Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Last Week's Comics Today - 09/27/2016

Almost everything I read this week was great.  Choosing a Pick of the Week was relatively easy, but separating everything else from those I wanted to spotlight with an honorable mention was much more difficult.

Pick of the Week
Lucifer #10 - This is probably the best issue yet.  If you liked Mike Carey's Lucifer, you need to be reading this series.  It's really that simple.  I could write something vague about what happens in the issue (some seriously massive shit goes down), but why?  Just buy it and read it.

Honorable Mention
Rumble #14 - It's ridiculous how much I love this book.  More action than usual as Rathraq and Rathraq's possessed body are fighting on every side.  But the comedy and human moments aren't left out either.  Also, Rathraq's heart!  How this book juggles so much, while remaining consistently good, and managing to make it look effortless is beyond me.

Superman #7 - Probably my favorite issue of the series.  After helping some Leaguers early in the issue, Clark arrives home and takes the family to the fair.  It's all very nostalgic, like a moment out of time.  The writing is fantastic and the art is gorgeous.  I've said it before, and I'm likely to keep saying it - this is the first time I've ever cared about Superman.  Highly recommended.

Trinity #1 - I can't stop wondering who gave Jon those seeds.  Naturally, I have an idea, and think it'd be awesome if I were right... but I'd love to be surprised if it's someone unexpected too.  Anyway, Bruce and Diana come to the Smith's for dinner.  The whole thing is well written and drawn and this will immediately be added to my pull list.

Everything else
Black Hammer #3 - If it wasn't clear the cast are based on well-known corporate-owned characters, one of those becomes MUCH more obvious here.  We're shown the back-story for Barbalien, and it's well done.  The not-quite-origin is inter-spliced with scenes of him in the present and minor check-ins with Gail and Abe.  I found the scenes with Barbalien's outsider status in the present strike a chord inside me I didn't know was there.  And then seeing Gail on the roof... rough stuff.  If you're looking for a comic to make you feel, this is certainly one.

Chew #58 - Much like this week's Superman, Tony tries to have a quiet day with the woman he loves.  Things quickly and comically go off the rails.  Even still, this manages to be a lull (but not dull!) after the recent Savoy- and plot-heavy last couple issues, and what's sure to be a wild finish.  It's hard to tell what the final page of the issue means... but I don't expect it's good.

Empress #6 - Of the major events to unfold this issue, I predicted all but one back in the first issue.  Not that I think I have some special ability or anything, it just seemed obvious from the outset.  That's also not to say the book hasn't been enjoyable despite knowing (guessing) these things would happen.  The book is still a fun read, and research shows spoilers enhance a story rather than detract.  With all that said, the one thing I didn't predict is a delight since it has the most potential to make a truly unpredictable finish.  ...though I further predict the story won't fully wrap up next issue and we'll get a second series next year.  Maybe I'm wrong!  Starlight managed to wrap everything up when I didn't see how it possibly could.

Justice League #5 - The Justice League save the world!  Or did they?  For the last couple issues I've thought the Kindred were there to help, but the league fights them just as hard as they fought the invasion.  They're all so convinced they had me questioning what I firmly believed.  I love the ambiguity - that I question what the League did here.  What WERE the Kindred trying to do?  I AM certain their actions here will echo into future.  This book is one of DC's best. 

Mighty Thor #11 - Cancer-ridden Jane Foster teams up with Thor, and it's pretty amazing.  This issue wraps up a lot of plotlines, so I'm sure we're in for something new next issue.  Back to Malekith?  I don't know, I haven't looked at the solicits in a while.  Doesn't matter, I'm getting this book for as long as Aaron's on it.

Seven To Eternity #1 - I listen to a lot of audiobooks.  Fantasy tends to be the most difficult genre to determine whether I'll like a book or not before purchasing.  Some go for a kind of immersion technique that bombard you with a bunch of invented nouns and leave it to the reader to figure things out.  Seven to Eternity is this kind of comic.  It's the weakest book I read this week, and that's not good.  The art isn't as good as I think it should be.  I like Opena and Hollingsworth, separately, but I'm not sure the two together are the best team.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #62 - Several plots moved incrementally forward, which is pretty normal for this title.  It's a bit like TV in that multiple plotlines are happening in the short-, medium-, and long-term and get touched on each "episode" until one builds to a major event.  This may sound generic, but in a world filed with writing-for-the-trade and a few done-in-ones, this feels like a genuine serial story.  There's likely to be something big going down next issue.

Transformers: Till All Are One #4 - As seen on the cover, Bruticus!  There's a good amount that happens here, and all of it well told and rendered.  Windblade tries talking, Chromia makes a decision, Blast Off fights as best he can, Starscream schemes in both the past and present (naturally), Ironhide arrests someone, AND THERE'S BRUTICUS.  I mean, did you see that cover?!  All of this will have repercussions for some time.

The Wicked & The Divine 1831 #1 - Simply put, this is 1) separate from the main series and 2) highly entertaining.  I say it's separate, but it's hard to know if a new reader would feel the same way.  There should be enough material on the "recap" page to get everyone up to speed, but I'm saying that as someone that's read what came before.  Also, I'm very interested to see if any of the elements introduced here will be followed up upon.  Well written and drawn, I'd recommend it to anyone interested in checking out the series.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Last Week's Comic Today - 9/20/2016

Not doing a Pick of the Week this week because there's a six (6!) that stood above the rest and I just couldn't pick one I liked better than the others.  They're all so different too...

Honorable Mention
Gotham Academy: Second Semester #1 - I've missed this book.  Olive meets a new student that's a bad influence and they quickly get into misadventures.  After months of Year Book and the Lumberjanes cross-over, it's great to have the creative team back together.  Like a coiled spring, this book is full of potential.  Last week I was talking about Unfollow and Sheriff of Babylon being books that flew under the radar while everyone was complaining about DC.  Gotham Academy was another excellent book during New52 and DCYou.  I think it's gotten more attention than their Vertigo stuff, but now that Rebirth is rolling and everyone thinks DC is great, I hope this gets a bump as well.  It's much deserved.

The Fix #5 - Another last page that flips everything on it's head.  Even if this issue weren't a verbal and visual feast (it is), I would still love it for the shopping cart panel.  heh, that one's going to stick with me for a long time.  Highly recommended for crime fans of humor with their crime.  Kind of an Elmore Leonard vibe.

Black Monday Murders #2 - There was a conversation at the comic shop last week about the double-page title spreads and symbols in this book.  I don't mind them.  In fact, I kinda like 'em.  I said they likely stem from Hickman being a former graphic designer and trying to design a comic as a complete artistic object.  And maybe there's some truth in that, but really, they feel cinematic or like high-end television.  Where the show starts and 15 minutes goes by before you get the opening sequence or go to a commercial break.  It feels like a natural evolution after the "widescreen" years.  Oh, the murder investigation continues and there's plenty of weirdness - financial and otherwise.  I'm hooked.  Side question: What the hell happened to The Dying and the Dead?

Briggs Land #2 - This is stellar.  It should probably be my Pick of the Week but I can't figure out if I only feel that way because it's the last book I read this week - so freshest in my mind - or it legitimately deserves that title.  It probably deserves it, but I've already decided I'm doing like a five-way Honorable Mention split that you've already read above, but I haven't written yet.  So that's a little awkward.  Seriously though, the book is great.  I keep flipping through it between sentences.  There's not a ounce of fat anywhere on this that could have been trimmed or cut.  The book is lean, but rock-solid.  It's dense but without filling the page with massive word balloons (I'm looking at you, All Star Batman).  It's only on the second issue.  Buy it, check it out.  I'd say buy an extra to squirrel away for when it's a massive hit on AMC, but I'm not a speculative asshole.  Just buy it and read it.  You decide what to do with it after that.

Lady Killer 2 #2 - Two men approach Josie with different business propositions this issue.  The first seems worthwhile at the time but more questionable later.  The second sounds intriguing but surrounded by much uncertainty.  What I do know is the art and writing remain top-notch and this book always finds itself one of the first books I read.  Highly recommended if you're looking for something different in a crime title.

Spread #16 - Well!  Given that last page, something is going to need to happen immediately if our cast is going to survive.  And we know at least Hope does, since she's narrating in past tense.  Many decisions made this issue, with at least half of them being poor.  We MAY have learned something about the spread itself, though the backmatter is quick to point out this is simply one character's belief.  I think this is my "The Walking Dead" and once I understand it myself, I may write a piece about why I'll buy every issue of this but stopped reading The Walking Dead.

Everything else
All Star Batman #2 Synder admits this is basically his Long Halloween (I actually think it's more along the lines of Hush, but whatever).  In contrast to his mega-arcs that focused a single villain (or group) during his time on Batman, he's now throwing every possible villain at the hero.  Unfortunately, Romita is drawing the early issues.  It's not exactly that I hate the guy's art, but it definitely takes some getting used to each time I open one of his comics.  The book is... good?  Fun, I guess?  It's over-the-top and ridiculous and being told completely out of order, with some apparently pretty staggering consequences.  While reading I'm forced to wonder if any of this will impact the other bat-titles or if this is supposed to be self-contained.  I'm honestly not sure which I'd prefer.

Birthright #19 - That's another one helluva last page (because I've already written about the Spread, down there, alphabetically).  This issue comes down to two big sequences inter-cutting each other - the men of the Rhodes family vs the mages, and the mages' decision and reasoning to leave Terrenos.  Both are sure to have serious consequences.  Interesting, informative, and action-packed.  Recommended.

DC Comics Bombshells #17 -  The art this issue isn't as good as usual, but the story is still on point.  Everything that's been building in the ghetto goes down and the series continues to add more characters at a surprising pace.  Held back by the art only because it's usually so stellar.

Doom Patrol #1 - The guy at the comic shop described this as "more Killjoys than Umbrella Academy."  I have to agree.  I'll pick up another issue or two to see if this goes somewhere, but thus far, not especially impressed.  Nice art, though.

Hadrian's Wall #1 - An alright first issue, but in this market, that's just not going to cut it.  There's a death in space and our main character is sent to investigate.  The solicit sounded interesting enough to pick up the first issue, but spends a lot of time focused on the characters rather than the investigation... and none of the characters are likable or that interesting.  The art is mostly good, though there's something about it I can't quite put my finger on.  They're sometimes a little stiff, posed, even emotionless.  I wish I could describe it better, but no words seem quite right.  Not recommended.

Lumberjanes Gotham Academy #4 - The plot is moving along, though with a cast this size, it's moving rather slowly as we check in on everyone.  I just couldn't help thinking it might have been better as a four or five issue series rather than six.  Also, legit Gotham Academy is out this week, so my interest is this is waning as it was only a hold-over until the main series returned.

Wonder Woman #6 - Wonder Woman arrives!  ...And it's sad as hell!  Deeply saddening for how true this rings.  It's good, but sad.  I think I like the present storyline in the even numbered issues better.  I didn't really want another origin story, but it was well-written and certainly nice to look at... but now I just want it wrapped up so we can get to more adventures.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

In Which I Praise Atomic Robo

Recently, I've been staying up much too late to read Atomic Robo.

I first read Atomic Robo years ago.  One of the Free Comic Book Day issues -- I can't remember which.  It was fun, but didn't ignite a need in me to read more.*

Years go by and I'm looking for something new to read.  I've had the first Atomic Robo trade sitting on my Amazon wish list for quite a while and I finally pull the trigger on it.  Again, it's good - Nazis!  Robots! - but I don't immediately run out and buy the second trade.  The second takes the place of the first on my wish list and sits there for a few more months.

I buy volume 2 with some other books and it goes to the bottom of my reading pile.  When it get around to it, again, I find it good enough to buy the third collection, but not immediately nor immediately read it once it arrives.  (My mistake!)

Volume 3 is where I really started to take notice.  Without going into too much detail, there's a monster Atomic Robo is battling in different time periods.  Each issue takes place at a different point in time and it's all brilliantly tied together in the end.

I quickly bought volume 4, but was delayed in reading it.  This is a collection of mostly stand-alone issues as Robo deals with an invading dimension of vampires, hiring a new employee, a giant rampaging monster, a ghost... and Dr. Dinosaur.  Dr. Dinosaur is hilariously brilliant.  I love the hell out of him, but what really grabbed me was the last page.  No spoilers, but we learn a tiny bit more about Tesla and Edison here.  I needed more, and I needed it now! **

As if reading my mind, volume 5 gave me exactly what I wanted - the early days of Atomic Robo and much more on his relationship with Tesla, as well as Tesla's relationship with Edison.  (There's also the amazing Jack Tarot and his daughter Helen, but I'll let you discover that for yourselves.)  It's fantastic and I can't recommend it enough.

Volume 6 gets crazy.  Non-stop action as Robo realizes he's two steps behind in a race he didn't even know he was running.  It's phenomenal and you should read it.  I've also reading the introductions in each trade and in this one artist Scott Wegener talks about how he went back to Akira as part of his preparation for this series.  It's evident.  I believe writer Brian Clevinger and Wegener have both improved their craft with each series, making each book better than the last.

I finished volume 6 last night and immediately started volume 7 (reading the introductions first, which are full of praise from well known creators and insights from the Atomic Robo team themselves).  It begins with an insane aerial combat... and that's as far as I got before realizing how late it had gotten.

Last week I emailed my comic shop to grab volumes 8 and 9 (hopefully they're waiting for me right now) and I'll be placing an order for volume 10 so it will already be on my nightstand when I get there.

In short: Read Atomic Robo.  It's good.

* Some people say Atomic Robo is like Hellboy.  Sure, the early issues both have Nazis and a main character that cracks wise, but that's about it.  It actually reminded of Gun Fu, which is a comic I still have fond memories of, but I don't think anyone else even knows it existed.

** This is where I began staying up later than intended because I couldn't put the book down.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Last Week's Comics Today - 9/13/2016

Pick of the Week
Moon Knight #6 - If you know anything about Moon Knight, you likely know he's got some mental problems.  That's on full display here using multiple artists with dramatically different styles to illustrate his shifting reality.  That's all I'm going to say about what happens in this issue, but it really should be read and seen.  Highly recommended.

Justice League #4 - This is a top-tier superhero comic.  It's filled with ideas that would have fit in with old-school Authority, but starring the Justice League.  We get more answers about just what's going on, though not ALL of them... yet.  And it seems like even if they prevent the immediate threats (there's at least two) to Earth, more are lining up for down the line.  Highly recommended.  I hope this team stays on for a long time to come.

Everything else
Superman #6 - A great end to the opening rebirth arc.  It got a little dodgy in the middle issues with some confusing fight panels and a submarine in space, but all that is behind them now.  I was a huge fan of Tomasi and Gleason on Batman and Robin, but this is even better.  Seeing the multiple post-battle hero poses (not just for the man himself!) confirmed it.  It does out of step with Action Comics, since people seem surprised Superman is back even though he showed up and picked a fight with Luthor and then has been fighting Doomsday ever since, so surely someone should have taken note of that.  Right?  This paragraph makes it sound like I have more issues with the series than I do.  It's good.  I recommended it.

Sheriff Of Babylon #10 - This issue turns everything on its head.  As the book barrels toward its conclusion, threads from throughout the series are getting pulled together.  I'll probably have roughly the same thing to say about the next two issues as well.  If you're at all interested in the series, pick up the eventual collection.  It's very good and will read better when not spread out over a year.

Unfollow #11 - Some shit goes down in this issue and there's a great cliffhanger, but none of that means anything to you if you haven't been reading.  Unfollow reminds me of the Vertigo of old, when books like Y The Last Man and DMZ were being published.  If that sounds good to you, give it a try.  But I fear many people are writing off Vertigo due to the rise of Image, Hellblazer jumping to the main DC universe, Young Animal, and people writing off DC as a whole due to New52 or DCYou.  Vertigo lives on and continues to produce good work... if anyone would bother to give them a shot.

Kill Or Be Killed #2 - I really like this series, but am finding it hard to explain why.  Hopefully, all I need to say is it's Brubaker and Phillips.  If you're unfamiliar with the team, pick up the first issue and see what everyone's been talking about for more than a decade.  The art is appropriately dark and moody.  The writing is... I'm in love with the narration, but obviously that's only a piece of the writing.  At this point, it's hard to tell where the story is going, but I'm along for the ride to find out.

Night's Dominion #1 - An interesting set of characters and a plan that will surely go wrong are a good start, but I didn't find the art as strong as Naifeh's work on Courtney Crumrin or Polly and the Pirates.  I find the faces aren't as distinct as previous work and there's a character that's apparently a man I'm constantly thinking is a woman.  It's a stumble, but I'll give the series another issue or two based on the strength of Naifeh's previous work.

Paper Girls #9 - Basically no plot advancement, but all the girls plus the two extra Erins are together now.  Still, some riveting reading as everyone tries to decide what to do next and who to trust.  It's good.  I'm hooked.

Skybourne #1 - The only reason I have the slightest idea about what's going on in this book is due to a one-line description from a YouTube video.  There are some people that want a sword and whomever happens to possess said sword is trying to stop those people from getting it.  It's well drawn, but the story is razor thin.  And that's not good for only being a five-issue series.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Last Week's Comics Today - 9/7/2016

Pick of the Week
Tokyo Ghost #10 - An amazing finish to a great series. I had no idea how this was going to wrap up, but I never would have expected it to go down like that. Echo's of Synder and Murphy's The Wake at the end. I'll get the collection either way, but I'm hoping this gets a hardcover because I'll be shelving it next to The Wake.

Honorable Mentions:
Paybacks #1 and Paybacks #2 - It took a while to track down the first issue, but it was totally worth it. And I'm extremely glad I had the second issue in-hand already, because that's a helluva cliffhanger at the end of the first. The story continues from the previous Dark Horse series, but so far no repossession going on. The team has larger issues to worry about, though there's no shortage of action. Recommended for anyone looking for something different than the usual spandex heroes.

Just as I was about to drop annuals due to lackluster stories that didn't connect to the regular book, DC puts out two great ones. While Rebirth is doing well, both of these titles were highlights of the New52 and short-lived DC You. And it's still true now.

Gotham Academy Annual #1 - I love DC's attempts to bring Batman Beyond continuity to the current universe. Synder did this a little during his Batman run, and more is done here. If only Batman Beyond were being written by a better author... oh well, this is good and you should read it.

DC Comics Bombshells Annual #1 - Bombshells is a bit like Injustice. For a series based on statues, expectations should be low. And yet, while no one was looking, a really well done comic is being made. Writing and art are both great. If you're even remotely interested, I suggest giving it a try.

Everything else
Aliens Defiance #4 - I think this series will read better once it's collected into a single 12-issue book. That's not to say it's bad, but it's set to a slower pace than typical monthly books. Collected, this should have the time to unravel the building emotions without a four-week break between installments.

Future Quest #4 - I don't have a lot to say - it's a good issue. The cast continues to grow as the threat develops while protagonists and their traditional antagonists begin to get closer to one another. Action and nostalgia in a well presented package.

Jupiters Legacy 2 #3 - Sort of the opposite of Empress. Where Empress is all action and very little character work, this issue is heavy on characters with little action. The rest of the series has been more balanced and I expect next issue to go heavy on action based on the ending here.

Predator Vs Judge Dredd Vs Aliens #2 - I liked the first issue, but this is much better. Full-on Alien, Predator, and Dredd, just like the title suggests, plus some mutant action on the side.

Saga #37 - An okay issue. Truthfully, I like the ends of Saga arcs, when characters and storylines come crashing together in unexpected ways, better than the beginnings. Still, it's off to a good start.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #1 - A pretty action-packed issue that tied into previous mini-series. That said, I'm not sure how good of a jumping-on point this is for new readers, but the series should prove very rewarding for readers of the main title. Also, I know what's going on in the back-up because I read an interview with Eastman. Had I not, it would have been very strange indeed. Hopefully things become more apparent in future issues.

Transformers #56 - I honestly don't remember much about this issue. Something about Sentinel Prime fighting Alpha Trion and GI Joe now being in charge of human forces. It was okay, but I'm ready for Revolution to get here so it can be over.