X-Men: The Onslaught Revelation #1 – It kind of bothers me that Simon Spurrier and Bob Quinn’s Way of X miniseries didn’t wrap up their story, but instead led into this one-off, which (it seems) is in turn setting up another series down the road. At the same time, I like the way Spurrier has gotten into the heads of Nightcrawler, Legion, Fabian Cortez, and his new creation, Lost, as they move to stop Onslaught’s plans. I also like the way Kurt continues to work at his new mutant religion. Spurrier is one of the few writers who is really digging into the story potential of Krakoa and the new mutant civilization, and I appreciate that. I also like how he’s made Cortez interesting, and maybe even a little bit sympathetic. That’s not an easy task for any writer. I’m curious to learn more about The Spark now.
Alien #7 – When the first arc of this series ended, I did wonder where the series would go, given that very few characters were still living. This new arc starts off two years later, and introduces us to a colonist world that is just about finished being terraformed. The planet is inhabited by a religious group from Earth who were facing persecution there. Phillip Kennedy Johnson spends most of the issue introducing a couple, before making it clear that the inbound ship is bringing some unwanted xenomorphs with them. I like the way Johnson is telling different stories in this book, but I assume they will connect somewhere down the road, and that has me intrigued.
Aquaman: The Becoming #1 – I’ve never followed any series that Jackson Hyde, the new Aquaman (or is he Aqualad?), appears in, but since I love Brandon Thomas’s ongoing series Excellence, and since this also looks at issues of legacy, I thought I’d check it out. This is not a very complicated comic – Jackson is training to replace Aquaman one day, and his life seems pretty good until some Atlanteans come after him – but it is pretty charming and feels positive. The cover is gorgeous, and Diego Olortegui’s art, while more cartoonish in a Todd Nauck kind of way, fits the story nicely. I might come back for the next issue. I like so much of what DC is doing these days. It’s really refreshing to see.
Chu #8 – John Layman reveals what this arc is really all about, as Saffron uses the time travelling wine to aim for an even bigger score. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen an intricately-plotted, yet still very amusing, John Layman book (man, do I miss Outer Darkness), so I’m very pleased with this title. I like how Layman and Dan Boultwood have expanded on the foundations of the original Chew comic.
Dune: House Atreides #10 – As we get closer to the end of this series, bigger events keep happening. As Duke Leto and others travel to the coronation of the new emperor, the Harkonnens hatch their plot against House Atreides. It’s interesting, but my complaint about this book is that is too much an adaptation of a novel, instead of a story that makes good use of comics’ potential.
Gamma Flight #4 – It’s cool that Al Ewing is using this series to address some plot threads from his excellent Immortal Hulk, which is set to end soon, because he also makes such good use of these characters. It’s a spinoff book that couldn’t exist without the parent, but it works.
Guardians of the Galaxy #18 – I hadn’t noticed that Marvel stealth-cancelled this book, and am disappointed to learn that now. Al Ewing wraps up his Last Annihilation storyline very well here, but he doesn’t really close off all the character work and ground-laying he did in the first seventeen issues of this run. His Guardians is the best the series has been in years, and I was hoping he’d have a long run with it (this reminds me of the constant disappointments of his Mighty Avengers and Ultimates runs). I’m hoping that it was his choice to walk away from the book, especially since his Hulk run is going to end soon too, and it looks like there might be a dearth of Ewing books in the future. I’ve been saying for a while that he’s the best superhero writer at Marvel right now, so I hope we see more from him soon (I love SWORD, and was going to buy Venom, but then I saw he’s only co-writing the first issue).
Moon Knight #3 – I’m growing increasingly interested in Jed McKay’s Moon Knight. I was a little surprised to see MK fight Hunter’s Moon in this issue. I expected that he was being built up to be a bigger antagonist over an entire arc, but now it doesn’t look like that’s the plan. I do hope we see more of HK, as he’s interesting, and I like the way Alessandro Cappuccio draws him. This book has some real promise.
Nightwing #84 – I’ve been really enjoying Tom Taylor’s take on Nightwing, so of course, a Bat-line-wide event has to derail it for a couple of months. Taylor has Dick heading to Gotham to help Barbara figure things out as Fear State takes place. Taylor does manage to make it work with his own plans, and Robbi Rodriguez’s art works in a guest capacity (although I like the regular artist, Bruno Redondo, more for this title).
The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #6 – I was really pleased to see that Nicola Scott contributed art to one of the stories in this final issue of this Old Guard anthology series. I’ve missed seeing her art, which fit nicely with this sentimental tale (by Vita Ayala) about Book. I also thought it was cool that series creators Greg Rucka and Leandro Fernández introduced a new immortal to the mix with their story. I guess this means we’ll be seeing more of the Old Guard.
Once & Future #20 – We get to see a little more of the changes that have happened to England as our heroes set up the survivors of the old folks’ home in the Grail Castle before heading to Bath. This series has never entirely clicked with me, and I’m still not sure why. I think it’s because it lacks the depth of Kieron Gillen’s other titles.
Shazam! #3 – Despite not being a huge fan of Captain Marvel, I have been liking this miniseries, which aims to fix Billy’s issues with his powers. We learn more about Dane, Billy’s classmate at Teen Titans Academy, but also end up with appearances by Neron, a character I’ve always hated. Still, Tim Sheridan keeps things together, and sets up the conclusion for next month. I am happy to see the return of the four-issue miniseries. It’s a format I’ve missed.
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #16 – Has anyone else noticed that the only place where we see bounty hunters warring in the War of the Bounty Hunters event is in this title? The main event is all about the Empire, the Rebel Alliance, and Crimson Dawn (none of whom are bounty hunters) squabbling, with Boba Fett hanging out in the background. This issue has a plentitude of bounty hunters mixing it up, and it’s one of the better issues in this run.
Stillwater #10 – Chip Zdarsky shakes things up even more in the town where no one ever dies, when Galen, the forever preteen, makes his move and ends up taking over the town. There are some good surprises in this very effective issue, showing that Zdarsky’s writing is as unpredictable as ever. Ramón Perez is doing the work of his career on this book.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #4 – Supergirl and Ruthye continue their quest for a criminal across many planets. This issue feels a little more disjointed than the others, and lacks the structure of most Tom King comics. Bilquis Evely continues to make this book a lovely piece of work, and is clearly having a ball designing the strange world the two women travel to.
That Texas Blood #10 – It’s stories within stories, as Sheriff Joe Bob continues to talk about the night he went up against a cult. This second arc took a little longer to draw me in than the first one, but now I’m fully invested, and very interested in seeing how things turn out. I like how Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips are taking the time to establish the darker aspects of their Texas county’s history. This is a solid series.
The United States of Captain America #4 – This series has been a serious example of diminishing returns. Each new issue introduces a new hero that uses the name of Captain America, but it seems that less time is spent introducing and understanding each one. This one turns up because she drives the one from the first issue to meet Cap, Sam, Bucky, and eventually, John Walker. At the same time, each issue seems to introduce yet another new villain to the mix, and by now, it all seems formulaic and forced. This issue is not helped at all by Ron Lim’s art. I was a fan of Lim at the start of his career (I loved his Silver Surfer), but his work here is overly simplistic and doesn’t tell the story very clearly. The backup story is charming, but it’s increasingly clear that we’re not likely to see these other Caps ever again once this is wrapped up. I did find the discussion of Godwin’s Law (that any long conversation ends up arriving at Nazis) to be amusing, so there is that.
Vampirella #24 – Priest is wrapping up his Vampirella run with the next issue, although the latest Previews makes it clear that he’s not done with her, as there’s a new series coming. This issue is peak Priest – it jumps all around over twenty years, with scene shifts taking place seemingly at random, yet comes together like dots on a pointillist’s canvas to tell the larger story. I’m a little unclear on how Vampirella has such strong feelings for someone based on how he was when he was seven, but I trust Priest to make this make sense eventually.
X-Corp #5 – Even at its end, I’m not sure why this series about the travails of Monet and Angel and their new mutant business needed to exist. I don’t feel like it added much to the Krakoan narrative (aside from some cool new takes on Madrox’s powers), and never really clicked. I wish Marvel would recognize that there are perhaps too many Krakoan institutions that star in their own titles, and that the threats they face often feel forced. I had similar issues with Tini Howard’s Excalibur, which is why I don’t follow that title now.
X-Men #3 – The X-Men’s run in with the High Evolutionary feels a little disjointed in this issue, and I kind of hate being reminded of Rick Remender’s work with the character in Uncanny Avengers, but other aspects of this book still work pretty well. I like that Gerry Duggan is focused on making X-Men into a more traditional team book, compared to most of the other Krakoan titles, but it’s also kind of a weakness for him, because I feel like he’s always struggled to balance story and character in his more traditional books. Why is Sunfire on this team? He’s one of the least developed characters in the X-Catalogue, yet too little is being done here to make his inclusion on the team make sense. I am very happy with Pepe Larraz’s art, and hope this book might work through its growing pains.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Death of Doctor Strange #1
The Week in Music:
Quickly, Quickly – The Long & Short Of It – This album defies genre, but is an impressive blend of hiphop instrumentals, psychedelic pop, and inward gazing lyrics. I’d never heard of Quickly, Quickly before this album was released on Ghostly International, but he’s on my radar now. This is pretty good stuff.
Web Web – Web Max – This album is a collaboration between Web Web and Max Herre, both of whom are new artists to me. It’s a terrific jazz album featuring appearances by such luminaries as Mulatu Astatke, Brandee Younger, and Yusef Lateef. Generally, it’s just a positive and uplifting album, and I’m really happy to own it.
Little Simz – Sometimes I Might Be Introvert – British rapper Little Simz has released one of the best hiphop albums of the summer. The opening track, Introvert, launches the album beautifully, setting up the vibe for the whole thing. Inflo, the mastermind behind Sault, and producer for many other fantastic albums (like the new Cleo Sol), handles all the beats on this album. Simz’s flow starts to feel a little too much the same over the length of this long album, but it still is an impressive collection of songs. I appreciate the vulnerability and introspection she shows on many of these songs.