The Weekly Round-Up #589 With S.W.O.R.D. #4, E-Ratic #4, Orphan & The Five Beasts #1, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #10 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Best Comic of the Week:

SWORD #4 – It’s unfortunate that most of this series has so far been swallowed up by the King in Black event, but Al Ewing has made such good use of that event to help propel this series forward.  I love his takes on Manifold, Fury, Mentallo, and even Cable.  Abigail Brand’s machinations put her in conflict with Hope and The Five, and Magneto is considering trusting Fabian Cortez again.  I’m very happy with this series, which relies on a lot of deep cut X-Men knowledge, but also is so full of good character work that a new reader can probably pick up the broad strokes easily.  I kind of wish Ewing were writing the main X-Men title at this point…

Quick Takes:

Abbott 1973 #3 – Elena’s struggle against the Umbra continues to grow, and now her girlfriend’s been taken.  She recruits her brother, a veteran, and plans to go to war, while also becoming steadily more powerful.  Saladin Ahmed really gives this book a strong sense of place and time, matched by Sami Kevelä’s terrific artwork.  This is a very good read.

E-Ratic #4 – Kaare Andrews has a lot going on in this book, but it all works together pretty nicely.  I don’t believe that this series is going to be ending with the next issue though; I hope that this becomes a series of miniseries, as I’ve grown to like most of the characters, and want to see more of Ollie’s adventures.  There’s a real early Spider-Man vibe to this series that should be explored.

Iron Man #7 – Christopher Cantwell is taking this series into stranger and stranger territory, as Tony and his crew pursue Korvac in space, and he and Patsy confront Korvac on the mental plane.  There are some big ideas in this series, but I still can’t connect with anyone (except perhaps Patsy).  

Justice League #59 – After thoroughly enjoying Brian Michael Bendis’s Legion of Super-Heroes, I decided I’d give his Justice League a shot, despite having multiple reservations.  This was a typically Bendisian issue, with a lengthy fight sequence featuring a new and unknown character, with a bit of banter mixed in.  There are two things I really liked about this issue – David Marquez’s art has never looked better, and Black Adam is always a very cool character.  I just am not sure there was enough here to keep me interested.  I’d give this another issue, but with the $5 price tag, and the thoroughly uninteresting Justice League Dark backup story, the odds are stacked against me returning. Maybe I’ll tradewait Bendis’s stuff.

Orphan and the Five Beasts #1 – I was very excited to see that James Stokoe has returned with a new series, but I was also a little surprised to see just how much it reads like an adaptation of a Shaw Brothers kung-fu movie that I watched recently but can’t remember the title of (Five Deadly Venoms, thank you Google).  An orphan is tasked by his master to hunt down the five ‘beasts’ that he trained and is now feeling betrayed by.  Stokoe doing a kung-fu comic is always going to be cool, and this thing is gorgeous, but at the same time, it didn’t grab me with the same level of originality I’d come to expect from him in books like Orc Stain.  Still, I’m happy to see him putting out something new, and I’m sure this is going to grow on me.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #10 – Beilert and Dengar get into it this issue, as this series continues.  I don’t dislike this title, but it’s probably the least memorable of the Star Wars books I’ve stuck with.  I feel like this line is becoming pretty moribund at Marvel, and could use the injection of some new ideas, soon.

Tartarus #10 – The second arc of this series ends here, as Hisa and Surka are stuck having to work together again to try to return to Tartarus or risk losing everything when Surka’s enemies attack.  I love the grand sweep of this series, and can’t wait for the third arc, which should have all of its various characters meeting.  The text piece doesn’t say when that will happen though, just that the book is going on hiatus.  I’ve liked Andrew Krahnke’s art on this arc a lot, but I’m also hopeful that Jack T. Cole will return for the next arc.  Either way, it’s great to see local writer Johnnie Christmas making such a strong name for himself with this book.

Thor #13 – Because of Don Blake, a whole raft of Thor-related heroes, including Doctor Strange and his ghost dog Bats, come together to take him on.  This is a feel-good issue, as it’s nice to see the heroes working together.  I like this arc, but I don’t have a whole lot to say about it.

X-Force #18 – Lately I’ve been wondering if writer Ben Percy is just trying too hard to be clever with this book, or if he’s just really struggling to pace it properly.  If this book focused more on the conflicts that Hank McCoy has gotten himself into with many of his oldest friends, like Jean and Peter, as well as focusing on the nature of X-Force’s role on Krakoa, I think things would be a lot more interesting.  Instead, we are once again watching as members of the team work on their own to figure out a threat that is never really made clear or obvious, and everything lacks any kind of cohesive narrative.  I like this book, but I like it for the accumulation of quieter character moments (like the ones between Quentin and Phoebe, and not for the overall storyline, which has now been running for well over a year and hasn’t really progressed very far.  Many of the x-titles need some tighter editing I feel.

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

Black Knight Curse of the Ebony Blade #1

Fall Vol. 1 

Nightwing #78

The Week in Music:

Menahan Street Band – The Exciting Sounds of the Menahan Street Band – I really miss Charles Bradley, the wonderful singer we lost a few years ago.  I love that his band is continuing to work together and is putting out such cool music.  This album ranges some, but it’s not hard to imagine Charles gracing most of these instrumental soul songs.  This is a lovely album.

Cameron Graves – Seven – Graves is a childhood friend of Kamasi Washington (who turns up on two tracks here), and a longstanding member of the West Coast Get Down, or whatever they are calling the crew these days.  This is his second solo album, and where the first was more of an exploration of spiritual and cosmic jazz, this one is much more wide-ranging.  Graves’s keys shape this album, and take the listener through a few different sub-genres.  This album is much more hard-driving than the last one, but also has moments of sublime beauty.

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