‘Trees’, ‘C.O.W.L.’ And Other Comics Of Note, May 28th

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Marvel

There’s a lot of good comics on the stands this week, and it’s an especially strong week for number ones. Here’s an overview of books on the stands from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Boom!, IDW Publishing, and Dynamite.

C.O.W.L. #1

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Image Comics

What if the Justice League of America… was also a union? That’s the rather fascinating premise behind Kyle Higgins’ new book, where law enforcement and the heroic impulse collide. And, needless to say, it makes things more complicated than you might think. Backed by cleverly retro art from Rod Reis, it’s definitely a good start to what promises to be a fascinating book. Highly recommended.

Trees #1

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Image Comics

What if alien life landed on Earth… and didn’t care about us? Thought we were so beneath it, it didn’t even bother with contact? Warren Ellis offers a rather different take on first contact, and it’s a compelling, globe-trotting story.

Clive Barker’s Nightbreed #1

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Hey, remember when Clive Barker was a big deal? Marc Andreyko struggles mightily, but he’s hampered a bit by Barker’s structure and by Piotr Kowalski, whose art is a bit flat and doesn’t really set a proper tone for the book. The art is too bright and honestly a bit too sloppy to fully pull you in or invest you in the events on the page. OK for Barker’s fans, but there’s little of interest for anyone else.

Doctor Spektor #1

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Dynamite

Spiritualist, monster hunter, and reality TV star? It’s an interesting mix Mark Waid’s ginned up for this Gold Key also-ran. Neil Edwards offers some clean, if a little spare, art for the book and builds on a pretty interesting idea. A clever riff on an outdated character, and definitely worth a look.

Page 2

Southern Bastards #2

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Image Comics

This deep-friend Southern noir mixes, in its last panel, a little Southern Gothic into the mix as well. Jason Aaaron’s script is almost painfully aware of both tropes around the rural South and the desire to get as far the hell away from places like Craw County, Alabama as you can. Jason Latour’s art only emphasizes the uncomfortable, sweaty nature of the book. Highly recommended.

Star Wars: Rebel Heist #2

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Dark Horse

Dark Horse continues its blowout of Star Wars books with a tale of intrigue and espionage (from Matt Kindt, of course) starring… Princess Leia Organa. Leia is indeed a certified bad-ass, and this book only continues that theme. But it also… well… let’s just say it’s building to an interesting payoff, and leave it at that. Highly recommended.

Conan The Avenger #2

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Dark Horse

Any comic book that works in a Casablanca joke is one after my own heart. Fred Van Lente’s script is actually a clever mix of sword-and-sorcery, buddy-cop comedy, detective story, and supernatural horror. It sounds like a mess on paper, but the elements of the story are done carefully and placed for maximum effect. Brian Ching’s scratchy, creepy artwork adds to the tone considerably, and makes this book a must-read. Highly recommended.

24: Underground #2

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IDW Publishing

Jack Bauer’s ongoing adventures are… rather dull, honestly. Unfortunately, Michael Gaydos’ art is rushed and based far too often on file photos of Keifer Sutherland, while Josh Burcham uses a monochromatic palette for most of the book. The overall result is… less than appealing and has a poor sense of action, a rather harsh failing in a book that relies mostly on shooting people for tension. I can’t recommend this book, as harsh as it sounds.

Shadowman: End Times #2

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Valiant

Jack Boniface never knew his father, a man he thought was dead. Needless to say, discovering that dear old Dad was never dead, just able to duck his obligations, has put Jack on the path to finding his old man and settling a few scores. Peter Milligan and Valentine De Landro deliver a corker of a story of bad blood and bad men, although Livesay’s inks are a little too thick for the book. Either way, though, it’s a book well worth your time.

The New 52: Future’s End #4

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DC Comics

The weekly series continues, and while interesting, that’s largely thanks to launching no fewer than two new plotlines, with minor villain Coil trying to go straight and Tim Drake trying to live life as a civilian and struggling to make it work. While this book is picking up, it still feels like it’s finding a tone and picking up steam, and that’s a lot to ask after four issues.

Ms. Marvel #4

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Marvel

Kamala Khan goes on her first superhero rescue mission, and Adrian Alphona gets to show off his style in a delightful issue. Kamala is a great superheroine not least because she’s incredibly relatable, a genuinely awkward teenager just trying to be a good person and do the right thing. Probably my favorite Marvel book right now, and highly recommended.

King Conan: The Conqueror #4

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Dark Horse

Timothy Truman needs to step up his game, with guys like Brian Wood and Fred Van Lente taking on and offering new spins on Conan. Still, Tomás Giorello’s over-the-top art and José Villarrubia’s lurid coloring make for an entertainingly cheesy throwback, and worth it for fans of the old-school Conan books from the ’70s.

Vandroid #4

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Dark Horse

The goofy, campy miniseries builds to a finale. Honestly, the story is stock ’80s camp at this point, but the book’s entirely worth reading for the glee Dan McDaid takes in depicting ’80s cheese. Somebody assign this man a Terminator book!

Pariah #4

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Dark Horse

You know, my reaction to nukes being flung into the atmosphere to destroy our heroes shouldn’t be “meh” anymore than a villain being revealed should be greeted with “Oh, right, that guy, what’s his deal again?” This series has been consistently rushed and consistently lacking in information, and honestly, it just deflates any stakes. We don’t care about anybody on this station, and that means we really don’t care if they get blown up.

Furious #5

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Dark Horse

Unfortunately, this miniseries closes out on something of a rushed note. Bryan Glass just has to pack far too much into this issue to really have it make any sense; we’ve got a supervillain origin, how Furious got her powers, and a set-up for the next mini, all in one book. Furious is still an interesting, engaging character, and the concept is interesting, but one hopes the second series has a little room to breathe.

Serenity: Leaves On The Wind #5

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Dark Horse

The more this series progresses, the more I wish Whedon had just let this one go. It’s OK as far as it goes, but it’s somewhat lost the feel of the series that inspired so much cult love back in the day. Fun for fans, but not exactly what most Browncoats were hoping for.

The Star Wars #8

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Dark Horse

J.W. Rinzler and Mike Mayhew finish off their adaptation of George Lucas’ first draft of Star Wars, a book that somehow got more nuts and over the top with each issue. We’re going to miss it, now that it’s gone, especially Mayhew’s Struzan-esque art. Highly recommended, and check out the whole run before rights issues make it impossible.

Page 3

Mind MGMT #22

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Dark Horse

Matt Kindt guarantees that… well, let’s say things do not improve for our doughty band of psychics in this issue. It’s a pretty tense book that answers a fairly compelling question: If working for “The Management” is so awful, why do so many people do it? As always, a highly recommended book.

The Massive #23

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Dark Horse

Honestly… while the overall plotline of this book, about water tankers crossing the desert post-ecological disaster, is compelling, this book is beginning to go off the rails in a larger sense when it comes to the character of Mary. A gritty, serious exploration of a post-apocalyptic world doesn’t really need a goofy hippy Gaia spirit, which I’m worried Mary is turning into, even if she is one with an AK-47. Don’t even get me started on a character named Mary being pregnant out of nowhere. It’s still a good book, but it might be hitting the tipping point for some.

Harbinger #23

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Valiant

Everything this book has been building to over the last two years pays off here. We won’t spoil it, partially because Valiant, no kidding, actually worked a “NO SPOILERS!” watermark into the review copies on top of their usual watermarking, so we’ll respect their wishes. Suffice to say fans of this book are in for a hell of a ride.

Nightwing #30

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DC Comics

Or Grayson #0. At least the set up for Dick’s new series is interesting, and the exposition is couched in the best possible way to couch exposition: A massive fight with Batman. Hard to knock a book that’s mostly a big Batman fight.

Batman #31

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DC Comics

Zero Year finally approaches an ending. We’re really looking forward to what comes next on this book; it feels like Zero Year has been going on for years now. At least the payoff has been worth it, in this issue.

Flash #31

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DC Comics

Somebody’s stolen a bunch of low-grade villain toys, but who? And what does it have to do with the Barry of the future and his new, violent approach to the Rogues? A pretty interesting issue, and one worth picking up for Flash fans.

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