When I wrote these reviews, I was exhausted and I was just trying to finish reviewing my current stack of comics before I received another DCBS shipment. You have been warned.
MIND MGMT #27 (Dark Horse, 2014) – A. This issue provides some fascinating background on the history of MIND MGMT and the relationship between Sir Francis and Leopold Lojka. The Case File segment, “The Politician,” is extremely chilling.
LUMBERJANES #10 (Boom!, 2015) – B/B-. Easily the highlight of this issue is Riley playing cards with Bubbles and then dancing with him. (Or her? Has Bubbles’s gender ever been specified?) The rest of the issue is somewhat disappointing, though. This series was originally supposed to last just eight issues, and I get the impression that Noelle and Shannon weren’t entirely sure what to do next after they finished the original storyline. There’s just not as much plot here as usual, although of course Mal and Molly are the cutest couple ever; I think they’re my favorite couple in any comic book right now. Also, Carolyn Nowak is a less impressive artist than Grace Ellis. I’m still looking forward to issue 11.
MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDSHIP IS MAGIC #27 (IDW, 2015) – A-. More impressive work from Katie and Andy. Besides “Over a Barrel,” this is the first MLP story I can remember with an explicitly environmentalist theme, and I think this story is going to be better than “Over a Barrel.” Well-to-Do is a brilliant choice of name.
SEX CRIMINALS #10 (Image, 2015) – A+. Probably the best comic of the week. Rachelle and Robert are a cute beta couple. I love the idea of an entire bookstore that specializes in porn, and also that scene makes me nostalgic for when I lived near a Barnes & Noble. Also, instead of “Alone Together,” this story should have been called “The L-Word.”
BITCH PLANET #2 (Image, 2015) – A-. This was a pretty quick read, but it offers some fascinating background information on the dystopian society to which we were introduced in issue 1. The scene where they try to make Kam feel guilty for “killing” Marian Collins is horrifying.
ABIGAIL AND THE SNOWMAN #2 (Boom!, 2015) – A-. I still don’t like this as much as Snarked, but it’s a lot of fun. I actually sympathize more with the father, who is out of a job and desperate for cash, than with the daughter.
PRINCESS UGG #7 (Oni, 2015) – A+. Maybe the second best comic of the week. The queen is a formidable character – despite being vastly older than Ulga and coming from a totally different culture, she shows more understanding of Ulga than anyone else in the stories did. I remember Ted saying that the other princesses, besides Julifer, were just background characters and were not important individually, but it’s interesting how the other princesses are starting to take Ulga’s side and are losing their sympathy for Julifer. The “young and bonny fighter” song is heartbreaking.
GROO VS. CONAN #4 (Dark Horse, 2014) – B+. When this came out, I didn’t read it immediately because I was somewhat unimpressed by the last three issues. Mark and Sergio are as funny as ever, but I remain convinced that Mark doesn’t understand Conan. He treats Conan like a generic superhero. I haven’t gotten around to Groo: Friends and Foes #1 yet.
MIND MGMT #28 (Dark Horse, 2014) – A-. With this issue Meru starts to take control of the storyline. One of the pleasures of reading the entire series at once is seeing Meru transform from an idle, unproductive one-hit wonder of a writer into a confident and nearly omnipotent badass. Tana the fortuneteller is also a pretty cool character.
MIND MGMT #29 (Dark Horse, 2014) – A-. In this issue Meru and the Eraser finally confront each other, but the fight is inconclusive. Meru is about to lose before Dusty’s army arrives and saves her. Still, there is a clear sense that this series is building up to an epic conclusion.
GOTHAM ACADEMY #4 (DC, 2015) – B+/A-. This is still the best current DC comic, by far. However, I am having some difficulty following the plot; I think this comic would read better in trade paperback form. Maps Mizoguchi continues to absolutely steal the show.
ROCKET RACCOON #7 (Marvel, 2015) – B+. I hope Skottie Young will return soon as the regular artist, but Filipe Andrade is almost as fun. This story accomplishes the improbable feat of making the reader genuinely worried about Groot’s fate. Groot is basically invincible, so Skottie has to bend over backwards in order to come up with something that can threaten his life, and the nature of the threat is somewhat contrived. Still, Rocket’s concern about Groot reveals another side of his character that we haven’t seen much of yet. As a side note, I’m playing the second Ratchet & Clank game right now, and Ratchet and Rocket are surprisingly similar characters.
CONAN/RED SONJA #1 (Dark Horse, 2015) – B+. I haven’t been following either Gail’s Red Sonja or the current incarnation of Conan, and I can’t recall why I bought this exactly, but I like it. This is no “Song of Red Sonja,” but it’s an effective alternate version of Conan and Sonja’s first meeting, though there’s a curious lack of sexual attraction between the two. I was a bit surprised that this story is essentially complete in one issue, but it looks like future issues will take place later in Conan and Sonja’s lives.
MARVEL ADVENTURES: AVENGERS #37 (Marvel, 2009) – A-. A solid effort from Paul Tobin. In this story, the Puppet Master transports two of Captain America’s Invaders teammates, Golden Girl and Miss America, into the future, and some heartbreaking confusion results as they encounter the present-day Captain America and don’t realize that he’s not the Cap they know. At the end of the story, Cap is faced with an agonizing decision as to whether to go back into the past with them or to remain in the present, but curiously, Wolverine makes the decision for him. In the hands of another writer, this could have been a very sad story, but Paul handles it with his usual humor and lightheartedness. There’s also an amazing inside joke: a restaurant called Paste Pot’s Pizza.
SECRET ORIGINS #39 (DC, 1989) – A-. This issue stars Man-Bat and Animal Man. The Man-Bat story has excellent art by Kevin Nowlan but is purely a retelling of Detective Comics #400 and subsequent issues. The Animal Man story is a hidden gem because it’s written by Grant Morrison. I assume it must have been included in the reprints of Grant’s Animal Man run, but I’d never read it before. In terms of actual quality, this issue is not up to the level of Grant’s other work on this character, especially because part of it is just a redrawn version of the original Animal Man story from Showcase or whatever, but it’s just cool reading a new Animal Man story by Grant. This story introduces a point which is explained later in the regular Animal Man series: that Buddy Baker’s continuity is bizarrely screwed up.
ANIMAL MAN #13 (DC, 2012) – B-. This was the best of the original New 52 titles, but that was mostly because of Travel Foreman’s artwork, and when he departed, the series went downhill rapidly. I kept buying it for a while, but eventually I stopped reading it, and shortly afterward I stopped buying it – Cliff’s death was the last straw. On finally reading the last three issues I bought, I find that the plot is just not exciting enough to sustain my attention. Maxine and Socks are much more interesting characters than Buddy himself, yet they only get about three pages in each issue.
ANIMAL MAN #14 (DC, 2013) – B-/C+. More of the same. In this second chapter of Rotworld, Buddy teams up with Black Orchid, Beast Boy and Steel. This is such a random assortment of characters that I wonder if it’s an homage to the old Forgotten Heroes.
LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES #22 (DC, 1991) – B-/C+. The best thing about this issue is the one-page excerpt from Shadow Lass’s diary. “The Quiet Darkness” is a weird story. It’s supposed to be a “thematic sequel” to “The Great Darkness Saga,” but it has nowhere near the epic scope of that story; instead, it has a tired and exhausted atmosphere. Too much space in this issue is devoted to non-Legionnaire characters Aria and Lori (whose connection to Glorith and Lori Morning is unclear). This is annoying; when I read a Legion comic, I want to read about the Legion.
FANTASTIC FOUR #414 (Marvel, 1996) – C-. As Samuel Johnson is reported to have said, whatever is original in this issue is not good, and whatever is good in it is not original.
ROCKET SALVAGE #2 (Boom!, 2015) – A-. This is a very entertaining series, and compared to Imagine Agents, it’s a much better showcase for Bachan’s unique and exciting style of art. The surprising revelation here is not that Zeta is a clone – I thought we were already supposed to know that – but that she’s some sort of ultimate doomsday weapon. I’m excited to see where this goes.
ANIMAL MAN #15 (DC, 2013) – C-/D+. This one is pretty heavy on the blood and gore, especially compared to previous issues. And Steve Pugh is not nearly as good at drawing blood and gore as Travel Foreman was. Other than that, this comic is mostly pointless.
AUTUMNLANDS: TOOTH & CLAW #3 (Image, 2015) – B+. It’s a bit disappointing that the Great Champion is just your average badass soldier dude. His confrontation with the blacksmith was a dramatic moment, but I’ve seen this sort of thing before. I do like this Goodfoot character. Perhaps the best moment in the issue was when I realized that the wizards were using giant cockroaches as transportation.
ANGELA: ASGARD’S ASSASSIN #2 (Marvel, 2015) – B. This is not at the same level as Kieron’s other recent work. Some of the dialogue here is excellent, but Angela does not seem like a particularly deep or complex character.
THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #7 (Image, 2015) – A. A much better Kieron Gillen comic. In recent years there have been a few comic books set at fan conventions, but this one might be the best. Perhaps the highlight of the issue is the giant map of the convention.
S.H.I.E.L.D. #2 (Marvel, 2015) – B. I only bought this because of the Kamala Khan guest appearance. It’s fairly entertaining, but I don’t like it enough to want to continue reading this series.
FEATHERS #1 (Boom!, 2015) – A. Yet another excellent series from Boom. This story is set in a city resembling Victorian London, and stars two children, one a pampered child of privilege and the other an orphan covered with feathers. I really like the writing and artwork here, though the color imagery has slightly disturbing implications.
AVENGERS: NO MORE BULLYING #1 (Marvel, 2015) – B+. The stories in this issue are all a bit heavy-handed, but they could have been worse. The Guardians of the Galaxy story was easily the best.
TERRIBLE LIZARD #3 (Oni, 2015) – B. There’s not a whole lot of plot here, and it’s not surprising that this series is only going to last two more issues if I recall correctly, because it would be hard to drag it out any longer. It’s fun, though.