It’s another huge week of comics, with Marvel launching a wave of new books, DC publishing a long forgotten Batman comic, and Image continuing the Invincible reboot.
Action Comics #46
Written by Greg Pak | Drawn by Scott Kolins
Stories involving Superman turning evil or becoming corrupted are nothing new. It’s happening in the pages of Justice League right now. Even so, Pak finds something new out of this old chestnut as he explores an infected Superman confronting Wrath. Pak strikes a balance between letting Clark’s darker side come out while still respecting the fundamentally good man beneath. If anything, this reads less like “Evil Superman” and more like a weary hero finally getting the chance to cut loose and enjoy himself again.
Batman and Robin Eternal #7
Written by Genevieve Valentine | Drawn by Alvaro Martinez
This weekly comic has two main strengths over its predecessor. It’s more focused in terms of cast and general storyline, and it’s much more tightly paced. Both those strengths are evident in this latest issue, as Dick leads his team on a quest to stop Mother from cleaning house. Valentine bends her voice to fit alongside the other writers. If anything, her script is a little more efficient, as recent issues have been a bit cluttered with dialogue. Martinez’s pencils also fit the book’s established style. His figure work is clean, if unremarkable, but he does impress thanks to a splash image depicting a graceful ballet sequence.
Batman Europa #1
Written by Matteo Casali & Brian Azzarello | Drawn by Jim Lee & Giuseppe Camuncoli
The past few months have been productive ones when it comes to publishers finally releasing long-gestating projects. Hot on the heels of Captain America: White and Miracleman by Gaiman and Buckingham comes Batman: Europa, a series that was first announced way back in 2004. This first issue hardly lives up to 11 years of anticipating, but it offers a fun detour from the rest of the Batman franchise.
Doctor Fate #6
Written by Paul Levitz | Drawn by Sonny Liew
Doctor Fate debuted with a unique premise, strong world-building, and beautiful art – making it one of the most interesting DC books to debut post-Convergence. While all those things remain true about the book six months later (the storyline about Doctor Fate’s mom and dad is really sweet in this issue), story-length and pacing issues have made the series drag in recent months. Nowhere has that been more true than in this issue. This chapter’s pacing is awkward at its best, and baffling at its worst. Worse, the uninteresting cliffhanger leaves little reason to come back for another month of this story that feels like it has already gone on too long. -Levi
Green Lantern: The Lost Army #6
Written by Cullen Bunn | Drawn by Jesus Saiz
Sadly, it’s the end of the road for this particular Green Lantern series. At least Cullen Bunn and Jesus Saiz make the most of the limited room they have left. This issue is crammed full of epic Lantern warfare, while still making room for solid character moments as the creators explore more of John Stewart’s past and several big transformations. At times this issue is a little too crowded, but at least it wraps up the current conflict while setting the stage for Edge of Oblivion.
Harley Quinn #22
Written by Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti | Drawn by Chad Hardin
Lately this series has shown a renewed emphasis on showcasing Harley’s darker side. It’s been a nice change of pace, as she’s practically evolved into a full-blown heroine over the past couple years. This issue offers plenty of entertainment as an old villain resurfaces and Harley wages bloody war against a group of Russian gangsters. Chad Hardin renders that battle to great effect, lending a slightly darker, bloodier vibe to his familiar cartoonish aesthetic. The aftermath of that battle returns the book to more lighthearted territory again.
Martian Manhunter #6
Written by Genevieve Valentine | Drawn by David Messina
The streak of brilliant twists and startling cliffhangers continues in the final chapter of this incredible first story arc. The Martians are on the brink of bringing back Mars, killing Earth in the process, and it’s up to J’onn’s various selves to stop it. The way this finale plays out is absolutely thrilling from both Rob Williams and Eddy Barrows. The story-turns and character moments are all emotional, the action is breathless. If you haven’t read this iteration of Martian Manhunter yet, pick up the first volume when it comes out, this is one of DC’s best ongoing books. –Levi
Astonishing Ant-Man #2
Written by Nick Spencer | Drawn by Ramon Rosanas
Matt Fraction and Mike Allred’s FF run was one of the many hidden gems among the Marvel Now launch a few years back, so it’s nice to see Nick Spencer bringing that era of Scott Lang’s back to the forefront, even if it’s just for a few issues. In this installment, Scott Lang takes a security job for a celebrity who turns out to be none other than his ex-girlfriend Darla Deering aka Ms. Thing. The way Spencer is able to use this awkward situation to both comedic effect (as he so often does so well) but also dramatic effect, is impressive.
Captain America: Sam Wilson #3
Written by Nick Spencer | Drawn by Daniel Acuna and Mike Choi
Yes, the idea of Cap-Wolf is funny and silly and deserves to be made fun of – but does is it really deserve an entire issue? The tone Nick Spencer established in his first two issues of this series was of an inspirational, political hero with a sense of humor, but in this issue every little thing is simplified into just a gag or one-liner. Funny comics are great, just look at Spencer’s Ant-Man, among many others, but not when they come at the cost of a previously established tone and not when the entire issue is sculpted around a single one-note joke like the Cap-Wolf concept.
Written by Gerry Duggan | Drawn by Mike Hawthorne
With the previous volume of Deadpool fixated on the idea that Deadpool is the least popular hero in the Marvel Universe, it’s amusing to see just how much the tables have turned in this relaunch. Deadpool’s unprecedented popularity makes for an entertaining new status quo. The problem right now is that the book is too fixated on his “Mercs for Money” team and not nearly enough on Wade or the usual supporting cast from the previous book.
Extraordinary X-Men #2
Written by Jeff Lemire | Drawn by Humberto Ramos
If Extraordinary X-Men is meant to be the new flagship title of the X-Men line, it’s not doing much to build enthusiasm for the state of the X-Men in All-New, All-Different Marvel. The series’ status quo merely cherry picks familiar elements from X-Men stories of yesteryear. Once again, mutants find themselves an endangered species, battling persecution at every turn and even dealing with another deadly pandemic. New writer Jeff Lemire hasn’t done enough in these first two issues to develop a unique voice and leave his mark on the franchise.
Mighty Thor #1
Written by Jason Aaron | Drawn by Russell Dauterman
Jason Aaron’s long Thor run has taken a number of forms over the past few year. What began as Thor: God of Thunder is being relaunched yet again for All-New, All-Different Marvel. The name keeps changing, but the core appeal of this epic fantasy saga remains
Ms. Marvel #1
Written by G. Willow Wilson | Drawn by Takeshi Miyazawa
Ms. Marvel #1 is a textbook example of how to relaunch a series that didn’t need a relaunch in the first place. This new volume retains pretty much everything that made the original appealing. At the same time, it takes advantage of the eight month gap following Secret Wars to shake up Kamala’s status quo and give her new challenges to wrangle. Fans can rest easy know this is the same book they know and love.
New Avengers #3
Written by Al Ewing | Drawn by Gerardo Sandoval
Al Ewing proved through his multiple Might Avengers runs that he’s a writer in the Brian Bendis mold of strong characterization and banter, though not necessarily action. That might explain why the first two issues of the series were such a letdown – throwing the new team at a big threat didn’t allow for much chance at characterization and team dynamic. Issue 3 gives the writer a chance to spotlight two fan-favorite characters, Wiccan and Hulkling, and finally make us care about this team and this book.
Written by Dennis Hopeless | Drawn by Javier Rodriguez
It wasn’t until it moved beyond the Spider-Verse crossover and found a new artist and new direction that Dennis Hopeless’ Spider-Woman became the comic it needed to be. And thanks to Secret Wars, Hopeless and artist Javier Rodriguez only had a half dozen issues to explore that new direction before Secret Wars cut things short. This relaunched series brings back the creative team and many of the familiar trappings, but unlike some All-New, All-Different Marvel titles, quite a bit has changed in those missing eight months.
Written by Sam Humphries| Drawn by Javier Garron
Throughout his run on The Legendary Star-Lord, Sam Humphries proved he was able to balance the affable jokester with the cocky hotshot, making for an endearing sort of rapscallion. That same endearment isn’t quite so prevalent early in his latest origin heavy go-round, as the quick deluge of growing pains the younger Quill is put through don’t completely equate to an engaging lead. If anything, the bulk of the first issue reads like a checklist run-through of establishing characteristics. The pain of loss, the resentment of authority, the spaceship-sized chip on his shoulder – all of these defining traits are thrown at us in such bam-bam fashion that they almost breeze by.
Star Wars #12
Written by Jason Aaron | Drawn by Stuart Immonen
This issue caps off Jason Aaron’s second major story arc, as Luke Skywalker fights for his life in a gladiator arena while Han and Leia intervene in the battle between Chewbacca and Dengar. Everything eventually comes together in a glorious, over-the-top display of action that reads like it could have been the brainchild of a couple kids playing with action figures. That’s meant as a compliment, mind you. This book never loses sight of the fun and adventure that defined the original Star Wars, and it’s not afraid to take chances or break away from what readers might expect of a project sandwiched in between two films.
Star Wars: Vader Down #1
Written by Jason Aaron | Drawn by Mike Deodato
Marvel’s Star Wars and Darth Vader comics have always boasted a loose sense of inter-connectivity, but the “Vader Down” crossover marks the first point that the two series have a direct crossover. It’s easy to worry that the Star Wars universe will soon become as dominated by events and crossovers as the Marvel Universe. However, the time is certainly ripe for this project, with Star Wars: Battlefront hitting stores this week and The Force Awakens now a mere month away from release.
Uncanny Inhumans #2
Written by Charles Soule | Drawn by Steve McNiven
Uncanny Inhumans is a hard book to classify at this point. It has “Inhumans” in the title, features a member of both the X-Men and Fantastic Four, and is menaced by the classic Avengers villain Kang. Which is all to say that if you have any kind of Inhumans baggage that keeps you from reading this series, you should just drop that right now. Regardless of title this is basically a Marvel Universe crossover event and will win you over with its fun, old-school sensibilities and gorgeous art. Charles Soule establishes a frenetic pace that captures the terror of a villain who can kill you before you were even born.
I Hate Fairyland #2
Written by Skottie Young | Drawn by Skottie Young
Skottie Young’s gorgeous and hilarious I Hate Fairyland hits its second issue, and in doing so shows off how the book might work on a monthly basis. Now that we have Gertrude’s backstory out of the way, Young is free to show his main character’s everyday life. It would be depressing if it wasn’t so funny. Gert spends her time drinking and getting in fights, while in the background Queen Cloudia plots her demise. The obvious appeal of this book first and foremost is Young’s wild imagination and the humor that comes from that, this series is an unquestionable success under those two criteria.
Written by Robert Kirkman | Drawn by Ryan Ottley
This is one of those issues of Invincible (they are pretty much a regular occurrence at this point) where the story just flies by, and the ending comes too soon. It’s in these issues where Ryan Ottley really gets to show off his talent for superheroics with dynamic and over-the-top action, in this case an altered take on the brutal fight between Invincible and his father from Invincible #12. It’s also these issues where Robert Kirkman is at his sparsest on the dialogue front, sure there are plenty of speeches to be found, but you really get the sense that Kirkman edits himself to the necessities.
Tokyo Ghost #3
Written by Rick Remender | Drawn by Sean Murphy
This series didn’t fully find its hook until issue #2, when Rick Remender fleshed out the complicated relationship between Debbie and Teddy/Led and showcased the lush Japanese setting. The romance forms the core of this series, and its main appeal is that it’s not entirely healthy or even necessarily good for either character. This isn’t a straightforward love story by any stretch, even ignoring all the bizarre futuristic sci-fi trappings. It’s almost surprising how quickly this issue speeds along in showcasing Teddy’s detox process. At this point it’s not entirely clear what the driving conflict of the series is, but right now the characters and setting are more than enough to propel it along.
Information and images sourced from ign.com