The Weekly Round-Up #615 With Rorschach #12, Ninjak #3, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #4, Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1 & More!

The Weekly Round-Up #615 With Rorschach #12, Ninjak #3, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #4, Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1 & More!

James Fulton | September 20, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Rorschach #12 – I enjoy these series where Tom King takes an under-utilized character and explores their psyche for a year or so.  Vision and Mister Miracle were modern classics.  Strange Adventures has been great.  Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is off to a good start.  Rorschach has been different from those books from the beginning.  First off, the actual Rorschach never once appears in this comic, which is instead interested in exploring, in an oblique way, how he continues to impact the world of the Watchmen, through the paranoia and distrust that manifests itself in different parts of society.  Our investigator goes to the Presidential candidate whose attempted assassination he’s been looking into, ostensibly to report all that he’s found.  Things turn out a little differently than expected, and in a key moment, King and artist Jorge Fornés turn the camera away.  This book has relied a lot on the structural formalism King always brings to the table, but I’ve found it to be effective here in a way I haven’t seen before.  This is a very solid closing issue, even if it leaves us with more questions than answers.  I’m looking forward to the Human Target book King has launching soon.

Quick Takes:

Eternals: Thanos Rises #1 – I’m guessing that Esad Ribic needs a little time to catch up to things on the regular Eternals series, so Kieron Gillen has a couple of one-off stories coming out to help fill in some gaps.  In this one, he teams up with the always amazing Dustin Weaver to provide the backstory needed to explain why Thanos is the only Eternal to have been born of other Eternals.  I’ve never been a big follower of the Eternals, and realized that I’ve never given any thought to that issue before.  It’s a fine issue, with a lot of exposition.  It’s nice to see Weaver’s art, always.

Iron Man #12 – Tony has to deal with the automatic defences on Taa II, while also preparing for Krovac’s arrival.  I’m liking this run, and the idea that Tony is on morphine throughout the issue, but Angel Unzueta’s art is pretty muddy on many pages, making it a little hard to follow.  I think it’s coloured a little too darkly.

Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #4 – There’s a lot of muddy, dark colours in this week’s comics.  This book is a little hard to read too, because figures blur into the backgrounds in places.  I’m enjoying this series, but can’t help thinking that maybe Mark Millar is reaching the end of things to say about these characters, which is why he’s pulling in all sorts of new aliens.  I find that I’m mostly just interested in the pages featuring Hutch.

The Last Annihilation: Wakanda #1 – Bridging the end of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Black Panther and the next relaunch, which is happening soon, comes this issue, which has M’Baku (the intergalactic one), Shuri, Manifest, and Vibraxas getting involved in the fight against Dormammu in Shi’ar space.  It’s a good issue, with writer Evan narcisse doing his best to incorporate the new Wakanda with the larger Marvel universe.

Marauders #24 – A former associate of Emma’s comes looking for her on Arakko, hoping to reclaim the ship that Emma stole from him.  It’s nice to see Phil Noto moving over to this book after his Cable run; I really enjoy his art, and am happy to get regular doses of it.  This issue is a bit odd, and once again focuses on the accoutrements of the Marauders and how they got them, instead of working to build character.  It’s a crutch that Gerry Duggan relies on too often.

Ninjak #3 – I’m not sure why, if you’ve got an artist like Javier Pulido drawing a book, you’d use more traditional cover artists.  This book doesn’t really stand out on the stands, but inside, it looks amazing.  Valiant seems to have moved to an even thinner interior paper than what other companies are using, making this issue feel uncomfortably delicate.  I’m enjoying Pulido and Jeff Parker’s work on this book, but something about this issue felt off.

Primordial #1 – Fans of Department of Truth or The Manhattan Projects will be interested in this book, which tells an alternate history examining the cancelled American and Soviet space programs of the late 50s, after something strange happened after each country’s first test flight using animal subjects.  An engineer is hired to help dismantle the remains of Cape Canaveral in 1961, but stumbles on some secrets.  It’s cool to see Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino working together again (I never read their Joker comic, but liked Gideon Falls), and this looks like a promising start to this series.  I’m intrigued and drawn into the story already.

Scumbag #10 – The earlier issues of this book were more amusing.  I feel like Rick Remender is floundering a little with this, as he tries to poke fun at superhero team fights, and has moved away from the silly social commentary that made the first arc of this book so delightful.  I enjoy this comic still, but I think it’s lost its focus.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #16 – Vader’s attempts to chase down Luke Skywalker outside the Crimson Dawn party goes wrong when various factions make moves against him.  The War of the Bounty Hunters is starting to sprawl a little too much, but it’s still working for now.  I love Rafaelle Ienco’s artwork.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters – Boushh #1 – As a kid, during the first Star Wars trilogy, it was the bounty hunters that intrigued me the most.  Boba Fett was easily the coolest thing I’d ever seen, but I was also drawn to Boushh, and was shocked when they turned out to be Princess Leia.  I don’t know if Boushh, and the other Ubese exiles he’s with, have appeared in other Star Wars properties over the years or not (it’s strictly comics and movies for me), but when I saw he was getting his own one-off, I was intrigued.  Boushh and his crew are hired to go after Domina Tagge, a character from writer Alyssa Wong’s Doctor Aphra book.  I like that this book ties into Aphra’s series, as I’m hoping we’ll see more of Boushh there.  I also like that we don’t see him (them?) with his helmet off, preserving some future mystery.  This book has me wanting to know a lot more about Uba IV, and the society there.

Superman And The Authority #3 – I’m still not too clear on the purpose of this book, especially as, three quarters of the way into it, we are still just assembling the team.  I thought this was going to be tied in with the mainstream DCU continuity, but it’s not, or not entirely, and so I find myself spending a lot of time thinking about purpose while reading it.  It also doesn’t read or feel like a Grant Morrison book, which is disappointing.  It’s cool to see some of these characters (I love the Enchantress), but I’m left feeling cold.  This is the first miss in the DC books I’ve been reading since Infinite Frontiers.

The Swamp Thing #7 – I started reading this book because it was tying in to the Suicide Squad, but I’m starting to find it more interesting than that book.  Ram V has found a new angle on this character, making him a guilt-ridden son who has caused strife in his homeland by helping it open up to resource extraction from a corporation.  Mike Perkins’s art is fantastic in this book, and I like the way the Squad’s b-list is drawn a lot.

X-Men: Trial of Magneto #2 – This issue has a couple of surprising moments in it, as the Avengers come to Krakoa to retrieve Wanda’s body, making them the island nation’s first official visitors.  Many characters are acting strangely – it’s hard at this point to read Magneto’s actions, but also Xavier is being a little strange too.  Leah Williams is building on her excellent X-Factor run, and keeping a lot of balls in the air here.  I find it impossible to predict where any of this is headed, but I am enjoying the ride.  The last page left me confused, and excited for the next issue.  I’m sure Vision feels the same way…

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

Fantastic Four Life Story #4

Kang the Conqueror #2

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #614 With Mazebook #1, Defenders #2, Daredevil #34, Two Issues Of Star Wars & Suicide Squad & More! Plus Music & Movie Of The Week With A Memoriam!

The Weekly Round-Up #614 With Mazebook #1, Defenders #2, Daredevil #34, Two Issues Of Star Wars & Suicide Squad & More! Plus Music & Movie Of The Week With A Memoriam!

James Fulton | September 13, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Mazebook #1 – Jeff Lemire returns as a writer and artist in this first oversized issue to his latest miniseries.  Will is a building site inspector who lost his young daughter a decade before now, and lives trapped in memories of her while going about his monotonous routine.  Lemire really makes it easy to feel how lifeless and trapped Will is, his sadness suffusing each page.  When coworkers and neighbours try to talk to him, he avoids them, and seems very trapped in his unhappiness, at least until a late night phone call changes things.  This book is languorous in its pacing, but really draws you in.  I love when Lemire draws a book like this, with labyrinth paths connecting panels, and I love that it’s set in Toronto.

Quick Takes:

Daredevil #34 – I was surprised to learn in the last Marvel Previews that Chip Zdarsky’s Daredevil is ending soon (I thought that there was still a whole story to come about Elektra and the Hand; isn’t that why she’s trying to prove herself as Daredevil now?  And what about Izzy Libris and Murdock’s brother?).  This issue takes a few big steps towards getting us to that ending, as Matt reveals to Cole what he learned about the prison warden’s operation, and then learns about Bullseye’s moves, just as Elektra positions herself to fight him for what she assumes will be the last time.  This run has been great, and I’m left worrying that they are rushing the ending for some reason.

Deadly Class #48 – We see the last days of our favourite characters at King’s Dominion, as Marcus and the others attack the faculty.  This is an exciting issue that provides some closure, and reveals how deep the rift between Marcus and Saya ran at the end.  Wes Craig has done such incredible work in this series, and really packs a lot into each issue.  I miss the more humorous and optimistic early days of this series, but really love watching Rick Remender wrap the story up.

Defenders #2 – This whole series is an oddball, but it’s entertaining.  Al Ewing has this odd gathering of heroes back in the multiverse that existed before the current one, on Taa, the birthplace of Galactus.  Ewing has been working on ideas like this since at least his Ultimates runs, but I’m not yet sure why he’s included characters like Cloud or Harpy in this story, as they aren’t really doing anything.  Javier Rodríguez is the real star of this book, as he has a lot of fun with the art.  

Excellence #11 – I’m so happy to see a new issue of Excellence, which is one of my favourite Image books.  Spencer has learned his father has a sibling, so he tracks them down in his effort to learn more about his father’s choices and role in the world of the Aegis.  Revelations abound, while the Aegis continues to hunt for Spencer.  Ever since we’ve learned who is really in power in this world, this book has been hitting a little differently, leaving me to keep questioning what’s really happening behind the scenes.  Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph have created a very unique and special book here, and I’m so pleased to see it continue.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #14 – Aphra and Sana link up with Lucky and Ariole in the Crimson Dawn brig, and decide to work together to get free, and to mess up the organization’s plans.  Things have been picking up with this book, and the War of the Bounty Hunters has been a nice shot in the arm for it.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #4 – This event is moving pretty quickly.  Vader sends Han’s carbonite slab to his ship, and heads off to confront Luke in space.  This gives everyone (Leia and friends, Boba Fett, and the Hutts) the chance to try to regain what they believe should be their property.  We also finally get Dengar and Valance in this series, which means more actual bounty hunters.  I’m liking this event, but it was with this issue I realized it’s mis-named.  

Suicide Squad 2021 Annual #1 – This issue holds some surprises as we learn the truth behind Superboy’s identity, and Amanda Waller and the whole Squad end up going on the run.  We also see what Rick Flag has been up to since escaping Belle Reve.  This issue moves at a quick pace, but it also reveals a lot of the weaknesses of this series.  I don’t think Robbie Thompson has done a good enough job of making it clear just who Waller is in this Infinite Frontiers iteration.  Is she really trying to take over the world?  How has she accrued the ability to do all this work?  Who are her people?  There’s a doctor and a guard that seem to be recurring characters, but there’s been nowhere near enough done to develop them into recognizable supporting characters.  There’s a lot of potential in this book, which is why I’ve stayed with it, but it really lacks context.  I’ve just finished rereading John Ostrander’s classic Squad series, and this doesn’t hold a candle to it.

Suicide Squad #7 – It’s weird to get two issues of Suicide Squad in the same week (should be three, but my store was sold out of Swamp Thing).  Ambush Bug has been recruited for the team, which Waller is now keeping in a shared simulation between missions.  Ambush Bug is an annoying character that reminds me of Deadpool (I know he came first, but he’s not often interacted with the DCU, and has the same impact on books he guest stars in), and the comic relief angle feels a little out of place.  At the same time, his fourth wall breaking commentary does provide a few reminders of just what it is that Waller is up to.  The why is still lacking.  It also looks like this book is fixing to tie-in to the Shazam! miniseries, as the Squad goes after the Rock of Eternity.  I do like the coordination between DC’s books at the moment.

The Unbelievable Unteens #2 – It’s time to get to know the Unteens a little better, as Jack and Strobe start to track down the others to try to help them remember their former life.  We also get some older-style comics pages, showing us what life was like for the Unteens when they were heroes (there’s a real New Mutants vibe going on here).  Tyler Crooks’s art is great, although I prefer the modern day painted pages.  This might not be the most impressive book in the Black Hammer stable, but it’s enjoyable.

X-Force #23 – It’s interesting how much Hank McCoy has changed since the start of the Krakoan era.  This issue acknowledges that a little, when Hank once again puts himself at great risk by making a stupid decision while investigating one of the nesting doll Russian soldiers.  At the same time, Mikhail Rasputin gets ready to make his next move.  This book remains very unfocused and all over the place, and it gets annoying.

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

Batman Catwoman #7

Excalibur #23

Infinite Frontier #6

Ka-Zar Lord of the Savage Land #1

Last Flight Out #1

Movie of the Week:

Neptune Frost – I was fortunate enough to attend the North American premier of the film Neptune Frost at the Toronto International Film Festival, and I was blown away.  This movie was written and directed by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman, and is one of the most visually and narratively inventive things I’ve seen in years.  Roughly, this is a story about a Rwandan miner, Matalusa, who flees violence, connects with a group of activists who live in a village in another dimension, and meets Neptune, an intersex hacker.  Together, maybe with the help of a bird named Frost, they are able to take over the internet.  More or less.  It’s a little hard to follow the story in parts, but that doesn’t much matter, because the aesthetics and filmmaking are out of this world.  The movie is mostly in Kinyarwandan, and is a musical.  The music is mostly from Saul Williams’s last two albums – MartyrLoserKing (an absolute favourite of mine) and Encrypted & Vulnerable, but the songs are translated into Kinyarwandan, making them feel very different and fresh.  There is an intended graphic novel (Ronald Wimberly’s name was attached to it a few years ago), and room for more stories in this fascinating Afrofuturist universe.  This is the first I’ve been in a theatre in probably two years, and I’m so happy I got the chance to see this movie on a big screen.  It is all I’ve thought about since seeing it.

In Memoriam:

Michael K. Williams – The Wire ruined television for me.  Since that show finished, I’ve held every TV show I’ve watched to its standard, and I’ve been consistently let down ever since.  It was a brilliantly complex portrait of a living city that started as a cops vs. drug dealers police procedural that quickly made it clear that the people on either side of that conflict are complicated, nuanced beings, and that the status quo is deeply entrenched (maybe systemic is the better word).  Watching The Wire (always on DVD, because I never had HBO) opened my mind to concepts that are now common in the discourse – harm reduction, decriminalization, prison abolition, education reform, and reasons to distrust and defund the police.  This series showed how wealth, property, power, and the systems of oppression are connected, and how oppression in poor American cities, especially in the Black community, is intentional.

It also opened my eyes to new methods of telling stories and proved that characters on TV can be incredibly rich.  In addition to its incredible writing, the show was blessed with a stable of amazing actors who embedded so much humanity into their characters.  There are so many memorable performances, and so many careers were launched or amplified because of this show, but three have always stuck with me.  Michael B. Jordan’s Wallace is someone I still can’t think about without choking up.  Andre Royo’s Bubbles forever changed my opinion about people with substance abuse issues, and Michael K. Williams’s Omar blew my mind.

Omar was a guy who ripped off drug dealers, lived by a strict code, and over the course of five seasons, became the moral heart of the show.  He was brave, bold, funny, unpredictable, and incredibly strong.  I don’t know that there’s ever been a portrayal of a queer character on television like him before or since that show, but there was so much more to him.  

I haven’t seen Williams in a lot of other shows, so in my mind, he has stayed Omar (I do remember suffering some real cognitive dissonance when he appeared on Community for a few episodes).  Williams’s death this week hit me, and inspired me to start rewatching The Wire, which has been a gift.  

My condolences to his family, friends, and fans.  This one hurt.

The Week in Music:

Cochemea – Vol. 2: Baca Sewa – A Daptone Records album of Latin-indigenous music with a touch of African rhythms?  Cochemea, who has played in various Daptones bands, gave us a wonderful first album a couple of years ago, and now follows up with this lovely piece of work.  It’s a great late summer vibe.

Darktime Sunshine – Lore – It’s taken me forever to get a copy of this album.  Onry Ozzborn has a very unique voice and flow, and it rides Zavala’s beats very nicely.  There are some great features on here, most notably RAP Ferreira and Aesop Rock, and some thoughtful, introspective rap songs.  I’m glad I finally own this.

LowDown Brass Band – The Reel Sessions – When brass bands play hip hop, it’s always a lot of fun.  This Chicago band throws down on this album, which collects the songs they made, at the pace of one every two weeks, during lockdown.  It’s a vibe that I’ve been missing.

Tags: Michael K. Williams, RIP, The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 8/25/2021 – Echolands, Star Wars, Cable: Reloaded, Robin, Superman: Son Of Kal-El, Ninjak & More!

Pull List Roundtable 8/25/2021 – Echolands, Star Wars, Cable: Reloaded, Robin, Superman: Son Of Kal-El, Ninjak & More!

John Babos | August 30, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

It’s another big week!

Echolands – I’ve been a fan of JH Williams III’s art since the late 90s, and really enjoyed his run on Batwoman. I’m very much looking forward to this creator-owned series, which is going to be gorgeous.

I’m looking forward to new issues of Alien, Cable: Reloaded, Chu, Department of Truth, Die, Dune: House Atreides, Ninjak, Oblivion Song, Old Guard: Tales Through Time, Once and Future, Robin, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Superman: Son of Kal-El, That Texas Blood, Thor, United States of Captain America, Vampirella, and Wolverine.

John Babos

10 books this week.

Action Comics #1034
Batman/Superman #21
Cable Reloaded #1
Checkmate #3
Detective Comics #1042
Echolands #1
Marvels Voices Identity #1
Ninjak #2
Robin #5
Superman: Son of Kal-El #2

What did you pick up?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #611 With X-Men: Trial Of Magneto #1, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #3, Nightwing #83, Star Wars #16 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #611 With X-Men: Trial Of Magneto #1, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #3, Nightwing #83, Star Wars #16 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | August 23, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

X-Men: Trial of Magneto #1 – I was at first irritated when I learned that X-Factor was over, but then I saw that Leah Williams was writing this series, and that so many of the cast of that book would still be prominent in it.  I love having Magneto as a driving force on Krakoa.  I’ve really enjoyed his decades-long journey into becoming a better person, and I hate when he gets reverted back into being a tantrum-throwing bully or advocate of human genocide.  Williams is walking a fine line with this issue, but I’ll say right here that I don’t believe that Magneto killed Wanda, and I’m looking forward to watching how the various characters work their way through this case and figure out the truth of what happened.  I know that everyone this week is focusing on the fact that Jonathan Hickman is leaving the X-Men, and I don’t know the extent of his involvement in a book like this, but I trust that some of the X-writers are going to be just fine without him, and this book is a good example of how that is true.  I was very pleased with it.  I do hope that, once it’s over, X-Factor gets to return as a monthly title though.

Quick Takes:

Ascender #18 – Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen first introduced us to Tim-21 and his world in March of 2015 in Descender #1, and with this issue, that story is finally finished.  Throughout, each issue of Descender and Ascender have been absolutely gorgeous, thanks to the beautiful painted art of Nguyen.  His pastel tones gave beauty to the bleak worlds this series portrayed, and a real sense of humanity, even to the robotic characters.  Lemire wrote some memorable and likeable characters, and closed things off very nicely in this issue.  I’m sad to see this series go, but was in the mood for a happy ending when I read this. 

Gamma Flight #3 – The team finds themselves in a strange landscape in this issue, as we learn just who Dionne, the woman they saved from Skaar, is.  I’m enjoying this book a lot, as I like just about every character in it.  

Guardians of the Galaxy #17 – Al Ewing is just so good at big sweeping, multi-character stories, as shown here.  Nova’s still unhappy about Doctor Doom working with the team, but when facing a magical threat, it makes sense to have a magic user around.  This is a big issue with a lot of action, but it finds time for some decent character moments.  I’m not sure if I need to get the next few tie-ins or not (I mean, I’ll get the Cable one because I’ve been reading his series), but I look forward to seeing how this all ends next month.

Hero Trade: Passive/Aggressive – I’ve liked the Hero Trade backup stories that appeared in ENIAC, but never really got a full sense of what makes Hero Trade unique.  It seems like Matt Kindt is using the title to tell various dark stories in a generic superhero world.  This has a Batman-like hero called The Watch (I think) deal with the fact that Russians hacked his bank accounts.  Maybe it’s because David Lapham is the artist, but I kept expecting some kind of twist like we’d see in Stray Bullets.  Still, it was entertaining.  I also liked the backup story by Kindt and Klaus Janson about a criminal trying to go straight.  It’s been ages since I’ve seen new Janson art, so that was a treat.  I didn’t realize that Bad Idea made two different books with the same cover.  Honestly, I think that’s a cool gimmick, but I’m a little cheesed at the fact that I have probably missed the boat on getting the other comic, especially since they didn’t send the other one to any stores in the same state or province.  Whatever.

Hollow Heart #6 – This series has been a pretty unique one.  An experiment in super soldier cyborg technology has gone sideways after a lab tech decided to take the subject home and enter a relationship with him, which has all been a ruse for continuing experiments in a setting where the subject would be less resistant.  Things all fall apart at the end, and this exploration of loneliness and responsibility stays oddly touching.  I really liked this book, and look forward to seeing what Paul Allor and Paul Tucker might cook up next.

Iron Man #11 – I still find it strange that Chris Cantwell decided to pull Tony out of the storyline he’s in, and take him to another planet for a bit, but that all starts to make more sense with this issue, as we learn who is behind the abductions, and return to the Korvac plotline.  I like the way Cantwell writes Tony, and seems to be setting up a longer story for when Korvac is finished with.

Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #3 – Hutch is my favourite character in Jupiter’s Legacy, so it was nice to see him getting the lion’s share of this book, while the rest of it dealt with Chloe and what she’s doing in space.  This book is gorgeous – Tommy Lee Edwards is outdoing himself – but a little confusing, with a lot of different threads.  Not checking in with any of the other characters might be a mistake – I’m already having a hard time remember just who they all are.

Lazarus: Risen #6 – We’ve waited a long time for this comic to come out, but it was worth it.  Greg Rucka and Michael Lark have really embraced the expanded room that this quarterly (he said with a smirk) prestige format book allows.  Carlyle makes an overture of peace to Hock, resulting in a negotiation that Hock insists be attended by Carlyle’s wife, whom Forever meets for the first time.  We get a good reminder that all military and business conflicts are, at their core, personal, and learn a few things that we never knew before.  This book is brilliantly plotted, and Lark’s art is so clear and good.  I sincerely hope it’s not another year before we see the next issue of this, but I can wait, so long as the quality stays this high.

Marauders #23 – It’s cool that Tempo and Banshee are featured prominently in this issue.  We see what happens in Ireland when the supply of Krakoan flowers gets cut off, and when Verendi gets involved.  This was an entertaining issue.  I’d like to see more of Tempo and Banshee.  There are just so many great characters that, even with so many Krakoan titles being published, don’t get used nearly enough.

Moon Knight #2 – I’m intrigued by this new Moon Knight series.  Jed McKay has MK investigating a group of senior citizens who have been attacking people in the neighbourhood, which turns out to be connected to a larger plot he can’t quite see the shape of yet.  I like this take on Moon Knight, with Khonshu absent as a character.  

Nightwing #83 – I’m so glad I decided to jump onto Tom Taylor’s Nightwing.  In this issue, Dick, who has just inherited a sizeable amount of money from Alfred, announces his plans for this money.  It’s refreshing to see a superhero comic where the hero works to solve real world problems, such as lack of housing in cities, and I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.  Bruno Redondo’s art is great in this book – his actions sequences are thrilling, but he’s also really good at showing the weight of a scene like the one in which Dick talks about his plans with Superman.  I’m really impressed with a lot of what I’m seeing from DC right now, and this book is quickly becoming a favourite.

Sacred Six #12 – This companion book to Priest’s Vampirella run has always been a challenging read, weaving in and out of the main book’s continuity, but it was often interesting.  It ends with this issue, that squeezes a little too much story into it.  Some of the characters decide to stick around in Ashthorne, but with Priest’s Vampi run shutting down soon, I doubt we’ll see them again.  Does Dynamite maintain continuity from one relaunch to the next?  I don’t really understand how this company works, aside from their covers (which, let’s face it, is their entire business model).

Shazam! #2 – I’m glad I chose to pick this up.  Tim Sheridan, who is killing it on Teen Titans Academy, has Billy Batson heading to Hell to figure out where the Rock of Eternity is, and getting into conflict with the local boss, who has turned Hell into a version of Los Vegas.  It’s weird that the same thing has been happening at Marvel.  We get a surprise about Billy’s friend Dane in this issue.  I enjoyed it.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #3 – This event is fantastic.  Chewbacca throws down with Boba Fett, while Darth Vader fights Q’ira.  Luke Ross’s art is just great in this book, and the whole thing moves with a pace and level of excitement we rarely see in Marvel’s Star Wars comics.

Star Wars #16 – Continuing from the above issue, Charles Soule and Ramon Rosanas gives us some alternate looks at some of the same scenes, and goes further to flesh out Luke’s feelings about the coming confrontation with Vader.  This book has been great since this War event started.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #3 – While Supergirl and Ruthye continue to hunt down the criminal who killed Ruthye’s father, they find themselves in a town that previously appeared to live under a type of apartheid system, only now, all the purple inhabitants are missing.  Tom King and Bilquis Evely are providing us with some interesting adventures for the girl of steel, while also injecting just a touch of social commentary.  It’s an entertaining series, and Evely’s art is great.

Superman and the Authority #2 – Superman and Manchester Black continue to gather up their new team, recruiting Steel, Apollo, and the Midnighter, and then getting involved in something regarding the Enchantress.  I’m still very confused by this book, and where it stands in continuity, since it seems like it might be featuring the original version of Superman, who has been active since the middle of the 20th century, but acknowledges all prior continuity.  This is my biggest issue with DC books, especially since I know that the definitely mainstream Superman will be working with the Authority in Action Comics.  Grant Morrison is kind of going through the motions with this issue, which has four artists.  I’m not sure what I was expecting, but I’d hoped for something more dynamic than this.

Way of X #5 – I’ve found Simon Spurrier’s contribution to the growing body of Krakoan series interesting, and enjoyed this issue. Nightcrawler has been trying to reconcile Krakoan society with his beliefs, and try to figure out how to develop a belief system for the island nation.  Along the way, he’s tried to help a mutant called Lost, Fabian Cortez, and Legion, who has stumbled on the fact that Onslaught has returned.  This issue has Kurt figuring things out, but also having to face a massive threat that only he can stop.  It’s a little frustrating that this last issue carries into an Onslaught one-shot, but that just seems to be Marvel’s publishing model these days.  I’d happily buy an ongoing series written by Spurrier, but the less Legion, the better.

X-Corp #4 – I’m glad this is not an ongoing series, as I’m getting a little tired of watching everyone bicker over who gets to be on the X-Corp board, while Angel and Monet keep taking shots at each other.  I don’t really understand why it’s so important that Krakoa have such a tech company that would become as powerful as Apple (or, I guess, Stark?).  Nothing was ever really established with this series, and I find it odd that anyone would be willing to work with someone like Selene.  It just feels slapped together and a little out of place with the rest of the line.

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

Batman Catwoman #6

Home #5

Kang the Conqueror #1

Miles Morales Spider-Man Annual #1

The Week in Music:

Durand Jones & The Indications – Private Space – With this latest album, Durand Jones has decided to explore the higher ends of his vocal range, and that threw me a little.  This is a lovely, soulful album that I would love to see performed live some time.  It really works.

Emma-Jean Thackary – Yellow – This is a really hard album to describe, as Emma-Jean Thackray tries on a number of different styles, sometimes in the same song, over the course of Yellow.  I guess it can be described as a very British-sounding exploration of psychedelic jazz, blending the sounds of a brass band with a spiritual jazz aesthetic.  I like it, but I find I need to really pay attention when I’m listening, or I quickly get lost in it.

Amaro Freitas – Sankofa – I stumbled across this incredible jazz album by algorithm, and am so happy I did.  Freitas is an incredible piano player, and this album really showcases his virtuosity.  This thing is shocking and beautiful.  I’d love to see him play.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #609 With Seven To Eternity #17, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #15, Fire Power #14 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #609 With Seven To Eternity #17, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #15, Fire Power #14 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | August 9, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Seven to Eternity #17 – This series began in the fall of 2016, and since then, has consistently stood out as being completely unpredictable and stunningly beautiful.  Adam Osidis is a deeply conflicted man capable of betraying anyone is pursuit of his own delusions, who convinced himself that he, and he alone, could manage to protect his family, save the lives of millions, and be the only person who could end the threat of Garils, the Mud King.  This entire series has been built on his sense of hubris and his incredible talent for self-deception, and this issue ends pretty much the only way it could, kind of brutally.  Rick Remender made this book an uncomfortable one.  It’s hard to spend years reading about as flawed a person as Adam, and still find yourself rooting for him, while decrying his actions.  It took me a while to figure out this title – at the beginning, I was wrapped up in the depth of world building that Remender and Jerome Opeña engaged in to make this comic so unique, and didn’t really notice that Adam was not growing in positive ways.  And I think that, in addition to Opeña’s art, might be why I will treasure this series.  Compare it to Remender’s other recently concluded series, Low, which was built around Stel’s optimism.  In both books, a deeply unfamiliar world’s future hinged on an unlikely hero, but in this one, anyone who demonstrated the kind of hope that Stel devoted her life to, ended badly.  This final issue has a lot going on in it, and it is a heavy read.  I really liked this series, and am glad to see it through to its conclusion.  I remember looking at Opeña’s art in FEAR Agent, many years ago, and thinking that he’d grow to be a big name artist.  I don’t think I could have guessed at how impressive his work would become.  I cannot wait to see what he does next.  Now that this is done, I would love to go back and read it from the start in a short amount of time; I just think I need to wait a while, as this is heavy stuff.

Quick Takes:

Fire Power #14 – There has yet to be a slow issue of this series.  Even an issue, like this one, which spends half its time focusing on Owen’s family and life at home, can turn on a dime to involve dozens of sentient snakes, the return of dead girlfriends, and a kung fu basketball game.  Chris Samnee continues to make each and every issue stunning, and it’s clear that Robert Kirkman is having a ball writing this.

Hellions #14 – Tarn has come after Mister Sinister, as part of the fallout of the X of Swords event, and that leads to some chaos and some clarity on the changes that Wildchild, Nanny, and Orphan Maker underwent in that land.  This was a decent issue, if not a particularly memorable one.

Immortal Hulk #49 – For Al Ewing’s penultimate issue, we have Jackie writing the narrative as a piece of her reporting. Most of the issue is given over to another big fight between Hulk and the Avengers, even though he goes to them for the help of the Fantastic Four in reaching the place (Hell?) where Banner’s been taken.  This book is going on a brief hiatus before the fiftieth issue, and while I’m excited to see how it all ends, I don’t mind waiting as I know that Ewing and Joe Bennett have been giving this book everything they’ve got.

The Lot #2 – I’m pretty impressed with this horror series by Marguerite Bennett and Renato Guedes.  The story, about a studio lot where a deal was made with a malevolent demon decades before, is being handled in new ways, and Guedes’s mix of photography and art keeps things visually very interesting.  This comic is not like anything else Bad Idea has published so far, and it definitely has my interest.  I also liked the Hero Trade backup by Kindt and Lapham.  I’d have no problem with them expanding the concept into a proper series – it’s like a twisted Astro City.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #15 – There’s a lot that happens in this issue that is dependent on reading Doctor Aphra’s book.  This title is lagging a little compared to how the other titles are coinciding with the War of the Bounty Hunters.  I will say that I’m enjoying the buddy cop pairing of Dengar with Valance.  

Stillwater #9 – We are back in the present with this issue, as we learn what the children of Stillwater have been up to over the decades, and why they think that Daniel might be the one to help them.  At the same time, the Sheriff has been deposed, and Ted takes that as a chance for some payback, but as usual, he’s kind of ineffective.  Chip Zdarsky and Ramón Perez have put together a very interesting series, which is starting to move in some unexpected directions.

Suicide Squad #6 – I continue to find this series interesting, but I wish we had more of a handle on the characters.  So many of them are not very established, and now six issues in, it’s still hard to care about them.  I think Robbie Thompson needs to spend a little more time digging into everyone’s motivations.

Vampirella #22 – I found out this week that Priest’s run with Vampirella will be wrapping up soon, which explains why everything has been ramping up lately in the story.  Vampirella is back on Earth, and Shane is tracking down his family in our world, but not for a reunion.  Characters from Sacred Six are bleeding back into this book again, as Victory confronts Vampirella, and as Katie comes across the three teens that came from Drakulon.  This is getting a little confusing again.

X-Men #2 – There are some aliens who are competing to trash the Earth, so it looks like we’re going to keep getting these stories where some threat (the Annihilation Wave, this time) comes at the Earth, and the X-Men respond.  Gerry Duggan seems determined in this issue to give everyone a bit of character space, so we get Sunfire explaining his sense of self-worth to some humans.  Things feel a little forced in this issue, but I hope it’s just growing pains, as Duggan gets used to writing a more focused book after spending so much time working on the loose and fluid Marauders.

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

Avengers #47

Guardians of the Galaxy Annual #1

Swamp Thing #6

The Week in Music:

Leon Bridges – Gold-Diggers Sound – I’ve been aware of Bridges for a while, but never really paid him much mind until this project, which I first listened to because of tracks featuring Robert Glasper and Terrace Martin. This is a lovely, soulful album that I need to spend more time listening to. It has a nice, relaxed vibe to it, and features appearances from artists I admire like Keyon Harrold and Carlos Niño, and features terrific production from Ricky Reed and Nate Mercereau.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #608 With Beta Ray Bill #5, Superman: Son Of Kal-El #1, Star Wars #15, The Department Of Truth #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #608 With Beta Ray Bill #5, Superman: Son Of Kal-El #1, Star Wars #15, The Department Of Truth #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | August 2, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Beta Ray Bill #5 – Daniel Warren Johnson is a comics treasure.  I’ve enjoyed the hell out of this series, but think that this last issue might be the best chapter yet.  Bill and Surtur go at it in some very exciting pages, and things are resolved very nicely.  Johnson’s art is incredible, and I like that he’s added so much character to Bill.  I really hope we get to see more of Bill soon, because as a character he’s often overlooked.  I’m also really excited to see what Johnson is going to do next, as I’ve enjoyed everything he’s done so far (although I didn’t read his heavy metal series).

Quick Takes:

Cable #12 – So, I guess this is the last issue of Cable?  That’s too bad, because I like Young Nate a lot more than I do Old Nate, and I thought it was amusing to watch Cyclops act like a dad sometimes.  I’d also expected that this storyline would lead into the upcoming Inferno, but I guess not.  This title has been pretty good, and I liked getting semi-regular Phil Noto artwork.  I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.

Daredevil #32 – This book is really picking up again, as Matt takes a direct method to figure out what’s going on with the warden of the prison he’s in, and as Elektra tries to track down Bullseye, who is basically shooting every person he sees in New York City.  Chip Zdarsky has had a lot of pieces moving on the board in this series, and it looks like we’re getting closer to some resolutions.

The Department of Truth #11 – This issue wraps up the two-part Bigfoot hunters story.  It’s interesting that James Tynion IV would take so much time to develop the character of the man who has spent his life hunting for Bigfoot, even though it has destroyed his relationship with his family, when we know that we aren’t likely to ever see this character again.  Much of the story in the last two issues has been told through the man’s journal pages, which were hard to read because of the extent of digital manipulation done to make the pages look weathered and doodle-riddled.  It reminded me of reading cyberpunk magazines like Mondo 2000 back in the 90s, when readability took a back seat to design.  Still, I enjoyed this story, and liked getting a look at another aspect of the Department’s mission.

Dune: Blood of the Sardaukar #1 – Boom has had some success with their Dune: House Atreides series, so we got this oversized one-shot by Brian Herbert, Kevin J. Anderson, and Adam Gorham.  It tells the story of one of the Sardaukar, the Imperial soldiers.  This particular soldier was once the son of the ruling family on a small world that was invaded by the Atreides some thirty years before, and now, charged with attacking the Atreides on Arrakis, while wearing Harkonnen armor, he is intent on paying off some debts. It’s a nice character study, and provides an interesting background to a character that likely appeared in the first Dune novel.  At the same time, it’s all kind of stiff, and written more like a novelization than an original comic.  Gorham’s art is nice, but the entire thing needed more space to breathe.  This might have worked better as a four-part miniseries with more space for character development and time to care about this soldier.

Eternals #6 – I don’t remember how long this series was originally set to run for, but I see that Marvel keeps adding one-shots to it, and I’m left a little confused.  Ultimately, it doesn’t matter, as this issue wraps up a lot of the book’s plots.  We learn who is behind bringing Thanos into the machine, and also learn the secret of what happens when an Eternal dies.  Kieron Gillen took his time getting us to the place where I started to really care about what is going on in this book, but now I’m invested. I just don’t know what is left in this series.

Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #8 – I’ve really loved this miniseries, which had Grendel Prime travelling across the universe looking for a new home for mankind.  This final issue has our paladin abducted by a very advanced society, looking to render judgement on humanity and whether or not it belongs among the stars.  This sets up then next three Grendel miniseries, and I’m very happy that we’ll be seeing more of Prime’s adventures.  He’s always been my favourite character in the Grendel mythos, and I appreciate that Matt Wagner is continuing to create new stories that advance things instead of being set in the past.

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #4 – I wasn’t all that impressed with the two stories in this issue.  Both deal with race in America, but neither had the space to breathe or develop fully, so it ended up feeling a little perfunctory.  That’s always the danger in a book like this, with two ten-page stories per issue.

Robin #4 – I am really enjoying this series, and feel like Joshua Williamson has one of the best takes on Damian I’ve ever seen.  In this issue, he ends up on an island with his grandfather, Ras al Ghul, and is too angry to listen to what he has to teach him.  I’m really curious to see what Damian’s goals are in this League of Lazarus tournament, and also want to know more about Ravager and Connor Hawke and what they’re up to.  I know that Williamson is one of the big names at DC now, so can see how this book might end up influencing others in the line.  Jorge Corona steps in to draw this issue, and I like his work, although I’ve also really liked what Gleb Melnikov was doing.  I’m not sure who will be drawing it from here on out.

Sacred Six #11 – Priest is getting close to the end of this series, which has never really found its footing.  I like the character dynamics here, but often find the plot, and the way it weaves in and out of his larger story in Vampirella, a little confusing.  Still, for the last year, we’ve gotten two monthly comics written by Priest, which makes this kind of a golden age in its own right.

The Scumbag #9 – I fear this book may have crossed the line from amusing parody to just kind of dumb with this issue.  Ernie’s made the whole world into a reflection of him, and now is jumping through some kind of anti-matter mirror to go back in time to gather up some of the other lowlifes at his favourite bar to make a team for some reason.  I hate the phrase “jumped the shark”, but I think Rick Remender may have had Ernie do that with this issue.  Or would Remender have been the one to jump the shark?  Or the whole book?  I just don’t know…

Star Wars #15 – This was a great issue.  Most of it isn’t that involved with the War of the Bounty Hunters event, as it focuses on Luke and Starlight Squadron working to rescue an entire Rebel division from Imperial attack.  I love a good starfighter story, and felt like this one is very well balanced.  This is some good stuff lately.

Strange Adventures #11 – Alanna confronts Adam with what Mister Terrific has figured out, and after months of wondering, we finally understand everything that’s been going on with Adam, and the truth behind the Pykkts’ invasion of Earth.  This has been an impressive series, and I’m looking forward to seeing how it all wraps up next month.  I like that there is this constant stream of Tom King series now.

Superman: Son of Kal-El #1 – I’ve added Tom Taylor to my list of must-buy writers, and I’ve liked Jon Kent in the first Super Sons series, and in Legion of Super-Heroes, so it made sense to me to add this new title to my pullfile list, despite the fact that I don’t usually read Superman comics.  Jon has taken on the role, and I’m a little confused as I don’t know what’s happened with the regular Superman, and would have appreciated some confirmation that this is all happening in-continuity and on the main DC Earth, as I’m very lost as to the status of the DC Universe.  I was pleased to see that Jon went to chat with Damian, but his costume looks off, which made me wonder again where this series is happening.  Either way, I like seeing Jon employ his compassion when dealing with an individual that unwittingly caused a forest fire.  I also like the way he accepts a new approach to his mission, thanks to Damian’s advice.  It’s a good comic, although in places, John Timms’s art is a little scratchier than I’d like.  I’m definitely going to stick around for the first arc, and see where this takes us.

SWORD #7 – Al Ewing takes us right into the Last Annihilation event that is mostly centred on Guardians of the Galaxy right now.  Brand takes a team to help Emperor Hulkling fight off The Mindless Ones, while Storm has an interesting dinner meeting with Doctor Doom on Arakko.  This series is one of my favourite of the Krakoan books, even though it’s almost always getting roped into one event or the other, and hasn’t had much space to stand on its own two feet.  Normally, that would drive me insane, but Ewing pulls it off well.

That Texas Blood #8 – This issue had a lot of exposition.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it did weigh things down.  It’s interesting how many comics are leaning into stories that touch on the Satanic Panic period of the 80s, leaving me to wonder if it’s become a stand-in for the irrationality of Qanon and anti-vaxxer conspiracies today.  It can’t be a coincidence that the topic keeps showing up.  Anyway, so far, this latest arc doesn’t feel quite as grounded in place as the first one, while also depending on the idea that there just might be something wrong with Ambrose County, the region of Texas where this series is set.  I’m in for the long haul on this book, so I like that Chris Condon is taking his time with the story.

The United States of Captain America #2 – This issue reveals who the bad guys are, and introduces us to Nichelle, an activist and clean water advocate who also refers to herself as Captain America.  I like the idea behind this book, but I feel like the first issue was a little more effective at setting up the situation.  I’m concerned that this might get formulaic, and quickly, but I am still interested in what Chris Cantwell and his backup collaborators have going on.  I’m always down for some Dale Eaglesham art.

Wolverine #14 – This book continues to be annexed to X-Force.  This issue has Logan investigating the theft of Shi’ar logic diamonds and the torching of The Marauder after the Hellfire Gala.  It doesn’t do anything to develop Logan, but does have him in a fight underwater with an Arakkan, so there is that.  I’m not really feeling this series, but the interdependency of so many Krakoan titles makes it hard to drop.

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

Amazing Fantasy

Black Knight Cures of the Ebony Blade #5

Infinite Frontier #3

Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom #3

Other History of the DC Universe #5

Bargain Books:

Teen Titans 37-47, Annual #2 – I really liked this iteration of the Teen Titans.  Somewhere in the middle of this stack, Adam Glass left and Robbie Thompson took over, as the team generally dissolved, Damian quit being Robin, and the other kids had to make amends for the mistakes they made while Damian was in charge.  I would like to see more of these kids in Teen Titans Academy, but don’t know if that’s in the cards.  This was a good run, though.

The Week in Music:

Sneaky Jesus – For Joseph Riddle – A Polish dancey jazz band with an awesome name?  I’m always going to be down for that.  Sneaky Jesus are very entertaining.

Damon Locks Black Monument Ensemble – Now – There is just so much life in this album.  Damon Locks brought his ensemble together to record this album during lockdown (some of it was recorded outside with cicadas accompanying the band), and during the summer and fall while protests and uprisings were held across America.  It’s a chronicle of the time, capturing the optimism, hope, and strong sense of community that the summer revealed.  It’s loose, very free, and often beautiful.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #606 & #607 With Ninjak #1, Black Hammer Reborn #2, Oblivion Song #32, Superman & The Authority #1, Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #2 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #606 & #607 With Ninjak #1, Black Hammer Reborn #2, Oblivion Song #32, Superman & The Authority #1, Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #2 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | July 26, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

I took last week off, and ended up with the two biggest weeks of the year in my pull-file. This was a lot of comics.

Best Comics of the Fortnight:

Ninjak #1 – I got really excited when I saw that Jeff Parker and Javier Pulido would be handling this latest Ninjak relaunch.  Parker excels at espionage-tinged stories, and Pulido is a true master of modern comics.  As this issue opens, Ninjak has left MI-6 and gone solo, but is still being tracked by Neville, his former boss.  A pair of telepaths get their hands on all of MI-6s secrets, which leads to every undercover agent being put in great danger.  This series feels very current (Parker has Ninjak interrupt a Jamal Koshoggi-like execution outside the embassy of a certain unnamed Arab country), and Pulido’s art is amazing.  He has a lot of fun with the layouts, and his colours are so bright and vibrant.  Valiant has been a pretty moribund place lately, but I’m very excited to be reading this new series. (One thing I don’t understand is why the cover is so different from the aesthetics of the interior comic).

Quick Takes:

Black Hammer Reborn #2 – Where the first Black Hammer series built on the optimism of the Silver Age, even if it subverted it a whole lot, this return to Jeff Lemire’s superhero universe is a lot darker.  Lucy’s daughter and her friend decide to sneak into the Para-Zone region that’s opened up in their city, and then to make things even weirder, to drop acid or something while they’re there.  At the same time, we look back at one of the events that led to Lucy giving up the Black Hammer identity, after a weird run-in with Skulldigger on a rooftop.  Lemire is still just layering on story elements, but his handle of these characters makes this very compelling.  I miss Dean Ormston on art, but Caitlin Yarsky is doing an excellent job of making this book her own.  I’m really happy with this title.

Alien #5 – I am liking the approach that Marvel is taking to this property.  This issue has Gabriel and his companions getting close to saving themselves, but you know, it’s an Alien comic, so things aren’t always going to be smooth.  Salvador Larroca is doing great work on this book, and I like how character driven Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s story is.

Aliens Aftermath #1 – It’s cool that, as Marvel takes over the Alien/Aliens license, they decided to return to LV-426, the location of the first two movies.  The nephew of Vazquez is part of a group that live streams their missions against the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.  Our new Vazquez wants to learn what happened to his aunt, and so they work to dig up information about the place.  And, this being an Aliens comic, you know it’s a bloodbath.  This is a solid done-in-one comic, with great art from Dave Wachter.  I enjoyed it, and now I have a craving to rewatch Aliens.

Ascender #17 – There’s only one issue left?  Tim faces off against Mother while his friends run from some Scrappers.  Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen have spent a long time getting us to this place, so the big event at the end of this issue feels like a promise of more to come next month.  I’m going to miss this book and these characters.

Chu #6 – I’m happy to see Chu back on the schedule.  Saffron and her boyfriend are on a cruise, running small scams and pickpocketing the other passengers when a bigger opportunity, involving rare wine comes her way.  John Layman is making it clear that Saffron is nothing like the rest of her family, as we see how brutal and heartless she can be.  I am always down for a good crime comic told from the criminal’s point of view, and when you toss in weird food powers, this series has to be a winner.

Deadly Class #47 – This arc continues to check in on the cast of this series, and moves forward through time.  For this issue, we’re in 2001, and Saya is clearly struggling.  She’s an addict who spends her days making enough money for her next fix.  This issue made me sad, as she seemed like one of the more together of the old crew.  Rick Remender and Wes Craig have breathed so much life into the characters in this book, that it kind of hurts to see them fall so hard.  I’m very curious to see where the next issue is going to take this, given the way this one ends.  

Die #18 – It’s time to finally learn what happened to Sol after he got left behind in Die when all of his friends left.  It goes without saying, this is a pretty dark issue, and once again, it looks like Ash was at the centre of everything going wrong.  All of the early work that Kieron Gillen and Stefanie Hans did in building and developing these characters is really paying off now that we are getting closer to the end.  I remain astounded by the amount of thought that Gillen has put into writing this series.

Gamma Flight #2 – I love the lineup of characters in this book.  Gamma Flight fights off Skaar in this issue (he now has fingers coming out of his head, which is a weird look, but ties in with the character who turns up on the last page), but the whole time, Titania takes Leonard Samson (Samsquatch?) to task for the way he condescends to Charlene, who he obviously has feelings for.  The amount of character work being put into this book seems more appropriate for an ongoing series than a mini, but that’s what I like about writer Al Ewing (and, I guess, co-writer Crystal Fraser, who is new to me).  This series is a great companion to Immortal Hulk.

Iron Man #10 – We haven’t seen Tony Stark in this book for a couple of issues now.  While his ragtag team has been chasing Korvac in space, he’s been sent to a remote world populated by a small village’s worth of people from a few different worlds, including a deep cut character from an old Marvel Fanfare and a Daredevil villain no one’s done anything with for ages.  It contains the most work Chris Cantwell has done on Tony Stark since he launched this title, and for that reason, I enjoyed it.  This run is picking up.

Guardians of the Galaxy #16 – This “The Last Annihilation” story is shaping up to be a big one, as we see Dormammu make his move, attacking the Guardians that were surrounding Ego, while also sending Mindless Ones to attack key planets, drawing the rest of the team into the conflict.  Nova gets some great scenes, and Al Ewing continues to tie this book closely to what’s happening in SWORD and some of the other Krakoan titles.  I love the shared universe aspects of this comic, and how Ewing manages to give most of the characters a moment or two.

Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #2 – I don’t know exactly what Tommy Lee Edwards is doing with the colours on this book, but it really stands out.  Things are getting a little more chaotic as some heroes move to free persecuted Uyghurs in China, while others come after Brandon while he’s on his pilgrimage.  I feel a little disconnected from things, as I’m having a hard time remembering who is who in this book, but I am enjoying it and like the new approach that Millar and Edwards are taking to things.

Last Song #4 – It has taken a very long time for this series to finally come to its close, and it ends in a pretty impressive way.  This series is about Nicky, who fronts a band, Ecstasy, that got very popular in the 90s before falling apart around the same time that Nicky did.  At its core, this is a love story, but it’s also about music, growing up, and learning to respect people’s choices.  Holly Interlandi’s writing has been very sharp throughout this series, and with this oversized issue, she avoids some of the tangents she took the story on in earlier installments.  There’s a new artist, Natalie Jackson for this last issue, and she does a fine job of keeping the series’s aesthetic intact.  This was a very enjoyable series, even if it only came out at the pace of one issue a year (it was published by Black Mask afterall).

The Lot #1 – Every new Bad Idea comic is a bit of a crapshoot, and I knew nothing about this one going in.  Marguerite Bennett has written an interesting horror story revolving around a movie exec in a new position who discovers that her studio owns a lot that hasn’t been used in fifty years.  She starts restoring it, but that appears to have woken up something sinister.  Renato Guedes is trying some new things with the art, and I don’t know how I feel about it.  It looks like he’s taking photos of actors and incorporating them into his drawings.  It’s a little disconcerting in places, but it does effectively add to the sense of horror he and Bennett are going for.  Things are choppy and hard to understand in parts, but this is an impressive book.  I also like the backup story by Matt Kindt and Doug Braithwaite about an art thief.

Marauders #22 – The Hellfire Gala is over, but before everyone’s attention moves to the death of the Scarlet Witch, Emma and the Cuckoos have a few loose ends to tie up.  We learn the truth about Lourdes, the woman that Sebastian Shaw has been pining for, and learn just how long Shaw and Emma have been undermining one another’s ambitions.  This book is still incredibly loose, when it comes to cast and focus, but it’s enjoyable.  I feel like Gerry Duggan is the main X-writer now, even though Jonathan Hickman is calling the shots.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #28 – When Miles learned that Selim, his clone, had taken his baby sister to the Brooklyn Bridge, I was already anticipating the homage to Gwen Stacey that I figured had to come, but then writer Saladin Ahmed didn’t do that, for which I’m thankful.  The clone story ends pretty well.  Ahmed does really good work on this book.  

Moon Knight #1 – I wasn’t too sure what to expect from this latest Moon Knight book, as I am not familiar with the writing of Jed McKay (who seems to be writing a quarter of Marvel’s whole line these days) or the art of Alessandro Cappuccio.  It’s not a bad first issue, as it establishes MK’s latest status quo (he’s set up a night mission, and protects the people in his neighbourhood), as well as introducing a new threat from within Khonshu’s followers.  There is potential here, and I’m curious to see where it’s headed.  This issue didn’t blow me away, but there’s enough to like that I’ll give this a first arc.  I was thinking, though, that it would have been interesting to see Mark taking the new Krakoan drugs that help with mental illness.  That could have made for a very different type of series.

New Mutants #20 – I’m glad I stuck with this series, as it’s beginning to cohere very nicely.  The group of kids decide to manage Gabby’s death on their own, while the adults take some others to the site of a new mutant’s awakening to help do some search and rescue work.  Rahne heads deeper down a dark path.  The characterizations in this book are pretty strong, but I still object to Anole being portrayed as so young.  He’s basically the same age as Elixir, who talks down to him in this issue.  Other than that, I feel like Vita Ayala has really found their feet on this book, and things are looking up.

Nightwing #82 – I’ve recently discovered how good this series is right now, with Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo doing some cool things with Dick.  I’ve decided to add this to my pullfile (there’s more in the Bonus Comics section below).  This issue has Dick getting to know his newly-discovered half-sister, with some retconning flashbacks filling in the backstory.  It’s good stuff.

Oblivion Song #32 – The people of Earth are making a few last ditch efforts to turn back the Kuthaal invasion, and that might be an issue for them.  Heather makes an attempt to negotiate with the aliens’ ruler, but Nathan’s effort to return the Kuthaal outpost to Oblivion might make Heather’s job harder.  This issue has a lot of suspense to it.  There are only four issues left in this series, which is a real shame, as it’s excellent.

Rorschach #10 – The basically nameless main character of this series lays out almost everything he’s learned about the assassination attempt that Rorschach and The Kid pulled at the start of the series to his contact in the Turley campaign.  Tom King has constructed this series like a big puzzle box, and it’s cool to see how most of the parts fit together in this issue.  I also still love that Frank Miller is an important character in this book.  I’m not sure how that happened.  This book is a real slow burn, but I’ve really enjoyed it.

Shazam! #1 – I wouldn’t normally touch a new Shazam series, but since Billy has been hanging out at the Teen Titans Academy, and I’ve been enjoying that book, I figured I’d check out this miniseries.  We know that Billy has been having trouble accessing and controlling his powers, and in this issue, we learn that it’s because the Rock of Eternity has turned up in Hell.  While the adults intend to deal with this issue themselves, it’s Billy who makes the decision to travel to Hell with one of his classmates.  Tim Sheridan is writing both this and TTA, so it fits very well with that other book.  I’m left wondering how Billy is still a kid, but Gar has grown up, but I’m sure the answer has something to do with Infinite Frontiers, and isn’t worth dwelling on.  I think I’ll get the rest of this mini.

The Silver Coin #4 – Jeff Lemire writes this issue, set in a dystopian future.  The first two issues of this series, which has a different writer collaborating with artist Michael Walsh each issue, were much more compressed and rich than these last two, which have been very quick reads.  It will be weird to read this series in trade, and find it speeding up as it goes.  Still, Lemire has an interesting vision of the future here, and leaves me wishing the story was longer. 

Star Wars: Darth Vader #14 – We get a good understanding of the Administrator who has been trying to make life difficult for Vader lately, as we see her put her plans in action, and try to take advantage of the Crimson Dawn party to achieve her goals.  As always, this book is gorgeous thanks to Rafaelle Ienco.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #12 – Aphra and Sana are at the Crimson Dawn party, so Aphra has to balance her desire to steal everything she sees with her need to stay unseen, since most of the people there want to kill her.  This is a fun issue.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #2 – Various criminal factions gather for the Crimson Dawn party, as the bidding for Han Solo opens.  Charles Soule touches on most of the books that this series is tying into, while also giving Boba Fett some cool moments.  Luke Ross has leveled up again with his art (which was already pretty impressive), making this a gorgeous comic.  I’m enjoying this Star Wars event.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #2 – Tom King and Bilquis Evely have left Supergirl in a strange predicament.  Powerless, she’s forced to use an old and slow space ferry to get her and her new companion, Ruthye, across the galaxy, as they hunt the man that killed Ruthye’s father and poisoned Krypto.  King has Ruthye narrating this whole series, so everything is seen from the perspective of a poor rock farmer from a primitive world.  It’s an interesting approach to studying Supergirl’s character, and it works.  Evely’s art is gorgeous, and she seems to be having a lot of fun with the strange locales our heroes are in.

Superman and The Authority #1 – In my renewed interest in DC Comics after the changes of Infinite Frontiers, this miniseries by Grant Morrison and Mikel Janín caught my eye.  I’ve lost my inherent trust in Morrison, as they’ve let me down a few times in the last decade with some of their projects, but I’ve always liked the Authority, and I like Janín’s art a lot.  I thought this was set in the current DCU, but I guess it’s set on some other Earth.  Superman’s been around since before Kennedy was killed, and now he’s losing his abilities as he ages.  He wants to make another stab at making the world a “finer place” and decides that the best way to do this is to partner up with the odious Manchester Black.  It’s an interesting concept, with a real Elseworlds vibe to it, and it held my interest nicely.  I’m down to get the rest of this.

Thor #15 – With this newest arc, it’s time to examine the difficulty Thor has had lifting his hammer, and what it might mean.  I like that this has nothing to do with the Original Sin nonsense, but instead is being treated as a reflection of his changed role in Asgard, and how that impacts his perception of his purpose.  It’s an intelligent approach, and might lead to some actual character development for Thor.  I also like how Cates explores his perceptions of time, compared to that of his friends.  Guest artist Michele Brandini is fantastic.

Undiscovered Country #14 – This book is ridiculously over the top, and doesn’t make a lot of sense (I’m still not sure how one of the zones, which is in the continental United States is also an ocean), but it moves at a good pace and stays entertaining.  In this issue, one of the people exploring America is confronted with some robotic superheroes that are desperate to help her, since they have no one else to save.  Her way of dealing with them was clever.  I don’t even know if I like this book, but I keep buying it.  Comics…

Way of X #4 – There is just way too much happening in this miniseries for it to have only one issue left (and yes, I know about the Onslaught oneshot that comes out the month after this ends).  Si Spurrier is running a few different stories here – we have Nightcrawler wanting to deal with Fabian Cortez, while Legion continues to try to plan to deal with Onslaught, while wanting to keep his father out of it, which doesn’t really work.  The loose cast of this book also has to deal with the things that were overlooked when Mars was transformed into Arakko, such as volcanoes and tides.  This is an odd, odd book, but it is doing some heavy lifting that is missing in the other Krakoan titles.

X-Corp #3 – I’m still having a hard time caring about this series, but having Valentine De Landro, of the much-missed Bitch Planet, drawing things helps me get a lot more excited.  The crew is launching a new internet product at a trade show, but experience difficulties in getting the tech sorted, and in managing a meeting with a competitor.  I like that Tini Howard is focusing a little more on Jamie Madrox in this issue, and things look great, but the flow feels wrong.  The best part about this issue is the two-page backup story by local legend Jason Loo, of whom I’m a big fan.  I wish he had more time and space here, but it’s really cool to see him showing up in a Marvel comic, and I hope that more is on the way.

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

Black Hammer Visions #6

Home #4

Infinite Frontier #2

Justice League: Last Ride #3

Raptor: A Sokol Graphic Novel

Bargain Comics:

Avengers #28-46 – I binged on Jason Aaron’s Avengers this last week, and I’m disappointed to find that these comics aren’t all that memorable or impressive.  In this stack, the Avengers travelled to outer space to deal with the birth of a new Star Brand, then got caught up in some reality-altering event involving Mephisto and Khonshu, and then had to fight each other and some other heroes in order to decide who would become the new Phoenix.  In between, they also dealt with another reality-changing event involving Mephisto, in Heroes Reborn, that I skipped.  Aaron is trying for the kind of big screen stories that the Justice League have become known for, forgetting that the Avengers is always strongest when grounded in character-driven arcs.  Most of this, I just couldn’t really bring myself to care about, which is too bad.  The best issues in this pile are the most recent, which focus on how the team operates, as they have to deal with the fall out of the King In Black event and Blade’s actions against the new Vampire Nation, and the part where the Russian heroes come for Hulk.  I’ve never been a fan of Ed McGuinness’s work, but I did like the issues done by Javier Garron.  There’s a lot of potential with this quirky lineup, but the execution just doesn’t work for me.  I also think it’s too soon to be dealing with the Phoenix Force again, and I really do not like the whole Avengers of 10 000 BC story elements.  

Nightwing #78-81 – It wasn’t that long ago that I read Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Suicide Squad run, and I really liked it.  I hadn’t realized they were working on Nightwing together, so I figured I should get caught up on that book, and decide if it belongs in my pull file.  And, as it turns out, this book is great.  Dick is back in Blüdhaven, trying to do well with a new opportunity that has come his way, but this city is not on his side.  There’s a big surprise about the identity of one of the villains he’s up against, and I like that Barbara Gordon and Tim Drake are being used as supporting characters.  Redondo’s art is very cool, and I like how he plays around with layout.  Taylor is a writer I should have been paying attention to from the beginning, but I intend to pick up more of his work now.  I’m excited about this run.

The Week in Music:

Carlos Niño & Friends – More Energy Fields, Current – I am in love with this strange album of ambient tracks helmed by Carlos Niño.  From what I understand, Niño’s process is to play music with friends, and then chop up their sessions and arrange them into these loose, exploratory pieces.  Among the friends showing up on this album are Jamael Dean (I’m a big fan of his work), Sam Gendel, Dntel, Shabaka Hutchings, Laraaji, and Nate Mercereau.  It’s cool that this has come out on International Anthem, as did his recent collaboration with Miguel Atwood-Ferguson.  This is a great album to just vibe out to.

Hailu Mergia & The Walias Band – Tezeta – I love Ethiopian jazz, even if I lack the vocabulary to explain what makes it unique.  The label Awesome Tapes From Africa has slowly been rereleasing Hailu Mergia’s back catalogue, and recently dropped this instrumental album that originally came out in 1975.  Mergia and the Walias create a lush soundscape on these tracks, and the album is easy to get lost in.  Mergia’s Ethio-jazz is different from Mulatu Astatke’s, but equally lovely.  HIs organ leads each track, which are mostly rearrangements of traditional songs, interpreted through jazz and funk.  From reading the liner notes, I’ve learned that this album was originally released on tape, and has always been almost impossible to find before now; it’s a nice addition to my collection.

Children of Zeus – Balance – Children of Zeus provide another album full of that perfectly balanced soul and hiphop that they’ve become known for.  Nothing about this album really stands out, but it’s all incredibly smooth and very nice.

John Carroll Kirby – Septet – John Carroll Kirby is an artist I discovered during the first days of lockdown, and who I’ve grown to admire.  His new album, Septet, is a winning combination of jazz and electronic music.  It borders a New Age optimism, and leaves the listener feeling uplifted.  It’s a pretty beautiful piece of work.

Hania Rani – Music For Film and Theatre – This is a collection of work that Hania Rani has done for film soundtracks and theatrical productions, and as such, it’s not all that cohesive, but it is a nice example of what she does.  Most of the pieces here are minimalist piano or synth compositions, and they make great background music for reading to.

Alice Coltrane – Kirtan: Turiya Sings – A few years back, a collection of Alice Coltrane’s devotional music was released, and it blew me away with its beauty.  This album is a rerelease of a cassette she made in the 1980s, and it is nine tracks of her singing Hindu prayers while accompanying herself, very slowly, on an electric organ.  That doesn’t sound great, does it?  And yet, this album is mesmerizingly beautiful, and a complete revelation.  I’ll admit that I’ve fallen asleep every time I’ve listened to it, but I snap awake again as soon as it ends.  Coltrane’s voice is perfect, and the music is soothing and restorative.  I’m so glad they put this out, and it’s something I know I’m going to treasure, even if I never stay awake through the whole thing.

Mello Music Group – Bushido – I miss the days of a record label sampler compilation.  Mello Music Group is home to some incredible hiphop artists (Oddisee, Open Mike Eagle, Marlowe, Quelle Chris), and they all bring their a-game for this collection. 

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 7/21/2021 – Moon Knight, Superman & The Authority, Blue & Gold, Radiant Black & More!

Pull List Roundtable 7/21/2021 – Moon Knight, Superman & The Authority, Blue & Gold, Radiant Black & More!

John Babos | July 26, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Moon Knight – Jed McKay seems to be the new Marvel wünderkind, with a large number of titles across the line that I’ve never read. I’ve always had a fondness for Moon Knight, and while I feel like Jeff Lemire’s recent run said just about all there is to say about his mental health issues, I’m curious to see a new take. I’ve decided to give this book one arc and see how I feel about it.

Superman & The Authority – I don’t have the trust in Grant Morrison that I used to, but I definitely think it’s time that the Authority returns to comics, and I’m curious to see how he’s going to weave them into the latest version of the DC Universe. This looks like it could be good.

This week I’m looking forward to new issues of Alien, Ascender, Black Hammer Reborn, Chu, Deadly Class, Gamma Flight, Guardians of the Galaxy, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem, Marauders, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, New Mutants, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, and Undiscovered Country.

I’ve recently discovered that Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo’s Nightwing is very very good, and I’m adding it to my pullfile as of this week’s issue.

I’m not sure about Shazam. Generally, I find it hard to get into comics that feature him, but I’ve been liking the work that Tim Sheridan has been doing in Teen Titans Academy, and he’s also writing this book. Maybe I’ll give the first issue a shot.

John Babos

8 books this week.

  • Blue and Gold #1
  • Flash #772
  • Justice League #65
  • Nightwing #82
  • Radiant Black #6
  • Shazam #1
  • Superman and the Authority #1
  • X-Men Legends #5

James Fulton

I just figured out this last week that I should have been reading Nightwing. What a great run!

John Babos

In Tom Taylor I trust. I’ll at least sample any project he’s working on. I concur about Nightwing; it’s well done on story and art. I’m also curious what he’ll do as writer on Superman: Son of Kal-El.

Anyhow, what did you gentle reader pick up last week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

Pull List Roundtable 7/14/2021 – Aliens Aftermath, Ninjak, Red Atlantis, The Lot, Star Wars, Infinite Frontier & More!

Pull List Roundtable 7/14/2021 – Aliens Aftermath, Ninjak, Red Atlantis, The Lot, Star Wars, Infinite Frontier & More!

John Babos | July 19, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Aliens Aftermath – The main Alien series has been pretty good, so I’m down to give this one-shot a try. It follows up on the Aliens movie, and I’m curious to see what they have to say about that.

The Lot – I’m not too familiar with Marguerite Bennett’s writing, but I like Renato Guedes’s art, and I’ve generally been really happy with the Bad Idea comics I’ve read so far. I’m not sure what this is about, but I’m game to check it out.

Ninjak – I’ve been disappointed with the recent comics being put out by Valiant, but Ninjak is one of their cooler characters, and this comic is being made by Jeff Parker and Javier Pulido, who could make anything interesting and gorgeous. This should be great.

I’m also looking forward to new issues of Die, Iron Man, Oblivion Song, Rorschach, The Silver Coin, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters, Thor, Way of X, and X-Corp.

John Babos

7 books and 1 TPB this week.

  • Action Comics 2021 Annual #1
  • Batman Urban Legends #5
  • Detective Comics #1039
  • Flash 2021 Annual #1
  • Infinite Frontier #2
  • Joker #5
  • Ninjak #1
  • Red Atlantis TPB 

What did you find worth reading during the week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #605 With X-Men #1, Suicide Squad #5, Fire Power #13, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #14 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #605 With X-Men #1, Suicide Squad #5, Fire Power #13, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #14 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | July 12, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

X-Men #1 – With this latest relaunch, the X-Men set up (overnight) a treehouse in Central Park for the X-Men to live in, which catches the attention of a lot of people.  The new team combines like Voltron to combat an extraterrestrial threat (which makes it look like the X-Men will be heading back into space soon) that somehow slips past the early warning systems of Arrako/Mars and The Peak without being mentioned.  We also learn about an industrialist who is very unhappy about what’s happened to Mars.  Gerry Duggan sets up at least a year’s worth of stories with this issue, and things look promising.  It doesn’t look like this book is going to be very character-driven though.  Sunfire’s on the team, which I find weird, and barely says anything in this whole issue.  Jonathan Hickman just spent time establishing Sync’s feelings for Wolverine (Laura version), but that doesn’t get mentioned at all here either.  I hope that Duggan’s going to strike the right balance with character moments, but that’s been left aside for this issue.  Pepe Larraz’s art is very nice, but I doubt he’s going to be on this book for long.  I do remain hopeful that this will be an enjoyable series.

Quick Takes:

Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #4 – Things wrap up nicely for this most recent Beasts of Burden miniseries.  I like that Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer took the story to post-War Japan, for a change of pace and to show how the wise dog concept works in other parts of the world.  Benjamin Dewey’s art is lovely.

Captain America #30 – Ta-Nehisi Coates’s Captain America has been a strange thing.  The story has moved very slowly (honestly, I can’t believe it’s been thirty issues), and while it has addressed some interesting aspects of the modern American experience, I’ve often wished this book went a lot harder (although, equating the Red Skull to Jordan Peterson was brilliant).  This issue has Cap and the Skull face off over the dinner table, and it feels somewhat anticlimactic.  These weren’t terrible comics, but they did need more oomph.  Coates is a brilliant writer, but much of what he does best just doesn’t really translate well into comics I’m afraid.  His second Black Panther series was very good, and I’d hoped he’d ironed out the things that were holding him back, but this ended up being kind of bland.  I’m not sure what he’s got planned for his next book, but I’ll definitely check it out.  As for Cap, he’s already started appearing in the United States of Captain America, which managed to make Fox News pretty angry over the last week, based on a surface misreading of a point that wasn’t even all that subtle in the first place.  

Fire Power #13 – After all the madness of the last few issues, Owen and his family return home and try to pick up where they left off.  The kids have trouble getting used to being back at school, Kellie and her partner end up using kung fu on a gunman (that scene looks so cool), and there seem to be a lot of snakes sliding around the monastery in China.  Issue twelve felt like it was wrapping up a lot of the storylines that Robert Kirkman developed, but in reality, and in typical Kirkman fashion, there’s a lot more to this than expected.  Chris Samnee’s art in this book has been among the best he’s ever done, and it increasingly feels like this series is just getting started.  I really enjoy this book, so I’m happy.

Hellions #13 – The Mister Sinister that was believed killed on Amenth makes his return, and that means that the other Mister Sinister’s secrets are about to be exposed.  At the same time, Orphan Maker discovers what Nanny has been hiding from him.  It feels like a lot of the plotlines that Zeb Wells started this series with are coming together, which, because this is a Marvel book, makes me think that it’s maybe going to be ending soon?  This book remains one of the odder and more enjoyable of the Krakoan titles.

Hollow Heart #5 – I hadn’t realized that there was a sixth issue of this series still to come, so was a bit surprised when things didn’t wrap up at the end.  El has made his big escape, and in the process, realizes the full extent of Mateo’s lies.  Paul Allor is pulling his story together very nicely, and Paul Tucker’s art continues to look great.  This series has been a very nice surprise, digging into themes of trust and faith in a new way.

Immortal Hulk #48 – Joe Fixit and Betty Ross get the chance to talk out their feelings for most of this issue, and Jen gets to know Jackie McGee a little better.  This is a quiet issue, which helps set up the coming final conflict between Hulk and the Leader.  It’s increasingly obvious when reading this that Al Ewing is setting up the end of the story (and probably his run), and I am already feeling a little nostalgic for the earlier portions of it.  There has never been a Hulk run like this before.

Post Americana #6 – We must be getting to the end of this series, as this issue is almost all action, cover to cover, as our heroes need to escape the Wonder robots trying to kill them, while the American government also sends drones to kill them at the same time.  Steve Skroce is very good at these large-scale action scenes, so I enjoyed this.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #14 – I’m enjoying the way that Valance and Dengar are becoming Rush Hour style buddy bounty hunters, as they try to navigate the outer edges of the War of the Bounty Hunters event.  I still find it hard to follow all the storylines about other bounty hunters who slip in and out of this book, and I was interested in the mysterious hunter who is coming after them, until I learned her name is Deathstick.

Suicide Squad #5 – I’ve been interested in Suicide Squad, but I don’t like the way that the story seems to be in service of setting up the Future State storyline, more than it is in building a lasting rationale for the series.  Waller has Bloodsport (from the classic John Byrne Superman) exploring other Earths for possible recruits.  This issue has him on Earth-3, where he comes across the Crime Syndicate.  I like the way Robbie Thompson writes Bloodsport, and sets him up as a counter to Peacemaker.  I’m not sure why this issue needed so many artists, but as it’s all DC house style stuff, the transitions weren’t too jarring.

X-Force #21 – The team has had an encounter with a Man-Thing derived new character, and then, after the whole teleforonics event from the Hellfire Gala, go looking for it again.  This is a tighter issue than the last few, but I still wish there was more of a long-term plan for this series beyond the constant string of threats from Xeno to respond to.

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

Avengers #46

Children of the Atom #5

Clans of Belari #1

Green Lantern #4

Skybound X #1

The Week in Music:

Namir Blade & L’Orange – Imaginary Everything – I love L’Orange’s production, but this album, which has Namir Blade rapping over his beats, is very different.  Gone are the interludes based on samples of old noir films, and the beats have a lot more guitar in them.  Namir Blade is an interesting MC (he’s new to me), and the pairing is very successful.  This is a really good album.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 7/7/2021 – X-Men, Suicide Squad, Fire Power, Post Americana, Geiger, Nocterra & More!

Pull List Roundtable 7/7/2021 – X-Men, Suicide Squad, Fire Power, Post Americana, Geiger, Nocterra & More!

John Babos | July 12, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

X-Men #1 – I’m not sure that we need to relaunch X-Men yet again, but I like the idea of the flagship X-Title focusing on an X-Men team again, instead of being a random showcase for different characters at different times. Gerry Duggan is an inconsistent writer, but his recent Krakoa work has been pretty good, so I’m looking forward to this. I like the new lineup too, but I hope that it stays flexible, as there are too many other characters I’d like to see in this book.

This week I’m also looking forward to new issues of Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territories, Captain America, Fire Power, Hellfire, Hollow Heart, Immortal Hulk, Post Americana, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, Suicide Squad, and X-Force.

John Babos

Another unusually large week with 11 titles.

  • Avengers #46
  • Batman #110
  • Batman Secret Files The Signal #1
  • Children of the Atom #5
  • Crime Syndicate #5
  • Geiger #4
  • Justice League #64
  • Nocterra #5
  • Snake Eyes: Deadgame #5
  • Suicide Squad #5
  • X-Men #1

What did you find worth reading during the week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #604 With X-Factor #10, Crossover #7, ENIAC #4, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #604 With X-Factor #10, Crossover #7, ENIAC #4, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | July 5, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

X-Factor #10 – I’m disappointed that X-Factor is over with this issue, but take heart that they will have a key role in the upcoming Trial of Magneto miniseries.  This Hellfire Gala issue wraps up a number of unresolved plotlines, with Prodigy figuring out the mystery of how he died, Aurora and Akihiro figuring out where they stand with one another, and Eye-Boy really coming into his own.  I’ve really enjoyed the way Leah Williams has written these characters.  I can’t think of another mainstream comic that has been so progressive in its portrayal of queer and non-traditional characters in such an accepting and normalizing way.  Beyond that, Williams has made me like characters like Eye-Boy, who I always thought were kind of stupid before this.  I hope that this team shows up again after the Trial miniseries.  I also like how Williams throws such a wrench into things at the very end, closing off the Gala with a mystery.

Quick Takes:

Beta Ray Bill #4 – Bill’s ship has been captured by a mythical squid of some sort, which is trying to distract Bill and Scuttlebutt by replaying key moments in Bill’s life.  This parade of bad memories serves to help us better understand him, and flesh him out more than any writer has done before, but it also sucks some of the momentum out of the story.  Daniel Warren Johnson is still doing an incredible job with this series.  It’s absolutely gorgeous, and finally treats a long-standing character with the respect he deserves.  I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens in the last issue, with Bill set to fight Surtur.  That should look wild.

Cable #11 – This book has become unmoored from the rest of the X-Line lately, with this issue coming out a month late (and it doesn’t look like the next one will tie in with the Hellfire Gala, despite the fact that its architect, Gerry Duggan, writes this title).  Nate admits that he needs his older self back, which is possible given The Five, and then the two of them get ready to go after Stryfe once and for all.  This was an enjoyable issue, with great Phil Noto art.  I just wonder why it’s so late.

Crossover #7 – Usually, this book is by Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw, and deals with the fallout that came with the opening of a portal into all fictional comic books worlds, causing the city of Denver to be overrun with superheroes, villains, and other comics characters, before it was all sealed off by a huge dome.  The early issues hinted that someone has been hunting and killing comics creators.  This issue is not by the usual creative team, but by Chip Zdarsky and Phil Hester.  It also stars the real Chip Zdarsky, who has gone into hiding under an assumed (actually, probably his real) name.  His past catches up to him though, as he has to deal with the very real consequences of Sex Criminals #14.  This issue is great – it adds a lot to the creative energy of Cates’s series, although I’m sure it would be very confusing for a casual reader.  At the same time, I doubt that there are many casual comics readers who would be too interested in this book, which benefits from a deep knowledge of past Image and other creator-owned series.  I love when things like this happen and creators are so generous with their properties.  This was a really fun issue.

Daredevil #31 – This is supposed to be the beginning of a new arc, but really, Chip Zdarsky is just continuing the various plotlines that have been running for a while now.  Matt decides to take on the Warden in the prison he’s been assigned to, while Elektra gets tired of playing things Matt’s way, and confronts Izzy Libris, not knowing that Mike Murdock is making his move on her too.  And then Bullseye decides to kill everyone in New York.  This series stays pretty dynamic and exciting, although this issue felt a little stretched thin with so many plotlines.

The Department of Truth #10 – It’s time to learn about Cryptids, as Hawk takes Cole on a Bigfoot hunt.  This issue is split between Cole and Hawk’s conversation and the notebook of a man who has spent most of his life looking for Bigfoot, after his father found the creature’s footprint when he was a young boy.  James Tynion IV touches on material that reminds me of both Proof and Fables with this issue, as this book continues to remind me of classic Vertigo series.  It’s not the fastest-moving series, but it is consistently entertaining.

Dune: House Atreides #8 – Stuff keeps happening in this series, but it still feels very disconnected.  I guess that’s just to be expected with prequels.

ENIAC #4 – Bad Idea’s flagship title ends very well, with Matt Kindt and Doug Braithwaite providing a satisfying and interesting conclusion.  This has been an interesting series with a lot of big ideas, and I think that Kindt was able to pull it all off.  I enjoyed the Hero Trade backup he wrote, drawn by David Lapham, as well.  Bad Idea itself is a total trainwreck of a company, but they have managed to put out some pretty great comics.

Eternals #5 – I’ve been finding this title a little slow moving, but with this issue, Kieron Gillen ramps things up some, as The Forgotten One is brought into the group trying to figure out where Thanos is.  At the same time, we finally get some understanding of why Thanos seems a little different from what we’re used to, and what his goals are.  It also looks like we get to know who is behind his new abilities and understanding of the Machine that aids the Eternals and resurrects them.  Esad Ribic’s art is, once again, very nice here.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #11 – Aphra’s attempt to capture Domina Tagge’s cousin goes very wrong after Aliens-like creatures infest the pleasure yacht he’s on.  Aphra and Starros look like they’re in real trouble, until a bounty hunter named Durge shows up.  I am liking Alyssa Wong’s Aphra a little more with each issue, but I still wish these stories were a little more complex.  Next, Aphra’s headed to the Crimson Dawn party that is going to run through all the Star Wars books soon (kind of like the Hellfire Gala).

Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1 – I’m not sure how, so soon after the Teen Titans Academy got its launch, it’s time for a yearbook, but I did enjoy the opportunity to get to know more of the new characters in this book.  Stitch gets the spotlight first, although we also get to know Matt a little better, and get a story that sheds a little light on Red X’s origin.  I am really liking what Tim Sheridan is doing with the Teen Titans, so while this book was way overpriced (at $6), I was happy to get to know a little more about where this book is headed.

That Texas Blood #7 – This terrific Southern Gothic series returns with a new arc centred on a spree of Satanic killings that happened in 1981.  Joe Bob, now the Sheriff, was a deputy back then, and on the 40th anniversary of that strange event, he starts to reminisce about it.  That Texas Blood’s first arc was very good, and I’m happy to see the book back on the stands.  Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips are expanding the county and characters with this new arc, and are once again giving us a character-driven mystery.  This series is great.

Two Moons #5 – I think I’d expected this title to last longer than five issues.  I don’t know if that was always John Arcudi’s plans, or if sales weren’t really there for it.  Things wrap up kind of neatly, without ever explaining why there are devils hidden among the soldiers on both sides of the Civil War, or just what exactly Virgil’s role in the world is.  I liked this series, and would have gladly continued to support it.

Undone by Blood or The Other Side of Eden #4 – I think I’d expected this series to have another issue, so I was a little surprised when I realized that things were wrapping up.  Silvy is convinced that his and his friend’s decision to rob the Wright family is the cause of all their subsequent misfortune, and finds he has some decisions to make about what to do next.  I didn’t enjoy this Undone by Blood series as much as I did the first one, but I do find that the two stories are interesting in the ways they intersect and contrast.  I am always going to check out a Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson series, especially when they work with an artist like Sami Kivelä, and I’m looking forward to seeing what they do next.

The United States of Captain America #1 – I’m not sure why this would have to come out the week before Ta-Nehisi Coates’s long-running Cap story closes up next week, but here we are.  Someone dressed like Cap manages to steal his shield, and uses it to try to cause a train wreck.  This leads to Cap and Falcon meeting the first of many people who use the name Captain America.  In this case, we meet the Cap of the railroads, a young gay man who rides the rails and looks out for people experiencing homelessness.  I like the main story, which appears to be exploring what role Cap plays in such a divided America.  Christopher Cantwell has been inconsistent since coming to write at Marvel, but this looks to be among his better work.  The backup story gives us this new Cap’s origin, and it’s decent.  I’m down for this title.

Vampirella #21 – Vampirella, her mother, some of the Senate pages from Drakulon, and Shane, the murderous undead astronaut, have spent the last eight months trapped on Arcadia, the Earth-like planet Shane is from.  They’re trying to get home, but face a number of challenges, resulting in the apparent death of a key member of the book’s cast.  Priest keeps this series moving ahead at a crazy, unpredictable pace.  I never would have expected to enjoy this book so much, or for so long.

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #7 – This issue shows us what happened to the two surviving members of the crew of the Vihaan II in the decades after their fateful mission between galaxies, and gives us a better understanding of how the culture has shifted in that time.  It’s another solid issue written by Al Ewing, and for maybe the first time, I found that Simone Di Meo’s art didn’t confuse me that much (it’s not really the art, but the digital colouring that usually throws me off).  The quality of Ewing’s writing, and the concepts going into Di Meo’s art make up for that issue though…

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

Black Knight Curse of the Ebony Blade #4

Bargain Comics:

Champions #9 & 10 – I liked the way Jim Zub expanded the ranks of the Champions, but I guess his run really didn’t catch on, because after ten issues, Marvel relaunched it again, and I have no idea what’s going on in it now.  These constant relaunches are exhausting, and really make readers stop caring.

Dead Man Logan #11 & 12 – I liked this long goodbye to Old Man Logan.  It ends in a pretty predictable way, given the name of the book, but Ed Brisson and Mike Henderson make that ending effective and a little poignant.  It’s clear to me now that in OML’s world, there was no Krakoan nation…

Excalibur #4-12, 16-21 – I got myself caught up on Excalibur this week, skipping the X of Swords tie-in issues, which I’ve already read.  The first three issues of this series didn’t do much for me, but I thought that maybe with time this book would work better.  I was wrong, and it’s kind of a mess.  Tini Howard is doing that thing that a lot of modern writers do, where they try to change a character’s portrayal by just stating how things are.  For example, there is a lot of story balancing on the idea that Rogue and Captain Britain (Betsy Braddock) are very close friends, but I’ve never gotten the sense of that from decades of reading X-Men comics.  I always got the impression that they were co-workers who got along, but not particularly connected to each other.  Likewise, I do not understand how Rictor, the wary gay mutant from Peter David’s X-Factor run would become such a willing acolyte of Apocalypse, and then later, a neo-Druid.  I never fully understood why Jamie Braddock became the King of Avalon, or why the people of England would care that much about Betsy taking on the Captain Britain role.  I like that Howard dealt with some things, like Malice’s origin, that are long overdue, but I just never found myself investing in this group as a team.  Marcus To’s art is nice enough, but from time to time, I found it hard to follow, although I think that’s more of a plotting thing.  I’m having similar issues with Howard’s X-Corp, which also seems to be trying to write things into being.  I’ve liked some of Howard’s independent work, but in those cases, she was working with her own characters, and not ones with long histories.

The Week in Graphic Novels:

Quantum and Woody Vol. 4: Q2 – The Return – I wrote two of my Retro Trade Review columns on the first two volumes of Q&W.  The third one, I never finished, because I got kind of lost in it, and too busy.  I still had this volume, which had writer Priest and artist MD Bright return to these characters after twenty years or so, which came out at the same time as Valiant’s recent remake.  This is pure Priest – the story is almost too confusing to follow, as the aged Woody returns to discover that Eric has been using a young man (who might be a robot with alien DNA) to replace him as Quantum, and a fourteen year old has taken the role of Woody.  The plot is thick with contradictions, misdirections, and betrayal, and it really was confusing in places, but I also enjoyed it.  Priest is a great writer, and Bright is a classic and undersung artist.  Their Quantum and Woody became a product of its time, and was hurt by the collapse of the independent market in the 90s.  It’s really cool that Valiant gave them another chance to wrap things up (not that Eric and Woody were ever going to resolve their issues with each other).

The Week in Music:

Green-House – Music For Living Spaces – Green-House creates very beautiful, minimalist electronic New Age music, and I’m here for it.  Her Six Songs For Invisible Gardens was a favourite last year, and this longer album feels like an advancement of the ideas that made that work so well.  This is great thoughtful background music that would be perfect music to get a massage to.  

João Donato, Adrian Younge, and Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Jazz is Dead 7 – Once again, Younge and Muhammad team up with a legend of the jazz scene, this time João Donato, to compose a brief album.  As with every previous chapter, this one really swings, and sounds great.  Loren Oden provides vocals on more than half the tracks, and Donato’s Fender Rhodes sounds so nice.  I love this series, and am very thankful for it.

Masayoshi Fujita – Bird Ambience – This is such a beautiful combination of vibraphone and electronic music from an artist who is new to me.  Fujita’s approach to ambient music feels very different, but in a way that I find difficult to describe.  It’s warm, and feels very organic, since he plays his vibraphone slowly and warmly.  I don’t know – I’m bad at describing music, but I know that this is beautiful and very restful.

Hiatus Kaiyote – Mood Valiant – Hiatus Kaiyote are a hard band to define. They are soulful and funky, but also utterly bizarre and unpredictable.  This new album has a song about slug sex.  It also shows some new sides to the band, especially on the tracks where they work with a full string section, under the direction of Arthur Verocai.  Those songs really showcase how incredible Nai Palm’s voice is.  This album is going to take a while to fully absorb, but I already love it after just a couple of listens.  I’m glad this band has returned to us; it’s been too long.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 6/30/2021 – Department of Truth, Dune: House Atreides, Vampirella, Eternals, Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1, Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1 & More!

Pull List Roundtable 6/30/2021 – Department of Truth, Dune: House Atreides, Vampirella, Eternals, Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1, Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1 & More!

John Babos | July 5, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

United States of Captain America – It’s weird that this book is coming out the week before the final issue of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s run. I’m curious to see all the Captain Americas together again, although my trust is Christopher Cantwell’s writing has been shaken by his Iron Man, which is less impressive than his Doctor Doom.

This week I’m looking forward to new issues of Beta Ray Bill, Cable, Crossover, Daredevil, Department of Truth, Dune: House Atreides, ENIAC, Eternals, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, That Texas Blood (so happy to see this back), Two Moons, Undone by Blood, Vampirella, We Only Find Them When They’re Dead, and X-Factor.

I’ve been enjoying Teen Titans, so depending on how many story pages it has (vs. Who’s Who type pages), I’m probably going to grab the Teen Titans Academy Yearbook (even if it’s too early in the run for a ‘yearbook’). Maybe midterm report cards…

James Fulton

1 HC and 4 books this week.

  • Batman By John Ridley The Deluxe Edition HC
  • Green Arrow 80th Anniversary 100-Page Super Spectacular #1
  • Infinite Frontier Secret Files #1
  • Mighty Crusaders: The Shield #1
  • Teen Titans Academy 2021 Yearbook #1

What did you find worth reading during the week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #603 With SWORD #6, Black Hammer Reborn #1, Ascender #16, Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #603 With SWORD #6, Black Hammer Reborn #1, Ascender #16, Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | June 28, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

SWORD #6 – I’ve said it many times, but I continue to think that Al Ewing is the most exciting writer at Marvel this decade.  This issue deals with the fallout of the Hellfire Gala, and the moves that Krakoa has made on the galactic stage.  Abigail Brand and some of her people meet with ambassadors from other galactic civilizations to discuss the new changes.  The thing is, they have even more surprises in store, as we learn the uses of mysterium, and see how Krakoa is looking to shore up interplanetary trade.  This issue is thrilling in a way that intergovernmental negotiations rarely are, and makes some big changes that should reverberate in other Marvel series (like Ewing’s Guardians of the Galaxy).  I really like this book, even though it’s one of the least conventional that Marvel is publishing these days.

Quick Takes:

Ascender #16 – Tim is reunited with Telsa, Digger, and the others, but they don’t get much time to enjoy one another’s company before Mother discovers them, and it looks like we’re moving towards the end of this series sooner than later.  Dustin Nguyen’s art on this book is always so beautiful, and I like how he’s made Tim look older or more mature, even though he’s not capable of physical growth.  This is a solid series.

Black Hammer Reborn #1 – Jeff Lemire returns to the central characters of the Black Hammer universe with this new title.  He’s joined by artist Caitlin Yarsky, whose work evokes Dean Ormston’s, but also has its own style.  Lucy, the second Black Hammer, spent some time as a great superhero, but now she’s retired, and is trying to raise her family.  She’s having some issues with her husband, and trouble connecting with her teenage daughter.  She’s unhappy at work, and comes off as haunted by whatever ended her superhero career.  Now, TRIDENT is the organization that looks after weirdness, so even when what appears to be a portal to the Para-Zone opens in the middle of Spiral City, she does not want to get involved, even though she knows she should.  It’s an interesting debut, and I like that Lemire looks poised to bring more of the characters in this expanding universe into the story.  Yarsky’s art is great, and I’m excited about this property again.

Gamma Flight #1 – Three Al Ewing books this week?  What a treat.  This miniseries has him collaborating with Crystal Frasier as co-writer, and Lan Medina on art.  The book spins out of his Immortal Hulk, and features Puck, Titania, Absorbing Man, Leonard Sasquatch (Samson in Sasquatch’s body), with Dr. McGowan and Rick Jones.  They are still dealing with Gamma-related issues, while on the run from Alpha Flight.  Ewing has done good work with all of these characters in Hulk, so I’m glad to see him spend more time with them here.  I really like the way Absorbing Man has changed over the last decade, so it’s cool to see more of him in this book.

Giga #4 – Alex Paknadel brings the whole plot of this series into sharp focus with this issue, as we learn just who is behind the looming war between the people of the cities, who worship “dead” giant robots, and the Dusters who live away from them.  Paknadel is one of the most interesting writers in comics these days, and I’ve enjoyed the way he’s built and shaped this series.  Artist John Lê’s work looks much looser in this issue than I remember from the previous ones, and I like it.  I’m looking forward to seeing how this all ends.

Guardians of the Galaxy #15 – Al Ewing appreciation week continues.  This issue ties in to the Hellfire Gala and the issue of SWORD discussed above, as Nova and Star-Lord travel to The Peak to enter into negotiations with Abigail Brand and Krakoa.  Rich doesn’t react well to Magneto’s presence though.  At the same time, the mystery surrounding Ego, the Living Planet continues, and we learn just what the next big threat is, which surprised me.  This book is on a great run right now.

Manifest Destiny #44 – The Lewis and Clark Expedition just keeps coming across more and more problems, and now they find themselves vulnerable in land where the locals are hostile towards all of them but one.  We learn more about Sacagawea this issue, and the true purpose of the expedition is finally shared with everyone.  This book looks like it’s going to get more brutal in the months ahead, and that’s saying something.

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #3 – I wasn’t sure I’d ever see another Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Avon Oeming collaboration again, so I liked their story in this issue, which has Andy running into someone she met when he was a child during the First World War.  The second story didn’t really work for me, but I was really tired when I read it.

Robin #3 – I’m continuing to really like this series, as Damian explores this secret island where he’s entered a tournament.  Connor Hawke is back, and gets a little screen time.  Joshua Williamson has a really good handle on Damian’s character, and Gleb Melnikov’s art is very nice.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #13 – I really love Rafaelle Ienco’s art on this book.  As we move into the War of the Bounty Hunters, Vader and Oochi are out searching for Luke, and figure that the best way to find him would be to get Han Solo back. This leads to a fight with IG-88, which looks pretty cool.  I’m also curious about the people behind IG-88’s mission, which I’m sure we’ll be seeing a lot more of.

Teen Titans Academy #4 – Steve Lieber turns up as guest artist for this issue, which focuses on the Bat Pack, three teens who are determined to figure out the identity of Red X.  They investigate their teammates, giving us a little more insight into some of the characters who haven’t received much screen time yet.  There’s a more jokey, silly aspect to this issue than the first three, but it all fits together pretty nicely.  I’m still kind of lost on the history of Red X, and exactly when Nightwing used that identity, but I’m hoping it will get explained at some point.

Undiscovered Country #13 – We are back, but in a new zone of America – Zone Possibility, which is somehow an ocean and string of islands, in what should be the middle of the United States.  This is where I get lost on this title – none of its concepts make sense under any kind of scrutiny.  But, Charles Soule and Scott Snyder are playing with bigger ideas, and I’ve grown to like the characters, even when I spend half the time thinking this book is kind of nonsense.

Way of X #3 – Nightcrawler is having a rough time lately, and that’s manifested with him getting pretty wasted at the Hellfire Gala, and then having to deal with the hangover the next day.  Si Spurrier is using this miniseries to bring back a number of the most offbeat mutants.  In addition to Legion and Dr. Nemesis, Stacy X returns, with a different viewpoint on the first law of Krakoa, to make more mutants.  Spurrier is really exploring the fabric of Krakoan society in this book, and I enjoy that.  I’m also happy to see the Xorn brothers, even if they don’t do much in this issue.

Wolverine #13 – I think part of my problem with Wolverine, the title, not the character, is that this book rarely feels like its his own.  This entire issue, set at the Hellfire Gala, is an X-Force story, continuing the events of that book’s last issue, and wrapping up plotlines that Ben Percy started over there ages ago.  Wolverine is in the book, but he’s not the main character.  I feel like Percy has nothing to say about Logan, and so we keep getting these stories that never really hit home.

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

Fantastic Four Life Story #2

Infinite Frontier #1

The Week in Music:

MNDSGN – Rare Pleasure – MNDSGN (pronounced Mind Design) got the title of this album right.  His previous work was more beat-heavy, but he’s grown and stretched as an artist, incorporating his own vocals and a variety of instruments into his work.  This is the evolution of the LA beat scene, as the album explores pop and ambient, and provides a nice summer style soundtrack.  It’s a lovely album.

Portico Quartet – Terrain – This album is only three tracks long, but they are substantial sonic explorations, falling somewhere between jazz and ambient music.  They sound very much like a Gondwana Records release, and I’m here for that.  This is good late night reading chill out music.  I’m still sad that I missed my chance to see them perform live last year when the pandemic canceled their shows.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #602 With Planet-Size X-Men #1, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #1, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1, Star Wars #14 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #602 With Planet-Size X-Men #1, Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #1, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1, Star Wars #14 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | June 21, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Planet-Size X-Men #1 – I don’t want to give away the content of this issue, but let’s just say that it’s got the right title.  Magneto has been cooking up a pretty big plan for a while now, and it’s during the Hellfire Gala that it gets put into motion.  Now we can understand what shocked so many of the guests, as we saw in the latest issue of Marauders, and for once, I think that the hype about this issue changing the Marvel Universe is correct.  At the same time, it might not have a lot of effect on other Marvel titles.  I do think that it will rub up against some plot points from Jonathan Hickman’s Avengers run, which might be interesting.  This is a very well-written issue, thanks to Gerry Duggan, and it looks great, thanks to Pepe Larraz.  This was a very meaty issue, and I’m thankful that Marvel didn’t try to squeeze an extra dollar on the cover price.

Quick Takes:

Alien #4 – Nothing says Alien more than people running around on a space station trying to avoid xenomorphs and getting into arguments with each other.  That’s all we really want from this book, right?  Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Slavador Larroca continue to deliver a good, exciting story with enough character development to keep things interesting.

Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #7 – I was curious to see how this latest storyline, which has Grendel-Prime seeking to overturn a centuries-long tradition of trial by combat on a distant world as a precursor to making it the next home of the human race, would turn out.  I didn’t expect it to turn into a pretty funny parody of Donald Trump, but that’s what Matt Wagner gives us this week.  I’m sad that there’s only one more issue remaining in this series, it’s been really good.

Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem #1 – Mark Millar returns to this world for a twelve-issue final series.  In it, he jumps into the future, where the grandchildren of the original heroes are more or less running things.  They are curious about the secrets of the island that gave the first Utopian his powers, and it looks like Millar is going to use this series to tie up any dangling threads from the start.  Tommy Lee Edwards draws this issue, and it’s pretty gorgeous, although the colouring effect felt a little weird in places.  There’s a flashback sequence inked by the great and recently departed John Paul Leon, which felt like a real treat to see.  There are a lot of characters introduced in this issue, and I spent much of it trying to remember the details of the last Jupiter’s run.  Luckily, I did just watch the Netflix show, so things were a little more familiar.  I liked this.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #27 – Miles’s clone saga continues, as we learn a little more about the three clones who are making his life so difficult, and get a good sense of their leader, Selim.  This book was slipping for a while, but I think that Saladin Ahmed has a good handle on it again, and I’ve grown to appreciate artist Carmen Carnero.

New Mutants #19 – It’s Hellfire Gala time for the cast of this book, at least most of the classic characters.  Warlock is feeling lost now that Doug is married (I honestly thought their relationship was going to go a different way earlier on in this series), and Rahne is still upset with Dani for not being there for her.  This issue is mostly plotless, aside from some dark stuff with Gabby at the end, but was enjoyable.  I don’t understand why Karma went through the Crucible, and chose to be reborn without her leg though.  I would have thought that she would have taken the opportunity to fix that.

Sacred Six #10 – At the ten issue mark, it often feels like this book is still assembling its team.  We learn about the connection between the Gardener and the vampire hunter on a motorcycle, as the remnants of the group Lilith gathered discuss their next steps.  This book is starting to feel way too unstructured for me, but I see that there are actually only two issues left, so it’s whatever.  I wondered how Priest was going to keep things going, with Vampirella appearing in two different places at the same time.

Silver Coin #3 – I was really looking forward to this issue, written by Ed Brisson, because he’s so good at dark and crime-ridden stories.  Instead, this one felt like it was done in a big rush, and I didn’t feel very connected to any of the characters.  I still love the concept behind this series, and how artist Michael Walsh collaborates with a different writer each issue.  Next month it’s Jeff Lemire, so that should be good.

Star Wars #14 – The War of the Bounty Hunters has Leia, Chewie, Han, Lobot, and C3PO on their way to the auction Crimson Dawn has arranged.  A number of Charles Soule’s plotlines are colliding here, and he’s showing a real good understanding of Leia’s and Lando’s characters.  I am enjoying this event so far.

Stillwater #8 – This time around we get some backstory on the Sheriff of Stillwater, and learn that she’s not originally from the town.  Chip Zdarsky and Ramón Perez have crafted a really interesting book about a town where no one ages or dies, and it’s nice to get a chance to get to know the extended cast a little better.  This series has a lot of story potential, and I like the way Zdarsky is slowly expanding our knowledge.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 – I preordered this based on the fact that writer Tom King does his best work (Vision, Mister Miracle, Rorschach, and Strange Adventures) by focusing on underutilized characters who have a long past.  For this eight-part series, he’s partnered with the excellent Bilquis Evely, whose work is magnificent here.  I was a little confused when I started reading, as this is a fantasy series, with sword-wielding barbarian types.  A young woman is furious that a corrupt official has killed her father, and is on the road seeking revenge.  Her path crosses with Supergirl, who has come to this red-sun world to get drunk on her birthday.  This is definitely not what I was expecting from this title, but King is good.  He usually takes a very formalist, structured approach to his writing, but I don’t see that here.  This seems to be a more character-driven story, and I’m down for it, especially with Evely’s art and the gorgeous colours of Matheus Lopes.

X-Corp #2 – I think this might be the most perplexing X-book, as it so far has all been about Warren and Monet starting a company that is already fully set up, aside from its board of directors.  They spend this issue interviewing people at the Hellfire Gala, while basically snubbing Jamie Madrox.  All of the characterizations feel kind of off here.  This is not how I would expect Warren to act, and I don’t like the way they portray Monet.  If this weren’t a miniseries, I’d probably be dropping it, but I am curious to know what the point of all this is.  I need a better explanation of the difference between X-Corp and Hellfire too, and I’d like to know why they need a massive island helicarrier.  There’s too much flash here, without enough substance.

The Week in Music:

Sedibus – The Heavens – I’ve talked on here before about how The Orb were a seminal band for me growing up, introducing me to the world of ambient house.  Now they seem to have started their own label, Orbscure, from which this is the first release.  Sedibus are The Orb’s Dr. Alex Patterson and Andy Falconer, who was involved in some of the earlier Orb recordings.  It sounds like them, and it’s lovely.  I had a few hours of drudgework to do the other day, and this just made it fly by, as I found it transported me to another world, and wormed its way in and out of my brain while I was listening.  I like it better than the last Orb album.

Jaubi – Nafs At Peace – This is an incredible album of spiritual jazz from a group of mostly Pakistani musicians, and it is beautiful.  Jaubi is joined by Tenderlonious, the prolific sax and flute player, and this whole thing is just such a vibe.  I like how they weave what I think of as familiar jazz with an Eastern viewpoint.  It’s going to get a lot of play this summer.

Mustafa- When Smoke Rises – Mustafa, once known as Mustafa the Poet, has been a part of Toronto’s poetry and hip hop scene for more than a decade now, first achieving fame while still in middle school.  This is his official first album, and it is haunting and lovely.  Mustafa writes and sings about lost friends.  This elegiac album is as much a folk record as it is pop or r’n’b.  His voice is plaintive and hurting, and the stripped down production (by Frank Dukes, with assistance from James Blake and Jamie XX) is haunting and sparse.  It’s a really short album, but there’s a lot in here to digest.  It was just placed on the long list for the Polaris Prize this year, and I can see it winning.  It’s really worth listening to.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 6/16/2021 – Jupiter’s Legacy, Hellfire Club, Nightwing, Sacred Six & More!

Pull List Roundtable 6/16/2021 – Jupiter’s Legacy, Hellfire Club, Nightwing, Sacred Six & More!

John Babos | June 21, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Jupiter’s Legacy: Requiem – Mark Millar brings these characters back, with Tommy Lee Edwards providing art. I’ve always liked the Jupiter’s books, and enjoyed the Netflix series this is sort of coinciding with.

Planet-Size X-Men – I’ve been enjoying the Hellfire Gala, and am curious to learn what Emma’s big announcement is all about. I assume that will be in this issue.

Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow – I’ve been enjoying Tom King’s miniseries that focus on lower-tier DC characters. I have no idea who Supergirl is these days, but trust King to make her story interesting.

I’m also looking forward to new issues of Alien, Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, New Mutants, Sacred Six, Silver Coin, Star Wars, Stillwater, and X-Corp.

John Babos

6 books this week.

  • Flash #771
  • Heroes Reborn #7
  • Nightwing #81
  • Planet-Size X-Men #1
  • Radiant Black #5
  • Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1

What did you find worth reading during the week?

Tags: Pull List

The Weekly Round-Up #601 With Far Sector #12, Oblivion Song #31, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #13, X-Men #21 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #601 With Far Sector #12, Oblivion Song #31, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #13, X-Men #21 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | June 14, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Far Sector #12 – I’m sad to see this series come to an end.  I’ve really enjoyed NK Jemisin’s exploration of the City Enduring through the eyes of Jo Mullein, the latest Green Lantern from Earth.  Jemisin’s world building was incredible, with the City being portrayed as an endless complex society that is being shaken to its core by revolutionary ideas around the emotion exploit that all citizens take to keep their world stable.  More than that, though, this hard science fiction series explores issues of policing on Earth, and the challenges in Jo’s life in a way that is novel and very effective.  Jamal Campbell’s art is lovely throughout this series, and really breathes life into the City and its inhabitants.  I’m left wanting to read more about Jo (I know she’s in the new Green Lantern series Geoffrey Thorne is writing, but the first issue didn’t exactly grab me).  I don’t often think of Green Lanterns as cops, so I like the way Jemisin explored that aspect of them a little, and how she set up a few potential future storylines for her to return to (I really hope she does).  I see that this series is up for an Eisner this year, and I think it’s highly deserving.  This was a great read.

Quick Takes:

Die #17 – The party confronts the shade of HP Lovecraft, and learns the truth about the Fallen, the zombie-like characters that are around every corner in Die.  This book is moving towards something big, and it stays interesting while doing it.  I love that the characters in this series are so fleshed out, but also not all that likeable.  I’m not sure I’m rooting for any of them.

Iron Man #9 – I’m quickly losing interest in this series.  This issue is the second in a row without Tony Stark, as Korvac heads to a remote planet to recruit the original Human Torch, the android Jim Hammond, who has been stuck in an Iron Man body since the recent Invaders series, to his cause.  Jim is an often mis-handled character, and it seems that Cantwell wants to set him right here, but I found that it just didn’t really hold my attention.  Something needs to happen in this story, and quickly.  Cantwell’s Doctor Doom was so good, but I’m not feeling the same way about Iron Man.

Oblivion Song #31 – This is another big issue, as the Kuthaal swap three cities on Earth for their own facilities on Oblivion.  Our heroes hatch a few plans to deal with this, including sending Nate and his new Ghozan allies to Oblivion to try to get the Earth cities back before everyone in them is slaughtered.  It’s another exciting issue that ends with another unpredictable twist.  This series has been entertaining from the jump, and just keeps ratcheting things up as it approaches its conclusion.

Rorschach #9 – Our nameless protagonist goes to the farmhouse where Myerson and the kid planned their assassination.  It looks like he finally gets a big break in the case, uncovering a potential link to politics.  This series is slowly simmering on the pot, and doesn’t seem to be getting a lot of buzz, but it’s very good in that Tom King formalist way.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #13 – Valance and Dengar continue their hunt for Han Solo, and come across Chewbacca and C-3PO at the same time.  The main storyline in this book is fine, but I’m having trouble remembering who a lot of these secondary characters are.

X-Men #21 – The Hellfire Gala continues, and we finally get to see the new X-Men lineup (which, if I’m being honest, isn’t all that impressive).  This issue has a few artists, and it was great to see Nick Dragotta reunite with Jonathan Hickman for a few pages.  I miss their East of West, and enjoyed Dragotta’s bizarre choice of outfit for Magneto.  This issue felt a little disjointed, but I guess it’s mostly just set-up for the Planet-Sized special next week.  

Bargain Comics:

Suicide Squad #1-11 – I regret not supporting this version of the Squad, by Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo (mostly) as it came out.  Taylor’s proven himself to be very good at writing superhero stories that have a different kind of edge to them, and Redondo’s art is very nice.  This Squad really shook things up compared to the more traditional approach.  Amanda Waller was out, and the only team members regularly associated with the team were Deadshot and Harley Quinn.  Instead, a group who call themselves the Revolutionaries got pressed into working for Task Force X, and then led a revolt against it.  The new characters in this book are great – they remind me a bit of the Authority, and I hope we get to see more of them in the future.  The end of this series felt rushed, probably because of DC’s Infinite Frontier plans, but I’m hoping that these new characters exist somewhere still, and will come back.  I also now understand why Deadshot is not appearing in the latest Suicide Squad, which I’ve started buying (and now realize is nowhere near as good as this version).

The Week in Music:

Menagerie – Many Worlds – I’m always in the mood for more spiritual jazz, and like this album that’s come from Australia.  I know nothing about this band, but they sound great.

Amanda Whiting – After Dark – Keeping in that spiritual jazz vein, this is a beautiful and soulful jazz album built around Whiting’s transcendent harp music.  Most every release on Jazzman Records is worth your time, and this is no exception.

Gogo Penguin – GGP/RMX – This is a collection of remixes from Gogo Penguin’s recent self-titled album.  It has eleven new takes on their work that bring the spacey jazz trio into realms of drum and bass and other forms of techno.  The remixes are by people like Machinedrum, Squarepusher, Clark, 808 State, and former label mates Portico Quartet.  It’s not the most cohesive thing I’ve ever heard, but as a fan of both types of sound, I like this.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #600 (Woah)

The Weekly Round-Up #600 (Woah)

James Fulton | June 8, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Editor’s Note – James reaches another milestone as our eclectic iron man as his weekly column reaches #600; he’s been putting his passion into this for over 11.5 years. This column has put a needed spotlight on important comics that are not only from the Big 3, but from all publishers big and not-so-big. He’s also seasoned many columns with his eclectic musical tastes too. Thank you for sharing your interest and infectious passion with us James! We’re better for it. Now onto the milestone column. – John

Best Comic of the Week:

Marauders #21 – It’s Hellfire Gala time, and this issue is the main event for the week.  We see the beginning of Emma’s grand evening, and I enjoyed the various character interactions that made this an entertaining issue.  We’ve got the Avengers, the Fantastic Four, Doctor Doom, Peter Gyrich, some world leaders, and other heroes showing up as guests, and Emma orchestrating the whole thing with wit.  There are some funny scenes, building to Emma’s true purpose, which is kept secret.  The twist in this issue isn’t actually revealed, which I found to be an entertaining approach.  I’m looking forward to seeing where all this is headed.  I like that this issue also included a reprint of the backup from an old issue of Classic X-Men, the only actual appearance of Lourdes, the woman who Sebastian Shaw has been thinking about lately.  I’d forgotten how Shaw came to run the original Hellfire Club, so this was a good reminder.  I still think it’s wild that John Bolton used to draw these backups for Chris Claremont, to retcon and fill in gaps in X-Men history.  It’s all good stuff.

Quick Takes:

Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #3 – We continue with the story from post-War Japan, where Emrys and his assistant Mullins meet the local equivalent of Wise Dogs, and try to get some help from the Yokai.  This is a very middle issue, and as such, it didn’t do a whole lot for me.  I enjoy this book a lot, but found this chapter a little slow.

Dead Dog’s Bite #4 – Tyler Boss is a very unique creator, and I enjoyed this series a lot.  This final issue reveals the secrets of the town of Pendermills, and while things get weird, it does end very well.  The art in this series is incredible.

Deadly Class #46 – This issue served up one surprise after another, as Rick Remender and Wes Craig jump forward in time again, and have Marcus getting together with some of his old friends to rehash past events, and maybe clear up some karmic debts.  Last issue left me unsure, but with this one, I really get the sense that Remender is winding the series down, and while I’ll miss it, I think I’m okay with that.  There is so much character development in this book, and so much life and detail in it, that it’s got to be exhausting to make.  This was a really solid issue.

Everfrost #1 – I picked this up because I’ve really been enjoying Sami Kivelä’s work on a ton of indie comics lately (Abbott 1973, Undone By Blood).  The last book I read that he did with Ryan Lindsay (Beautiful Canvas) was a mess of ideas.  It seems like the same thing is happening here.  There’s a scientist who is living in the remote skull of a dead god whose corpse has poisoned the whole world.  She’s working on figuring out a way off the planet, by planting seeds extracted from creatures into the corpse of the god.  She hangs out with a talking monkey thing.  She discovers that her dead son has been cloned into a number of tiny underwater illegal squid fighters.  I’m missing some of the other concepts that got tossed at us too quickly to fully process.  This book is a mess, but it’s a pretty one.  I don’t know if I’m going to get the next issue though; I need to read this again and see if I can make some more sense out of it.

Family Tree #12 – I’m a little surprised that Family Tree ended after only twelve issues, and wonder if Jeff Lemire and Phil Hester had a longer story planned.  We do get a sense of emotional closure from this issue, but I’m left with a lot of questions about the whole people turning into trees and ending the world thing.  Nothing really gets explained, and it leaves it feeling unfinished.

Fire Power #12 – If I’m being honest, I expected a much bigger issue here.  Sure, this one is oversized, and wraps up the fight between the Temple of the Flaming Fist and the Scorched Earth Clan.  As I was reading this, I worried that the series was actually ending, as it seemed to wrap up almost every plotline, but apparently this book is still going.  I am so used to Robert Kirkman tossing a massive twist into his key issues, that I was left confused by how things played out here.  This is an immensely entertaining book, so I am ready to see where things go next.

Hellions #12 – I read this Hellfire Gala tie-in last of this week’s three, but alphabetizing means that I’m placing it first in this column.  I’m liking these Gala stories a lot.  This one has the less savory members of the Hellions crashing the Gala after Sinister and Kwannon left them at home, and things get kind of chaotic, as they don’t really know how to behave in polite company.  This was a fun issue.

Hollow Heart #4 – Mateo has set up a home for him and El, and they seem to be having a pretty good life, until El, the monstrous modified cyborg, starts to notice certain things, and begins to wonder if Mateo is being straight with him.  This series, by Paul Allor and Paul Tucker, always starts each issue with a story about betrayal, and it really adds to the atmosphere.  I was sure that I’d like this comic, but it’s exceeded my expectations time and again, as a very serious character study.

Immortal Hulk #47 – She-Hulk finally gets dragged into all of the madness revolving around the rest of her gamma family, as Hulk’s fight with the Avengers ends up bringing in Gamma Flight and a few others.  Al Ewing keeps building towards his big finish, and this book stays fantastic.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters #1 – This new Star Wars event is satisfying my desire to see more Boba Fett in the world, and Luke Ross’s art is really very nice here.  Boba’s after the people who stole Han Solo from him, and we finally learn just who that is.  I guessed the revelation a few pages before we saw her, and am happy to see Charles Soule addressing this dangling plot thread from the movies.  I have a good feeling about this event, although I think some of the tie-in issues will be tenuously connected.

Suicide Squad #4 – I stay confused by this Red X character, who is a kid but also so knowledgeable and aware of government secrets.  Red X was taken prisoner by the Squad in Teen Titans Academy, but that seems to have been part of his plan all along.  I am interested in this book, but am hoping we get a little more information soon. It’s strange that the most familiar character in this book is Peacemaker (I’m not counting Superboy, because he doesn’t seem to be himself).

Tankers #2 – Robert Venditti and Juan José Ryp’s squad of time travellers have to deal with the twist tossed their way at the end of the first issue.  It’s a lot of powerful dinosaurs fighting people in tank-like exoskeletons, with some great Ryp artwork.  This is basically a big dumb action movie, but a good one.

Vampirella #20 – This series is getting a lot wilder, as Priest has things all collide on Drakulon, and we get to know the first man to walk on the moon, who you’ve never heard of.  It’s an odd issue, and doesn’t feature Vampirella’s therapist at all, perhaps for the first time.  I continue to get a lot of enjoyment out of this book.

X-Force #20 – It kind of surprises me that anyone trusts Beast to do anything anymore.  He’s trying to use the Hellfire Gala to his own ends, as we see some of the scenes from this week’s Marauders in a different light.  It’s cool how coordinated this whole event is shaping up to be, and Ben Percy does have some interesting takes on his main characters.

The Week in Music:

McKinley Dixon – For My Mama and Anyone Who Look Like Her – I love jazzy hiphop, but this album blows many others in the genre out of the water.  Dixon is a great lyricist, filling this album with hard bars and some very introspective songs.  Most of the tracks have him rapping over a live band (and, in one case, a full string ensemble), and it all works so well.  He’s relatively new to the game, and shows so much promise on this album, which is on its way to being one of my favourites of 2021.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #599 With Beta Ray Bill #3, Alien #3, Teen Titan Academy #3, Department Of Truth #9 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #599 With Beta Ray Bill #3, Alien #3, Teen Titan Academy #3, Department Of Truth #9 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | May 31, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Beta Ray Bill #3 – Daniel Warren Johnson has Bill and his associates, including the newly ambulatory Skuttlebutt, navigating a lake of lava in an attempt to complete the quest that Odin has put them on.  Johnson is doing an amazing job on this book.  His art alone is enough to sell me on this title, but he’s really giving Bill’s character some depth, and making this an interesting, as well as visually stunning, read.

Quick Takes:

Abbott 1973 #5 – This latest series comes to a strong close, as Elena faces off against The Hunter, the Umbra that stole her girlfriend.  This series, by Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä, is very good.  I especially like the way that they capture 1970s Detroit in it.  I am hoping for a third Abbott series soon.

Alien #3 – I’m starting to really like this series, as Gabe finds some survivors on the space station, but also finds more xenomorphs than he’d hoped to.  Salvador Larroca continues to be the right artist for this book, capturing the alien-ness of the aliens, but also the feel and look of the movies.  I’m enjoying this first arc, but three issues in, don’t necessarily see a larger story taking shape.

Ascender #15 – Tim has returned, and it’s time to gain an understanding of where the little robot has been and what he’s been up to since the end of the Descender series.  I don’t have a whole lot to say about this issue, which explores the mysteries of the universe, but I have to give Dustin Nguyen credit for always making this book so beautiful and alien.  His work on Descender and Ascender has been amazing.

Black Panther #25 – Ta-Nehisi Coates brings his five year run with T’Challa to a close in this issue.  So far as endings go, it’s a pretty good one, with Wakanda and its allies finishing their war with the intergalactic Wakandan empire, while the Goddess Bast has to decide her role in things.  This second Coates run was much more dynamic than the first, which got a little bogged down in dialogue at times.  I found this run was damaged by the year between issues, as the book was delayed a lot during the pandemic, but Coates, regular artist Daniel Acuña, and returning artist Brian Stelfreeze stuck the landing here.  Coates brought a lot of new ideas to his Panther run, and I think that T’Challa is in a better place for it.  I never liked Shuri before Coates came along, and now I think she’s a very cool character.  I’m intrigued by the next Panther series, which will be written by John Ridley and drawn by Juann Cabal (who is amazing), so I’ll probably be checking it out.  It’ll be interesting to see where other writers take T’Challa from here.

Department of Truth #9 – We get to learn a lot more about Hawk, and get a lengthy lecture about magic that feels like it wouldn’t be out of place in some older Invisibles or Hellblazer comics.  This series takes me back to peak Vertigo a lot, and fills in the hole that was left when that line fizzled out.  I like this series, and am interested in what James Tynion IV is doing with it, but at times, it feels a little anachronistic, which is odd considering it’s dealing with very current conspiracy theories.  I do appreciate the levels of thought and planning that have gone into this book.

Dune: House Atreides #7 – This issue finally spends most of its time focusing on the Atreides family, with check-ins on Arrakis and Geidi Prime.  The more I read this series, the more the original Dune novels come back to me.  It’s been a long time since I’ve read them.  I am enjoying this series, although I thought it would have more of a centralized plot, instead of just setting up the novels.

I Breathed A Body #5 – I’m a big fan of Zac Thompson’s work when he writes with Lonnie Nadler, but I find a lot of his solo writing doesn’t do it for me.  I’m going to admit that I didn’t really get the last two issues of this miniseries, which is about social media, telephones, and fungal life.  Body horror does not always attract me, and I kind of lost track of the plot somewhere here.

Manifest Destiny #43 – It’s been a long time since we’ve seen the Lewis and Clark expedition, and their mission is going worse than ever before.  They’ve lost their boat, and are left struggling with limited supplies and their pirogue, which is not much help when they reach the Rocky Mountains, and find yet another arch.  I’ve really enjoyed this book, and am excited to see how this final arc plays out.  I think I can safely predict that by the end, there are only going to be a couple of characters left, the way they’re shedding them.

Miles Morales: Spider-Man #26 – Miles confronts his three clones, and of course things don’t go well.  Miles’s original impulses are correct, but later, he makes a big mistake.  I find the clones pretty interesting, at least Selim, the leader, who seems very knowledgeable and driven.  There are a lot of questions that will still need to be answered, but I’m enjoying this arc.   

New Mutants #18 – With this issue, it finally feels like Vita Ayala’s storyline is coming together.  Karma is determined to remove her twin brother’s life force from her brain by going through the Crucible and getting resurrected (that will also give her back her leg, which I’m sure she’d be okay with.  Honey Badger has come to realize that her friends are playing a dangerous game, listening to the Shadow King, who it looks like, has his hooks into one of the classic New Mutants.  This issue felt better balanced than ay in this arc, although I’m still having a hard time with how Anole is being portrayed as so much younger and less mature than he has been before.

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #2 – Kelly Sue DeConnic and Valentine DeLandro reunite to tell a story in this Old Guard anthology series!  It gives me hope that maybe Bitch Planet will finish one day, although I guess that’s unlikely.  It’s a good story set in Japan, and the second story, by Eric Trautmann and Mike Henderson, set in the Old West, is also good.  

Robin #2 – I think I’m officially onboard for Joshua Williamson’s Robin.  Damian has gone to a secret island where assassins battle in a tournament to become a member of the League of Lazarus.  We see some familiar characters, like Ravager and Connor Hawke, and get to enjoy Williamson’s portrayal of Damian.  I’m enjoying the art, by Gleb Melnikov, and find myself excited to be enjoying some DC comics again.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #12 – This issue serves as a bridge between the last arc and the War of the Bounty Hunters event.  It has Vader getting put back together after the last arc, and then thinking a lot about Han Solo.  We see a little untold vignette where he almost caught the smuggler that also answers my life-long question of whether or not the Millennium Falcon is a one-off ship, or if there are others like it.  This is a very nicely-drawn issue, thanks to Guiu Villanova, although a bit of a quick read.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #10 – Aphra wraps up her first mission for Domina Tagge, and is given another.  Some of the connections to War of the Bounty Hunters look a little forced in some Star Wars series (by which I mean this one).  This series is growing on me, but it’s taking a long time.

Strange Adventures #10 – We are finally closer to learning the mystery that has fueled this book from its start, as Mister Terrific pieces together all the information, and lets Alanna know what he’s figured out.  As before, Tom King shifts the narrative from the present, where Earth’s war with the Pykkts is going very poorly, to the past, where we see Adam lead the people of Rann to victory against this superior force.  I like how Tom King structures these series (this book belongs alongside Mister Miracle, Rorschach, and his Vision title at Marvel), and uses them to explore the main character while never really letting us inside their head.  It’s a very good series.

Teen Titan Academy #3 – Like with Robin, I think I’ve read enough to convince me to stick with this latest version of the Teen Titans.  I like how writer Tim Sheridan is balancing the original team, the latest iteration, and the students, managing to give many of them their own moments in an issue packed with an attack from the Suicide Squad, who are coming to kidnap Bolt.  There’s a lot happening in this issue, including the continued mystery of Red X, and portents of doom from Raven.  It’s a lot to juggle, but it is working, and I want more.  I also really like how much more cohesive DC is starting to feel, with this lining up very well with what’s happening in the Squad’s own book, and setting up the new Lobo and Crush miniseries.  

Two Moons #4 – Virgil finally gains some allies when more monsters disguised as Union soldiers come after him.  As this series continues, I find myself enjoying it more and more.  I like how John Arcudi is blending the Civil War with horror.  

X-Men #20 – I’m not too sure where the X-books are headed, with the news that X-Men is about to be relaunched with Gerry Duggan writing it, but it looks like it has spurred Jonathan Hickman to clean up a few threads here.  Mystique goes after Orchis again, attempting to stop the birth of Nimrod, in return for Destiny’s resurrection.  Things don’t all go as planned, and we get to finally revisit a central idea of House of X and Powers of X. I’m always happy to see that there’s still a plan here, as sometimes, it doesn’t look like it.  This was also a pretty exciting issue.

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

Finder: Chase the Lady TP

Firefly #29

Mister Miracle: The Source of Freedom #1

Other History of the DC Universe #4

The Week in Music:

Sons of Kemet – Black to the Future – This album came at the perfect time.  Sons of Kemet are an incredible dance/jazz band from London, made up of two drums, a tuba, and either a saxophone or clarinet, played by the legendary Shabaka Hutchings.  This band reminds me of the heyday of Afrobeat, in that they take political ideas and black consciousness, and centre them in the middle of some very danceable party music.  This is a serious album that also slaps.  It’s unconventional, and feels very good.  This album features some incredible guests (Moor Mother, Angel Bat Dawid, and Kojey Radical), but the show still belongs to Hutchings and tuba player Theon Cross.  This is going to be on the best of the year list for sure.

Har Mar Superstar – Roseville – I feel a little odd about including this here.  A couple of weeks after I preordered Har Mar’s new album, allegations were made against him for some pretty toxic behaviour directed towards women over the years.  I don’t know if anyone who’s ever seen him perform live could be surprised by this – he portrays himself as a smarmy performer on stage, usually dancing shirtless or in his underwear (and always doing one song while performing a handstand).  Har Mar’s part of the Minneapolis music scene, which in the wake of George Floyd’s death last summer, went through a brutal few months of revelations and accusations.  Many of the artists from that city’s hip hop scene, who I admire the most, got taken down or forever tainted with guilt by association.  Har Mar had appeared to be kept out of it – his social media showed him buying food for areas impacted by police violence and the uprisings, or driving around in his new job with USPS.  And then the stories started coming out about him.  And I forgot that I’d ordered this disc until I got a shipping notification.  So, I’m struggling to separate Har Mar’s music from what we’ve learned about him.  Because no matter what, Har Mar is one of the most perfect pop artists of all time.  His songs are wonderful little confections, perfectly arranged.  This album is really very good.  I wish it wasn’t, because I don’t know how to feel about listening to it.  I hope that he, his scene, and especially the women he victimized get whatever help or healing they need to do and be better.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #598 With Stillwater #7, The Scumbag #8, Sacred Six #9, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #12 & More!

The Weekly Round-Up #598 With Stillwater #7, The Scumbag #8, Sacred Six #9, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #12 & More!

James Fulton | May 24, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Stillwater #7 – This series is really heating up.  A group of ex-Marines have been brought into the town in an effort to bolster the Judge’s position, but he didn’t know anything about the plan, making it kind of awkward.  Daniel sees this as his chance to run with his mother, but that doesn’t work out either, and then in a surprise at the end, we learn what the kids of the town have been up to.  Chip Zdarsky and Ramón Perez have made this one of my favourite books of the last year.

Quick Takes:

Captain America #29 – We’re at the second last chapter of Ta-Nehisi Coates’s run with Cap, and we’re still not at the place where Cap has confronted the Red Skull.  This entire run has moved very slowly, with many action sequences that don’t really go very far.  I don’t imagine I’m going to have any memory of this run in a couple of years, which is a shame because I would have thought that Coates could use the character to say a lot.  These haven’t been bad comics, they just haven’t been very focused.

Daredevil #30 – Matt stays annoying his friends as he rejects their latest attempt to get him out of jail, while Elektra makes a mistake in going after the man that Izzy Libris is putting in charge of crime in Hell’s Kitchen.  Chip Zdarsky keeps moving his various plotlines forward, but little seems to happen in any given issue lately.

Immortal Hulk: Time of Monsters #1 – I’ve generally learned to stay away from Marvel’s one-shots over the last few years, but when one includes writing by Al Ewing and Alex Paknadel, and art by Juan Ferreyra and Kevin Nowlan, it’s hard to resist.  In the main story, Ewing and Paknadel (who is one of my favourite indie writers) tell us a story of a Hulk from the Babylonian era who had access to the Green Door.  I wonder if we’re going to see this guy again, or if Ewing is just establishing that this has been a thing for a long time.  In the backup story, The Scarecrow tries to feed off Bruce Banner’s fears.  I’m always confused by Marvel’s Scarecrow character, because I know the Batman villain so much better.  It’s weird that there are two.  Another thing I don’t understand is why Kevin Nowlan is not considered a true legend.  I’ve always loved his art, and wish he made more comics.  He has not lost a step.

Rain Like Hammers #5 – Brandon Graham wraps up his latest miniseries by returning to Eugene, the character that opened the book, and tying his story into that of Brik Blok and the other characters.  I feel like some elements of this story have gone over my head, but I’m always happy to just gaze at Graham’s art, especially when he’s in one of his Moebius phases.  I enjoyed this series, and the expanded page count of each issue.  I do think it’s cool how his different threads came together at the end here.

Sacred Six #9 – There are a lot of reasons why this book shouldn’t work, but Priest is able to make it a tough read on one hand, and compelling on the other.  The various characters are not making this a team book at all, but the connections between the characters continue to grow.  It’s an interesting companion to his much tighter (but also occasionally very confusing) Vampirella, but you could never read this book on its own and have a hope of understanding it.

The Scumbag #8 – Ernie is conflicted once again, as the hippies on the moon work to recruit him, and turn Sister Mary to their side first.  This leads to a nice scene where we learn the backstory behind both of these main characters, before Ernie makes a mess of things again.  This arc is not as obvious in its social commentary as the first one was, but it’s still a fun book to read.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #12 – Valance is trying to work with Dengar to track down Boba Fett, but the appearance of Zuckuss and 4-LOM really messes things up for him.  This issue lines things up with the upcoming War of the Bounty Hunters event, and works to remind potential new readers of Beilert’s awkward history with Han Solo.  I’m going to stick with this book through the War, but I’m kind of tired of it now.

Undone by Blood or The Other Side of Eden #3 – I love the parallel structure of this series, which has two postal workers in rural Depression-era Texas fleeing from the rich men they’ve just robbed, while in the pulp Western one of them is reading, Solomon Eaton is trying to pull together the wreckage of a botched train robbery.  Both stories are interesting, and I like the way writers Lonnie Nadler and Zac Thompson weave them together thematically.  This is an enjoyable series.

Way of X #2 – I’m enjoying this miniseries, even though it’s not really what I was expecting.  Nightcrawler gets recruited to help Legion, who has fallen into trouble because of Orchis.  This raises questions about whether or not it’s going to be safe to have Legion on Krakoa – he’s always been a handful and very unpredictable.  Si Spurrier is picking up on plot threads from his last X-book (the Legion-centric X-Men Legacy) and also creating space for the less-popular or under-utilized people on the island.  I’m curious to see where he takes things, especially given the revelation of who the Patchwork Man is at the end of the issue.

We Only Find Them When They’re Dead #6 – I wasn’t sure where Al Ewing and Simone Di Meo were planning on taking this series after the end of the first arc, but now, we’ve moved forward some distance in time, and learn that Captain Malik has become the focus of a growing religion.  Ewing is playing with big ideas in this series, and I feel like it’s only getting more interesting.  I still find Di Meo’s art a little hard to follow though.

Wolverine #12 – I’m still not sure what Ben Percy is trying to do with this book.  Logan is approached by Omega Red with a plan to stop the vampires, which he goes along with.  I’m getting a little bored with this title, and am wondering if it’s time to start culling some mutant books…

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

Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #3

Mighty Valkyries #2

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 5/12/2021 – Hank Howard, Pizza Detective In Caligula’s Safe, X-Corp, Joker, Geiger & More!

Pull List Roundtable 5/12/2021 – Hank Howard, Pizza Detective In Caligula’s Safe, X-Corp, Joker, Geiger & More!

John Babos | May 17, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Hank Howard, Pizza Detective in Caligula’s Safe
– This sounds dumb, but it’s $1, and drawn by David Lapham, so there’s a safe bet that I’ll get something out of it. This is another Bad Idea publicity stunt – apparently you can only buy this book on Wednesday, but that was part of my plan anyway.

X-Corp
– Back when Grant Morrison first introduced the idea of X-Corp in his run, I thought it was a good, if under-explored concept. I like that we’re finally getting a title that’s going to look at the business side of the mutant empire. I only hope that it’s not like every other story that’s ever featured Monet prominently, and it doesn’t become about her brother.

This week I’m looking forward to new issues of Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, Guardians of the Galaxy, Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here, Rorschach, The Silver Coin, Star Wars, and X-Factor.

John Babos

7 books this week.

  • Batman Urban Legends #3
  • Children of the Atom #3
  • DC Festival of Heroes The Asian Superhero Celebration #1
  • Geiger #2
  • Heroes Reborn #2
  • Joker #3
  • Superman #31

Plus a shout to Comics Nexus alum Greg Manuel for his Alleycat 2.0: Pilot out now and available for purchase here.

Felix Thomas is the second to don the mask and cape of the legendary ALLEYCAT of Nebelung Bay City. But, is he ready for what he’ll learn once he comes face to face (to face to face) with the insidious CERBERUS?!

All-ages anthro action and adventure is here: ALLEYCAT 2.0!

What intrigued you this past week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #597 With Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #6, Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #6, Star Wars #13 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #597 With Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #6, Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #6, Star Wars #13 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | May 17, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #6 – This did not end as I’d expected.  I’ve been a fan of Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse’s Resident Alien since it began, and perhaps should have known better than to predict the ending.  Harry is an alien who has been trapped on Earth for decades.  He’s made a life for himself as a small town doctor, surrounded by a group of friends, and he solves the occasional mystery.  It’s a fantastic set up, but since the series of miniseries began, there’s been an ongoing plot thread involving the government’s attempts to track down the alien they know exists.  Now, Harry is confronted by the agent who has tracked him down, just as his people finally return for him.  This has been a great read from the beginning, and I hope we get to see Harry and his friends again someday.  At the same time, this arc ended very nicely.

Quick Takes:

Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #6 – Matt Wagner has been using this series to have the Grendel-Prime explore a number of different worlds, looking for a place to try to restore humanity.  Now he’s on a Medieval world that he hopes to socially engineer away from its barbaric methods of solving conflicts.  I really enjoy these issues, and love Wagner’s art in this book.  It’s too bad that there’s only two issues remaining.

Guardians of the Galaxy #14 – The Guardians face two threats – a massive Skrull-led cult on the edge of space, and an attack by Doctor Doom on Hala.  Al Ewing is building towards another big event in this series, and while I wish we’d had a little more time to investigate the team’s new status quo before diving into all of this new craziness, this book is a good ride.  I was definitely happier with Juann Cabal’s art, but still, this is a solid read.

Hank Howard, Pizza Detective in Caligula’s Safe #1 – Bad Idea is all about taking good comics and burying them under a ton of gimmicks and baroque attention-seeking promotions.  This slim comic, sold for just $1, is by Robert Venditti and David Lapham, and contains a short story about a pizza business’s in-house private detective.  I get the feeling that this book’s title was put together as a joke, and then the comic was written afterwards.  It’s not bad, and Lapham’s always wonderful, but it doesn’t exactly stake out new ground.  I also found that the printing of the black and white pages was inconsistent, with some pages looking grey and washed out.  An equal amount of space is given to a comic by Matt Kindt and Tomas Giorello.  I think it’s a preview of an upcoming series, but that’s not made clear.  I feel like this was originally put together as a potential Free Comic Book Day offering, and then the people at Bad Idea decided to make it available for sale instead, but only for one day (I told you their promotions are excessively complicated).  I just don’t see the point of it all, really.

Rorschach #8 – Tom King and Jorge Fornés indulge in some highly formalistic storytelling this month, as the investigator interviews three associates of Will Myerson about a ranch he rented before trying to assassinate the Presidential candidate.  Each interview takes up a third of each page, with a subtly separate colour scheme.  The end of each interrogation makes this whole issue something of a mobius strip, which is very cool.  I like this series a lot, but never find it exciting.  It’s a very well-executed exploration of the world Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons created, but also works on its own as a bizarre procedural.  The wildest thing about it is the continued presence of comics legend Frank Miller as a supporting character.

The Silver Coin #2 – Kelly Thompson wrote this issue, which has the mysterious silver coin turn up at a kid’s summer camp where a girl is being bullied by her bunkmates.  Thompson leans into a lot of horror movie tropes, and gives us an entertaining issue.  I like how artist Michael Walsh is working with different writers for every issue of this series; it’s a pretty cool concept, and allows for a lot of different stories, with just one common element.

Star Wars #13 – This prelude issue to the War of the Bounty Hunters features Luke, Chewbacca, and the droids on a mission to track down Boba Fett that follows closely on last week’s WotBH Alpha issue.  Ramon Rosanas’s art looks better than ever in this issue, and he draws and excellent Luke.  Actually, everything clicks in this issue.  Charles Soule’s Star Wars has been kind of inconsistent, but I have high hopes for this crossover event.  I also think it’s cool that he brought back a minor character from the Solo movie for this.

X-Corp #1 – I was intrigued by the idea of a miniseries focusing on the corporate side of the Krakoan nation, specifically X-Corp, as run by Angel and M (who is now officially going by Penance?).  I found this issue to be disjointed and kind of confusing.  Warren and Monet don’t seem to agree on much, and it’s not all that clear just what X-Corp is supposed to be doing.  I thought that Hellfire took care of the pharmaceutical business, but here X-Corp is managing a lab in the Savage Land.  Warren enters into negotiations with a businessman, but I’m not entirely sure what his deal is.  He wants to be paid more for an arrangement that was already completed, and in order to save Warren (from nothing more than implied danger), Monet flies their company’s massive island headquarters to Brazil.  I’m happy to see that Trinary is being used in this book, and am usually pleased to see Madrox show up in a book, but I don’t really understand what the purpose is here.  I felt much the same about Tini Howards’s Excalibur, and dropped it pretty quickly.  I’m hoping that the next issue (which I think has to do with the Hellfire Gala) will get this book on a clear path.

X-Factor #9 – So apparently the next issue of this book will be the last?  I did see that Leah Williams is writing one of the as-yet unannounced new X-titles, but I still think this is a shame.  I’ve been enjoying this book more than most of the other Krakoan titles, and love that she’s given such prominence to characters who are usually secondary or background characters.  This issue does tie up a few loose ends, as the team confronts the Morrigan, and also has some dealings in the Mojoverse.  The whole Mojoverse sequence feels very rushed and a bit unclear, which makes sense only in the context of this book needing to be wrapped up during the Hellfire Gala.  I’ve noticed that a lot of these titles have sporadic shipping schedules, and am starting to see some cracks forming in the X-line.

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

Batman: The Detective #2

Batman: Urban Legends #3

Children of the Atom #3

Fantastic Four #32

Justice League: Last Ride #1

The Week in Music:

Alfa Mist – Bring Backs – Alfa Mist is part of the beat-oriented English jazz scene, and has dropped one of the prettiest albums of the year so far.  His keys play over his beats, and this album weaves in a sense of spiritual jazz, and lovely spoken word poetry.  This is a great album to vibe out to.

Armand Hammer & The Alchemist – Haram – I’ve been a fan of Alchemist’s beats for almost as long as I can remember, but he’s really been having a moment the last couple of years (his release with Freddie Gibbs was a favourite last year).  It makes a lot of sense that he’s teamed up with Armand Hammer for this album (Armand Hammer and Elucid and Billy Woods, two incredible rappers with impressive solo careers).  Alchemist brings them a more polished sound than the types of beats they usually rhyme over, and in turn, they bring their A-game, with dense and thought-provoking lyrics.  I love that none of these artists are slowing down, and that they are so consistently stunning.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #596 With Dead Dog’s Bite #3, Beasts Of Burden: Occupied Territory #2, Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 & More Plus The Week In Music & Word On The Passing Of John Paul Leon!

The Weekly Round-Up #596 With Dead Dog’s Bite #3, Beasts Of Burden: Occupied Territory #2, Star Wars: War Of The Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 & More Plus The Week In Music & Word On The Passing Of John Paul Leon!

James Fulton | May 10, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Dead Dog’s Bite #3 – Tyler Boss is doing incredible work on this book.  Joe is continuing to investigate her friend’s disappearance, and is getting close to figuring out a series of mysteries that have plagued her very strange town.  I love the awkward character interactions in this book, and the ways in which Boss lays out his pages.  There’s a cool sequence in the library that reminds me a lot of Chris Ware’s work.  This is a series that should be getting a lot of buzz.

Quick Takes:

Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory #2 – The latest Beasts of Burden arc is centred on the Wise Dog Emrys and his adventures after the Second World War.  Emrys and a local street dog are investigating strange goings on in occupied Japanese territory.  There are ravenous severed heads and other threats in the forest, and Evan Dorkin does a great job of balancing the plot with some strong character work.  I love Beasts of Burden, and am enjoying the way that Dorkin has been expanding the scope of the series.

Die #16 – We’re back in the world of Die, and things are bleak.  The party has been travelling across an empty sea, looking for the way into the centre of the world, hoping to save the Earth.  When they find an island, it’s an incredibly creepy place.  At this point, it seems that all of the former friends pretty much hate one another, and a few of them hate themselves too.  I really love this series, despite the fact that I’m not an RPG gamer, but I also acknowledge that a lot of things are probably going over my head.  This book is so much richer and more complex that Once & Future, Kieron Gillen’s other current series.

ENIAC #3 – The first Bad Idea series is a really good read.  Matt Kindt continues the fight against a sentient computer program that controls the Earth’s technology.  The two agents tasked with destroying it before its countdown ends continue their quest.  One of them learns she has a very personal stake in all of this, and things get increasingly psychological.  Doug Braithwaite is very good at this type of story, which deals with a lot of black ops stuff.  The Hero Trade backup, by Kindt and David Lapham, is good twisted fun.  

Fear Case #4 – Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins (with colour by Hilary Jenkins) have tapped into a potent mix of paranoia and fear in this horror series that ends perfectly this week.  Two Secret Service agents have spent the last year investigating a mystical case that has been getting passed around the world, leaving a trail of destruction and misery.  In the last issue, one of the agents received the case himself; now he has to either pass it on to the person he hates the most, or it goes on its own to the person he most loves.  Kindt paced this book very well, and I found a few things I didn’t expect in this finale.  It’s a very well-written series, with terrific art by the Jenkinses.  I love when these people collaborate, and hope they have more to come together.

Fire Power #11 – It’s all action this issue, as the Scorched Earth Clan attack the Temple of the Flaming Fist, and Owen, Ma Guang, and the others find themselves up against their former friends and allies.  Chris Samnee is doing incredible work in this book, creating issues that flow so well.  Next issue promises to be a big one, and given what I know of Robert Kirkman’s writing, I’m expecting a big twist or two.  I’m just wondering if I’ll be able to predict it before it comes.

Hellions #11 – I didn’t enjoy this issue quite as much as I did the one before, as we learn just what is going on between Sinister and Arcade, as Psylocke takes on Mastermind.  Some months, this book is pretty funny, and in others, it gets kind of dark.  When it first launched, I thought it was going to be dumb, but I’ve mostly enjoyed it.  I’m curious to see how these misfits make out at the Hellfire Gala.

Hollow Heart #3 – Paul Allor and Paul Tucker are giving us a pretty compelling story in this series.  El is a constructed being in a large armored body, but with a human mind and other parts.  Mateo has agreed to help free him from the lab where he was built, but El is not exactly cooperating with him or content to stick to his carefully planned escape.  Allor is exploring the way people construct their own narratives about the people they try to help in life, and it’s pretty interesting.  Another strong series from Vault.

Immortal Hulk #46 – The Hulk, inhabited by a restored Joe Fixit, finishes off the U-Foes and just wants a quiet drink, but Gyrich won’t leave him alone, and calls in Marvel’s premier superhero team to come deal with him.  As much as I like all of that, what makes me happiest is seeing Puck and Shaman work together again, even if Michael turns down the offer of a role in Gamma Force (which is getting its own miniseries soon).  At this point, Al Ewing doesn’t seem to be writing this book in trade-friendly arcs anymore, and is just slowly progressing his main storyline.  This run continues to surprise, and I think that Joe Bennett’s art has never looked so good.

Marauders #20 – This is a very nice issue.  It seems Storm is leaving the Marauders, so the team spends a night at sea toasting her and sharing stories about her.  Oddly, all those stories are recent instead of digging into Ororo’s rich history with the X-Men.  In a lot of ways, this felt like a final issue, but checking solicitations, I see that this book is set to continue past the end of the Hellfire Gala, which I guess is next month.  This title is enjoyable, but incredibly inconsistent in terms of its pacing and overarching arcs.  I’m hoping that Gerry Duggan’s upcoming X-Men book is more stable.

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha #1 – Like many who grew up with Star Wars, I love Boba Fett, especially the icy and distant Fett of the original films.  So while I’ve felt like the Star Wars line has been a little lost lately, I’m all in for a Fett-centric event.  This prelude issue, by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven, has Fett realizing that he needs to do some maintenance work on Han Solo’s carbonite freezing before he takes him to Jabba the Hutt.  That leads to something that will, in turn, lead to the “war” among bounty hunters next month.  McNiven’s art is always nice, and he makes Fett look hella cool.  This has me interested.

Suicide Squad #3 – I’m still on the fence about Robbie Thompson’s Suicide Squad.  Aside from Peacemaker and Superboy, I don’t know the members of the team, and am not finding myself any more attached to them even after three issues.  I’m also wondering where Rick Flag got to, after the first issue.  Yet, there’s still enough intrigue that I want to know more, and I like the way this ties in to Teen Titans Academy, another book I’m not completely sold on yet.

Vampirella #19 – The Interstellar arc really swings into high gear.  Vampirella tries to figure out how to keep the Earth safe from the threat of Drakulon, and also maybe save her mother, who is on trial.  Lots happens in this issue, and some of it is a little confusing, as is every good Priest comic.  I want to see more of Drakulon, and am loving Ergün Gündüz’s art on this title.

Whalesville X Rocks and Minerals – Bad Idea put out this gorgeous squarebound comic collecting two Matt Kindt stories about anthropomorphism.  The first story, Whalesville, is about a community of talking animals who live inside a whale.  When a young boy gets swallowed, he proposes radical change to their community, and they have to decide if they are not happier maintaining the status quo.  In Rocks and Minerals, some talking rocks recognize that there are other forms of life on the planet, but aren’t sure if that diversity should be embraced or rejected.  Whalesville is drawn by the incredible Adam Pollina, and is beautiful, while Rocks and Minerals is drawn by Tony Millionaire, and also looks very nice (his style usually isn’t really for me).  This book is, I think, geared towards younger readers, but is also enjoyable.  It’s always a treat to see Pollina working on a new comic, and I like that Bad Idea is staking out a place as a publisher with range.

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

Green Lantern #2

In Memoriam:

John Paul Leon – This week we learned that we lost artist John Paul Leon to cancer.  I often got Leon’s work confused with Tommy Lee Edwards.  They both excel at using thick lines to convey emotion in their work.  The first place that I think Leon stood out for me was on Alex Ross’s Earth X series.  I remember being more excited by the interiors than Ross’s covers, and being very happy that he picked an artist whose work was so different from his.  My favourite Leon book will always be The Winter Men, a stand-alone Wildstorm series that took years to finish being released, but was utterly incredible.  It was an alternate history about the heroes of the Soviet Union in the post-Soviet world, and it reminded me of books like Suicide Squad.  I really think you should go check it out, especially if you’re not all that familiar with Leon’s work.  He was immensely talented, and his work will be missed.

The Week in Music:

Moor Mother & Billy Woods – Brass – I’ve been a huge fan of Billy Woods’s rapping since I first heard him on The Reavers posse album back in 2005, and it’s been satisfying to see him start to get the recognition he deserves in the last few years.  For this album, he partnered with Moor Mother, who is a challenging and experimental artist.  This album takes the best of both of their work, having them trade rhymes or (in Moor Mother’s case) sometimes poetry or performance over some nice hard Backwoodz Studioz-style beats.  They are joined by rappers like Elucid, Navy Blue, and Mach-Hommy on some tracks, but really carry this show on their own.  I know this came out a while ago digitally, but I waited for the CD before really listening, and I couldn’t be happier to finally have this in my hands.  Woods has this laconic delivery that always sounds so good after an intense part of a song – he follows Moor Mother perfectly.  They are both strong lyricists, and I can tell that I’m going to be spending a lot of time piecing together everything that happens on this.  So good…

Tags: John Paul Leon, RIP, The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 5/5/2021 – Heroes Reborn, Die, Batman, Fear Case, Star Wars, ENIAC & More!

Pull List Roundtable 5/5/2021 – Heroes Reborn, Die, Batman, Fear Case, Star Wars, ENIAC & More!

John Babos | May 10, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Star Wars: War of the Bounty Hunters Alpha – If Marvel has taught me anything, it’s to be very nervous about events that need to begin with an ‘Alpha’ issue. The Star Wars line is in need of a shakeup, even though both the parent book and the Vader series are pretty great right now. There’s a lack of cohesion to them, so maybe an event will help. I just like that this means more Boba Fett.

Whalesville X Rocks and Minerals – I feel obligated to complain about how annoying Bad Idea is as a company, but a story by Matt Kindt with art by Adam Pollina? I’m going to buy it no matter what. Then they add a second story by Kindt and Tony Millionnaire, without raising the price? I’m in for this, even though I don’t know a whole lot about what it is.

This week I’m looking forward to new issues of Beasts of Burden, Dead Dog’s Bite, Die, ENIAC, Fear Case, Fire Power, Hellions, Hollow Heart, Immortal Hulk, Marauders, Suicide Squad, and Vampirella.

John Babos

6 books this week.

  • Batman #108
  • Crime Syndicate #3
  • Heroes Reborn #1
  • Nocterra #3
  • Suicide Squad #3
  • Union #5

What intrigued you this past week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #595 With Outcast #48, Abbott 1973 #4, Department of Truth #8, Star Wars: Darth Vader #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #595 With Outcast #48, Abbott 1973 #4, Department of Truth #8, Star Wars: Darth Vader #11 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | May 3, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Outcast #48 – Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta close off their long-running horror comic with this oversized last issue, and it’s an excellent ending.  The big events all happened in the last issue, but Kirkman can be pretty sentimental, so this whole comic explores the aftermath of what happened there, and looks at what life is going to bring to Kyle, Anderson, and all the others who made up the cast of this series.  Most horror movies end when the threat is finally vanquished, so I thought it was cool to see how the people of a town where just about everyone was possessed by other-dimensional beings try to put things back together.  Also, both Kyle and Anderson had been put through the wringer in this book, so I feel like the closure this issue brings was needed.  Outcast was always a solid read.  The early issues were always a little too decompressed, but in its last years, things just kept getting tighter and tighter.  Azaceta’s art is always very good, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does next.  This book really suffered from a sporadic shipping schedule, and I’m a little jealous of people who can now read the whole thing consecutively.  It’s never reached the levels of acclaim that The Walking Dead or Invincible has, but it will stand out as one of Kirkman’s best titles.

Quick Takes:

Abbott 1973 #4 – Elena finds herself fighting the mafia and the evil magicians that are after her in this latest issue.  Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä are doing exceptional work on this title that incorporates a lot of story in twenty pages.  I’m really glad I picked up the first Abbott trade not all that long ago, and that they chose to return to these characters.  I think this second series is better than the first.

Beta Ray Bill #2 – I am loving this book.  Daniel Warren Johnson has a really good take on Bill’s character, as he is joined by Skurge and Pip on a hunt for Odin, who in turn puts him on a different quest.  Johnson’s art is incredible, and so well suited to Bill, who is such an extreme character in terms of his design.  I’m already sad that there are only three issues of this left…

Cable #10 – Young Nate is continuing to doubt himself, and is not sure he’s the right person to go after Stryfe.  He goes to Cyclops for some advice, and gets into a fight with a couple of people from Arakko.  I like this take on Cable, but I also think that Gerry Duggan is spinning his wheels a little lately.

Crossover #6 – There are a ton of surprises as the first arc ends.  Ellie and her crew make it into the bubble around Denver, and find tons of very familiar characters engaged in a massive battle.  Cameos abound, but I think that Ellie has the biggest surprise in store for readers as this issue ends.  Donnie Cates and Geoff Shaw are having a lot of fun with this book, but also are turning out some very good work.  

Deadly Class #45 – I hadn’t realized just how much I’ve missed this title.  Rick Remender and Wes Craig return to Marcus, but after some time has passed.  Now, he’s living in a friend’s bathroom, dealing drugs, and telling people what’s wrong with their musical taste.  Needless to say, he’s not exactly a happy young man.  Remender has given so much depth to Marcus, that when some action pops off, it comes as a relief.  I found this to be a really solid reintroduction to the book after its lengthy hiatus, and I’ve only just picked up that many of the best issues in this series involve Marcus having to go to the bathroom.  It’s a bit uncomfortable revisiting the early 90s, but it’s great to hear Marcus exemplify the best and the worst of that era.  I’m all in for more of this.

Department of Truth #8 – After a couple of issues exploring the Department’s past, we are back in contemporary times, and get to learn what’s under the Denver airport.  Black Hat has made it their home, due to some wacky conspiracy theories surrounding it, so Cole and his partner go to investigate.  We also get to meet Hawk, the Department’s fixer when it comes to erasing odd things (such as the wall from the first issue).  This series continues to intrigue me, although I liked the guest artists’ work more than that of regular artist Martin Simmonds.  His art leaves me kind of cold.

Dune: House Atreides #6 – We are halfway through this Dune prequel series, and we finally get an issue that focus mostly on one part of the story: the insurgency on Ix, which leads that planet’s ruler to go into exile.  I don’t remember the first three Dune books well enough to keep in mind all the ways in which these scenes are significant, and so this book feels like it lacks purpose to me.  The worlds of Dune are fascinating, but I feel like we never spend anywhere near enough time getting to know them.

E-Ratic #5 – Kaare Andrews wraps up the first arc of his enjoyable teen hero series.  Andrews has gone for a very clear Spider-Man vibe with this book, and I like it.  His storytelling gets a little weird in places, making the story occasionally hard to follow, but it mostly works.

I Breathed A Body #4 – This fungal viral social media body horror story keeps getting darker and weirder, and if I’m being honest, ever harder to understand.  Yet, I like what Zac Thompson is doing here, and am pretty interested in seeing where it all ends up next issue.  I just don’t have much to say about it.

Miles Morales Spider-Man #25 – Miles finds himself getting embroiled in his own Clone Saga, as versions of him go on a bit of a crime spree that brings Peter Parker to Brooklyn to investigate.  The main story in this comic has this arc starting off on the right foot.  There’s also a backup story, to justify the extra dollar in price, that is cute but unnecessary.

 

New Mutants #17 – I’m still struggling a bit with Vita Ayala’s run on this book.  My issue is that there are too many disconnected plotlines, and it keeps the title from having an identity of its own.  Some of the younger mutants (including Anole, who is significantly older than the people he’s hanging out with) are up to one thing, while Dani and Xi’an are off doing another in Otherworld.  The mutant they are searching for was introduced just to go missing, so his story doesn’t resonate in the slightest.  I wish Ayala would focus their story more, and make this book easier to feel attached to.

Once & Future #18 – I love that Kieron Gillen decided to incorporate the British Prime Minister in this series, although I’m not sure that Boris would feel the same way by the end of this issue.  Things have been picking up, and working a lot more for me lately, as it seems England is in even more peril than it was before.

Robin #1 – I miss reading DC books, so I’m using this latest relaunch to check out a few.  I thought I’d give this Robin title a shot, and I’m glad I did.  Damian has split from Batman and the extended family, and is now going around dangerous places, looking to get himself invited to a rare competition hosted by the League of Lazarus.  Lots of cool characters from DC’s underside show up in this first issue, and Gleb Melnikov’s dynamic art strikes a good balance.  I’ve already decided to get the next issue.  Am I becoming a DC reader again?  It’s nice to be back after some pretty rough years for the company; I hope they can keep me.

Star Wars: Darth Vader #11 – Greg Pak continues to work to integrate The Rise of Skywalker into the Star Wars comics, as Vader confronts the Emperor on Exegol, where the massive fleet of Star Destroyers is already underway.  You have to wonder how Palpatine could have been even a little bit enthusiastic about the second Death Star if he was already building this superior fleet, or how he could have put up with its slow construction, but I guess that’s neither here nor there.  Pak continues to give artist Raffaele Ienco lots of cool things to draw, which I appreciate.  This series is kind of slight on content, but with Ienco’s art, I am still very happy I buy it.

Teen Titans Academy #2 – I’m interested enough in this latest version of the Teen Titans to give it another shot.  There is some limited character development of some of the students, and the mystery of Red X grows.  The problem is, I don’t think that writer Tim Sheridan has done a good enough job of establishing the past of this character.  Apparently he’s got something to do with one of the Titans cartoons, but I don’t know anything about that, so I keep thinking I’ve missed something.  I think I’m going to give the next issue a chance too, and might actually start adding some DC books to my pull file again.  Does that mean that endless reboots work?  I don’t really want DC (or Marvel) to think that…

Two Moons #3 – Virgil is getting a clearer idea of what is going on in this series after eating a special mushroom at the edge of a river.  John Arcudi and Valerio Giangiordano are serving up a pretty interesting take on historical horror with this series, and I’m all in.

USAgent #5 – Priest and George Jeanty have finished up their John Walker story, and they did something remarkable, in that they made me like the character more than I ever did before.  Like any good Priest series, this ended up being a bit of a puzzle box, but by the end, everything is left clear.  I’m curious about the character of the Saint, and would love to see him show up again.  It’s insane to wish that Marvel would let Priest resurrect The Crew, his excellent “Black Avengers” title from twenty years ago, isn’t it?  He remains my favourite superhero writer, and I hope this book leads to more work from him at Marvel.

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

Batman Black and White #5

Firefly #28

Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book HC

Redneck Vol. 5: Tall Tales

The Week in Music:

Nick Waterhouse – Promenade – Nick Waterhouse’s band is incredible.  This latest album feels like more of the same, but that same is a California take on a retro approach to simpler blend of rock and r’n’b, that is more sophisticated than the music of the era it hails from.  Waterhouse is an incredible songwriter, and such a purist of this form.  I really miss seeing his band when they’d come through…

Beverly Glenn-Copeland – …keyboard fantasies… – This album was originally released on cassette in 1986, and languished in obscurity until Beverly Glenn-Copeland’s music was discovered by Japanese collectors, whose interest has propelled him, now in his later years, back into the spotlight.  This album recently won the Polaris Heritage Prize, which helped lead to its re-release.  This is a very beautiful album.  Copeland’s new age-y keyboard music sounds way ahead of its time, and his voice is lovely throughout.  I only learned of his music since the start of the pandemic, but hope that I’ll be able to see him perform live soon.  I do have vague memories of him appearing on the Mr. Dress Up kids show when I was a child (and he was still living as a woman), and I’m so thankful that I was able to discover his music.  

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 4/26/2021 – Robin, Dune: House Atreides, X-Men Legends, Star Wars: Darth Vader & More!

Pull List Roundtable 4/26/2021 – Robin, Dune: House Atreides, X-Men Legends, Star Wars: Darth Vader & More!

John Babos | May 3, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

I’m looking forward to new issues of Abbott 1973, Beta Ray Bill, Cable, Crossover, Deadly Class, Department of Truth, Dune: House Atreides, E-Ratic, I Breathed A Body, Miles Morales: Spider-Man, New Mutants, Once & Future, Outcast, Star Wars: Darth Vader, Teen Titans Academy, Two Moons, and USAgent.

I’m on the fence about picking up the first issue of Robin. I usually love Damian, but don’t know that I entirely trust Joshua Williamson’s writing, and don’t know the artist. I’m going to give it a flip-through at the pick up window (store closures have such an impact on impulse shopping).

John Babos

6 books this week.

  • Action Comics #1030
  • Batman / Superman #17
  • Detective Comics #1035
  • Robin #1
  • Teen Titans Academy #2
  • X-Men Legends #3

What intrigued you this past week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

Pull List Roundtable 4/2/2021 – Old Guard #1, Way Of X #1, Justice League #60, Radiant Black #3 & More!

Pull List Roundtable 4/2/2021 – Old Guard #1, Way Of X #1, Justice League #60, Radiant Black #3 & More!

John Babos | April 26, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Old Guard: Tales Through Time – I like Greg Rucka’s take on Eternal Warriors, and am curious to see what different creators do when given any point in history to play with.

Way of X – Simon Spurrier is a unique writer (I think of him as the new Peter Milligan, with way fewer misses), and I’m glad he’s the one who gets to explore Nightcrawler’s new sense of Krakoan spirituality. I am enjoying stories where the new Mutant culture gets explored, and have missed seeing a lot of Kurt Wagner in comics. This should be good.

I’m also looking forward to new issues of Alien, Eternals, Orphan and the Five Beasts, Post Americana, Rain Like Hammers, Sacred Six, SWORD, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra, and X-Force.

John Babos

6 books this week.

  • Avengers#45
  • Flash #769
  • Justice League #60
  • Nightwing #79
  • Radiant Black #3
  • S.W.O.R.D. #5

What intrigued you this past week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable

The Weekly Round-Up #594 With S.W.O.R.D. #5, Rain Like Hammers #4, The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 & More Plus The Week In Music!

The Weekly Round-Up #594 With S.W.O.R.D. #5, Rain Like Hammers #4, The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1, Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 & More Plus The Week In Music!

James Fulton | April 26, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

SWORD #5 – In the aftermath of the King in Black event, it’s time to resurrect the people who died fighting Knull on Krakoa.  Magneto has requested that Fabian Cortez be bumped up the queue, but largely, it seems, in order to humiliate him in front of the Quiet Council.  Cortez has never been an interesting or likeable character until Al Ewing got his hands on him, so I enjoyed this issue.  I also like the way Ewing is building on events that have happened in his Guardians of the Galaxy run (Snarkwar), and is quietly taking over his own corner of the Marvel Universe.  I believe he’s the best writer Marvel has right now, and put this book next to his Immortal Hulk.  Weirdly, five issues in, we are still only getting glimpses of what Abigail Brand is up to, and my interest is building. 

Quick Takes:

Alien #2 – This title is growing on me, as we get to know the main character a little better with this issue.  Gabriel is sent back to Epsilon Station after his son’s associates attacked the place.  We quickly fall into familiar Aliens territory, with scenes that feel like homages to the movies.  The thing is, I like that stuff, even when it gets predictable.  Salvador Larroca is a good artist for this book, because he knows when to hold back, and makes the xenomorphs look pretty scary.

Eternals #4 – This title got off to a slow start, but with this issue, the book turned a corner and now I’m completely onboard.  The Eternals continue to work to figure out how Thanos is going around killing them, and we learn more about Druig, the go-to untrustworthy character.  Esad Ribic’s art is fantastic on this book, and I think I’m finally seeing what Kieron Gillen is going for here.

The Old Guard: Tales Through Time #1 – Originally, Greg Rucka had said he’d only have perhaps one more Old Guard story in him, he has opened the property up to other creative teams with this miniseries.  He and his co-creator, Leandro Fernández, have Andromache tell us the story behind her axe.  In the second story, Andrew Wheeler and Jacopo Camagni tell a story about Joe and Nicky in Weimar Germany, and the difficulty they used to have in being able to go out together on a date.  The Old Guard is about a small group of immortals, and that opens up a lot of story potential, as they’ve been around for a very long time.  I’m not sure who all is going to be contributing to future issues, but I’m looking forward to seeing where this goes.

Orphan and the Five Beasts #2 – I love James Stokoe’s artwork, so even though I’m not entirely sold on the storyline of this kung fu epic, I really enjoyed the fight between the orphan and Thunderthighs, a monstrous man.  This book is pretty nuts.

Post Americana #5 – This is a big issue, as Mike and the others finally make it to meet with his contact, who is not at all who he was expecting.  This issue is full of cartoon-based robots, and other unexpected visuals.  It’s cool that Steve Skroce is adding new story elements at this point, as I thought the series would be working towards its climax.  I’m not sure how long this book is running for though.

Rain Like Hammers #4 – Brandon Graham’s latest series continues to be a swirl of mad ideas, as Brik keeps moving forward with his scheme, and a new character discovers his trail.  It’s hard to explain this book; I just keep hoping we’ll return to the storyline that was introduced in the first issue.

Sacred Six #8 – I don’t enjoy this series as much as I do the Vampirella book it’s spun-off from, and wish that Priest would focus more on some of the supporting characters.  I like that Nyx is getting more screen time in this current arc, but I find that there’s a lot to keep track of.  At least now I know that this story takes place before the current Vampirella arc – before, I always felt like I was reading things out of sequence.

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra #9 – Aphra and Sana are still trying to track down an ancient hyperdrive, even though Aphra now knows it’s a fake.  Alyssa Wong’s plot relies a lot on coincidence, and I’m still not sure that her Aphra is ruthless enough, but I do still find things to enjoy here.  I would like to see the more intricate plotting of Kieron Gillen or Simon Spurrier’s runs though.

Way of X #1 – I’ve been enjoying the various X-Books since Jonathan Hickman became showrunner for the brand, but one thing I’ve noticed is that they are all very plot-driven, even the solo titles.  We see some character development, such as in Cable’s book, but there’s not been many character-driven stories.  Now Simon Spurrier and Bob Quinn are changing that with Way of X, a Nightcrawler-focused miniseries.  Kurt has been playing with the idea of developing a Krakoan religion, or at least a belief system, but is not sure about it.  What he does know is that some aspects of the ever-evolving Krakoan society, such as the Crucible, where a mutant is killed to regain their powers through resurrection, sits uneasily on him.  Spurrier has Kurt wrestling with some big ideas, while also investigating rumours about a malevolent spirit or being who is scaring the island’s children.  This issue brings back Doctor Nemesis, an incredibly entertaining character when written properly, and a surprise character with a strong tie to Spurrier’s previous X-Writing.  It’s good stuff.

X-Force #19 – Jean Grey gets involved with helping Quentin and Phoebe deal with whatever this latest threat is.  Quentin has a lot of potential as a character, and it’s cool that he’s getting more of the spotlight in this book.

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

Avengers #45

Black Knight: Curse of the Ebony Blade #2

Justice League #60

Mighty Valkyries #1

Nightwing #79

The Week in Music:

Gary Bartz, Adrian Younge, Ali Shaheed Muhammad – Jazz is Dead 6 – Years from now, when I look back on the soundtrack of the pandemic, I’m going to remember it as the year (and going) of the Jazz is Dead series (along with the year I listened to ridiculous amounts of ambient and neo-classical music).  Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad have scored this year for us with this series, which partners them with legendary jazz musicians.  With this latest release, saxophonist Gary Bartz rides all over the rhythms they lay down.  I think it’s amazing how all of these albums (this is the fifth to focus on a single musician; the first was like a sampler) have a consistent sound, but also are so unique depending on who they are working with. 

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

The Weekly Round-Up #593 With Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #5, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #11, Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #5, Black Hammer Visions #3 Plus The Week In Music & TV!

The Weekly Round-Up #593 With Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #5, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #11, Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #5, Black Hammer Visions #3 Plus The Week In Music & TV!

James Fulton | April 19, 2021 | Columns, Top Story | No Comments

Best Comic of the Week:

Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey #5 – It’s been about a year since the last issue, but it’s all good, as I’m just happy to return to Grendel Prime’s mission, looking for a suitable planet to restart the human race.  The latest candidate is a massive, planet-sized city that appears to have been fully automated, where the mechanisms that kept the city running are still working, even though all life has been extinguished.  Matt Wagner has a real Twilight Zone vibe working for him here, as he takes a couple of issues to explore a science fiction concept.  I like this series, and will forever think of Grendel Prime as my favourite Grendel.  He’s also the coolest looking.

Quick Takes:

Black Hammer Visions #3 – I haven’t bothered with this series, which has had various creators play with Jeff Lemire’s creations, but when I saw that this one was by Chip Zdarsky and Johnnie Christmas, I figured it would be worth getting.  It’s a solid story about Abraham Slam having to come to terms with his age and a new legacy hero using half of his name.  It’s good, but I probably could have done without it, in the end.

Daredevil #29 – There’s a lot happening in this series right now.  Matt is in prison, where the warden is clearly targeting him (which involves poison and gang attacks), Mike Murdock is making moves of his own, aiming for the new Kingpin, while the original Kingpin wants Bullseye restored to his employ.  Much of this issue focuses on Elektra, who employs new methods of protecting Hell’s Kitchen.  I like what Chip Zdarsky is doing with this series.  He has Elektra working with an orphan, who is suddenly much younger and shorter than how she was portrayed before.  It really threw me off.

Guardians of the Galaxy #13 – I’ve been really happy with Al Ewing’s Guardians run, and love that he’s made them an established, sanctioned team that now works with Hulkling and Wiccan in their roles as rulers of the new Kree/Skrull alliance.  They face a pair of new threats, and have included the two Quasars on the lineup.  I do wish that previous artist Juann Cabal had stuck around, but I’m pleased with new artist Juan Frigeri.  It feels like this book is regaining the stature it had back in the Abnett/Lanning days.

Iron Man #8 – I like how Chris Cantwell has focused so much of this series on Hellcat, even though I don’t think she’s a good fit with Tony Stark (plus, why does it always have to be redheads?).  Patsy and the oddball team Tony assembled get the spotlight this issue, with Tony not even showing up.  I’m always going to be attracted to a series featuring so many D-list and obscure characters, so I got a lot from this issue.

Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here #5 – I guess it’s not really a spoiler, given the title of this arc, to say that the next issue of this series is likely to be the last one forever.  Harry is wrapping things up, knowing he’s about to go home at last, but not knowing that a federal agent is closer to him than he thinks.  This series has such a likeable cast of everyday people that I’m really going to miss.  I should check out the TV show…

Rorschach #7 – The investigation continues, and it leads to the doorstep of Frank Miller, comics legend, who is now walking around in his own Rorschach costume.  We learn the significance of the audio cassette featuring Miller, Otto Binder, and some others that has been referenced throughout this run, and learn a little more about Wil Myerson’s final days.  We also get Miller’s (or is it really Tom King’s, given what we know of Miller in recent years) take on how making comics dark didn’t really improve them.  This series is kind of plodding, but it stays interesting and gorgeous.  Working real comics creators into the book is an odd choice, but it definitely makes this title original.

Scumbag #7 – It’s funny how everyone wants Ernie working for them, and that they think dangling orgies in front of him is the way to get him on board.  We learn just what the hippie commune on the moon is after as Ernie contemplates becoming a triple agent.  This issue was drawn by Francesco Mobili, who is new to me, and the comic looks terrific.  This series, and its satire of Western culture, is a lot of fun.

Star Wars: Bounty Hunters #11 – I still struggle to get a handle on this series.  I originally expected it to have an ensemble cast, but then the first ten issues focused almost exclusively on Beilert Valance.  Now, this issue is mostly about Bossk, who has found himself being hunted as part of an organized sentient hunt for the crime world.  I keep feeling like I’ve read this story before, and was left pretty unimpressed.  It seems now that Ethan Sacks is mostly rushing to set up the upcoming War of the Bounty Hunters event.  If this title still exists after that story, I might jump ship.

Sweet Tooth: The Return #6 – Jeff Lemire wraps up the story of New Gus with this issue.  It’s been nice revisiting these characters, in a new way.  I’m always going to look forward to a project that Lemire both writes and draws, and hope it’s not too long before whatever he has planned next.

Thor #14 – The Prey storyline comes to a bleak close, as Thor ends up defending the evil Donald Blake from Odin’s wrath, while also wanting to see his former alter ego punished for his crimes.  I’ve been liking Donny Cates and Nic Klein on this book, and am curious to see what the next story arc brings.

Undone by Blood or The Other Side of Eden #2 – This fantastic crime/Western mashup series continues to entertain.  In the main story, Silvano and his friend attempt to rob an office at the top of the first skyscraper in Texas, but it all goes bad when they stumble upon a weird Romanesque initiation ceremony.  In the pulp Western Silvano’s reading, Solomon’s train heist also goes bad when the train is stopped, and a mysterious sniper starts picking off his Mexican companions.  This series is just as good as the first Undone by Blood series, if tonally very different.

Wolverine #11 – We’re back to the vampire plotline, as Logan goes after Dracula’s forces, using Omega Red as an unwitting source of information.  This series is weird, and doesn’t ever feel like it resolves a story.  I also don’t really see a lot of Logan’s character on display in this book.  I wonder if we shouldn’t go a few more years without him getting a solo book.

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

Batman: The Detective #1

Batman: Urban Legends #2

Fantastic Four #30

Home #1

Wonder Woman #771

The Week in Music:

Aesop Rock – Spirit World Field Guide – This came out ages ago, but my copy never arrived, so I had to get a replacement.  Aesop Rock is an acquired taste I’ve never fully acquired.  I like his flow and tightly constructed complicated wordplay, but a little goes a long way.  This is a concept album, where he is giving us a guide to the spirit world, literally, and each individual track is excellent, but the full thing, at 21 tracks, is just too long.

El Michels Affair – Yeti Season – Leon Michels is an incredible musician, and I’ve long admired his El Michels Affair, the band he fronts.  For this release, they embraced the sounds of Turkish funk music, even bringing in some vocalists.  It’s a nice, funky album that sounds pretty unique.

The Week in Television:

The Good Lord Bird – I never write about TV or movies (or, really, spend all that much time with either), but this week I ended up inhaling this seven-part Showtime series, based on the book of the same name by James McBride. This series follows the story of “Onion”, a young enslaved boy who is freed by the famous anti-slave crusader John Brown. Brown misgenders Onion, whose real name is Henry, and so the young man, not wanting to contradict, spends the entire show in a dress. Brown is played by Ethan Hawke (who also produced the show), and he plays him as, at times, a straight fanatic who borders on lunacy, and at other times as a caring father who genuinely wants to right the world’s wrongs. It’s a very nuanced performance. Likewise, Joshua Caleb Johnson, who plays Onion, carries the show with his strong performance. The show is often very funny, but also incredibly affecting. Daveed Diggs plays Frederick Douglass in scenes that are award-worthy. I don’t know enough about John Brown and the raid on Harper’s Ferry, but I feel like this series asks a lot of important questions about that time period, but also relates to questions of allyship today. This show has stuck with me since I finished watching it, and I’m now circling back to start it over again.

Tags: The Weekly Round-Up

Pull List Roundtable 4/14/2021 – Black Hammer Visions, Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, Joker & More!

Pull List Roundtable 4/14/2021 – Black Hammer Visions, Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, Guardians Of The Galaxy, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, Joker & More!

John Babos | April 16, 2021 | Columns | No Comments

For a full list of these releases, head to ComicList: The New Comic Book.

James Fulton

Here’s what I’m looking forward to this week: Black Hammer Visions, Daredevil, Grendel: Devil’s Odyssey, Guardians of the Galaxy, Iron Man, Resident Alien: Your Ride’s Here, Rorschach, Scumbag, Star Wars: Bounty Hunters, Sweet Tooth: The Return, Thor, Undone By Blood, and Wolverine.

John Babos

5 books this week.

  • Batman: Urban Legends #2
  • Children of the Atom #2
  • Guardians of the Galaxy #13
  • Joker #2
  • Superman #30

What intrigued you this week?

Tags: Pull List Roundtable