The new year and Martin Luther King Day have knocked publishing schedules around a bit, so it’s a light day at your friendly local comics shop. But there’s still some great reads: What took No. 1 this week?
1) Judge Dredd #2
There’s a lot of boring satire of Internet stupidity out there, but Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas actually write a script that sends up chans, trolls, and Twitter eggs without either sounding like grumpy old men or ascribing dimwits on the Internet more menace than they deserve. The result feels a bit like Judge Dredd in Wonderchan, meant in the best sense, and Dan McDaid’s art is perfect for the tone. The result is something that really freshens up the 2000 AD stories without slavishly imitating them, and genuinely has something to say.
2) Ms. Marvel #3
G. Willow Wilson shows the rest of the comics industry how it’s done, once again, by mixing Kamala’s fight against evil developers with her realization that maybe her crush has moved on. It’s reminiscent of the Spidey comics of the ’70s, meant in the best way possible. As always, a must-read.
3) Batman #48
Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo pull a fast one here. Granted, the confrontation between Jim Gordon and Mister Bloom this book has been building to is some intense, disturbing stuff, but the real meat of this issue is two men sitting on a park bench, talking, and the payoff to that conversation that closes this issue is just as unnerving, and even a little tragic, as anything Gordon is put through.
4) The Spirit #7
Matt Wagner and Dan Schkade are enjoying themselves almost too much as they explore the ins and outs of the world of the Spirit. This two-fisted action book is always a pleasure, and Schkade’s tribute to the original strips in his art is some beautiful stuff.
5) Silver Surfer #1
Dan Slott and Mike Allred tell a lighthearted story about just how important culture and stories really are. True, it’s also an excuse to get Allred to draw aliens in various pop culture costumes, and for Slott to stretch his comedy skit muscles in a few places, but this book is so tender and funny it’s damn near perfect.
6) Wrath of the Eternal Warrior #3
Robert Venditti’s mix of afterlife and high fantasy is surprisingly compelling, but it’s Raul Allen and Patricia Martin who make this book. They use everything from well-designed layout to clever negative space to create a vivid, compelling page-turner of a fantasy story, and if you’re longing for a little barbarian action, this is a must-read.
7) Star Wars #15
Ben Kenobi is on Tatooine, watching over a preteen Luke, and he just wants to help. That… can go more than a little wrong, however, as we see in this new arc. A nice touch is that Kenobi is uncertain of his place now; he’s not longer a Jedi, but not willing to be a hermit. Then again, not everybody wants his help, either, as Jason Aaron and Mike Mayhew show us. If you’re curious about Ben, a character who never really got his due in Star Wars, this is a book worth reading.
8) Astro City #31
Leave it to Kurt Busiek and guest artist Jesus Merino to make a story about a creature made entirely of fear into something heartwarming. No, seriously, it might get a little dusty when you get to the end of this book. Hey, what have we been saying month-in and month-out? This is one of the best books on the stands.
9) Hercules #3
Hercules has stopped drinking, stopped sleeping around, and is being a mature, responsible adult. And it’s weirding out everybody from his old buddy Gilgamesh to the Greek myths he regularly fights. Dan Abnett and Luke Ross manage to give an immortal a mid-life crisis in a way that’s grounded and smart: Herc is growing up but despite his self-confidence, he’s not sure what that means. A neat, low-key book worth reading.
10) Jim Henson’s The Storyteller: Dragons #2
Nathan Pride retells an English legend of ego, folly, and how your sins will haunt you if you don’t stamp them out quickly. It’s a bit stiff and formal, truth be told, but it’s a fun retelling of a folktale not many will be familiar with, and a nice spin on a dragon tale.
11) Big Trouble in Little China #20
Fred Van Lente and Dan McDaid have Jack Burton punch out Voldemort. What, you needed to hear anything else about this issue? Okay, it’s incredibly funny, as usual, and McDaid’s art is perfect. Also, there’s a ridiculous twist at the end of the issue that makes us excited for the next arc. If you love the movie, you’ll love this.
12) Amazing Forest #1
IDW gets into the anthology comic game with a series of short comics somewhat reminiscent of EC’s good old days, when a rich vein of irony ran through everything. Interesting, sometimes bizarre stuff, and perhaps a bit too experimental for some, but some interesting comics nonetheless.
13) Batgirl #47
Batgirl has to deal with her dad and unsurprisingly, corruption inside the GCPD, and she has to do with the help of a rather overenthusiastic Spoiler and Bluebird. After taking a few detours, this issue is back to the breezy fun the relaunch was noted for, and this issue is a hoot.
14) Martian Manhunter #8
The Martian Manhunter is at war with himself. And I don’t mean some boring old “Who Am I?!” type superhero sulking, I mean multiple aspects of his personality are out there, on Mars, kicking ass. Admittedly, Rob Williams and Eddy Barrows can struggle a bit to fully integrate this book’s bizarre concepts with the gritty war book it’s suddenly turned into, but if nothing else, Mister Biscuits’ cry for freedom will have you on the floor.
15) Uncanny X-Men #2
This villain team-up book isn’t terribly subtle in places; Cullen Bunn has one moment where I half expected Magneto to look right at the reader and say “GEDDIT?!” But it’s an intriguing plot, as mutant healers keep getting killed off, and Greg Land’s artwork is restrained enough to really give this book a realistic feel.
This Week’s Other Books:
Batman and Robin Eternal #16: This book makes Azrael interesting, something I didn’t think was possible.
Clean Room #4: This book is slowly growing into its Scientology-fights-demons concept, but it needs to pick up the pace.
Doctor Fate #8: The book itself is solid, but dammit, we need this book’s covers as T-shirts.
Harley Quinn #24: Harley tries to fight city hall. It goes… poorly.
Lucifer #2: This book is a lot of fun, but one wishes it had a little more of a twist to it.
Poison Ivy #1: A pretty conventional start to this supervillain’s new mini.
Red Thorn #3: This book’s title character is way less interesting than the protagonist, which is a problem since all the book seems to want to do is show us his sex life.
Robin: Son of Batman #8: Damien Wayne learns a lesson about self-reflection. Or, rather, has it beaten into him, because he’s a brat.
Secret Six #10: A rather abrupt end to an entertaining arc.
Sinestro #19: Is this book looking at the nature of evil, or just trying to introduce more variant figures?
Superman/Wonder Woman #25: Wonder Woman, of all people, should realize the Greek gods are jerks.
Titans Hunt #4: Dan Abnett’s thriller is great for Titans fans, but casual readers might be a bit lost at this point.
Wonder Woman #48: A dull, pulpy book. Wondy deserves better.
Astonishing Ant-Man #4: Okay, we get it, Scott Lang is a screw-up. Can we move on with the plot please?
Captain Marvel #1 Carol Danvers returns! To fly, uh, a desk! A clever idea and a promising start.
Deadpool #6: Maybe the Merc with a Mouth should stick to miniseries.
Drax #3: This book needs to pick a tone; it either needs more jokes or more beatings.
Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #2: I really want to like this book, but it’s just too damn cutesy and too similar to Marvel’s other lighthearted superheroine offerings to recommend.
Starbrand and Nightmask #2: Gee, a kid with limitless power is kind of an ass? Not exactly a plot twist.
Pencil Head #1: Ted McKeever’s art is always fun, but maybe it’s time to retire the “gritty underbelly of comics publishing” subgenre.
I Hate Fairyland #4: Skottie Young’s mashup of gore and saccharine Candyland-esque visuals may be one note, but it’s a funny note.
Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl #6: Or “You Can Only Be So Into Music Before You Have To Grow Up: The Comic Book”
Symmetry #2: Brave New World gets a rewrite it didn’t really need.
Call of Duty: Black Ops III #3: Lots of jargon, little story.
Dragon Age: Magekiller #2: A solid fantasy comic, but a very rushed second issue.
EVE: Valkyrie #4: An interesting linger on the nature of clones, but we don’t know enough about the lead to give the story any weight.
The Rook #4: A fun little time travel story, but a rather flimsy one.
The Steam Man #4: A lot of gore and atrocity for its own sake.
The Hangman #2: So far, a fairly straightforward horror/anti-hero story.
Devolution #1: Thudding “satire” and stale tropes derail a fairly clever idea of mankind literally being devolved into cavemen.
Imperium #12: It says a lot that this book will make you a bit sad for a genetically bred murder machine.