It’s a slightly light week this week, but there’s plenty of great stuff on the stands. Here’s a look at books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, IDW Publishing, Valiant, and Archie.
American Vampire: Second Cycle #1
Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque are back on their beloved Vertigo horror book, and little has changed, either in terms of quality or in terms of where the plot picks up. Snyder and Albuquerque love digging into the dark side of the US, and this makes for a fascinating start to the next volume. Highly recommended.
Mark Waid and Chris Samnee kick off a new arc for The Man Without Fear in a new location. Waid is, of course, always great, but Samnee really delivers here with clever layouts and some stunningly dynamic art. Highly recommended.
When you’re making a high fantasy comic, it’s important not to get caught up in the details. World building is a good thing, of course, but the world needs to come naturally; otherwise, you have no idea what the hell is going on in the book. So it is with Sovereign, Chris Roberson and Paul Maybury’s comic. It’s so rife with jargon, and it juggles three plotlines, that it’s difficult for the plot to get traction and mostly you find yourself wondering why you should care. It’s not a bad book, and it’s got promise, but one hopes that it focuses less on telling us about religions and more about what’s actually happening.
The Witcher #1
Paul Tobin and Joe Quiero turn a video game that’s not exactly well-known for its story into a moody, clever, surreal horror tale. Dark Horse excels at horror, of course, but among their offerings, this stands out particularly, especially with Quiero’s clear but shadowy artwork. Highly recommended.
Buffy: Season 10 #1
Christos Gage and Rebekah Isaacs… well, you can read the title. It’s a fun enough read, but one can’t help feeling this particular dead horse has been a bit thoroughly beaten. Pre-pubescent Giles is highly entertaining, though. A fun read for fans, albeit few others.
Clockwork Angels #1
Kevin J. Anderson and Nick Robles turn a Rush album into a comic book. It’s… pretty much as goofy as it sounds, although Robles has a nice steampunk vibe built into the book about a repressed society and the young man who breaks out of it. It does stand on its own as a story, even if it is exactly what you’d expect from the phrase “Rush album turned into a comic book.”
Revolutionary War: Warheads
Marvel’s tour of its British heroes wraps up with a visit to the Warheads. Despite the title, this is largely tying together the plot of the last six books to lead into the finale. Which will feature all of Britain’s superheroes fighting an eldritch horror. Hey, sounds like a good time to us.
Harbinger: Bleeding Monk #0
Joshua Dysart reveals the origin of that creepy monk that hangs around the Harbinger Foundation, with the help of Khari Evans, Mico Suayan, Stephen Segovia and Lewis LaRosa. And you actually feel bad for the ageless, bleeding monk; he may not be a nice guy, but he doesn’t deserve what he gets. Mostly for Harbinger fans, but a well-done book nonetheless.
Ms. Marvel #2
This book started fairly strong and has already pulled off a surprising monkey wrench in the works; this Ms. Marvel isn’t exactly who you think she is, let’s say, and go from there. G. Willow Wilson makes Kamala one of the more relatable teenagers in comic books, while Adrian Alphona continues to offer a nice balance of realism and cartooniness. Highly recommended.
White Suits #2
Frank Barbiere and Toby Cypress continue their story of Russian assassins taking over the Mob. We weren’t impressed with the first issue, which felt like a New Yorker cartoon gone Tarantino, and that extends to the second issue. The plot’s a bit of a mess, with the book jumping around to a whole string of threads. It’s OK, we suppose, but there are better espionage books on the stands.
Terminator: The Enemy Of My Enemy #2
Dan Jolley and Jamal Igle continue to show people how it’s done with the Terminator. Jolley’s script is action-packed and tightly paced, and Igle delivers both action scenes and superb pacing with his artwork. It’s a great use of the property, and highly recommended.
Loki: Ragnarok And Roll #2
Eric Esquivel and Jerry & Penelope Gaylord continue a story of a Norse god taking over the rock world. Honestly, the comic is lacking something in that we have no idea about the music behind Loki’s meteoric rise, and the comic itself is a little chatty. But it’s fairly funny, at points, and you certainly can’t fault it for being unoriginal.
Joshua Hale Fialkov and Manuel Garcia start wrapping up their four-issue miniseries with a fairly fun confrontation. Fialkov wisely skips the obligatory superhero fight between Skyman and Captain Midnight, and gets right to the two fighting a government black ops force instead. It may not be breaking ground, but it’s a lot of fun.
A book best described as “werewolf noir” continues. Michael Moreci and Tim Daniel deliver a gritty, smartly done script that keeps piling on the complications without getting confusing, and Riley Rossmo and Colin Lorimer deliver some vivid art that manages to carry both the gore and the emotional content. Highly recommended.
Sex Criminals #5
Any book that opens with terrible limericks has the key to my heart, and it helps that Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky have consistently turned Sex Criminals into a funny, naughty, action-packed book that both subverts ridiculous tropes and riffs on serious issues in a funny way. Highly recommended.
Samurai Jack #6
Jim Zub and Brittney Williams demonstrate that leprechauns are annoying little monsters in a hilarious issue. Even if you’re not familiar with the cartoon, this is a fun, lighthearted series that’s a joy month in and month out. Highly recommended.
Jack confronts the demon ripping apart New Orleans in this climax to Peter Milligan and Roberto De La Torre’s darker arc starring the hero. It’s a lot of fun, and it pays off beautifully in a few ways we won’t spoil here. If you’ve been following the book, definitely pick this up.
X-O Manowar #23
It turns out that Aric isn’t the only one with a fancy suit of armor in this issue. This is largely set-up for the upcoming Armor Hunters crossover, but it stands on its own as a story and is a heck of a lot of fun on its own.
Animal Man #29
Jeff Lemire wraps up this title with a bittersweet retelling of what happened through the eyes of Maxine, Buddy Baker’s little wing. It’s a fitting end to a great book: Highly recommended.
Batman And Aquaman #29
Peter Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, and Mick Gray take a superhero team-up book and give it a grotesque horror bent for this new run, as Batman tries to find the corpses of his lover and his son before Ra’s Al Ghul can reanimate them. It’s an interesting turn for a book that can be oddly experimental, and it seems Bats will be cycling through the Justice League in this arc. Worth picking up, although perhaps lesser Tomasi compared to some of what he’s done in this book elsewhere.
Transformers: Regeneration One #100
Yes, IDW’s revival of Marvel’s beloved Transformers comics from the 1980s has actually crossed the hundred issue mark, which is also the finale of this series. Well, sort of; Simon Furman admits that this is unlikely to truly be the end… something this book backs up. Still, it’s a fun trip down memory lane for ’80s kids, and worth picking up if you fondly remember the original series.
It’s Liz vs. The Black Flame in this ongoing arc. It’s action-packed, and a lot of fun, although it is beginning to feel a bit stretched. Still worth it, for fans of the franchise.
Sonic The Hedgehog #258
If there’s a kid in your life, this is a good action book for them: It’s bright, colorful, action-packed, and Ian Flynn knows how to write a book to be accessible without coming off as condescending. Evan Stanley and Terry Austin also do a good job with the art; it’s bright and fun, without being silly.