This Week: A+X #18, All-New Ghost Rider #1, Amazing X-Men #5, Aquaman #29, Captain America – Homecoming #1, Catwoman #29, DC Universe vs. Masters of the Universe #6, Deadly Class #3, Eternal Warrior #7, Forever Evil – Rogue’s Rebellion #6, Furious #3, Ghostbusters #14, Guardians of the Galaxy #13, Hacktivist #3, Hawkeye #18, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #11, Marvel Knights X-Men #5, Origin II #4, Revolutionary War – Omega #1, Sandman Overture #2, Silver Surfer #1, Suicide Squad – Amanda Waller #1, Redacted Spider-Man #30, Survive #1, Tomb Raider #2, World’s Finest #21
We are Living Myth Media, and we are here to read comic books! Every week, we go and feed our addiction (single issues mostly online, trades mostly from conventions or Big Pete’s). And every Wednesday we respect Woden, the God of Comics, and we speak of the stories that he, in his greatness, has brought us. We speak of it on twitter.
That’s a preview, though, and there’s time we don’t pick up the things we were looking for or end up picking up things we didn’t talk about. So, here’s what comics we got this week and what we think about ‘em after the reading.
We rate these things on a five symbol scale. The first two symbols are for art, the second two for story, and the last is based on whether we think this is a gateway comic – is this something we would lend to friends to get them into this series? This last one is a tricky thing, but if we think it is, then the comic gets this symbol.
Symbols can be broken down into quarters and look like this from whole to quarter: , , , and . Two symbols is a good comic, three symbols is worth taking the time to hunt down and look at. Anything at four or more symbols is of the highest possible quality.
Our favorite comics get their covers shown, because we want you to be able to find the greatness. That’s just how we roll. If you click on a comic’s title it’ll take you to where you can buy that title on Amazon (at least until Big Pete starts selling comics online, after which it’ll take you to Big Pete’s), unless it’s not on Amazon at the time when this article is published.
The only other exceptions to the link in the title rule are the Redacted Spider-Man, Batwoman, and God is Dead, because no one should be reading those… things. We’ll link you to good Spider-Man, Batwoman, or theological comics instead. Non-title links will take you to places I think are either informative or funny, depending upon whim.
Savvy? Everyone with us so far? Cool. Onwards goes us.
We start off with an ending to one of the best things to come out of the utter shit that was AvX; this title. A+X has been a great way to showcase heroes in all different times, and has given us some truly great moments. It ends with a couple, too – the first being a Kitty Pryde / Vision team-up where they get trapped in an abandoned Murderworld outpost, only to discover the operating virtual intelligence has gained sentience and wants them to kill him. There’s some interesting stuff hinted at here, and I’d like to see this character translated into the rest of Marvel continuity. The other story details Cyclops teaming up with a man who ignored him, got him possessed, and then blames Cyclops for ignoring him and then what happened when he was possessed. We learn exactly how sick everyone else is of their shit, and hopefully they can work things out. This comic is fun, but it’s been fun all the way through. Writing is interesting in the first half and funny in the second, the art is cool, and it’s a good introduction to where things stand.
I want that hoodie. This is a pretty good set-up – down and out kid taking care of his handicapped brother, dealing with shitty people in a terrible place, just trying to make good. Of course, as has been pointed out in the past, trying to play within the system and win is pretty much impossible. Our hero tries to make right but is set upon by things he never expected, and if any world needs vengeance it’s the one this kid finds himself in. Art is weird and dirty and fitting, setting and characters are firmly established, and it’s go time. Let’s see if this iteration of the Ghost Rider can live up to the high standards set by those that came before.
Nightcrawler is back! All you have to do is get past the weird cover (seriously, what’s with Storm? Has she been reading X-Men?) and there’s all sorts of goodness. Cavalier teleporting demon swashbuckling, Charles Xavier as a literal saint, an emotional reunion between Rachael and Kurt, and a demon pirate lord trapped on earth (because that is a good idea). Aside from some weird facial expressions on Storm, who should be older, the art is spot on for this kind of story and manages to hit every emotional beat. There’s a lot of those here, so that’s more of an accomplishment than it sounds. This title has been a lot of fun so far, and we look forward to seeing where it goes from here.
The best of what DC has left. Some idiot surface dweller steals Aquaman’s trident because he’s an idiot and opens a gate to hell with it. I mean, he thought he was opening a gate to foreign nation that doesn’t like outsiders much and that his country of origin illegally attacked, but opening a portal there without talking to anyone first would probably have been totally kosher. Except, you know, hell is on the other side. And Hercules, who I try to read as a very drunk Kevin Sorbo. This is DC Comics’ best remaining book. The art and writing are both great, the stakes are perfect, and the character has been incredible right from the get-go. Recommended.
A movie tie-in maybe? Cap and the Black Widow go explore Cap’s old neighborhood incognito, and are recognized by terrorists that are there to kidnap a scientist that’s going to the dinner Cap’s taken Black Widow to. But, no worries, SHIELD actually sent them there because they knew of this nefarious plot, and trust the heroes to save the day. Which they do. The art is fine, the story’s a good introduction to readers transitioning from with the Avengers or Captain Amierca movies, and there’s a neat little subtext about America being a land of immigrants. The very definition of perfectly acceptable comics.
That was almost clever storytelling. It’s still good – it’s nice to see Catwoman and Batman working together again. This hints at where their characters had progressed to before the nu52, but misses a lot of the depth there simply because these are caricatures of the people they were before the reboot. Still, it is a step in the right direction and there’s some cool stuff going on here. The art tries a little too hard to be softcore porn and just looks uncomfortable in places, but it’s mostly fine. Not as good as recent issues, but still pretty decent.
Orko is the supreme master bad guy behind everything! He’s brainwashed the whole of the DCU to attack the Master of the Universe and Batman, because Batman is immune to magic! Because he’s Batman! Well, no, there are actual reasons, but they boil down to Batman. He-Man rescues Superman from Orko’s imprisonment and they double-team him in an epic cage match of death! Meanwhile, Batman gets Black Alice to short out the mind control and Skeletor and Orko drag one another through a portal and two worlds are saved! He-Man’s mom still doesn’t known about Adora. Art is a little wonky, but the story is still fun and it’s cool to see Superman and He-Man team-up like this. This little event has been mindless entertainment of the good kind, and the trade’ll be worth picking up.
Shit I did not see that ending coming and this comic gets a high rating for surprising the hell out of me. No, I am not going to spoil what happens here. Deadly Class is about a mysterious school that plucks orphans off the streets and teaches them to be assassins. In this, the third issue, two of the kids are sent out into the real world to kill someone that deserves to die, because this school has ethical standards. The artwork is minimalist and the writing deals with a lot of ethics, honesty, and the lies we construct ourselves out of. There is a lot going on here, in other words, and the concept gets more complex as the comic goes on. If this comic continues with this sort of quality, people will be rabid for this book in a few months. Get onboard now.
This feels like a paint by numbers post-apocalyptic fantasy story set in our world, which is a problem for me because I just read a really good trilogy based on that trope that’ll probably ruin me on that for a while. It’s a couple thousand years in the future, mankind has regressed to primitive nonsense, and the Eternal Warrior is an old man trying to fix things. We find out the king that’s been resurrecting old machines is a scientist, and his reason for killing people is to stop a death cult. Then he gives the Eternal Warrior some guns. The art is fine and the writing finally does something unique and interesting. This book is having the same problem that Shadowman suffered from, in that it doesn’t seem to fit anywhere, or be sure of what it’s about. Still, I’m clearly enjoying it, I’m just hoping it finds its way sooner rather than later.
DC Comics – the only place where the villains are more heroic than the heroes they typically face. To be fair, though, this is the Flash Rogue’s, and they’ve always been a pretty cool bunch. Story here is that when the Crime Syndicate came over to cause shit, the Rogues told them off and have been rebelling ever since. This is sadly the end of this title and, hopefully, Forever Evil. Again, though, this title has been pretty great. Any comic where we get to see Weather Wizard cut loose is a good comic. Art is fine, story has some cool moments, and this is a nice little send-off before we get back to proper continuity in the relaunch that now has several continuities running somehow.
Test Subject B recommended this to me earlier this week. He’s going down to Emerald City Comicon and Dark Horse is having him do some stuff for them, part of which has something to do with this title. There’d been a few other rumblings about it and now, goddammit, I have another comic to add to my pull list. This comic is sort of about a teenage starlet who gets superpowers based on her emotional state, becoming all sorts of powerful when she’s furious. Hence the name. She was a party girl but that’s just a cover for who she really is, and she battles the king of the douche-bros in this comic and it is fantastic. I know people like this; I loathe people like this. The art is doing that minimalist / washed out thing that seems to be the emerging norm for comics, and the writing is interesting and challenging in all the right places. This is good comics.
How about that Gozer the Gozarian, right? You remember her… it. She was the final thing in the original Ghostbusters, the deity that nearly destroyed the whole world just by existing. She was an Old God, a Cthonic entity beyond the understanding of man, and it looks like she was part of a pantheon. Also in that pantheon? Motherfucking Tiamat. I’m a huge fan of Sumerian mythology, so any time Tiamat pops up anywhere it’s sort of a thing with me, and they’re treating her like the threat she is here. We also get to see Dana the Gatekeeper here, although she’s not Zuul yet. The art continues to be great and the writing is as sharp as ever, easily capturing the spirit of the original film. This is awesome stuff.
So… are we getting a new Starjammers book? I mean, if time-displaced young Cyclops is going to go run around with his father, that has to happen, right? And Kitty Pryde spending more time with Star Lord? I can get behind this. I like both these teams, and I love the holy beatdown time-displaced young Jean Grey gave to Gladiator after she discovered a brand new power within herself. The art is colorful and fun and great, the writing still gives everyone a chance to do something or have their own little moment, and this book continues to be a lot of fun. One of Marvel’s best books right now, and the climax to this little crossover was perfect.
Go get this comic right now. Get the previous two issues, then read this one, and marvel at how much has been accomplished in so little time. This is the single most subversive, intelligent, and complex comic on the market right now, tackling the biggest issue facing our societal paradigms as we move from a mineral basis to an information one. This is genius, a blueprint, a call to arms and a prayer for the world that is and what might be. It’s also the story of a new kind of hero, and directly faces a very believable and real villain. The artwork is simple and perfect, the writing deceptively complex and compelling and fully realized. This is a work of magic, the best sort of wizardry, and anyone with an interest in this world and what is happening in it should be reading this comic.
We return to Kate Bishop in LA and find out she’s probably going to be stuck there for a while. It turns out that Madame Masque, the current head of a truly scary criminal organization and former lover of one Tony Stark, has decided to take Kate’s existence personally. As an added bonus, we get to see exactly how good she is at ruining lives – it’s maybe sorta a hobby with her. Yet somehow – somehow – this comic isn’t the grimdark stupidity that so many people mistake for good comics. It’s charming and horrifying in equal measure, with some great emotional beats and a lot of understated character development that really fleshes out Kate’s world and builds up her rivalry with Madame Masque. This is, in other words, awesome comics. The art is also self-referential, sort of this washed out thing that works perfectly with the faux-noir feel of the story as a whole. Great stuff.
All this talk of Starseeds and Conduits reminds me of a webcomic called Life of Riley that was the absolute shit back in the day, by which I mean it was awesome. I actually looked to see if ClanBob was involved in this comic, but it doesn’t look like it unless there’s some sort of mysterious thing going on. Which I could see ClanBob doing, so the possibility remains. Anyways, King Hiss shows up with the snakemen and basically uses the mythology established in Life of Riley to… you know what? I hope ClanBob is doing this. The artwork is a lot better than Life of Riley used to be, and the story is very much Life of Riley guest starring He-Man and friends. I am not complaining, because Life of Riley just sort of stopped and I wouldn’t mind a proper ending to that story.
Okay, so, Twin Peaks had a place called the Black Lodge that drew upon people’s memories and used them to test that person as they thought they deserved to be tested. This comic introduces us to a mutant who has that power but can’t really control it and is maybe doing some drugs that her best friend, another mutant, got for her. It’s up to the Bookhouse Boys – okay, the X-Men and a biker gang – to save the town from their own stupidity and these two mutants, who really managed to mess things up. Along the way, Kitty Pryde does was Dale Cooper could not, saves Rogue and Wolverine and then the world. The art feels unfinished but somehow works with the tones and themes of this story, which also work well with the X-mythos as a whole. This is the best of the recent Marvel Knights comics so far, and the trade could be awesome.
Keiron Gillen decided to expand upon the Wolverine origin story that was detailed in Origin, and is detailing the first meetings between Mr. Sinister, Creed, and Logan. It’s pretty heart-wrenching stuff, and exactly the quality of writing we’ve come to expect from this particular author. The art is also fantastic, with a terrific use of color to get across the fury that has been pounded into Logan at this point in his life. The introduction of Clara, Creed’s maybe sister who is definitely something more, adds more layers to both characters – and that’s exactly what this story does, adds more complexity to two characters that have long since been established and become sort of dull in the hands of lesser writers. This comic has gone a long way towards reminding me why I loved both of these characters and making them interesting to me again. Excellent stuff.
This comic felt like Farscape: the Peacekeeper Wars – too much scrunched into too small a space. It’s still good, but even one more issue would have given this climax the time it needed to be something truly special. We get flashes of utter brilliance and a revisiting of everyone’s status quo when this is over, and a really good villain and motivation in the form of Killpower. Mephisto has also not been this scary in a good long time, and it’s always nice to see the devil actually come across as a credible menace. The writing is good, everything makes sense, and everyone gets a payoff. The art is acceptable but not groundbreaking, and the Guardians of the Galaxy taking the credit for saving the day is actually kind of awesome. Here’s hoping we get more of the Marvel UK line on the near future.
We mentioned in the twitter feed how monstrously unfair this comic is. Neil Gaiman and J. H. Williams III team up on a single comic? Either of them is strong enough to make the top five comics on their own. Combine them and you’re left with a narrative power that pulls with all the strength of a singularity. I am not picking apart the story here; doing so would double the size of this article. Suffice it to say that the story is complex and abstract and deals with the manifestation of cosmic forces, the nature of time, and the plurality of identity. The art, of course, is J. H. Williams III, whose work can best be described as liquid dream frozen on paper. Or, at least, it can be described thus. I just described it thus. I used “thus” in a sentence or three. Do you know what that means? It means you must read this comic. That is all.
There’s a lot of information in this comic. In seventeen pages we learn about the life of a small Earth family living in Anchor Bay, the relevant history of the Silver Surfer, and the impossibility of the Impericon. That last one is a place I need to visit at some point, by the by. The Impericon is an impossible palace of wonders hidden from any that would threaten it, the ultimate vacation spot and home of miracles. It’s even protected from cosmic abstracts, which implies that it might be one. Another heretofore unknown cosmic abstract calling herself the Never Queen wants to eat it, which is a thing that cosmic abstracts do. The Surfer gets to try and stop her, and to motivate him the Impericon has kidnapped one twin from a small Earth family whom the Surfer has never met. I’m curious, comic, to the point where I’m grabbing the next issue.
I loathe – fucking loathe – the new character design for Amanda Waller. I don’t particularly care for the way she’s been handled in the nu52, either, as it takes away from the chessmaster she used to be. This is not to say that the new Amanda Waller is a bad character, as she isn’t, but she comes across as a child compared to what she was. It’s kinda like nuLobo. And that’s brought to the fore here; this is a perfectly good paint-by-numbers standalone story with good art. It mentions a whole whack of things that are inherent to the nu52 and hints at what passes for the depth of the relaunch, but this story is about surfaces and easy-outs and shocking twists that aren’t shocking and not really twists. It’s adequate. It’s fine. You could teach people to tell this type of story using this comic. It doesn’t do anything to grow the character or the world, though, and that’s why it doesn’t score higher. Compare this to Origin II, for example, which added layers of complexity to Wolverine and Sabertooth, and you see where this falls short. Again, this isn’t bad and is far better than I expected, but this is a reactionary story. The Wall should never be reactionary, and making her so takes away a lot of what made the character interesting in the first place.
Two and a half years of waiting has led to this: the return of Peter Parker. Well, sort of. Two years of one of Marvel’s best heroes being violated in every imaginable way; his body taken over, his personal relationships destroyed, an affair and company started in his civilian life without him having any say, but with his name and body. And his hero identity used to create something monstrous, to do monstrous things, and the villain who did all this gets the noble and self-sacrificing send-off? No. There is no payoff here, no honest emotion, and it defangs and trivializes the whole fucking thing. There is nothing good about this, nothing that even makes sense. Everyone will blame Peter for this, and we will never get to see Peter get angry about what was done to him and how no one – no one – even noticed that he was gone. Otto fucks up every last part of Peter’s life beyond all repair, and then gets to leave Peter to try and fix everything. Oh, and keep in mind this isn’t really Peter – this is Peter’s memories as filtered through Otto, erased, reconstituted, and now in control maybe. So do we get copy Peter telling off the Avengers for not noticing that a mass murderer took over his body and did terrible fucking things with it? Doubtful. Do we get any emotional payoff for the whole thing with Anna Maria? One that’s going to be anything other than completely fucking awful? Fuck this comic. Fuck everyone associated with it except the artist and colorist; you guys did a better job than this utter piece of filth deserves, and hopefully you’ll get to work on something better than this.
Galactus tried to eat the Ultimate line of comics after the Avengers murdered time and Galactus fell from the normal Marvel universe into that one. To say that it was a problem understates what happened, but here’s the crux of it: Thor died for our sins, Captain America is dead, and SHIELD is all but destroyed and is being blamed for everything. The whole world saw Kitty Pryde – a mutant – fight Galactus to save the world, and that should end human-mutant hostilities for a good long stretch. This comic is all about laying the old world to rest and building something entirely new, a whole new status quo based on what’s happened here, and it looks pretty great. The art gets across the devastation this world has suffered, and the writing puts down what was while celebrating what is to come. It’s got me interested in the Ultimate line of comics again, which was a thing I did not think was possible.
Who else thinks the Tomb Raider relaunch was one of the best video games to come out in a good long stretch? We do; it was awesome, giving Lara more of a personality that played perfectly with what had already been established instead of invalidating it, and being a better Indiana Jones story than the last movie. This comic is a continuation of that game, featuring the cult called the Solarii getting up to all kinds of nefarious deeds as they plan to unleash their goddess on the world. Lara is putting things together in this action / archeology hybrid genre that really only has two titans, those being Indy and Lara herself. This comic has the unfair advantage of being written by Gail Simone, who is already doing that thing where she expands the mythology and character and makes it better than it has any business being. The art is also awesome and expressive and perfectly fits the tone of the story, and the only problem we have with this comic is having to wait a month between issues.
World’s Finest #21
This is the fourth part of a four part story. The third part isn’t available until April 16th. I refuse to even look at this until I have the third part in my hands, if I can be bothered to remember about this by that point. You shouldn’t either, which is why there’s no link to the comic. Marvel and Valiant have a half dozen two book tie-ins going on right now, DC, and all of them somehow manage to get released in the order in which they’re supposed to be read. Get your shit together.
Art + Story + Gateway = Total