The first week of March is surprisingly busy. And full of tragedy, too. Under the cut you’ll find reviews of books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Valiant, IDW Publishing, Boom!, Dynamite, Oni Press and Avatar.
Batman/Superman Annual #1
Greg Pak, Jae Lee, Kenneth Rocafort, and Philip Tan deliver a look at family and Warworld. This is a fun story not least because Pak knows how to write both Superman and Batman as complex characters, and they don’t really have all the answers. A smart one-off story worth reading for fans of the book, or either character.
Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Hernandez Walta turn the Master of Magnetism into the mutant version of the Punisher… and it works, not least because it’s kinda fun to hang out with Bunn’s version of Magneto. There’s a slight undercurrent of wit and black humor that keeps this fairly dark book from being completely dour, and Walta’s sketchy line combined with Jordie Bellaire’s stark color palette makes for some vivid and unique artwork. Highly recommended.
Moon Knight #1
Moon Knight is back! And he’s completely nuts! Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey deliver a gory, clever first issue that raises the question of whether Marc Spector is completely bonkers or “just” dealing with a god hanging around in his head, compelling him to do nutty things. Oh, and he kicks some ass and solves a crime while doing it. A hoot and highly recommended.
Wolverine And The X-Men #1
Jason LaTour and Mahmud Asrar go back to the Jean Grey Academy to show us what’s going on with the mutants of tomorrow. It’s solid enough stuff, one supposes, and Latour does a good job of balancing teenage angst and world-ending drama. But it’s hard not to feel like we’ve read this book before. Still a fun read for X-Men fans, however.
Mark Millar and Goran Parlov launch a surprisingly low-key and affecting story of a man who was a space hero… and gave it all up to go home, have an uneventful life, and deal with the small frustrations and joys of being a regular guy. But Duke McQueen has lost his wife, thirty-eight years later. His kids are self-involved jerks. And he’s got nothing to do. Or, at least, he had nothing to do.
This issue is mostly setup, and normally that’s a problem, but it shows some real growth on Millar’s part; there’s no absurd gore, no attempt to be shocking; essentially Millar drops all his usual hallmarks and shows that, yeah, underneath the shtick there’s a pretty damn good writer there. Parlov’s clean, careful art helps substantially, making this an unexpectedly great book. Highly recommended.
Greg Rucka and Toni Fejzula deliver a mysterious and compelling comic. Veil, our protagonist, wakes up in an abandoned subway station and seemingly doesn’t understand what’s going on. But she’s a lot more dangerous than she looks, and Rucka does a superb job of dropping a few hints while at the same time making the book disturbing. Fejzula’s art adds quite a bit as well; the inking here evokes woodcuts, and the washed-out palette oddly accentuates the bizarre nature of the goings-on. In short, it’s intriguing, and we can’t wait for the second issue. Highly recommended.
Rogue Trooper #1
Brian Ruckley and Albert Ponticelli deliver a SF/war book that’s actually a lot of fun, building off a character from 2000AD. There’s nothing particularly original here, although Ruckley gets around a need of multiple characters in a dead wasteland in some clever ways. But it’s a fun, action-packed, and engaging book that has just enough grit to make what could be a goofy book work.
Evil Empire #1
Max Bemis and Ransom Getty start a comic about how America might collapse into a fascist dictatorship. When art gets political, to really work it needs a scalpel, not a cudgel. Unfortunately, though, it looks like Bemis is going in blunt objects swinging, although to be fair this is just the first issue of a longer arc. It doesn’t help that most of the book is tied up in the budding romance between an idealized punk singer and the Democratic nominee for President, or for that matter that writing lyrics is not really Bemis’ gift. The art, meanwhile, is solid, but Getty doesn’t really have much to do just yet. In short, it’s very much a wait-and-see kind of book.
The Auteur #1
Rick Spears and James Callahan try to deliver a story of cheese, tackiness, and Hollywood excess… and one lets the other down. Callahan’s imaginative, gory, and hilariously absurd art basically has to shoulder yet another story of an egomaniacal Hollywood producer trying to get a flick made. It aims for audacious and honestly largely misses, not least because it’s not really breaking new ground to say that Hollywood is about money and a major producer might be a drug-addled scumbag. Callahan’s a treat, but Spears needs to up his game for this book to be anything worth reading as opposed to looking at.
Quantum And Woody: Goat #0
James Asmus and Tom Fowler team up to tell the story of one goat and his journey to superherodom. Or not. As expected, the backstory of Goat is fairly amusing and ridiculous, and surprisingly tied to Quantum and Woody’s past. It’s a fun read, especially for fans of the ongoing, and worth picking up.