The Weekly Round-Up #608 With Beta Ray Bill #5, Superman: Son Of Kal-El #1, Star Wars #15, The Department Of Truth #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Best Comic of the Week:

Beta Ray Bill #5 – Daniel Warren Johnson is a comics treasure.  I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this series, but think that this last issue might be the best chapter yet.  Bill and Surtur go at it in some very exciting pages, and things are resolved very nicely.  Johnson’s art is incredible, and I like that he’s added so much character to Bill.  I really hope we get to see more of Bill soon, because as a character he’s often overlooked.  I’m also really excited to see what Johnson is going to do next, as I’ve enjoyed everything he’s done so far (although I didn’t read his heavy metal series).

Quick Takes:

Cable #12 – So, I guess this is the last issue of Cable?  That’s too bad, because I like Young Nate a lot more than I do Old Nate, and I thought it was amusing to watch Cyclops act like a dad sometimes.  I’d also expected that this storyline would lead into the upcoming Inferno, but I guess not.  This title has been pretty good, and I liked getting semi-regular Phil Noto artwork.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.

Daredevil #32 – This book is really picking up again, as Matt takes a direct method to figure out what’s going on with the warden of the prison he’s in, and as Elektra tries to track down Bullseye, who is basically shooting every person he sees in New York City.  Chip Zdarsky has had a lot of pieces moving on the board in this series, and it looks like we’re getting closer to some resolutions.

The Department of Truth #11 – This issue wraps up the two-part Bigfoot hunters story.  It’s interesting that James Tynion IV would take so much time to develop the character of the man who has spent his life hunting for Bigfoot, even though it has destroyed his relationship with his family, when we know that we aren’t likely to ever see this character again.  Much of the story in the last two issues has been told through the man’s journal pages, which were hard to read because of the extent of digital manipulation done to make the pages look weathered and doodle-riddled.  It reminded me of reading cyberpunk magazines like Mondo 2000 back in the 90s, when readability took a back seat to design.  Still, I enjoyed this story, and liked getting a look at another aspect of the Department’s mission.

Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar #1 – Boom has had some success with their Dune: House Atreides series, so we got this oversized one-shot by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, and Adam Gorham.  It tells the story of one of the Sardaukar, the Imperial soldiers.  This particular soldier was once the son of the ruling family on a small world that was invaded by the Atreides some thirty years before, and now, charged with attacking the Atreides on Arrakis, while wearing Harkonnen armor, he is intent on paying off some debts. It’s a nice character study, and provides an interesting background to a character that likely appeared in the first Dune novel.  At the same time, it’s all kind of stiff, and written more like a novelization than an original comic.  Gorham’s art is nice, but the entire thing needed more space to breathe.  This might have worked better as a four-part miniseries with more space for character development and time to care about this soldier.

Eternals #6 – I don’t remember how long this series was originally set to run for, but I see that Marvel keeps adding one-shots to it, and I’m left a little confused.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, as this issue wraps up a lot of the book’s plots.  We learn who is behind bringing Thanos into the machine, and also learn the secret of what happens when an Eternal dies.  Kieron Gillen took his time getting us to the place where I started to really care about what is going on in this book, but now I’m invested. I just don’t know what is left in this series.

Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #8 – I’ve really loved this miniseries, which had Grendel Prime travelling across the universe looking for a new home for mankind.  This final issue has our paladin abducted by a very advanced society, looking to render judgement on humanity and whether or not it belongs among the stars.  This sets up then next three Grendel miniseries, and I’m very happy that we’ll be seeing more of Prime’s adventures.  He’s always been my favourite character in the Grendel mythos, and I appreciate that Matt Wagner is continuing to create new stories that advance things instead of being set in the past.

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #4 – I wasn’t all that impressed with the two stories in this issue.  Both deal with race in America, but neither had the space to breathe or develop fully, so it ended up feeling a little perfunctory.  That’s always the danger in a book like this, with two ten-page stories per issue.

Robin #4 – I am really enjoying this series, and feel like Joshua Williamson has one of the best takes on Damian I’ve ever seen.  In this issue, he ends up on an island with his grandfather, Ras al Ghul, and is too angry to listen to what he has to teach him.  I’m really curious to see what Damian’s goals are in this League of Lazarus tournament, and also want to know more about Ravager and Connor Hawke and what they’re up to.  I know that Williamson is one of the big names at DC now, so can see how this book might end up influencing others in the line.  Jorge Corona steps in to draw this issue, and I like his work, although I’ve also really liked what Gleb Melnikov was doing.  I’m not sure who will be drawing it from here on out.

Sacred Six #11 – Priest is getting close to the end of this series, which has never really found its footing.  I like the character dynamics here, but often find the plot, and the way it weaves in and out of his larger story in Vampirella, a little confusing.  Still, for the last year, we’ve gotten two monthly comics written by Priest, which makes this kind of a golden age in its own right.

The Scumbag #9 – I fear this book may have crossed the line from amusing parody to just kind of dumb with this issue.  Ernie’s made the whole world into a reflection of him, and now is jumping through some kind of anti-matter mirror to go back in time to gather up some of the other lowlifes at his favourite bar to make a team for some reason.  I hate the phrase “jumped the shark”, but I think Rick Remender may have had Ernie do that with this issue.  Or would Remender have been the one to jump the shark?  Or the whole book?  I just don’t know…

Star Wars #15 – This was a great issue.  Most of it isn’t that involved with the War of the Bounty Hunters event, as it focuses on Luke and Starlight Squadron working to rescue an entire Rebel division from Imperial attack.  I love a good starfighter story, and felt like this one is very well balanced.  This is some good stuff lately.

Strange Adventures #11 – Alanna confronts Adam with what Mister Terrific has figured out, and after months of wondering, we finally understand everything that’s been going on with Adam, and the truth behind the Pykkts’ invasion of Earth.  This has been an impressive series, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up next month.  I like that there is this constant stream of Tom King series now.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 – I’ve added Tom Taylor to my list of must-buy writers, and I’ve liked Jon Kent in the first Super Sons series, and in Legion of Super-Heroes, so it made sense to me to add this new title to my pullfile list, despite the fact that I don’t usually read Superman comics.  Jon has taken on the role, and I’m a little confused as I don’t know what’s happened with the regular Superman, and would have appreciated some confirmation that this is all happening in-continuity and on the main DC Earth, as I’m very lost as to the status of the DC Universe.  I was pleased to see that Jon went to chat with Damian, but his costume looks off, which made me wonder again where this series is happening.  Either way, I like seeing Jon employ his compassion when dealing with an individual that unwittingly caused a forest fire.  I also like the way he accepts a new approach to his mission, thanks to Damian’s advice.  It’s a good comic, although in places, John Timms’s art is a little scratchier than I’d like.  I’m definitely going to stick around for the first arc, and see where this takes us.

SWORD #7 – Al Ewing takes us right into the Last Annihilation event that is mostly centred on Guardians of the Galaxy right now.  Brand takes a team to help Emperor Hulkling fight off The Mindless Ones, while Storm has an interesting dinner meeting with Doctor Doom on Arakko.  This series is one of my favourite of the Krakoan books, even though it’s almost always getting roped into one event or the other, and hasn’t had much space to stand on its own two feet.  Normally, that would drive me insane, but Ewing pulls it off well.

That Texas Blood #8 – This issue had a lot of exposition.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it did weigh things down.  It’s interesting how many comics are leaning into stories that touch on the Satanic Panic period of the 80s, leaving me to wonder if it’s become a stand-in for the irrationality of Qanon and anti-vaxxer conspiracies today.  It can’t be a coincidence that the topic keeps showing up.  Anyway, so far, this latest arc doesn’t feel quite as grounded in place as the first one, while also depending on the idea that there just might be something wrong with Ambrose County, the region of Texas where this series is set.  I’m in for the long haul on this book, so I like that Chris Condon is taking his time with the story.

The United States of Captain America #2 – This issue reveals who the bad guys are, and introduces us to Nichelle, an activist and clean water advocate who also refers to herself as Captain America.  I like the idea behind this book, but I feel like the first issue was a little more effective at setting up the situation.  I’m concerned that this might get formulaic, and quickly, but I am still interested in what Chris Cantwell and his backup collaborators have going on.  I’m always down for some Dale Eaglesham art.

Wolverine #14 – This book continues to be annexed to X-Force.  This issue has Logan investigating the theft of Shi’ar logic diamonds and the torching of The Marauder after the Hellfire Gala.  It doesn’t do anything to develop Logan, but does have him in a fight underwater with an Arakkan, so there is that.  I’m not really feeling this series, but the interdependency of so many Krakoan titles makes it hard to drop.

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

Amazing Fantasy

Black Knight Cures of the Ebony Blade #5

Infinite Frontier #3

Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom #3

Other History of the DC Universe #5

Bargain Books:

Teen Titans 37-47, Annual #2 – I really liked this iteration of the Teen Titans.  Somewhere in the middle of this stack, Adam Glass left and Robbie Thompson took over, as the team generally dissolved, Damian quit being Robin, and the other kids had to make amends for the mistakes they made while Damian was in charge.  I would like to see more of these kids in Teen Titans Academy, but don’t know if that’s in the cards.  This was a good run, though.

The Week in Music:

Sneaky Jesus – For Joseph Riddle – A Polish dancey jazz band with an awesome name?  I’m always going to be down for that.  Sneaky Jesus are very entertaining.

Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble – Now – There is just so much life in this album.  Damon Locks brought his ensemble together to record this album during lockdown (some of it was recorded outside with cicadas accompanying the band), and during the summer and fall while protests and uprisings were held across America.  It’s a chronicle of the time, capturing the optimism, hope, and strong sense of community that the summer revealed.  It’s loose, very free, and often beautiful.

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