It’s a five week month in comics, so one week has to be relatively quiet. And so it is with today, although we have a whole pile of number ones to sort through. Full reviews of all of them, with looks at books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW Publishing, BOOM! Studios, Valiant, and Dynamite.
Batman Eternal #1
The weekly maxiseries starts with a bang, skipping forward to the end of the 52-issue arc before going back to the beginning, with Commissioner Gordon and a collar gone terribly wrong. It’s pretty solid, but we expect as much. The real test comes with the next weeks of books. Still, worth picking up.
Iron Fist: The Living Weapon #1
Danny Rand is dead inside. That’s the basic thrust of his new book, as we see him use his origin to sleazy ends and struggle with his emotional numbness. Which he helps resolve by beating up ninjas. Kaare Andrews does a good job of both introducing the character and giving him some weight, and the art is deservedly flashy as well. Worth reading, especially if you want to get on board with the character before he gets his own Netflix series.
Chris Claremont returning to his character should be a good thing, but unfortunately, Claremont’s name carries enough weight that he’s immune to editing. Far too much of this book is dedicated to telling us things Todd Nauck is more than capable of showing us. But it’s still fun to see Nightcrawler back in action, and fans won’t want to miss this one.
All-New Doop #1
Doop is back, and Peter Milligan is having far too much fun slipping and sliding him around the margins of X-Men continuity, making a lot of fun of Marvel’s modern storylines into the bargain. David Lafuente’s art helps; it can be goofy when it needs to and stock superhero when it’s important. More for hardcore Marvel fans who love in-jokes than anyone else, but if that’s you, you’ll love this.
All-New Ultimates #1
The Ultimates relaunch as a street-level team of teen heroes, and to be honest, it’s the first time I’ve been able to stand this book throughout its entire run. Michel Fiffe does a good job making the book accessible for those not into the Ultimates line while giving it a lot of action and character, and David Nakayama has some high-quality superhero art. If you’re looking to get into a team book, this is highly accessible and definitely worth a read.
Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca essentially deliver a more serious version of The Venture Bros. Not that this is a bad thing, necessarily, but it does set a high bar and this book doesn’t quite clear it, as inventive and creative as del Duca’s art is.
This series is undeniably pretty cute, with a bunch of preteen girls at camp fighting monsters. That said, it does sometimes feel like Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis’ script is trying a wee bit too hard to be quirky, although Brooke Allen’s joyful art does feel apt for the story. In all, a pretty good book for a preteen, if you’ve got one looking for comics.
Flash Gordon #1
Dynamite’s attempts to revive the King Features heroes have been… mixed, to say the least. But choosing Jeff Parker and Evan Shaner as the creative team was absolutely inspired. Shaner’s clean, grounded art sells the weirdier, pulpier aspects of Flash Gordon, and Parker is an old-hand at trimming away the parts that don’t work and bolstering the ones that do. The end result is a good old-fashioned high adventure book with the spirit of the strips but none of the corn.
Ghost Rider #2
Robbie Reyes is the new spirit of vengeance… but he doesn’t realize it yet, and that’s making his life just a little complicated. Felipe Smith is doing a good job with the slow burn, here, although there’s plenty of action, and Tradd Moore’s curving, warped style is perfect for this book. It still feels written for the trade, but it’s definitely worth a read.
Rocky and Bullwinkle #2
After a somewhat stilted first issue, the second issue gets up to speed. Mark Evanier’s pacing feels tighter and he’s clearly more comfortable with the terrible wordplay we all know and love. A great kid’s book, if you’re looking for one.
The Returning #2
Jason Starr throws a lot of exposition at us here, and honestly, mostly what it does is make the book muddled. Two issues in, it’s not terribly clear who anyone is, why the “changers” are all homicidal maniacs, or why they’re doing any of this. Andrea Mutti’s art is quite pretty, but the book does need to tighten up the plot.
The Unity team comes up against Dr. Silk, who it turns out has very personal motives for trying to take over the world. Matt Kindt’s script is actually a skin-crawlingly creepy read, which we mean in the best way possible: Silk is far more disturbing a character than your standard mad scientist. With solid art by CAFU, it’s a great read, and highly recommended.
Samurai Jack #7
It’s Samurai Jack, gender-flipped, fighting leprechauns. You expected something sane from Jim Zub? Brittney Williams does a superb job with the art; it’s faithful to the show, but quite kinetic and enjoyable. Great for fans of Samurai Jack.
Astro City #11
Shifting back to light comedy mode, this book asks what it takes to be the assistant of the most powerful mage in all the realms. Turns out it’s as hectic as you might think. As always, highly recommended, especially since this issue in particular is side-splitting.
What happens when X, not the most stable of Jenga towers in the first place, gets his ass well and truly handed to him? That’s the premise of this issue, and it’s a nice switch from this book’s usual routine of X killing everything. Worth a read for fans of Duane Swierczynski, and Eric Nguyen’s art feels a bit sharper here.
Star Wars #16
No points for guessing what happens in this issue: Suffice to say the Rebellion has not found the friendly home it thinks it has. But the real standout is Brian Wood’s exploration of Luke’s character; he’s still whining, but he’s trying to toughen up. A slower-paced book than usual, but still a great piece of work and highly recommended.
Creepy Quarterly #16
The black and white horror anthology is anchored, this month, with a nice bit of modern urban legend-type horror from Ted Naifeh. But there’s a lot more to love, here, and if you’re looking for horror comics, this is always a good choice.
Bloodshot And The H.A.R.D. Corps #21
Mission: Improbable wraps up, and in, as you might expect, a smart-assed, funny way from Christos Gage and Joshua Dysart. Valiant’s books are always worth a read, but this crossover in particular has been a hilarious ride. Highly recommended.