Welcome to the Top 10 Comics of the Week. A fun week of books overall. The big two really dominate this week’s list. That does not often happen but when they are putting out good products I have to recognize it.
Also if you have not checked out my other articles regarding this week’s comics you can do that here.
On to this week’s list…
10. Batman: Three Jokers #2
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jason Fabok
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: As Batman and Batgirl follow an unexpected thread linking the three Jokers with someone from the Dark Knight’s past, Red Hood dives headfirst into trouble and finds himself struggling to stay afloat without the aid of his allies.
Why It Made the List: This is a book I really struggle with. There are elements of it that I find rather mismanaged and a bit out of place. Mostly everything surrounding the three Jokers dilemma has been ill-formed. If this was more than a three-issue series I would not be as concerned as I do see how this can conclude in a satisfying way with one issue left. What has worked for me is the dynamic and drama within the Bat-family. Even if I did not agree with every character choice I have to at least give it credit for always being interesting. Also, Jason Fabok is doing some incredible work. I have yet to notice a strong case as to why this book has to be done in the classic nine-panel grid. Feel Fabok’s work is at its best when it has room to breathe. So while it has not enhanced the story he at least is making it work. One benefit of the classic format is it does make him focus in on the character work, and considering the problems the Bat-family is facing rarely seeing them share the same panel does help represent their emotional distance.
9. X-Ray Robot #2
Writer/Artist: Michael Allred
Colorist: Laura Allred
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Description: After meeting his robotic 277-year-old self, Max learns about the incoming threat of the Ultimate Nihlist, a villain determined to take all life to its “Pre–Big Bang” status, leading Max and the robot to travel through different timelines to protect reality and mankind.
Why It Made the List: Two issues into X-Ray Robot and it is clear this series is going to be the Allred’s doing what the Allred’s do best-off the wall storytelling that is weird, wacky, and never afraid to surprise you. They are leaning into the convoluted nature of time travel stories with a bit of reckless regard. So I could understand those who may get lost within all the evs and flows of the plotline. What works for me is the consistent desire to always keep things moving and fun. When within two panels you are taking out Hitler and stopping the J.F.K. assassination I am all in.
8. X-Factor #4
Writer: Jonathan Hickman, Leah Williams
Artist: Carlos Gomez
Description: X OF SWORDS, CHAPTER 2 Death and rebirth. Corruption. A dark discovery
Why It Made the List: As a person who has been an X-Men fan since the 90’s it feels good to be this excited for the X-Men again. For those trying to keep up with this series, you should know this issue picks up exactly after the events of X of Swords, Chapter 1. The only X-Factor part of this comic is the title. This seems akin to crossovers like X-Cutioner’s were the story would traverse into different titles picking up exactly where the last one left off. When House of X and Powers of X launched Hickman removed the issue of death. So if that is the case how can you create stakes? It is like this team likes to make things more difficult for themselves, and then finds answers to their own impossible questions. The last issue was oversize and perhaps a bit overstuffed. Being trimmed down was a benefit as every major scene was concise and hit with an impact.
7. Strange Academy #3
Writer: Skottie Young
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: DOYLE DORMAMMU, HEAD OF THE CLASS? Anyone who has been to New Orleans knows that it’s a magical place, but the students of STRANGE ACADEMY are about to see it firsthand. Their first field trip as a class shows them a city (and the stakes of what they’re living) in ways that light a fuse that is going to blow up in a big way.
Why It Made the List: Marvel needs more books just like this. Stories that are welcoming to new readers, filled with new characters with great potential, and yet they still tap into the vastness of the Marvel universe. Why this is working so well is due to the story keeping the problems small and relatable. These kids aren’t burdened with trying to save the world quite yet. They are simply trying to figure out how to manage their new school. Sure that school is filled with magic and super-powered beings but at the end of the day, their problems are very human. With this issue, the kids set out to explore New Orleans to show they have quite the knack for finding trouble. You have a recipe of familiar pieces that all come together to make something fun and new.
6. That Texas Blood #4
Writer: Chris Condon
Artist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: “A BROTHER’S CONSCIENCE,” Part Three Randy suppresses dark urges while Joe Bob investigates the death of Travis Terrill.
Why It Made the List: What is left of you when you are gone? Once you leave this plane of existence who is there to pick up those pieces and what do those pieces say about who you are? This issue explores those questions as Randy delves into the person his brother became to determine what really happened to him on his fateful last night. In addition, we get an introduction to a new character that hints that this story may take an entirely new direction moving forward. Showing this creative team is not partial to reshaping your expectations into something much more complex. All of this takes place in a story with a consistent sense of place. As ultra cliche’ as it sounds this Texas town has become a living character as vital as any person to this story.
5. The Immortal Hulk: The Threshing Place #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Michael del Mundo
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Description: There’s a monster raging in America’s heartland—and it’s not the Hulk. When a young girl goes missing on a Kansas farm, Bruce Banner gets the itch—the one that tells him gamma is on the loose. But this town doesn’t take kindly to strangers—especially the big, green, violent kind. Can the Hulk save a child before it’s too late, or is he about to take the blame for another massacre?
Why It Made the List: If this was a lesser creative team I may not have took the time to read this story. Marvel trying to cash in on their big book of the moment is a common practice. I mean it as already happened with Immortal Hulk a few times already. However, if Marvel can get more creative teams like this I am all for it. When Immortal Hulk first began I dug the episodic nature of each issue. One and done stories are rare in the world of superhero comics today. This is akin to those early tales as Bruce Banner investigates the disappearance of a missing young girl. Art wise this was a different version of Michael del Mundo that I am used to seeing. Work he did on things like Thor had a more grandiose execution. His work here is great. See some standout panels for example. Simply it is a bit more sparse and his layouts not as sporadically design. He focused much more on those character moments. That is what good artists do. Adjust to fit the narrative.
4. Killadelphia #8
Writer: Rodney Barnes
Artist: Jason Shawn Alexander
Publisher: Imagine Comics
Description: “BURN BABY BURN,” Part Two From RODNEY BARNES, the writer behind such hit shows as Marvel’s Runaways and STARZ’s American Gods, and JASON SHAWN ALEXANDER, the artist who redefined SPAWN , comes a horror tale that will shake you to your core! Jimmy Sangster’s worst nightmare returns when Abigail unleashes the most vicious vampire the world has ever seen. Meanwhile, James Sangster Sr. must traverse the afterlife if he’s to be reunited with his wife’s spirit… but will the ferryman of the underworld help or is he pulling Sangster deeper into Hell?
Why It Made the List: In this second arc of Killadelphia we are seeing the lore of this world further expanded upon. Much of the first arc was explaining how we got to this point while now we are seeing what exists right under our feet. We travel to the world of the dead in the creepiest way possible. So far this book has lived up to its name, yet here we get a small glimpse of light. An actual sweet moment of solace that showed happiness is still possible in the darkest of times. Of course, that moment was a bit fleeting. Making the journey back all the more important.
3. Alienated #6
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Christian Wildgoose
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Description: Reeling from the devastating effects of Chip’s true powers, the Sams have a terrible choice to make. As they face off once and for all, Chip – and the town of Tangletree – hangs in the balance.
Why It Made the List: I mentioned with Strange Academy one of its strengths is that despite the supernatural elements the characters are dealing with very human problems. Alienated followed that same model as a group of kids stumbled upon a powerful alien creature. As this story concludes those problems have escalated to the point where the fate of an entire town is at stake. By having that foundation of knowing who these kids are and what is driving them leads to a payoff like this. One packed with emotion, anger, and a bit of hope. As the title indicates feeling alienated and alone is a universal issue. and instead of it drawing us closer tragically if forces us apart.
2. Department of Truth #1
Writer: James Tynion IV
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Publisher: Image Comics
Description: SERIES PREMIERE! Cole Turner has studied conspiracy theories all his life, but he isn’t prepared for what happens when he discovers that all of them are true, from the JFK assassination to flat Earth theory and reptilian shapeshifters. One organization has been covering them up for generations. What is the deep, dark secret behind the Department of Truth?
Why It Made the List: Over the last few weeks there have been a number of new indie series that people have to seem to adore much more than me. Books like Seven Secrets and We Only Find Them When They’re Dead were big on concept but low on story and character. Department of Truth is one where I join the hype train. By the end of this issue not only was I excited about the creative nature of this concept but also had a sense of who the main character was and what drives him. There is a sense of stakes and by having the majority of this issue be a flashback it places us in the further reaches of the story as possible without getting lost. Martin Simmonds’s art is rugged while riding a thin line of being realistic with a dash of impressionism. Plus it ends on an unexpected cliffhanger that was a cherry ontop of an already great issue.
1. John Constantine: Hellblazer #10
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Matías Bergara
Publisher: DC Comics
Description: The specter of his older self (and the terrible bargain he made to get another chance at life) has been playing a cat-and-mouse game with John Constantine for months now—but now the game is over, and it’s time to get down to business. Namely, the business of destroying absolutely everything that made that second lease on life worth living…
Why It Made the List: When looking at the best issue of the week it is easy to get distracted by the shiny new toy of a debut series or epic conclusions that have been built up for months or sometimes years. Hard to pass those up as the best books of the week. All that noise can lead to issues like this be under-appreciated. We One that continues the high quality of this series and places the pieces for this final run. Something people unfairly refer to as a transition issue. What works for it is not nearly in your face as that #1 or final issue. It is building the pieces and to steal a refrain from the greatest show of all time ‘All the pieces matter’.
Similar to John Constantine I despise dream sequences so it should tell you something when I enjoy this book as much as I did. Constantine’s greatest superpower is getting people to underestimate him. Right, when you think all is lost he reveals the game he has been playing the entire time. This had one of those moments. Underneath that was something dire. Brutally those connected to Constantine learn the dangers of being his friend or acquaintance. I love that each issue of this series has a complete story while at the same time is connected to a larger piece. If all you eat is fast food you forget what a real meal tastes like. This series is as real of a meal you can get.