Welcome to the Top 10 Comics for the Week of 1/27/2021. This was a deep week of books. There is a good chance if I did this list again in a week or two everything would be widely different. For now, these are my picks.
Make sure to check out my other articles about this week’s comics:
10. Red Sonja #23
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Alessandro Miracolo
Description: The end nears. By MARK RUSSELL (Swamp Thing) and ALESSANDRO MIRACOLO (Zorro).
Why it Made the List: As I have said multiple times covering this series, I was never a Red Sonja fan until I read Mark Russell’s run. This being the penultimate issue of his run everything he has been building in this and the spin-off are coming to a close. What has made this run so strong is this examination of the burden of the crown. How complicated morality can be when so many require so much. This actually felt like the final issue considering some major deaths and narrative themes coming to a close. Now I am looking forward to seeing what the last issue will include. Maybe a nice coda to end it all. If you are like me and have not given this character a chance this is the run to check out. Especially if you have enjoyed any of Mark Russell’s work in the past.
9. Taarna #2
Writer: Stephanie Phillips
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Publisher: Heavy Metal
Description: A new mission for Heavy Metal’s flagship character Taarna begins! Who is the zealot called Urcuss, and why does he want to burn entire planets to the ground in order to destroy Taarna, the cosmic guardian of life in the universe? Can Taarna save a planet from being destroyed during Urcuss’s merciless invasion? This is the story of a millennia-old battle between godlike beings, with all sentient life caught in their path.
Why it Made the List: This was a big week for kickass women and gigantic monsters. Taarna #2 had both. Similar to Red Sonja, Taarna is not a character I am super familiar with. A new number one with a new creative team seemed like the perfect time to change that. Two issues in I can say this has been a fun non-stop adventure that feels like a mixture of Conan, Xena, and Barbarella along with its own flavor. As seen in the Best Comic Panels of the Week article artist Patrick Zircher showcased his ability to demonstrate massive scale. If you saw the recent King Kong vs Godzilla trailer and what some major monster action now this may hold you over until that release.
8. Wolverine #9
Writer: Benjamin Percy
Artist: Adam Kubert
Description: WEAPON X—TO THE HIGHEST BIDDER! WOLVERINE’s back in MADRIPOOR for an underworld criminal auction specializing in super hero artifacts that will surface more than just bad memories for the mutant formerly known as WEAPON X!
Why it Made the List: With so much attention being taken up by Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men run and the massive ‘X of Swords’ crossover Benjamin Percy and Adam Kubert’s run on Wolverine is getting a bit lost in the shuffle. This issue showed why it deserves massive attention. Starting with Adam Kubert’s artwork. He is undoubtedly living up to his namesake. Some of my favorite pages this week include these layouts where one central image is used to anchor the page. Narratively it reminds me a bit of Immortal Hulk in how it uses the character’s long history to its advantage. Being able to take things like Patch and redefine it for now. Yet despite these connections to deep continuity, it remains welcoming to new readers.
7. Batman: Black and White #2
Writer: Tomk King, Corinna Bechko, Dustin Weaver, David Aja, Gabriel Hardman, Sophie Campbell
Artist: David Aja, Gabriel Hardman, Sophie Campbell, Mitch Gerads
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: The all-new anthology series continues with new tales of mystery, mayhem and madness from all levels of Gotham City by some of the finest talents in comics. In this auspicious issue: Eisner Award-winning collaborators Tom King and Mitch Gerads (Mister Miracle, Strange Adventures) tell a tale of Batman administering a form of last rites to a dying priest. Or is it the other way around? Eisner-nominated storytellers Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko (Green Lantern: Earth One) find the Dark Knight facing certain death—with The Joker his last lifeline.
Why it Made the List: I love that we are getting more anthology series again! Sure, Future State has had a number of backmatter stories, but here you have distinct short stories that are all complete and one and done. The talent in this issue was massive. Eisner winners everywhere. My personal favorite story was probably Tom King and Mitch Gerads’s opening along with David Aja’s tribute to classic comic strips. When you have a book like this you also have to call out the Editors for cultivating such a strong and unique group of creators. Getting those who have a long history with the character and others who are working on Batman for the first time.
6. Colonel Weird: Cosmagog #4
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse
Description: Trapped in a cosmic pattern and losing his mind, Colonel Weird has a final revelation taking him back to where everything started—and reveals the way toward freedom.
Why it Made the List: I usually do not enjoy stories like this. Where you have a massive shifting in timelines. Jumping from point to point so you can never feel comfortable as a reader. Having The Black Hammer series as a foundation helps avoid general confusion. Oddly, this is making past events make more sense by filling in missing pieces. Also, have to call out Tyler Crook’s art. He does everything including the lettering so these pages have full command of the art form. Nuanced color choices that you may not get from an additional colorist give this so much life. I realized how much this issue got me as it neared its end. Never realized how much emotional investment I had in some of these relationships.
5. Something Is Killing The Children #14
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Werther Dell’edera
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: To save the town, Erica must take on the brood of monsters on her own. And Tommy is faced with a decision that means life or death.
Why it Made the List: So 2021 is becoming the year of dead children. Just in case 2020 was not messed up enough. The Autumnal #4 kicked it in a scene that still haunts me. Followed by Killadelphia last week and now Something Is Killing The Children. To be fair, it’s in the name so we should expect it? In-between all the monster killing action we saw the genuine impact losing a child can have on a person. This was the type of scene that was hard to read for the right reasons. When your heart-aches for a character. Roger Ebert would call films empathy machines and in my opinion that is the case for all art including comics. Evoking empathy to such a large degree makes the reading experience stronger and more fulfilling. It is not just about the blood and gore. You have to get to the true cost.
4. Future State: Superman vs. Imperious Lex #1
Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Steve Pugh
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Welcome to Lexor, home of the greatest businessman in the Multiverse: Lex Luthor! After years of prosperity, Lex’s utopia is at last ready to join the ranks of the United Planets and promote peace among worlds. However, Lex has never done anything unless he had something to gain from it. What could he be up to this time? Sounds like a job for Superman and his wife Lois Lane, the Earth representative to the U.P.! It’s time the Man of Steel shut down this former Metropolis magnate once and for all!
Why it Made the List: Any week we get a comic from Mark Russell and Steve Pugh is going to be a good week. Mark Russell writes such a great Superman. When Superman is explaining the reasoning behind his actions it just feels right. Here we see a true hero sometimes needs to make decisions that are not easy and not always popular. Not to mention how society can throw away morality if it benefits them. Individuals like Lex Luthor have the ability to take advantage of people’s worst traits. Steve Pugh’s art is pitch-perfect for this story. He can do try and true superhero stuff, but also nail the more humorous moments. There are not a lot of artists who can strike that balance. For those looking to read a Future State book that is self-contained, this is your best bet. You can just remove the Future State branding and this is just a great Elseworld story.
3. The Department of Truth #5
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: WHAT is Black Hat? WHO is the mysterious man pulling its strings? WHY is he in Cole Turner’s apartment? The first arc of the smash-hit new series from JAMES TYNION IV (Batman) & MARTIN SIMMONDS (Dying is Easy) comes to a dramatic conclusion, as Cole questions whether or not he’s on the right side of the War for the Truth!
Why it Made the List: What is truth? The Department of Truth has been playing with that idea since its debut. This issue marks a major turning point as what we thought we knew may not actually be the case. Yes, that has been the purpose of this book since the first issue. Now the lens has turned inward. Essentially this will majorly change the series moving forward. Other issues focused on specific conspiracies where this was on the concept of conspiracies themselves. Cole Turner has gone quite far in these five issues, yet we know his journey is just beginning. Is he on the right side? Is there a right side?
2. Usagi Yojimbo: Wanderer’s Road #3
Writer/Artist: Stan Sakai
Description: Zato-Ino, the Blind Swordspig, returns to claim his revenge against Usagi who took his eyesight in a previous sword fight. Will Usagi be able to survive when the playing field is made level?
Why it Made the List: I was extremely close to putting this at number one this week. This was just a master storyteller showing he still has it. A story of two foes who have this massive hatred for one another finding what it means to find peace. Rarely is Usagi placed in a situation where he feels like the underdog but that happened here. This was not a fight he was going to leave unscarred, and sometimes scars are important for personal growth. What made it such a special issue was what happened after. Without spoiling the ending know that it came off as a classic fable one would pass down for generations.
1. The Other History of the DC Universe #2
Writer: John Ridley
Artist: Andrea Cucchi
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: Before the New Teen Titans, there were the original Teen Titans. In the tumultuous 1970s, in an America that was very different than today but in many ways all too familiar, the trials and tribulations of these young heroes were witnessed by two of DC’s first Black superheroes: Karen Beecher-Duncan, better known as Bumblebee, and Mal Duncan—even if their versions of events are often at odds. And across that decade, they fought for their seats at the Titans’ table while joining the battle against injustice.
Why it Made the List: This week the top spot was extremely close. Any of the top five would be worthy of number one. The thing I love about comics more than anything is the diversity in content. Film, television, and novels typically have a similar format. Comics you have so much more variety. Case and point The Other History of the DC Universe #2. Similar to the first issue this is a comic-prose format. With that style, you get so much story. Issue one was all about Black Lighting and his history within DC and The Justice League. Here Bumblebee and The Guardian are at the center of it all. As a person who knows little about them or The Teen Titians, I was fascinated by how they linked comic book history with actual real-world history. Including major events like the Atlanta child murders gave additional weight to this retelling.
This was provocative storytelling that challenged the convention of what we know as comic fans. Something that spoke to the issues of racial injustice and how they relate to society and the comic industry. Having the perspective switch between Karen Beecher-Duncan and Mal Duncan was an effective device. Each would remember certain events a bit differently clearly to represent the shifting continuity that exists, and how our personal experiences impact the way we assess certain situations. As a reader, I like to be challenged. When a book can challenge you to rethink your worldview even in the slightest it is doing something special.