The Weekly Round-Up #676 With Rogue State #1, Resident Alien: The Book of Love #1, Captain America & The Winter Soldier Special #1, Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1, Nightwing #98 & More Plus The Week In Music!

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The Best Comic of the Week:

Rogue State #1 – I learned a while ago to stop pre-ordering Matt Pizzolo’s comics from Black Mask.  He’s a great writer, but his stuff constantly suffers from big delays or never gets published.  His Young Terrorists was great, but its schedule was a mess and it turned from an ongoing into a two issue series.  Something similar happened with Calexit.  The Emmie-X Calexit spin-off has never shown up.  For these reasons, I chose to ignore Rogue State, his latest attempt at speculative fiction, when I saw it in Previews.  Then I saw it on the stands this week, in its oversized glory, and took a look at the art by C. Granda, and I was sold.  Rogue State imagines a future where the US Supreme Court decides to allow the deputization of militias after continued bouts of protest rock the viability of law enforcement across the country.  We meet “Dust Girl” as she tries to avoid a militia patrolling San Francisco after curfew.  She ends up in a strange conflict with a sleazy landlord while trying to climb to the roof of his building, and then most of the rest of the issue is a prolonged flashback, showing how things got this bad, and introducing a masked character who stood up to the cops.  Granda’s art is fantastic – it reminds me a lot of Steve Pugh – and the story really drew me in.  This is very typical stuff for Pizzolo, but it’s effective and has me wanting to read more.  I just hope that it’s not going to be months (if ever) before we see another issue.

Quick Takes:

Black Adam #6 – Batman has become the Wolverine of the mid-90s, needed to prop up sales just about everywhere across the DCU, and so this issue is mostly centred around a fight between Adam and Batman in a VR world.  Writer Priest doesn’t check in on Malik or any of the other plotlines he has working their way through this series, but it’s all good, as Eddy Barrows makes the fight scenes visually rewarding.  I’ve been so happy with this title, and while this issue feels a bit different from the others, it does end with a great little twist.

Bone Orchard: Ten Thousand Black Feathers #3 – This issue reveals a lot about what Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino are up to with this series.  We learn more about the night that Jackie disappeared, and about how her friendship with Trish was changing.  We also learn that Trish is more connected to the black feathers that keep showing up than we thought.  This story is very well constructed, and has me intrigued.  Sorrentino, as usual, is incredible.

Captain America and the Winter Soldier Special #1 – Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing have taken this one-off to help explain the Outer Circle, a powerful group of long-lived people who have been playing with society as a game for the last hundred years.  I’m going to admit that I still don’t understand the concept, as while this group has been retconned into Marvel history, they haven’t provided any clear examples of what this group has done.  We learn that Revolution, the individual that Bucky has now replaced, was Gavrilo Princip, the Serbian terrorist who you could argue was responsible for launching the First World War, but that also doesn’t make much sense to me (he was kind of hapless, I believe).  Anyway, Bucky is in the group now, at odds with Steve, and the rest of the Circle seems okay with it.  I want to like this, especially with the terrific Kev Walker art, but it’s not clicking for me.

The Flash #788 – The new Mayor has hired the Flash’s Rogues as his new deputies, and that causes problems for Wally, who is also dealing with the impending expansion of his family.  This is another excellent issue of this series, as Jeremy Adams balances the domestic with the heroic perfectly.  Fernando Pasarin is a good fit for this book, which is very character-driven.

Immortal X-Men #8 – Mystique gets the spotlight this month, as Kieron Gillen explores her and Destiny’s history with Nathaniel Essex, with stops in the late 1800s and the 1940s.  I’m not sure how I feel about the Marvel U’s version of Sherlock Holmes actually being Mystique, but I trust Gillen.  This was an interesting issue, although I feel like Michele Bandini’s art was a little too light for it.  The story had a bit of a Vertigo feel to it, and would have benefited from an artist with a more realist style.

Iron Man #25 – Christopher Cantwell’s time with Iron Man comes to a close with this issue.  I’m not sure how I feel about his run.  It had some great moments, with Tony becoming addicted to morphine, getting god-like powers, and messing things up with Patsy Walker, but it also often felt a little out of step with the rest of the Marvel Universe, and maybe a little self-indulgent.  This issue is a good example of that – the city of New York decides to honor Stark with Iron Man Day, which is a little odd given that Luke Cage is the mayor now, and that’s probably not something he would do.  Anyway, Cantwell’s final story doesn’t go anywhere, and the backup stories used to pad out this 650th issue don’t contribute much either.  I added Gerry Duggan’s upcoming relaunch to my pull-file list, and I’m hopeful that there will be more substance to it.  I want to like Iron Man, but worry that writers find it hard to say much that’s new about him.  I guess we’ll see.

Nightwing #98 – This was an immensely charming issue of Nightwing, that has the first appearance of Nite-Mite, a 5th dimensional imp who has come to meet Dick, his hero, and get his help to save a young girl from demons.  It’s a fun issue that largely feels like it was written to generate some memes, and while I enjoyed it a lot, I kind of hope we never see the little mite again.

Resident Alien: The Book of Love #1 – I really thought that the last Resident Alien miniseries was going to be the last one, so when I saw this in the solicitations, I was pretty happy.  Harry and Asta are finally together, and giving the townsfolk something to talk about.  What I love about this series is that the stories unfold slowly, as the characters just go about their lives.  There’s a fair amount of space dedicated to some FBI agents looking for their missing colleague, but it doesn’t look like they’ll be a problem for Harry.  Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse have carved out such a unique little corner of comics with this series, and I appreciate the slower pace and gentle touch.  

Starhenge: Book One: The Dragon and the Boar #5 – Liam Sharp’s new historical science fiction epic is one of the most ambitious series I’ve seen in a long time.  Sharp’s artwork is stunning throughout, and the story, while often a bit confusing, is impressive for its scale and dedication to mapping ancient English history onto a story about beings from the far future.  Amber, our main character, has ended up in Arthurian times, and spends most of this issue explaining what’s happened and traveling with her boyfriend, who is also from the future.  I think this series will need a reread at the end of book one, but I’m glad that I chose to stick with it.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #26 – Aphra’s friends continue to try to rescue her from the Spark Eternal, while her mind is trapped inside it.  I love that the two droids are back in this title, and feel like Alyssa Wong writing these characters very well.  This run has been shaky, but it’s on good footing now.

Star Wars: Han Solo and Chewbacca #7 – I like this title, but don’t have a whole lot to say about it.  

Star Wars: Hidden Empire #1 – I guess it’s time for things to escalate with Qi’ra’s plans for the Empire, as she takes Crimson Dawn to war with Palpatine.  I’ve been enjoying the coordination between the various Star Wars books lately, as everyone has been having some kind of run-in with the Dawn.  I like how Charles Soule has taken some threads from the Solo movie, and woven them across the entire line.  It’s clear that Qi’ra is not going to be victorious, but that doesn’t make the ride less exciting.

The Week in Music:

Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammed, and Henry Franklin – Jazz is Dead 14 – Legendary bass player Henry Franklin got the Jazz Is Dead treatment this time around, playing with Adrian Younge and the musicians that are usually on these projects.  Like every installment in this series, it’s really nice.  I love that this is still happening, and that it’s bringing older artists more exposure.

Calvin Keys – Blue Keys – In the wake of his appearance in the Jazz is Dead series, Calvin Keys has released this album, collaborating with other JID alumni Gary Bartz and the above Henry Franklin, among others.  It’s a good example of traditional spiritual jazz by one of the originators of the subgenre, and it’s pretty nice.

What would you like to know?