The Weekly Round-Up #486 With Star Wars: Vader – Dark Visions #2, Heroes in Crisis #7, Black Hammer: Age of Doom #9, Outcast By Kirkman & Azaceta #40 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Star Wars: Vader – Dark Visions #2 – I love this issue, wherein Dennis Hallum has an Imperial commander so afraid of failing Vader that he’s pursuing a Rebel spy through a number of increasingly dangerous traps.  Brian Level’s art is very cool in this issue, giving it a decided indie feel. I like the way that Vader is portrayed as this great boogeyman, but barely appears in the issue. Vader, at the core, is a boring character, so it is the reactions of others that make him interesting and menacing.

Quick Takes:

Black Hammer: Age of Doom #9 – Reality has been re-written, and it looks like the only person who can fix things is Lucy, but she doesn’t remember what’s happened before.  It seems like Jeff Lemire is just going to keep putting these characters in positions where they don’t know what’s real around them. It’s a formula that works, as at this point, I feel pretty invested in these characters.  This continues to be a very interesting series.

Black Panther #10 – If you’re in the mood for an Afrofuturist take on Star Wars, this title is the way to go.  This issue is filled with large action scenes, and great Kev Walker artwork.

Black Science #39 – We are at the beginning of the last arc of this long-running Image series.  Rick Remender and Matteo Scalera give us a nice quiet issue, after putting Grant and his family through so much for so long.  It’s nice to see everyone all together again, but the reunion is taking place in the last surviving reality, one taken over by their enemies.  This issue completely lacks the frenetic pace of most of this series, but this gentle reprieve makes me think that Remender has ever-worse things planned for his characters.

Daredevil #3 – We’ve seen a lot of variations on the “Daredevil at his lowest” theme, but this time around, DD is wanted by the cops for murder, and it looks like they’re going to be taking him in for real.  When help arrives, it’s not the kind that he would want. Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto are giving us a pretty serious story here, and it works very well.

Doctor Aphra #30 – With the clock still ticking before the bombs linking them are set to explode, Aphra and Triple-Zero end up exploring their relationship a little more closely.  We learn the secrets of Trip’s origins, and get to see Aphra experience a bit of happiness. This has been a fun arc, but it’s good that it’s ending next issue. It’s time to move on.

Friendo #5 – This was an odd series, but one that I enjoyed.  Alex Paknadel is a writer to keep an eye on, and is likely to blow up in the next year or so.

Heroes in Crisis #7 – There are now only two issues left, and it still feels like this series is trying to get started.  There’s been no movement on the subplot surrounding just how the video footage from Sanctuary got released, and the central mystery feels like it’s going to turn out to be a bunch of nothing.  This is a very nice-looking book, but I’m surprised by how little substance Tom King has put into it.

Invaders #3 – The mystery around Namor and what he’s up to deepens, as a visit to an old friend turns violent, and Cap, Bucky, and Jim Hammond try to make sense of what’s going on.  Chip Zdarsky is constructing an interesting story here, although I’ll admit to being concerned about any further retconning of Namor’s past, which it looks like the next issue is going to do.  

Man-Eaters #7 – Man-Eaters is equally charming and frustrating.  Each issue plays around with format so much that there are fewer story pages than there probably should be to maintain the correct level of suspense and excitement.  It feels like some big secrets got revealed in this issue, but I’m not sure if that’s really the case, and I’m worried, what with the unconventional structure of this series, that we won’t even get to figure out what’s going on with the next issue.  Yet, I keep buying it.

Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta #40 – As this book gets closer and closer to its conclusion, more and more outcasts are turning up in Rome.  The problem is, that might be just what the possessed want. This book has spent a long time building to this point, and things are as exciting as they’ve ever been.  It’s a great comic.

Peter Cannon Thunderbolt #3 – It’s fun to watch Kieron Gillen play around with this post-Watchmen story, but I also sort of feel like I need to read his notes to fully understand what happens, and suspect that might be a failing on his part.  

X-Force #5 – This issue features a guest artis, Damian Couceiro, and the supposed origin of Teen Cable, and with both of those things, it’s less than every issue that preceded it of this run.  I suppose we need to understand why young Nathan is in the present day, but that origin feels a little slapped together and not as important as it should be. Couceiro’s art is nice, but I love Dylan Burnett’s work on this book, and this is not the same thing as that.  I do have high hopes for this title though, and the fact that the character supposedly killed in the last issue is still holding on in this one was a welcome sight. I also like that Stryfe’s costume has been redesigned so as to allow an actual human being to wear and move in it.

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

Amazing Spider-Man #18

Avengers No Road Home #7

Cinema Purgatorio #17

Detective Comics #1000

Doctor Strange #12

Fantastic Four #8

Freedom Fighters #4

Hulkverines #2

Martian Manhunter #4

Marvel Comics Presents #3

Mr. & Mrs. X #9

Snotgirl #13

Superior Spider-Man #4

Wonder Woman #67

Bargain Comics:

Asgardians of the Galaxy #5&6 – I like how Cullen Bunn is slowly making this series into a home for the forgotten and under-used characters of Cosmic Marvel, with the movie version of Yondu showing up leading a team that includes Planet Terry (from the old Star Comics) and Cammi from Annihilation, among others.  This title is better than I would have expected it to be, and it’s good to see so many of these characters used correctly. Plus, I’m kind of a sucker for Kid Loki…

Mr. & Mrs. X #3-5 – I enjoy Kelly Thompson’s take on these characters, although at the same time, I could do without yet another storyline based on Rogue’s control of her powers.  Still, this series is enjoyable, and makes use of some characters I’d always like to see more of, like the Starjammers and the Imperial Guard.

Swamp Thing Winter Special #1 – I liked Tom King and Jason Fabok’s story in this handsome prestige format book.  It’s got ST trying to rescue a child from a snow monster that has effectively cut him off from the Green, but there’s a little more than that going on.  The rest of the book is made of the finished art of the first issue of a Swamp Thing series that got cancelled upon the death of his creator, Len Wein. It’s nice if you like current-era Kelly Jones art, but I’m not in that camp.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

RAID Two – RAID, the Royal Academy of Illustration and Design (with no connection to any actual royalty) is a local studio full of comics creators in Toronto.  This is the second anthology the group, more or less led by the excellent Ramón Pérez, has put out to showcase their varied talents. It’s a nice looking book, and has some great stories in it.  I particularly enjoyed the work by Joe Infurnari, Pérez, Tri Vuong, Irma Kniivila, Cameron Stewart, and the new Junior Citizens story by Ian Herring and Dan Macintyre. I found the prose story written by Taran Chadha interesting, although it bugged me that the illustrations that went with it had nothing to do with the story.  It always feels good to support local creators, especially when the quality of the work is this good.