The Weekly Round-Up #570 With Crossover #1, Sweet Tooth: The Return #1, Year Zero Vol. 2 #1, USAgent #1, Star Wars #8 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Best Comic of the Week:

Crossover #1 – Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw are back with a new, impressive, first issue.  In Crossover, a superhero event emerged from comic books to happen in the real world in Colorado one day.  A force bubble was put up around the affected area, and the rest of the world tried to go back to normal, with the knowledge that what they thought was fictional was somehow existing in their reality.  Most of the book takes place three years after all of that, and centres around a young woman named Ellipses, who works in a comic book store that only will sell comics from before the event took place.  Over the course of the issue, we learn how there’s a lot of push back against comics from the religious right, and that characters from inside the bubble occasionally make their way into the regular world.  Cates is having some fun with stereotypical characters and the place of comics in society, while also delivering a pretty wild new take on things.  Shaw’s art is great, and I am fully invested.  There is a definite Mark Millar vibe to this book, but I somehow doubt that Cates is going to give us a typical Millaresque happy ending.

Quick Takes:

Bang! #5 – I really enjoyed this quick miniseries by Matt Kindt and Wildredo Torres.  In it, he introduced four pulp-type heroes, who are the subjects of books by an author who predicts everything that happens in their lives.  This issue wraps things up, while leaving the door open for a sequel.  Kindt is such a good writer that these characters are all ones I’d like to get to know more about; he is able in a short space to elevate them beyond their simple concepts.  If there is a sequel, I’d be down for more.

Fire Power #5 – Things are starting to move pretty quickly in this book, as four martial arts types come to grab Owen and his family, sending them on the run.  This issue is almost all action, and it really gives Chris Samnee space to show his stuff on the art.  This whole series has been great – Samnee is doing the work of his career here.

Guardians of the Galaxy #8 – Rocket does his best impression of Murder She Wrote, working to solve the identity of the killer of the Zn’rk emperor, a crime that Noh-Varr is on the hook for.  This issue serves as a bridge from Empyre into the King in Black event, which I was hoping to ignore, despite the 1000 tie-in comics that include some titles I currently read.  I’m really enjoying Al Ewing’s Guardians, and look forward to his SWORD as well, which feels like a natural tie-in to this book at some point.

Lonely Receiver #3 – Zac Thompson and Jen Hickman’s romance series about technology gets darker and darker with this issue, as Catrin meets someone she believes is the AI who abandoned her, and as they start into a relationship, things get weird.  Thompson is great at these kinds of post-Cronenberg stories, but it’s Hickman’s art that helps things get very disturbing in this issue, especially as some people start to show a second set of eyes.  I’m enjoying this book a lot.

Lost Soldiers #4 – The old soldier this book is about goes on a one-man, Punisher style rampage, hunting down the guy that did something to him (we get a sense of what) in Vietnam.  This is a dark and bloody issue, and a very effective one.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #20 – Miles and the Prowler face the Goblinoids and the Ultimate Goblin, in a fight that grows to include his friends, Captain America, and his parents.  It’s all good, but I feel like the quality of this book is starting to slip some.

Sacred Six #4 – Things are getting more chaotic in this Vampirella spin-off book, as various characters converge and mix it up.  Priest’s plan for this book is a little murky still, and the title doesn’t stand on its own all that well, but it stays interesting.  The art takes another turn, with Jae Lee no longer providing the prologue pages.  New artists Guilherme Balbi and Guiseppe Cafro aren’t really to my liking.

Spy Island #3 – Like most Chelsea Cain series, this one takes a couple of strange turns, as we learn the main character’s father’s story, and that sand fleas might be trying to take over the island in the Bermuda Triangle where all of this takes place.  This issue has elaborately orchestrated note-passing, betrayal, and mimes.  You probably shouldn’t think too deeply about any of it, but it’s all cool.

Star Wars #8 – Charles Soule’s run continues to be very entertaining.  Commander Zahra risks everything to have an encounter with Leia while the Empire attacks two Rebel divisions.  Soule is putting a lot of time into building Zahra, and she’s interesting.  I like the idea of Leia having an opposing force in the Empire, although we all know she’s doomed to failure.  Ramon Rosanas does a great job drawing the fighter battle that takes up much of this issue as well.

Sweet Tooth: The Return #1 – I was very surprised to see that Jeff Lemire’s excellent Vertigo series, Sweet Tooth, was coming back as a part of DC’s Black Label.  Lemire takes all the original elements of the beginning of that series – Gus, the hybrid deer/human boy, a cabin in the woods, a Big Man – and remixes them into an unfamiliar setting that has Gus living with an old priest and two possibly robotic nuns, in a forest that is clearly indoors.  Gus, if that’s even his name, has been dreaming about the Big Man, and feels like it’s time for him to set off into the world, because he knows that his Father has been lying to him about what’s beyond the woods.  I like the way this issue took me back to the feel of the first series, while creating more than enough cognitive dissonance to make me wonder what all is going on here.  The story says it takes place “300 years later”, but from what, I’m not sure.  I don’t know if this is a cloning story, or something completely different, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen Lemire draw a book, and I’m always happy to support whatever creator-owned series he’s working on.

That Texas Blood #5 – This issue starts off with a pretty jarring scene, as Randy wakes up with a gun in his hand, and a dead man on the floor.  When we last saw him, he started drinking in a bar, and neither Randy nor we readers know how we got here.  And as the issue unfolds, with Sheriff Joe Bob continuing to investigate Randy’s brother’s death, and Randy’s girlfriend surprising him as he’s trying to clean up a murder, we get a lot of drama.  This series is impressive, but with this issue, I feel like it’s reached a higher level.  It’s very good, especially as a first series from both writer Chris Condon and artist Jacob Phillips.

Thor #9 – Donny Cates decides to bring back Don Blake, as Thor looks to take a day off, but the good doctor hasn’t made an appearance in a really long time, and things have changed for him.  I like the horror bent to this new arc, and that artist Nic Klein is back.

USAgent #1 – What better writer than Christopher Priest to tackle John Walker, the USAgent in this day and age?  Walker is given a new, inscrutable sidekick of a sort, as he is sent to investigate a bombing at a distribution hub in a former mining town in West Virginia.  In typical Priest fashion, the story feels pretty layered (it’s suggested that the distribution hub is an old SHIELD front company), and I’m not sure who Walker is working for.  Walker has long been portrayed as a failed hero with viewpoints that don’t fit with the rest of the hero community, and he seems like the type of character that would vote for Donald Trump.  It can’t be an accident that Priest is handling a character like this at this precise time, and I love it.  Georges Jeanty is a capable artist, and seems right for a book like this.  I love the new design of Walker’s costume and shield, and the fact that the shields he’s using are pretty much disposable.  I know this is just a miniseries, but I already wish it was longer.  

X-Men #14 (X of Swords Pt. 12) – It’s time for more of Jonathan Hickman’s new mythology, as Apocalypse and Genesis walk through a garden together, and we learn of the thousands of years she’s spent fighting for Arakko, and ultimately losing.  More and more, it feels as if Hickman had a whole other story planned, perhaps it would have been an Image book, that he folded into his X-Men series.  I find myself getting lost among the Annihilations, the Arakkos, the Amenths, and all that, but am still enjoying this.  I do like the notion of Apocalypse being portrayed and perceived as soft.

Marauders #14 (X of Swords Pt. 13) – How long has it been since Logan got a truly scene-stealing moment?  He gets one in this chapter of X of Swords.  Most of the issue is given over to a dinner party Saturnyne is hosting for the champions of Krakoa and Arakko before they begin their fight to the death the next day.  Storm gets a few good moments, as does the new comedy duo of Gorgon and Magik.  Co-writers Gerry Duggan and Ben Percy make this an amusing interlude before the real action finally begins, weirdly, in the next issue of Marauders (at this point, I’m not sure that any of the X-titles will retain their unique individual flavour).

Year Zero Vol. 2 #1 – Benjamin Percy has brought his global zombie series back for a second run, and this time he’s joined by Juan Jose Ryp as artist.  Like the first volume, this one focuses on separate stand alone stories of a zombie apocalypse, flipping from one to the next every few pages.  This time around, we have stories set off the coast of Norway, in a Colombian drug lord’s mansion, in a big box store in Arizona, and in a savanna in Rwanda.  I like the diversity of this series, and the opportunity to see how zombies are dealt with outside of the typical American suburbs.  The first run was good, and this one looks good too.

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

Amazing Spider-Man by Nick Spencer Vol. 9 Sins Rising TP

Avengers #38

Wolverine: Black White & Blood #1

The Week in Music:

Bambu – Sharpest Tool in the Shed – It’s been way too long since we got a Bambu release, so this brief, seven-track digital only EP is very welcome.  Bambu, a Filipino-American rapper from the west coast has a lot to say about Trump, the alt right, white supremacy, policing, and how these all fit together.  Bam never shies away from expressing his views in the most uncompromising ways, and is always equally educational and impressive on the mic.  This is such an impressive release, and is sure to make your racist uncle angry.

Sa-Roc – The Sharecropper’s Daughter – I saw Sa-Roc open for Brother Ali a few years ago, and I was struck by what a fierce rapper she was, both in terms of lyrics and flow.  This debut album really showcases her talent, as she plants her flag with some prominent features (Saul Williams, Styles P, Black Thought, among others).  This is a strong album.

Joel Ross – Who Are You? – I love the vibraphone, so I was more than ready for this new release from New Yorker Joel Ross.  His vibes soar over his band, which is sometimes supplemented with Brandee Younger’s harp.  This album is full of beautiful jazz, of the relaxing, non-threatening variety.  It’s nice.

Clipping. – Visions of Bodies Being Burned – Clipping. have had a prolific year, dropping this album not too long after their last one.  It’s a horror concept album that is definitely among their darkest and most abrasive work, but there are a few very strong tracks on here, and I really respect the degree to which they stretch their body of work, and explore new territory.  Daveed Diggs shows in a few places that he’s as versatile an MC as he is an actor, and the distorted and unsettling beats bang.  

LAL – Meteors Could Come Down – LAL are mainstays in the Toronto underground electronic scene, known as much for their support for other artists as their own endeavours.  This new, too-short release showcases a slightly different turn for them, as they share seven quiet, intimate songs that help to capture the feeling of this moment.  Rosina’s voice still floats over Murr’s gorgeous electronics, but this album, created during the pandemic, feels much closer than their previous work.  It’s lovely.

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