March goes out like a lion with a lot of new books, many of which are courtesy Dark Horse! You’ll find reviews of books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW Publishing, Boom!, Valiant, and Dynamite under the jump.
Ghost Rider #1
Felipe Smith and Tradd Moore introduce Robbie Reyes, a mechanic in East L.A. who gets in a little deeper than he realizes. The book owes something of a debt to The Fast And The Furious and Drive, but Moore’s loose, kinetic style lends itself well to this kind of story. Promising, but we’ll want to see an issue or two to see where Smith takes the plot.
Iron Patriot #1
Ales Kot and Garry Brown give Rhodey a new series. Jim Rhodes has chosen to limit himself to operations on American soil, unless they’re search and rescue, which is an interesting direction to take it. The book is honestly better when dealing with Rhodey and his family issues than the superheroics, but it’s high quality work and an interesting book. Worth a look if the plot description piques your interest.
Silver Surfer #1
Dan Slott and Michael Allred deliver a corker of a Silver Surfer book. Allred’s style and sensibility is uniquely suited to the Surfer, and Slott’s script is simultaneously funny and touching; the Surfer means well, but he can be a bit of a pompous ass. In short, it’s a great launch for the book and we can’t wait for the next issue. Highly recommended.
Real Heroes #1
Bryan Hitch goofs on the Avengers in a story where the cast of “The Olympians” gets sucked into an alternate reality where the Olympians were real… and have to stand in. The issue is mostly just setting up the story, and is something of inside-baseball to some degree, but when the book takes off, Hitch delivers the detailed art and action he’s known for. Worth keeping an eye on.
Frank Barbiere and Colin Lorimer add yet another superhero to Dark Horse’s growing Black Sky line. This drops us in the middle of the story, and it’s solid, but it’s a little too vague to fully work.
Randy Stradley and Doug Wheatley, meanwhile, add King Tiger to the mix, and do a lot with a short amount of time. It’s not clear where they’re going yet, but at least it’s a compelling story.
Rocky and Bullwinkle #1
Mark Evanier and Roger Langridge are cut loose on Moose and Squirrel with amusing result. The book is not quite as prone to terrible puns, shockingly enough, but it does keep the basic format of the episode, and it’s pleasantly silly and cheesy all-ages fun. One hopes, though, that Langridge gets to write at some point, even if Evanier knows the show and its style cold; his sense of humor seems uniquely suited to the oddballs in this show.
Star Slammers #1
Walt Simonson’s pulp fantasy gets a reprint. Star Slammers is about as ’80s as it gets, right down to the overelaborate character design and tough-guy dialogue. But it’s a fun read, and Simonson’s always a pleasure. A great throwback for those who love Simonson or ’80s comics.
Jim Zub, Andre Coelho, and Scott Hanna deliver a story of what makes the head of the Suicide Squad, well, Amanda Waller. It’s a solid and well-told story, and surprisingly gritty in light of Zub’s other material, but it’s mostly of interest to fans of the character.
A brief one-shot gets into the fallout of the Ultimate Universe, and sets up their new Ultimate books. Interesting stuff, but probably not crucial if you don’t follow the Ultimates.
Revolutionary War: Omega
Marvel’s eight-part series of British heroes wraps up with a surprisingly sad story. Killpower, a child trapped in a man’s body, was dumped in Hell and, well, it didn’t go very well for the poor guy. It’s a fun wrap-up to an amusing series, and hopefully will lead to a bit more in the future.
Captain America: Homecoming
Fred Van Lente, Tom Grummet, and Cory Hamscher deliver a fairly light-hearted all-ages book about the cinematic Cap cleaning up the old neighborhood. It’s nothing revolutionary, but if there’s a kid looking for Cap books, this will be an excellent choice.
Empowered: Internal Medicine
One of the best superhero comics on the stands gets a special courtesy of Brandom Graham on art. Adam Warren’s usual cock-eyed view of superhero tropes is surprisingly well-suited to Graham’s vivid, distorted style, and the issue is a corker as always, with a troubling payoff for those following the main comic. Highly recommended.
My Little Phony: A Brony Adventure
The subtitle of this, Fandom is Tragic, should really tell you all you need to know, but Mike Moreci and Steve Seeley tackle the fandom anyway, with Ken Haeser and Kewber Baal on art. It’s mostly a story about perhaps not taking your fandom too seriously, although it takes… well, let’s just say it takes a rather unusual turn about halfway through. The main flaw is that it doesn’t really have anything new to say, and mostly seems to exist to draw My Little Pony knockoffs smoking weed. So it’s amusing, but that should tell you what kind of satire to expect.
Sandman: Overture #2
Neil Gaiman and J.H. Williams III deliver a gorgeous book that still doesn’t justify reviving the series. The main problem with this story is, well, it’s just not terribly interesting unless you’re deeply in love with Sandman. Gaiman’s coasting, but at least Williams isn’t; the art is beautiful and almost makes this worth buying on its own.
Tomb Raider #2
Gail Simone and Nicolas Daniel Selma continue Lara Croft’s adventures in raiding. Unfortunately, the art just doesn’t match the script: Selma’s art is good, but it’s just too simple and clean for the horror story Simone is telling. Still worth a read, however.
The comic book based on an ’80s goof continues! Tommy Lee Edwards and Noah Smith honestly need to nail the pacing of this book; it starts fast and gets a little too chatty when it should have more action. But it’s still a fun read, regardless, and Dan McDaid’s art is perfect for the book. If you’re looking for an action book, or something to fill time until the good Terminator book from Dark Horse has another issue, this should do the job.
Aron Warner, Philip Gelatt, and Brett Weldele continue their stories of, well, people nobody wants dumped on a space station. It’s a promising idea, but it’s mostly used here for a mystery story that isn’t terribly compelling. Hopefully the ideas will start gelling into a better whole soon; if nothing else, the premise is great.
King Conan: The Conqueror #2
Timothy Truman and Tomas Giorello continue adapting The Hour of The Dragon. Most of this book is taken up with an elaborately gory fight as a slave gallery learns the hard way that you don’t try to put Conan in chains. It’s not Brian Wood’s take on Conan, but it’s a fun throwback for those looking for iron-thewed fantasy comics.
Elfquest: Final Quest #2
Wendy and Richard Pini work on finishing up their fantasy series. Honestly, this remains largely for fans of the original books and no one else, but it’s quite action packed and surprisingly gory in places. Although you’d think an elf stabbing some dude in the crotch would do a better job of it.
The X-Files: Conspiracy #2
Paul Crilley and John Stanisci finish out IDW’s road-trip crossing over all their other licensed properties. It’s actually a bit of a bust, in all honesty: For such a high-stake story, it’s got a rather low-stakes feeling to it. Still, it’s fun to see the X-Files team back in action, even if it is mostly the Lone Gunmen.
Serenity: Leaves On the Wind #3
Zack Whedon and Georges Jeanty continue their story of Serenity and everything going to hell. Essentially, River wants to rescue all the other kids like her in that creepy top-secret facility you might remember from the movie. Mal is grouchily amenable, but he’ll need some help, and you can probably guess who that help will take the form of if you’re a fan of the show. It’s a solid issue, but one can’t help but feel it’s a bit too loaded with fan service; it might have been nice to just see the new crew dealing with problems before swinging right into a huge arc. Fun if you’re a fan of the show, however.
The spoiled starlet turned superheroine continues struggling for redemption in this series with… mixed results. Bryan Glass and Victor Santos actually tell a one-off tale of Furious going toe-to-toe with a misogynist serial killer. Subtle it isn’t, but then, this book isn’t terribly subtle in the first place. But it is an interesting superheroine story, and something off the beaten path in a well-trodden genre.
Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, and Marcus To step up their story of an Internet activist implementing actual change. Or trying to, anyway. It’s a pretty solid espionage thriller, but it’s not terribly clear where it’s going or why it’s using the political content it does. Still fun, however, and that’s what matters.
Halo: Escalation #4
This is a solid, but not great, SF action book from Chris Schlerf, Ricardo Sanchez, and Rob Lean. It does introduce some intrigue elements which will hopefully pay off, but for now, this is largely for those who can’t wait for the next game.
Bloodhound: Crowbar Medicine #5
If there’s a moral to Dan Jolley, Leonard Kirk, and Robin Riggs’ finale to this smart, gritty miniseries, it’s this: Never, ever, piss off Travis Clevenger. To say anything else would spoil it, and you’ll want to go in cold. Highly recommended.
Eternal Warrior #7
Greg Pak and Robert Gill amp up their story of the Eternal Warrior as he fights through 4001 A.D., and it’s a fun, fast-paced story that’s willing to be both serious and just a little goofy. It’s one of the more engaging fantasy books on the stands right now, and highly recommended.
Captain Midnight #9
Joshua Williamson and Fernando Dagnino start a new arc in the pulp hero’s adventures. Honestly, this book is a bit tonally off; it wants to be superheroic, but the gore and straight-up murder is straight out of the old pulps. It continues to be a solid book, but one can’t help but think it needs to choose a tone and stick with it: Is it a modern superhero book, or a throwback?
Mass Effect: Foundation #9
Mac Walters and Tony Parker spend a little time with a scientist Salarian. Honestly, this is one of the stronger books in the mini because it deals, rather directly, with Mordin’s complicated feelings towards the Krogan and the genophage. It’s a treat for fans, and a welcome step up for the book.
Regular Show #11
KC Green and Alison Strejlau bring, perhaps, the subtext of the show a little too close to the surface with this plotline about Rigby trapped by the spirit of the ’90s. But who cares when it’s funny and creepy? Similarly, Andrew Greenstone and Josceline Fenton’s educational strip on zine production is cute, but it feels a bit redundant, like a hipper version of those dorky puzzles in back of kid’s magazines. Still a good book, and handy to buy for any kids you’d like to turn on to comics.
Matt Fraction and Annie Wu continue their movie-soaked and funny adventure with Kate Bishop as she tries to take over L.A. Honestly, this issue works not least because Kate’s such an entertaining character, but it also raises the stakes in clever and effective ways. Highly recommended.
Mind MGMT #20
Matt Kindt delivers yet another story of the Management program gone horribly wrong. But this one is particularly arresting as it asks what you do with people who you’ve made into, for lack of a better word, freaks. It’s a vivid story, and as always, one worth reading. Highly recommended.
The Massive #21
Brian Wood and Garry Brown wrap up a story of ugly, unfinished business in Callum Israel’s past. And, it turns out, unfinished business in Israel’s future. Let’s say that for fans of this book, it ends on a chilling note and a hint that we might finally know what’s behind the Crash, the event that defines this series. Highly recommended.