Best Comic of the Week:
Batman #125 – Chip Zdarsky has already been having a hell of a year, with his Daredevil run at Marvel leading to the Devil’s Reign event, and his Substack leading to the publication of the excellent Public Domain last week. Now, he’s writing Batman. One thing that has stood out in his Daredevil is the political awareness of his writing. I see that here, too, as the Penguin tries to force a redistribution of wealth in Gotham, causing some new problems for Batman along the way. Zdarsky takes on this title at a time when Batman has lost most of his wealth and his father figure, Alfred Pennyworth. Tim Drake (who I guess is just being called Robin again?) gets hurt pretty badly, and when Batman confronts the Penguin about it, he falls into a trap that leaves him in a place he’s been before. There’s a lot of things that are familiar about this first issue, but I trust Zdarsky to take this story in some new directions, as he usually does. Jorge Jimenez’s art looks fantastic. I like that he’s drawing Cobblepot as if he’s being played by Danny DeVito. I also like that the backup is connected to what’s happening in the main story, and is written by Zdarsky as well. I think there’s a lot of promise here.
Black Panther #7 – I feel like John Ridley’s run is moving a little too quickly. I’m still struggling to fully understand just how T’Challa betrayed Wakanda, and why things have escalated to the point where the entire Hatut Zeraze are after him. How often can one man lose his throne? I’m also a little confused by this new character Tosin, who lives in a secret Wakanda village that is within easy walking distance of the capital city, and has chosen to live apart but also gets the prime minister’s messages? There are some great ideas here, but the execution is coming off a little sloppy and rushed. I’m also confused by Shuri’s usage of the word ‘phat’ in describing Tosin’s attitude. Is Wakandan slang twenty years behind? Stefano Landini’s art is gorgeous, and that does a lot to save this book. I just feel like it needs a lot more editing.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #2 – I’m still not all that sure about this book. I like the idea of Steve Rogers making new friends, and getting involved with the people in his community, but the larger plot, about a group of secret powerful people playing some sort of global game while communicating their moves over shortwave radio seems a little out of touch to me. I also don’t know what I think about the revelation on the last page. I think it’s time for something new from a Captain America comic, but this feels like it’s circling back in too many ways.
The Closet #2 – This series is an excellent portrait of a man approaching middle age and refusing to take responsibility for himself, his family, or his choices. He’s on a cross-country drive with his young son as they move from New York to Portland, and stops along the way to see his old friend, but is not prepared for the amount of truth laid at his feet. It’s a good study on how people can’t accept responsibility, and it’s a great read. Oh, but there’s also this whole thing where the son is being pursued by a demonic creature that lived in the closet in NYC, but is now following them. It’s a great series, with sharp writing by James Tynion IV, and great art by Gavin Fullerton. I love books like this.
Dark Crisis #2 – Joshua Williamson is leaning into what makes these types of events successful. We’re getting random deaths of characters you wouldn’t expect to see killed off, while other characters are put in impossible situations. I’m still not sure I understand any of the cosmic stuff, but having Deathstroke’s Society attack the Teen Titans Academy is always going to draw some interest. Daniel Sampere is doing the work of his career here.
Fire Power #22 – This issue has Owen and his people preparing for the coming battle. They finish recruiting old masters to help in their fight, and get ready to take the battle to the dragon. This is a very effective issue, once again, with a strong emotional moment between Owen and his children, who learn they’re being kept out of the fight. This series is such a good read, and Chris Samnee’s art is incredible.
Legion of X #3 – This series is easily the most bizarre of the Krakoan titles, but that is perhaps what I like most about it. Juggernaut has to come to terms with himself, while Nightcrawler and Szen continue their search for a wayward god, and Pixie comes close to finding the body of the mutant who has been possessing people. Spurrier is not the most linear writer, so close reading is important, but that makes this book more rewarding.
Little Monsters #5 – Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen’s vampire children series really has me interested. The kids get a sense of how long they’ve been left on their own this month, as one half of the group deals with the aftermath of their discovering a camp of humans, while the others wrestle with learning just how long they’ve been on their own. This book is gorgeous, and full of strong characters.
Mind MGMT: Bootleg #1 – I was pretty surprised to see that Matt Kindt’s excellent Dark Horse series, Mind MGMT, was making its return. I was also surprised to see that Farel Dalrymple is drawing it. We’re right back into the weirdness from the inside cover, and then we meet Kito, a young man who lives in Zanzibar, making a living for himself by scavenging vinyl and other items from the old days. Following some comic book ads and some persuasive billboards, Kito ends up at the headquarters of the new Mind MGMT, where he is put through some tests. This book follows up on events of the original series, as Kito gets recruited to find two of the other survivors of the Zanzibar disaster. I love the yellow newsprint this book is printed on, and am always happy to see some of Dalrymple’s art. I thought Kito was younger than the story makes him out to be (if the Zanzibar disaster was twenty, and he survived it, he must be older than that), but otherwise, this book has me hooked already.
Once & Future #27 – We are hurtling towards a conclusion to this series, I think, as the actual sword in the stone appears in London, causing the false kings to fight over the chance to prove their legitimacy. This might not be good news for Bridget, who only needs to hold out until Christmas to put her plan in motion. This series is getting steadily more exciting as it reaches its culmination. It’s good stuff.
Saga #60 – I hadn’t realized that we were coming to the end of an arc on Saga, or that the series was going on a brief-ish hiatus again. I’ve really been happy having this comic back on the stands, and am thankful that it will be back in the new year. This issue has some pretty big changes happening for the family, as Alanna is finally able to ply her trade with legitimacy, while the Landfall Special Agent continues to track them down. The cliffhanger ending of this issue is emotionally kind of devastating, and will stick with me until the series returns.
Starhenge Book One: The Dragon and the Boar #1 – I think I’m going to have to give the debut issue of Liam Sharp’s new science fiction epic a second read before deciding if I’m going to continue with it. This story is set in a future where an ancient AI is at war with humanity, but is also set in the present where a British girl visiting her aunt in California is sad to be leaving her new boyfriend. She’s also really into Wiccan stuff. She’s our narrator, explaining the things happening in the far future, which maybe starts to make sense when elements of both magic and time travel are introduced. This book is beyond beautiful, but I’m not sure if the story has grabbed me yet. I suspect it might be like the beginning of Once & Future, though, where the reliance on British mythology or folklore is turning me off more than it should. I’m going to have to think about this one a little more.
That Texas Blood #15 – Ambrose County is neither as quiet or as sleepy as it seems. This latest arc, set in the late 80s, deals with the time a serial killer, the Red Queen Killer, came to town. We get to watch Joe Bob and his Sheriff’s department try to figure out what’s going on, and decide how to respond. I’d moved away from any interest in police procedurals, but there’s something about the way Chris Condon is setting up this story that is keeping my interest. I think most of the charm of this book is the decency of Joe Bob, and the way he struggles with any moral quandaries that come his way. Jacob Phillips just keeps improving on the art, and is on his way to becoming an indie superstar.
There’s Something Wrong With Patrick Todd #1 – I can always count on Ed Brisson to come through with an interesting indie title. He and Gavin Guidry are telling this story through Aftershock, and this is an excellent first issue. Patrick is a teenager with mental abilities that he uses to control people into robbing banks for him. The people are all criminals in one way or another, and he uses the money to fund the care his mother is receiving, and to keep himself housed. There’s clearly a lot we don’t know about this young man yet, but Brisson lays out the beginning of his story quite nicely, and then dips into slasher horror a little. Guidry’s art is nice and clean. This book reminds me of We Can Never Go Home Again, and not just because of its super long title (which has become such a trend lately).
The X-Cellent #5 – I hadn’t noticed that more issues of this book hadn’t been solicited yet. As Peter Milligan and Michael Allred wrap up their first “season”, I’m not sure that this title has accomplished all that much. Yes, we’ve met a new team, many of whom have died already, but I don’t really feel connected to either group, nor have I been given many reasons to care about them. I can see how Milligan is trying to discuss celebrity and internet culture, and how those things intersect with being a superhero, but I’m not sure this is really going anywhere.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Avengers Forever #7
Batman Killing Time #5
The Week in Music:
Anteloper – Pink Dolphins – I got to see Anteloper perform this new album this week, and it was a mind-altering experience. Anteloper are jaimie branch and Jason Nazary, with input and accompaniment by Jeff Parker on this record, although he wasn’t at the show. branch is a brilliant trumpet player, and Nazary a drummer, but as Anteloper, they mostly play with electronics and effects to create abstract soundscapes. The show had three stages to it – in the beginning, I was uncomfortable and not all that receptive, but then in the middle, it clicked and made perfect sense to me, so that by the end I was hoping they’d keep playing a while longer. This album works in much the same way. If you’re open to the space between experimental jazz and electronica, there’s a lot to explore here. Another fantastic album on the International Anthem label.
The Range – Mercury – The Range samples songs from little-known artists and builds warm dance numbers out of them. His first album was excellent, and I like this second one too. I feel like Fred Again has built off of his work, but that The Range still owns his lane. This is a solid listen.