The Weekly Round-Up #624 With Ginseng Roots #9, X-Force #25, Superman: Son of Kal-El #5, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #16 & More Plus The Week In TV & Music!

Best Comic of the Week:

Ginseng Roots #9 – I’m so happy to see this book back on the stands.  Craig Thompson continues to explore the ginseng industry, and share stories from his upbringing and hometown.  This issue focuses on the two largest ginseng growers in Wisconsin today, their issues with finding workers in America, and the impacts of Donald Trump’s deal with Foxconn, when he encouraged them to build in Wisconsin.  Thompson is as good with journalistic comics as he is with autobiographical ones, and this book continues to be very impressive.  I love how he takes a topic I’ve never spent any time thinking about and reveals how fascinating it is, and how it becomes illustrative of so much of America’s history.  This book is brilliant.

Quick Takes:

Aquaman: The Becoming #3 – I’m not sure why this miniseries needs to have such a variety of artists, with Scott Koblish coming on to draw this issue.  The mystery surrounding Jackson’s framing for terrorist acts continues, as he flees Atlantean forces, only to be attacked by someone who clearly knows who he is, even if he’s never seen her before in his life.  I’m interested in where Brandon Thomas is taking this story, but I would like the art to be a little tighter.

Moon Knight #5 – Okay, I’m officially very pleased with this run, and am starting to wonder if I should be checking out other Jed MacKay comics.  This issue digs deeper into Mr. Knight’s psyche and reasons for always wearing a mask, while also revealing just who it is that has been going after him in so many different ways since the series began.  It’s a character I didn’t ever expect to see again, who is both a pretty deep cut, but also someone who fits the style and context of this series.  This is an interesting new take on Moon Knight that tries to encompass all of the different versions of the character we’ve seen, and I’m here for it.

Nightwing #86 – We reach the end of Dick’s involvement in the Fear State event.  It’s nice to see him interacting with so many of the extended Bat-Family (Barbara, Tim, Cassandra, and Stephanie all show up), but I’m more interested in seeing Tom Taylor return to the plotlines that drew me into this book in the first place.  

Primordial #3 – The mystery grows, as we learn a little more about what happened to the three animals the Soviet Union and USA sent into space at the beginning of the space program.  Now our American scientist hero has been brought to Germany to meet with the woman who looked after Laika, the Russian dog, as they hope to track down these animals and save them, or at least learn where they’ve gone.  Jeff Lemire is giving us a good mix of a spy story and a weird science fiction adventure, and not surprisingly, Andrea Sorrentino is drawing the hell out of it.  I like this book more than I did their Gideon Falls series.

Radio Apocalypse #1 – Another week, another solid debut from Vault Comics.  I grabbed this because I’m enjoying Ram V’s take on Swamp Thing, and because it looked interesting.  There are not a lot of people left in the world, and one of the last groups of humanity is settled around the last radio station, which helps maintain a sense of coherence in the community.  We meet a few characters – a young orphan who is caught trying to steal from the station’s supplies, a woman who has had to leave her girlfriend outside the gates because of an enemy, and the kindly man who runs the station.  We also learn that some mutated-dog looking things called Xinos hunt the wastelands after dark.  The art for this series, by Anand RK, is a little hard to follow in places, and the colours of Anisha sometimes seem out of place with the material, but that also works and makes the book unique.  I think I’m going to stick around for the rest of this one.  I should really start paying more attention to Vault’s solicitations…

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #16 – Aphra and Sana deal with some of the aftermath of the Crimson Dawn party, as they try to get Aphra’s tattoos fixed, and report back to Domina Tagge.  Just Lucky is getting caught up in problems again, and the thought dowser casts a big shadow on this comic.  I feel like this book has finally found its groove, and I’m interested in it more than I was before.

Suicide Squad #9 – At the beginning, I found this book to be pretty interesting and unpredictable, but now, nine issues in, so much of the shine is coming off it.  Robbie Thompson has not convinced me as to why Amanda Waller is doing any of the things she’s doing, and the churn of characters in this book is leaving me uninvested in any of them.  I’m hoping that things improve quickly, or I might need to drop this comic.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #5 – Kara and Rutheye find themselves transported to a world with a green sun, designed as a trap for Superman.  With the sun causing her intense pain, and the planet filled with hungry dinosaurs, it falls on Rutheye to keep Kara safe until night falls.  As with the rest of this series, Tom King is not so much examining Supergirl as he is examining how a regular girl from a less advanced world views her.  It stays interesting, largely because of the skilled art of Bilquis Evely.  I like this title, but I do think it’s a bit unusual.  I enjoy the episodic nature of each issue, but also want to see it come to its resolution.  This issue gets extra points for mentioning Mordru.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #5 – I guess this book has become a big deal because this is the issue where Jon kisses his new friend Jay.  It’s also another solid comic from Tom Taylor and John Timms, who have been killing it on this book.  Jon’s powers are out of control, thanks to Henry Bendix, and in typical fashion, he’s determined to use the boost to help more people.  I’m liking this book a lot, and I’ve never been a Superman person.  It’s very good stuff, and I hope that all the people buying it for the kiss alone read it and appreciate it.

SWORD #10 – Wiz-Kid gets the spotlight this time around, as Al Ewing takes a formerly ridiculous character and makes him interesting for the first time.  Taki was revealed to be working with Orchis last issue, and now he puts his betrayal into full effect.  At the same time, Storm and Frenzy are left to deal with the squad of assassins attacking the Shi’ar delegates on Arakko.  This continues to be one of my favourite of the Krakoan comics, as it’s pretty unpredictable.  It’s funny how the looseness of this book’s concept is what I like most about it, but that same thing frustrates me with X-Force.  I think this is why I consider Ewing the best writer Marvel has right now.

X-Force #25 – When I wrote the above comments about X-Force, I had no idea that most of this issue would be given over to Wolverine surfing on an adamantium-lined board with people who are actually trying to steal babies from the island.  Like, what is this book even about anymore?  I wish Ben Percy would focus on the storyline about the guy with the peacock tattoo (Xeno?), and resolve something. I do like the stuff about Quentin Quire and his Cuckoo girlfriend, but this book is struggling.

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

Home Vol. 1 TP

Kang the Conqueror #4

Ka-Zar Lord of the Savage Land #3

The Week in Television:

Foundation Season One – I remember reading Isaac Asimov’s Foundation novels, at least the first three or four, when I was in my early teens, but I remember absolutely nothing about them past their covers.  I’m pretty sure they weren’t exactly what this new Apple TV show portrays though, as I would have been a lot more interested.  This series, the first season of which just ended, takes a long and complicated view of the end of an empire that has been kept stable through the uninterrupted rule of a line of clones, all derived from Emperor Cleon I.  The Empire is not much loved though, and when a mathematician named Harry Seldom comes up with a model that predicts the future, and starts talking about the likelihood of the Empire’s failure, he’s arrested and put on trial.  He proposes forming a Foundation, a group that will help shepherd humanity out of the coming darkness by preserving science and culture.  What makes this show so interesting is that Harry is rarely the focus.  Instead, the early episodes focus on Gaal, a young woman who left her faith and planet to come and work with Harry just as the Empire closes in.  The series moves forward in time a few times, so later the story begins to focus more on Salvor, the young woman who works as game warden on the distant planet where the Foundation, is exiled.  Much of the show also focuses on the three clones who sit on the throne – Brother Dawn, Brother Day, and Brother Dusk.  There is so much going on in this series, yet it’s also clear and easy to follow.  The special effects are quite good, and I found it all believable and interesting.  David Goyer, who has written some comics, is the showrunner.  I’m glad to see that there are plans for a second season – I’ll have to renew my Apple TV subscription when my free year is up… 

The Week in Music:

Snotty Nose Rez KidsLife After – The SNRK guys return with a strong followup to their excellent album Traplines.  This time around, Yung Trybez and Young D (who also produces many of the tracks) continue to decolonize trap music, but also lean into some more aggressive rock-tinged production on some songs.  Life After discusses some of the alienation the two friends have felt after becoming more famous and touring the world.  Snotty Nose Rez Kids are part of the incredible wave of Indigenous artists who are repping their culture in an unapologetic way, but also fitting it into the traditions of hiphop.  Like on their other projects, they make nods to the music that influenced them, but also assert themselves in ways that are new and very much their own.  I can’t wait to see them perform these songs on tour, as their live show is always a ton of fun.  This is a very strong release from a group that shows no signs of slowing down.

Lana Del ReyBlue Banisters – When she’s at her best, Lana Del Rey makes me think that she could be the love child of Patsy Cline and Leonard Cohen.  There are some moments on this latest album where she gets there, but there are also a few too many songs that sound like filler to me.  I was surprised to see another album so soon after the Chemtrails Over the Country Club one that came out earlier this year.  I’m pleased to see that she’s so prolific, but I think a slower, more discerning approach to albums might be better.  She does have a great voice though…