Cthulu, undead G.I.s and more prevade this week’s comics. Here’s a look at the books of interest on the stands from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, IDW Publishing, Boom!, Valiant, and Archie Publications.
Star-Spangled War Stories: G.I. Zombie #1
Well, really more “FBI Zombie”, we suppose, but Palmiotti and Gray’s hard-bitten story of an undead G-man is an interesting riff on the crime comic. Promising, and worth a look if you want something grittier out of DC.
Storm gets a… vaguely muddled first issue, to be honest. The idea seems to be that Storm isn’t true to herself unless she’s breaking the mold, which is certainly true to a degree and often pretty funny in the hands of Greg Pak. But it’s a bit messier when Storm has an argument with a sulky teenager and it somehow makes her feel like she’s not rebelling enough, maaaaaaan. It’s not really clear why Storm doesn’t just write off the kid as a sulky twit and move on. Still, it’s got promise, and it’s a solid start to the book, so it’s worth picking up.
Supreme: Blue Rose #1
Expecting Image’s “Superman but with a triangle on his chest” to be the main thrust of this story? Warren Ellis has some surprises in store, then. This is mostly about Diana Dane, investigative journalist, and honestly, it goes between bizarre for its own sake and a massive exposition dump to set up the series. Tula Lotay’s art is undeniably gorgeous, though, although the sooner the fad for “blue-shift” coloring or whatever the hell you want to call it dies, the better. I’m a little sick of books being colored as if I need to read them with a pair of old-fashioned 3D glasses. Not Ellis’ best book this month, or, hell, even his best book this week, but still worth a read and definitely an unexpected direction for Supreme.
The Goon: Occasion of Revenge #1
Eric Powell’s zombie-punching gangster is back, and boy, has he ever been missed. Granted, this is Powell in full-on ’40s noir/EC Horror mode, so it’s fairly light on the goofy comedy and pretty long on the darkness. Still, Powell’s art is gorgeous and his writing is vivid as always, and the result is a standout book. Highly recommended.
Groo Vs. Conan #1
Sergio Aragones’ incompetent barbarian meets Robert E. Howard’s most enduring creation, and the results are…mixed, to be honest. Much of the book is actually a delusional Aragones thinking he’s Conan, and, well, it’s a lot like a cheesy Mad strip, to be honest, and not the greatest idea, something the book itself points out early on. The book doesn’t even get to the promised fight in the first issue. But if you’re a fan of Groo, it might be worth throwing a few bucks Aragones’ way to see what happens.
Walt Simonson returns to Norse mythology, this time following a dark elf as she goes to find and kill a dead god. Simonson hasn’t lost a beat since his classic Thor run, and this book is a welcome return to high fantasy for him. Definitely recommended, especially if you’re a fan of Simonson’s work.
Transformers Vs. G.I. Joe #1
Tom Scoli and John Barber perfectly distill these two franchises down into the ’80s cheesfest crossover we never really got, with Scoli’s eye for vintage cheap comics and Jack Kirby-esque design standing out in particular. Funny as hell, and a clever little bit of tribute. Highly recommended.
Steed And Mrs. Peel: We’re Needed #1
An old friend of Steed is a traitor… or is he? Needless to say, this being an Avengers book, there’s more to the story. Ian Edginton and Marco Cosentino deliver a book that feels like the original series, with a dash of The Prisoner. Definitely worth a read.
Armor Hunters: Bloodshot #1
Joe Harris and Trevor Hairsine remind us of the First Rule Of The Valiant Universe: Don’t F*** With Bloodshot. Something one of the Armor Hunters is about to learn via a stick with a bunch of nails in it. Pretty much wall-to-wall action, albeit Harris’ dialogue for Bloodshot feels a bit off. Still, highly entertaining and definitely worth a read.
Vain, dumb, macho Johnny Bravo goes up against a robot, who promptly discovers the logical hell of a person possessed of a perfect ego and nothing whatsoever to actually back it up with. The book’s pretty cleverly written, staying true to the theme of the show while tying in with IDW’s Cartoon Network crossover, and thus is worth it for fans and all age audiences.
Brian Lynch and Nick Roche mash up classic monsters and classic cars in a gleefully goofy little book that never met a bad pun it didn’t like. It’s the good kind of all-ages book, the one a grown adult can read and get a chuckle over. Definitely worth picking up, especially if you’ve got a kid in tow.
Dream Thief: Escape #2
Jai Nitz and Greg Smallwood deliver the best superhero noir on the stands. What I love about this book is how cleverly Nitz throws twists at us: This book seems to be setting up an over-the-top jailbreak before taking a sudden, hilarious twist. Similarly, Smallwood cleverly evokes period and atmosphere with careful coloring choices and smart moments of layout and design. It’s a sharp, clean, twisty and even emotional book. Highly recommended.
Kill Shakespeare: The Mask Of Night #2
The clever, complex, and superbly written miniseries continues, this time with action on the high seas. It’s a cleverly done book, as always, evoking the style and cadence of Shakespeare while being its own story, and Andy Berlanger, the artist, shows off a powerful sense of action and violence in these pages. It’s some of the best comics on the stand, and if you’re not reading it, you’re missing out. Highly recommended.
Warren Ellis’ book about aliens that don’t care about us takes an interesting turn, focusing more on the people than the aliens. Which is as it should be. If you haven’t been following this book, pick it up from the beginning; it’s well worth a read.
Axe Cop: American Choppers #3
Axe Cop goes all theological on us in this final issue. Pretty amusing, but if you’re not a fan already, this won’t change your opinion.
Conan The Avenger #4
This book hops genres as nimbly as possible, going from fantasy to detective story to palace intrigue from issue to issue. It’s probably the most deft and engaging Conan book on the stands right now, and decidedly worth reading. Highly recommended.
Velvet, still reeling from the punch she just got in issue five, decides to go exactly where she shouldn’t be: Straight back to the spymasters hunting her. Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting do a brilliant job of reinventing the ’70s espionage drama, making this one of the best comics Image is putting out. Highly recommended.
Afterlife With Archie #6
Sooooo, Sabrina was banished to the netherworld for unleashing the zombie plague on Riverdale… what’s she been up to since? Oh, you can just ask her doctor, a certain Howard Phillips Lovecraft. A must-buy just for the art from Francesco Francavilla, it’s a gripping horror read that mixes lots of little Lovecraft nods with a cleverly written and disturbing plot. Highly recommended.
Archer & Armstrong #22
“SIR! MOVE ASIDE YOUR INTIMIDATINGLY LARGE PENIS!”
Did I have to say anything else? OK, fine, Fred Van Lente actually manages to make this book’s goofy New Age conspiracy theories not seem utterly ridiculous, while subtly commenting on the nature of fame. Also there are dick jokes. Buy it.
Zero Year finally wraps up with a pleasing finale of the Riddler getting his ass kicked. Great storyline, if a little long, guys. Now can we please actually have the next one?
Basically, Johns gives Superman a nice kick to the groin, reminding him that hey, he’s still totally alone in the universe and his family’s dead. The character of Ulysses is an interesting one, though, and the arc is definitely of interest.