Best Comic of the Week:
What’s the Furthest Place From Here? #5 – The kids of the Academy are in all kinds of trouble at the Carnival. One has caused a fight with the guys in pig masks, while another gets caught trying to steal a stuffed animal, while Prufrock believes the Strangers have found him and fights back. All of this is happening while Alabama works to make a deal with a rival group that will help the Academy get out of their predicament. This post-Apocalypse series is deeply bizarre but very compelling. I feel like Tyler Boss’s art looks a little looser in this issue than the previous ones, like he’s perhaps in a bit of a rush now, which would make sense given how many pages each issue of this series is, and that it’s been coming out on time. This is a great and very unique series.
Eternals: The Heretic #1 – I think this was supposed to come out before last week’s issue of Eternals, but it’s all good. Thanos is poking around the Exclusion, and choses to meet with his “granduncle” Uranos, who has been imprisoned for hundreds of thousands of years after trying to basically destroy all non-Eternal life on Earth. As Uranos tells his story, we get a further sense of how Kieron Gillen is re-imagining the Eternals property and fitting past events into his newer understanding of things. It’s very well-written. Of particular note in this comic is that it’s the last one drawn by Ryan Bodenheim before his recent untimely passing. Bodenheim did not draw the whole issue – much of it is done by Edgar Salazar – but the whole thing looks very nice. Bodenheim was a real talent who shall be missed.
Flash #780 – I haven’t been following anything to do with the Flash since the Infinite Frontiers era began, because I firmly believed that DC had broken the character completely. I was vaguely aware of the fact that Wally West (aka, my Flash) was the main character again, and that Jay Garrick was back in the mix, but because I was unfamiliar with writer Jeremy Adams, I just ignored this title. I only picked up this issue because my annoying comics brain decided I needed to have every chapter of the War For Earth-3 event that I’m not even really enjoying. Anyway, this comic was a lot better than I expected. Wally returns home with his kids after going off on an adventure, and leaving Linda home alone to worry. Their reunion is cut short with the Earth-3 Johnny Thunder attacks the Flash Museum, briefly involving Wally in the nonsense that Amanda Waller is engaged in. Weirdly, Johnny makes it seem like Waller is doing the right thing, an angle that has been missing in Suicide Squad. I might just come back and check out the next issue of this series now – I miss the old Mark Waid take on Wally, and this felt familiar to that.
Nightwing #90 – As Blockbuster continues to go after Dick Grayson, Dick is once again having to rely on some help from his friends. Blockbuster contracts a secretive killer who decides that the best way to kill Dick is to take out his entire building. Luckily, Dick gets a tip and moves into action, but ends up needing help from the Flash to start to address the problem, especially when Barbara gets kidnapped. Tom Taylor has been building this story for some time now, and it continues to be entertaining and a little unpredictable. The way Taylor portrays the West family gives me further confidence that I might be interested in reading more of the current run there. This was another solid issue in a great run.
The Silver Coin #10 – This series is unique in that each issue features a different writer, while artist and series creator Michael Walsh provides a consistent look. This issue ends the second “season” of stories, and so like with issue five, Walsh steps in to write things. He follows up on his previous story, which established where the Silver Coin came from. Now, it’s the early 2000s, and a young woman with an interest in witchcraft finds the coin, and the woman who put the curse on it contacts her from beyond the grave, asking her to help separate her spirit from the coin. The girl attempts a seance with her friends, but of course things go terribly wrong in a hurry. I’m pleased to see that there will be a third arc of this book coming, with more excellent writers contributing. This is such a cool idea for an anthology of sorts.
Stillwater: The Escape #1 – Now that we are between arcs of this series, Chip Zdarsky and Ramón Perez decided to give us a one-shot where they let other creators play in their world. And so we get three stories of life in Stillwater, the town where no one ages or can be hurt. Jason Loo, of the excellent Pitiful Human-Lizard, tells us one story about a man whose family escaped, but he’s been unable to join them. Andrew Wheeler and Soo Lee give us another story about a perennially young man who wants more out of life than Stillwater can provide. Ethan Young’s story touches on similar themes as Loo’s, as a man yearns to be reunited with his wife, who left him behind. These are good stories, and the framing sequence has a couple of surprising moments in it. I really enjoy this series, and am happy to see it getting expanded in this way.
X Lives of Wolverine #5 – I feel like Ben Percy really stuck the landing with the conclusion to this series. My complaint about it had been that Logan wasn’t really centred in the story as a character, despite the fact that it revisited multiple points in his life. This issue, which has Logan wrapping up his time travel ordeal and then heading out for a final confrontation (none of these confrontations are final, especially now that the mutants have resurrection) against Omega Red, puts Logan in the spotlight, as we see how revisiting these different and often forgotten parts of his past has affected him. I liked it, and especially like the way it dovetails into next week’s last issue of X Deaths of Wolverine.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Batman: The Knight #3
Second Coming #4-6 – I read the first half of this miniseries ages ago, but only got around to getting the last issues I needed this week. This is the mildly controversial series by Mark Russell and Richard Pace that Vertigo developed and then refused to publish, because it has Jesus Christ returning to Earth and moving in with Sunstar, a Superman-style character. This series is irreverent and funny, but is also incredibly pointed in its criticism of Christianity and the inherent hypocrisies embedded in the way it is practiced in North America. This is a very clever satire, weirdly wrapped up with just enough superheroics to satisfy the average fan. Pace’s art looks great, and the book becomes an interesting study in what happens when Pace inks his own art (on the Jesus sequences), and when Leonard Kirk inks in (on the Sunstar pages). The effect can be jarring at times. It’s too bad that DC didn’t publish this, because it deserves to be put in more people’s hands. Russell is a writer to pay attention to.
The Week in Graphic Novels:
Catch & Release: A Murder Book Story – I first came across writer Ed Brisson at TCAF, where he was selling his self-published Murder Book comics, and I was instantly drawn into his bleak approach to crime comics. Murder Book continued as the backup to some Image series (I don’t remember what now), as Brisson’s star continued to rise and he moved on to work for corporate comics, while continuing to put out creator-owned stuff. Now, he’s returned to his roots with this hardcover book that I got through Kickstarter. Brisson is joined by artist Lisandro Estherren, who worked with him on The Last Contract, and is probably best known for Rednecks. This story is about two pairs of friends in small-town Nova Scotia. One pair is up to no good – they acquire a stolen vehicle and intend to sell it over the internet as a way of getting some quick cash. The other pair respond to the ad, as Dev is planning on driving across the country to start a new job in Vancouver. It doesn’t take a genius to predict that something goes wrong, and things quickly go off the rails as the first pair try to adapt to changing circumstances. Brisson is merciless as a writer, putting his characters through some hell in a hurry, but he keeps his focus on providing strong characterizations, and everything unfolds realistically. Estherren’s art is nice, but I would have preferred that the art came out a little darker. The black and white book is a little faint, like we are just looking at Estherren’s pencils without an inker. Still, this is a nicely put-together book, and I was happy to support its production. I do wish we’d see more crime books from Brisson – I’d love to see a return of The Violent, which I think might have been his best work so far.
The Week in Music:
Jeff Parker – Forfolks – It took me a couple of listens before I started to get this album, but now I love it. This is just Jeff Parker, the legendary guitar player, playing his guitar. He uses it to create ambient backdrops that he plays over. It’s meditative without being too drone-ish, and is a nice relaxing listen. If you loved last album, Suite for Max Brown, as much as I did, don’t expect the same thing here. This is a very different album, but equally impressive in its own way.
Nala Sinephro – Space 1.8 – This is one of my favourite new albums. Nala Sinephro synths and a harp, and her music bridges the gap between electronic music and jazz. When she brings in collaborators like Nubya Garcia, things get jazzier, but then the next track will be pretty ambient. In general, this is a very lovely, very chill album that leaves me wanting more.
Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio – Cold As Weiss – This album sounds pretty big for a trio. Delvon Lamarr’s organ leads the band (guitar and drums) through a bunch of their own music, but also some covers, including “I Wanna Be Where You Are”, which is the track that convinced me that I should own this album. It’s probably not jazz, but it does swing, and it sounds pretty great. I think this would be a really fun band to see play live.
Pan American – The Patience Fader – Another guitar-driven ambient project this week. This one is heavy on steel guitars, and evokes, for me at least, the KLF’s Chill Out album from the 90s in some places. It’s a very restive album from an artist I’ve only just discovered.
Sean Khan – Supreme Love: A Journey Through Coltrane – You would think that the world doesn’t need another album of John Coltrane covers and tributes, but you’d be wrong after listening to this one. Sean Khan puts his own spin on some classics, and contributes a lot of new interpolations of Coltrane’s work, and the result is a lovely album full of spiritual jazz.
Swamp Dogg – I Need A Job – The last two Swamp Dogg albums have featured production by Ryan Olson, of Poliça and Marijuana Deathsquads, and this one doesn’t. It seems clear that Swamp Dogg and his Moogstar, his usual collaborator, have learned a lot from Olson and some of the other April Base stalwarts, as they continue to apply prodigious amounts of auto-tune to SD’s already strange approach to alternative r’n’b. There are some great tracks on here, but the end result is not as memorable as what I’ve come to expect.
Tamil Rogeon – Son of Nyx – I found this release from Australian viola player Tamil Rogeon on a few best of lists back in January, but it took me a while to get a copy. This is a very nice album which makes amazing use of Rogeon’s viola alongside synth-heavy jazz. With each listen I find that this is growing on me more and more, and has some surprising moments.
Steel Tipped Dove – Call Me When You’re Outside – I’ve long been a fan of just about everything put out by Backwoodz Studioz, and was definitely excited about this release by producer Steel Tipped Dove. It features raps by billy woods (on four tracks!), ELUCID, Pink Siifu, Koreatown Oddity, and Fatboi Sharif, among others, as well as instrumental tracks. STD (I just noticed what an unfortunate acronym his name makes) is a solid producer, providing some lo-fi beats, and some bangers. This is an impressive album.