[toggle title_open=”Put them on your pull list.” title_closed=”This weeks comics.” hide=”yes” border=”yes” excerpt_length=”0″ read_more_text=”Read More” read_less_text=”Read Less” include_excerpt_html=”no”]Aphrodite IX #10, Aquaman and the Others #2, Archer & Armstrong #20, Batman Eternal #5, Black Widow #6, Cyclops #1, Future’s End #1, Justice League 3000 #6, Loki – Agent of Asgard #4, Magneto #3, Miss Fury #10, Moon Knight #3, New Warriors #4, Original Sin #1, Punisher #5, Rat Queens #6, Red Sonja #9, Savage Wolverine #18, She Hulk #4, The Sixth Gun #40, Turok #4, Woods #1[/toggle]
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.
There’s this old trope, when introducing an alien or future world, of having a main character who knows as little about as the reader. It’s a very good device, as it allows the reader and the main character a chance to grow together, and gives the reader an immediate sympathetic connection with the character. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this device used to such great effect in a comic book before – the world here is strange and massive, and the lead character’s discoveries about it and herself are a joy to behold. They’re also building towards a hell of a climax, and we start getting to see exactly how big that climax might be in this issue. The art, of course, is among the best you’ll find in comics and the appendices are worth the price of the comic all by themselves. Anyone that likes science fiction or fantasy really should be reading this comic. It’s awesome, and has been from the get go.
DC’s best book now has its own spinoff title! Wooo! In an effort to give Aquaman a sense of history in the nu52, DC Comics gave him a team called the Others that he used to lead and then abandoned for reasons of Atlantis and his heritage. The team went their separate ways, teamed up in the second trade, and now they’re back together again. The others are all highly trained individuals who are empowered by Atlantean artifacts, and there’s a mysterious and sadistic family that would like to collect the whole set. We get to meet them here, and they’re pretty terrible people, but they have a plan and they’re making the most of it while the Others have to deal with a new team member and the hostage that has been made of the dead team member’s sister. Oh, and the hostage is psychic and thinks Future’s End is a terrible idea, so…
Jim Morrison is the villain. They even manage to explain how it happened in continuity, and it makes perfect sense given what we know about Archer and Armstrong and the world they live in. Jim even manages to do what no one else has managed to do – take down Archer – by cutting him off from the Akashic Record that is the source of his power. See, Jim wants it but can’t access it, so he wants to get Archer to do it for him. He’ll even let Armstrong help, but first there’s going to be a hellish introspective nightmare thing, because that’s Jim Morrison in a nutshell. The art in this book has always been great, but it feels like it’s stepped up a notch or two and the comic still manages to keep everything logical and sensical and moving along. This is easily one of the best comics being printed today, and the latest issue continues that run of quality.
Someone at DC Comics remembered that it is possible to write a good Batman story instead of slipping into the self parody that is the goddamn Batman, and this comic is the result. You’ll notice the style of writing shifts dramatically from one issue to the next, and that’s because different people are writing the segments that are based around different characters, though they’re all working off one master document – so far it’s working, but we’re really only getting setting for the story to come so far. Vicki Vale shows up in this issue and has some things to say about the way media is changing thanks to internet and goes about being a reporter. We also get a Ben Urich style character, a Jimmy Olsen style character, and Red Robin being badass (though they make reference to Tim being a normal Robin, which he wasn’t in the nu52, but whatever). The art is fine but the story continues apace, setting up a mystery for our heroes to solve so that Batman can be the world’s greatest detective. It’s good so far, really good, but you’re going to want the back issues. Hunt them down; this is the best new Batman story since the nu52 launched.
Clint Barton’s cameo and Natasha’s reaction to it is worth the price of this comic alone. Never mind the gorgeous art – seriously, every frame of this comic could be a portrait – or the brilliant spy story at the heart of this, or even the return of my favorite mad monk, that cameo is genius. Outside of said cameo, we still get gorgeous art and brilliant pacing that ends one story and begins another. This comic is everything a Black Widow story should be, fast paced and exciting and clever, with swerves that make sense in retrospect and enough mystery presented to act as a hook for what’s to come. This is, quite simply, one of the best comics that Marvel is publishing right now, featuring a character who is the best spy in her world despite the lack of superpowers. She uses intelligence and skill to overcome gods, and it somehow works for her; Natasha Romanov is awesome and so is this book.
Greg Rucka is writing this, which is an unfair advantage over pretty much every other comic on this list. The man is a genius and one of the best writers in the medium, and to have him working on a high profile book again is an absolute blessing. This comic deals with young time-displaced Scott Summers, who decided to stick around and hang out with his dad the space pirate rather than stick around on earth. The nervousness of both father and son as they try and make sense of one another is pretty great, and Cyclops spending the whole issue writing letters to Jean about his confusion and uncertainty is pretty great. Greg Rucka does that thing where he introduces a whole cast of characters, sets up their world, and makes certain that each of them matter. That’s not surprising; it’s Greg Rucka. What is surprising is the scope of the artwork, which is outstanding – it handles both the massive scale of the setting and the tiny ticks of body language, heightening the already fantastic character moments that Rucka crafts with words. This is an awesome start to a title that is now on my pull list.
Isn’t the last DC Comics Big Stupid Event Thing not finished yet? Forever-not-really-but-it-certainly-feels-like-it Evil?I suppose starting a new one before the old one ends is a thing you can do. DC Comics decides that the whole looming death future thing worked so well for the X-Men and they want a piece, so here we go. Do not look at the solicits unless you really like the color red and XTREME!!! dark storytelling that favors shock over any sort of sense, logic, or character. This comic does put Terry McGinnis firmly in actual continuity, which is nice. I dig Terry. And the art is pretty okay. I’m just sick of the idiocy of these big dumb event things and how they drag on and on and one and nothing ever really happens in them except character death. DC thinks “Hey, we have a character with a hit show on TV – let’s kill him off screen to drive home how dire a threat this is!” Oh, and if you’re a Wildstorm fan, get ready for the latest jobbing of characters you might like as they’re marginalized into further irrelevancy or killed outright for shock value. Except Grifter, who has plot armor. This issue is okay, but we’ve seen where this is going and we know that’s going to suck. The suckage starts here, I guess? I wish I cared.
Kinda digging the sheer scope of the villains in this, and how utterly outclassed the not-really Justice League are. The Five are the sort of villains that you’d expect in a good Legion story, with all the power that entails, while the Justice League are partial clones without memories and lacking completed powers who have no souls and requires a live human sacrifice to manifest. They also got their asses kicked while the people that created them are being idiots and answering to their own corporate interests, which is probably going to come back and bite them pretty hard. The league themselves finally manage to get a break and it’s enough of an opening to free themselves, though with four of the Five on hand, well, their odds of even getting away are not great. The art is good, but it’s the characters and themes that make this book cool. I’m probably enjoying this more than I should.
Interesting. Last issue features old school Loki doing what he does best – messing with people in a way that resulted in a legendary sword being made, a sword that would eventually fall into the hands of his modern self. Thing is, there was this hero who had it first and he wants it back. Meanwhile, the three Goddesses currently running things in Asgard want said hero back in Asgard and send Loki to collect. Hilarity ensues. Well, hilarity and Mephisto, who Loki outplays… again… while capturing the hero and trucking him off to Asgard before coming up with a plot to break him loose. The story is all over the map and great, but every issue of this title has been fantastic so it’s not a huge surprise. The artwork is about perfect, too; the writing relies heavily on expression and body language, both of which are rendered wonderfully. This comic is awesome and more people should be reading it.
“The road to Hell is paved with good intentions.” That’s how the saying goes, right? I’ve got an addition to that: “The road to Hell is paved with good intentions born of fear.” A group of humans are kidnapping homeless people and vivisecting them into sentinels, because that’s a good idea. They think they’re building a place where they can be safe from the mutants none of them have ever seen, but their actions are killing humans and their negligence is killing humans and mutants both. Also, they partially resurrected one of the most dangerous beings in the Marvel Universe to do it. Magneto does some terrible things here, but he’s under no delusion of his actions being good or right. He questions himself; he knows he’s doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, but his actions are based on what he’s seen and experienced. This is my favorite sort of comic – one that inspires discussion after reading. The art is great too, playing with heavy shadows and expressions and lines. This is fantastic, and I can’t wait to see what happens as this continues.
Oh, gods, this book. This is a high concept time travel story that happens to have Catwoman in it, only Catwoman is called Miss Fury and is better written than most of what DC is doing with the character. Also, there are Nazis moving through time and doing terrible things, including wiping Catwoman’s lover from time so that only she remembers him. And the SS Eldridge is now involved – you know, the ship from the Philadephia Experiment. The art doesn’t feel as lush as it’s been in previous issues, but the writing remains as sharp as ever and the concepts that are casually tossed around are what make this book what it is, which is great. This is a story about an inherently selfish character who gets caught up in something massive and is completely changed because of it, but ye Gods you are going to want the trades to make sense of any of the things that are happening here. Get the trades; they’re worth it.
The art in this so freaking good. The story is alright and will probably look better in retrospect; this feels like the set up for something huge that’ll come further down the line. Marc Spector, professional crazy person, mercenary, and chosen Avatar of an Egyptian God, ends up fighting ghosts and gets a hint of just how badly said deity has been playing him. There’s some interesting discussion but the story is purely straightforward in two different conflicts with ghosts, and sad in the final resolution – the real draw here is the art, which is beautiful and haunting and really gives the title character an otherworldly feel. I’m loving this series, though this is a bit of a dip from the previous two issues in terms of story quality… and I’m pretty sure I’ll be eating those words in the coming months as the story here will inevitably tie into something amazing later.
“I don’t think that’s Spider-Man.” No kidding. Kaine kicks all kinds of ass in this issue, we get an actual moment of team solidarity and some beautiful moments as our heroes (and Kaine) manage to thwart the High Evolutionary. We also learn that the High Evolutionary is being played by some as yet unknown force, someone who has convinced one of the most dangerous minds in the Marvel Universe that the Celestials are coming to judge Earth. Maybe they read Age of Ultron and Infinity? Regardless, we know that said trickster really wants the elimination of mutants, clones, Inhumans, magic users – pretty much anyone that isn’t a straight human. If you want someone to target people of that power set, the High Evolutionary is a good choice to do it. The writing is great and the art highlights the moments it needs to perfectly. This comic is a hell of a lot of fun.
Okay, so up above we harped on DC and their inability to make their Big Dumb Events matter, or even end them on schedule. By contrast, Marvel’s Big Dumb Events at least end on time… and they finally handed the reins over to Jason Aaron, the guy that’s been writing Thor and is one of those guys that knows how to write epics. Seriously, we start this comic with the return of original Nick Fury and then move into a single character’s death, which every other person in the Marvel Universe treats as a big deal. We get a sense of how this single act changes everything in the Marvel Universe, and what it could mean for the future. Time is taken to make certain we understand how important this is and how badly things have gone wrong at every possible level, and who the heroes that are going to confront this issue are. And they are heroes – different in method and application and outlook, but all of them bound together to try and make the world a better place. The artwork matches the tone, all light emerging from darkness or darkness encroaching on light, and it puts emphasis on the setting we’ve been given. This is the first time in a long while I’ve actually looked forward to a Marvel event and had faith that the House of Ideas could pull it off. Fingers crossed for what’s to come, but this is a hell of an opening.
“I’m not afraid of death. That’s a weakness of men. I’m the Punisher.” Hi, Frank! Way to be the scariest person in the room even when facing down a man who might as well be a force of nature. The Howling Commandoes continue to try and find Frank, while Frank makes himself easy to find by killing every criminal in a six mile radius. It’s beautiful. His cop friend (who does not know who he is) nearly gets killed and takes in kinda personal, which is fair. Electro, meanwhile, blacks out Los Angeles so that one street gang can murder the rest and take control of everything, and Frank decides that, no, LA actually belongs to him. The criminals will not have a chance to vacate, unless Electro can buy them that time (unlikely). This is why Frank is terrifying; he doesn’t care about anything but his mission and he’s more than capable of not having to care about anything else. The art is all done in blacks and whites and blues for the most part, which makes the few dashes of color all the more striking. If you’re following this series, you will love this. If you’re not, you should be. Written by the same dude that does Black Widow, and I need to hunt down more of his work.
We keep going on about how Rat Queens is the greatest Dungeon World campaign ever, and here’s why. Rat Queens is about a group of all female mercenaries who do not take themselves too seriously but are dangerously good at what they do, and just went from being miscreants to heroes thanks to the way they stopped an army of orcs they riled up in the first place. The way they fight and cast spells and do the things they do feels like a Dungeon World game – everyone is good at what they do and the story focuses more on fun than seriousness. This isn’t to say there sin’t seriousness, as I’m definitely worried about the love interest now that he’s fallen captive to the cult that’s secretly moved into the area. If our heroes can pull themselves away from drugs and candy for a bit, I’m sure they might go and rescue him. We’ll have to see. The art is just as good as the story and anyone that likes fantasy at all needs to be reading this comic, as it’s the best thing going in fantasy comics right now excepting maybe Red Sonja. And buy the trade – seriously, buy the trade. This comic is made from sauce what is awesome.
Speaking of the She-Devil with a Sword, Red Sonja goes to recruit the best courtesan in the world for the greatest party in the world, and finds herself flat-footed and gawking when she actually meets the woman. Sonja has some difficult times dealing with her libido (her traveling companions at present include an uninterested cook and a child), and the courtesan actually gets Sonja in a dress and make up… which is when they’re attacked by soldiers looking for the courtesan. Hilarity ensues, and by hilarity I mean violence. Following the violence comes one of those unexpected emotional gut punches that writer Gail Simone does so well, a little bit of empathy that got this reviewer all teary-eyed. The writing in this is perfect, and the artwork is a perfect compliment to the writing and goes a long way towards bringing story, world, and characters to life. This feels like a proper world, and the conceit of this story arc renders each issue a one-shot. This is a great way to bring new readers in, and people should be reading this.
It’s weird how the only good Wolverine stories are being told in his past, far from the modern era. It’s almost like modern Wolverine is a horrible person who is inherently unlikeable, regressed past his point of Origin. This comic, however? This takes everything that is good about the character and sticks him in the early sixties, on a particular day in 1963. No, he’s not in Dallas – the thing people forget is that President Kennedy was supposed to do other things that day, too. So here we have a bunch of oppressed American people fighting for their chance to meet the President of the United States, back when that still meant something, in the hopes of making their lives better. They win, only to see their efforts rendered moot be the assassination, and this is actually a fantastic way of driving home how much the world lost when that one man was murdered. The art is good, but the deceptively complex story is fantastic and well worth reading, especially with a perfectly written Logan.
Still not sure how I feel about the art here, but it is growing on me. It probably has something to do with the writing, which is pretty great – She-Hulk has opened up a legal practice in the weirdest building in Marvel New York, which has to be something worth noting. She picked up one client, who happened to be the son of Dr. Doom, who came and kidnapped him last issue. This one starts with She-Hulk seeking advice from the only other super-lawyer she’s aware of, Matt Murdock, and that somehow ends up with her heading off to Latveria to give Dr. Doom a piece of her mind. It’s all pretty great, but that art might be a hard thing for some people to get over, at least at first. Four issues in and I’m having trouble imagining this looking like anything else. Anyways, this is fun and has a lot of fun moments. Worth checking out.
The heroes in this comic have been in bad situations before – terrible situations, in fact, that looked all but hopeless. They have always managed to get themselves out of harm’s way in the past, but a good number of them are currently dead (in one case comatose and possessed), and of the heavy hitters one’s been beaten within an inch of his life and the other has been disarmed. Why do I think, then, that Becky is up to something and has her enemies right where she wants them? It’s either that or she’s been deceived by her trust in an educated man; I suppose we’ll find out next issue. The writing is, as always, engaging and interesting, and there simply isn’t any other comic that has art like this title does. New readers might have some difficulty getting into this title, to which we can only say go buy the trades. We did, and this book has proved more than worth the price of admission.
You get the feeling that this is the sort of story that could only happen in comics. A lone Native American named Turok is adopted reluctantly by another tribe when his parents die and is ostracized for reasons. He’s about ready to leave when invaders show up – Crusaders from across the sea who ride and use dinosaurs as their weapons of choice. The leader is an absolute bastard who kidnaps the village elder’s daughter and gives her to his own daughter as a pet. Turok saves her and then uses intelligence to turn the dinosaurs on the Crusaders before killing their leader and then a T-Rex. Turok is basically a living moment of awesome with no ties to anyone other than the earth, and it’s all lovingly rendered and pretty damn great. The only thing this comic is lacking is the Cerebral Bore.
A whole high school gets warped from earth to another world entirely with no explanation, and only one kid has any idea what’s going on. No one listens to him, of course, until alien beasties start eating people, but that’s the way these things go. This comic reminds me of summer camp, but that’s only because my childhood was strange. The comic itself is wholly original and does a good job of showing how different people react to these circumstances and gives us reasons to care about all of them. The art itself is okay, but it’s more what we see and how it’s presented than the line work that I want to praise. This comic has a very cinematic feel, and it knows when to pull the camera close or hang back to give us a sense of scale. There’s a lot going on in this comic, and I’m curious to see what the writers have in mind.