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God of Comics: Wild Storm #4

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 16, 2017

Wild Storm #4 (DC Comics)

Wild Storm? Again? Really?

There’s other comics I cold mention, surely. Marvel’s got some interesting titles I’d love to discuss, but they’re in the process of killing them off while putting actual Nazis in charge, both in their comics and in their offices while blaming their fans for the flagging sales when it’s actually a problem of their own making, so I’m not going to talk about them. Seems fair: if they’re going to push a philosophy that encourages people to kill me, I’m going to do my level best to do the same to them.

Kids, the Holocaust wasn’t bad because Nazis did it. Nazis are bad because they did the Holocaust.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of other good comics being published right now: the four I’ve already talked about today, sure, and a host of others. Valiant, Boom, Dark Horse, Action Lab, Image, Dynamite, and others are all pushing some truly epic comics right now and mingling them with more down to earth ideas, peddling hope and stories of interest.

DC Comics has very much gotten on that bandwagon and is doing their best to make up for lost (nu52) time with Rebirth, and this comic spills out of that drive. Merging the characters from the DC Universe with those from Wild Storm doesn’t work, because the heroes from the DCU would, be definition, stop the Wildstorm problems from existing before they happened (see Grant Morrison’s JLA/WildCATs crossover to see exactly how that would have played out).

Thing is, the Wildstorm characters and stories are still good ones, even if they don’t fit in the proper DCU. DC Comics is combating this by setting a retelling of the Wild Storm in its own universe, a twenty-four issue series penned and plotted by Warren Ellis.

Ellis is pretty much the best person for this job, a talented writer who sifts through complex and layered mythologies the way that most people breathe air. He gets to pick and choose the best parts of Wildstorm and rework them into a modern setting, building up the conspiracies and aliens and other assorted madnesses of that world and reframe them, building them into a tale that grabs, haunts, and traps the reader while offering new takes on familiar characters.

It’s awesome.

We’re four issues in and Miles Craven is just setting up International Operations in his image, hunting down the Engineer as she seeks help from Halo Enterprises. This has resulted in a wild covert action team being spotted by Miles, a small team of killers led by Cole Cash – Grifter. Stormwatch is watching, Grifter is running, and Miles is trying to get a handle on everything before the storm gets too wild to control.

Jon-Davis Hunt excels at bringing small details to a world that needs them, and Ellis is doing that thing where he reminds the rest of us that he is probably the best at writing whatever genre of comics catches his interest (see also: Nextwave, Transmetropolitan, Injection, Supreme: Blue Rose).

Do yourself the favor: hunt this comic down and devour it. You will like it.

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412

God of Comics: Injustice 2 #1 (DC Comics)

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 2, 2017

Speaking of video games with epic stories…

The previous Injustice game featured a world where Superman went insane after the Joker killed Lois Lane. Clark ripped out the Joker’s heart and then decided to go after all the villains, causing a massive amount of infighting and shuffling of alliances and some of the best comics DC published during the nu52 era. Some of the character development – especially with Black Canary and Harley Quinn – is stuff so good that it should be carried over into Rebirth.

It took a lot of cues from the game but ended differently than the game: with one of the most gut-wrenching sacrifices you’re likely to read in a DC Comic, and then veered towards another ending where things lined up with the video game because a sequel was coming out.

The sequel is here.

I pre-ordered this game months ago. I love fighting games.

The new story focuses on new threats and concepts in the world of the old one. Batman eventually took Superman down and was busy trying to rebuild the world. He’s got a good thing going when Supergirl shows up – but she doesn’t know who to trust, whose side to be on, or anything that’s gone on. She knows that Clark is her cousin, though, and so she’s going to side with him… at least for a bit.

Meanwhile, there’s some serious bad juju going down. Darkseid is out there. Brainiac, too. Scarecrow looks properly terrifying. And Bruce…? Well, Clark’s old regime destroyed a lot of good people, so he doesn’t have a lot of allies left to call upon. The game is on. The game is afoot. This is going to be awesome.

Tom Taylor wrote the first few years of the original Injustice comics, and he’s back to write the start of this series. That’s awesome, because he nailed a lot of these characters in a way that the nu52 didn’t, even in this strange world of extremes. Joining his are artists Bruno Redondo and Juan Albarran, both of whom had a lot to do with the success of the original series.

DC Comics has been pretty great since Rebirth, and the Injustice comics were among the best to come out of the nu52. As Rebirth is better than the nu52, so we expect this series to be better than the last.

Fingers crossed.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to go play the original game again and get myself all warmed up for the second.

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271

God of Comics: Bane – Conquest #1 (DC Comics)

God Of Comics, Reviews

May 2, 2017

Bane is a weird character.

No, wait, scratch that. Bane isn’t a weird character, but the treatment of him is. Bane is an important character that can and should be a major player in the DC Comics world and maybe not for the reasons you think.

See, the thing with Bane is that people think that the Venom is what makes him interesting. This is a failure to understand who Bane is; this is a man born into a prison sentence for crimes he never committed, who watched his mother being eaten by sharks and was victimized by a cruel warden of a third world country. He taught himself several languages and a series of arts and histories while imprisoned, honing his mind and his body in circumstances that should have killed him.

If this sounds like the beginning of a hero’s story, it’s because it could be. He freed the other inmates in his prison, was captured and subjected to medical experiments by his country’s military, destroyed them all and escaped. He’d grown up hearing stories of Batman and attacked him not out of obsession but out of a sense of rivalry: Batman was the bar against which he measured himself. He broke the Bat, was beaten by Azrael, kicked his Venom habit over a couple of months – a task that took Bruce most of a year.

Yes, the Venom makes his already incredible athleticism superhuman, but it’s his mind that makes him dangerous. He’s a detective of a skill that nearly matches that of Bruce himself, a scholar and strategist of enough talent that he was able to take down the Batman, a man who can kick his addiction to one of the most addictive substances in the DCU seemingly at will. He’s informed by the trauma of who he is and has no secret identity: Bane is his actual name, the only one he knows.

He’s fascinating. He’s incredible. Most writers use him as simple muscle and miss the subtlety and subtext of the character; he’s just as complex as the Batman that he’s come so close to destroying. Bruce’s reaction to Bane tends to be panic because he knows Bane is the one person who can maybe out-think him.

This series sees the people that originally created him – Chuck Dixon, Doug Moench, and Graham Nolan – back to take him beyond Gotham. Bane has put his original band back together, a trio of criminals known as Bird, Trogg, and Zombie, and the four of them are setting out to build a worldwide criminal empire. This might be the scariest thing that could happen to the criminal underworld in the DCU, a man who gives Batman nightmares coming to rule them all.

And he should. He’s intelligent, ambitious, and ruthless in a way that no one else in the DCU can really match. This is a twelve issue maxi-series, too, meaning that our creative team has a beginning, middle, and end in mind, and if that end doesn’t lead to every hero in the DCU suddenly having to deal with a much more dangerous criminal element I’m going to be very surprised.

See, here’s the thing: the only character I can see that’s gone on this journey before was TAO over in Sleeper (and if you haven’t read Sleeper go to your comic shop and buy Sleeper). Bane is just as dangerous and driven as TAO was, and Bane could make his organization work in a world where DC Superheroes operate (unlike TAO, who could operate in the Wildstorm universe but never the DCU).

This is going to be awesome and you really should get in on the fun now.

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334

God of Comics: Batman / The Shadow #1

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 25, 2017

Batman / The Shadow #1 (DC Comics / Dynamite Comics)

The Shadow beat Batman.

Got your attention? Good. The Shadow was a radio play serial that debuted in July of 1930 and followed that up with print in April of 1931. Batman, of course, debuted in Detective Comics in March of 1939. It’s safe to say that Bruce took some things from his forbear, though he upped the theatricality and lost the faux East Asian mysticism. Both characters did originally use guns and outright murder evil-doers, though Batman gave that up shortly after his origin was firmly established, but Bruce still follows a lot of rules the Shadow started.

The Shadow only hunts after dark. So does Bruce. The Shadow has sidekicks and supervillains and a secret lair. So does Bruce. The Shadow has a multi-millionaire alter ego whose life was touched by tragedy. So does Bruce. The animated series even paid homage to the Shadow and his influence on Batman with the Grey Ghost character.

Here’s the set-up: there’s been some spectacular murders happens in Gotham, which is very much the sort of thing that attracts Bruce’s attention. Trick of it is, all the evidence points to Lamont Cranston as being the culprit – but Lamont has been dead for more than fifty years, and is the alter-ego of the original Shadow~!

This is very much the sort of mystery that Bruce loves and can’t let go of, so he’s going to dig deep and peel back the layers until he gets to the truth at the core of Lamont’s life… but the Shadow is out there, trying to stop him, and the Shadow knows exactly the sort of evil that lurks in the heart of every man.

Also, the writing team on this is Scott Snyder and Steve Orlando, the former of which has a reputation as one of the best Batman writers of our era and the latter of which has been doing amazing things all over post-Rebirth DC, so that has a lot of promise. Both of them are also fans of the Shadow and they’ve promised that this is going to be a classic mystery, a meeting of the minds as much as anything else.

As if that wasn’t enough, Riley Motherfucking Rossmo is handling the art on this. You might recognize his gorgeous stylings from Rasputin, Constantine, Hellblazer… the man is unspeakably good at creating mood with a sketchy style that is utterly unlike anyone else working today. His artwork is perfect for a story like this, where nothing is certain and everything is always in danger of falling apart, a world where truth is a vague ephemera, more promise than reality.

Yeah, this sounds like exactly the comic we need right now. Bring it on.

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407

God of Comics: Wildstorm #3

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 19, 2017

Wild Storm #3 (DC Comics)

What, no Valiant this week? Tune in next Wednesday for Valiant. They’ve got something special brewing. This week we’re ending the whole God of Comics thing with the writing deity that mortal souls call Warren Ellis as DC Comics allows him to completely rework the whole of the Wildstorm Universe.

Born in the nineties, the Wildstorm imprint was the brainchild of Jim Lee and was the best of what nineties comics offered while also playing into every cliche the nineties propagated: pouches everywhere, overlarge guns and weaponry, sprawling mythologies and stories that played out over years… and as the Wildstorm Universe wound down it became self-aware enough for self-mockery and introspection, resulting in some of the best comics ever written (Sleeper, I’m looking directly at you).

Wildstorm was a big part of what informed the nu52, as the whole of their mythology merged with DC Comics and was a big part of why the nu52 didn’t work. DC Comics are typically about justice tempered by understanding, protection informed by tragedy, and truth becoming mercy. There’s no place for such things in the dark conspiracies of Wildstorm, but no means for them to exist, either. The likes of Superman and Batman and Wonder Woman make the Wildstorm universe an impossibility just by existing.

And so much of Wildstorm was left by the wayside during DC Rebirth. This was a good thing. It was a good decision. But this does not mean that the Wildstorm Universe has no place or value in the modern world, and there is no one living today that can see that worth or value expanded and explained like Warren Ellis can.

He’s building a modern world where centuries of shadow wars have bubbled just below the surface and are only now coming to light, slowly introducing new takes on familiar faces that feel true to what was while adding new depth. It’s a remarkable achievement from a writer who is known for remarkable achievements, ranging from Nextwave to Transmetropolitan to Injection, and he brings all his brilliance and wit and everything he is to a mythology that is worthy of him.

The artwork provided by Jon-Davis Hunt perfectly captures every leaking bit of emotion from what could be a high-concept intellectual pursuit, infecting each character with visual quirks and a style that harkens to what was and informs what is.

If you liked the old Wildstorm at all, you need to read this. If you like superheroes at all but wish they were, well, more (and haven’t discovered / don’t have time for the wealth of Valiant) you need to read this. If you appreciate good writing and excellent art you need to read this.

Really, you just need to read this. Do so.

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105

God of Comics: Harley Quinn #17

God Of Comics, Reviews

April 5, 2017

Harley Quinn #17 (DC Comics)

This is one of our go-to comics, one of the ones that (like Batgirl) defines what the rest of DC Comics does.

It’s weird. This character was supposed to be a one-off, a throwaway moment of “wouldn’t it be funny if Joker had a female sidekick?” tossed around in a production meeting for the old cartoon. This was when DC Comics did original cartoons and not rehashes of pre-existing (and often flawed) stories, or took classic stories and animated them (while adding flaws), and the enduring presence of this character and her popularity shows how emotionally powerful those old cartoons could be.

Harley needed to be justified, world-wise. It’s a Batman, so she couldn’t just be a simple villain – she needed a backstory and a reason to exist, and what we got was an abused but brilliant woman who had been psychologically and socially destroyed by the Joker because he thought it was funny. It made her terrifying and sympathetic and eventually led to a much more complex character, all while making the Joker more terrifying still. It was a brilliant piece of work that led to the character’s introduction to comics in the late nineties.

But, as the nineties came to an end, Harley broke off from the Joker and started living on her own. We say her struggle to become someone better while dealing with her issues, and she explored the addictive nature of abuse and the war for identity, all while maintaining her own essential madness and brilliance. It was light-hearted and heavy-handed and was the epitome of what mature comics could be: meaningful and exploring dark subject matter while still having the courage to be silly. It was fantastic stuff.

She expanded into Gotham City Sirens and things were looking good until the nu52 happened (and every time I write those words I keep hearing them read as “and then the fire nation attacked…”). Harley was taken to some very dark places, the more interesting portions of her character stripped away to fill the quota of nineties-era bullshit and extreme and edgelord darkness until Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner took over writing and started moving her back towards what DC Rebirth would become.

The stories definitively veered towards the silly, with Harley trying to live her life and be a good person despite being thoroughly cracked. She made mistakes but got over much of her trauma, got a day job, became a hero, and started teaming with A-listers like Power Girl. The comics were twisted but fun, dark comedy that veered into lighter shades while mocking the grimdark sensibilities of the nu52 and providing a way out of that selfsame grimdark.

If Batgirl defines where DC Comics is, Harley Quinn provides the blueprint.

Or, perhaps, Harley is the therapist that DC Comics needed.

Either way, the comics continue to be a ridiculous amount of fun and regularly lampoon the craziest stories we’ve gotten in comics over the past sixty years without anyone needing to know anything about those stories in order to enjoy them. We get aliens being ground up into hot dogs and turning people into zombies, we get well-meaning imposters trying to force her to love them, we get a Deadpool-a-like jumping the shark and showing up in these comics because why not? It’s fun, right? It’s amazing.

This issue has an evil clone/twin/something named Harley Sinn going after Harley by targeting people she’s lost and loved, and that sounds fun… but it’s the back-up story I’m really looking forward to. An early look at the original relationship between Harley and the Joker, as penned by Paul Dini… one of those people responsible for her creation in the first place. Add in the art stylings of Bret Blevins and John Timms and we’re good to go. Don’t miss this.

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106

God of Comics: Batgirl Annual

God Of Comics, Reviews

March 28, 2017

Batgirl Annual #1 (DC Comics)

Batgirl has been one of the weirdest titles to spill out of DC Comics in the past decade.

Hear me out. Weird doesn’t mean bad, but the title is indicative of the direction DC Comics is going to take as a whole. As Batgirl goes, so does the company.

Want proof?

Back before in the good old days of the late aughts, we got two different Batgirl titles leading up to the nu52. The first was an exploration of Cassandra Cain, a late and popular addition to the bat-franchise that was the daughter of the man what taught Batman how to fight and the best hand-to-hand fighter in the DCU, a woman named Lady Shiva. She’d been raised to use violence as a weapon and that was a fun comic that sort of died out as writers who didn’t understand the character were assigned to the comic, which was a thing that was happening a lot in DC Comics at the time.

The ship was righted. Cass left when Steph Brown picked up the cowl with the original Batgirl, Barbara Gordan, took over a mentor role that saw something fluid and unique and fun that worked with the DCU. The rest of DC Comics seemed to be going in that direction, focusing on fun interactions and stories that drew on existing continuity, building on the idea of legacy and exploring new character types.

… and then the nu52 happened. Fan boys of comics twenty years old who didn’t like anything that had happened since (save the grim and gritty tone of nineties Image) decided they were going to be nineties Image Comics, and Batgirl got handed to Gail Simone and she gave them exactly what she wanted. Out of all the dark nu52 comics, Batgirl was about the darkest; we got the return of Barbara Gordon and Gail worked her over like the GOP works over America, only it was entertaining. Just bleak. Hopeless.

Shortly before the nu52 ended, Batgirl was handed off to another writer and moved out of Gotham, went back to college, and became the modern incarnation of the character. Babs continues to be Batgirl, only now the comic is fun and forward-thinking. There’s a sense of motion to the title, a lot of manic fun that was a measured intelligence to the proceedings and has spun off into a whole new Birds of Prey comic. It’s all pretty great.

And that brings us to the annual. Even during the dark days of the nu52, the annuals tended to be a lot of fun – blockbuster stories that happen once a year, standalone tales that somehow set the stage for things to come. This year, Babs gets to team up with Supergirl it what should be about the most fun you’ll have reading a DC Comic this week.

For point of reference, the last Batgirl Annual featured Babs recognizing Dick Grayson after he’d faked his death and was wearing a disguise… that did not include his ass. She managed to recognize him by his bum. Way to put that photographic memory to good use, Babs.

Anyway, Babs and Kara are going to break into Arkham Asylum – which might be harder than breaking out of it, which isn’t setting the bar very high – where they will uncover a secret inmate that will lead to a much bigger story that should influence how things work for the next year or so. The two of them have infiltrated Arkham before (Ivy and Harley were villains then and Ivy was still doing the kissing mind control thing, which did not work on Kara), but I’m expecting this to be a lot more fun than that was.

A big reason for that? Hope Larson has been brought in for writing duties, and she’s a lot of fun – weird sense of humor that should lend itself well to these characters and the story, and I’m curious to see how where this goes. Also, Inaki Miranda is handling art that that’s reason enough to go out and buy this. She does lush inks and scenes, adding depth to stories even when they don’t deserve it… and wasn’t she on Coffin Hill? Oh, Gods, she was. Okay, this comic is going to beautiful. This story should play to all her strengths and I can’t wait to see the result.

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1033

God of Comics 2015-12-30

Culture, God Of Comics

December 29, 2015

All-New Wolverine #3All-New Wolverine #3

I really like Laura. I dig her character and I’m glad she’s stepped in to fill Logan’s absence, even if the traditional Wolverine outfit looks kinda ridiculous on her. Still, I like what they’ve done with her pretty much from the get-go, and this comic continues that trend – we’re getting stories that explore concepts of personhood and agency, and adding a little spy thriller melodrama to the mix. Her relationship with time-displaced young Angel is presented as a healthy thing here, two characters that know and trust one another. It all makes for good reading, unlike…

 

All-New X-Men #3All-New X-Men #3

… this. This is not good reading. This is not good reading because everyone but Young Time Displaced Scott feels like they’re being written out of character. All that interesting stuff between Laura and time-displaced Warren I mentioned above? Short circuited here for some trite melodrama. Also, pretty much everyone else is relegated to comic release, or forced so far outside of what they were or what you’d expect them to be as to make them unreadable. The artwork is good and there’s some really not concepts here, but slogging through the mire of this dialogue is tedious at best.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #13Batman and Robin Eternal #13

Okay, so Bruce maybe sorta ordered himself up an heir after a young Dick Grayson kinda screwed up enough for mother to realize who Batman was. We got to see the two of them chatting and talking about murder and other things, and I’m assuming that there is a trick coming – every writer on this is too skilled not to have something up their collective sleeves. This continues to be an excellent little mystery, an even keel that is ramping things up as we return to the DCYou version of Cassandra Cain. This is fun and if you like DC Comics you should be following it.

 

Black Magick #3Black Magick #3

If you like comics, however, or incredibly strong stories with a rich history and mythology implied on every page, then you really must be reading this. It’s Greg Rucka inventing another world in which to play in, this one involving a witch who is also a cop and the politics of a centuries out coven that is running from a group of witch hunters who are now using magic, or getting someone to use magic for them. There’s a real sense of menace here, some awful and thus far unseen power that is wrecking havoc on people’s lives. It’s great stuff, is what we’re saying. Check it out.

 

Drax #2Drax #2

We told you. We told you last month that CM Punk was going to write something awesome, and he went out and wrote something awesome. Drax is the muscle for the Guardians of the Galaxy, but all of them are going off and doing their own things in their own titles. Drax, of course, gets a turn, and heads off to find and kill Thanos because that is what Drax does. His ship cuts out, stranding him on a world with Terrax, so they go to get drunk and maybe go on a crime spree so they can raise some money to fix the ship and go kill Thanos, maybe even together~! Comics are amazing.

 

Harley Quinn & Power Girl #6Harley Quinn & Power Girl #6

Jimmy Palimioti and Amanda Conner have quietly been writing one of the best runs with this character that has ever been, and one of the best titles that DC Comics has ever published. This run is part of her epic team-up with Power Girl, when the two of them went galivanting through other dimensions and saved a Seventies Disco Sex God from an alien invasion led by aliens that are against fun in all it’s forms. Having done this they now have to find a way home, which might involve Power Girl marrying the aforementioned Sex God. There are no words for this. You must experience it. Yes.

 

Jughead #3Jughead #3

Wow, this comic is weird. Like, really, really weird. Jughead is the classic character we all know in love, now updated (again) for the modern world by… not really changing very much of anything. Jughead is one of those characters that is iconic because he fits into any situation. There’s something very Zen about Jughead. He is, of course, still subject to the vicissitudes of fate, and this comic is exposing him to the horrors of crumbling personal freedoms and enforced mediocre conformity within the modern American school system. He is, however, armed with his imagination, so my money is on Jughead, but then I hate people that abuse the authority they think they have.

 

Rat Queens #14Rat Queens #14

Has there ever been a tighter fantasy comic than this one? Rat Queens hit the world at the exact best moment for itself – a high-stakes fantasy adventure starring a foul-mouthed, life-loving, all-female mercenary band. It’s given us some of the deepest characters in the medium while exploring a number of absurd and harsh realities, all while never losing sight of itself. Take Hannah, the necromancer half-elf, half-tiefling who is sometimes the voice of reason but is now getting lost in some pretty terrible family stuff that was wide-reaching implications for her world. The timing of this – right after Christmas – is magic, the sort of thing we could all use.

 

Southern Bastards #13Southern Bastards #13

One of my favorite books growing up was a science fiction novel called Illegal Aliens: some aliens land in Central Park in the mid-eighties, and an entire chapter is dedicated to explaining how the world responds. When these reactions are summarized for the UN, it’s explained as “America during Superbowl Sunday.” There is nothing more important in the American consciousness than Football, especially when you leave the trappings of civilization behind for the ever-present heat of the broken south. This is a tale of that broken south and football. This will not end well.

 

Star Wars #14Star Wars #14

Do you ever think that, perhaps, a company decides to drag something on longer than they should? Sometimes, events happen on their own, necessitated by story: that’s what appeared to be happening with Vader Down, but aside from the last few pages in the last part of this event, well, there didn’t seem to be much happening. A holding pattern. I’m not sure why – the art is good and the writing is Gillen, and even bad Gillen is better than some people’s best. Let’s see if we can get this thing back in track with the one thing we all need: Wooke Wrestling Entertainment. BAH GAWD.

 

Sunstone Vol. 4Sunstone Vol. 4

Stjepan Sejic was goofing around on hid deviantart page and accidentally created one of the best romance comics, period. Sunstone is a mature and honest look at love and knots, the absurdity of kink mingled with the trust that any healthy relationship needs to be built on, and how insecurity and a lack of communication can kill even the strongest ties: let’s be clear, love never dies, love is murdered when people aren’t clear with one another. There’s a little something in hear for everyone, and if you’re not familiar with this book you really should look into it.

 

Welcome Back #4Welcome Back #4

Imagine reincarnation. Imagine lifetime after lifetime, bound to repeat some of the same events with the same people, but imagine, too, that this is no love story. Imagine you are in a war, a war without end – born again, die again, forever and ever. Is there any room for change there? Any room to be anything other than a victim, a killer, a corpse? And if the road ahead looks like death without end, is there a point? Where does it begin? That’s what this comic seeks to answer: what fate looks like, the importance of beginnings in understanding the present and changing the future.

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698

God of Comics 2015-12-23

Culture, God Of Comics

December 22, 2015

Angela - Queen of Hel #3Angela: Queen of Hel #3

You ever meet an over-achiever? Someone who just, by their very nature, tends to reach higher and farther than other people ever think to? That’s Angela. Born to Asgard and adopted by Heven, she doesn’t really feel comfortable with either, having learned about the flaws of both. Those flaws have sent her on a new quest, one to carve out her own place and her own realm, so she’s looking to take over Hel and become an equal to her adopted parents – Odin and Frigga – and her adopted mom – the Queen of Heven. This is who is starting a rebellion in Hel. Needs a metal OST.

 

Arcadia #7Arcadia #7

How great is the Expanse? The answer, of course, is “pretty great.” I was chatting with a friend and he was like “ity’s been so long since we had good sci-fi” and I was all “are you reading Arcadia?” And that is why, Casey, you’re going to be getting the Arcadia trade for Christmas, the moment that it comes out. Anyway, a terrible disease has ravaged the world and ninety-nine percent of humanity has been looked in cyro-storage, their minds shuffled into an MMO hellscape that is falling apart, because the tech they’re using was not meant for what they’re using it for. Awesome stuff.

 

Batman and Robin Eternal #12Batman and Robin Eternal #12

We now know exactly how horrific Mother is, and how terrifying her ability to sculpt minds is. They’re not kidding around with what they’ve built here, either, with some of the best writers in comics coming in and adding so much to the Bat-mythos. Jason and Tim are working with Bane and have just bumped into an Azrael, which should go poorly for Jason and Tim and maybe Bane, while Dick and Harper try to understand the horror that nearly swallowed Bruce back during the earliest days of the Bat. This is awesome and heady stuff, a rather awesome spy thriller.

 

Bloodshot Reborn #9Bloodshot: Reborn #9

I need to know how this ends. An unstoppable golem was created by the military industrial complex to kill god, but somewhere a long the way it gained a soul, questioned the violence of it’s being, and gave up the power of itself. That power went elsewhere, infecting others and turning them into almost unstoppable killing machines, and he’s had to go and reclaim his power from those that never wanted it… except for one guy, who did want it and came to the same conclusion the golem did: kill everyone, get all the power. These comics are insanely good existential action-terror.

 

Daredevil #2Daredevil #2

Matt Murdock is back in New York, has managed to hide his secret identity (again, dammit), and is still moonlighting as Daredevil. Good on him? He has changed a little bit, though, as he’s now working for the district attorney in New York as opposed to running a private practice. To show him how much they love him, they’ve stuck his office at the bottom of an elevator shaft, with the excuse of not wanting to waste windows on a blind man. Interestingly, studies show that blind people can tell – they need Vitamin D just like the rest of us. Could be okay. Was liking him in LA.

 

Dark Knight III - The Master Race #2Dark Knight III: The Master Race #2

No, no, don’t walk away, it’s readable, I promise. Yes, Frank Miller’s name is on the cover, and, yes, he’s got some creative input. Someone else is translating his ideas to paper, though, making this a much more interesting comic than it has any business being. The art is very much in line with the original Dark Knight comics, though things are a little more detailed here than they are in, say, Sin City. Anyway, Bruce is dead, the new commissioner forgot what she learned in the Dark Knight, and Carrie Kelly just got herself good and captured. Far better than it has any business being.

 

Darth Vader #14Darth Vader #14

Holy God but the Force Awakens was good. We can all agree with that, right? The D-Cast (link) thought it was incredible, and this? This comic here? Just as freakin’ good. Marvel has done an incredible job of getting from the end of Episode IV to the beginning of Episode V, particularly with Vader re-establishing himself following his loss of a whole Death Star. Along the way, Vader discovered Luke and has been actively hunting him, leading to him crashing on a planet where the rebel alliance was training an army specifically to deal with Vader. They failed just as Leia arrived. Also, Vader’s hench-people just had a battle with Han, and we get the fallout… now. Do not miss this.

 

Deadly Class #17Deadly Class #17

Things have not gone well for Marcus. He fell in love with two girls in a school for assassins, abandoned one as the other got killed, and has since fallen apart. He’s going through some terrible things and feels utterly alone, falling in with the wrong crowd as everything good in him erodes. It’s not just me thinking this; the faculty agrees, because final exams for the year include hunting Marcus down and executing him. This book is haunting, hunting, the sort of thing that is difficult to read but impossible to put down, the unblinking grit of slivered goodness in humanity’s worst.

 

Dr. Mirage Second Lives #1Dr. Mirage: Second Lives #1

It’s a Valiant comic, which I think should be enough of a recommendation on it’s own. Dr. Mirage is a medium who deals with the dead, like her husband, and the two of them work together to perform exorcisms, banishments, and other forms of benevolent necromancy while pondering the weight and circumstance of death itself. Here, she’s discovered a means of giving her husband flesh once more, but it’s an ancient rite that was never meant to be performed and you can already see where this is going… but, like life, this comic is about the journey, not the destination.

 

He-Man The Eternity War #13He-Man: The Eternity War #13

In order to win, in order to defeat the Horde that threatened to devour everything and everyone forever, He-Man had to give up the Power of Greyskull. This left him little more than a broken Adam while his uncle, Skeletor, stepped in and claimed that power. He now dominates everything and everyone, trapping Adora to keep himself on a throne that was never meant for him. Now, Adam must take back his power before King Hiss devours his soul in a series of comics that are far better and deeper than they have any business being. This is science-fantasy opera and it needs to be read to be believed.

 

Justice League 3001 #7Justice League 3001 #7

Speaking of science-fantasy opera, this comic features soul-devouring genetic overlays of various Justice League members teaming up with other immortal Justice League members a thousand years in the future, where things have gone weird. Also, villains have brought back other Justice League era villains to fight the new Justice League, which is going about as well as you’d expect given that a lot of details have become sort of muddled. Also, there’s some kind of robot invasion and they just killed Superman. That can’t be good. And this Superman? Not coming back. No one is safe.

 

Lazarus #21Lazarus #21

Oligarchy took over – this is the world of President Trump, a corporatist dream where the rich rule and the rest of humanity is referred to as ‘waste,’ used to the last drop. The corporations have gone to war, the CEO of the best of their lot poisoned and taken down while his company flounders and their chosen champion struggles to make a difference in the field. There’re powerplays and politics and ruthless plans all coming to fruition, written by one of the best writers in the game and illustrated in a haunting style that will follow you into your dreams and stay there. Poignant, intelligent, and very much a must-read.

 

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #2

This is insane. Okay, a smart girl who is being vilified for being smart and believing in science and being ahead of the curve makes friends with a giant indestructible Tyrannosaurus Rex in modern day New York, which should make bullies a little easier to deal with. This is her school’s faculty’s fault for fiddling around with her science projects when they had no idea what the hell they were doing, which is something some of us might have experienced and gotten in trouble for. This comic celebrates intelligence and ingenuity while also showing how both qualities are mucked about with by a system and society that embraces conformity. Important in the same way Ms. Marvel is. Did I mention the genius girl is black?

 

Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1Patsy Walker, a.k.a. Hellcat #1

You saw Jessica Jones, right link? Of course you did. It was incredible, one of the best things to come out of Netflix for a long while and a nice apology for that third season of Hemlock Grove link. Jessica’s adopted sister in that series was Trish “Patsy” Walker, an old and established character who is now getting her own series and that should be awesome. Trish used to date a literal partially reformed anti-Christ and is a partial celebrity and street level hero who’s kinda good at the martial arts thing. She’s pretty great, and this sounds like it could be a lot of fun. Give it a chance.

 

Pretty Deadly #7Pretty Deadly #7

Deathface Ginny returns to stare down the barrell of the Great War – which is what World War One was called back before people knew they were supposed to name them. This comic is a weird meandering treatise on the weight and responsibility of death, both from the perspective of the living and dying. It’s odd and beautiful and terrifying all at once, edged in with the scripture of the old west and married to the narrative of the early twentieth century. There’s a lot going on here, in other words, and this book is dense, the sort of thing you could use to prove comics-as-art.

 

Rai #12Rai #12

This is the weirdest book… okay, you know how Aphrodite IX and IXth Generation and Justice League 3001 are all about the futures of their respective universes, using the mythos of today to build a landscape set in the far future? That’s what Rai has done, taking the disparate parts of their various titles and making them more important by showing what the eventual consequences of those people, places, and things are. It’s beautiful and detailed and stranger than a badly cut eighties anime, moving at a breakneck pace and expecting you to keep up with introduced concepts.

 

Rocketeer At War #1Rocketeer: At War #1

Somehow, this character is still a thing. The movie link holds up pretty well, and there’s enough here that a company like IDW Publishing should be able to put out something cool – a stunt pilot discovers a jetpack back in World War II, and goes from being a nobody to being a major player because of the technology he has mastered. The man in question, Cliff Secord, gets by on his wits and is very much a chip off the Han Solo block, a guy who just wants to be left alone to do his thing, but given the proper circumstances can be a hero. I’m curious to see how this plays out.

 

Star-Lord #2Star-Lord #2

I’m trying to decide of I care. This is now young Peter Quill by way of John Crichton, having stolen a space ship and gotten himself stranded in space. This goes against the movie – and wasn’t Secret Wars supposed to do two things? One was fix the mistakes of Jonathan Hickman, and the other was to being the comics closer in line with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. This serves neither, but still could be interesting if we weren’t comparing it to the series that came before Secret Wars, which was, well, stellar. We’ll see if this gets any better this month. I’m hoping it does.

 

Switch #3Switch #3

Stjepan Sejic is one of the most gifted artists working in comics today. He’s got a knack for writing engaging characters, even if English is not his first language. The trick is that in looking past his weaknesses to view his many strengths, and few comics illustrate those as well as this one. The Witchblade falls into the hands of an ordinary school girl who has no idea what she has or what she’s gotten into. Like spider-Gwen, this comic then takes familiar faces and puts new spins on them, so if you’ve never read Witchblade, this might be something you’ll dig. We dig it quite a lot.

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #53Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #53

Hamato Yoshi killed Oroko Saki. It happened – we all watched it happen, and Saki welcomes it at the end. It brought an end to a struggle that traversed lifetimes, and might finally allow Saki to overcome with karma and evolve. Everyone who was watching understood… except Michelangelo, who fled to an old enemy for succor. He doesn’t know how bad Old Hob can be, because his family protected him from the worst of Hob’s excesses and he’s buddies with Slash, but without that barrier he’s likely to learn some things he might not like. The only sure thing is that this will be excellent.

 

Venom Space Knight #2Venom: Space Knight #2

So, Flash Thompson went to the planet of the symbiotes and got the madness within his other half expunged, aligning himself with the monastic heroic order the symbiotes are supposed to be. Now, he gets to wander like a knight errant throughout the cosmos, writing wrongs and fighting evil whenever he’s not hanging with the Guardians of the Galaxy. The first issue was a surprising pleasure, setting the stage for a strange heroic space opera, which is exactly what this feels like. The art is also gorgeous, matching the quality of the writing into an incredibly strong whole. Recommended.

 

Velvet #13Velvet #13

Every week, it seems, there’s one comic where we stop and say simply read this. So, to wit: read this. Velvet is a female James Bond operating in the early seventies, cutting a world-wide swath to expose a double agent in British intelligence while clearing her own name. We don’t know the full scope of the conspiracy, but neither does she – what we do know is that she’s good at what she does, an expert in the field and dangerous in every way conceivable, and that the people that messed with her made the mistake of forgetting who she is. Don’t make that same mistake. Read this.

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1194

God of Comics – Top 5 for 2015-12-16

Culture, God Of Comics, Reviews

December 17, 2015

Clean Room #3

Clean Room #3

This isn’t a comic. A comic is a collection of colors and words that are passive – they sit on the page and allow you to look upon them at your leisure. This? This is a work of magic, some fell ritual that will devour your attention right from the start, suck you in and keep you there. This is Gail Simone revealing herself as a warlock of some sort, her wordsmithery tying all who look upon this work into the arcane heartbeat of the universal unconscious, where the really real reality dwells, unseen except by those of us with true grit. In tome – in the trap that has been put in your hands – a self-help guru has made a machine that allows her to view the perspectives of others as realities, touching and changing them as serves her needs. She knows what lays out there, in the spaces that man cannot see, and she stares at them without fear no matter the form they take. I would warn you, but there is no warning adequate. I would prepare you, but nothing can prepare you. Stare into the Clean Room, and know that it stares into you.

 

Hacktivist vol.2 #6

Hacktivist Vol2 #6

Some of us know: there is a war being fought for the soul of the internet. Many of us have learned that the internet is the greatest tool yet devised by man, a means by which information can be shared and reality itself can be shaped, for good or ill. The entrenched powers see nothing but ill, a challenge to the status quo that they have controlled and are losing control over. They roar and rampage attempting to legislate silence, to turn the first gasping breaths of dialogue into a monologue once more. Those that have spoken know the truth, however; the cat is out of the bag, neither alive or dead, and the world has changed. I can tell you that every single issue of this series, both volumes one and two, have made it into our top five comics list. There’s a reason for this, and those with the eyes to see will read this and understand what it is; record, logos, manifesto. A call to arms, to the celebration of intelligence and creativity. A battlecry against the old evils grasping for the loss of power as their paradigm dies. This explains so much.

 

Imperium #11

Imperium #11

I was at a friend’s house earlier, and my friend recommended Y: the Last Man to a friend of his. Quoth he, “Just lend me the whole series. It’s just comics. How complex can it be?” There are some people that do that, confuse the medium with the message, looking down on a whole means of sharing information from base misunderstanding or a false expectation. Comics are for kids, right? This title is a refutation of that idea. This is a superhero comic, yes, but it is very much a superhero comic for mature audiences – not the simpering gropery of adolescent power fantasies, the boobs and explosions that so many think make a mature book, but the measured understanding of real politick and the consequences that comes with power. Like Hacktivist, this series looks at various entrenched powers of a dying paradigm and challenges them, only to find consequences that make sense. Joshua Dysart is writing one of the most important and thought-provoking comics you’re ever going to read, and you should be reading it.

 

Ms. Marvel #2

Ms. Marvel #2

Modern fears are so much different than the fears of the past. Any of us can be taken at any moment, the flickering fiction of a single image broadcast anywhere, copyrighted, and used in ways that it was never intended. There are few secrets, little privacy, and the old and aging powers feast on the young – demanding free labor and growing angry when that labor demands to be paid, when that labor can’t afford things, when so many things go wrong. Ms. Marvel is a hero because she stands for essential decency, for the nobility of the human spirit in a world that sometimes equates the worth of an individual with their bank account. Material value is fun, sure, but trying to help others find happiness, based on their definitions of that word, without hurting other people? That’s the better option. Abandoning fear, reaching out to those that need it, helping those that can’t stand to stand for themselves. And that’s what this comic is about – finding a place in the world based on nobility, dignity, and strength. We need more like it.

 

Wayward #12

Wayward #12

We call ourselves Living Myth. There’s a reason for that – we believe that myths are living writhing things that never truly go away, the building blocks upon which we both our selfs and our stories. We are all mythic to someone, all of us living mythic lives that are tied to other concepts both ancient and new. That’s the core of this book, which is about Japanese kids becoming the gods that culture imagines. Cat girls and psychics and fate walkers, oh my, people that can tap into the internet and become machine gods, all mingled with the old legends of yesteryear – the kappa and the kitsune, the monks and spiders of folklore, and mangled together into something that is so much more than the sum of its parts. The explanations of history and context are worth the cover price alone, but it’s the characters that will hold you, trap you, keep you reading and wanting to know more. And you will want to know more. You’ll curse this comic for ending, especially given everything we learn in these pages. Buy the book. Buy it. Buy it and love it forever.

 

Didn’t quite make the Top Five. Still worth your time.

 

Axcend #3Axcend #3

Actions have consequence, usually larger ones than we can readily see – and actions that cause harm often cause greater harm down the line. When a person learns to live with pain it sometimes breaks them, but other times forces them to excel, or – worst of all – makes them worse than what was harming them in the first place. The victim becomes a monster, and those that caused that pain wonder why they’re now in pain. This is why.

 

 

Batgirl #46Batgirl #46

Fallout from the gang war in Catwoman brings Spoiler to Burnside, where she gets to hang out with Babs. This is great, because it puts two characters that compliment one another back together again, and adds the drama of someone else getting in on the action, a character action that adds to the story, and Barbara learns that sometimes her actions have unexpected consequences. There seems to be an on-going story in several comics about society smothering youth.

 

 

Dragon Age - Magekiller #1Dragon Age: Mage Slayer #1

Greg Rucka is writing this. I had no idea; I’m on my third playthrough in Inquisition and picked this up on a lark, started flipping through it and thought wow, this is good. I flipped back and saw it was Rucka and smiled because, hey, it’s Rucka – and there is are few finer writers in the world, and the Dragon Age mythology is a perfect fit for someone who likes details this much. Captures the look and feel of Thedas perfectly.

 

 

Huck #2Huck #2

Power does not come from nowhere – it is always fostered, grown, cultivated. It comes from adversity, from hardship or madness, because happy and content people change slowly, if at all. The powerful may not know their origins, but sometimes they know their power and sometimes they seek to do right, no matter the cost. There’s an essential sweetness here, a dignity that speaks to both the best and worst in humanity. I hope Mark Millar doesn’t go for an easy out.

 

 

Jem and The Holograms Holiday SpecialJem and The Holograms Holiday Special

There are tales of soldiers putting their guns down on Christmas and playing soccer with one another for a day. Just a friendly game before going back to murder the next day, because sometimes people are enemies for very stupid reasons. The bits between the various Misfits and Holograms are lovely, and the reasons how they got one another as Secret Santa’s were perfect, but it’s the interaction between Pizzazz and Jem that makes this comic. Barely missed the top five.

 

 

The Mighty Thor #2The Mighty Thor #2

Loki returns. There was some interest in seeing how Loki – the God of Stories – was going to play post-Secret Wars. The Al Ewing run was some of the funniest, cleverest, and most heart breaking comics of the modern era, and firmly established a new and fantastic direction for the characters – all truths that can be applied to what Jason Aaron has done with Thor. Loki and Jane have a history together, very little of it is good, and this sets the terms of engagement.

 

 

Lucifer #1Lucifer #1

Mike Carey wrote an incredible series of comics back in the day, using the Devil as established by Neil Gaiman, and bringing an end to both God and Satan. It’s a fascinating read. This comic acknowledges that one and the time that passed between them, re-establishing a Devil who is still very much himself and yet different. It also features the broken Gabriel last seen in the pages of Hellblazer, and forces the two of them together. Interesting. Very interesting.

 

 

Spire #5Spire #5

This comic does something that very few others manage to accomplish – because of the lettering, who can read the accents, the volume, the voices of the characters in this world. And it is a mass world, a mess of flesh and emotive chaos barely holding itself together in a post-apocalyptic wasteland. It’s beautiful and strange and full of anger, resentment, and beauty, all building towards a not-so-distant end. What is the Spire? We’re finding out. Oh, yes.

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