The Weekly Round-Up #631 With Inferno #4, Apache Delivery Service #1, Echolands #5, Dune: A Whisper Of Caladan Seas #1, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #17 & More Plus The Week In Music!

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Best Comic of the Week:

Inferno #4 – I’ve stopped paying too much attention to the comics press, so am not sure if this is Jonathan Hickman’s last X-Men comic, or what is going on there, but if it is, that’s a shame.  I’ve liked the way he’s used Inferno to revisit the central themes of House of X and Powers of X, and while he doesn’t resolve much here, he does refocus many of the main characters going forward.  I really liked the way he’s handled Moira in this issue, and my long-standing love of the Mystique/Destiny dynamic is intact.  This was a big comic, with a lot of big moments, and it reminded me of the promise of the Krakoa line.  This is why I’m pleased to see that Kieron Gillan and Si Spurrier are getting their own titles – these are the types of writers who will approach this stuff from a big idea perspective, like Hickman, while some of the ongoing titles got a little lost in the weeds.  This book is gorgeous, with great art from Valerio Schiti and Stefano Caselli.  I am left wondering why Karima has such a hatred for the mutants, but I’m not curious enough to go back and reread that Excalibur run set in the ruins of Genosha that she featured so prominently in…

Quick Takes:

Apache Delivery Service #1 – This is a visually stunning new title from Matt Kindt, and Tyler and Hilary Jenkins.  It’s set in Vietnam during the war, and focuses on a Navajo soldier who likes to go out on his own to explore the jungle, mostly to escape the racism and brutality of his fellow Americans.  He gets discovered by a (I’m assuming) French man who wants his help in recovering some lost Nazi gold.  Kindt leaves most of the work to Jenkins in this issue, and doesn’t explain much, but that only increases my level of interest in the book.  The cover is incredible, and generally, I’m intrigued to learn more of what’s going on.  I am noticing an increase in the number of books by non-Indigenous creators that feature Indigenous central characters (see Two Moons below), and while I find books like this to be great, I am left wondering when we are going to see more of that same representation in the creator credits.  I worry about appropriation a lot with stories like this one.

Batman #119 – Josh Williamson has Lex Luthor working with Batman Inc., which leads to a contentious couple of meetings between him and Batman (one in costume, one out).  We also learn that Abyss, the person the members of Batman Inc. are accused of killing, is very much alive, and perhaps capable of defeating Batman.  I’m interested in what Williamson is doing here, and I like Jorge Molina’s art, even if his Batman is one of the most jacked and solid I’ve ever seen.  I didn’t love the Maps Mizoguchi backup story by Karl Kerschl (even though I thought that Maps was a very endearing character in Gotham Academy).  It is fine, but I didn’t understand where it fits in the current continuity, especially with Batman showing up in the classic 80s outfit.  I want to keep reading this series, but I don’t love that it’s $5 (more this week, as the store where I shop only had the more expensive variant cover left).

Dune: A Whisper of Caladan Seas #1 – I really liked this oversized one-off by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, and Jakub Rebelka.  I’ve always been intrigued by the Dune Universe, but get a little tired of the focus on the nobility.  This story focuses on some Atreides soldiers who got trapped in a cave during the Harkonnen attack on Arrakis in the first book.  One of the soldiers is a jongleur, a storyteller able to tap into something like ‘the voice’ used by the Bene Gesserit.  His nephew is with him and dying, and keeps asking to hear stories of life on Caladan.  The characterization in this book is strong, and I liked the deeper exploration of the loyalties of the Atreides men.  Rebelka is a good artist for this type of book – he has a minimalist style that manages to convey a lot of emotion.  His colours are really nice as well.  I would encourage Boom! to tell more stories in this vein, as they help enrich Frank Herbert’s original stories.

Echolands #5 – Much of this issue is split between two stories.  Hope and her friends get the top half of most pages, as they rest and prepare their next moves, while the bottom half goes to Rabbit, who has found himself on an island of giant robots that follow strict isolationist rules.  As always, this book is gorgeous, but I found limiting the images to half the height of the landscaped pages didn’t give JH Williams the space or opportunity he usually takes advantage of to provide stunning visuals.  Still, this issue focused a lot on character development, and has helped to really flesh out the book’s stars.  I’m pleased that this series shows no signs of slowing down, or of running out of wild settings for Williams to draw.

Manifest Destiny #45 – After a very long delay, it’s nice to get another issue of this series.  We’ve reached the point where everyone in the company knows just why they need to take Sacagawea’s son to the Pacific Coast, and what they need to do to him there, and that knowledge has shaken the faith of some of the remaining soldiers.  There’s a lot of good character stuff in this issue, and I like how Chris Dingess is still adding layers of complexity to these characters, with only a few issues remaining in the series.  I especially like the complicated exchange between Clark and York, who he refers to as his “oldest of friends” until he finds they are not in agreement, and then he’s reminding York that he is enslaved to him.  It’s a very telling scene.  I’m really looking forward to reading the end of this series, although I guess we’re waiting another three months before we get the final issues.  It’s all good…

Odinn’s Eye #3 – This Norse vision quest series by Joshua Dysart and Thomas Giorello is really very good, although that isn’t a surprise given how good a writer Dysart has always been.  Selveig has to escape the death cult that has captured her and prepares to sacrifice her to their god.  After that, she and the cult’s other prisoner travel the snow-covered mountain, unable to communicate with one another.  Selveig’s faith that she is on a mission for All-Father is unwavering, but at the same time, she has no idea what she is supposed to do.  This is an interesting character piece, and exploration of faith.  I find it odd that Bad Idea chose to publish this as a weekly, but I am enjoying the steady pace.  I also like that the b-side story is a prequel to Monster Kill Squad, which seems to be badly delayed.

Odinn’s Eye #4 – Solveig and her new companion discover a couple of old friends on the mountain, and much of this issue is given over to their story of survival.  Joshua Dysart sets up the big finish to this series, out next week, and I’ll be sad to see it end.  I’m really enjoying this book, and the generous amount of space that Dysart and Giorello have received to tell it in.  It’s too bad this comic isn’t more widely available.

Once & Future #23 – Kieron Gillen has expanded the scope of this book, having established that William Shakespeare was a monster hunter in his day.  Duncan and his group find themselves targeted by his mother, leading to a tense moment.  It took me forever to get into this book, but I stuck with it because of my admiration for Kieron Gillen, and I’m glad now that I stuck with it.

One-Star Squadron #2 – I’m so glad I decided to pick up this oddball series from Mark Russell and Steve Lieber.  The Minute Man gets most of the spotlight this month, as he heads for rock bottom, and provides Power Girl with the opening she’s been looking for to take power from Red Tornado.  I’m not really sure why PG is being portrayed this way, but the rest of the book is an amusing look at heroes who don’t even qualify for the D-list.  Lieber is so good at this type of thing.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #17 – Aphra’s search for more Ascendent technology leads her to a confrontation with another archeologist whom she’s wronged, which I think at this point, is every one of them in the galaxy.  This is another solid issue, as this book has found its footing and is increasingly entertaining.  There’s no sign of Just Lucky this month, leaving more space for Aphra and some intrigue involving the Tagges.  I feel like Minkyu Jung’s art just keeps improving, and getting a lot looser.  I like it.

Suicide Squad #11 – It seems that things are really accelerating in this book, as The Squad gets put to the test against analogues of the Avengers on another world, Peacemaker tries to recruit Bloodsport to Flag’s side, and Waller seems to be in control of all of this, while also keeping her true motivations hidden.  I continue to struggle with this book – the main characters shift around a lot, and I still think that this can’t be the same Amanda Waller that John Ostrander developed.  She’s so out of character that it just doesn’t make sense.  To be honest, I’m not sure why I’m still reading the book at this point (the Ambush Bug narration is driving me nuts), yet I keep coming back each month.  I see that Dennis Hopeless came on as a co-writer with Robbie Thompson, so I’m hoping that leads to a little more cohesiveness.  I also see that there’s this War of Earth-3 miniseries coming soon that looks like it might wrap all this stuff up.  I’m on the fence, but will probably end up getting it.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #6 – Jon continues to investigate just what Henry Bendix is doing in Gamorra, and how he managed to arrange the attack on his grandparents’ farm, while also starting to explore his feelings for his friend Jay.  I like how Tom Taylor doesn’t have Jon openly discuss what’s going on, leaving it to Damian to figure things out in a cameo appearance.  This series has been really good for a number of reasons – I like how Taylor is developing Jon’s character and having him grow into his new role as Superman.  I also like how Bendix, one of the great characters from Wildstorm, is integrated into this series.  There’s a lot of potential here.  I also enjoy John Timms’s art, but I think his Damian looks a little too old…

Thor #20 – There’s a scene in this issue where Thor and Odin get into an argument that turns physical, and Odin says to himself, “Raven’s eye, that is getting old.”  My thoughts exactly.  It feels like for years now, writers keep returning to the same two or three wells for Thor stories, and it’s getting a little old.  The ‘God of Hammers’ continues to wreak havoc over the Nine Realms, using Mjolnir as its weapon, and Thor is at a loss as to how to proceed.  We discover who that God really is this issue, which is a nice surprise, but I’d expected more from Donny Cates on this series.

Two Moons #8 – John Arcudi’s historical horror comic gets denser with each issue.  There’s a lot going on in this issue, as spirits interfere with the American soldiers tasked with taking a captured resistance leader to a reserve, and Two Moons and Icaas try to track down their friend, and Johanna and her daughters escape the army fort that has been beset with madness.  All these moving parts are handled very well, and it seems like artist Valerio Giangiordano keeps getting better with each issue.  There’s a texture to his art in this issue that makes it stand out.  I enjoy this title, and the way Arcudi is using it to examine some historical wrongs.

X-Men #6 – There’s been a slow burn of anticipation for this new Captain Krakoa figure, who finally makes his debut in this issue.  Gerry Duggan jumps around in time a little, making this issue a bit confusing, but ultimately generates interest in future issues.  I was surprised that most of this issue actually focused on Sunfire dealing with Feilong, the billionaire who was travelling to Arakko.  That part of the issue had some surprises, and it was nice to see Sunfire get a little bit of screen time, after having been ignored for most of this run.  Pepe Larraz’s art on this book is terrific, but six issues in, I’m surprised that more hasn’t happened in this series.

The Week in Music:

Solemn Brigham – South Sinner Street – I’ve become a fan of rapper Solemn Brigham through his work as half of the group Marlowe, with the producer L’Orange.  This is, I guess, his first solo album, although some of the tracks are produced by L’Orange still, and when you only have an MC and a producer in a group, isn’t that also kind of a solo album?  Anyway, Brigham has a rapid, kind of breathless energy to his style that I enjoy.  This album demonstrates that well, and it sounds like he enjoyed making it.  You really can’t go wrong with a Mello Music Group release…

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