The Best Comic of the Week:
Black Cloak #3 – I want to be on record as saying that the last time I was so excited about a new series, it was Saga. Kelly Thompson and Meredith McClaren have created a world as rich and complex as Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples’s, and have filled it with characters that are just as compelling. This issue has Phaedra and her partner continuing to investigate the death of Phaedra’s once-intended and next in line for the throne, and we see that the case is way more than it seemed at the beginning. As they investigate, we are taken on a tour of Kiros, the magical and strange city where this series is set, and we learn more about the different varieties of beings that live there. Thompson blends fantasy with police procedural very well, and dribbles out information to keep us going. McClaren’s art is very unique – it is a little cartoony, but also transmits just how serious the situation is here. I’m really impressed with this book, and can’t wait to see where it’s going.
All Against All #4 – I continue to be completely impressed with the work that Alex Paknadel and Caspar Wijngaard are doing in this series. They have created an oddball science fiction world to tell their story about family – biological and otherwise. The aliens that make up the cast of this book have been harvesting the DNA of Earth species for a while to build biological exoskeletons (they are parasitic jellyfish creatures) to help them win their war against an unspecified enemy. Helpless, the lone human in Director B’Tay’s habitat, is using his natural strength to dispatch his captors, while the Director and his daughter work towards a kind of reconciliation. Wijngaard’s art and colours are gorgeous and Paknadel again proves why I think he’s one of the most interesting writers in comics today.
Batman Incorporated #6 – Ed Brisson launches a new arc, drawn by Michele Bandini, which has Ghost-maker and his team investigating Professor Pyg, who has started rounding up fellow Bat-villains in an attempt to recover some stolen property. We get to see some more of the team’s dynamics, as characters get to spend a little more time together. I like the way Brisson is writing this book. There are almost too many characters in it, and despite some of them being around for many years, they aren’t very well developed, so I enjoy seeing their smaller moments as Brisson begins to build them up. Bandini’s artwork is nice, and while I personally hate Pyg, he does make an interesting villain for this type of story. I hope this book is around for a good while, as I see so much potential in it as it continues to grow.
Behold, Behemoth #4 – Tate Brombal continues to unfold this story with some more surprising revelations, while Nick Robles continues to impress with some stunning artwork. I really like how this series carries us through a pretty sudden Apocalypse, moving from the very beginning of it to the point where our main characters are trying to shut it down and fix the world. We learn what the cost of that is likely to be this month, and get a better sense of just how draining this experience has been for everyone. This is an impressive book.
Burning Man #1 – I think I’ve had enough of Bad Idea’s gimmicks. This series was announced as an occasional ongoing title, and my expectation was that more issues would come out at strange times. I was reluctant to pick this up, but was won over by Juan José Ryp’s art, and the thought that this might be the ‘good’ Peter Milligan. Both of those instincts were correct, and the story about a man who survives third degree burns only to slowly remember how he got them (there are demons and a trip to Hell involved) is compelling and gorgeous. Then you get to the last page and realize that the story is a form of Choose Your Own Adventure, only the story continues in the backup stories of other Bad Idea comics, some of which I hadn’t planned on reading, or I think haven’t been solicited yet. There will also be a Burning Man #2, but I think I’ve lost interest. I appreciate innovation in the comics field, but I also appreciate making stories easy to find, and this whole scarcity economy gimmick thing they are doing is very annoying. I can’t imagine they wouldn’t be more successful just by selling their books through normal channels without all the games, especially given the stable of talent they’ve amassed.
Captain America: Symbol of Truth #11 – Sam Wilson and the White Wolf throw down in this issue, in a fight that takes up most of the book. RB Silva’s art in this series is incredible now – it seems like he’s really leveled up, and the fight is so dynamically drawn and stunning. Jesus Aburtov, the colourist for this issue, gets a lot of the credit – everything in this issue is in flames, and Aburtov uses that to such a great effect. I’ve had my reservations about both of the current Cap series, but this one has been edging out the other one as my favourite. I’m a little concerned that we’re diving into a crossover with that other book, which will likely further delay whatever Tochi Onyebuchi has planned for this one, but I’m hopeful that her voice will come through as both Caps deal with this Outer Circle stuff.
Captain Marvel #47 – I think I’m going to be all in with this series, even after this current X-Men heavy arc ends. Black Cloak has confirmed for me that Kelly Thompson should be an on-sight writer for me, and reading this story mid-stream (this is my second issue, but it’s chapter five of the current story) supports that. I really like the way Thompson fits a scene between Hazmat and Rogue into this issue. In truth, I’m just really happy to be seeing a character like Hazmat get used again. This book is really good, even if I think the reason for Carol ending up stuck in a Brood device kind of dumb.
Danger Street #4 – Storylines are starting to converge, as Manhunter goes after one of the Green Team, Orion arrives on Earth looking for Starman and Warlord, and Creeper ends up defending one of the Outsiders, whoever they are. It feels like Tom King is writing this series as a mind exercise, forcing himself to use an unrelated group of characters to tell a story, and it’s working for me. I wasn’t sure at first, but I’m liking this book more and more. Of course, even if I didn’t like the story, I’d want to keep buying it for Jorge Fornés’s art.
Draculina: Blood Simple #2 – I’m still not sure if this is meant to be a miniseries or an ongoing title, but it looks like Priest is using it to address a number of threads that he’s developed over his years of writing Vampirella and its secondary titles. I wish his Vampirella Year One had finished before I read this, but I’m liking the way everything is converging while we are also being introduced to some new characters. The underwater man we saw last issue is making moves that look like they might end up sparking a gang war between the retired demon Belial and the angels who currently run the mob in Los Angeles. This series is giving me some Angel (the Joss Whedon character) vibes lately, but in a good way.
The Forged #1 – I didn’t know what to expect with this new series, co-written by Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann, because seeing their names attached to the project was enough for me to preorder it. This is an oversized book in every sense of the word – it has a wider magazine-size format, and is really thick page-count wise. The writers, with artist Mike Henderson have created a unique galaxy where mankind is ruled by an Eternal Empress. The Forged are cloned elite warrior women, and we follow a squad of them as the warship they are stationed on is sent on an unconventional recovery op to a deserted world. There’s a Cassandra on the ship – a cloned woman with psychic or mystic powers. Rucka and Trautmann do a lot of world building in this issue, and it takes a while for the reader to get up to speed on all of the particulars, but this is a very enjoyable book. Henderson’s art and designs are awe-inspiring, and I quickly felt like I wanted to know a lot more about this universe. I love the oversized formatting, although I wish the cover was on a more substantial stock. The backmatter in this issue is interesting as well, and while it’s not really a replacement for Lazarus, this new debut has me pretty excited to keep reading.
Hellcat #1 – I enjoyed Patsy Walker’s recent appearances in Iron Man, so was curious to see what Christopher Cantwell had in store for her in a solo miniseries. It seems that since moving to San Francisco, Patsy’s met a new man (a former boyfriend of her friend Hedy), and he’s now been viciously murdered. Patsy is a suspect, but her own investigation is leading her towards a mostly-forgotten Marvel 90’s hero. Alex Lins is the artist on this series, and his art is great. I love how Hellcat’s costume appears kind of loose-fitting, and how the general vibe reminds me of an underground aesthetic we don’t see so often in mainstream comics lately. I’m interested in the story, but it really is the art that’s going to have me coming back each month.
Immoral X-Men #2 – It makes sense that the best parts of the Sins of Sinister event would be the ones written by Kieron Gillen, the architect of this little event. One hundred years after Sinister took over Krakoa, the Quiet Council is just about done with him, at least Hope is. We see how their war for intergalactic dominance is going, and Hope has to learn a hard lesson. I’ve gotten tired of future-based stories, but I’m liking the way this event has been constructed.
Justice Society of America #3 – I guess that Geoff Johns cleared up some things with this issue, more or less making it clear that this series is taking place in the main DCU, with Huntress having come from the future. This issue has her speaking with the JSA of today, although I’m a little confused about Dr. Mid-Nite and Wildcat being there (I guess they came back to life during some of the Lazarus stuff?). I’m interested in this book, but do wish it had been given to someone other than Johns, who is just not a clear writer anymore. Mike Janín’s art is gorgeous, and I’m happy to see Jerry Ordway drawing some pages.
Kaya #6 – Wes Craig’s Kaya has been a delight, but this issue stands out as being pretty different. Between each arc, Craig plans on telling a one-off story, and providing some extras, that won’t be collected in any of the series’s trades. This issue tells the story of how Kaya got her magical metal arm, and it’s pretty unexpected. It also helps show why she’s so skeptical of her brother’s belief in his own magical potential. As always, Craig’s art is fantastic. There’s also a cute backup story by Al Gofa which I enjoyed. I love when creators reward monthly readers, and think it’s cool that Craig is going to be doing this regularly.
Little Monsters #11 – This issue is very decompressed, but also pretty effective as the other vampires learn the truth about the elders, and the human who has taken one of the vampires prisoner prepares to deal with the others. I love the work that Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen are doing with this book.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man #4 – New writer Cody Ziglar is really not cutting Miles any breaks, as this new villain, Rabble, who really has a lot of hate for him, has kidnapped his friends, and is now targeting his parents and baby sister. There’s a lot happening in this book, and Federico Vicentini’s very busy, kinetic art matches the writing very well. This title is showing promise, which I was concerned about when it relaunched. I think it’s in good hands.
Spy Superb #3 – Matt Kindt has another espionage masterpiece under his belt. He’s had a long career of subverting the spy genre, always looking for offbeat angles to bring to his writing, and he also has a long history of outdoing himself. In this three-issue oversized miniseries, the Spy Superb is the useful idiot. An organization has been using unknowing patsies to complete missions for years, and attributing their work to a single individual, the Spy Superb. Now the entire program is in danger of being revealed, as a Chinese triple agent and a Russian assassin have caught up with the latest Spy Superb, a failed writer with a ridiculous ability to delude himself into overestimating his own greatness. The conclusion to this story is very satisfying, and as always, it’s great to see Kindt’s art. I love that Dark Horse supports putting out these unconventional stories.
Superman: Lost #1 – If you’ve spent any time reading my columns on this site, you’ll know that Priest is just about my favourite working comics writer, and I’ll buy anything with his name attached to it (he’s gotten me to read Vampirella for a few years now – see above). I was surprised to see that he is collaborating with his Deathstroke artist, Carlos Pagulayan, again on a ten-issue Superman series that might be out of continuity (who can tell with DC these days?). This first issue has Superman and the Justice League responding to an emergency involving a Chinese nuclear submarine in waters where they shouldn’t be, but quickly turns into a story about a black hole, and Superman being lost in space for some twenty years. Priest stories are rarely as linear as this issue is, but we also see that Superman returns from his twenty year journey on the same night he left, so I suspect that things are going to be getting weird soon enough. Pagulayan’s art is always nice, and this issue gives me a bit of a Bryan Hitch vibe, which was unexpected. I’m intrigued to see where Priest takes this, and I find it weird that I’m buying the most Superman titles I’ve ever bought in my life right now.
Werewolf X The Society of Fearless Frontiersmen #1 – This is the last of my small stack of Bad Idea comics, and it is pretty good. Peter Milligan and Robert Gill tell the story of Moko, a Salak man whose people have been subsumed by the expansion of the Soviet Union. Moko was meant to grow up to fight werewolves as a shaman to his people, but his cowardice at the age of ten left him untrained. Now, though, Hitler has managed to use a group of werewolves against the Russians, and the Soviets want Moko’s help. The story is written very well, and Gill’s art looks great in black and white. I liked this story, and the way the backup story, featuring the Society of Fearless Frontiersmen ended up connecting to it. Bad Idea does put out some good comics, but I wish they spent more time on editorial oversight (there’s a page where a note to stat in Moko’s face from a different panel was printed instead of the intended art) than on thinking up dumb gimmicks to promote their books.
WildC.A.T.S #5 – I guess this isn’t a six-issue miniseries anymore, as I’ve seen solicitations for issues beyond that now. This series has been picking up, as we’ve gotten to know the various characters that make up the main team, the support team, and the Seven Soldiers public facing team. In this issue, the CAT team tries to figure out how and why Grifter died, with Ladytron not trusting that he’s dead. The Seven Soldiers end up watching a confrontation between Superman and Majestic that doesn’t go well. I like the approach that Matthew Rosenberg is taking with this book, even though I’m hella confused by the continuity of it – haven’t Superman and Majestic met before? I was also happy to see the return of Warblade. Stephen Segovia is doing some great work on this book.
Wolverine #31 – I think people can be forgiven for thinking that they’re reading X-Force instead of Wolverine with this current arc. Beast has gone rogue, and in this issue he steals X-Force’s base, revealing that it’s a gigantic organic Gundam suit, and heads out to achieve his own agenda, leaving X-Force to figure out what to do about it. I’m enjoying this story, and feel like it’s about time someone addresses the way Hank has been behaving, but it’s just strange to me that Ben Percy is having this play out in Wolverine instead of in X-Force. At the least, this should be a crossover between the two titles. I also feel like something this momentous should be better coordinated with some of the other X-titles. Juan José Ryp’s art looks so nice in this book.
The X-Cellent #1 – Peter Milligan and Michael Allred have returned with a new season of their series about narcissistic mutants at war with each other to gain dominance of the social media sphere. The X-Cellent, under the iron fist of Zeitgeist, are determined to destroy X-Statix’s reputation on their journey to greater stardom. It’s all a little silly, but Milligan and Allred make these unlikeable characters very compelling, and it’s hard to not get swept up in the story. I did kind of expect a closer connection to Krakoa and the events of the other X-books, but the earlier incarnations of X-Statix also seemed to mostly stay out of the rest of the Marvel Universe. I’m happy to see this back on the stands.
Comics I Would Have Bought If Comics Weren’t So Expensive:
Bishop War College #2
The Week in Music:
Young Fathers – Heavy Heavy – I was really happy to see the Young Fathers come out with a new album after a pretty long wait. This trio from Scotland makes pretty unique music. It’s dancy electronic music that incorporates African rhythms into its propulsive force, with songs that build to ecstatic crescendos that also sound very dirty and rough. I’m hoping that they’ll be touring this album, as the last time I saw them play live was incredible.
Jonah Yano – Portrait of a Dog – I am in love with this album, which has local musical heroes BADBADNOTGOOD accompanying Yano on every track. Yano sings the kind of stripped-down r & b that reminds me of Charlotte Day Wilson, another singer who has benefited from proximity to BADBAD, but he takes things in different directions. The songwriting is lovely, and the music, which tends towards jazz, is gorgeous. I’m very happy I noticed this, as it didn’t appear to get much press.
Nosaj Thing – Continua – This was released a while ago, but it took me a while to get a physical copy. Nosaj Thing tries on a few different musical genres on this album, mostly sticking to the type of electronic music that makes me think of Bonobo or maybe Tycho. It’s a lovely album with a lot of guest appearances. Duval Timothy, serpentwithfeet, Sam Gendel, Toro Y Moi, Eyedress, and even Pink Siifu turn up, among others, and we’re given a varied and exciting collection of downtempo dance music and electronic explorations.
Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhummad, Phil Ranelin, & Wendell Harrison – Jazz is Dead 16 – The latest installment of the Jazz Is Dead series brings with it trombonist Phil Ranelin and sax/clarinet player Wendell Harrison. This is another example of masterful jamming, at the level of quality I always expect from Younge and Muhammad. I love this series.
MIKE – Beware of the Monkey – MIKE is a rapper I’ve been aware of, but haven’t given a lot of thought to before going to see him perform the other night, where I picked up this album. I’m really impressed by it – it’s got some great sample-based beats (I think he does all of his own production), and his rhymes are introspective and smart. His live show was really impressive, and I’m glad to have this souvenir.