It’s a good week for comics! We’ve got full reviews of books from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Valiant, IDW Publishing, Boom! Studios, and Archie under the jump.
Justice League United #1
Something of a misnomer, being as this picks up directly off the zero issue and in fact new readers probably won’t have any idea what’s going on without. It’s some solid team superheroics, albeit we’ve seen better out of Jeff Lemire, and the book’s certainly interesting. Just, hopefully, it picks up the pace a bit.
The United States Of Murder Inc. #1
What if the Mafia took over a chunk of the Eastern Seaboard? As in, they ran it completely? That’s where Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming start and… well, that’s as far as it goes. It’s an overly chatty book, as you might expect, and it takes a ridiculous twist towards the end, but it’s at least intriguing, so far.
Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu #1
This start to Shang-Chi’s miniseries is sadly fairly generic, plotwise. Shang-Chi’s former lover is killed in London, and he goes on a personal mission to find out why. Still, it’s fun to see him in action, and it’s an enjoyable book, at least.
Tales From the Con #1
Essentially a string of light-hearted gag strips about the pleasures and perils of going to a comic book convention, either as a professional or as an attendee. Amusing, if slight, and worth a rueful laugh or two.
Weird Love #1
Probably the most bizarre book on the stands this week, this collection of utterly deranged romance comics is so weird you won’t believe it’s a reprint. And yet, it is, right down to the one page story of the MRA who thinks it’s the fault of women he’s a jackass. Not to everyone’s taste, but an amusing walk down a side alley of comics history.
Star Trek: New Visions #1
Have you ever said to yourself, “Man, Star Trek is great, but it’d be even more awesome if John Byrne wrote new stories and used old stills of the show to create fumetti out if it!”… well, nice of you to drop by, Mr. Byrne. For everyone else, it’s not bad, but boy, is it ever weird. Worth a look for fans as a curiosity.
Mars Attacks: First Born #1
Getting Sam Kieth to draw a Mars Attacks book is an inspired choice, and Kieth delivers. Honestly, this is Kieth’s book: Chris Ryall may be credited as co-writer, but the powerful emotional content and personal focus are Kieth’s trademarks. A well-done book in a franchise that can be hard to adapt, and highly recommended.
Bee And Puppycat #1
The story of a young girl and her magical cat, working temp jobs for a magical computer, is, well, it’s for kids. But it’s cute and pretty funny for a kid’s book, and if you’ve got a kid you need to give some comics to, this’ll be a superb choice.
Want to pay five bucks to be reminded Doomsday is a character? Here ya go. I don’t mean to rag on this book, but the one-shot seems so utterly unnecessary and the changes to an already rather poor character so cheesy that it’s hard to feel very compelled by this.
This oddball one-shot from Tim Seeley features a squid-armed superhero working for a secret government agency fighting the forces of darkness, a job that often gets a little weird. OK, so it’s not hugely original, but it’s some fun comics, and has a pleasant ’90s throwback feel to it, although it stops just short of really developing Seeley’s obvious theme, so curiously articulated in the last story. Worth a look, especially as it’s a quick read.
Think Tank: Fun With PSTD
Terrible title, but a compelling book. As you might guess, this is a look at PTSD in soldiers, why it’s a problem, and why all the superscience in the world can’t fix it. Tonally, this book is a PSA and thus can be a bit jarring… but it’s for a good cause, and honestly it’s a cause worth advocating for.
The New 52: Future’s End #2
This book is mostly about Firestorm and how Ronnie Raymond’s screwing around has consequences. It’s not badly written, but honestly, Terry McGinnis is a far more interesting character, and while vignettes from the lives of DC heroes is a fun concept, there should be a bit more to this weekly book than that. Great cover, though.
Or, Girl Scouts Vs. Monsters. Noelle Stevenson and Grace Ellis have thankfully dialed back on the twee for this issue, although they also need to stop the device of one character being too stupid to keep from dragging the others into danger. Still, Brooke Allen’s artwork fills in some of the gaps by the script, and is quite endearing; definitely worth a read, if you haven’t picked it up.
Ghost Rider #3
As you may have guessed, this new Ghost Rider is in a slightly stickier situation than he realizes. Tradd Moore’s the real MVP here; his art carries Felipe Smith’s script through something of a slow patch on this book. Still, worth a read if you’ve been following the book.
Terminator: The Enemy Of My Enemy #3
Dan Jolley and Jamal Igle continue to deliver a superb Terminator series. Whether you’re looking for an action book, or looking perhaps for the Terminator sequel that actually does something with the concept, this comes highly recommended.
The Returning #3
This book is so absurdly convoluted at this point Jason Starr, the writer, probably doesn’t know what’s going on. This is the third issue of four and most of it is dedicated to lengthy exposition about “changers” and near-death experiences and what have you. It’s not a bad concept, but now we’ve got one issue to deliver on it. At this point I’m forced to recommend waiting for the trade; it’ll probably be a better reading experience.
Afterlife With Archie #5
The Archie vs. zombies book continues to be one of the best books on the stands. This time around, it’s the loyal Lodge butler, Smithers, in the lead role, and it’s a fascinating character study of a man devoted and loyal to his employer… while being principled enough to know how to set that loyalty aside. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa really shows his chops finding such depth in these characters, and Francesco Francavilla’s art remains some of the most vivid and gorgeous on the stands. Highly, highly recommended.
Batman Eternal #6
OK, I admit it: Teaming up Batwing and the Spectre to poke around under Arkham Asylum is inspired and I want to see more of the pairing. I’m still on the fence about whether this book can sustain its momentum through another 46 issues, but it’s a fun read, nonetheless.
Hellboy In Hell #6
Mike Mignola continues Hellboy’s adventures in the Stygian depths in this odd, dream-like book. It’s decidedly something different for the character, and while it’s got a lot of action to it, it’s the quiet moments in this book that will stick with you. Highly recommended.
Quantum And Woody #10
Or “Woody Robs The Smithsonian.” Kano continues to deliver some great art for this book, and James Asmus’ script is a hoot not least for crossing over with Shadowman while keeping his rather distinct tone. Funny as hell and highly recommended.
Astro City #12
Leave it to Astro City to go from a heartwarming and politically relevant story to a gut-punch of a character study. A heartbreaking story about obsession and need, it’s all about Ned, low-level villain and clotheshorse… and how his obsession ultimately breaks him. Admittedly, Graham Nolan takes some getting used to but he’s well-suited to the story. As always, highly recommended.
Abe Sapien #12
This one-off issue is about two people at the end of the world… and how one person can feel they’ve found someone, and the other is trapped in some place worse than hell. It’s an effective, character-based thriller, and some highly effective work from all involved. Highly recommended.
X is back in Arcadia, and understandably a bit upset about being betrayed, dumped in a hole to die, and seeing all his friends set up to go to jail. This new arc is fairly standard for a “back to one” book, and is mostly of interest for the new art team, Robert Atkins and Andy Owens. I suppose they’re a bit tighter than Eric Nguyen, but the art’s blandly competent where it should be moody, so it doesn’t really work. Still worth a read if you’re a fan of the character.
Star Wars #17
Arrochar learns the hard way: Don’t mess with Skywalkers. An issue we don’t want to spoil, and a highly recommended read.
Bloodshot And The H.A.R.D. Corps #22
Really, Bloodshot Vs. The H.A.R.D. Corps was only a matter of time. The question, of course, is who was going to touch it off. Needless to say, there’s more to it than that. This is a fun, straight-ahead action book, and a good place to get on board if you’ve been looking to try the series but didn’t want to step into in the middle of an arc.