You know a good way to get Batman to beat you into the trauma ward? Steal the corpse of his son. It’s a lesson some supervillains are about to learn the hard way. Plus Archie dies, superheroes get their organs stolen, and more in our overview of this week’s notable comic books.
Robin Rises Omega #1
Or, “One Very Long Superhero Fight From Tomasi and Kubert.” Not that I’m really complaining, but after all the hype, and Tomasi’s masterful handling of Batman’s grief elsewhere in the book, it’s a little disappointing. Still worth reading, if for no other reason than Batman deciding to go kick ass on Apokolips.
Teen Titans #1
Bar the ridiculously forced loose end that eats up a page or two in the book, which you’ll know when you see it, this is a solid reintroduction of the team with no padding; somebody’s got a grudge against S.T.A.R. Labs, and they’re willing to kill kids to settle it, so in come the Titans. It’s fun, if not revolutionary, and a brisker start than the first go-round.
Harley Quinn Invades SDCC #1
I profoundly dislike Conner and Palmiotti’s run on Harley Quinn, so I’m biased going in, I admit. New Harley” is the supervillain as magical pixie dream girl, and just like in real life, it makes her tiresome and annoying. Now imagine paying five bucks for forty-eight pages of that.
The plot is simple: Harley wants to get her comic book, which of course has a terrible and somewhat revolting idea, published. In the process, every stale joke about a comic book convention is hit upon, and the book is leadenly paced. When you get to the last page, where Harley Quinn asks for the issue she first appeared in, in a precious meta-moment, “Never the End” seems less like a joke and more like a threat. Give the woman back her singlet and her giant hammer, for the love of God.
Sadly not an adaptation of the ridiculous French action movie, this parody of/tribute to bad ’80s action movies is amusing enough for what it is, but it has a few problems; it’s a bit too faithful to the tropes and comes off less as a parody and more of an imitation. Brandon McKinney’s art is unfortunately just generic enough that it downplays the comedy. Still, the basic concept is amusing, and it might be worth following if it picks up.
Borderlands: The Fall of Fyrestone #1
Mikey Neumann and Agustin Padilla essentially start retelling the first game’s plot. But they do a good job of capturing the goofy humor and comedic sociopathy that define the game, and it makes for a good read, even if you’re not into the games.
The X-Files: Year Zero #1
Essentially, Mulder and Scully are a framing story for the first X-File from the ’40s, which, obviously, has some ties to the present day. Karl Kesel’s script is fairly amusing, if straightforward, and Greg Scott and Vic Malhotra have a nice, moody style that’s not too hampered by copying celebrity faces. Worth a read if you’ve got any fondness for The X-Files.
The Last Fall #1
Tom Waltz packs his script with too much dialogue and exposition, not to mention more than a few clumsy metaphors about religious wars, and Casey Maloney isn’t really suited to a gritty, cynical war book as an artist, although he puts in a yeoman’s effort. Ultimately, it’s a little too blunt and obvious to recommend, sadly.
The Squidder #1
Leave out the Cthulhu nonsense this book is spackled with, and Ben Templesmith has put out a fairly generic tough-guy action book. It’ll be a great read for his fans, but few others.
Black Market #1
In a world of pharmaceutical companies and genetic manipulation, how valuable is superhero DNA? How useful is it? Could it be a cure, and for what? Frank Barbiere actually sets up a compelling premise with his script, and if Victor Santos has a little much of Michael Avon Oeming in his art, it still works for the concept. Definitely worth a read, especially as it’s a miniseries.
The Devilers #1
It’s pretty hard not to laugh at the idea of the Unitarian Universalist Avengers on paper, which is basically what this team book is. But Joshua Hale Fialkov makes it work because each character is well defined, and our introduction is a smart-ass priest who spends a fair chunk of the issue mocking the idea of demonic possession. Matt Triano’s taste for the warped and grotesque helps matters substantially; the art’s photorealistic, which makes a hippo head on a crab’s body running around all the more freaky. It’s got some real promise: Highly recommended.
Lady Zorro: Blood and Lace #1
Despite the cover, this is a solid little adventure book. Even if it resorts to quasi-Nazis for the bad guys, which, really, come on. Still, a fun swashbuckler if that’s what you’re looking for.
Original Sin: Hulk Vs. Iron Man #2
Bruce Banner is not happy with Tony Stark… and Tony might just have his beating coming. Kieron Gillen makes this book work because ultimately, it’s rooted in the characters: Tony’s arrogant, douchey behavior is coming back to bite him. The result is a compelling story of egos and flaws, and great for Marvel fans.
Savage Hulk #2
Alan Davis’ throwback continues to be a delightful little book that perfectly captures the style and rhythms of ’70s Marvel without the cheese. Plus, it ends on a killer hook. Superhero comics at their finest, and highly recommended.
Witchfinder: Mysteries of Unland #2
The script to this book isn’t exactly packed with twists and turns, but you hire Tyler Crook to make a messy horror book, by God, he’s going to deliver. Almost worth it for the art alone, as you may have guessed, but pulp fans might find something to enjoy as well.
Eye of Newt #2
Michael Hague’s art is beautiful and elaborate… his writing a bit less so, especially in the first few pages of this book when it turns out our heroes are Morgan Le Fey and King Arthur. Beautiful to look at, but not much beyond that.
Burn The Orphanage: Reign Of Terror #3
Sina Grace and Daniel Freedman’s tribute to the fighting games of the early ’90s just gets more and more ridiculous, and you kind of have to love them for it. Not for everybody, but decidedly worth a read, and often very funny.
Brain Boy: The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T. #3
How much worse can a conspiracy-obsessed nutjob make things for Matt Price? Oh, there are ways. Fred Van Lente and Freddie Williams II continue their action-packed and rather lighthearted take on being the government’s best psychic, and it’s a joy to read as always. Highly recommended.
Silver Surfer #4
Dan Slott and Mike Allred continue their take on the Surfer, who brings Dawn Greenwood back to Anchor Bay… and discovers it’s a lot nastier than you might expect. The Guardians of the Galaxy cameo is pretty forced, but at least it’s funny, and it doesn’t detract from a book that’s by turns hilarious and unnerving. Highly recommended.
This deep dive into the psyche of a hero is a pretty fascinating book, and has been for the last four issues. That said, at this point the script by Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert just feels like it’s laying it on a little thick. Dead brother, abusive father, and now suicidal mom? What’s next, his dog’s an arsonist? That said, Daniel Bayless’s art, which can shift from grounded images to heroics to psychedelia, and Adam Metcalfe’s coloring work elevate this book and turn it into a vivid, fascinating book worth picking up.
The Witcher #5
Paul Tobin and Joe Querio finish off their clever, well-written horror story with a corker of a final issue. Tobin’s twist ending makes sense and fits the dreamy mood of the story; it’s as much sad as it is horrific, as much about self-delusion as it is about violence. Querio’s art, meanwhile, fits the mood perfectly. Fan of the games or not, and I fall very much into the latter category, you owe to yourself to pick this one up: It stands on its own. Highly recommended.
Original Sin #6
Nick Fury has spent decades killing anybody who might eat, enslave, or otherwise subjugate humanity. And now, he’s dying… so somebody else has to take the job. But who? This crossover continues to be a twisty, clever little take on the Marvel U, and absolutely worth reading. Recommended.
Ms. Marvel #6
This being a Marvel book, you get one guess who the guest star is. G. Willow Wilson, though, handles the idea with quite a bit of aplomb, and she handles said special guest quite deftly. Jake Wyatt takes over art and it actually works quite well. In all, one of the best books Marvel is putting out, and once again, highly recommended.
Chris Sebela and Jan Duursema continue their updating of Dark Horse’s spectral hero. Honestly, their take on an insane cryptkeeper is actually pretty clever, once the ball gets rolling, but a little too talky to really be as effective as it should. Still worth a read, however.
Cullen Bunn resurrects one of the dumber ideas in the X-Men continuity and… actually makes it work. More than that, he rather wisely makes this issue all about how Magneto doesn’t really need his magnetic powers to kick your ass. It’s another fascinating, if very dark, story in what’s becoming one of Marvel’s best sleeper books. Highly recommended.
Mostly this is about Gilead and Ninjak fighting alien dogs. Hey, hard to complain, especially when the issue ends with the promise of Bloodshot being, well, Bloodshot. It’s a nice little addition to the Armor Hunters crossover.
This issue serves as something of a blowout, changing the direction of the book now that Toyo Harada is revealed the world for the tyrant he is… and Peter Stanchek is discovering there’s no chance of walking away. Plus there’s a variety of strips as well, from the tragic to the hilarious; “Fan Fiction” alone is a hoot. Definitely worth picking up.
Life With Archie #36
Yep, Archie takes a bullet. Honestly, this is more illustrated novel than comic book; there’s so much continuity to tie up it gets a little… elaborate unless you’ve been following the book from the beginning. It’s an interesting story though, and very much a summation of why Life With Archie started in the first place. Definitely of interest, although I might recommend picking up the collected editions to get the full effect.
This breather of a ghost story wraps up with a bang, and then some. Laurence Campbell in particular is on his game, here, with some great, creepy art. Highly recommended.