A busy week for number ones takes up the comics megapost this week, and we’ve got reviews of books from DC, Marvel, Dark Horse, Image, Boom! Studios, IDW Publishing, Valiant and Dynamite under the jump.
Superman/Wonder Woman Annual #1 and Action Comics Annual #3
Since these are two chapters of the same story, I’m lumping them together for review purposes. Honestly, Doomed hasn’t thrilled me from the start; the idea of Doomsday as a virus is a little too Jason Goes To Hell for my tastes, and it’s an idea that needs one writer, not everybody on top of each other. Still, it’s fun enough Superman comics, but not something that stands out if you’re not already reading these comics on a regular basis.
Mark is a normal guy about to get married. He also has just discovered he’s the next Imperial, the only real superhero, and it might be a choice between one or the other. Steven Seagle’s first issue is great not least because Seagle nails what it’s like to deal with the buildup to getting married, and the book is both funny and action-packed; the Imperial may save humanity, but he’s not the warmest guy. Off-beat, very funny, and highly recommended.
Paolo Leandri and Adam McGovern turn out an exceptionally weird book, thanks to Kickstarter, that feels like a reprint from the ’60s, and that’s meant in the best possible way. Definitely an acquired taste with its purple prose and Kirbyesque art, but also something unique and strange.
Howtoons: Reignition #1
This is a book aimed squarely at kids, and is full of little science projects that kids can put together, anchored by Fred Van Lente’s gleefully snarky storytelling and Tom Fowler’s note-perfect artwork. If there’s a kid you’re buying comics for? Buy ’em this one.
Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #1
Do Stan Sakai a favor, and yourself, a favor and buy this book this week. This retelling of samurai legend with funny animals is both strong work of Sakai and very strange, even by this book’s standards, and Usagi’s worry for his son cuts close to the bone in light of the health problems Sakai’s family is struggling with. Worth a read, from an artist worth supporting.
Little Nemo: Return To Slumberland #1
One of the progenitors of the comic book returns! Eric Shanower and Gabriel Rodriguez have the intimidating task of reviving the Windsor McCay classic. Honestly, it’s a tall order: McCay’s attention to detail and flights of whimsy are tough to beat even today. But Rodriguez and Shanower capture the spirit of the strip quite well, making a cute and even beautiful book that’s perfect for fans of the strip and kids alike.
Steven Universe #1
Cartoon Network’s amusingly silly superhero series gets an equally amusingly silly comic book. Nothing groundbreaking, but fairly in line with Boom!’s other offerings along these lines, and a good comic for kids.
Harbinger: Omegas #1
Toyo Harada has flipped out and essentially decided he runs the world now. Standing against him are… pretty much nobody, as Peter Stanchek has completely broken down. In some ways this is a reboot of the original book, but with some… interesting twists. Worth a read if you’re a fan of Valiant’s books.
This book, about LA gangs united under one smart teenaged girl to, uh, kill the cops, doesn’t quite live up to its title. First of all, it doesn’t really do a lot to explain the long, ugly, and painful history of racism within the LAPD and the struggles many communities in the city have faced when the police are more often than not the enemy. It’s one of many things the book takes as a given the reader knows without bothering to tell us, including, most gratingly on the part of writers Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman, who all the characters are, why they’re involved, and why we should care.
There’s nothing worse than just assuming we’re going to care about the characters because they’re the good guys, and throwing that idea at a politically and socially complex problem is profoundly obnoxious. That’s especially bad because without that complexity, without the three-dimensionality, this becomes just another story of “cops vs. thugs.”
And they want us to buy an issue a week of this? No thanks.
Terminal Hero #1
What if you had an inoperable brain tumor, and tried an experimental treatment? What if it unlocked your inner mind? And what if your inner mind turned out to be kind of an a-hole? That’s the basic thrust of Peter Milligan’s story, backed up by Piotr Kowalski’s vivid art, and it’s a pretty fascinating start to what seems on paper to be a conventional story. Admittedly, doctors won’t like Milligan’s rampant distaste for them, but, hey, you can’t win them all.
Jennifer Blood: Born Again #1
Journeyman and 2 Guns creator Steven Grant is brought in to restart Garth Ennis’ Punisher knock-off and… actually delivers some solid, fun, R-rated action movie goods. With Ennis’ trademark excess trimmed out, Grant puts a lot of pieces in motion and it’s a lot of fun to see how they click together. A solid, fun, edgy book for those who want a little ultraviolence in their subs.
Tim Seeley’s book has something of a tonal problem. On one level, it’s a flighty retro spy thriller with girls, guns, and toys, but that’s kind of undercut by the cannibal supervillain that anchors the issue and, yet a-f***ing-gain, Dick moping over some woman who doesn’t love him. Really? Can we get two issues into a plotline with Nightwing before his dong takes over and he starts sulking about how he can’t get laid? What, will he move to another city for a fresh start next issue?
That said, the book is pretty fun, and while I was skeptical of the superspy angle, it’s actually been working, so far. So, if you’re a Nightwing fan or you like spy comics, this is one to pick up.
Carlos Magno’s art is beautiful, but the script he has to draw, while fun in the action beats, has all the subtlety of a screaming match on Facebook. It’s not clear if Williamson is riffing on the satirical nature of Robocop or if he’s serious, but honestly, it’s got all the subtlety of a skull being exploded by a bullet, and it makes the book just a bit annoying.
Big Trouble In Little China #3
Jack Burton continues his bid to save his friend and, well, it goes about as well as you’d expect something by old Jack Burton to go. This book is the rare worthy successor to a movie or TV project, not to mention funny. Highly recommended.
While the concept of this book remains interesting, and there’s a truly funny moment in the middle, this book is losing a bit of momentum and is starting to feel written for the trade. Still a solid horror/thriller story, but it needs to pick up the pace.
The Woods #4
The Lord of the Flies high-school drama continues to be the least compelling aspect of this book… but fortunately, it’s only a few pages in what’s otherwise a gleefully pulpy SF book full of strange creatures and stranger visions, courtesy of Michael Dialynas’s inventive pen and pencil. If this book can overhaul the high-school stuff, it’ll be a must-read.
Moon Knight #6
One of the best creative runs in Marvel’s recent history wraps up with a final one-shot issue from Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. It’s not about Moon Knight so much, this time, as the Black Spectre, and what drives a small man to decide to become a supervillain. It ends with a superb action scene and on a surprisingly melancholy note about the only difference that matters between Moon Knight and his foe. Highly recommended.
She-Hulk and Hellcat get tiny with a little help from Hank Pym… and then of course things go hilariously, horribly wrong. Javier Pulido has a lot of fun with scale, as you might have guessed, but also standing out is Soule’s clever discussion of just why what Hank Pym does is so enormously dangerous and why we should respect Ant-Man.
Also, She-Hulk beats up some cats. That’s worth four bucks just on its own.
Mark Buckingham and Russ Braun have a surprising amount of fun with the Fables universe, not least in riffing on Reynard turning out to be somebody’s prince and introducing complications in the form of a spider who just wants his wife to love him again. A rather fluffy confection of a book, and worth picking up even if you don’t read Fables.
Superior Spider-Man #32
Otto Octavius, hiding in Peter’s body, turns out to have been sent to the year 2099. So, being Otto, he steals a bunch of time-travel gear, gets ready to leave… and discovers instead somebody’s on a multiversal rampage, killing Spider-Men with a fork. So Otto, being sane and normal, decides to start recruiting Spider-Men to bump this guy off. A welcome return, and highly recommended.