The Weekly Round-Up #751 w/ Rise of the Powers of X #4, GODS #7, Wonder Woman #8, & more…

Columns, Top Story

I’m still not caught up on my weekly reading, and am going to have to skip publishing a column next week. Life is just really busy these days; hopefully it’ll all get ironed out by mid-May. (I’m also going to be missing FCBD, which will be a first for me).


The Forged #7 – I love this series, and am so happy to see it back for another arc. This book is published in an over-sized format that comes with a gigantic amount of story and some cool back-matter. With this issue, Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann have the Forged team joining two others in an anomalous area of space, testing out some new gear in an attempt to figure out what their new extra-dimensional enemies, the Phobes, are up to. There’s lots of space in this book for more character development, palace intrigue, and strange science. Mike Henderson’s art is terrific, as he makes this strange science fiction world so believable. It’s a really good series.

Animal Pound #3 – Tom King and Peter Gross are really impressing me with their reworking of Orwell’s Animal Farm for the modern day. The animals who won their freedom by taking over their pound are settling into long years of coexistence, and this issue charts their collective progress. Titan, their first elected leader, serves two terms, as does Fifi, the other main leader of the revolution. After her terms are up, the community undergoes some changes, but it’s when a loud, brash, and comedic populist takes over that things really start to change. Orwell used his book to show the dangers of communism, but it wasn’t until Piggy received more of the spotlight that I finally figured out that King is poking fun at American democracy and the steady degradation of it in the 21st century (I’d originally assumed this was a book about the struggles of achieving racial equality). King’s writing is sharp, and Gross’s art is perfect. I think this might be the best thing I’ve seen from him.


Blow Away #1 – I’m always willing to check out a book written by Zac Thompson, especially if it’s at Boom!, which is quickly becoming my favourite boutique publisher. Brynne is a nature photographer trying to get pictures of an elusive bird on remote Baffin Island. She’s been having a hard time, after more than a month of being alone on the barren rock. She starts watching a pair of climbers ascend Mount Asgard, and finds herself in a bit of a Hitchcock Rear Window scenario, only set in a very hostile environment. Thompson lets the story play out slowly, and Nicola Izzo does a great job of portraying what’s happening. Thompson and Izzo have me pretty intrigued with this book, and I’m already anticipating the next issue.

Captain Marvel #7 – Carol and her team continue to work to stop Genis-Vell, who has been taken over by a cosmic entity. This issue is big on action but makes space for family connections. Alyssa Wong’s run is going well, but I would like to see more of a focus on Carol itself; this is feeling like a big shift from Kelly Thompson’s tenure with Carol.


Dawnrunner #2 – This new series by Ram V has really caught my attention with this second issue. The first had a lot of heavy work to do to set up the story, but with this issue, we get to know Anita, the Iron King pilot, better. We also learn why she had visions while fighting the monstrous creature that she and the other Iron King pilots fight for entertainment. V is very good at developing characters in positions of moral quandary, and we see that there are a number of complicated things happening in this world. Artist Evan Cagle does a phenomenal job on this book – I’m surprised I’ve not heard his name before, and assume he’ll be a star soon. This is a solid series.

Dead X-Men #4 – I’d be curious to see just what Steve Foxe was given when assigned this miniseries that is completely constrained by what happens in the Rise of the Powers of X miniseries. I’m not sure if this was essential reading or not, nor am I entirely sure what all happened as the team faced off against the alternate reality Moira and maybe found an alternative to whatever foul nonsense Charles Xavier was planning in the main timeline. This was a deeply weird series. 


Detective Comics #1084 – Ram V brings Batman back to Gotham, where the Orgham’s reality engine has made the people forget him. This series, under V and his growing stable of artist collaborators, is not getting enough credit for being amazing. It’s a slow-moving Batman story, that is being executed meticulously. Javier Fernandez does a good job of showing the “new” Gotham as a place of light, and Dave McCaig’s choice of colours really underlines that point. I was excited to see a backup story by Alex Paknadel, a writer I like a great deal.

The Displaced #3 – Ed Brisson continues to raise the stakes in this series, as the survivors of the disappearance of the town of Oshawa continue to adjust to their new circumstances. The world has forgotten them, their missing loved ones, and their entire city, and if they separate from one another, they too will forget one another. This means that they can rob with impunity, but that is not the preferred way of handling things, causing tension in the group. The old guy who has more knowledge of what’s happening than the rest of them is starting to lose his sanity. This is an interesting story, perfect for people who loved the early seasons of Lost. I think I’ve finally gotten past the humour I find in Brisson’s choice of city to have disappear (if you live in the GTA, you’d find it funny too) and am seeing this story for the impressive display of storytelling that it is.


GODS #7 – I have to admit that since learning that this series is ending, my interest in connecting the clues and trying to figure out where Jonathan Hickman is taking this story has waned a lot. I thought it odd that he retconned the existence of two large cosmic orders, and now don’t really care what they’re on about with regards to the In-Betweener or whatever. This issue, which has Wyn’s assistant Dimitri in the spotlight, is a well-executed comic. I just don’t have a lot of investment in the story anymore. I’m not sure if the book is being canceled due to low sales, or just more wanderlust (fecklessness?) on Hickman’s part; it does make me thankful that the Ultimate books have more writers involved, and makes me less likely to bother with whatever his next project is.

Green Lantern War Journal #8 – John is trapped in a distant part of space, while the Radiant Dead go after his mother on Earth and his new ally turns to Guy Gardner for help. Phillip Kennedy Johnson is telling a large tale in this series that I do find pretty interesting. Montos’s art is very nice. This is a really solid second-tier DC book.

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Miles Morales: Spider-Man #19 – Miles wraps up his fight with Rabble, which gets really pretty brutal. He takes a lot of personal damage, which he doesn’t seem too concerned with, and the large number of characters from the last issue don’t really do a whole lot. I think I need to admit to myself that I’m not really enjoying Cody Ziglar’s writing on this book, which is starting to feel a little too 90s for me, with its constant reliance on unexplained power-ups. I think that Frederico Vicentini’s art is also part of the problem, because I find the story-telling very hard to follow. Each individual panel is lovely, but they don’t work well together.

Rare Flavours #5 – I love so much about Boom! these days, especially the way they’ve filled the gap left by Vertigo and ten year’s ago Image Comics. Rare Flavours is definitely a rare type of book – it’s a post-Bourdain food travelog story about an Indian demon, traditional dishes, film, and the demon hunters who pursue our central character. This issue largely reads like the final installment, but it isn’t, which is pretty interesting to me. Ram V has taken an unconventional approach to storytelling with this series, and artist Felipe Andrade, who makes excellent use of washed-out colours, is the perfect collaborator. This is one of my favourite books this year.


Rise of the Powers of X #4 – I don’t see that Charles Xavier will be a useable character after the end of this series and the Krakoan era. This issue has him selling out humanity to try to protect mutants from the Orchis AIs, while Rachel and Rasputin do their best to work towards protecting everyone from the Dominion. Where I’m finding Fall of the House of X to be a bit of a slog lately, I’m very much invested in watching Kieron Gillen bring together all of the threads of his bigger story. He and RB Silva work very well together, and this issue is full of cool visuals. Two characters I’m really going to miss as this era ends are Exodus and Mister Sinister; they are both written so well by Gillen, and are the most compelling people in his X-series.

Titans #10 – Raven’s brother attacks the Titans in an attempt to take her place as their father’s favourite, but it seems even he’s not prepared for how brutal Raven has become recently. This is a quick read of an issue, but an enjoyable one.

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Ultimate Spider-Man #4 – The Parkers go out for dinner with Harry Osborn and his wife, Gwen Stacey, in this talking-heads issue. It’s interesting, in that it sets up the parameters for Peter’s new friendship, and brings Gwen into the story in an unexpected way. This is a solid issue – Hickman can do the dinner conversation thing better than Bendis did, and guest artist David Messina does a good job keeping the chat visually interesting.

Vampirella/Dracula: Rage #6 – This series fell so far behind that three issues of its subsequent series (see below) were released before it came out. I held off on reading those, assuming that the solicitation dates were the correct reading order, but the story in this book referenced things that have happened in that other book, so now I’m not sure. And with writer Priest’s habit of jumping around within his story, coupled with the long delay between issues, I was a little lost here. Vampirella and Victory have tracked Dracula to Drakulon, where they confront him, but end up mixing it up with another character from Priest’s run that we haven’t seen in a while. It’s all good – I like how Priest writes this book, but some reading order hints would be nice.  Now on to my Vampirella backlog…

Vampirella #666 – So, had I not waited to read this, the latest relaunch of Christopher Priest’s Vampirella saga, now being restored to its legacy numbering, I don’t think I would have been any less confused by it. Vampirella seems to be stuck in a bit of a Groundhogs Day scenario, where she keeps reliving the same day, or dreaming about it. Most strange is the fact that she’s happy and content, getting along well with Victory and her mother, happily married, and being fulfilled in her teaching job. Except for the fact that a blonde woman, dressed like her, whom she doesn’t recognize, keeps killing her. Priest is rejoined by Ergün Gündüz, his first artist on this series, and things look terrific. I’m curious to see what Priest has planned for the space vampire, and I have to say that I’m really happy he’s still writing this book. When he started, I figured we’d only get a good year out of it, but it just keeps going!


Wonder Woman #8 – Diana is the prisoner of the Sovereign, who has her bound in an Amazonian lasso other than her own. At the same time, she’s trapped in a vision of herself as a domestic housewife in the 50s, and it grates on her soul. This issue, and the last, did not really do it for me compared to the first half dozen issues of this series. I suspect that Tom King’s story is not quite moving quickly enough for me, and maybe my attention is starting to wander. I am definitely sick of the silly backup stories featuring Trinity that don’t make much sense timeline-wise.

W0rldtr33 #9 – As we learn more about how Gabriel set up his ability to shut down the Internet, his sister makes her move to recruit Silk to the side of the Undernet. James Tynion IV has built a really fascinating update on the classic hacker story, adding elements of horror, but then balancing them with excellent character work. I think this is among his best series. A lot of the credit for that also goes to artists Fernando Blanco and colourist Jordie Bellaire, who are able to make it very clear by looking at characters’ ages when the parts of the story are taking place; many artists struggle with de-aging characters in flashbacks.

Music 1

Four Tet – Three – On his latest album, legendary electronic artist Four Tet leans in to crafting warm and inviting environments in which his music unspools. You don’t really hear people talking about IDM anymore (because it’s kind of an insufferable name), but this is a fantastic example of it.

Ill Considered – Precipice – With this new album, the London jazz band Ill Considered show a calmer side compared to their more frenetic earlier albums. That said, this isn’t really calm music. They give a lot of space for Idris Rahman’s saxophone to lead the show, and it’s not always clear where he’s taking things. This is not really a casual listen, but it is an impressive one.

Music 2

Cassie Kinoshi’s seed. with NikNak & London Contemporary Orchestra – gratitude – I’d heard the Seed Ensemble before, but with this too-short album, Cassie Kinoshi takes it to a new level. The group is joined by turntablist NikNak and the London Contemporary Orchestra to play gratitude, a six-track composition full of swells and gigantic sounds. The album finishes off with the single track Smoke in the Sun which is as lovely. It’s hard for me to discern if this is more classical music or jazz, but it is a beautiful pair of compositions that really help improve my mood.

Shabazz Palaces – The Floss Vibes of Shabazz Vol. 1: Robed in Rareness & The Floss Vibes of Shabazz Vol. 2: Exotic Birds of Prey – You can always count on Shabazz Palaces to push the sound of indie hip hop a little, and that remains true on these, two (so far) short releases. These work more as a mixtape of sorts, featuring a number of artists I am unfamiliar with featuring or collaborating with Ishmael Butler. Truthfully, both discs are a little short and a little too all over the place to coalesce for me, but I still enjoy them.

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