Best Comic of the Week:
Love Everlasting #4 – Tom King and Elsa Charretier turn their exploration of romance stories towards the First World War. Joan is an American singing in a bar in Paris, and Dane is a young British soldier who meets her before heading to the trenches. He keeps coming back to see her, and Joan starts to fall for the kid. The thing is, she’s figured out how this all works now, and what happens when she has her love reciprocated, so much of this issue is very subtly about her resisting the feelings she’s starting to have. It’s a cool issue, but I’m starting to wonder when we’re going to see Joan start to work against the forces that keep her cycling through so many romantic scenarios.
AXE: Judgment Day Omega #1 – With the end of the Judgment Day event, Kieron Gillen also wraps up his very good Eternals series as that society has to figure out how to move forward, now that humanity knows their secret. It’s a pretty solid issue, with nice Guiu Vilanova art. I liked Gillen’s Eternals. Despite the fact that he had to incorporate the gender and appearance shifts caused by the movie that most people have forgotten, he also revitalized the property and made it more interesting than I’d ever seen it before. The AXE event was handled nicely, although I didn’t get too invested in it. I’ll be curious to see if the Eternals turn up again anytime soon, and how many of these changes will stick around.
Batman Incorporated #2 – There’s a lot going on in this series, as various members of the Incorporated team try to stop the ongoing killing of Ghost-Maker’s former teachers in various places, and all come across other costumed characters I don’t know. Ed Brisson is throwing a lot into this series, and so far, I’m pretty intrigued by it. I still know nothing about Ghost-Maker (I should be reading Batman: The Knight, I know), but I find him to be an interesting character, and a good contrast to Batman. I hope we get to know more about the other heroes in this book – they need some character development. I like John Timms’s art on this title.
Batman Vs. Robin #3 – While I don’t like Damian taking such a villainous turn in this title, I do like the way Mark Waid has been constructing this story and ratcheting up the tension. This issue has Bruce facing off against all the former Robins, and learning about the deeper resentments they all hold towards him. It’s very well written, and Mahmud Asrar and Scott Godlewski’s art is very nice. I was upset at the cancellation of Robin’s series, but as a replacement, this does work. I found it interesting that characters from the Monkey Prince are being integrated into the wider DCU; I kind of assumed that series was just off in its own little corner.
Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty #6 – I guess it’s clear now that the point of this new Captain America series is to establish Bucky Barnes as a villain, as he forces himself into the shadowy organization that somehow runs the world. This puts him in conflict with Steve, and while their fight that lasts most of the issue is visually great, I found myself getting bored. I don’t know that we can keep retconning massive organizations into the history of the Marvel Universe.
Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths #6 – The Justice League need to get back to Earth-Zero, where every other hero you can think of is facing off against Pariah and his army. There are some big emotional moments in this issue, and things aren’t looking much better for our heroes. Again, I think it’s odd that a series that feels like it’s such a big deal isn’t really impacting many other DC titles, and I still don’t know what the ultimate purpose of all of this is. It’s odd.
Fantastic Four #1 – I am not a huge FF fan, but with the right creative team, they can be terrific. I’ve been a fan of Ryan North’s writing since he wrote The Midas Flesh at Boom, and thought he might have an interesting take on Marvel’s first family, so I picked this up on a whim (I always like supporting hometown talent, too). I was surprised that the whole issue was focused on Ben and Alicia, who find themselves stuck in a time loop reminiscent of Groundhog Day. It’s a charming if unconventional first issue, and it ends with a mystery about the rest of the team that has me wanting to pick up the next issue. Iban Coello’s art is very nice, and I like how he plays with the nature of the time loop, with an endless scroll of panels that get cut off by the end of the page. I might be reading the FF again…
Kaya #2 – Wes Craig’s new fantasy series is a hit with me. Kaya and her brother are traveling with some Lizard-Riders (who are themselves lizards?), helping her friend with a quest. It’s clear that Kaya and Seth have feelings for one another, but there are a lot of barriers to them getting together, especially as he’s hiding his arranged betrothal from her. Craig’s art is very fluid and lively, and the world he’s created is fascinating.
The Knight and the Lady of Play #1 – I enjoy Jonathan Luna’s work, so was intrigued to see that he was putting out a random one-shot. This story is about an Italian knight who has just finished a years-long battle with demons. He’s waylaid on his journey home by a sorceress who has entrapped some men to use as her playthings. I liked this comic, and think it’s cool that Image will sometimes just put out something so singular. Luna’s a great artist, but I would like to see him do something long-term again.
Legion of X #7 – With the initial arc out of the way, and Judgment Day in the rearview, it’s time for Si Spurrier to come up with new plotlines. Kurt has developed devil’s horns overnight, which is a cause for concern, and Warlock reveals that the Altar is in danger of a Technarch attack. Spurrier has layers of plotting happening here, and it gives me the feeling that this series is going to be around for a while. With scenes like the one between Dr. Nemesis and Mister Sinister, I hope this sticks around for a long time. It’s one of the strangest X-books ever.
Marauders #8 – I tried reading this issue, which has Kate’s team traveling billions of years back in time to rescue a mutant civilization from sentient bacteria, as a comment on the pandemic, but it didn’t’ work that way either. Steve Orlando has put together a really interesting team, but he keeps throwing them into these over the top science fiction scenarios that minimize the amount of character development he can do. I’d rather see more grounded storytelling. I also hate the fact that everyone has just adopted the name Fang for Akihiro/Daken, even in conversation among friends.
Moon Knight #17 – Marc goes after the two assassins who killed Hunter’s Moon, and we see a darker side of him than we’ve yet seen in this series. Jed MacKay is writing this book perfectly, even if it’s a little too decompressed, and Alessandro Cappuccio is matching his tone very well. Next issue has MK and Tigra facing off against a room full of influential vampires, and I’m looking forward to that.
The New Golden Age #1 – I love the Justice Society of America, and have for a very long time (although as a kid, I preferred the All-Star Squadron and the Invaders). Geoff Johns’s JSA run is a favourite of mine from this century, and I thought those characters worked best as a mix of the original heroes with some legacy characters, that approached superheroics from a multi-generational viewpoint. With the New 52, the JSA was erased, and while the characters have made sporadic reappearances in recent years, I’ve had no understanding of what their current reality is. Lately, I’ve been seeing Jay Garrick turn up in Flash, and Mister Terrific turns up everywhere, but I’ve been really unclear to what extent the previous DC continuity has been restored. So, I got excited to see that DC was bringing back the JSA in their own title, and that it would be preceded by this one-off. I was a little nervous to see that Geoff Johns was writing it, as he’s not the same writer he was when he handled these characters back in the day, and I don’t have a lot of enthusiasm for his work now. It turns out I was right, because this book is a bit of a mess. It jumps around in time, and introduces a new take on Helena Wayne, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, who in the future will become the Huntress. I think part of the problem is that I never read Doomsday Clock, which I realized is probably important to this around the time that the story started mentioning Ozymandias, and Dr. Manhattan’s symbol turned up. This does not have me excited about the new JSA series, which I’ve already preordered. I would have been happier to learn that someone like Jeremy Adam was writing this book. It’s nice to see these characters back, but I’d rather be able to enjoy them…
Superman: Son of Kal-El #17 – Now that his father is back, it’s probably time for Jon to come out to him. Tom Taylor writes this issue very well, showing Jon’s reluctance, which he knows is silly given who his father is, and ultimately giving us a heart-warming scene. I’m sad that this series is ending, because Taylor has made Jon a viable Superman, and I think that even with the main one around, there is a place for both of them in the DCU.
WildCATS #1 – Ever since Joe Casey’s excellent Wildcats Version 3.0, I’ve had a soft spot for this team, despite the fact that they’ve gone through as many reinventions as the Legion of Super-Heroes. I was curious to see what might be happening with them now, with Matthew Rosenberg as the writer, I had hope that this would be interesting. I’m a little confused as to how these characters fit in the DCU, why Spartan and Voodoo are on the cover but not in the book, and where the title is going, but I did like this issue. I don’t think this builds off the work that Warren Ellis did with his Wildstorm series, but to be honest, I’ve already forgotten most of what happened in that series. I’ll probably pick up the next issue.
Wolverine #27 – I think it’s odd that so much X-Force business is happening in this issue of Wolverine, like writer Ben Percy isn’t sure which book he’s working on. I wonder if there are many people who are reading one series and not the other, and what that must be like for them. Beast continues his journey into darkness, and now he’s taken control of Logan and is using him as a black ops assassin, presumably against his will. It’s a road we’ve been down before, but it’s working here. I do like Juan José Ryp’s art a whole lot for this book.
Comics I Would Have Bought if Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Soldier Stories #1
Two Graves #1
The last week or so has seen us lose some notable people in comics. This is becoming way too common an occurrence.
Danny Bulandi – Inker Danny Bulandi’s name is one I remember seeing throughout my childhood, and someone who I’ve always associated with some of the best Marvel comics. I’m currently rereading the Micronauts for my Retro Review column, and it just so happens that Bulandi was the inker for the stretch I’m reading right now. His work is solid and dependable, like his line, and I appreciate the work he did. My condolences to his family and friends.
Kevin O’Neill – British artist Kevin O’Neill is most likely to be remembered for his work with Alan Moore on The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and rightfully so. That title, especially in its earliest incarnations, was a very fun look at a Justice League like team made up of literary characters from the Victorian era and later. O’Neill’s exaggerated yet realistic artwork really sold the series and made it work. What I think I will remember him best for, though, is his work with Marshal Law, a comedic bondage-inspired police officer who hated superheroes. I think that much of the humour of Marshal Law went over my young head, but I remember being thrilled by it, with most of the credit going to O’Neill, who put wild images in my head. My condolences to his family and friends.
Carlos Pacheco – Spanish artist Carlos Pacheco was one of those rare artists who I thought could save the comics industry and art form from the excesses of the 1990s. While everyone else was going extreme, Pacheco simplified things, and focused on realistic depictions of fantastical characters. His heroes and villains had personality, and looked amazing. I think the high point for him at Marvel was Avengers Forever, which I revisited not too long ago. Pacheco’s work on that time-spanning book was gorgeous, and I’ve stayed a fan of his work ever since. Recently he and frequent collaborator Kurt Busiek returned to their Arrowsmith property (another favourite of mine), and it was clear that Pacheco had not missed a step. I’m so thankful that we got the full six-issue arc, and hope to see the story concluded, although it won’t be the same without Pacheco’s art. Now I think it’s time to track down his Superman run, because I never read it. My condolences to his family and friends.
The Week in Music:
LMD – Flying High – LMD is LMNO (from the Visionaries), MED, and Dudley Perkins (aka Declaime), coming together to rap over Madlib beats. I’m a fan of all of these people, so seeing them combine and work together is kind of thrilling. Madlib’s beats are very nice, and these emcees sound as fresh as ever. This is a solid, if a little too short, album.
Gyedu-Blay Ambolley and Hi-Life Jazz – Sometimes the world just needs a lot more highlife music to make things feel better. Gyedu-Blay Ambolley is a master of the craft of Ghanaian highlife, and with this album, he takes on some jazz standards, and generally just makes things feel good.
Loyle Carner – Hugo – I’m happy to see Loyle Carner back with a new album. Carner’s grown as a rapper since his last outing, and is ready to dig into some of his issues with his father and his childhood growing up mixed race in England. In addition to Kwes., his usual producer, Carner is joined by some amazing musicians. Jordan Rakei helps with production and some vocals, and some of the music is played by Alfa Mist, Rocco Palladino, and drummer Nicholas Spaven. The result is a jazzy, warm album that discusses some painful topics. It’s really good.