It’s the second to last week of May, and we’ve got some killer books this week. Here’s a look at what’s on the stands from DC, Marvel, Image, Dark Horse, Dynamite, Boom! Studios, IDW Publishing, and Valiant.
So far, this book’s nothing special; we’ve seen the story of a drug turning people superhuman before, and telling it from a supervillain perspective doesn’t change much. But it’s not nearly as snotty as Millar’s usual book, so we’re a bit more interested.
Star Wars: Darth Maul – Son Of Dathomir #1
This book is solid, one supposes. Jeremy Barlow, Juan Frigeri, and Mauro Vargas all do a solid, engaging job of launching a new miniseries starring Darth Maul. But considering this is going to be one of the last Star Wars books Dark Horse publishes, with books like Rebel Heist in the mix, you want more than solid. Worth a read for Star Wars fans.
Axe Cop: American Choppers #1
The goofy, dadaist series written by a ten-year-old returns! Axe Cop is… well, it’s Axe Cop. Either you find the book hilarious, or you don’t get it. Read the preview, and if you laugh, buy it.
Brain Boy: The Men From G.E.S.T.A.L.T. #1
Fred Van Lente returns to his smart-assed superhero. No, the other one, with the psychic powers, we know it’s hard to keep track of them all. Anyway, he’s back with Brain Boy, and oddly, this book explores the rather interesting question of how a powerful psychic tries to maintain a relationship when he, quite literally, has all the power. Don’t worry, there’s also lots of violence and the revelation that Matt might be up against something a lot worse than just the insane Russian telepath he’s been sent to collect. Definitely worth a read if you want your superheroics a little offbeat.
The Last Broadcast #1
It’s easy to see why Archaia is publishing this book; Andre Sirangelo has a killer concept about a legendary musician and his hideout, hinting around the fact that maybe Blackwell was a lot more than a stage musician. That said, the book’s a little unfocused, like the main character, who’s a writer/aspiring stage magician/podcaster with a vaguely defined mental illness who narrowly escaped an explosion and has no memory of what happened. Yeah, it’s a bit… stuffed. But it’s at least intriguing, and Gabriel Iumazark’s angular, scratchy art compliments the tone well. Worth a read.
The Shadow: Midnight In Moscow #1
Howard Chaykin returns to the Shadow, and, well, it’s pretty much what you’d expect from the title and the cover. Not bad, but there’s not any new ground being broken here, and Dynamite really could stand to do more with the character.
Cullen Bunn and Dale Eaglesham try pretty hard to make Sinestro an anti-hero, and honestly, it is fairly interesting. The problem, though, is that it’s a little too similar to the other Cullen Bunn book starring an iconic supervillain over at Marvel, which is also out this week. But it’s still giving Sinestro a little more depth, and that’s always welcome. Also, hell of a cover: DC, make this a poster!
Original Sin #2
It turns out the murder of the Watcher was just the start of this mini. Jason Aaron enjoys pulling out the z-list villains in this book, but he also builds a compelling mystery worth reading, supplemented handily by Mike Deodato.
Also, the Punisher and Dr. Strange need to team up more often.
I’m deeply torn on this book. On the one hand, Daniel Bayliss puts a ton of effort into this book, cleverly working in chess motifs and styles across the panels in ways subtle and obvious. On the other, Claudio Sanchez and Chondra Echert are writing a book that seems aimed squarely at the trade; the general thrust of the book is clear, but it can barely keep its convoluted plot straight. I’m recommending it if for no other reason than I feel it’s becoming clearer as it progresses, and thus worth reading; even if I wind up hating it, it’s still going to be a unique book.
The art’s slightly improved, but I’ll be honest: This book opens with a long, loooooong exchange of dialogue that runs several pages, feels like it’s brought straight from the novel this series is based on, and it’s somewhat preachy to boot. And to be honest, Jonathan Maberry is capable of far better; he just wrapped up the superb Bad Blood proving as much. It’s an OK book, I guess, but there’s little here worth your time unless you really liked the novel.
The New 52: Future’s End #3
Honestly, this book’s beginning to lose me a little bit, not least because everybody involved is either a jerk or working on becoming one. It feels like this might be better suited as a monthly following one character rather than a weekly focusing on all the DC characters who’ve had their New 52 books canceled. Similarly, a call forward isn’t really shocking when you’re showing us a shocking event that’s being disproved in its own splash panel. Still interested, but I’m hoping it turns around and picks up some narrative momentum.
Matt Murdock goes toe-to-toe with the Shroud, only to discover the real menace is… the Owl, of all villains. Chris Samnee and Mark Waid do a superb job of making the Owl an actual menacing villain, while keeping the tone surprisingly light for such a serious book. A hoot, and highly recommended.
The Witcher #3
This unexpectedly moody and clever book continues. It’s got enough to do with the video game that the title makes sense, but Paul Tobin and Joe Querio work well together to create a sense of longing and foreboding in a cursed house that’s somehow… wrong. Rapidly becoming one of my favorite books from Dark Horse, and highly recommended.
Buffy Season 10 #3
You’d be forgiven for thinking Nicholas Brendon writing this issue is a gimmick because, well, it kinda is. But by the same token, it being a gimmick doesn’t mean he’s bad at the job. The book’s pretty much what you expect out of Buffy, and a good read for fans.
This issue is a solemn testament as to why Magneto, as dark and dangerous as he is, is necessary in the 616. Also it’s a demonstration of how dangerous he is; suffice to say all he needs to end a fight is a length of barbed wire and a Purifier to wrap it around.
The first arc of this superb book ends with a revelation about Velvet that’s actually somewhat sad: She’s so deep in the spy world, and so are all the people she knew, that betrayal is just a matter of course for them. Highly recommended, and we can’t wait for the next arc.
Forever Evil #7
Well after it needed to, we get the final issue of this crossover. And, hey, it’s fun, at least, but hopefully the next crossover, DC picks up the pace. Also, one wishes Mazahs was a better-established character; it feels like the book is just winging information at us until it ends. Also, I’m really not sure how I feel about Hipster Ted Kord, but that’s a nerd argument for the comments.
One things for certain with this team: They don’t play nice. Matt Kindt unfortunately doesn’t really manage to dig into the ethical ramifications of shooting to kill when you’re supposedly a hero, and it’d be nice if this book had a bit more depth; it’s hard to root for a hero when he destroys a jetliner full of brainwashed civilians.
Justice League Of America #14
Hey, uh, here’s the book leading into the book that’s already published two issues. Schedule delays stink, and honestly, this book feels mostly more like tying off loose ends; Justice League United is far more interesting.
X-O Manowar #25
This twenty-fifth issue includes both an introduction to the Armor Hunters, and a bunch of short strips about Aric and his armor, ranging from a cute strip for kids to Justin Jordan taking Aric and Shadowman out for a few beers. If you’re looking to get on board with this book, and you should be, this is a good issue to pick up.
Justice League #30
“Why do you want to join the League, Luthor?” “Because I’m an egomaniac.” Oh, how handy that lasso of truth is. That said, though, Luthor joining the team turns out to not be the worst idea; Luthor’s got a taste of what it’s like to be a relatively good guy and he’s enjoying it a little too much to just go back to being bad. It’s a fascinating concept, and it’s got some real promise.
Dark Horse Presents #36
DHP wraps up its run at an 80-page giant with this issue, and it’s the usual mix of interesting stories. Unfortunately, wrapping everything up means everything is a bit rushed, but there are some clever one-offs here, like the short story Dogstar. As usual, highly recommended, and we’re looking forward to its return in August as a 48-pager.
The latest arc in this book wraps up with a bang. As usual with the Hellboy family, the book’s an artist’s showcase, and James Harren doesn’t disappoint.