The Weekly Round-Up #682 With Action Comics #1050, New Mutants #33, Detective Comics #1067, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #27, Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #8 & More Plus The Week In Music!

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Happy New Year!

The Best Comic of the Week:

Action Comics #1050 – I have loved Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s run on Action Comics, which has had Kal-El leave Earth to liberate Warworld with an unlikely group of heroes.  Since Kal-El returned, I’ve been a little worried as to where this book is headed, as it hasn’t had the same sense of purpose to it.  This milestone issue, which is co-written by Johnson, Tom Taylor, and Joshua Williamson, made me feel a lot better about things.  Lex Luthor puts one of his plans into action, effectively One More Daying the fact that the world knew Superman’s identity, and laying the groundwork for future storylines.  It looks like Johnson is going to continue to write this book, although perhaps with a co-writer, and Taylor is going to continue writing Jon’s adventures for a while at least.  This issue has incredible artwork by Mike Perkins, Clayton Henry, and most notably, Nick Dragotta, whom I would love to see on a regular title.  I’m not a Superman fan normally, but I’ve enjoyed Johnson’s work here enough that I’m going to keep reading this book, and I think I’m going to check out Williamson’s new Superman series.  These are strange times for me.

Quick Takes:

Captain America: Symbol of Truth #8 – This run is growing on me, but there are still a few kinks in this book that bother me.  Captain Sam and Nomad are in Mohanda working to stop the White Wolf (who I hope is written with at least half the complexity that Priest gave him when he wrote the character in Black Panther) and his attempted coup.  Along the way, they come across the classic Marvel villain Nightshade (who I loved in Priest’s BP), who claims she’s only in the country because she got kicked out of Wakanda because of Sam’s actions there.  My problem is that it sounds like she had time to build a life for herself there, but it was only two issues ago that Wakanda decided to eject the American refugees.  It’s just not enough time, in my opinion.  Aside from that, I like how writer Tochi Onyebuchi is building the somewhat contentious relationship between Sam and Ian.  I still would like to see more of Sam himself being front and centre in this title, but it’s getting better.

Detective Comics #1067 – As Ram V’s run goes on longer, I find that I’m getting a better idea of what he’s going for with it.  This book is much more about atmosphere than the other Bat-books I’m reading, and I like the way he has the Orgham’s making changes to Gotham.  This month, they are looking to gentrify some neighbourhoods, while Mister Freeze and Two-Face resist them in their own ways.  This is not a typical Bat-story, and I’m here for it.  I was enjoying Rafael Albuquerque’s art, but I’m also happy with what Ivan Reis is doing here.

Moon Knight #18 – Marc and Tigra make their move against the Tutor’s big vampire meeting, in an issue full of cool moments and exciting surprises.  Jed MacKay has made Moon Knight exciting again, and I like how he balances his mystical aspects with his ability to see straight-forward solutions.  

New Mutants #33 – Is New Mutants over?  There haven’t been any new issues solicited yet, and the cover of this issue proclaims it the ‘end of an era’.  It also suggests someone doesn’t survive, although it seems to me like everyone made it through okay.  This book has always lacked direction since it started off under Jonathan Hickman and Ed Brisson.  Does it focus on the original New Mutants squad?  Is it about younger mutants?  Is it a bit of both?  It’s really been all over the map, and this last arc has focused mostly on new characters that I don’t feel have really caught my heart.  These haven’t been bad comics, but I don’t feel that characters like Leo and Morgan have been properly introduced (Morgan has powers?), and that made it hard to care about them.  I see that the current writer, Charlie Jane Anders, has a Special coming in March, so I’ll probably check that out and hope that if this series reboots, it’s with a clear mission statement.  

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #27 – As the Spark Eternal continues to use Aphra’s body, the good doctor starts to fight back, slicing her own electro-tattoos to try to regain some sense of control.  At the same time, Sana and their friends find themselves being put in a terrible position by Ronan Tagge that is going to lead to even more conflict.  This series has gotten really good lately, as Alyssa Wong has really gotten a handle on these characters and their personalities.  It’s almost as much fun as the Kieron Gillen days.

Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #8 – Han and Chewie are once again breaking into someone’s quarters to retrieve an artifact, and once again are relying a little too much on luck to get them through the situation.  I’m not sure if Marc Guggenheim is trying to set up a parallel structure for this series, or if he’s already circling back on his ideas, which is starting to suggest that maybe there aren’t all that many pre-Rebellion Han Solo stories to tell.  This is fun, but it’s starting to feel a little stale.

X-Terminators #4 – Leah Williams and Carlos Gómez are emphasizing a good time with this very strange mutant book.  Dazzler and her group of friends are on the Collector’s spaceship, having to deal with Dazzler’s vampire ex-boyfriend, who is somehow connected with the Elder of the Universe.  A lot of things don’t really make sense here, as this is meant to be a romp more than a serious story.  I preferred Williams’s work on X-Factor, which balanced its fun with more serious storytelling.

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

Dark Web X-Men #2

Double Walker TP

Miracleman: The Silver Age #3

Timeless 2022 #1

Bargain Comics:

Regarding the Matter of Oswald’s Body #1-5 – This was one of those bizarre Boom! series that always look kind of interesting.  Christopher Cantwell has written an intriguing story about an aspect of the conspiracy to assassinate JFK.  A government agent recruits four random-seeming people into helping spirit away Lee Harvey Oswald’s body after he is killed, and gives us a different take on a heist movie plot.  Luca Casalanguida’s art is pretty nice, and the story moves at a good pace.  I liked it.

The Week in Music:

Ceschi – This Guitar Was Stolen Along With Years of Our Lives – This album first came out a little more than a year ago, but it’s only been recently that I’ve gotten a physical copy.  This was one of my favourite records of 2021, and I’m so happy to have it on CD, along with the zine that contains all of the lyrics.  These are mostly acoustic songs, running a gamut of genres, that address the loss and uncertainty of the last few years.  His song 2020 BC is an almost eight minute long post-folk masterpiece, as Ceschi unpacks his thoughts on humanity, as it has revealed itself over the course of the pandemic.  This is an album I come back to often, as it feels good to sing along with it on darker days.

Yasuhiro Kohno Trio + One – Song of Island – As I’ve fallen deeper under the spell of jazz music, I realize that it’s basically impossible to go back and fill in all the gaps in my knowledge.  I’ve mostly tried to stick with contemporary musicians, but I do check out the almost constant stream of rereleased ‘holy grail’ records, and that’s what led me to this Japanese album from 1985.  I love the vibraphone, so Masahiro Kanno’s playing drew me in, but it’s Yasuhiro Kohno’s piano that really stands out on this record.  I know nothing about the context that this album was released in, but I do love it as a strong example of spiritual jazz that I likely would have never heard when it was new.  We live in a magical time.

STR4TA – Str4tasfear – This is the second album from STR4TA, the Britfunk band co-produced by Brownswood’s Gilles Peterson.  This album is light and fun, and a worthy follow up to their first album.

Gold Panda – The Work – It’s been a while since the last Gold Panda album, and it’s nice to see him return with the same clean dance vibes he had before.  There’s a warmth to a Gold Panda record that I really appreciate.  

Ali Shaheed Muhammad, Adrian Younge, and Garrett Saracho – Jazz Is Dead 15 – These Jazz is Dead releases are becoming routine, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like them.  Garrett Saracho plays piano with Adrian Younge and the stable of artists that have coalesced around this Jazz is Dead project.  Ali Shaheed Muhammad only turns up playing on a couple of tracks but continues to co-write and co-produce.  If you know the formula by now, you know what this is going to sound like, but that’s not a criticism.  These have been some of the most consistently impressive releases of the last few years.

Matthew Halsall – Changing Earth EP – This short EP by the main artist on Gondwana Records is very satisfying.  His jazz compositions are nice and a little New Age-y in just the right way.  It’s a good companion to the EP he put out earlier this year.

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