Best Comic of the Week:
Oblivion Song #36 – Robert Kirkman excels at ending his series. He opens this last issue of Oblivion Song with a long exploration of the relationship between Nathan and his brother Eddie, showing how Eddie stepped in to raise and nurture Nathan after the death of their father and the mental decline of their mother. It was only because of Eddie that Nathan managed to go to university, but that is also why he started to turn to a life of crime. After getting all of these moments of their lives from before the series began, we end up back where the last issue ended, with Eddie stabbed by the Kuthaal that has been living on Earth. After that, we move forward five years, and see all the changes that have happened both on Earth and on Oblivion, as the two races, human and Kuthaal, have tried to coexist. Earth has benefited from this, although that means viewing Oblivion as a source of natural resources. Nathan, of course, is not good with that, and is about to take things into his own hands once again. This series has been a great adventure, but also a strong study in character, as we’ve watched Nathan grow and change, confronting his feelings about his brother, and his sense of responsibility for the disasters he’s caused. Lorenzo De Felici made this book look like nothing else on the stands, especially with Annalisa Leoni’s bright colouring. The aliens of Oblivion were incredibly original, and I’ve loved figuring out Kuthaal anatomy over the course of this book. I’m going to miss reading this series, and I’m thankful that we got such a satisfying conclusion. I also like how this book ended up being about colonization in a way I hadn’t expected.
Batman #124 – Joshua Williamson wraps up his short Batman run with this issue that has Batman returning to Badhnisia to investigate reports that Abyss has returned. This is another issue that is being used to help set up the upcoming Batman Inc. series that Ed Brisson will be writing. I like Brisson’s work, and I’m starting to look forward to that. I’m also looking forward to seeing Chip Zdarsky take over Batman with the next issue. Once again, the back-up story, this month featuring Poison Ivy, does very little for me.
Dark Crisis #1 – I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this event, but so far, I’m pleased and interested, because Joshua Williamson is grounding the story in the tale of Jon Kent and other younger heroes (with some guidance from Flash, Hal Stewart, and Nightwing) start to pick up the pieces of a world without the Justice League. The cosmic stuff gets very little play here, with much more of the focus being on how the world reacts, with death cults coming out of the woodwork, and Deathstroke making his move. My issue with this comic, and maybe this event, is how it contradicts or doesn’t fit in recent DC continuity. With Superman away on Warworld, he should have been left out of this story. Likewise, I think it’s odd that Williamson has Hal learning everyone is dead here, since last week we saw Jackson Hyde telling him in the Road to Dark Crisis special. Beyond that, there’s potential here. I was surprised by the death of a long-standing character (who looks different from when we last saw him in Teen Titans Academy the other week). Will that stick?
Dune: The Waters of Kanly #2 – Gurney Halleck and the smugglers he now runs with put their revenge plot into motion, and since I like a good caper story, this was entertaining. My issue with it, and with many of these novel adaptations, is they let the dialogue do too much of the exposition, and it leads to some very stiff pages.
Legion of X #2 – Simon Spurrier definitely has my interest with this book. The various plotlines that started in the last issue continue, as see Nightcrawler pursue the Skinwalker, while Szen searches for her missing God, and a mysterious woman (who looks like she walked out of an issue of The Wicked + The Divine) makes an offer to Legion. There’s a lot going on in this book, but Spurrier seems most concerned with getting to know these characters and giving them some space to shine, which is what I most appreciate about it. I’m impressed with this title, and I hope it’s going to stick around for a while.
Marauders #3 – Steve Orlando’s Marauders is losing me, and quickly. I think throwing this new iteration of the team into a big outer space story involving the Shi’ar having killed the first mutants, generations ago (or longer, considering the newly revealed history of Krakoa and Arakko) is not the right type of thing for these characters to be dealing with. There’s just too many concepts being grafted onto this title, and it’s not really gelling very well. It’s too bad, too, as this lineup is an interesting one. Maybe my hatred of Cassandra Nova (post-Morrison) is colouring my perception of this too much.
Star Wars #24 – Leia has her final confrontation with Commander Zahra, and while I liked it, I feel like Leia and the Rebels showed poor judgment, or the plot just had too many holes in it. If you know that a dangerous Imperial is trapped in a cave, threatening to broadcast Rebel secrets, wouldn’t it make more sense to just jam her signal and bomb the cave from orbit? Also, if a Star Destroyer crashes into a planet, there have to be some survivors, right? I found that this issue skipped over some very logical expectations, and that bothered me.
That Texas Blood #14 – I’m not sure how Jacob Phillips is drawing this book and Newburn, and making them both look so good, but I’m not going to complain. We return to Ambrose County, this time in the early 90s, as Joe Bob faces his first official election, despite having been sheriff for three years already, and a grisly murder happens just as a rare winter storm threatens. This is a very effective issue, as Chris Condon and Phillips pay tribute to some of the great horror films with their slasher-like character sneaking into his victim’s home. I really like this book, and have been missing it during its hiatus. I’m glad to see that it’s back.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Aquaman: Andromeda #1
Batman: Killing Time #4
Grip of the Kombinat OGN
The Flowers Department:
Keith Giffen – Everyone I’ve written about so far in this new part of my column has been a creator more associated with Marvel than DC, although they’ve worked for both. This week, I want to share my appreciation of a writer/artist who is best known for his DC work, and who is forever tied to one of my all-time favourite superhero team books, the Legion of Super-Heroes. Keith Giffen started out as an artist on this book (I’m not sure what he did beforehand), and co-plotting with Paul Levitz, was responsible for The Great Darkness Saga, one of the best multi-chapter storylines of all time. He continued to associate with the Legion, leaving and returning many times, and ultimately taking control of the book in its post-Crisis phase, rebooting it (alongside Tom and Mary Bierbaum) with what became known as the 5YG (five year gap) Legion. This series was probably the pinnacle of his career, as he reworked the Legion’s history so it could reflect the changes needed in the team’s origins to make it fit with continuity, while also telling a layered and complex story that juggled dozens of characters effectively. It’s one of my top five runs of all time. To bolster this, he also co-created LEGION ’89, which explored the roots of the LSH in the modern day. Giffen is a master of humour writing, plotting and laying out the hilarious Justice League International era in the 80s, creating Ambush Bug, and turning Lobo into one of the hottest characters of the 90s. He’s long focused on oddball characters, like Doctor Fate, OMAC, or Ragman. He wrote a great Suicide Squad reboot, and I was saddened when his Reign of the Zodiac ended. At Marvel, Giffen wrote the Annihilation series that is largely responsible for revitalizing the Guardians of the Galaxy. Giffen’s art has matured and morphed over the decades, but has always been instantly recognizable as his. He loves nine-panel grids, pictures of rubble, and putting peoples’ faces in shadows for pages and pages. His influence is all over the modern DC universe, and his stories have thrilled me many times over. I’ve written about his Legion, and some of his other books in my Retro Review columns, the archives of which can be found here.
The Week in Music:
billy woods – Aethiopes – This is likely going to be my pick for album of the year. billy woods has been one of my favourite MCs for well over twenty years, but it’s just in the last five or so that he’s gained recognition in the upper levels of the underground scene (his work as half of Armand Hammer has really raised his profile). This album, produced by Preservation, is an excellent introduction to his layered and dense lyrics, bleak world view, and unique sound. His voice is strong on this record, and the beats, which play around with Eastern African sounds, are impeccable. There are features from Boldy James, Quelle Chris, Elucid, Breeze Brewin, El-P, Fatboi Sharif, and others, and they all fit perfectly. A new woods album needs to be digested slowly, and even though I’ve listened to it dozens of times already, I’m still finding new things to think about and pick apart. He is a master poet, and I’m so thankful that I finally got to see him and Elucid perform a few months ago. I’d be surprised if there’s another album I end up liking more this year.
Curly Castro – Little Robert Hutton – There’s just not enough rap albums like this anymore. Curly Castro just bars out on this, and is joined by such greats as Breeze Brewein, billy woods, Mr. Lif, Defcess, and Premrock, among others. This is a very conscious album, addressing gentrification and the way the government disrupted pro-Black movements. If I’m being honest, the first couple of tracks turn me off a little, but once things get going, this is a great collection of music.