Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #5 – It’s been about a year since the last issue, but it’s all good, as I’m just happy to return to Grendel Prime’s mission, looking for a suitable planet to restart the human race. The latest candidate is a massive, planet-sized city that appears to have been fully automated, where the mechanisms that kept the city running are still working, even though all life has been extinguished. Matt Wagner has a real Twilight Zone vibe working for him here, as he takes a couple of issues to explore a science fiction concept. I like this series, and will forever think of Grendel Prime as my favourite Grendel. He’s also the coolest looking.
Black Hammer Visions #3 – I haven’t bothered with this series, which has had various creators play with Jeff Lemire’s creations, but when I saw that this one was by Chip Zdarsky and Johnnie Christmas, I figured it would be worth getting. It’s a solid story about Abraham Slam having to come to terms with his age and a new legacy hero using half of his name. It’s good, but I probably could have done without it, in the end.
Daredevil #29 – There’s a lot happening in this series right now. Matt is in prison, where the warden is clearly targeting him (which involves poison and gang attacks), Mike Murdock is making moves of his own, aiming for the new Kingpin, while the original Kingpin wants Bullseye restored to his employ. Much of this issue focuses on Elektra, who employs new methods of protecting Hell’s Kitchen. I like what Chip Zdarsky is doing with this series. He has Elektra working with an orphan, who is suddenly much younger and shorter than how she was portrayed before. It really threw me off.
Guardians of the Galaxy #13 – I’ve been really happy with Al Ewing’s Guardians run, and love that he’s made them an established, sanctioned team that now works with Hulkling and Wiccan in their roles as rulers of the new Kree/Skrull alliance. They face a pair of new threats, and have included the two Quasars on the lineup. I do wish that previous artist Juann Cabal had stuck around, but I’m pleased with new artist Juan Frigeri. It feels like this book is regaining the stature it had back in the Abnett/Lanning days.
Iron Man #8 – I like how Chris Cantwell has focused so much of this series on Hellcat, even though I don’t think she’s a good fit with Tony Stark (plus, why does it always have to be redheads?). Patsy and the oddball team Tony assembled get the spotlight this issue, with Tony not even showing up. I’m always going to be attracted to a series featuring so many D-list and obscure characters, so I got a lot from this issue.
Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #5 – I guess it’s not really a spoiler, given the title of this arc, to say that the next issue of this series is likely to be the last one forever. Harry is wrapping things up, knowing he’s about to go home at last, but not knowing that a federal agent is closer to him than he thinks. This series has such a likeable cast of everyday people that I’m really going to miss. I should check out the TV show…
Rorschach #7 – The investigation continues, and it leads to the doorstep of Frank Miller, comics legend, who is now walking around in his own Rorschach costume. We learn the significance of the audio cassette featuring Miller, Otto Binder, and some others that has been referenced throughout this run, and learn a little more about Wil Myerson’s final days. We also get Miller’s (or is it really Tom King’s, given what we know of Miller in recent years) take on how making comics dark didn’t really improve them. This series is kind of plodding, but it stays interesting and gorgeous. Working real comics creators into the book is an odd choice, but it definitely makes this title original.
Scumbag #7 – It’s funny how everyone wants Ernie working for them, and that they think dangling orgies in front of him is the way to get him on board. We learn just what the hippie commune on the moon is after as Ernie contemplates becoming a triple agent. This issue was drawn by Francesco Mobili, who is new to me, and the comic looks terrific. This series, and its satire of Western culture, is a lot of fun.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #11 – I still struggle to get a handle on this series. I originally expected it to have an ensemble cast, but then the first ten issues focused almost exclusively on Beilert Valance. Now, this issue is mostly about Bossk, who has found himself being hunted as part of an organized sentient hunt for the crime world. I keep feeling like I’ve read this story before, and was left pretty unimpressed. It seems now that Ethan Sacks is mostly rushing to set up the upcoming War of the Bounty Hunters event. If this title still exists after that story, I might jump ship.
Sweet Tooth: The Return #6 – Jeff Lemire wraps up the story of New Gus with this issue. It’s been nice revisiting these characters, in a new way. I’m always going to look forward to a project that Lemire both writes and draws, and hope it’s not too long before whatever he has planned next.
Thor #14 – The Prey storyline comes to a bleak close, as Thor ends up defending the evil Donald Blake from Odin’s wrath, while also wanting to see his former alter ego punished for his crimes. I’ve been liking Donny Cates and Nic Klein on this book, and am curious to see what the next story arc brings.
Undone by Blood or The Other Side of Eden #2 – This fantastic crime/Western mashup series continues to entertain. In the main story, Silvano and his friend attempt to rob an office at the top of the first skyscraper in Texas, but it all goes bad when they stumble upon a weird Romanesque initiation ceremony. In the pulp Western Silvano’s reading, Solomon’s train heist also goes bad when the train is stopped, and a mysterious sniper starts picking off his Mexican companions. This series is just as good as the first Undone by Blood series, if tonally very different.
Wolverine #11 – We’re back to the vampire plotline, as Logan goes after Dracula’s forces, using Omega Red as an unwitting source of information. This series is weird, and doesn’t ever feel like it resolves a story. I also don’t really see a lot of Logan’s character on display in this book. I wonder if we shouldn’t go a few more years without him getting a solo book.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Batman: The Detective #1
Batman: Urban Legends #2
Fantastic Four #30
Wonder Woman #771
The Week in Music:
Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide – This came out ages ago, but my copy never arrived, so I had to get a replacement. Aesop Rock is an acquired taste I’ve never fully acquired. I like his flow and tightly constructed complicated wordplay, but a little goes a long way. This is a concept album, where he is giving us a guide to the spirit world, literally, and each individual track is excellent, but the full thing, at 21 tracks, is just too long.
El Michels Affair – Yeti Season – Leon Michels is an incredible musician, and I’ve long admired his El Michels Affair, the band he fronts. For this release, they embraced the sounds of Turkish funk music, even bringing in some vocalists. It’s a nice, funky album that sounds pretty unique.
The Week in Television:
The Good Lord Bird – I never write about TV or movies (or, really, spend all that much time with either), but this week I ended up inhaling this seven-part Showtime series, based on the book of the same name by James McBride. This series follows the story of “Onion”, a young enslaved boy who is freed by the famous anti-slave crusader John Brown. Brown misgenders Onion, whose real name is Henry, and so the young man, not wanting to contradict, spends the entire show in a dress. Brown is played by Ethan Hawke (who also produced the show), and he plays him as, at times, a straight fanatic who borders on lunacy, and at other times as a caring father who genuinely wants to right the world’s wrongs. It’s a very nuanced performance. Likewise, Joshua Caleb Johnson, who plays Onion, carries the show with his strong performance. The show is often very funny, but also incredibly affecting. Daveed Diggs plays Frederick Douglass in scenes that are award-worthy. I don’t know enough about John Brown and the raid on Harper’s Ferry, but I feel like this series asks a lot of important questions about that time period, but also relates to questions of allyship today. This show has stuck with me since I finished watching it, and I’m now circling back to start it over again.