What’s The Furthest Place From Here? #2 – There is so much I don’t understand about this new series from Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss, but I I love that about it. It’s set in a strange post-apocalyptic world where only children are left, living in “families” in buildings that have been designated for them by a pair of mysterious strangers who also, apparently, provide them with food. Alabama and the rest of her family are out looking for Sid, the pregnant girl that went missing last issue, and that leads to a few misadventures. This book is dark and a little confusing, but also beautifully designed and drawn by Boss. The characters are strong, and the story is propulsive.
Batman #118 – It’s been a while since I’ve read any Batman comics, and I’ll admit to not really knowing much of what’s going on after James Tynion’s Fear State. I picked this up because Joshua Williamson is taking over, and I’ve really been enjoying his Robin run. Apparently Bruce Wayne is broke (but not too broke?), and uncomfortable with being seen as a hero in Gotham (which feels a little out of place). Anyway, something is up with a lot of the guys who were in Batman Inc., so Bruce leaves Gotham to investigate. I’m intrigued, but most of this issue was spent transitioning the story, and it didn’t grab me as much as I’d hoped. I think I’ll stick around for this Abyss arc, and see where things go. I’ve missed Batman, so it is nice to be back in Gotham…
Crossover #10 – The main characters of this title are nowhere to be seen this month, as the guy in charge of the government’s response to all the weirdness in Denver appears to suffer from some personal crisis, which leads to the revelation of who the ‘writer’ behind everything is. Hint: it’s not a surprise. This latest arc has gotten more and more self-referential and ‘inside baseball’ (I hate that term). This issue has Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming arguing with the stars of the Powers series they created, and while it’s funny, I found my attention wandering a little.
Devil’s Reign #1 – Building from his Daredevil run, which ended last week, Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto take the reins of Marvel’s latest tent pole event. The Kingpin, now mayor of New York, is angry that he no longer knows Daredevil’s identity, and therefore decides to outlaw all superheroes in the city. He sets up a new Thunderbolts initiative to hunt down anyone who uses powers in a bid to be heroic, even if they aren’t wearing a costume, and a resistance starts to coalesce around Captain America. This feels a lot like Civil War, with a smattering of the Outlawed event that fizzled out at the start of the pandemic. It’s good, because Zdarsky is a great writer, and Checchetto has reached event level, but it does feel very familiar throughout.
Hellions #18 – I guess that’s it for the Hellions now. Orphan Maker stands before the Quiet Council after having killed a pair of forest rangers. The team wants to support him, but the laws of Krakoa are clear. This brings the team, and this book, to its end. I really liked this comic a lot more than I expected to. When I first saw the team’s lineup, I thought it was a bad joke, but Zeb Wells and the various artists who worked on this title did a lot of fine character work on these second-string characters. Greycrow is cooler than ever, and I found both Wildchild and Empath pretty interesting. It looks like Kwannon is moving over to the Marauders, and I’m curious to see where Havok is going to show up next. It seems that the Krakoan titles are all in a state of flux right now, and I feel like Marvel is not being very upfront about which titles are getting the axe and which are continuing.
Inferno #3 – It’s great to see Jonathan Hickman back in control of a major X-Men title. This issue reveals a few secrets about Moira, Orchis, Nimrod, and Karima, as well as something Doug Ramsy has been hiding since he first started working on Krakoa. It also reminds me of how great Mystique was as a character when she was with Destiny in the past. There’s some great character moments in this issue, and a lot of plot development. At one point, Hickman hints at his plans for the Children of the Vault, but now I’m left wondering if that storyline is ever going to come to pass, as I don’t really know his status with Marvel moving forward from this series. I know that criticism of the Krakoan era has been growing, but I still find a lot to like in these titles and in the X-Men line. This series has encapsulated all that I like most about this modern X-Men era.
One-Star Squadron #1 – There are so many under-utilized characters in the DC universe, and what we learn here is that many of them have ended up working for Heroz4U, a company that employs D-listers to run security, or for a variety of other jobs that don’t require abilities. Red Tornado runs the company, with Power Girl as his second (which is surprising, as she’s usually a more prominent hero). When Gangbuster turns up at the office, suffering from amnesia, Red Tornado wants to help him, not realizing that could have a negative impact on his career. Mark Russell walks the tightrope between comedy and seriousness quite well with this issue, and Steve Lieber is the perfect artist for this title. Parts of it are a little irritating, but I think I’m already swept up in the story, and will stick around for the rest. I’ve really been impressed with a lot of the changes I’ve seen at DC this year…
Post Americana #7 – Steve Skroce’s latest miniseries comes to its much-delayed conclusion this week. We see the final big battle in the mountain where the last of America’s resources have holed up for generations. Skroce had a ton of fun with this series – there are cartoon robots, monstrous chickens, roving cannibal gangs, and hideous Republicans – and with this issue, he dials things up for the last big fight. I enjoyed this title.
The Silver Coin #7 – Ram V is having a bit of a moment these days (I’m digging his Swamp Thing and Radio Apocalypse), so I was happy to see that he was given an issue of Michael Walsh’s innovative horror title. This issue is set in a new Aztec themed casino in Las Vegas, where a man wins a certain familiar coin in a slot machine, and goes on a winning spree. Of course, this is Silver Coin, so things are going to end badly for the guy. I like how V uses this issue to explore some aspects of Aztec culture.
Star Wars #19 – Now that the War of the Bounty Hunters is over, Luke figures it’s time to go looking for Jedi stuff again. Charles Soule uses this as an opportunity to revisit a story he told in his Darth Vader series, but some twenty years after the fact. It’s a decent issue, featuring art by Marco Castiello, who is new to me. I’m glad that we aren’t immediately back in the middle of another story about the Crimson Dawn (see below), but are instead moving forward with the characters’ lives. Luke needs to level up quickly, before this story catches up to Return of the Jedi.
Star Wars: Crimson Reign #1 – Now that Qi’ra’s made Crimson Dawn’s presence in the galaxy known, she sets about putting her operatives to work on her real objective, to destroy Emperor Palpatine. To that end, she sets the syndicates against one another, and puts her new operatives to good use. I like how Charles Soule is incorporating characters from the newer films (in addition to Qi’ra, we’ve got the Knights of Ren in here, and Ochi) and helping to set up a bridge from Return of the Jedi to The Force Awakens. I’m always drawn to villainous characters, especially when they have their own series, so I’m looking forward to seeing where Soule is going to take this.
Suicide Squad #10 – The Squad’s mission on Oa gets harder as they run up against some Thanagarians, then get captured by GL Jo Mullein, which leads them to Waller’s original objective. Match and Nocturna get closer, while Culebra becomes an even more sympathetic character, and Ambush Bug keeps getting used as a Deadpool stand-in. I keep buying this book, but I also keep being frustrated by its lack of emotional centre or clear objectives. I don’t know that I care about a single character in this title, and that’s frustrating.
Superman: Son of Kal-El 2021 Annual #1 – Jon hasn’t gone up against Lex Luthor yet, so Tom Taylor figures it’s time to get that out of the way. I like how Jon views the world differently from his father and wonders why Luthor isn’t more involved in trying to save the planet from environmental disaster, especially given that he is more likely than most to survive whatever might come. Taylor’s writing has been great on this book, and I like how he ties in Luthor’s plans with what is happening in the monthly book, even though it’s a little hard to pin down exactly when this issue takes place. It’s always nice to see some Steve Pugh art, too, although I miss his 90s style.
The Swamp Thing #10 – It looks like this ten-issue miniseries has been given an extension, and will be returning soon for six more issues. Ram V has taken the classic character in new directions in this title, and this issue serves as a nice wrapping up of things, and sets up the next arc as well. Mike Perkins was definitely the right choice for this book.
Two Moons #7 – As much as I enjoyed the first arc of this frontier horror comic, I feel like this second one is moving this title towards what John Arcudi always intended for it. Two Moons knows that some serious things are coming, as a revolutionary leader, Little Knife, is taken into custody by the US Army, and Captain Hatlo, Joanna’s husband, and the Buffalo Soldiers he’s in command are ambushed by men who want to see Little Knife dead. This issue is taught and exciting, even before the supernatural elements of the story appear. I’m definitely into this series.
Comics I Would Have Bought If Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Amazing Fantasy #5
The Week in Music:
Helado Negro – Far In – I’ve been aware of Helado Negro for a while, but have never loved his work until I listened to this perfectly crafted, mellow album. Like with many albums, I don’t know exactly how to categorize this – alt pop? – but I do like the way so many of these songs slowly unfold. It’s a relaxing and lovely album that I’ve been getting a lot of enjoyment out of.
Dos Santos – City of Mirrors – This is not an easy album to describe. It encompasses a number of Latinx musical traditions, and can’t easily be reduced to a jazz album. The musicians of Dos Santos provide us with an overview of the alternative Latinx world, musically, and it’s a challenging and rewarding effort. I’m enjoying this album, and wish I knew more about some of the reference points it takes its departure from. Another excellent International Anthem release.
Ross From Friends – Tread – I’m really impressed with this new Ross From Friends album. It’s club music, but it plays just as well in the living room. The beats are propulsive, but the synths are lovely and give this album a more emotional and warm feeling than his previous release. I’ve always had a soft spot for relaxing dance music, and this qualifies.
KMRU – Peel – This album of ambient electronic music from Kenyan artist KMRU is beautiful and delicate. KMRU sets up long tracks that build and swell slowly, and which speak to some part of the back of your brain, leaving you relaxed yet slightly on edge. I prefer his more recent release Logue, but still like this album a lot.
Makaya McCraven – Deciphering the Message – For this album, drummer and ‘beat scientist’ Makaya McCraven dug into the older records in the Blue Note vaults, chopped them up, and then worked with contemporary musicians, largely from the International Anthem stable, to remake, play over, and accompany them. The result is a contemporary look at some classic jazz. It makes me think of those weird hologram performances from dead artists, but if they were long collaborative jam sessions. I don’t have the jazz schooling that I probably should (that would have been a worthy lockdown pursuit, if work hadn’t kept me so busy), but I can recognize the way the torch is being passed to the new generation here, and while this all sounds kind of academic and high-minded, it also swings.