HomeComicsArticlesJanuary’s Comic Book Pull List

January’s Comic Book Pull List

Welcome to my first ever monthly blog where I look back at the Month that was in comics. I would never consider myself a comic expert, but this past year and a half I have found myself in the thick of the comic book world once again. The purpose of these articles is not necessarily to review each issue in depth. My idea is more to develop a synopsis of the New, The Good, and the Disappointments of the past month.  It will be split up into three sections:

 

Notable New Issues – Where I Looked at the new #1’s to debut in this past month. I will give a brief summary of my thoughts and my plans to continue with the series or not.

 

Best of the Month – This section is exactly what it sounds like. Here I will look at my favorite comic issues of the past month and explain why they stood out to me.

 

Disappointments of the Month –  This is where I will discuss books that either did not live up to my expectations are were simply not worth your time.

 

One thing to consider is this is not meant to be the be all end all of the comics that came out. I do read a great deal of comics but I do not read everything, and I am not current with every series I am reading. So if you feel a comic is not listed when it should or not as good or bad as I say it is feel free to sound off in the comment section below.  Also since this is my first time doing this you may see a few comics that were released near the end of December. I included them if I felt they were worth talking about.

 

Notable New Series: 

 

American Monster #1

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Juan Doe

Publisher: Aftershock Comics

 Rating: 4/5

 

When I picked up this book the first thing I noticed, besides the awesome cover, was a name of a publisher I never heard of before. Aftershock Comics recently launched last April and so far I am really digging what they are putting out. The one word stuck in my head when thinking about this issue is intriguing. Most of that intrigue is center around what appears to be the main character—a heavily disfigured veteran whose standout moment centers on the refusal of a paid drink. I don’t recall reading a book with Juan Doe’s art previously but I wish I had. He does get a huge assist with the colors as the contrasting reds and blacks really pop off the page.  There is no question that I will be continuing with this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Captain Marvel #1

Writer: Tara Butters

Artist: Kris Anka

Publisher: Marvel Comics

 Rating: 4/5

 

Knowing that Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel will be a focal point in the upcoming event Civil War 2 I felt it would be a good idea to pick up this issue to see if any groundwork was already being placed. At this point there does not appear to be any but that was perfectly okay.  Carol Danvers was never a character that greatly interested me, but I really enjoy the voice Tara Butters gives her. It gave this issue a tone that was far less serious than I was expecting. Seeing this woman of action having to shift her focus to become a leader of discourse has some great potential. A huge additional plus was seeing characters Alpha Flight in here flying spaceships like it was no big deal. Seriously where has a Sasquatch flying in space been all my life? There is no question that I will be continuing with this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Swamp Thing #1

Writer: Lenn Wein

Artist: Kelley Jones

Publisher: DC Comics

 Rating: 3.5/5

 

Swamp Thing is a character that I have always wanted to get into but for whatever reason never had. Seeing a new Swamp Thing #1 was coming out it felt like the perfect chance to right that wrong. One element that did not quite sit well with me was Swamp Thing’s dialog. It could be my novice with the character but there was an inconsistency in the way he would converse panel to panel. It opens with this almighty smack down of an unruly alligator then at times uncharacteristic snarky remarks would emerge especially when talking to normal humans. On the plus side it is great seeing a more horror take on this character.  Kelley Jones’s art lends itself greatly to carry that tone. I will most likely be picking up the second issue as my only complaints are easily fixable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Last Contract #1

Writer: Ed Brisson

Artist: Lisandro Estherren

Publisher: Boom! Studios

 Rating: 3/5

 

There’s something about the hitman story I really like, especially when it evolves a man past his prime kicking some serious ass. With that said it makes sense why The Last Contract would work for me. Being a four issues series gives it a pace you may not expect. It is quick to answer questions to keep the story moving. Typically I am more a fan when the mystery lingers and allows you organically put the piece together, but considering the limited run I understand the choice. Lisandro Estherren’s art gives the book the gritty aesthetic it needs and the violence is displayed in brutal fashion. I do not see this having mass appeal to those that are not fans of this type of story as so far it’s overly played out the common tropes you would expect. There is enough potential in the first issue though to keep me coming back for more.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. #1

Writer: Marc Guggenheim

Artist: German Peralta

Publisher: Marvel

 Rating: 2/5

 

I was hesitant to pick up this issue for a number of reasons. I have never felt S.H.I.E.L.D. was an entity that ever needed its own comic let alone its own TV show. Knowing this is ‘Based on the Hit TV Show’ I was worried there would not be much for me here as someone who does not watch the show, and also made me wonder how anyone could call Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a hit TV show. After reading the first issue my initial hesitation proved correct. As someone who does not watch the ‘hit’ TV show I felt I was missing a lot of the context for what was going on, and nearly every character I found less interesting than the next. I did enjoy the interaction between Tony Stark and Phil Coulson but not enough to make up for the other downfalls. Due to that I will not be continuing with this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Rocketeer at War #1

Writer: Marc Guggenheim

Artist: Dave Bullock

Publisher: IDW Publishing

 Rating: 3/5

 

Part of the reason I picked up Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was due to my enjoyment of Marc Guggenheim’s work on The Rocketeer at War. I have never read of Rocketeer  comic before this issue so keep that in mind.  I do enjoy the movie and love the idea of a WWII era action series. The Rocketeer at War feels very much like a classic Captain America story with its larger than life Nazi’s villains squaring off against an earnest protagonist who represents the plucky American spirit. It’s a light book that works as a great pallet cleanser after reading some of the more dark and depressing stories on this list, because of that I plan on continuing with this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars: Obi-Wan & Anakin #1

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist: Marco Checchetto

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 2/5

 

I tend to pick up the first issue of every Star Wars series Marvel puts out based on sheer curiosity. With Obi-Wan being one of my favorite Star Wars characters I was hoping Marvel would represent him well.  I do feel Charles Soule understands these charactersand even adds a little more dimension to Anakin than was there previously. There is a sequence with Anakin sparing with other padawans where we see a better representation of the underbelly that would become Darth Vader than the prequels gave us. The problem is there is not much story here in this first issue. The concept of placing the bulk of the story on an unknown planet feels like a purposeful choice to keep it as detached from the other books as much as possible. Minus the one sequence I noted nothing caught my interest enough to keep me going so I will not be continuing with this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire #1

Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Max Fiumara

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

I never read the original Four Eyes: Forged in Flame comic so I was not sure if I would completely grasp everything that was going on with Four Eyes: Hearts of Fire number one. Coming in cold I never felt lost or unsure of what I was reading. The premise is rather simple for the most part. It takes place during the Great Depression of the nineteen 30’s and 40’s  with the only major difference being this world also has dragons. What I found intriguing about this story was how serious it took that concept. It is like throwing a dragon into The Grapes of Wrath and seeing what happens. Part of why it works is the way Max Fiumara draws these dragons. They have a workman like quality to them as they look more like livestock than mystical beings. Not only do I plan on continuing this series I am hoping to pick up the trade of the original series as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rocket Raccoon and Groot #1

Writer: Skottie Young

Artist: Filipe Andrade

Publisher: MarvelComics

Rating: 2.5/5

 

I am still not sure how to feel about Rocket Raccoon and Groot number one. I pretty much adore everything Skottie Young has done up this point including his Rocket Raccoon series in 2014. Seeing him return to the character had me excited, but I was a little disappointed knowing he was only the writer and not the artist. I did not overall dislike Filipe Andrade’s art. I just could not help but think of how much it lacked in imagination compared to Young’s. Personally I am not a fan of picking up a first issue and already feeling like a missing something. Oddly this story involves Rocket and Groot very little as we spend most of our time with apparent cheap knockoffs of Pockets the Possum and Shrub. It came off as a joke that went on for too long, and has me curious if it was all just setup for the final few pages. It did leave off on an interesting note and there is a mystery there I am curious to see solved. Currently I plan on giving it at least one more shot to see if it rights the ship in the second issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Man Logan #1

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Andrea Sorrentino

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

This was one of the biggest surprises for me the entire month. I loved the original Old Logan story and had been waiting to a return to that universe ever since. Unfortunately the return we got last summer during Secret Wars left me let down and wishing they let Old Man Logan stay dead.  Jeff Lemire knows how to write Wolverine like characters as seen in his other current series Bloodshoot: Reborn. He is a mastermind at manipulating their fracture psyches in new and interesting ways. Here we see Old Man Logan unexpectedly entering into the normal Marvel Universe proper before the world went to hell. Really though this is a return of the Wolverine many of us grew to love. In the last few years he has been somewhat of a neutered character, but here we see that savage nature return in satisfying fashion.  This series has the potential to show us once again why Wolverine or in this case Old Man Logan is the best at what he does. I will certainly be picking up the next issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers #0

Writer:Kyle Higgins

Artist:Daniel Bayliss

Publisher: Boom! Studious

Rating: 3/5

 

They say do not judge a book by its cover, however when it comes to comics I find myself picking up or avoiding many books based on the cover alone.  I tend to stay away from licensed properties like this as it tends to be not much more than a quick cash in…but then I saw the cover. There is something about the seriousness in which those covers were drawn that made me think this comic could take The Power Rangers in a direction that would be impossible for the show. For a zero issue this book does not bother giving you much of a lead in. It drops you right into the midst of everything as Tommy the Green Ranger just got released from the mind control clutches of Rita. As someone who was big into the Power Rangers when this story debut on TV I could follow the story well enough, but it does have me worried that this series will assume too much from its audience. Overall the voice is a slight more mature than the actual show and a tad less cheesy. There is enough here that peaked my interested, but my excitement has lessened some after this read.

 

 

 

 

Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion #1

Writer: Tom Taylor

Artist: Ethan Van Sciver

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

I recently stopped reading Green Lantern as it became more and more unbearable. Since then I was hoping for some comic to fill that Green Lantern hole. Green Lantern Corps: Edge of Oblivion number appeared poised to fill that blackest void. I have a love of space stories and cosmic characters especially when they involve the strange and the weird. When your comic has a living planet and giant aliens protecting a dying race from another dimension you have peaked my interest. This book picked up where Green Lantern: Lost Army left off  and did not miss a beat. I love the interaction between the different members of the Core and it all came to a head when each had to vote on if they would save these people or not. It is a choice that will no doubt be the crux of the first arc. I would not advise anyone to start with this series as you will quickly become lost. My hope is this series does not end nearly as quick as the last one.  I will definitely be picking up the next issue of this series.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spider-Man/Deadpool #1

Writer: Joe Kelly

Artist: Ed McGuinness

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 2/5

 

Going into this book I knew the key for making it work was Joe Kelly somehow finding a way to control the dynamic between Spider-Man and Deadpool. They are two large personalities that could become too overbearing when placed in the same room. With Spider-Man’s countless quipping and Deadpool’s knack for the crazy comments it could become a book that is one quirky sidekick away from having a running laugh track while you read it. Never did it get to that point but it did get close. I like the idea of having a comic where Deadpool is trying to win the respect of a character like Spider-Man, but that same story was dealt with much better in a comic like Cable and Deadpool. Never was it established why Deadpool felt he needed to earn Spider-Man’s respect. Sure that is something that can be filled in later on, however it caused the first initial issue to feel hallow. It was fun and I had a few laughs but it was overall rather forgettable. I have not decided if I will continue with this series but I am leaning towards no.

 

 

 

 

 

 

X-Men: Worst X-Man Ever #1

 

Writer: Max Burns

Artist: Michael Walsh

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3/5

 

I had no idea what I should to expect with this comic. It is based on a high concept that can easily go either way. Max Burns sets a lot of groundwork to make this concept work. From the first few pages we see this nobody teenager trying to find every possible way to land a high power girlfriend. This leads to my personal favorite moment of the book where what was designed as a tender moment between parents and son leads to an unexpected reaction. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because i feel it is how I would react in a similar situation. There was a moment that did nearly lose me where we see a rather shocking act of violence occur.  It felt like the book was attempting to play the moment for laughs but it did not work. Instead I was left not knowing what to think making the rest of the book rather awkward. My biggest concern though is lack of possible story beyond this first issue. Time will tell but my gut tells me  even for a limited series this will feel like it went on for too long. I plan to stick with it so far as I did enjoy what I read despite the drawbacks.

 

 

 

 

 

Best New Series of the Month:

 

Dreaming Eagles #1

Writer: Garth Ennis

Artist: Simon Coleby

Publisher: Aftershock Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

Now we get to what I felt was the best new series to debut this January. It was actually a back and forth battle between this and American Monster so kudos to Aftershock Comics for putting out two great new series this month. I know Garth Ennis is no stranger to WII stories involving fighter pilots, and it could be quick to dismiss this as just more of the same. Dreaming Eagles though is so much more than just a WII telling. In fact WII so far is more of a backdrop than the focus. Really it is a book about race relations and how different generations took on the issue. No book I read this past month had nearly the emotional wallop of this issue. That emotional core is centered around a father and son desperately trying to understand one another.  Personally I enjoy when comics have a political or social commentary focus and Dreaming Eagles  has plenty of material to pull from. It is a comic that demonstrates the different ways wars can be fought and lingering effects both have. When I look at the potential this comic has I literally get excited about reading the next issue. There are a lot of comics that are fun and funny then there are comics like Dreaming Eagles that are after something much more profound. I know this is a lot of praise for one issue but I truly feel it is deserved. So there is no questions whatsoever that I will be picking up the second issue.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Best of the Month:

 

AAAstonishing Ant-Man #4

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Ramon Rosanas

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

Astonishing Ant-Man number four has one of the most random celebrity cameos I can remember and I loved every moment of it. Typically it would be something I cannot stand but seeing Paul Scheer in the pages of Marvel comics was a joy to witness. I love the choice Nick Spencer made giving him an ultra douchey personality. This issue was not without its faults. It introduces a new villain in The Voice that seems far too powerful for the tone of this book. The issue ends on a strong note with Scott Lang getting in a confrontation with this daughter. It is this dynamic that has grounded this book since its beginning. Here Lang learns firsthand that no good deed goes unpunished. I have said this before but Lang to me feels more like Peter Parker than Peter Parker does right now. He is a superhero trying desperately to gain any respect, yet no matter how hard he tries he tends to ruin his relationships with the people that matter to him  the most. It is his wiliness to keep trying that makes him an endearing character. Ant-Man is certainly a silly series as this issue attests. What makes it more is the way it demonstrates the importance Lang puts on keeping his family together. This is not just a book full off jokes and visual gags. There are some legit character moments that gives it some serious substance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Negative Space #3

Writer: Ryan K Lindsay

Artist: Owen Gieni

Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

Considering Negative Space’s release schedule I was surprised how immediate this picked up after the last issue. It was like hitting the pause button for four months then coming back and trying to remember where exactly we left off. After a few pages it is easy to get your bearings and focus on the context at hand. For a story that is so flat out insane I am continuously surprised by how it can evoke some truly deep emotions. With the power of emotion being the crux of this comic it needs to accomplish that goal in order for this series to be effective. Specifically this issue demonstrates how happiness can be found in the most unlikely situations, and the progression Guy has made in these three issues is remarkable.  Owen Gieni’s art continues to be on point and I can only imagine the fun he has to be having creating the designs for these crazy creatures.  With apparently one more issue to go I wonder how they are going to find a way to wrap this all up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Superman: American Alien #3

Writer: Max Landis

Artist: Joelle Jones

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

In the spirit of transparency I have to state I have never been a big Max Landis fan. For me he represents nearly everything that is wrong with the internet generation of today. He is the type of person who has gotten a lot of attention for not doing much of anything, and while he can come up with interesting concepts the execution of his film scripts and comics tend to be greatly lacking. So with that said I have to give him credit for writing one of the better Superman issues I have read in a while. In the issue through a series of events young Clark Kent gets mistaken for Bruce Wayne. Landis was able to make Kent feel like a real teenager. A teenager, who despite his powers, has lived a sheltered life and is now trying to figure out who exactly he is and will be. It also has a rather clever and unexpected villain cameo that leads to a major laugh out loud moment. This is great issue to read even if you aren’t a Superman fan, and even if you have not read the previous installments.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paper Girls #4

Writer: Brain K. Vaughn

Artist: Cliff Chang

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

We are now four issues into Paper Girls and I still feel I have no idea what is going on. If anything it comes off as a book that will only get better on a second read through. Part of me is somewhat annoyed by that but a bigger part of me loves reading the bits Brain K. Vaughn is giving us that slowly clue us in to the bigger picture. It is basically this big adventure ride that is not slowing down and I for one have enjoyed the frenetic pacing as we go from one big event to the next. In this issue there is a moment of unexpected reflection as a character watches her life flash before her eyes. For me it was the standout moment of the issuefor both for its hilarity and commentary on youth culture. Cliff Chang and colorist Matt Wilson have also formed magic together. It is their work that really made the flashback sequence as effective as it was.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AA

Vision #3

Writer: Tom King

Artist: Gabriel Hernandez Walta

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

When Marvel relaunched last year with the mantra, “All New! All Different!”, the vast majority of the series that debuted were exactly like everything Marvel was previously doing prior to Secret Wars minus of few character and team change ups. One of the few comics that does feel like something new for Marvel has been Vision. It is an oddball concept with The Vision playing the part of TV sitcom dad of his android family, except there is this underlying disturbing atmosphere that lingers from issue to issue. In issue three we see just how far The Vision is willing to go in order to hold onto this family he has created. More and more this series is starting to come off as the start of a horror movie where something horrifically bad is just on the brink of happening.  From issue number one this has been one of the best new series Marvel has put out and it has only gotten more compelling since.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2

Writer: James Tynion IV

Artist: Freddie Williams

Publisher: DC Comics and IDW

Rating: 3.5/5

 

When I first saw the announcement that this crossover was occurring my eyes collectively rolled in my head. Comic Book Store dollar bins tend to be full of these type of crossovers that end up being nothing more than comic publishers trying to cash in on a concept they know will make a quick splash and quickly be forgotten. I began to change my mind some when sitting in on a panel at Baltimore Comic Con where I heard James Tynion’s plans for this series. The amount of thought and respect he was putting into this made me hope this could actually be good. After the first two issues I am happy to admit my initial impressions where incorrect. In issue two we see a confrontation between Batman and The Turtles that was everything my 90’s kids self could have wanted. The Turtle’s universe weaves much better into the world of Gotham than I expected. I am giddy at the possibility of seeing Shredder and Batman go mono e mono. Tynion is keeping it simple, and within the simplicity he is giving the characters room to have a lot of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor Strange #4

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Kevin Nowlan

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

So many have tried to do a Doctor Strange comic and nearly all have failed. With his remarkable work on Thor it makes perfect sense that Jason Aaron would be the person that could make a Doctor Strange work, and so far this series has been one of my favorite of the Marvel relaunch. The key I feel is Aaron giving Strange limitations. In this issue we see that using magic comes at a cost, which allows Aaron to explain why Strange can’t solve every problem with a quick spell.  It a simple rule that immediately makes Strange a more interesting character. The mantra, “Never stop punching”, now gives us insight to the character of Strange and his wiliness to persevere. In comics Strange tends to be cold and distant. He is off in his little corner  and he has never been much more than his title Sorcerer Supreme. Aaron has lessened that distance by breaking into the psyche of who this man actual is beyond his power.  At the end of the day Stephen Strange is human and this issue shows us why that is an important thing to remember.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Unfollow #3

Writer: Rob Williams

Artist: Michael Dowling

Publisher: Vertigo

Rating: 3.5/5

 

With Prez not currently on the shelves I have been looking for a comic that could fill that social/political commentary void.  Unfollow is a very different comic compared to Prez in nearly every way, but both are pointed commentaries of the cultures of today.  Where Prez approaches with snark Unfollow uses serious storytelling that demonstrates the downfall of human nature. The premise of a dying social media mogul leaving his billions to a random 140 people is simple enough. This issue adds an interesting wrinkle as we discover the less amount of people there are the more money people will receive. A key component to this is that it is never stated people have fight to the death or the last one standing wins.  Simply the less people the more money and to do with that what you will. It is an important distinction that has me excited for the upcoming issues.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Star Wars #15

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Mike Mayhew

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

The last time Obi-Wan showed up on the Star Wars comic it was one of my favorite issues. With Vader Down ending this works well as a transition issue before we get back to the next main Star Wars story arc. This is an intriguing chapter of the mindset of Obi-Wan during his lost years, and even gives us an idea of what young Luke Skywalker was really like.  There are not many people in comics today that can tell a fuller story in one issue than Jason Aaron.  In a way I wish we got more issues like this  instead of the constant barrage of endless miniseries. There is little doubt in my mind we will get more from this one issue than the entire Obi-Wan & Anakin miniseries. Also I was impressed by Mike Mayhew’s art in this issue. Not having to completely recreate actual actors he was able to make these characters only a reflection of their real life selves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow Blind #2

Writer: Ollie Masters

Artist: Tyler Jenkins

Publisher: Boom! Studios

Rating: 3.5/5

 

As a fan of Boom! Studios noir series Hit I have been hoping they would be able to follow up that success with another new story. Snow Blind had me intrigue to see what they could do with the genre in an entirely different time and setting. For those that enjoy mystery Snow Blind has plenty, and in issue two the twists are abundant and effective. It further explores the fragility of trust and how when cracks begin to show the slightest misstep can lead to an all-out shattering. Tyler Jenkins’s water color art is beautiful and his muted tones serve nicely to establish a noir atmosphere without relying on the cliché looks associated with the genre. It is the right amount of messy without being sloppily rendered. Masters has crafted quite the mystery here but the hope now is he can provide satisfying answers.  With two issues to go the story is already in high gear as this issue greatly changes the status quo with its final few panels. Hopefully soon Masters will be giving us those answers some of us so desperately crave.

 

 

 

 

 

 

All-New Wolverine #4

Writer: Tom Taylor

Artist: David Lopez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

I have personally never been a big X23 fan. She had potential to become a great character but for a long time now she has not been able to evolve past the gimmick of her character.  Oddly by fully embracing her Wolverine heritage she finally is becoming a full character. In fact All-New Wolverine is easily the best X-Men or X-Men related title on the shelves. Here we see her seeking the help of Doctor Strange to find a way to save her sisters’ lives. The idea of having clones of a clones of another clone is everything you would typically find in the worst comic book stories, but this story has worked so far based on Tom Taylor’s ability to give each a distinctive personality. I enjoyed the use of Strange in this issue and how Wolverine needed the man not the mystical being. Taylor and Lopez have continuously worked well together.  They are able to add just the right amount of humor to keep things fun. My only  hope is that Marvel will be patient with this series and keep X23 as Wolverine for some time. So far this is an all new, all different series that has worked.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Huck #3

Writer: Mark Millar

Artist: Rafael Albuquerque

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

With each passing issue I find it less and less possible that Mark Millar is writing this series. Do not get my wrong I do enjoy a lot of Mark Millar’s work. This just comes off as something way too wholesome for him to write. As a character Huck is simple in the best ways possible. He is like Steve Rogers without all the baggage. He is so kindhearted that he is begging for the world to take advantage of him, and in this issue we see that occur in full force as a group of shady politicians use his kindheartedness for their own personal gain. What really sold me on this issue though was Huck’s response to that situation. It was evident he knew what was going on  yet he did not let it both him. That is because he is comfortable with who he is as a person. There is a misconception out there that a character like Huck has to be boring. Millar has disproven that  by making him so endearing he brings a sense of peace in an otherwise chaotic world. It is a peace that is so precious there is natural tension in the worry it will be shattered at any moment, which makes the ending of this issue all the more interesting. Are we dealing with more individuals like Huck or more people looking to took advantage of him?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AABatman #48

Writer: Scott Snyder

Artist:   Greg Capullo, Danny Miki

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

It is going to be a very sad day when Scott Snyder leaves Batman even if it is just to move over to Detective Comics. The opening of this issue shows just how well Scott Snyder understands the relationship between Joker and Batman/Bruce Wayne. A simple conversations of two people on a park bench turns out to be one of the best moments this entire month in comics. It asks the interesting question should these two men return to the lives they once knew or stay who they currently are as they appear happier than ever. I am not doing the conversation nearly enough justice as Snyder writes it in a much more cryptic and fascinating way than may ramblings.   I have enjoyed the new Batman  more than most. Seeing Jim Gordon take up the mantle of The Dark Knight has work much better than it should. He has been a good enough substitute for these past few months. With the build up in the last few issues I am personally ready for Bruce Wayne to be Batman again, and it appears that may be happening sooner than later.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Southern Bastards #13

Writer: Jason Aaron

Artist: Jason Latour

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 4.5/5

 

If you read my Top 25 comics of 2015 article you would have seen that Southern Bastards was my number one comic of the year. Chances are if an issue comes out in an month it is going to appear on this list. Issue thirteen in many ways is a culmination of all of last year’s story arcs. We have come to understand who Coach Boss is as a person and the effect he has on the entire town. He is still a football coach first and foremost and this issue shows him in his element. Boss has developed into a fascinating figure throughout this series. Never have I felt that Aaron wants us to sympathize with him, rather understand how a man like him is formed. Here he gives a halftime speech that made me wonder if this man is a necessary evil.  Would the town truly be better without him or would cutting off the head of the snake only lead to more chaos? At the end of the day this comic has been about great storytelling and brilliant illustrations by Jason Latour. If you are not reading this book change that immediately.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Uncanny Inhumans #4

Writer: Charles Soule

Artist: Steve McNiven

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

A great part of me does not want to like this series.  Marvel’s move away from mutants and towards the Inhumans always came off as a petty choice born out of spite and not out of the desire to tell good stories.  Although I still feel that is true ,none of that matters when it comes to this series. The ending of issue number three left me devastated. Issue four is more of a transitional issue but it still has some major highlights. First if you put Steve McNiven’s art in a comic you automatically make that comic feel more important. I love the way Charles Soule writes Kang. He has this unparalleled bravado that makes him so much fun to read.  And wisely he uses that trait to find away around Kang’s godlike time travel abilities. If you are hesitant to read any of the Inhumans books this is the series to read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadly Class #18

Writer: Rick Remender

Artist: Wesley Craig

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 4/5

 

For a while there I was worried Deadly Class was heading towards a rut. Story progression was becoming somewhat stagnant and it did not have the excitement it once did. That concern did not last long as the last few issues have majorly stepped up in a big way. Things have simply become batsh%#t insane even for this book. As the Freshman Finals have started the campus has become a more extreme version of The Hunger Games with pure chaos everywhere in sight. My only nitpick with this issue was the reveal of what really happened in Willie’s past. It was a rather large reveal that only briefly got touched upon. With everything else going on it ends up feeling wasted as it gets buried amongst the chaotic action. With the fast pace of this issue I understand why we did not stick with that moment longer, and I am sure it will play a major role in issues to come. Wesley Craig’s talent something to behold. There is not another book on the shelves that looks anything like Deadly Class. No one quite does action like Craig. It has the smoothness of the best martial arts choreography and the edge of a seventies slasher horror. It is all tied together with some of the most unique use of letting today–one of my overall favorite aesthetics in all of comics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spider-Woman #3

Writer: Dennis Hopeless

Artist:  Javier Rodriguez, Alvaro Lopez, Rachelle Rosenberg

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4.5/5

 

When it comes to the Spider-Woman character in Marvel  for every one step forward she takes into becoming a character that matters she then takes two steps back into obscurity. Since the relaunch this series by Dennis Hopeless and Javier Rodriguez has been one gigantic step forward. In fact this issue by itself showcased Jessica Drew better than any story I can remember in recent memory. It starts with Javier Rodriguez phenomenal art. In this issue we see Drew traverse around this space hospital in what easily could have been a forgettable sequence.  Instead it was drawn with some truly next level concepts. I am not being hyperbolic when I sayJavier Rodriguez came up with concepts I have never seen in comics.  Within that sheer brilliant artwork, Hopless gives us a Spider-Woman who is vulnerable but not helpless.  Her ingenuity and bravery are on full display here.  My only concern with this series is how long they can keep the idea of a pregnant superhero going at the same time it seems like they may be solving that dilemma a little sooner than I would like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lucifer #2

Writer: Holly Black

Artist: Lee Garbett

Publisher: Vertigo

Rating: 3.5/5

 

With the Lucifer TV showing coming out and the comic series getting new life it was the perfect opportunity to pick up this issue. I have never read the Lucifer series before, but two issue in and I wish that I had. Part of the reason is because I would probably better understand everything that was going on in this issue. It is easy to understand the dynamic between all these different characters even if some of the details are lost.  The most important story elements are easy to understand and clearly laid out. During this issue Lucifer returns to Hell and is greeted with an army made up of an assortment of crazy creatures. Holly Beck has created tone with this book that is all her own—darkly humorous at times yet always twisted in some way. This is best summarized in a torture sequence that looks like a rather brutal endeavor to live through,. What makes it stand out is how it is treated with such a matter of fact manner, It is as if getting your skin ripped off is no big deal. I guess it would just be an average day in hell when you think about it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grayson #16

Writer: Tom King, Tim Seeley

Artist: Mikel Janin, Jeromy Cox

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 3.5/5

 

I love how this series has been fully embracing the fact it is basically just James Bond in the DC universe.  Case and point in this issue we saw multiple splash pages that were reminiscent of the best James Bond title sequences. If you listen closely I bet you can faint echoes of Shirley Bassey’s bombastic vocals. This issue even has the classic world hoping as we move from one exotic location to the next. I also love seeing this version of Dick Grayson that isn’t a brooding imitation of Batman, but one that is fun loving and carefree. When you have Dick and Tiger emerging from the ocean soaking wet in barely there Speedos its clear this book knows what it is and is fully embracing that fact. Some may take issue with the overabundance of homages and lack of story progression. For me, as long as it does not become the norm I am okay with an issue going full force with an idea here and there.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bitch Planet #6

Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick

Artist: Taki Soma

Publisher: Image Comics

Rating: 4.5/5

 

There are people in this world that turn their nose at comics as a lesser medium than something like film or television. Often they are people that think comics are only capable of telling superhero type stories. That’s where comics like Bitch Planet number six come along. This issue opens up with two warnings. One being rather trivial as the issue will be diverging from the previous arc for a standalone story. The other warning is much more important and clues us in to the purpose of this story. Seeing moments that are disturbing in a sexual nature is not unheard of in a comic. What makes this different is the way it was implemented.  In a way that warning had my pulse racing of where this book might go especially in the final few pages. Kelly Sue DeConnick has taken this book in some profound directions. Here we see her play on themes of self-sacrifice and the role family honor plays differently in cultures. The events in this issue are even more tragic considering how issue five ended. There is this throbbing sentiment of injustice that only grows with each passing issue. I look forward to issue seven getting back to the main story arc. Still, I have no problem with diverging from the main story.  If DeConnick and team are going to produce issues like this a break from the norm is welcome.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comic Book of the Month 

Secret Wars #9

Writer: Jonathan Hickman

Artist: Esad Ribic, Ive Svorcina

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 4.5/5

 

Each month I also plan on naming what I feel was the comic of the past month. This was quite the hard choice to make but I ended up going with Secret Wars number nine. Part of it is being happy that this issue is finally coming out. While the delays did end up causing some of its bigger reveals to be spoiled in other comics, none of that really mattered when it came down to why this book was such a success. For once we have a large Marvel event that had a satisfying ending. It makes sense that this multiyear gigantic crossover story would be boiled down to two major characters in Reed Richards and Dr. Doom. Similar to the way Scott Snyder gets the relationship between Joker and Batman, Hickman has a full hold of why Doom and Reed are perfect foes for one another. I always found Hickman’s comics emotionally distant and that tone is perfect for Doom and Reed. If this is truly the end of The Fantastic Four in the Marvel comic universe Hickman was able to give them the proper send off. Throughout this entire series Esad Ribric’s art has been phenomenal and that continues. He has given this story the epic aesthetic it needs and I am somewhat sad to see it end. Since its start this has been a series with gigantic stakes in and outside of its pages. Hickman and Ribic have worked together to create a cross over event worthy of the attention of any Marvel fan.

 

 

 

 

 

Now we get to the section a comic does not want to appear on. I will be honest and say this will most likely always been the shortest section of this blog. That is because  I tend to stop reading comics I do not like. I also want to note that just because an issue appears on this list does not mean it is a bad issue rather that the overall quality did not meet my expectations.

 

Disappointments of the Month:

Captain America: Sam Wilson #5

Writer: Nick Spencer

Artist: Paul Renaud

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 1.5/5

 

I so badly want to like this book. Captain America is my all time favorite superhero, and despite all the negative attention I was one of the biggest supporters of making Sam Wilson Captain America, The issue is there is too much muck going on in this series so far. I understand its comics but making Sam Wilson into a Manwolf create is idiotic for many reasons. For one it has yet to have any real impact on the story besides Sam looking weird. .In this issue the new Falcon also debuts and while there is not much to go on I was not very impressed with what we saw. He looks unintentionally ridiculous and comes off as a character that is begging to be forgotten. Overall though my biggest letdown with this series so far is that Sam Wilson is inconsequential. When Bucky became Cap we saw how it affected him, what wearing that mantel meant, and how becoming Cap furthered his development as a character. So far for Sam Wilson it has been nothing more than a costume change. So I am not surprised we are seeing Sam Rogers return as Cap in just a few months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avengers

All-New All-Different Avengers #4

Writer: Mark Waid

Artist: Mahmud A. Asrar

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 2/5

 

When Marvel set their relaunch lineup one of the books I had the most  faith in this book. Since the dawn of the New Avengers the Avengers titles have been much more consistent than nearly any other book for Marvel. This book  is made up many of the main characters Marvel is building this All-New All-Different foundation on, and it is written by comic book icon Mark Waid. Considering all that my assumption was every effort possible would be put in to make sure this book was a success. For some reason this book still has yet to find itself. This issue did start off well with the return of Jarvis to the Marvel world. It was a humorous tidbit that had me excited that for the rest of the issue.  All that goodwill was undone with one of the most erroneous moments in a comic in some while. As the cover suggests Captain America and Thor share an intimate moment with one another. Now I have no issue if this is a relationship they want to explore, but it was the most random kiss for no reason since Madonna shared a stage with Britney Spears at the MTV movie awards. Again it came off as Marvel making a choice not based on wanting to tell good stories but rather a move designed simply to get attention to sell books. I am sure by next issue it will all be forgotten. It is the type of move that makes me wonder how much control Waid has and how much is it him following through with Marvel’s wishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Batman: Europa #3

Writer: Brian Azzarello

Artist: Diego Latorre

Publisher: DC Comics

Rating: 2.5/5

 

There is a lot about Batman: Europa to like. Really I only have one problem with this issue, but it is a major one. Art tends to be subjective I know. So consider that when I state the art does not work for me in the least. It’s odd because it is not that I think the art is bad on its own. Simply that I had a very hard time understanding nearly anything that was going on. It was as if there was a cloud in each panel disturbing my line of site. It is one thing if your comic has this style from the beginning. With this series we have had a different artist every issue. By the time I was able to settle in and get my bearings the comic was nearing its end. Overall the story of   Batman: Europa is working. If it could only maintain a general aesthetic that great story would not be wasted nearly as much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All-New Hawkeye #3

Writer: Jeff Lemire

Artist: Ramon K. Perez

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 1.5/5

 

No one likes following a legend. Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run on Hawkeye redefined the character and was easily one of the best comics Marvel put out in the last decade. I get Marvel’s impulse for wanting to repeat that success or to try to find a way to keep the momentum going.  What they need to realize is it is not happening if all we are going to get are comics unwilling to take chances. When Jeff Lemire and Ramon K. Perez first debut All-New Hawkeye last March I thought they did an admirable job taking what Fraction and Aja did and adding their own spin. Since the relaunch of the relaunch in November it has become more and more a pale imitation of what came before. I commend Ramon K. Perez for trying to combine two very different styles into one book. The issue is a complete lack of clear story comprehension. The use of the future storyline has been undercutting all the present events since they started using it. Character decisions often make no sense beyond serving this story device. Hopefully after this arc Jeff Lemire will give us a story line that is organically developed rather than this matter of fact way this arc has been playing out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat! #2

Writer: Kate Leth

Artist: Brittney L. Williams

Publisher: Marvel Comics

Rating: 2.5/5

 

I was hesitant to include this on the disappointment list because I can see this working for the core audience it is trying to appeal towards. This series is unquestionably a direct result of the critical and financial success of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.  As someone who really enjoys that book I have no issue with Marvel trying to make more books along those same lines. The issue is Unbeatable Squirrel Girl was able to take influences from the Manga world but still feel like a Marvel book. Hellcat on the other hand is one hundred percent just a Marvel character in a Manga world.  So I am unsure who this book would be for considering it is unable to form its own identity. Would Manga fans want a book that is pandering to them with a character I doubt they care about? The issue is not absent of funny moments. Seeing Patsy Walker try to keep a normal retail job was as fun as you would hope it would be. At times it does come off as a book trying way too hard to be cute. As a person who is not a fan of this style I kept getting distracted by the inconsistent art work. One moment it would be super cartoony the next more classic comic book style. This is Marvel taking one step too far. I do not see this series having nearly the same effect as something like Unbeatable Squirrel Girl.

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you have it. My books of the month. Let us know what you think in the comment section below!

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Writer and Podcaster for @GeekCastRadio | CoHost of @CinemaGeekCast & @TalknInCircles| Husband | Father | Lover of Film, Comics, and Comedy| Jetpack Enthusiast | Wearer of Shoes