The Weekly Round-Up #496 With The Walking Dead #192, Fallen World #2, Stray Bullets: Sunshine & Roses #41, Black Hammer ‘45 #4 & More

Best Comic of the Week:

The Walking Dead #192 – I’m going to try to talk about this without giving anything away.  At the end of the last issue, a character got shot, and I closed the book confident that that character would be fine, because I’ve always felt that there were two or three characters who were always going to be around in this title.  I was wrong, and this issue deals with the fallout of that. This issue is sad and touching, and left me wiping away a tear or two, mostly due to the incredible weight of Charlie Adlard and Stefano Gaudiano’s art, and the way in which Cliff Rathburn used grey tones to add so much emotion to some of the scenes.  I’ve been a fan of The Walking Dead since the start of the second arc, and have been deeply affected by it many times over its long history. This issue really got me though, and with it, things really are going to have to change for the series. I have a lot of faith in Robert Kirkman and Adlard when it comes to this book, so while I’m saddened by what happened, I’m also excited to see how this is dealt with.

Quick Takes:

Beasts of Burden: The Presence of Others #2 – This latest two-part Beasts of Burden mini is a lot darker than any previous one, and that’s saying a lot.  Since Evan Dorkin added humans into the series with the last mini, the tone has started to shift, and things have become even more serious, in this comic that focuses on a group of dogs and cats that fight the supernatural.  The reason? People are terrible, of course. This issue takes a big swerve when the family that the crew have been helping turn on them. Benjamin Dewey’s art is incredible in this issue, and doesn’t even make me miss Jill Thompson one bit.

Black Hammer ‘45 #4 – This series set in the Black Hammer universe during the Second World War ends well, as we see the end of the mission that the surviving heroes are commemorating today.  I enjoyed this series, mainly for the chance to see Matt Kindt draw a more traditional super hero war comic, which is outside of what I’m used to from him.

Criminal #5 – A new arc starts off with a focus on Dan Farraday, a private investigator and haunted Vietnam vet who has been sent to track down a woman who has run off from the rich man who has been keeping her as a mistress.  As is so usual in this series, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips do an incredible job of building this character out of thin air, even explaining how his experiences in ‘Nam have shaped him into the person he is today. Who is that?  A guy who is ready to risk everything to get to know the woman he’s supposed to be finding. He finds a lot more than just her though, as what Brubaker promises to be the longest Criminal story ever gets underway. It’s a very good comic, and feels like a good jumping on point for anyone who has been meaning to check this title out.

Deathstroke #44 – I don’t want to spoil anything, but it really does seem that Deathstroke is dead.  This issue shows us his funeral, as a wide variety of villains gather to pay tribute, and Jericho can’t handle the idea of leaving them alone.  I’m a huge fan of Christopher Priest (to the point where I’m going to be buying Vampirella soon because he’s involved), and have followed his career for decades.  I think that his Deathstroke run is among the best he’s ever written, and his nuanced handling of the characters in this issue helps prove why. This issue hits a number of emotional notes, and each scene lands perfectly.  

Fallen World #2 – I’m enjoying this futuristic Valiant series that features Rai, the Eternal Warrior, and as the new vessel of the Father AI, Bloodshot.  It’s great to see Adam Pollina drawing a comic, and Dan Abnett is always good at stories like this.

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 – This issue is used to check in on some of the characters who went missing at the start of the latest GotG series (and Nova, who didn’t).  We learn, through Al Ewing’s story that the authoritarianism and intolerance we see on Earth these days has been spreading throughout the globe, with the Skrulls and the Kree both becoming more extremist in their views.  We get confirmation, through Tini Howard’s story, that it is almost impossible to make Adam Warlock an interesting character. We also get the start of the next Guardians arc, and a welcome appearance by Cosmo. It’s a decent enough issue, but not as coherent as it could have been.

Man-Eaters #9 – Writer Chelsea Cain is joined by new artist Elise McCall, and the change is not all that noticeable.  The story is progressing, with Maude now going undercover in the Man-Eaters version of a gay conversion camp designed to get girls to stop menstruating.  There are the usual ton of sight gags and cool design features, which continue to distract from the fact that I’ve still not completely bought into the story.  At the same time, this is a lot of fun, and I don’t want to overthink things. I love that Ruminations, the bootcamp/rehab centre, has anti-Man-Eaters tweets up on the walls as decoration.

Paper Girls #29 – We are right up against the end of this series (next month), and Brian K. Vaughan brings all of his characters together for the big finish.  It looks like the only way things can go back to normal would be to remove the girls’ memories of everything that’s happened, but that also looks like it will wipe out their friendships.  Decisions have to be made, and BKV and Cliff Chiang make each character’s reaction feel very real. I’m going to miss this series.

Shadow Roads #8 – I’m not entirely sure that this title has found itself yet.  I keep thinking it has, and then things shift and change. This issue focuses a lot on Henry, his origins, and the origins of the blade he carries.  There is a growing sense of mystery in this book, and I really like the large cast of characters that populate it. I wish it came out more often; I often worry that it’s going to just disappear.

Stray Bullets: Sunshine and Roses #41 – I’ve missed this book.  David Lapham returns to it, as just about everyone in the cast converges on a small hospital in a California backwater town, where Beth and Orson have been taken after their car crash.  Kretchmeyer knows they’re there, but Spanish Scott has sent a ton of hired guns after them. No one really expects Annie to send Love in to help her daughter though. This issue is violent and unpredictable, just like the best of Stray Bullets.

Uncanny X-Men #19 – Ever since Jonathan Hickman’s upcoming X-Men run got announced, this title has been getting stranger and stranger, and with the way that Matthew Rosenberg has been killing off characters, I’m convinced it’s all about to get retconned.  This time around, we see that Emma Frost has been working with the ONE behind the scenes, and manipulating the X-Men and a raft of other people. I don’t like that Marrow and Elixir are members of the Hellfire Club now – it just doesn’t track for either of them.  I’m also irritated that Marvel can’t put any known artists on this comic. I was liking Rosenberg’s work, but now I’m just ready for Hickman to bring this to an end.

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

Batman #72

Dead Man Logan #8

Domino Hotshots #4

Marvel Team-Up #3

Meet the Skrulls #5

Mirror: The Nest TP

Sword Daughter #7

Tony Stark Iron Man #12

Thumbs #1

War of the Realms #5

War of the Realms New Agents of Atlas #3

Bargain Comics:

Avengers: No Road Home #1-3 – Marvel returns to the weekly Avengers well, getting writers Al Ewing, Jim Zub, and Mark Waid to collaborate on a story that brings back Voyager, and has her assemble a new team of Avengers to face off against an old Greek god of night, with an impressive amount of power.  Things fall back to old tropes a little too quickly, with the team splitting to hunt down some MacGuffins. What makes it work is the addition of Rocket Raccoon, and the way Ewing is handling the Hulk among other characters. It’s interesting, but feels a little too much like the No Surrender arc that spawned it.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Eclipse Volume Two – Zack Kaplan and Giovannni Timpano’s science fiction series about a future where the Earth’s electromagnetic field no longer protects people from the sun continues and expands in this second volume, making it clear that the story about albinos who are able to walk around in the daylight is much more complex than the first arc made it seem.  The main characters get developed more, and it becomes more obvious who can’t be trusted. The four-issue trade always annoys me, because the story rarely has enough meat on its bones, but this volume works. I was considering not bothering looking for subsequent volumes, but as this one ends, I’m more interested. I also have come to really like Timpano’s art, despite the fact that it adheres to Top Cow house styles.