The Weekly Round-Up #685 With Nightwing #100, Dune: House Harkonnen #1, Immortal Sergeant #1, Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #9 & More Plus Remembering Jason Pearson!

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Best Comic of the Week:

Nightwing #100 – DC went all out with this oversized issue, bringing back some previous Nightwing artists for a page or two, but also leaving Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo to do what they do best, and give us another great issue.  Heartless breaks into Blüdhaven Private Prison, releasing all the inmates to rampage through the city.  Dick manages to stop a number of them by appealing to their better nature, and enlists the Titans to help him deal with some of the powered criminals.  This is an exciting issue, but what I like best about it is how Taylor uses this as a platform to discuss the evils of the for-profit prison complex and bail reform.  He also sets Dick up with some new directions, as he decides to purchase the prison as a way of fixing it, and is given an even bigger task by Superman and Wonder Woman.  I hope DC realizes just how magical this run is, and hope that Taylor is one of the people they consulted for this Dawn of DC initiative, as he really captures the sense of optimism that I think they’re going for in his writing.  Redondo is also a superstar – this is one of the best comics on the stands right now.

Quick Takes:

Alien #5 – We’re close to the end of this arc (and the series?), so the action is focused on moving the plot along.  Things continue to go wrong for the synthetics as the story falls into typical Alien tropes, which is not to say this isn’t good.  I just don’t have much to say about it.

Black Adam #7 – There’s been quite a delay between issues of this series, but now we’ve caught up to the events of Dark Crisis, where Adam was a key player.  That means we have more time to see what’s going on with Malik, as he searches for Adam and starts to customize his look and gives himself a new superhero name (that already belongs to a DC villain).  This series has been terrific, and I’m hopeful that Priest will get to stay on with Malik’s character after it’s over.  The book has picked up two new artists, José Luís and Jonas Trindade, and their work looks great.  I hope to see a lot more of them.

Dune: House Harkonnen #1 – I kind of wish that there was some way in which the writers of this new Dune prequel series could have let us know that this is a sequel to the House Atreides series of a year or more ago.  I mean, I only just realized that they both start with ‘House’ in their title, but it took me a while to pin down the timeline in this first issue.  I like these Boom! Dune stories, but I wish they felt a little less like novel adaptations, and while I enjoy Michael Shelfer’s art, it’s a bit stiff.  I’d be a lot happier with original stories set in the Dune universe (and maybe even some that don’t focus on the Atreides and Harkonnen families).

Flash #791 – The One Minute War continues, with Wally and the other speedsters the only ones able to move as their powers move into overdrive.  There’s a pretty significant death that everyone is dealing with, while also preparing to try to stop the Fraction from stripmining the planet of resources in less than a minute.  Jeremy Adams’s Flash run is really good, and I am feeling this storyline.  I still think it’s wild that Roger Cruz would be getting this much work in 2023, but I do like his art (it’s making me nostalgic for old issues of X-Man).

Giga #5 – I’d basically given up hope of ever seeing the end of Alex Paknadel and John Lê’s excellent series Giga.  This Vault book is at least a year late at this point, which means I had a hard time getting back into the story and remembering what this was all about.  Paknadel’s story about a society that lives inside the motionless giant robots that they now worship as gods played with some cool ideas, and with this issue, we learn the history of the Gigas, and reach closure.  John Lê’s art is very nice, although this issue seemed a little more cartoonish than I remembered the earlier issues being.  I’m glad this story got the chance to end properly, and now I’m hopeful that more issues of Ram V’s Radio Apocalypse might still materialize on the stands some day.

Immortal Sergeant #1 – I was a big fan of I Kill Giants, so when I saw that Joe Kelly and Ken Niimura were teaming up for a new book, it was an instant pull file addition for me.  The Sergeant in the title is retiring from the police force after a long career, but it’s very clear that he doesn’t really want to go.  The way he carries around a child’s shoe in an evidence bag suggests that there’s one last case he wants to solve.  This issue is spent mostly getting to know the Sergeant, and we get the hint that he has some unresolved issues with his son, who is coming to town for his retirement party.  As with IKG, Niimura’s art is expansive, with large panels but few details.  Kelly writes to his strengths, so the story just kind of unfolds in its own way, and I’m fine with that.  I’m feeling drawn into this story already.

Immortal X-Men #10 – This has consistently been the best of the X-books since its launch.  One of the things that makes it so good is the way that Kieron Gillen has managed to really get into the heads of each of the characters on the Quiet Council, and huanize them, but also lightly redesign or refine them.  Charles gets to narrate this issue, and we learn just how aware he is of the extent of damage he could do to the world with his gifts, if he so chose.  Sinister’s attack on the Council is addressed, and I like how Gillen leaves so much of the action as background, choosing to focus on the character development before anything else.  The last page of this issue genuinely surprised me, and has me looking forward to next week’s Sins of Sinister one-off, even though I’m pretty sick of one-shot event stuff; I’d prefer that it all just play out in this title.

Invincible Iron Man #2 – I think I’m getting drawn into Gerry Duggan’s new Iron Man run.  This issue has Tony struggling in life, and while he knows that someone is running a sophisticated campaign against him, the general public doesn’t.  Ironheart guest stars as Living Laser comes after Tony, and things continue to fall apart around him.  Juan Frigeri’s art is nice, and it seems like Duggan has something to say about the character.  I do wonder how many times Tony can lose and regain his company in one lifetime, but I’m trying to look past that.

Nature’s Labyrinth #3 – I’m so glad I took a chance on this Mad Cave series, because writer Zac Thompson and artist Bayleigh Underwood are having such a good time with it.  This is a weird title – some people have been dropped into a massive labyrinth island with automaton gun-toting animals, and lots of unnatural death traps.  In this issue, “Jane” deals with the fact that the man she’s partnered with to survive the labyrinth doesn’t seem to trust her, and a bunch of new players are introduced to the game.  I recently watched Alice in Borderland, a Japanese show that has some very similar DNA to this series, and I couldn’t help reading this issue as a companion piece to that series.  Underwood’s art is great, and Filya Bratukhin’s cover is gorgeous.

Resident Alien: The Book of Love #3 – We learn all about Download’s past as the mafia enforcers he ran from years ago come to town.  At the same time, Harry’s nurse gets close to finding out what’s been happening in a long-term care home.  I like how Peter Hogan’s characters have grown to the point that Harry, the alien doctor, is basically an afterthought in the series.  This title is always so good, in a very 80s TV drama kind of way.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #30 – If I’m being honest, this series has always been pretty mid, but I feel like it’s also been building to this issue, which has some actual emotional payoff, and sets up some big things.  Valance learns that his Imperial colleagues have been lying to him, and goes on a rampage that attracts the attention of Darth Vader himself.  I’m starting to like this book a lot more now.

Star Wars: Han Solo & Chewbacca #9 – We finally learn what is in this urn that Han and so many others have been chasing since this series began, as every group converges on Han and Chewie.  I’m enjoying this light-hearted series, but this issue reminds me of one of my biggest complaints about the Star Wars universe – why does everyone leave their ships with the doors wide open?  And why are they always surprised to come back and find someone in there?  Has this ever been addressed?

There’s Something Wrong With Patrick Todd #4 – I didn’t actually expect to ever see this comic, given Aftershock’s recent bankruptcy news.  I sincerely hope that everyone who made this book is getting paid for it.  This has been a great series by Ed Brisson and Gavin Guidry, about a teenager with the ability to control people’s minds (although it puts them in danger of having a stroke or becoming catatonic).  He’s being pursued by a psychopath who is immune to his ability, and now the body count is rising, just as the police detective that’s been pursuing Patrick catches up to him.  Brisson has plotted this book very tightly, and Guidry’s art is great.  I realized reading this issue that he reminds me a lot of Ryan Ottley, which is always a good thing.

What’s the Furthest Place From Here? #10 – Tyler Boss is back drawing this book, which is fantastic news.  While the last few issues have been prequels, this one backs up to the first issue of the series, and we learn why Sid left the Academy, and what happened to her after that.  This issue helps to fill in some gaps in the story, and further enriches my understanding of some of the mysteries of the strange world that Boss and Matthew Rosenberg have created in this series.  It’s a very very good comic that leans into its weirdness in ways that I love.  I don’t know if we’re going to continue with Sid’s story next issue or catch back up with the other main characters, but I’m good with either outcome, because I trust these storytellers.

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

Dark Web X-Men #3

Monkey Prince #10

Punisher #9

Wasp #1

Bargain Comics:

Marvel’s Voices: Legacy #1 – This 2021 one-shot anthology collects stories by Black creators, and while I appreciate the need for this, and agree with it, the limitations of the short stories kind of harm things here.  I think that with more space to tell their tales, things might have been more interesting.  I do love that Nnedi Okorafor and Chriscross used their story to highlight the EndSARS movement in Nigeria, and would be open to reading a whole miniseries about the Venom symbiote character involved in that fight (against police brutality). 

In Memoriam

Jason Pearson – This week we learned of the passing of Jason Pearson last month.  I first came across Pearson’s work when he took over the Legion of Super-Heroes during the incredible Giffen/Bierbaum 5YL era, and I immediately loved it.  His cartoonish style didn’t exactly match with the way Giffen had been drawing the book, but it added a lot to the series.  I loved the way he redesigned some of the Subs, and he got to draw some very big issues, including the one where the Earth was destroyed, which I count as one of the most emotional comics I’ve ever read.  This was one of my all-time favourite runs in comics.  After that, he bounced around a lot, doing some memorable single issues (an Uncanny X-Men Annual stands out in my mind), and then created Body Bags, his own series.  I see now that his longest run was in Deadpool, which I don’t think I was aware of at the time.  His Loners series stands out for me too. Pearson was never a very prolific artist, but his style was always recognizable and something I could get excited about.  My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

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