This week sees a whole host of new comics. We’ve got reviews from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, IDW, Boom!, Avatar and Valiant, starting off with some great number ones.
The Royals: Masters Of War #1
Rob Williams and Simon Coleby offer pretty much a riff on Avatar Press’ Uber; what if the royal families of the various countries during World War II actually had superpowers, and at the beginning of hostilities, a young English noble broke ranks and decided to fight? It’s interestingly written, to be sure, but it feels a bit rushed; Williams tries to cram a lot into his pages, and he seems to be rushing through. Coleby’s art is well-suited to the wartime setting, though.
It’s got promise, but we’ll want to see more from it before we make a call. Worth getting for war book fans.
Cable, Psylocke, Marrow, and Fantomex team up as the black-ops team of mutantkind, and honestly, Si Spurrier and Rock-He Kim have so much fun with this blackly comedic book it’s infectious. Spurrier’s characterizations will probably annoy a few Marvel fans; Fantomex is explicitly referred to as Pepe Le Pew, and Marrow is even crazier than usual. But this does everything a team book should do: Sketch in each personality and their problems, and show how they work as a team. And it’s a hoot. Highly recommended.
Charles Soule and Javier Pulido debut this story by asking the question: What, precisely, does it take to sue Tony Stark? Soule, for those who don’t know, is a lawyer, and as a result, he has a lot of fun exploring ridiculous legal procedure in the 616. Oh, and yes, Jen fights robots; Pulido’s style is smart and lighthearted enough to carry the funniest parts.
The Winter Soldier: The Bitter March #1
Rick Remender and Roland Boschi deliver a smart espionage tale where The Winter Soldier is the bad guy. Nick Fury and Ran Shen are trying to keep two Nazi scientists out of HYDRA’s coils, but needless to say, the Winter Soldier is not going to make it easy for them.
The Fuse #1
An odd mix of buddy-cop comedy and SF, the Fuse takes place on Midway City, a space station that’s essentially Rapture with better city government. Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood deliver a fairly snappy and well-paced book, but it’s not clear what will make this stand out just yet. Still worth a look, especially for mystery or SF fans.
The Mercenary Sea #1
Kel Symons and Mathew Reynolds deliver a clever, trope-busting take on the WWII-era adventure book. The concept is just over-the-top enough to be fun, with a bunch of good-hearted rogues commanding a submarine, while smartly underlining that it’s not fun and games in the Pacific Theater. Reynolds’ art can take a little getting used to; it feels more like a video game cutscene or an episode of Archer than most comic art. But it’s a fun romp with a lot of promise; highly recommended.
Robocop: To Live And Die In Detroit
A story about what it takes to be an officer of the law in Detroit, Joe Harris and Piotr Kowalski come a bit short, here. We never really get to know Alex Murphy as a character in Harris’ script, and Kowalski’s art feels a bit spare for the topic. It all feels a bit mid-’90s, for better or for worse, but one can’t help feeling more could be done with this particular character and this particular story.
City: The Mind In The Machine #1
Eric Garcia and Javier Fernandez deliver a story about an all-seeing AI that… well, let’s say that it lacks human intuition. So a human gets plugged into the machine. Oh, yeah, no way this can go bad.
Honestly, it’s not a bad idea, and the twist, that our protagonist lost his eyes in a terrorist attack and got new ones connected to this AI, is interesting. But we’re only at the first issue, so it remains to be seen if this book can deliver something other than the usual.
Gravel: Combat Magician #1
Mike Wolfer and Rafael Blanco Lopez pick up on Warren Ellis’ idea, essentially John Constantine: SAS Hardass, and… largely deliver a lot of dialogue. Still, the concept is interesting, and this is surprisingly low-key for an Avatar Press book. Worth keeping an eye on, especially if the second issue is a bit faster-paced.
Clown Fatale #4
You’d think a book dedicated to going over the top wouldn’t feel this dull, but Victor Gischler and Maurizio Rosenzweig just can’t elevate this above its wannabe campiness. Amusing enough, for what it is, but Grindhouse: Doors Open At Midnight delivers better comics around the same idea.
Regular Show: Skips #4
Mad Rupert perfectly nails what makes Regular Show such addictive viewing. It’s a silly book, but then it’s a silly show. Worth reading for fans of the show and a great book for kids.
Protocol: Orphans #4
This espionage book from Michael Alan Nelson and Mariano Navarro wraps up with an action-packed, but rather conventional, final issue. Navarro in particular seems to suffer from the schedule, as the art is a bit more loose and cartoony than it should really be for the tone. In all, not a bad book, but not really one you’re missing out on if you haven’t been following it, either.
Eternal Warrior #6
Greg Pak, Robert Gill, and Victor Olazaba prove that even the toughest warrior has a soft spot for his children. Oh, and also that they’re awesome at telling a story about a guy with a sword fighting giant robots. Really, I should have led with that; either way, it’s a highly entertaining book with smart characterization and great art. Highly recommended.
Astro City #9
Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson continue their Winged Victory arc, one of the smartest looks at feminism and superheroics from a major comics company. Honestly, this is a great read not least because Busiek is unflinching in how he approaches how society would treat Winged Victory and how eagerly it would believe a strong woman is a dangerous one. Highly recommended.
Duane Swierczynski and Eric Nguyen start a new arc with their psychotic hero. Honestly, it’s nothing groundbreaking, but Swierczynski is beginning to lighten this book up just enough to make it darkly funny, fitting in well with Nguyen’s dark, gritty art. Worth picking up for hardcore action fans.
Abe Sapien #10
Mike Mignola and Scott Allie write and Max Fiumara draws a rather sad story about a man who can’t see what’s right in front of his face. This book has always been more contemplative and character-driven than you might expect, and that really pays off, especially with the shorter arcs. Highly recommended.
Star Wars #14
Brian Wood’s two-parter about just how terrifying Vader can be, even when he’s on your side, wraps up. Facundo Percio and Dan Parsons stand in quite well for Carlos D’Anda, although truth be told, this is pretty similar to Dark Horse’s other Vader books in some respects, although the opening dream sequence is superb. And the very ending is a great little piece of storytelling as well. This book is always a pleasure, and highly recommended.
Creepy Quarterly #15
This is worth picking up for Alex DiCampi’s story alone, but it’s got plenty of virtues otherwise. That said, the last story, a reprint, while gorgeously illustrated, is a bit out of place; too much of the negatives of pulp, not enough of the positives. Still, worth picking up for horror fans.
Joshua Dysart and Clayton Henry deliver a breather issue in the current arc actually does a lot for the book. For one thing, it’s about teenagers actually acting like teenagers, and for another, it explores Faith and Torque, two of the most fascinating characters in this book. It’s a great read, and highly recommended.
Scott Snyder, James Tynion IV, Dustin Nguyen, and Derek Fridolfs introduce us to the upcoming weekly Batman series, Batman Eternal. Let’s just say we can’t discuss it in-depth without getting into spoilers, but it’s a fairly intriguing setup that answers a few questions even as it poses some new ones. If you’re looking to get on board with Batman Eternal, pick this one up.