The Weekly Round-Up #673 With Damn Them All #1, AXE: Judgment Day #6, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #25, Action Comics #1048 & More Plus The Week In Music!

Columns, Top Story

Best Comic of the Week:

Damn Them All #1 – When I saw that Simon Spurrier and Charlie Adlard were going to be collaborating on a new book, I didn’t even bother to read the solicitation to find out what the book would be about before adding it to my pull file.  I wasn’t really expecting a mobster take on John Constantine, but that’s kind of what this is.  Ellie has been raised in magic by her uncle, who introduced her to some of London’s shadier elements.  Now she does magic stuff for an aging gangster, but at her uncle’s wake, she discovers that some of the rules of magic have changed, and that it’s become much easier to summon and control demons.  The problem is, she’s not the one doing this work.  This book is reminiscent of peak Vertigo days.  Ellie is a complicated and interesting character, and the world she moves in is fascinating.  Spurrier makes it clear that there is no glamor to magic, and that it takes sacrifice and fortitude to make it work.  Adlard’s art is great – this is the first big thing he’s done since The Walking Dead, and while his style is familiar, everything about this feels different.  I’m definitely on board for this book, and look forward to seeing where it’s headed.

Quick Takes:

Action Comics #1048 – I’m realizing that this Kal-El Returns crossover with the Son of Kal-El book is not really a crossover – the two series are sharing some elements, but this book is still focusing on Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s larger story, and I prefer that.  Orion and some of Darkseid’s people come for the energy that Superman released on Warworld, which now resides in Osul-Ra, one of the orphans that Superman has taken in.  The world continues to react to the appearance of Warworld in orbit, causing Lex Luthor to scheme.  In the backup, Supergirl and Thao-La hunt for Chaytil, who plots revenge for the defeat of Mongul.  In all, this continues to be an excellent book.  Mike Perkins’s art on the main story is gorgeous, and I still get a thrill from the David Lapham art in the backup story.  I’m not sure how I feel about Steve Beach’s cover though; like with the last issue, Superman looks kind of weird to me.

AXE: Judgment Day #6 – Excluding the inevitable Omega issue, this is the end of the Judgment Day event.  Like most Marvel events in this era, it’s kind of bloated, but ultimately, I think it did a good job of examining the Eternals and the mutants of Earth as both groups grapple with their immortality and what it means for humans.  I’m glad that Kieron Gillen was the one to shape this event, as he’s done fine work with the Eternals and is kind of the showrunner for the X-Men now.  The heroes’ conflict with the Progenitor reaches a logical conclusion.  I like how so much of this event was told through the perspectives of ordinary people, and am looking forward to seeing how Gillen incorporates some of this into Immortal X-Men.  I think that the Eternals book isn’t coming back…

Deathstroke Inc. #14 – Slade’s first mission in his Deathstroke gear continues to run into problems, as other assassins are on his target’s trail.  This leads to a fight against some very 90s looking guys (I’m not sure if they’ve appeared in other comics before, or are just newly designed to evoke that era).  I’m liking the way that Ed Brisson and Dexter Soy are filling in some of Slade’s backstory, but I’m not sure that this series will continue after the next issue, and I’m tired of DC doing that.

Detective Comics #1065 – Ram V and Rafael Albuquerque’s Detective Comics is really coming together, as the Orghams make their play for Arkham Asylum and fend off Talia al Ghul’s people, all while Batman suffers from repeated failures and a growing crisis of self-confidence.  It’s interesting to see Batman breaking apart like this.  I like how coordinated V’s main story is with the backups by Simon Spurrier.  This month he’s joined by Hayden Sherman for a Two-Face story, as Harvey Dent has to face his darker half.  This series is not very straight-forward for a Batman book, but it is interesting.  It took me a bit to get into it, but I’m here now.

Fire Power #24 – Owen’s epic battle with Master Shaw does not conclude things, even though he has already managed to take out the dragon.  Chris Samnee goes wild with the fireball kung fu in this issue, but it’s Robert Kirkman who, once again, drops a huge emotional bomb on the last page of the comic.  This series has been terrific, and while I’m not sure when the next arc is going to begin, I can’t wait to see what happens next.

The Human Target #8 – Chance gains the attention of Rocket Red, who wants to see if he knows anything about Guy Gardner’s disappearance.  Red ends up wasting a whole day of Chance’s few remaining ones, as he keeps knocking Chance out.  I like this series, and especially Greg Smallwood’s art on it, but I’m starting to think that maybe Tom King chose a few too many issues, as it’s starting to feel like it’s spinning its wheels a bit.

Moon Knight Annual #1 – I’m sure the fact that there’s a Werewolf by Night thing on Disney+ has nothing to do with the fact that old Jack Russell makes an appearance in this issue.  Jack has kidnapped Diatrice, Marc’s daughter, so Marlene has come to him to get her back.  When Marc brings Hunter’s Moon into the situation, we learn that the Fists of Khonshu are not supposed to have children, partly because of a prophecy that the child of a fist could be used to kill Khonshu.  Jed McKay tells a very solid story in this issue, which helps tie this Moon Knight run to all those that came previously.  I’m liking this book a lot these days. 

New Mutants #31 – Apparently the new writer of this book, Charlie Jane Anders is a superstar, but I’m not familiar with her work (which looks to be more in the areas of genre fiction and magazine articles, according to the Internet).  With her comes the new character Escapade, who has moved to Krakoa somewhat reluctantly, and has fallen in with the other misfit teens that are often spotlighted in this book.  With Anders comes Alberto Alburquerque, whose art I haven’t seen since the excellent Letter 44 ended.  The story also focuses on Martha, Escapades best friend, and another character I don’t know named Leo.  They, along with Wolfsbane, end up prisoners of the U-Men, which causes Martha a lot of distress.  I like how character focused this issue is, but don’t see Escapade as a particularly interesting character yet.  She’s worried about a prophecy that says she will one day kill her best friend Morgan, but that doesn’t do enough to grab me.  I’ll give Anders this arc though as there was a lot I liked about this book.  One gripe I have though, is how Anole seems to have not grown up with his peers, and is always portrayed as younger than he really should be at this point.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #25 – Aphra’s friends infiltrate the Vermillion to try to rescue her from the Spark Eternal, while she learns more about it and how it might be hard to get out of her chest and head.  This series has been a lot of fun lately, and the return of the murder droids makes me very happy.

20th Century Men #3 – I’m still not sure what the ultimate goal of this series is, but I love this alternative history of the Soviet Union, set in Afghanistan in the 1980s.  The focus for this issue is on the reporter who has been trying to interview the armored Soviet weapons-maker who has been the star of this series, and the hard lessons he learns as the older man eludes his attempts to meet.  This is the most character-driven issue yet, and it clicks for me.  Stipan Morian’s art is so good on this book, and it helps humanize Deniz Camp’s odd story.  This series is a worthy companion to The Winter Men, an all-time favourite of mine.  It’s very impressive.

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #14 – We’re getting close to the end of Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo’s multi-generational science fiction epic, and I’m both sad to see it wrap up, and excited to finally learn all the secrets of godhood in their universe.  This book has been a little hard to follow at times, as it moves through the decades, but it’s a rewarding read.  Ewing is great at conceptualizing these types of storylines.

Wolverine #26 – It’s a little wild that the biggest villain of this Wolverine run has been an old man who auctions weapons.  He comes after Wolverine once again in this issue that features Logan’s friendship with Jeff Bannister, which has been my favourite thing about this run.  Sometimes I wonder why I still buy this book, though…

X-Terminators #2 – I think I’m a little disappointed with this book.  I loved Leah Williams’s work on X-Factor, but this series, featuring Dazzler, Jubilee, Boom-Boom, and Wolverine, is a little too silly for my liking.  The four mutants have been captured by a group of vampires who are running them through Murderworld-style arena games, for no clear purpose other than that Dazzler broke up with the guy running things.  It’s amusing, but I was hoping for something with a little more bite to it (see what I did there?).

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

Catwoman Lonely City #4

Variants #4

The Week in Music:

E L U C I D – I Told Bessie – I’ve been waiting for this album for ages now.  E L U C I D (the caps and the spaces are important) is an incredible, abstract rapper, who makes up half of Armand Hammer, who are indie darlings right now.  This album features off-kilter beats, strange lyrics, and is challenging on many levels, which is what makes it glorious.  Even after multiple listens, I’m not sure what it’s all about, but it feeds me, and sounds terrific.

Black Jesus Experience – Good Evening Black Buddha – Black Jesus Experience is an Australian band that experiments with Ethiopian sounds as the basis for funk and jazz songs.  Their last album featured the legendary Mulatu Astatke, but this album is more focused on their own interpretations and extrapolations of the rhythms that Astatke pioneered.  It’s a nice solid record, clocking in at a little over an hour in length, and it’s pretty rewarding to listen to. 

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