The Weekly Round-Up #672 With Deadly Class #56, Black Adam #5, Captain America: Symbol Of Truth #6, Public Domain #5, Star Wars: Darth Vader #28 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Columns, Top Story

Best Comic of the Week:

Deadly Class #56 – And so of course the end of Deadly Class has me tearing up, remembering old friends that have passed, and the time spent with them when everything felt so far away.  I don’t think this comic could have ended any differently, as Rick Remender and Wes Craig take readers on one last wild ride, shifting from a very satisfying ending for two much-hated characters, through a solid resolution to Marcus’s long story arc, to a final hit of the nostalgia that made the first years of this series so enticing.  Deadly Class started out being about a disaffected and angry kid who found his way to an elite school for assassins hidden beneath San Francisco.  That absurd premise blossomed into one of the best comics series I’ve ever read.  Remender channeled the anger and emotion of 80s teenagers into a long-running exploration of the conflict between having deep-held principles and the outer world, which looks to refute, co-op, or compromise them.  Marcus always would have made it clear that the goals he had in life were aesthetic or destructive, but in reality, he just desperately wanted the family that coalesced around him, and was later torn apart.  The beauty of this series is that the reader could always see through Marcus’s bluster to his true self, as we could see the other characters as very real people, who were destined to cause each other a lot of pain and joy.  I know that Remender has said that much of this book is autobiographical, and I think that’s why a lot of readers were able to connect with it, especially those of us of a certain age.  Anyway, this book was brilliant.  It’s easily the best thing Remender has ever written, and Wes Craig moved from being an artist whose work I enjoy to gaining legend status.  Nothing quite looked like this comic, and Craig just continued to grow through the whole run.  These last few issues have shown that Remender and Craig are as good at capturing the problems of the current world as they are at showing us the eras of our youth, and I’m so thankful that they were able to continue this story in this way, moving it out of the school.  Looking back at the eight years this series ran, I can think of so many memorable moments (the issue where Marcus tried to fart on a kid at a comic book store with disastrous results will always stand out for me), and really cannot think of another comic that’s been published in the last fifteen years that I’ve felt resonate so deeply with me (I lied – Daytrippers is the other one).  I see that I’ve written a lot more than I usually write in this column about a single comic, but I feel I still have so much more to say.  I think I’ll just leave it by saying thank you to Rick Remender and Wes Craig (and all their collaborators) for this beautiful, beautiful book.

Quick Takes:

Alien #2 – A team of synthetic humans have been sent to an irradiated world, looking for a particular xenomorph egg which might hold the key to humanity’s survival, in return for basic rights for their kind.  Of course the mission goes wrong, and has some surprises, or this wouldn’t be an Alien comic.  I’m liking this new arc, and am enjoying Julius Ohta’s art in it.

Black Adam #5 – Teth-Adam continues to investigate the Akkad, and look for ways to stop them, which involves a rather tense conversation with Batman.  Malik continues to try to figure out how he’s going to incorporate his new powers into his life and manage the craziness around him.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is only going to be a twelve-issue series, because when I read it, I envision a multi-year Priest epic, like his Black Panther and Deathstroke runs.  Still, I’m enjoying this book a lot, and will continue to do so for as long as it lasts.

Bone Orchard: Ten Thousand Black Feathers #2 – This issue continues to explore the friendship that the main character shared with her middle school friend Jackie, who disappeared at some point.  As with many Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino series, we don’t know too much yet, especially where the titular black feathers are coming from, but we do get a very strong sense of these characters, the depth of their relationship, and how it started to fall apart in high school.  What I really like is the way that much of their conversations are portrayed as taking place between the two fantasy characters they’d created for the book they were planning on writing together.  It’s a neat visual trick, and makes the issue more interesting.  Sorrentino is, of course, brilliant at this kind of thing. 

Captain America: Symbol of Truth #6 – The newly elected Prime Minister of the African nation of Mohannda, who is a white woman, addresses the United Nations.  She shares her plans to make her nation environmentally and morally correct, with a program of reparations, which of course, puts a big target on her back.  Sam is present to protect her, but when assassins come, it’s a lot for Sam and Falcon to deal with.  I’m not sure what Sam’s status is in this comic – he seems to be doing a lot of government work, but is also a freelance agent?  I think that’s something that should be clarified moving forward.  Of course, I remain very excited about the use of Hunter, the White Wolf in this series, but I feel like six issues in, we’ve seen very little that’s focused on Sam himself.

Defenders Beyond #4 – Al Ewing and Javier Rodriguez continue their romp through the outer reaches of unknown realities in this odd series.  This issue pokes fun at DC’s constant reboots, and offers our heroes the chance to live out their days in a fake, perfect reality.  Of course they refuse it, and move on to what I think might be their big finish (unless this is a trilogy and Ewing has another mini planned).  I like it, but I know I’m missing some of the point.

Flash #787 – This is a silly issue of Flash, as an interdimensional wrestling concern teleports onto Earth for a bout, and Wally ends up winning it by mistake.  This means that he ends up in a round of matches with his new wrestling partner, and ends up having a great time.  I’ve been happy with what I’ve read of Jeremy Adams’s run so far, and how it centres Wally in the book, so I can see how he needed a vacation issue.  I also liked the cameos from some almost forgotten DC and Wildstorm characters.  I just don’t want too many issues like this for the same reason that I hate seeing Mojo turn up in the X-Titles more than once every decade.

Iron Man #24 – I hadn’t realized that Chris Cantwell’s run on Iron Man was wrapping up.  This issue finishes his quest to acquire the Mandarin’s rings, and has a surprise or two.  I’m not entirely sure what Cantwell was hoping to accomplish with this series, but I’m going to reserve judgment until the end of his final issue next month.

Moon Knight #16 – Moon Knight goes looking for the support of another major player in the vampire world to help him in his fight against The Tutor, and we get to learn a lot about Jed McKay’s vision of vampires in the Marvel Universe.  At the same time, Hunter’s Moon goes up against the two supervillains the Tutor has hired to deal with Moon Knight, and that doesn’t go so well either.  This is a solid issue, as the best Moon Knight run I’ve read in years keeps moving along.

Nightwing #97 – With Blockbuster dead, all attention shifts to Boss Maroni, who is in custody in Blüdhaven, but needs to be transported to Gotham so he isn’t killed by corrupt police.  Dick and Barbara end up taking him to a safehouse, where things get a little strange.  This is a decent issue in this very good run.  Bruno Redondo didn’t draw the entire issue, so it’s not as innovative as it usually is, but it’s still a fine comic.  As I didn’t read this title before Tom Taylor took over, I’m not all that clear on the significance of the last page, but I guess we’ll find out.

Predator #3 – I’m really enjoying the work that Ed Brisson and Kev Walker are doing on this Predator book.  Theta has found the parts she needs to repair her ship, but she’s also found a Predator waiting for her.  This book is exciting, and is working to flesh out the Predator universe.  Walker’s art has gotten better and better.

Public Domain #5 – The Dallas family is getting into the comics-making business, but it’s becoming increasingly clear to at least two people that they don’t have the first clue what they’re doing.  Chip Zdarsky’s family drama/industry satire series is a delight to read, and like most of his comics, a good example of how to create memorable characters.  I’m really enjoying this book. 

The Silver Coin #15 – At the end of another set of five issues, Michael Walsh both writes and draws this month’s Silver Coin.  It tells the story of a firefighter who finds the coin, and recognizes a kindred spirit in it, and allows it to give him permission to do the things he’s always wanted to do.  This was a dark and disturbing one.  This book is going on hiatus for a while, and I’ll be curious to see who the guest writers will be when it returns.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #28 – Vader and Sabé go to confront the Emperor, and like any other time Vader does that, things get kind of twisted around, so now Sabé is fully working for the Empire.  I worry that this book is starting to lose its focus, as it seems like Greg Pak is no longer working on developing Vader’s character, and is instead spinning out the Handmaidens of Amidala storyline for longer than he probably should.  I’m starting to lose interest.  Luckily, Rafaelle Ienco’s art keeps me satisfied.

X-Force #33 – Kraven hunts Wolverine and Beast in the Shadow Room’s version of the Savage Land, while the rest of Krakoa fights Eternals.  I’m not sure that anything in this Judgment Day crossover was necessary, and I just wish this book would get itself on track.  There’s a lot of potential here, between Beast’s scheming, Sage’s alcoholism, Black Tom’s weirdness, and the question of whether or not Omega Red can be redeemed, but the stories never really address any of it effectively.  I’d also like to see a return to the storyline about Colossus being taken over by his brother.

X-Men #16 – Forge’s mission into the Vault continues, while a squabble between Cyclops and Havok almost ruins everything.  Things are really starting to click with Gerry Duggan’s writing in this series, and I’m starting to see more potential in this lineup.  I did like the surprise ending to this issue, and am curious to see how its repercussions are going to play out.

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

Aquaman Andromeda #3

Avengers #61

Batman: The Knight #10

Miracleman: The Silver Age #1

The Week in Music:

The Wrecking Crew – Sedale Threat – If you’re ever in the mood for a rap record where talented emcees trade verses back and forth over good beats, you can’t go wrong with putting this on.  PremRock, Curly Castro, and Zilla Rocca are at the top of their game lyrically, and the list of producers, which includes August Fanon, Small Professor, and Controller 7, gives a good survey of the current state of the underground.  This album impressed me.

Mark de Clive-Lowe + Friends – Freedom:  Celebrating the Music of Pharoah Sanders – This two-disc album presents the live recording of an evening at the Blue Whale in 2018 where de Clive-Lowe and other musicians performed this tribute to the legend Pharoah Sanders, who passed away recently.  He was joined by Carlos Niño, Dwight Trible, Teodross Avery, and some other LA musicians I admire.  This is a powerful tribute, and sounds like it was a magical evening.

The Comet is Coming – Hyper-Dimensional Expansion Beam – The Comet is Coming are a very unique band.  Danalogue and Betamax lay down some very heavy tracks with synths and drums, and then Shabaka Hutchings goes wild over them with his saxophone.  This is a rare type of futuristic music that conveys a number of emotions, almost all of them frenetic.  I was fortunate enough to see them play last week, and it is such a joy to watch them dominate the crowd.  I love this melding of dance music with jazz.  Yes, all their albums sound alike, but there is a sense of progression as you move through them; I just lack the vocabulary to explain that properly.

What would you like to know?