DC starts a new crossover, a popular fantasy series comes to comics, and we’ve got more horror because, hey, it’s the first of October. Here’s a look at notable books from DC Comics, Marvel, Image Comics, Dark Horse, Dynamite, IDW Publishing, Boom! Studios
Green Lantern/New Gods: Godhead
Technically, this is a one-shot and Green Lantern #35, but the two flow straight into each other, so we might as well lump ’em together. The basic problem here is that the New Gods are basically religious fanatics and… kind of a bunch of dicks! This rushes straight through what should have been the actual crossover, namely the New Gods trying to get the seven rings of the spectrum, and instead focuses on the Lanterns going to war. Uh, OK. Not bad, but not terribly compelling, either.
Gotham Academy #1
Olive Silverlock is, well, she’s a teenage girl at a Gotham prep school. If that’s not going to have problems involved, nothing will. Becky Cloonan and Brenden Fletcher are aiming this squarely at teenage girls, but it’s got a good flow and a nice Gothic vibe to it, thanks in part to Karl Kerschl on art. Overall, a solid debut, but one with a decidedly precise audience.
The idea of a serious Lobo book is ridiculous. Lobo was a parody of ’90s comics excess, so much so his first issue featured him shoving his foil-embossed balls into your face on the cover. He’s a joke. That’s the point.
So pity Cullen Bunn, who has the unenviable job of trying to take Lobo and make him all grimdark and serious. Honestly, and I hate to say this, Bunn fails. It doesn’t help matters that he’s currently got two books on the stands, Magneto and Sinestro, that more or less cover the same ground, and to be honest, the goofy comedy that defines Lobo isn’t Bunn’s strong suit. Also, he has a new Lobo, so he can’t even lean on the character’s past to carry the book.
Bunn can’t even end this issue on a cliffhanger worth caring about, not that the book bothers to hint who it might be. Why DC is so invested in Sexy Neon Lobo is honestly beyond me; he’s a flat, generic character, another anti-hero who’s the last of his kind haunted by his mistakes. In other words, he’s a punchline, without the joke. It’s a profound misstep, and one that I suspect won’t take very long for DC to reverse.
Men of Wrath #1
Jason Aaron and Ron Garney deliver a noir, from Marvel of all companies. And it’s a fun one, albeit one that suffers a bit in comparison to, say, Aaron’s own Southern Bastards, but the nasty Ira Rath is an interesting character, and that goes a long way. Worth reading for noir fans.
Bucky Barnes, The Winter Soldier #1
After the events of Original Sin, The Winter Soldier is now “The Man On The Wall,” a human dealing with intergalactic threats before they destroy Earth, by destroying them first. Ales Kot is arguably ideal for this kind of thing, as smart-assed espionage is a genre he does well with, but Marco Rudy’s art, while quite pretty, is more concerned with looking good and experimenting with layout than ensuring those experiments actually work. Still, it’s a beautiful book and a fun read; hard to ask for anything more.
Guardians 3000 #1
Dan Abnett returns to the team that he made a cult classic, before Marvel turned them into a massive film hit, with Gerardo Sandoval on art. And it’s straight-up cosmic Marvel, full of weird slang, time loops, continuity gags, you name it. All the jokes are going to sail straight over the heads of all but hardcore Marvel readers, but arguably, that’s the point; this is a throwback, to some degree. And as such, it’s a lot of fun, and can be read by casual fans as well.
A one-shot debuting James Harvey, well known in the UK but not as popular over here, and… well, Harvey’s art is absolutely pristine, but his writing is as shallow as his main character. Harvey doesn’t really have much of interest to say, no matter how beautiful his way of saying it.
Ten years after a bunch of teenagers killed some unpopular kid, she’s back for revenge! And cutting herself! And man, is it dull! Seamus Fahey and Robert Napton hit every cliche in the book, but without any sort of characterization, the book’s neither scary nor interesting. Christian DiBari, meanwhile, is clearly working under a far too tight deadline; his art’s OK, but there are a few signs that the weekly gimmick meant fast pages. OK, if you like slasher flicks, but nothing that you haven’t read before.
Fiction Squad #1
Paul Jenkins and Ramon Bachs deliver a noir set among the fairy tales and honestly, it’s not really funny or attention-getting, it’s just kind of weird. It reminds me of a strange movie where they had kids act out a gangster drama; the two ideas just never meld, and thus the book itself just never comes together. Bachs’ art evokes Jack Davis, which I’m always down for, but it just muddles the tone further, really. Ultimately this is too much of a mess to recommend.
Armor Hunters: Aftermath
Mostly this lays out how the Valiant universe has changed after its massive crossover… and the results are a bit surprising, to say the least. More of a breather issue and a jumping on point, than anything else, but a fun read if you’ve been following Armor Hunters.
The Damnation Of Charlie Wormwood #1
This formerly digital-only comic is being reprinted, and it’s the rare comic book noir that knows characters are more important than shooting stuff or a macho title. Charlie Wormwood is a college professor with a son dying of cancer and a wife withdrawing from their relationship. He needs money. He needs time. He needs a damn break. And since he teaches in a prison, he’s about to get one whether he likes it or not. Christina Blanch and Chris Carr do some tight dialogue work, and Chee’s art is spare but keeps the story moving. In all, a great read and highly recommended.
Mercy Thompson: Hopcross Jilly #1
I haven’t read any of the Mercy Thompson novels, but the concept’s pretty straightforward; she’s a werecoyote and a car mechanic who solves mysteries. The main problem with Patricia Briggs’ story is that this is being written for the trade; the first issue feels unfocused and is pretty much all plotline setup. That and the fact that Mercy’s teenage stepdaughter suddenly has a new Gothy friend named Jill… oof. Tom Garcia’s art is capable, but just that, and overall, this is aimed squarely at fans instead of new readers.