things with him.  Jeff Lemire’s run, following closely on Warren Ellis’s, was fantastic, and made me think it was time to put the character away for a few years. Instead, Max Bemis started his very odd run almost immediately, diminishing the power of Lemire’s work. Bemis, with Jacen Burrows and Paul Davidson, did give us some fine issues, but as he wrapped up his run here, things kind of fell apart under their own weight.  This is a deeply weird book, feeling more Vertigo than mainstream Marvel Universe. I liked some of what Bemis did, but was pretty lost reading issue 200. I think it might be time to leave MK to lie fallow for a year or more before bringing him back again.

Return of Wolverine #1-3 – I guess no one really expected that Wolverine wouldn’t come back one day, although I’m a little surprised to see that Charles Soule got to both take him out of the world and bring him back into it, again using the story device of a secretive and little known organization.  Three issues in, and Logan is amnesiac, has hot claws, and doesn’t grab me the way he did when I was a kid in the late 80s. An element of mystery is important to make Logan cool again, but I’m not sure that Soule is grabbing me with this story. Steve McNiven channeled Barry Windsor-Smith when drawing the first issue, which is much more interesting than most anything I’ve seen McNiven do, but then Declan Shalvey came on for the next two issues, and he’s not a good match, aesthetically.  I know that I’m inevitably going to end up reading the rest of this series one day, but I’m not really feeling it. I hope that when Logan gets his own solo series again, it feels a little fresher than this.

X-Men Gold #35&36 – At the end of his run, Marc Guggenheim writes about his desire to write the series as a “love letter” to Chris Claremont’s day, which explains why he racheted up the melodrama (lots of abandoned relationships), gave call-outs to forgotten Claremontian moments (returning Storm to her Asgardian status for a while), and continued to make Rachel Summers an awkwardly mis-used character (making me think more of a later Claremont run where he had all of her family killed by the Shi’ar).  The problem is that Claremont took years to build on characters’ relationships, while Guggenheim, knowing that no Marvel book makes it to fifty issues, had to compact his storylines to the point of making them feel forced. I don’t really feel like his run was successful, but it wasn’t the worst X-Men of this century (Chuck Austen set that bar very high). Shoe-horning Ink into the book was awkward, and I’ve noticed that the new Pyro has disappeared from Uncanny X-Men, making me think that this run is going to mostly go forgotten.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Boy 1 – I picked up this IDW graphic novel because I have liked the artist, Amancay Nahuelpan’s, work at Black Mask and wanted to see more.  This book is written by HS Tak (I don’t know who that is), and covers a lot of ground. At the beginning, this is a story about a young genius who has been left a bio-research company by his father, who disappeared on him when he was quite young.  As the story unfolds, we learn that that’s not really the case, and that Jadas, our young man, is the product of some genetic experimentation. The story quickly moves from being a thriller as Jada goes on the run, to being about moral obligation in the face of a deadly plague.  The shift is perhaps too abrupt for a four-issue miniseries, and the story suffers for that. With more space, Tak might have created a more epic story. As a quick read, though, this is a decent comic. Nahuelpan’s art is not his best, but it’s decent.

Redlands Vol. 1: Sisters By Blood – I was very impressed with the first volume of Redlands, a horror comic written and coloured by Jordie Bellaire and drawn by Vanesa Del Rey.  For a while now, I’ve worked under the assumption that if Bellaire is colouring a book, I probably want to read it, and that’s worked for me. I’m happy to see that she’s just as competent a writer, although this is a very unconventional comic.  In the 1970s, a small coven of witches took over a small town in Florida, and have been running its police force ever since. The narrative of these first six issues jumps around a lot, as we learn about some of the horrible things that the women have to do to stay in power, and also get to know their personalities.  One of them becomes possessed by the spirit of a woman murdered long ago, and it seems that another turned a spider into a human child. I don’t know – Bellaire makes the reader work, and is not really writing for the trade format. I think this title will read better in an omnibus format after it’s finished one day, but I wouldn’t want to have to wait that long to look at Del Rey’s fantastic art.  There’s a lot going on in this book that makes me want to keep coming back for more. The second trade should be along soon…

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