The Weekly Round-Up #590 With Die!Die!Die! #14, Alien #1, Post Americana #4, Teen Titans Academy #1, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8 & More!

Best Comic of the Week:

Die!Die!Die! #14 – My god I love this series.  This issue has Barack Obama, now in his third term as President, travelling to a space station where he has to box aliens so they won’t take over the Earth.  This is a long-running tradition, and the main reason why Obama had to install himself for a third term.  This whole issue is a delight, especially with the number of Easter eggs Chris Burnham has sprinkled throughout this issue (I think the sight of Jaxon holding Baby Yoda is my favourite).  Apparently it’s going on a pretty long hiatus after this issue, and that’s fine, but I really look forward to its return.

Quick Takes:

Alien #1 – Dark Horse has had mixed success with their Alien/Aliens comics.  Many have been great, but it started feeling like they’d gone to the same well over and over again.  I was curious to see what Marvel might bring to the table, so I decided to get this first story arc.  Writer Phillip Kennedy Johnson is mixing family drama with the usual xenomorph problems.  Gabriel is retiring from his job running security on a Weyland-Yutani space station, but his hopes of being able to reconnect with his son Danny once he gets back to Earth don’t last longer than a tense fifteen minute reunion (during which time Danny goes looking for information to use against his father).  The corporate greed aspect of the Aliens universe has always appealed to me, so I was happy to see that the corporation is front and centre here.  Salvador Larroca is always good, and like when he drew Darth Vader, knows when to just hint at the presence of the Aliens.  I’m not sure if this is an ongoing or a limited series, but I intend to stick with it for a bit.

Barbalien: Red Planet #5 – I really enjoyed this Black Hammer solo series by Jeff Lemire, Tate Brombal, and Gabriel Hernández Walta.  It really dug into the struggles of Mark Markz as he learned about life on Earth and explored his sexuality during the height of the AIDS pandemic.  Much of this series (especially this issue) felt like it was also commenting on the protests of the last year.  Hernández Walta is an excellent artist, who filled this book with a strong sense of character.  This will read very well in trade paperback format.

Black Panther #24 – Most of this issue is given over to T’Challa and just about every Black hero you can think of in the Marvel Universe fighting against the army of Emperor N’Jadaka.  It’s a very solid issue with some very dynamic scenes from Daniel Acuña.  I’m excited to see how this long-running storyline is going to end with the next issue, but still feel like this run lost a lot of its momentum during its almost year-long hiatus.

Cable #9 – Nate is still trying to figure out where Stryfe might be, but every person he turns to for help isn’t able to provide any.  This series is enjoyable, but still a little too decompressed for my liking.  I’d like to see some more depth in it and a meatier read.

Dune: House Atreides #5 – I’m enjoying this book, but still wish that more was happening than simply setting up the status quo with which the first Dune novel opens.  I feel like artist Dev Pramanik isn’t being given enough freedom or room to explore the visuals that make the world of Dune so interesting.

Guardians of the Galaxy #12 – The team has its final showdown with the Olympians, and that helps set up the next chapter for the Guardians.  It looks like Al Ewing is going to be taking this team to new heights, and I’m excited about all of it, except that I’m sad to see Juann Cabal leave the book; his art has been great.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #24 – Miles and Ms. Marvel try to hang out together for a bit, and so of course they end up involved in helping people out.  This is a quiet before the storm issue, and I’m more than a little concerned that the next arc is called “The Clone Saga.”  Does that really seem like a good idea?  Didn’t they learn the first time?

Once & Future #17 – This book is getting more and more complicated, as various characters take on various roles from Arthurian legend, and as we move closer to some big confrontations.  Dan Mora’s art doesn’t do much for me, and the colouring of this book is getting steadily brighter.  This comic is at its best in its quieter moments, but it’s been a while since we’ve seen any of those.

Post Americana #4 – Just as Carolyn finds her mother, and Mike’s mission looks like it might work, our heroes are attacked, and also rescued by what appears to be a superhero from the 90s.  Steve Skroce is moving this series along quicker now, and things are getting a little crazier.  This remains a good read, and Skroce’s art is fantastic.

Rain Like Hammers #3 – I’m always happy to get lost in a complicated and strange Brandon Graham comic.  This issue continues to follow the master criminal from the second issue who has transferred his consciousness into the body of a servant in a massive city in space.  He’s there to try to rescue his daughter, who is involved in some kind of contest that only one person can survive.  Like often happens with a Graham comic, he focuses a lot on the mechanics of living in the worlds he concocts, and the plot becomes secondary to the atmosphere.  It works, and there’s really nothing like it.  I’m not sure if we’ll be returning to the character from the first issue, but I hope so.

The Scumbag #6 – Bengal provides the art for the first issue of this new arc.  Ernie has gone public with his superspy status, and has descended further and further into drug-fuelled partying, but now he’s needed to deal with a cult on the moon.  This issue didn’t hold my interest as well as the earlier issues did, and I suspect that’s because the issue lacked the pointed satire of the first arc.  I’m hoping Rick Remender pulls it back together in the next issue, because this series has been very enjoyable so far.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #8 – Aphra and Starra are on the trail of an ancient hyperdrive, and it sends them into ancient ships that have been trapped in massive trees for centuries.  The situation is interesting, but also not very believable (especially since they happen to fall into just the ship they are looking for).  Alyssa Wong’s Aphra has yet to reach the heights that Gillen and Spurrier’s runs did, but I remain hopeful that it will keep improving.

Teen Titans Academy #1 – I miss reading DC books, and thought this looked intriguing.  I like teen superhero training books like New Mutants or Avengers: Initiative, so I thought I’d give this a try even though I’m unfamiliar with Tim Sheridan’s writing.  The problem is, I guess I should have read the Future State issues first, as I don’t really know who any of the new characters are, or what’s up with this Red X thing (apparently it was a disguise Nightwing wore once, and now it’s take on mythical status among the new students).  Even being so unfamiliar, I did like a lot of aspects of this book.  Jakeem Thunder is in it, as more recent Teen Titans make up the upper class, the classic Titans are the teachers, and somehow Billy Batson is a freshman.  As much as I like this take, which unifies different iterations of the property, I don’t know if I’m going to stick with this title.  There are a lot of balls in the air after this first issue, and given the way DC constantly reinvents itself, I’m not sure that this book will exist in a year…

Year Zero Vol. 2 #5 – The second set of Year Zero stories come to their close with this issue.  I’m not sure if Ben Percy is going to return to this world, but I did enjoy this fresh take on zombie stories.  This volume was set in the North Atlantic, Rwanda, Colombia, and a Costco, and explored different run-ins between survivors.  A few of these stories even ended somewhat happily, which is a surprise.  I would be down for a Volume 3 if they make one…

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

Batman Black and White #4

Firefly Brand New Verse #1

Getting It Together Vol. 1