The Weekly Round-Up #669 With Lazarus Risen #7, Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #6, Vampirella: Year One #3, The Department of Truth #21 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Columns, Top Story

Best Comic of the Week:

Lazarus Risen #7 – I can barely believe how essential this issue is to this series.  We see what is likely to be the last confrontation between Hock and Carlyle, Forever’s first clear act of rebellion, and Eight makes her move too.  Just about every storyline that began years ago when Greg Rucka and Michael Lark started writing this book collide together in this oversized issue, which serves as the last of the “quarterly” prestige issues.  Of course, it’s been a lot more than a quarter since we last saw an issue of this series, and Rucka announces in the letters column that the book is now going on hiatus for a while, until the creators are able to return to a monthly, uninterrupted, format for the last arc.  I love this book, and the amount of thought and care that goes into it, and am willing to wait as long as needed, so long as it stays this good.

Quick Takes:

Action Comics #1047 – Kal-El has returned to Earth, and he’s brought Warworld with him.  This sets off a number of interesting responses, as the world’s governments are rightly concerned about having such a warlike civilization in orbit.  It also provides Lex Luthor the opportunity to cause some mischief, once again.  I was surprised that we didn’t get to see any of the emotional reunions between Superman and Jon, or the other members of his family (we did see him and Lois together in the one-shot that came out a couple of weeks ago).  I’m guessing these have been left to Tom Taylor and the next issue of Superman, as that’s more his strength, whereas Phillip Kennedy Johnson does well with these grander stories.  I wish I knew for certain that Johnson is going to be staying on this book; I’m not usually a Superman reader, but I’ve loved this Warworld storyline, and am willing to stick around if the writing stays this good.  Riccardo Federici’s art is still quite lovely in this book, but he definitely is more suited to the sci-fi fantasy elements of the Warworld story.

AXE: Avengers #1 – So before the AXE event ends, it looks like there’s going to be a few one-shots, all written by Kieron Gillen.  The Avengers one really only focuses on Iron Man, as he’s judged by the Celestial.  It’s a little strange to see Gillen writing this, when so much of the way Tony is judged has to do with the recent events of his own book.  It would have made sense had Christopher Cantwell written this book, but I guess it fits into the larger event better this way.  I was liking AXE at the beginning, but it’s starting to wear on me.

Captain America: Symbol of Truth #5 – Maybe I’ve missed something, but I’m not entirely sure just why there is such an issue between Black Panther and his associates and Sam in this issue, given that Sam did stop Crossbones from doing something evil in Wakanda.  This story just keeps moving like this – the whys are not clearly explained, nor are we given the clearest picture into what is motivating Sam to act the way he is around trusted allies.  Like, why not ask T’Challa about his adopted brother, the White Wolf?  I like RB Silva’s art, and can see this book improving, but I think that needs more editing or shaping of the story.  I’m going to stick with it for a while longer to see if I’m just wrong about things.

Deathstroke Inc. #13 – This Year One arc really clicks with this issue, as Ed Brisson and Dexter Soy have Slade waking up in a morgue and going after his gear while completely nude, before getting back on the clock and tracking his quarry.  I like how we’re getting this closer look at Slade’s origins, but I do think it’s curious that Ollie Queen was active as Green Arrow before Joseph Wilson was even born – Joe was in his twenties in Priest’s Deathstroke arc.  This is the stuff that always gives me a lot of trouble with DC books.  I have no idea what the general shape of the timeline is, and who met whom when.  Mostly I can ignore it, but sometimes, it really trips me up and keeps me from fully enjoying a book.

Defenders Beyond #3 – This very strange Defenders book got stranger again, as the team ends up in the White Hot Room, the home of the Phoenix.  Taaia, who is Galactus’s mother from a prior version of reality, is taken over by the Phoenix, and the rest of the team, with the Beyonder, need to navigate that.  I am a huge Al Ewing fan, and love how this series digs into the deep past for its story material.  I’m also really enjoying Javier Rodriguez’s artwork, and unique layouts.  I’m just not sure I know what this team is trying to accomplish, but it’s still a fun ride.

The Department of Truth #21 – Cole learns the secrets of Fort Knox, and how it was used by the Department as a repository for their Soviet counterpart’s secrets after the Berlin Wall came down.  The problem is, it was Hawk that set up that location, and now that he’s working for Black Hat, there’s a chance that he’s made plans for all that information.  It’s curious how, this far into the series, there is still always something new to learn about the Department, but it also feels like the story is moving faster than it has in a while.  I like this series, and always look forward to a new issue, but I’m a lot happier with it when it’s set in the present and things are happening.

Detective Comics #1064 – I’ve decided that it’s time to add this series to my pullfile list.  It’s weird that a year ago, I wasn’t reading any Batman books, and now I’m getting all the main ones (there are so many tertiary series and specials!).  Ram V’s story has been unfolding slowly, as a family with ancestral ties to Gotham makes its return, and Talia and her League of Assassins stand against them, while Bruce is perhaps suffering from panic attacks.  Rafael Albuquerque’s art is gorgeous, and V’s story is getting clearer.  I really love the James Gordon backup by Simon Spurrier and Dani – I’m concerned that this is the third chapter of three, and hope that the story continues next month.  It’s worth buying the book for alone.

The Human Target #7 – This book is back after a hiatus, with Christopher Chance still investigating who murdered him with poison.  He’s only got about five days remaining, and all signs point him towards Fire.  His attempts to interview her turn into a series of attempts at seduction on her part, and it starts to look a little like he might never learn what happened.  Tom King’s writing on this title is very tight and effective, and Greg Smallwood’s art is gorgeous.  I do find some of his colouring choices, like how he represents clear bottles or glasses to be odd, but I like the way it makes the book a little quirky.  Chance has been working his way through the entire old JLI, and I’m not sure how many characters are left to turn up in the back half of this series.

Justice League Vs. The Legion of Super-Heroes #6 – Going into this final issue, I figured that Brian Michael Bendis would do one of two things: reveal that this series is just the prologue to some longer event that will take a year or two to finish, or rush the ending in a way that is not fully satisfying.  That’s exactly what they do, as the architect of The Great Darkness is dealt with pretty easily, giving the teams time to hang out together.  I liked this series, because I love the Legion in most forms, and did enjoy Bendis’s remake of the team, but this series did end up leaving me wanting more.  I hope that DC brings the Legion back, and I’d be happy to see Bendis develop and explore this team more.  Scott Godlewski’s art on this title was phenomenal, and even though he’s kind of slow, I’d like to see him work on a new LSH book, maybe swapping issues with Ryan Sook.  I don’t want this to be the last of this Legion.

Miles Morales Spider-Man #42 – I had no clue that Saladin Ahmed was leaving this book, or that it hadn’t been solicited for a few months.  I guess there’s just too much going on.  This is a nice wrap-up issue, as Miles hangs out with his friends, gets closer to Starling, and prepares to move on to the next step in his education.  Ahmed’s Miles run was very good, if a bit quick at times, and I’m sad to see him leaving.  I don’t really know the incoming creative team – Cody Zigler and Federico Vecintini, but they’re going to have some big shoes to fill.  I’ll give them one arc to impress me.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #24 – Aphra and the Spark Eternal continue to delve through their memories together, while Aphra’s friends (if you can call them that) find themselves facing Triple-Zero and BT-1.  Sadly, the murderous droids aren’t in this issue enough, I’ve missed them.

Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #6 – Chewie’s found himself in prison, alongside that older alien in the newer trilogy (I don’t remember her name), while some bounty hunters work with the guy who was posing as Han’s dad to free the Millennium Falcon from an Imperial impound lot.  This is a fun adventure story, but I did notice the lack of Han Solo in this issue.

Stillwater #15 – Daniel has returned, and his presence is making a mess of Galen’s plans for the towns of Stillwater and Coldwater.  Galen’s reaction to this change, just after annexing their neighbouring town and working so hard to control its citizens, perhaps leads to a massive revelation about just why everyone in the city limits is immortal.  Chip Zdarsky is quickly becoming one of the biggest writers in comics right now, but it’s his creator-owned work that remains his best.  Especially when he pairs with artists like Ramón Perez.  This is a great series that feels like it’s moving towards its final arc.

Vampirella: Year One #3 – This issue covers familiar ground, as we revisit the scenes from Vampirella’s childhood that were already shown in Priest’s first Vampirella series and in Draculina.  It left me with some power deja vu, but I guess if he’s finally telling a linear story (more or less), it does make sense to show how Vampirella turned against her mother and started going after Drayvant Æpostyl and his followers.  I’m really enjoying this latest volume, and am looking forward to seeing in more detail than we’ve seen before how Vampirella ended up on Earth next issue.

X-Men #15 – Forge has been working on addressing the challenges posed by the Children of the Vault for a few months now, and finally feels that it’s time to deal with them, and to retrieve Darwin, who was lost in the Vault a while back.  This is an interesting issue, as Gerry Duggan chooses to first show us what could happen if the Children ran free, and then uses a parallel structure to bring us into the story.  It’s curious that we’re starting to see some post-AXE stories, while that event is still taking place (I guess this means that the world’s not going to be destroyed!).  I hope that this current team of X-Men is going to have more focused adventures than the last group did, after this Vault story is resolved.

Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:

Ant-Man #3

The Week in Music:

Sudan Archives – Natural Brown Prom Queen – It really feels like Sudan Archives has leveled up on this lengthy album, and she was already working at a very high level.  She seems ever more confident in herself and her choices of beats and accompaniments on this album, and while I miss the heavy focus on the violin in her earlier albums, this still works on many levels.  There’s a liberation to her lyrics, as she sings about self-image among other things.  This is a very complete album, and it’s great.

Pantha Du Prince – Garden Gaia – More and more I’ve been in the mood for sophisticated downtempo electronic music, and this album fits nicely.  I don’t have a lot to say about it, but it’s a nice vibe.

Tumi Mogoroso – Group Theory: Black Music – South African jazz drummer returns with this new project, which is a sweeping and large collection of mostly his own work (and two covers of “Sometimes I Feel Like a Motherless Child”.  He makes excellent use of choral voices to help elevate the emotional weight of his work.  I was fortunate enough to see Tumi play once, as part of the Shabaka and the Ancestors group, and his performance stuck with me.  This is a solid jazz album that I’m going to get a lot of play out of.  

Chip Wickham – Cloud 10 – Singles have been dribbling out from this album for a while now, and it’s so nice to finally get the whole package.  Wickham has been on my radar for a while, since I came across his name on some old Brownswood Bubblers, I think, and this full release makes me happy.  His jazz is beautiful and swings.

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