Reviews for July 2015
July was supposed to be a light month of comics for me. The Comics.Community podcast was on hiatus and I had recently pruned my pull list to a paltry few regular titles. Little did I realize that Marvel’s Secret Wars event was going to be so good that I had to pick up several titles. Also, I had forgotten about all of the #1 issues I had earmarked for my short box during the last three months of Previews episodes. All of that added up to nearly a comic a day for the month of July.
I’m enjoying a look at what the actual heroes are doing during this Battleworld/Secret Wars event, because most of the other books are focusing on villains or anti-hero type characters. The fact that She-Hulk is leading a group of all female heroes also adds an interesting angle to this story as the group dynamics are noticeably different than a male or mixed gender group. Score: It’s Good!
-Princess Leia (2015) #5 (of 5)
My patience has finally run out on the Princess Leia comic. Thankfully, it’s also the final issue of the mini-series. I’ve noticed a downturn in the writing and art of all the Star Wars books after issue 2 or 3, and this book was the weakest of them all to begin with. I know people who like this book, and I’m probably being too harsh, but I had higher hopes for this book than what it delivered. Score: Disappointing.
-Red Skull #1 (of 3)
Issue one of this strangely compelling mini-series almost immediately threw the entire premise of the book on its head. A small cadre of heroes and villains are forced to go into the wastelands to find evidence that the Red Skull is dead. In this issue they find out just how doomed their suicide mission really is. Score: Intriguing.
–Secret Wars #4 (of 8)
ALL HAIL DOOM! ALL HAIL BENDIS!
I keep asking myself; How is this event so good? It just is, and I need to accept that and move on with enjoying Secret Wars for what it is. The best comic book event ever. There, I said it. Four issues in and it’s already the best, most sophisticated, and most daring event the big two have ever pulled off. DC has tried some daring stuff. 52 was daring. They never pulled it off this well though. For that feat we must all be grateful. Score: Best. Event. Ever.
-Shield Vol. 1: Perfect Bullets TP
The SHIELD comic is a nice blend of the comic book and television versions of the iconic Marvel peacekeeping agency. You get the feeling that they just plucked Coulson et al straight off the TV show and plopped them in the 616 universe without many problems at all. Watching Simmons interact with Ms. Marvel is pure joy for fans of the TV show, and watching Coulson team up with Spider-Man for a mission to Dr. Strange’s house seems like everything the Marvel Cinematic Universe would like to see in its phase 3. Score: It’s Good.
-Spire #1 (of 8)
I was as excited by this title when I heard about it, but the comic itself didn’t actually grab me as something I need to read every week. I might pick this up in trade when it comes out, but it wasn’t the amazing read that I was hoping for. Score: It’s ok. It’s fine.
-We Stand On Guard #1 (MR)
The next Saga, this is not. I just didn’t really buy into the premise as much as i thought, and none of the characters really interested me. The final blow was that I didn’t really like the art very much either. That’s three strikes as far as I’m concerned and this will be the only issue of the series that I buy. Score: Maybe in trades if the reviews are stellar.
-Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #2 (of 5)
Such a quirky and interesting series after only two issues. Dirk is somehow miles away from solving any of the mysteries that are swirling all around him like moths around a flame. This series mixes whimsy and tension like no other series I can think of other than Dr. Who. Score: Whimsy!
-Harrow County #3
Like any good tale of terror, Harrow county is giving us answers that just lead to more questions and deeper mysteries. Ghastly spirits haunt an abandoned graveyard in this issue, but are they the monsters or the victims? Score: Creepy!
-Star Trek Green Lantern (2011-) #1 (of 6) Reg Rodriguez
I’ve always considered Green Lantern to be a one-man Starship Enterprise, so seeing these two iconic franchises together is like a bit of personal fanfic come to life. That said, what’s most interesting here is how this crossover delves into Green Lantern mythos by tackling the Spectrum War. Other than that, this wasn’t a particularly good first issue because it was 99% setup and didn’t do much to get me excited about the series. The last page reveal was fun though. Score: Fanfic!
-Strange Fruit #1 Main Cvrs
I’m kicking myself for not immediately recognizing the lynching reference made by this book’s title. Strange Fruit is about race relations in the Jim Crow era south, a time in which outright hostile and violent racism was the norm, and it’s a serious and important backdrop for any story. This is why I was so confused by the fantastical element that was introduced into the story at the end of this book.
I’m going to spoil things a bit those who haven’t read the first issue. So, skip this review completely if you want to avoid spoilers.
At the end of issue #1, a spaceman drops from the sky and saves one of our characters from being lynched by a local chapter of the KKK. The interdiction of an alien plays out like a scene from a superhero comic and distracts from the seriousness of the story. It turns what could have been an impactful study of our country’s dark past into a backdrop for some kind of sci-fi fantasy tale.
At best, the inclusion of an alien who looks like an African Adonis has a real ‘Brother from Another Planet’ kind of feel to it. At worst, it smacks of ‘Inglorious Basterds’ style wish fulfillment and pseudo-history.
The difference between this story and ‘Brother’, however, is that the late 70’s / early 80’s era New York City explored in that movie was used to shine a light on current social injustices that were not widely explored at the time. Mainstream audiences at the time either weren’t aware,or were willfully ignorant of the depths of racism that still existed. Thus, when an alien from another planet chose to camouflage himself as a Black American in order to blend in with humanity, then discovered that he did anything but blend in due to racial prejudices, it came as a shock and a lesson to the audience. My question for Strange Fruit is, what exactly are we going to learn about the oppression of Jim Crow era Mississippi that we didn’t already know? It was a terrible time. We all know this. How does adding an alien into the mix change our understanding of the era?
I’m really going to keep a critical eye on this series to see what questions it both poses and answers because the backdrop they’ve chosen for their story is not one that should be used lightly or fruitlessly. Score: It better pay off big.
-Black Canary (2015-) #2
This is a bit of a breather issue as we get a training montage with BC teaching the band how to defend themselves, and we also get some history behind the band as a former member shows up to add a little personal drama into the mix. We don’t learn much about the bad guys in this issue or why they’re after Canary & crew, but that’s fine. Let’s give the story some room to breath after a cramped #1 issue. Score: Let it breath.
-Empty Zone #2 (MR)
Wow. What a second issue this was. The first issue was great, and this second effort just added to the greatness. We learned about the world, characters, and plot with deftly executed storytelling that answered our questions then slapped us right across the mouth with new ones. This is the best comic out there right now. I guarantee. Score: Simply the best.
-Godzilla In Hell #1 (of 5)
This was an interesting first issue in which there was no dialog, save for an occasional ROAOAOAOAAORRRR! It is literally Godzilla tromping through the first level of Hell, Dante’s Inferno style. I liked this issue and I liked the wordless storytelling, but I have some philosophical questions. Does a giant radioactive lizard really feel burdened by sins? Do the moral and ethical judgements of Heaven and Hell really apply to the King of Monsters? I’m not so sure. The only thing I do know is that none of that holds up against radioactive laser-breath. ROAOAOAOAAORRRR! Score: Gojira is Lord.
-Hail Hydra #1
This was an odd little part of the Secret Wars event that has me wondering who’s who and what’s what in this sprawling event. It seems like some people understand that they are on a world composed of other kingdoms, and other people do not. This leaves me wondering if the version of Ian Zola-Rogers we meet in this story is one of the people who don’t know they’re on Battleworld, or if this is somehow the 616 version who just ended up here. In the few issues of Captain America I’ve read recently, Falcon-America and Ian-Nomad were messing around with dimensional transportation technology they stumbled across in a Hydra base. Maybe this is the direct result of that story. I don’t know. Score: I’m lost and it’s my fault.
-Island #1 (MR)
I loved the first story in this anthology magazine by Emma Rios, but the other two didn’t really grab my attention. A touching prose-only essay by Kelly Sue Deconnick was a nice break between comics and showed that good writers can hold your attention in any medium. Overall, I wasn’t overly excited by this first issue, but I am going to continue to support this experiment in comicbook form, as I feel it has too much artistic merit to dismiss after one issue. Score: At least It’s art, man.
-Planet Hulk #3
BLARGH! I want so badly to love this comic. Unfortunately, I do not love this comic. After only three issues the premise is wearing awfully thin and the writing is breaking down terribly. Characters are acting irrationally just to move the plot along, which is one of the worst sins a writer can make. The sin is compounded when it’s a version of my favorite character ever, Steve Rogers, who is the one being written irrationally. Score: Disappointed!
-Gotham By Midnight #7
I haven’t been a fan of the new art and the new direction of the story since the first arc ended in issue #5. Although I liked the story in this issue just fine, I am definitely missing Ben Templesmith’s art. Score: Losing interest.
-The Infinite Loop #4 (of 6)
Time Travellin’ Teddy threatens to destroy all of space and time unless the villains behind the death of her beloved Ano come out of hiding and face her. This book is coming apart at the seems, as all the different plot threads are being pulled at once. Hopefully, everything can be pulled back together over the final two issues because it would be a shame if it stopped making sense completely and ruined what started out as such a promising adventure. Score: Time is fleeting.
-JLA Gods and Monsters Batman #1
Man. I thought this was going to be at least an interesting premise, but the writing was so flat and the art so devoid of energy that I had trouble keeping any interest in reading this book to the end. I think I did, but I can’t really remember anything that happened other than Batman killed a few people that he normally wouldn’t have. Score: Forgettable.
-Old Man Logan #3
The rabbit hole that is Secret Wars runs very deep, my friends, and this issue of Old Man Logan takes us farther into the warren than we’ve ever been. We find Logan mysteriously transported to the land of Stark, where Tony is the Baron but the Technovirus is king. Where is this story leading us, and to what end? I’m not even sure of Logan’s motivation in this story, other than he knows something is wrong and won’t stop until he finds out what. Typical Wolverine motivation, truthfully. Score: Still a good old time.
-Batgirl Annual #3
This was an odd non sequitur of a story that saw Babs crossing path with a shadowy government agency to take down a random terrorist group operating in Gotham City. We get a hint at what Dick Greyson has been up to lately and we learn that Babs can recognise him by the contours of his posterior even while her mind is being fooled by hypno-technology. Other than that, kind of an unremarkable story. Score: Batgirl of Butt-side.
-Batgirl (2011-) #42
Livewire is a fun villain for Babs and Robo Bats to tackle, though it is pretty hard to believe that Jim Gordon can’t immediately recognise his own daughter as Batgirl, especially in her new costume. It’s a comic book thing, but still. I worry that this title may have peaked with the controversial issue #37, as that’s the last story that really made an impact on me. Score: It’s more Batgirl.
-JLA Gods and Monsters Superman #1
Changing Superman’s origin story to be the son of poor immigrant farmers should make for a fascinating social commentary. There were some moments of fascination and some attempts at social commentary, but overall the writing and art fell flat for me. For some reason, both books in this Gods and Monsters series sounded better in theory than they ended up being in practice. Maybe it was just the execution, or maybe it’s just best to not fix what ain’t broken. Score: Not interested.
-Star Wars (2015-) #7
The closer we get to the new movie, the less I’m interested in filling in the cracks of the old stories. What was Ben Kanobi doing between episode III & IV? Moping in the desert, not being a Jedi, and creepin on young Luke Skywalker. These are not things I needed to see. His guilt at forsaking his Jedi ways is compelling, and the art was improved in this book, but it’s not enough to keep me buying this title.
Episode Issue VIII will be the last issue of this comic in my pull list. Score: The Force snoozes.