This Week: All-New X-Men #26, Amazing Spider-Man #1, Batgirl Annual #2, Batman Beyond Universe #9, Batman Eternal #4, Batwoman Annual #1, Clockwork Angels #2, Flash Annual #3, Ghostbusters #15, Grimm Fairy Tales – Wonderland Asylum #4, Hacktivist #4, He-Man and the Masters of the Universe #12, Hulk #2, Origins II #5, Rai #1, Seekers of the Weird #4, Shadowman – End Times #1, Silver Surfer #2, Southern Bastards #1, Wynter #2
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 quarter to whole: , , , 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, Wolverine, and God is Dead, because no one should be reading those… things. We’ll link you to good Spider-Man, Batwoman, Wolverine, or theological comics instead. Non-title links will open new tabs and take you to places I think are either informative or funny, depending upon whim.
Savvy? Everyone with us so far? Cool. Onwards goes us.
Build, build, and more build. We’re still dealing with the after-affects of this title’s recent crossover with Guardians of the Galaxy and the fallout of Battle of the Atom, to say nothing of everything on with Uncanny X-Men. Somehow, all of these titles manage to stand alone but, when taken together, form a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts. There’s a lot of history that is being drawn upon here, and we finally get a healthy conversation between present Scott Summers and past Jean Grey, we finally get to see what X-23 thinks about all this, we finally get to see Kitty Pryde establish herself as an equal to Scott, and we finally get to see the evil future X-Men come back, because you knew they were not done with trying to fix present Hank McCoy’s mistake. The art is as good as it always seems to be on this title, and the emotional beats are heart-wrenching and familial and perfect. This is a pretty decent place to jump in, but ye Gods the storm is coming and it is going to be great.
First off, there’s a few different stories in here that all deal with the fallout of the past two and a half years of shit. Mostly, all we do is reset the status quo to what it was after the wretched trash that was One More Day. The main story deals with the some of the consequences of Ock’s time as Spider-Man coming back to haunt Peter. Oh, and Peter is remarkable okay with the violation he suffered, and there’s some throwaway bullshit and it’s all pretty terrible, really, but then the story turns to a recap of Scarlet Spider from Peter’s perspective, some set up for a Black Cat story that could be awesome, the promise of a new Spider-Man 2099 series, and even a bit with Electro and all of that is pretty great. Truth, if those four – especially Black Cat – were the basis of story, this comic would have a much higher rating. The art is what it is, but I get the feeling that this entire era of Spider history is going to have to be retconned at some point. Dan Slott has a much better comic out this week, so go read that instead.
So, DC decided to do a new take on the Birds of Prey with Poison Ivy as a member when they did the reboot. It was actually pretty okay, but it missed the whole point of the original and lacked much of the depth of that series, which we cannot recommend enough. The team disbanded due to Poison Ivy and Batgirl took it pretty hard, and this comic deals with the fallout of that trauma and how it effected both of them. It’s a pretty good story that goes a long way towards giving both characters the sort of complexity that they should have, and does an excellent job of getting into Ivy’s head. The art is okay, but it’s the relationship and how it grows in this story that really drives everything here, and it’s strong enough to merit a good long look. It is, of course, written by Gail Simone, who we’re pretty sure can sleepwrite better stories than most of her peers.
The crux of this storyline is that Jim Gordon opened fire on an armed suspect who may or may not have been armed due to super powers or technology. No one is sure, and the investigation is being stymied. It was stupid when it started, but every issue after that inciting incident has made that start retroactively better. Batman feels like Batman instead of the Goddamn Batman in these pages, a highly skilled but deeply flawed man who is obsessed with making sure no one suffers his trauma. The villains are interesting and intelligent and approaching their ambitions with all the skill they can muster, which makes everyone and everything in these pages scarier. And Steph Brown finally puts in an appearance and, well, the wait was bloody well worth it. This is looking like the best Batman story since the nu52 started, and feels like the beginning of a story we’re going to look back upon as classic. Read this comic.
Goddamnit, DC. This book pretty much died back in October – DC editorial drove away the last remnants of those that had created this character with their bullshit, but we already talked about that at length. The climax those writers had been working on since Elegy was seemingly abandoned, and we got stories that seemed to fit Batgirl more than Batwoman. They haven’t been bad by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re a pale echo of what was… and then we get this. Marc Andreyko is a damn good writer, and his iteration of that abandoned climax is breathtaking and some of the best writing he’s done in a good long time. The art is sorta great, and this hits everything it needs to and then some. All of the DC Annuals that we’ve read this year have been stellar and all the more frustrating, because they show exactly how good that company can be when they put their minds to it.
Every now and again you bump into an adaptation that feels stronger than the source material. There’s always something gained or something lost when a story jumps from medium to another, and we’re used to it being to the detriment of the story. Clockwork Angels, the book, is really quite good. Clockwork Angels the comic, however, is exceptional. The story deals with concepts of utopia, creativity, order, and chaos and writes them out large. There’s a sense of loss that comes with perfect order, and while it seems pretty enough and can be preferable to chaos, chaos needs to exist for there to be any meaning to a maintained order. Either extreme is untenable, and this is a story about why that is. The artwork is perfect, capturing the wonder and grandeur and pettiness this story contains in equal measure. It’s impressive as hell, and near perfect steampunk science fiction.
I picked up this title along with all the rest when the nu52 came out, if only to give it a fair shake and see if it was going to be worth my time. It wasn’t. The story felt regressive and irritating, and the art was just kind of there. I’ve ignored this title ever since, which is a shame because I really like the Flash. Given how good the DC Annuals have been, though (see Batgirl and Batwoman, above), it seemed like a good time to give an old favorite another shot. And, hey, this was pretty cool. The story was fun and the art was good and there was some neat stuff dealing with time travel, which could be interesting. The non-troversy in this comic will probably be the introduction of the nu52’s Wally West, who is African-American here for reasons and it doesn’t really matter. The nu52 is not the same as the old and better DC Comics world, except for when it is because no one seems to really have any understanding of what did and did not carry over because planning is apparently not a thing. nuWally is going to be judged on his merits as a character, and thus far he looks like he could add a great deal of pathos to the Flash – which is great – and that he’s going to play an important part of the stories to come, which is also great. I might actually start reading this again.
You ever do something idiotic? Like, back when you were younger and a little more naïve? Everyone has. We all do stupid things; it’s a part of growing up, and there’s nothing wrong with being an idiot provided you’re able to recognize it and stop. The problem sometimes arises when you mature faster than your friends, and they want to keep doing the idiot thing while you try to make yourself a better person. Furious is about a celebrity girl who’s in the middle of her Miley Cyrus phase when she gets super powers and decides to try and do some good with them. She is, so far as she knows, the only person with super powers in her world – but she finds out otherwise this issue. Her old best friend and fellow partier also has powers, but she’s decided to continue being an idiot and is even going so far as to be a supervillain. It’s pretty entertaining, with a good grasp of psychology and people trying to do the right thing and other people being awful. The art does what it needs to as far as getting the story across, and it all feels like something that could happen. One of my more favorite recent comics.
Man, I’m wordy this week. Let’s try and keep this moving a little quicker… the Ghostbusters comics manage to hit that perfect median between frightening and funny, the sort of thing that the original movie did so well and nothing else has managed to do since. It was a work of art that this series of comics has managed to equal. It’s also recently gone into the original mythology, involving Gozer the Wanderer and exploring some other parts of Sumerian mythology – in this case Tiamat – and my love of Sumerian mythology makes me love this comic even more than I already do. The artwork is cartoony and perfect for this sort of story, and it manages to keep everything you need to know in plain view. As easy to get into now as it ever was, and something you should get into.
JB Pauls and Greg Milne asked me to take a look at the Grimm series, and I’m continuing to do so because they’ve ended up being a lot better than I thought they’d be. The art still veers towards cheesecake, and if that’s your thing more power to you. It isn’t mine, but there’s actually some interesting ideas here following the bloodline of Alice Liddell and their continued tie to Wonderland, and the soul of that strange other world. This is way more fun that I thought it would be, and I’m actually curious to see where it ends up.
There is only one annoying thing about this comic: it ends. There’s no note from the writers or creators, it just ends. The conversation through the medium is done, at least until the hardcover comes out in July. Will this lead into another story? We’re not sure right now, but we’re hoping so. It just ends. The main character sacrifices himself for the good of the world, and to make a point to those in power that would keep us down. And he learns that he can’t play god, but he might very well become one in the wake of what he’s accomplished in his world. There’s a lot of things to talk about in the ending of this comic, a massive amount of discussion to be had. The art is expressive and realistic and heartbreaking in its honesty, the story harsh and unforgiving and unrelenting. That’s the power of this story; it’s the sort of thing that incites insight, and they should be forcing people to read this comic in schools, though the two main characters and their CIA blackmailer would certainly disagree with me. Which might be the point. As far as we know, our glimpse into this world is at an end and we can only look at what we’ve got and apply it to the world we’re living in. This was a tremendous piece of work.
So…this comic is borrowing mythology from Life of Riley? Teela becomes the new Sorceress and in the process goes all snake-like, allowing her and He-Man to wrest control of the Snakemen from King Hiss. Now, whatever forces Eternia has left have an army to lead against the Horde, an army culled from the lizard brain of every living soul Eternia has ever known. Oh,and King Hiss escaped after having impersonated the former human king for an unknown amount of time. And we got a chance to see Adora/Despara/She-Ra walking around, and you know that’s going to lead to something down the line. The art is there on this one, and the elements that were taken from the old web comic Life of Riley continue to work well here. Long time readers will be pleased to see a number of old stories paid off, but new readers might be a little confused. This is still one of DC’s best comics, though, and if you like high fantasy then it’s worth tracking down.
See the Hulk as you’ve never seen him before – mentally challenged! Probably Hydra and AIM teamed up to shoot Bruce Banner in the back of the head to keep him from Hulking out so that they could vivisect him for science. The Hulk got up and escaped, but a good chunk of his brain was hanging out and when he returned to human form it was as an idiot. Fair is fair, not many people retain anything after having their brains scooped out of their skull, so go Bruce. SHIELD has moved him to a small town to keep people from troubling him, and it’s kind of fun to watch undercover agents take down a group of small-town bullies that decide to pick on the now barely competent Bruce Banner… at least until AIM and whoever stitch together a new Abomination and throw that at Bruce to make sure he’s dead. Stuff it is going to go wrong here, and it’s making for a very fun comic and the most original Hulk story we’ve seen since the inception of the character.
I’m not sure what to write here, because I got blindsided by good story and that doesn’t happen too often. Kudos to Kieron Gillen for pulling it off. We’d been led to believe that the guy traveling alongside Clara was Sabertooth before he went all the way bad, and it’s exactly what we’re supposed to think and it doesn’t go in that direction. This story also gives Wolverine – a character with plenty of depth already – more depth, and makes the modern character even more of a bad punchline. The artwork does a fantastic job of bringing these characters to life, and they say just as much in silence because of it. There’s talk that Marvel is going to kill off Wolverine, and if that’s the case it’s going to be stories like this that I miss until the inevitable resurrection. The proper character is a shallow echo of what was, and we’ll be glad to see that guy off. I can’t wait til this comes out in trade.
This would be the best sci-fi comic going right now if it weren’t for Wynter, which we’ll get to, and that said this comic is still very, very good. Rai takes place two thousand years into Valiant’s future, and stars a girl that witnesses the first murder in a thousand years. She’s now working with Rai, who may or may not be the spirit of Japan (he looks like future Bloodshot), and the two of them are now sort of working together with Spylocke, a futuristic myth figure who may or may not be the James Bond of the future. This comic is awesome. The art is the prettiest we’ve seen out of Valiant yet, and it goes a long way towards expressing how vast and strange this future world has become. It’s all pretty awesome stuff and you really should be reading this, because ye Gods it is incredible.
Jack Boniface has the worst family inheritance ever – a serial killing loa that hunts other spirits and was exiled from the nobility for being a jackass. Said loa is also the best line of defense for the living from the world of the dead, but that doesn’t make it friendly or even remotely sane. Jack has been having to deal with this alone, because his father, Josiah Boniface, died saving the world and his son was hidden away to save him from the very many people that would want to kill or control him. Shadowman has taken its time finding its way, but now that it has it’s going straight for the gut – looking at issues of abandonment, deception, and betrayal against a backdrop of madness and death in Louisiana. The art reflects the darkening mire of the story and actually feels like old Jae Lee, which is a pretty hefty compliment. If you like dark supernatural horror, this is going to be worth getting into.
This is gonna be one of those comics that, while good on its own, is going to be much better in trade. You’re going to want to binge read this because it is great and you want to see where it goes and what it does. The story revolves around an idiot stealing the heart of possibility from a cosmic abstract and using it to make money, because that’s what people do now – no matter who gets hurt or what the consequences might be. The person responsible for this is kidnapping people from all over the universe and using them as hostages to force cosmic level heroes to fight said cosmic abstract, which goes about as well as you’d expect. This is Dan Slott at his creative best, and those that think he can’t right because of his shit job on Spider-Man should pick this up to see how good he can be. Maybe he needs to work with Michael Allerd more? The art is retro and expressive and verges on timeless; I’m growing to really enjoy Laura Allerd’s work and I’m going to have to hunt more of it down.
I wasn’t even gonna pick this up. Sixth Gun and Pretty Deadly nonwithstanding, westerns aren’t usually my thing and modern westerns always rub me the wrong way. There’s this weird nightmare-dream where racism is okay and everyone is horrible and that’s fine, just fine, because that’s how things work in the south. Hell, modern westerns would be better served by bein’ called Southerns, you know? This here is a Southern, a brutally honest Southern that does not gloss over the wretched things that most Southerns do. And it’s not surprising to see quality of art and word like this, not when you got Jasons Aaron and Latour handlin’ them chores. This is a hell of a strong way to start a story, and it’s left me intrigued and wanting more. Well done, guys. Can’t wait to see where you’re going with this.
Well, fuck. New Worlds Comics told us that this issue would blow our minds, and they were not far wrong. Wynter is a woman who lives in a future where mankind has spread out among the stars and has spread so far that every possible permutation of the genetic code exists, often in multiples. People are hooked into an internet like thing at all times, and it monitors psychological conditions and choices – so when she’s put in a situation she knows nothing about, one having to do a group of dangerous rebels, she’s arrested and an agent is sent to kill her. She knows the agent is coming, but she also knows that every attempt, plan, or thought she has is being accounted for, so how do you escape when everything you are is already neatly catalogued and studied by the agent coming to kill you? We also get into the head of the agent, and it’s a horrifying perspective made worse by how rational and respectful it actually is in context to that world. The art is mind-blowingly good; this is a very thoughtful comic, and some of the best sci-fi we’ve read in a while.