The Best Comic of the Week:
Predator #1 – I guess this series was delayed to coincide with the release of Prey, the new Predator movie which I enjoyed the other night. This series, by Ed Brisson and Kev Walker, is set in a future where mankind has colonized space. A young girl is part of a scientific expedition to a new planet, and it is there that her family comes across a Predator. After that, the girl devotes her life to hunting these creatures down, and we watch her going about this role in this first issue. Brisson does a good job of introducing the character and setting up the story, and Walker, like always, is excellent. I remember reading and enjoying some of Dark Horse’s Predator books, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Brisson does with the property.
AXE: Judgment Day #2 – Once again, the choices made by Tony Stark and others in their rush to fix a current problem leads to future ones. The shape of this series is becoming more clear, as we see where the titular judgment is going to come from. I like how Kieron Gillen takes some time to explore this big fight from the perspectives of some everyday humans. Valerio Schiti is doing some great work here, and this event is working for me so far.
Black Panther #8 – I’ve been struggling with John Ridley’s Black Panther. I feel like the status quo is getting shaken up too quickly, without any real breathing space. T’Challa is deposed, again, and then there’s a coup taking place by the head of his security forces. This issue wraps up all of these plotlines, but way too quickly and, again, without any space for the characters to breathe. There’s a lot to like about this book (it looks great, thanks to Stefan Landini), but it needs some more careful story construction or editing.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #3 – Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly have some new ideas that they’re bringing to this book, but they’re very rooted in Cap’s past, and in retconning the existence of a secret cabal tied to Cap’s origins, and I feel like at this point, it’s a little too unbelievable. I’m not sure why so many writers have had trouble with the Steve Rogers iteration of Captain America lately – if anything, the character is more needed and relevant than ever before, but attempts to directly address the current division in America didn’t go well, but neither does ignoring them. I really want to like this book, but something is keeping it from working for me. I’m going to give it more time, but I’m skeptical at this point.
Dark Crisis: Worlds Without A Justice League – Green Lantern #1 – I didn’t really understand what these one-off Dark Crisis tie-ins were when I ordered this, which was done because the two stories here are by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Jeremy Adams, both writers whose work I’m enjoying these days. After last week’s Dark Crisis, I understand that all of the “dead” members of the Justice League are on worlds of their own, and so we get the kind of short stories that exist when things like that happen. Both of these stories are good, with nice art by Fernando Blanco and Jack Herbert (the second story features Hawkgirl), but they aren’t going to contribute much to the larger Dark Crisis story.
Draculina #5 – Like the best Priest comics, we’ve reached the point in this story where there are multiple versions of the same characters interacting with one another, and it’s a little difficult to keep track of everything that’s going on. Priest has made Katie, in many of her guises, into a very interesting and likeable character (she reminds me a little of early-days Jubilee), and artist Michael Sta. Maria has improved a lot over the course of this series. I think there’s only one issue left, but I am not sure of that.
Love Everlasting #1 – I saw that Tom King and Elsa Charretier had a book together, and that was enough for me to know that I wanted to preorder it. I came into this comic with no real preconceived notions, and as I read the first story, started to worry that it was a straightforward revitalization of the romance genre. Joan falls in love with George, who is her boss, and is dating her best friend. Then in the second story, the same Joan is living with her father, but sneaking out at night to travel to Greenwich Village to see her love, Kit. But then she starts to remember George as well, and starts to get confused. In the third story, Joan is living on a ranch, and is love with a local boy and a new ranch hand. Basically, King is playing with the standard romance set-up, but is adding the notion that the heroine of all of these stories is the same woman, and she’s starting to remember her other iterations. There’s some good potential here. This first issue was a little repetitive, but that seemed necessary to lay the groundwork for the rest of the series. Charretier’s art is perfect for this kind of thing – she has a Darwyn Cooke-like quality to her work that I appreciate.
Starhenge Book One: The Dragon and the Boar #2 – I was on the fence after reading the first issue of Liam Sharp’s new complicated science fiction fantasy historical teen romance series. There are a lot of ideas and concepts at play in this book, and it’s a lot to take in (Merlin was a time traveler from the distant future, according to a teenage girl in modern-day England, for example), but it’s kind of working for me now. Sharp’s artwork is absolutely stunning, which makes the book a lot more palatable. I think I might be on board with this now – I’m definitely going to be getting the next issue. Sometimes projects just need time to grow on you…
Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #26 – T’onga ends up confronting Qi’ra on Crimson Dawn’s ship, and her pitch to take and look after Cadeliah doesn’t go so well. At the same time, an officer makes an advance on Valance, which feels very out of place. This series keeps chugging along, never quite clicking. I admire the tenacity of this book, and that it’s still being published. It’s hard to predict where this title is going, as it keeps changing cast and focus.
Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #5 – So much of Han Solo’s life is just trying to keep up with events that have a tendency to keep rolling out of control. Han’s attempt to steal an urn from Jabba has now led to him having to throw in with some other scoundrels that he doesn’t get along with to rescue the guy who might be his father from some marshalls that are actually looking for him. There’s a lot going on here, but as a ride, it’s a pretty smooth one, and the art by David Messina is really nice (it reminds me of Phil Noto a lot in this issue).
There’s Something Wrong With Patrick Todd #2 – Ed Brisson and Gavin Guidry are doing some cool things with this story about a kid who has the ability to control people with his mind. In this issue, Patrick is having to start over again, after having been robbed, and is being hunted by someone with the same powers as him, who we’ve already seen is a vicious murderer. Brisson is layering on tension in this story, and giving it some police procedural aspects that work very nicely. Guidry’s art is very nice. Aftershock is very good at stories like this.
Superman: Son of Kal-El #14 – Jon leads a team to invade Gamorra and take down Henry Bendix. This means that we see a number of characters from Tom Taylor’s excellent (and way too short) Suicide Squad run, as well as a few of Jon’s other friends. This story has been building for a while, and it’s nice to see it playing out. I’ve seen in solicitations that Kal-El will be returning soon, as his excellent Warworld storyline wraps up, and I’m worried for what that means for this title, which has been working so well partly because he’s not around.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Alan Grant – I don’t read a lot of the comics press anymore, and only just learned of the death of Alan Grant last month. Grant’s is one of the names I will always associate with two incredible runs in the late 80s and early 90s. His Batman work, with Norm Breyfogle in particular, was incredible, and he brought some terrific new characters into being. Ventriloquist, Zsasz, and Anarky were all created during this time, as he balanced the detective aspects of Batman with the more colourful and bizarre story elements the character has often been known for. He also was the long-standing writer of LEGION (‘89, ‘90, etc.), the modern era precursor title to the Legion of Super-Heroes that I loved. He helped make Lobo one of the most overused characters of the early 90s, but also shaped and built on Keith Giffen’s vision, making the LEGION characters important to me. Overseas, he’s best known for his work on Judge Dredd, but to me, his DC work was era-defining. My belated condolences to his family, colleagues, and fans.
The Week in Music:
Julius Rodriguez – Let Sound Tell All – I had tickets to a show where Julius Rodriguez was supposed to be the opener, but the show was rescheduled due to covid, and by the time it happened, the lineup had changed. In the interim, I heard his music, and have stayed disappointed at not having seen him play. This album, which finally fell into my hands this week, is some consolation. Rodriguez plays a form of spiritual jazz that is purely joyful and warm. He plays keys, and wrote all but two of the pieces here. His version of Stevie Wonder’s ‘All I Do’, with vocals by Mariah Cameron, is worth getting this album for alone.
Sessa – Estrela Acesa – Sessa’s music is, to use a comic book phrase, the “sum totality” of smoothness. He’s a Brazilian artist who stays within Brazilian traditions, but also updates the older sounds that we associate with that country. This album is very chill, and very lovely. I saw him when he toured his last album, and I’m hoping he’s going to turn up to play this one too.
Wilma Vritra – Grotto – I loved the first collaboration between Wilma Archer and Pyramid Vritra, but kind of assumed it was a one-off. I’m glad I was wrong, though, because this new release is fantastic. Archer provides some very lovely lo-fi style beats and instrumentals, while Vritra, a once Odd Future affiliate, provides great lyrics. Some of these tracks are rapped, others sung, but there’s a cohesiveness and a weirdness to this project that really speaks to me. This is a real pleasant surprise.
Moor Mother – Jazz Codes – I need to listen to this album a few dozen more times to really get a full grasp of it, but I think that Jazz Codes is a contender for album of the year. This bizarre and sprawling album (it has 21 tracks, including the three bonus ones) is both a jazz and hiphop album. Moor Mother sometimes raps, sometimes sings, and sometimes recites poetry over some incredible jazzy beats mostly made by her and Olof Melander (who is new to me). There are features by Melanie Charles, AKAI SOLO, Fatboi Sharif, Yungmorpheus, and Lojji, and appearances by Moor Mother’s brethren in Irreversible Entanglements, and Mary Lattimore. Even with all of these various voices, Moor Mother’s vision of honouring and exploring the roots, branches, and leaves of jazz stays central. This is brilliant stuff.
Lizzo – Special – I both love and am very proud of Lizzo and the heights that she’s risen to, but at the same time, I think I’m done buying her music. Lizzo came on my radar when she was doing features on Mike Mictlan tracks, and drunkenly rapping on Marijuana Deathsquads songs. I first saw her perform a couple of weeks before Lizzo Bangers came out, and like her best when she’s a foul-mouthed rapper. I love her personality, her out-spokenness, and her sense of humour, but her music has become pretty mid. There’s nothing wrong with it – it’s very lovely pop music that is positive and affirming. I just don’t listen to stuff like that very often, and was happier when she was rapping over a Lazerbeak beat, with Sophia Eris backing her. There are some high points on this album – Coldplay, which is built around a Quelle Chris and Chris Keys sample is a fantastic song. The rest of it is a little too mainstream for me.