The Weekly Round-Up #626 With Refuse X Last Resorts #1, Chu #10, Dune: House Atreides #12, The Human Target #2, New Mutants #23, Star Wars: Darth Vader / Bounty Hunters #18 & More Plus The Week In Music!

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Best Comic of the Week:

Refuse X Last Resorts #1 – I like these two-story graphic novel single issue things that Bad Idea does.  The first story, Refuse, is by Matt Kindt and Marguerite Sauvage, and is about a woman who wakes and finds herself on an alien world.  She has to figure out how to survive on her own, and get back home, where she learns some things about herself.  Most of the issue is silent, leaving all the heavy lifting on Sauvage, whose art is fantastic.  This was a neat story.  The second story, Last Resorts, by Kindt and Adam Pollina, is also impressive.  In the future, a guy whose life isn’t going anywhere figures out how he can scam himself a free trip to the moon, but is surprised to learn that the company offering these free vacations, Last Resort, has their own plans for everyone who steps through their new teleporter technology.  Pollina took a very cartoonish approach to this story, with characters as rubbery as early Robert Crumb or Peter Bagge characters.  I liked this story a lot too, and it added some needed density to this high-page count comic.  I know that Bad Idea is supposed to be in the process of winding down, but I’d be open to more comics like this.

Quick Takes:

Action Comics #1037 – And it looks like I’m going to have to carve out a space for Action Comics on my pullfile now too.  Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s story about Superman’s fight against Mongul is definitely compelling stuff, although after this issue, it looks like things might be over before they even started.  I like the role the Authority plays in this series, and I’m curious to see how the representatives from different worlds, who have so far decided to not get involved, will act in coming issues.  I’m less impressed with the backup story (but it’s nice to see that Martian Manhunter is back to his pre-New 52 appearance). 

Chu #10 – It’s time for Saffron to put her plan in place and work to steal a famous painting using time travelling wine and a lot of deception.  This series stays enjoyable and a little hard to predict.

Daredevil #36 – This is kind of the last issue of Chip Zdarsky’s run on Daredevil, except that it leads into his Devil’s Reign event, and I’m not sure of what is coming after that.  This issue does a good job of wrapping up many of his plotlines.  Matt returns to the streets as Daredevil, and Mike’s associate makes his move while the Kingpin gets married.  I’ve liked the way Zdarsky writes this book, and am looking forward to seeing how Devil’s Reign works, although I’ll admit I think I’m more interested in the upcoming Elektra miniseries Zdarsky is running that will tie in to that event.  Manuel Garcia did a good job with the art on this issue, although I’d have preferred to see more of Marco Checchetto (who is drawing the upcoming event).

Deadly Class #49 – Marcus is helping Saya detox, and along the way, they open up and reexamine their relationship, even if it’s painful for both of them.  We’re approaching the end of this series, clearly, and while I’m fascinated to see what kind of adults these characters have grown into, I do miss the wilder days of their youth (as much as they do).  Rick Remender and Wes Craig have imbued so much life in these characters that they feel almost real, and I’m sad to know my time with them is winding down.  

Department of Truth #14 – After the revelations of last issue, I thought there might be a confrontation between Cole and Lee, but instead we get a flashback issue that has Lee and his UFO-obsessed friend travel to a remote trailer and learn about the woman in red.  It’s an odd issue, but they all are with this book, as we learn about Crowley, Hubbard, and what opened the door to all the weirdness of this series.  Guest artist John Pearson uses a style that matches regular artist Martin Simmonds, so things don’t feel too out of place.  I’m still left with a lot of questions about Lee, and this doesn’t do anything to clarify any of them.

Dune: House Atreides #12 – I’d hoped that this series, which novelizes one of the prequel books to Frank Herbert’s Dune, would come to its end before I got to see the movie, but no luck.  Still, I’ve enjoyed the way this title has reminded me of what Dune was all about, as it’s been many years since I’ve read any of Herbert’s novels.  This series always suffered from pacing issues, as it tried to cram a lot of content into a smaller amount of space.  In all, I think that this adaptation worked, as it held my interest, and provided an interesting look into Leto Atreides’s childhood and how he came to be Duke.  I would not say no to more Dune comics coming out of Boom!

Fire Power #18 – This is another big issue of Fire Power, with things looking worse than ever for Owen, his family, and probably the whole world.  We learn whether or not there really is a dragon under the mountain, and see what the restored Master Shaw has in store for reality.  Robert Kirkman and Chris Samnee are taking a short hiatus to get caught back up on this title, and that’s all fine and good.  This series moves at a very quick pace, and Samnee has done an incredible job with it.  I imagine a rest and some lead time will do wonders for this book.

The Human Target #2 – Chance spends a day with Ice, who has come to see him, having learned that he was poisoned in an assasination attempt aimed at Lex Luthor.  Tom King has an interesting take on Ice, portraying her time with the League as the special era it really was.  I like the way the childishness of the Giffen/DeMatteis era gets incorporated into this more adult way of looking at these characters, and how her death in that era gets retconned into a motive for killing Luthor.  This book is really interesting, and also gorgeous.  Greg Smallwood’s art is really nice (it’s a tough book to make visually interesting, as it’s mostly two people talking).  His colours are what really make this book work though – it stands out compared to most other books on the stands.

Marauders #26 – The Krakoans need an ambassador to the UN, and Emma Frost figures that Harry Leland, who died in the first fight with Nimrod back when I was a kid, would be a good choice.  He’s one of those characters that never got a lot of space in the Chris Claremont days, but who always seemed a little more interesting than some of the other Hellfire Club inner circle that got more screen time, so it’s nice to see him back.  Also, Fin Fang Foom makes an appearance, and gets in a fight with a very determined Iceman.  This was a good issue, if once again, a little lacking in focus.

New Mutants #23 – I had a real hard time following the story while I read this issue, but I wonder if it’s because I was kind of distracted at the time.  The kids end up having to rescue their teachers from the Shadow King, who is also at war with himself.  I’ve long felt that after the Shadow King took over Karma in the classic New Mutants storyline, he never should have been used again, and I still feel that way.  I hate the character, and that taints this issue for me.  I like Rod Reis’s art here.

Nightwing 2021 Annual #1 – I’ve really been enjoying Tom Taylor’s take on Dick, and this comic is a good example of why.  We get a mystery involving what appears to be the Red Hood executing a mobster, and Dick feels like it’s his duty to investigate and figure out what his friend has done.  Along the way, we get a flashback to when Jason first became Robin, and Dick started to bond with him (I remember it being a time when they were antagonistic towards one another).  This brotherly side of Dick is appealing, although now that Fear State is over, I’m more than ready to return to stories about Dick in Blüdhaven.

Once & Future #22 – A trip to resupply on weapons leads to learning some things about one of the greatest monster fighters of all time, as our heroes get pursued by a knight and his fire-breathing giant lion.  This book is a lot more fun now that all of England has merged with magic.

Pyrate Queen #3 – With this third issue (it’s worth pointing out that there is no issue number on either the front or back cover, because Bad Idea does make a lot of mistakes as a publisher), Peter Milligan and Adam Pollina leave me wishing this was an ongoing series, instead of a miniseries that has only one issue remaining.  Monday and her small pirate crew continue their quest for her vengeance, but along the way decide to raid a Spanish galleon.  At the same time, their quarry is now aware they are out there, and tries to take the fight to them.  This issue is very well balanced, and Pollina’s art is amazing.  I also really liked the short story at the end by Matt Kindt and Juan Jose Ryp about a lab-grown superhuman who can feel no pain.  

Robin 2021 Annual #1 – Robin has been another terrific new series that I’ve enjoyed a lot since returning to DC.  This story takes place before the last few issues, and serves to provide some backstory on some of the other characters that Damian has been fighting in the League of Lazarus tournament.  We get some important information about characters like Ravager and Hawke, and learn Flatline’s origin story.  I’ve been impressed with Joshua Williamson’s take on Damian, and liked this issue.  It was cool to see Roger Cruz’s art again, too.

Scumbag #11 – All of Ernie’s misdeeds catch up to him in this issue, as he tries to return to the life he knew before he became a triple-crossing secret spy, and the organization he betrayed comes after him.  This book is not among Rick Remender’s best, but it is kind of fun.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #18 – So now Valance finds himself more or less shanghaied by Darth Vader into working for him, which he’s pretty conflicted about.  At the same time, the growing crew of bounty hunters get themselves into a tussle at a cantina.  This series’s longevity has surprised me, and I’m finding that I’m more intrigued by it than I was before.  This whole Crimson Dawn thing has rejuvenated the Star Wars line, I feel.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #18 – Now that Vader’s been tasked with hunting down Crimson Dawn infiltrators in the Empire, he sets about putting together a team to help him.  We meet a lot of new characters in a hurry, and none of them really stand out too well.  Leonard Kirk drew this issue, and while it is fine, I much prefer Rafaelle Ienco on this book.

Teen Titans Academy #8 – The long delays between issues has hurt this series, which is struggling to keep all of its many balls in the air.  Red X returns to ruin a campus tour (he seems more petty than mysterious this issue), just as Wally West considers enrolling his own children at the school.  Few of my favourite characters show up in this issue, which feels like a letdown.  It was a nice surprise to see Mike Norton drawing this one – I always like his art.

X-Men: Trial of Magneto #4 – I was convinced this was a four-issue mini, so I kept wondering why more things weren’t resolving the whole time I read this comic.  I also kept wondering where the trial of Magneto was, seeing as the title character barely appeared this month.  I do like how Leah Williams is treating parts of this as a continuation of her excellent X-Factor run, and I remain hopeful that this book will start to redeem the Scarlet Witch as a character.  I’m looking forward to finally learning who it was that attacked Wanda.

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

Avengers #50

Phoenix Song: Echo #2

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1

Bargain Comics:

Future State: Superman – House of El #1 – I’m continuing to dig into the Superman books of Phillip Kennedy Johnson in an effort to catch up to where Action Comics is now.  This was a pretty good one-shot set somewhere in the distant future (but before the era of the Legion of Super-Heroes).  The El family is up against the wall in a fight against a more powerful foe, the Red King, but they are the descendants of Superman, so they aren’t about to give up.  Scott Godlewski’s art on this book is very nice.  I don’t love the Future State concept, but this one worked for me.

The Week in Music:

Arushi Jain – Under the Lilac Sky – I’m so happy to get my hands on a physical copy of this album that I’ve been loving since the summer.  Arushi Jain uses a modular synthesizer to play what she’s termed as “ambient synth ragas”.  You can hear the Eastern influence as you get washed over by the lushness of her music.  I find that this album always comes in and out of my field of concentration if I’m doing something else while listening to it, but in the best way.  This is a comforting and warm collection of music.  Leaving Records has had an incredible year…

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