The Weekly Round-Up #742 w/ Fire Power #30, Ultimate Spider-Man #2, Batman #144 and more

Columns, Top Story


Fire Power #30 – When this series first launched, with an OGN and a Free Comic Book Day special, I’d planned on skipping it, despite being a huge fan of both Robert Kirkman and Chris Samnee. Something about it gave me YA Avatar The Last Airbender knock-off vibes, and I was trying to cut back on my pullfile. Then I read the FCBD issue, and immediately went back for the OGN, and have been hooked ever since. The story ends in this oversized, squarebound issue, and I know I’m going to miss it. Kirkman and Samnee created a rich world of secret kung fu societies, a massive threat to the planet, and at its centre, a mix of biological and found family that was incredibly endearing. Samnee put in the best work of his career, giving us fluid and exciting fight scenes, but grounding everything in the lives of the very likeable cast. There are moments of this series that I found very emotional, as Owen learned the truth about his parents, his mentor, and his relationships with his wife and children. The series ends nicely, and this last issue has some final exciting moments. If you haven’t read it, I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Animal Pound #2 – Tom King and Peter Gross are updating George Orwell’s Animal Farm with this story about a group of animals – dogs, cats, and rabbits – who have taken over the pound where they were being kept. Now that the revolution is over, and it seems the humans have just walked away, the animals need to figure out how to live together, and manage their dwindling food supplies. When one dog eats a rabbit, the community faces its first crisis. King leans into the political aspects of this story with this issue, as the representatives of each species need to figure out a governing structure they will all accept. Where Orwell dealt with communism, I’m not entirely sure what King is commenting on yet (the rabbits, being a third party, make easy comparisons to Democrats and Republicans difficult, but as a Canadian, I could see them as a form of the NDP, I just don’t think that’s what King is saying). The fact that one of the dogs is named Piggy suggests that there might be a Lord of the Flies thing happening soon, too. I’m enjoying this book, and I’m not usually drawn into animal stories. Gross is the right artist for this series, and it’s nice to see his work again after so long.

Batman 1

Batman #144 – The Joker Year One story closes off much better than it began, connecting the Joker’s first appearances to the demise of the Red Hood Gang and the rise of James Gordon in the GCPD. I’m still much more interested in the story Zdarsky is telling in the present in this series, and didn’t enjoy the future aspects of this tale, so more or less, I’m glad it’s done.

Bone Orchard: Tenement #9 – Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino give us some history on what this series is really all about, as it follows seven people through layers of a hellish dimension they entered through a tenement bathroom. I like this book best when it focuses on the relationships between the neighbours in the series, who don’t really know each other all that well, and lose interest when the mythos part of the Bone Orchard Mythos takes centre stage; this issue has both in equal measure, and runs longer than a typical issue. It looks like this all wraps up with the next issue, and I’m curious to see where Lemire takes these related miniseries next.

Captain Marvel #5 – Carol and Yuna manage to get away from the cosmic being that is trying to drain Carol’s energy, but it keeps sending Omen and Genis-Vell after her. I liked getting to know a little more about Yuna’s family, but am worried that there’s just not enough going on in Alyssa Wong’s run to keep me here. Of course, I felt the same way about the early issues of her Doctor Aphra series, and ended up loving it, so I’m going to give her more space to impress me.


Daredevil #6 – I like what Saladin Ahmed is doing with this series, but I’m starting to be alarmed by how many guest stars keep turning up. Daredevil does best on his own, or with his usual cast of supporting characters, with the occasional appearance by Spidey, Luke Cage, or Iron Fist. Doctor Strange and Wolverine are strange choices (especially in the middle of Fall of the House of X), but this book has been good. I really enjoy Aaron Kuder’s art, and how it takes me back to John Romita Jr.’s time on this title.

GODS #5 – Jonathan Hickman and Valerio Schiti continue to slowly roll out this book, as they work to establish a corner of the Marvel Universe for these characters and organizations. In this issue, Wyn needs Mia’s help to rescue someone from a strange facility where men are being tapped to solve a cosmic mystery of some sort. This book is giving me a pre-Vertigo feel, from the time when books like Hellblazer interacted with the DC Universe, but also felt so different from the rest of it. It looks like Hickman is going to be returning to the Black Swan concept he introduced in his Avengers run, but I’m still ultimately unsure what the long-term goal of this book is.


Green Lantern War Journal #6 – John’s fight with the Revenant Queen leads to a bit of a power up for him, as he starts to figure out her powers and his. Phillip Kennedy Johnson makes a connection between this story and his incredible Action Comics Warworld storyline. I’m liking this book more and more with each issue, and hope that it, and artist Montos, stick around for a while. There’s a lot of potential in this book.

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1 – It took me a really long time to get into this run by Collin Kelly and Jackson Lanzing, and were it not for Kev Walker’s incredible art, I would have dropped it. Now that it their arc is over though, I’m left wondering why the Guardians can’t maintain an ongoing series in the current comics environment. I think part of the problem is that the MCU has tainted the property, making it too jokey and whimsical. Al Ewing’s run was wonderful, and Lanzing and Kelly ditched all of it for this weird Western take. Anyway, I would read just about anything Walker does, and am growing to like Kelly and Lanzing in some things (Outsiders is great), but this really didn’t work.

The Holy Roller #4 – After three issues of build up, we finally get to see Levi in his Holy Roller guise, as he moves about his childhood home town attacking racists with themed bowling balls. Rick Remender and his cowriters are playing up the Batman angle now, making this satirical comic more focused on vigilantes than it was at the beginning. It works, and feels appropriate in the runup to the next American election. I imagine the depiction of white nationalists in this series is going to anger some people who already spend too much of their life being angry.

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The Incredible Hulk #9 – Bruce and his companion end up in New Orleans, where things are getting stranger, and it seems that the Eldest is one step ahead of him. Danny Earls drew this issue, and his style fits the story well, making it creepy and strange. This is not a typical Marvel book under Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s pen, and it really makes it stand out as something special.

Nights #5 – Nights continues to be one of my favourite comics, even if I often find it frustrating. In this issue, Vince and his friends take Gray to a nighttime water park, and Vince’s attempt to share his feelings with her don’t really go anywhere, because she has some weird, hard to understand stuff happening in her brain. This book is inventive and unpredictable, and I’m continuously impressed by it. Wyatt Kennedy and Luigi Formisano are two creators I’m going to be checking for.

Nightwing #111 – Things have moved on from the Beast World stuff, and now it looks like Heartless might be operating in Gotham, which has Batman calling in Dick to help consult on a case. When Dick learns there’s an orphaned boy caught up in what’s happening, he feels connected and gets involved. Tom Taylor and Sam Basri do good work here, and the backup story was a nice surprise, with art by Francisco Francavilla. 


Predator: The Last Hunt #1 – Ed Brisson returns to Theta and Paolo’s story, although now it’s been years since they’ve come across a Predator, and they worry that they will never complete their mission. Then they stumble on a large, crashed and abandoned Predator vessel that is connected to what they learned in the last Predator series. Brisson has done a good job of putting a human face on this series (something that’s not always easily done), and I’m glad that we’re getting another go around with these characters. Francesco Mana, who is new to me, does a fine job on the art. While this is the ‘Last Hunt’, I wonder if this is also it for Marvel’s foray into these books.

Rise of the Powers of X #2 – I’m not fully understanding everything that Kieron Gillen is doing in this series yet, as he has Xavier making his move against both Orchis and the Dominion that is Nathaniel Essex (a lot of this Dominion stuff has confused me all along). In typical Xavier fashion, it seems that there are nested layers of betrayal at work, as he works his own agendas and manipulates the people who love him, yet again. Some day, everyone associated with the X-Men will recognize how toxic he is, but I guess that’s not today. I trust Gillen to make this all pay off, and I do hope that Rapustin IV gets to stick around in the post-Krakoan era, because she’s pretty cool.


The Sickness #4 – Lonnie Nadler and Jenna Cha’s period mental health horror series is getting steadily more intense. In the 1940s thread of the story, the young boy who is experiencing hallucinations gains the support of his friends, in an unlikely attempt to confront his problem head on. In the 1950s, the doctor continues to dig deeper and deeper into the case that only he can see. This book is creepy, but unfolding slowly, giving the reader a lot of space to think about what’s going on. Cha’s art is often disturbing, but in a good way.

The Six Fingers #1 – I picked up One Hand the other week, because Ram V is on one hell of a run, but hadn’t realized that this series, by Dan Watters and Sumit Kumar is a companion to that book, continuing the working relationship V and Watters have been using in Detective Comics for the last year or more. This issue focuses on Johannes, a talented archeology student who is struggling in most other aspects of his life. He manages to botch a major proposal at school, get fired from his job, and get dumped all on the same day, and then discovers that he is connected to what’s happening in the other book, by way of a bizarre ritual murder. I’m intrigued, and like Kumar’s art, so I’ll stick with this.


Star Wars #43 – Luke finishes up his mission to try to heal a kyber crystal, as Charles Soule works to explain the leveling up we saw in Luke at the start of Return of the Jedi. This is a good issue, but I’m ready to get into the Trial of Lando Calrissian next month.

Superman #11 – Joshua Williamson is getting ready to wrap up the Dr. Pharm/Mr. Graft plotline, it seems, as their Lex Luthor Revenge Squad sets about turning Superman to their side, and putting a particularly dastardly plot of Lex’s into action. I’ve been enjoying this series, but I’m ready to move on from these two villains, as they aren’t all that interesting. David Baldeon’s art is a bit of a strange choice for this issue, like when Jon Bogdanove’s Superman stood in such stark contrast to the other people drawing him at the time. It’s not bad, but it’s a little too cartoonish for the vibe of the story.

Titans #8 – In the wake of Beast World, the Titans are on the receiving end of a lot of scrutiny and distrust, which is having an impact on Gar. Raven is going through some stuff (honestly, one of the most consistent things in Titans history is how little I like her character), and that’s going to have a lasting impact on the team. I like how Tom Taylor acknowledges what’s happening in Wonder Woman’s book, and am really happy to see this level of collaboration across the DC line.

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Ultimate Spider-Man #2 – I am liking this new take on Spider-Man. Jonathan Hickman has flipped things on its head, giving us a Peter Parker who is not crippled by guilt, but instead wrestling with the knowledge that he should have been a hero years ago and is trying to make up for lost time. I like how Hickman is rolling out the Ultimate Universe through this series, giving us a couple of new takes on classic villains. I also like that we get to see a stable Peter/Mary Jane relationship, and Peter as a father is also interesting. The working partnership of Jonah Jameson and Ben Parker is also pretty enjoyable. Marco Checchetto is doing great work here too. I originally considered not bothering with this, but am glad that I picked it up.

Unnatural Order #3 – Murphy’s association with the various warriors and mages that make up his group gets more strained as they continue to disagree on whether or not they are in the right world. What they can agree upon is that they need to stop the Druid, so they agree to Murphy’s plan to travel to the location of the Hadron Collider, where they think he might be. It’s nice to see Christopher Yost’s name on a comic again, and I love Val Rodrigues’s art; I can see it appearing in a Big Two title soon.


Vampirella/Dracula: Rage #5 – It’s weird to me that Priest’s next Vampirella series, which is starting its numbering with issue #666 has already been released while there’s still an issue to go in this series (so I haven’t read it yet). I’m not sure what the delay has been, but I find myself getting a lot out of this book, as Vampirella tracks down the last cultist who was present at the death of her son, but also learns just what Dracula has been trying to use her and Victory for. Priest’s non-linear storytelling works here, but requires close reading. Christian Rosado’s art is very nice.

Wonder Woman #6 – The Sovereign has Sarge Steel attack Wonder Woman with the team of villains he assembled, and it results in a pretty big fight lasting most of the issue. I’ve been enjoying Tom King’s storyline, but am realizing how his habit of letting other characters narrate each issue minimizes Diana’s role in her own book. I would like to get to know her a little better. Still, Daniel Sampere’s work is great, and the book is pretty exciting. I don’t like the backup stories though; this one has Damian and Jon at ages that don’t make any sense to me, and it throws me out of the story quickly.

X Force

X-Force #49 – Sage brought back an earlier version of Beast, and now he appears to have gone rogue too, at least as far as X-Force is concerned, and they believe he’s trying to rendezvous with the current Beast, who is working on some kind of nuclear-powered weapon. It’s nice seeing the old Hank back, and having him reach out to Wonder Man is a nice touch, taking us back to a time that feels long-forgotten in the current Marvel Universe. I will not be upset if this Hank sticks around after Fall of the House of X…

Zorro: Man of the Dead #2 – Sean Murphy’s revamp of the Zorro legend continues to impress me. Diego has taken on the guise of the mythical vigilante, and is determined to help his sister save their village from the narcos who threaten it (and whom she works for). Murphy is good at big, wild action sequences, and we get a couple in this issue. I’m really enjoying getting so much Murphy work out of Massive Comics, and am enjoying this series a lot. I’ve always thought that Zorro was cool, but haven’t engaged with him much.

Music 1

Blockhead – The Aux – Blockhead is a venerable producer who has been in the underground for years. I’ve liked some of his projects, and haven’t really felt others, but The Aux might just be his masterpiece. He’s assembled a who’s who of the current underground scene, anchoring the album with appearances by billy woods (who also appears on an Armand Hammer track alongside E L U C I D). Also on here twice are Bruiser Wolf and Aesop Rock, and we get one-off appearances by Danny Brown, Navy Blue, Open Mike Eagle, Quelle Chris, Defcee, and Breeze Brewin. Fellow Backwoodz Studioz artists ShrapKnel, AKAI SOLO, and Fatboi Sheriff turn up, as do up-and-comers like Brian Ennals, and RXK Nephew, among a few others who are new to me (UglyFrank and Creaturenomics). The overall effect of this album is like the cover photo, which shows a bunch of tangled wires (shout out Alexander Richter for another great Backwoodz cover); these emcees voices tangle up in your mind, and you come away with a sense of great abundance and the knowledge that this corner of hiphop is in a very good place.

Omakase – Mello Music Group is one of the best independent hiphop labels, and every couple of years they drop these compilations featuring their lineup (Marlowe, Denmark Vessey, Quelle Chris), and they have a Japanese-themed title. This time around, London jazz keyboard god Kamaal Williams blessed the comp with a couple of instrumental tracks that made it a must-buy for me. There’s some nice stuff on here, but I wish Oddisee was still on this label.

Music 2

Future Islands – People Who Aren’t There Anymore – I became a big fan of Future Island’s frontman, Sam Herring, through his work with the fantastic band BADBADNOTGOOD, and have followed his career ever since. I’ve most listened to Hemlock Ernst, his rap persona, but also really appreciate his singing voice (he provided the hook to billy woods’s song Facetime), and to a lesser extent, his synth pop work with Future Islands. This album is bright and poppy, taking me back to earlier eras, but it also feels like it belongs in 2024. Does that mean anything? I don’t know; I like Sam and am happy to get a concentrated chunk of his work (but remain hopeful that Hemlock Ernst will be opening for them when I see them this spring).

Joel Ross – Nublues – Vibraphonist Joel Ross returns with another lovely album. I read about how this is his approach to the blues, but I don’t really understand how that works when listening to this; it doesn’t sound dissimilar to his other recent albums, and all of the tracks are instrumental. He’s joined by Immanuel Wilkins on the alto sax, and some other talented folk I’m not as familiar with. This is definitely Blue Note Core, so if that’s your thing, you’ll like this.

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