February reviews

New comics received on February 10. This was a very light week. I think I’ve already finished reading all but two of the comic books I received in this shipment.

UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL #17 (Marvel, 2017) – “Cat Thor Meets Dog Hulk!”, (W) Ryan North, (A) Erica Henderson w/ Chris Schweizer. The first issue of the next major storyline introduces Melissa Morbeck, a villain who can talk to animals and knows Squirrel Girl’s secret identity. Like Unstoppable Wasp #2, this comic is unusual in that it depicts multiple female characters who are engineers. The emotional high point of the issue is the “fight” with the Rhino. But the part that I remember best, two weeks after reading it, is the last page, where the bear chef cooks Alfredo the chicken for Melissa’s dinner. I just now realized that this comic has an extra page at the end, in which Alfredo tries to defend himself with a knife.

MS. MARVEL #15 (Marvel, 2017) – “Damage Per Second, Part 2,” (W) G. Willow Wilson, (A) Takeshi Miyazawa. Kamala fights someone who she thinks is the Doc.X virus’s creator, but it turns out the person is brainwashed. Also, Kamala befriends another girl who’s being trolled. This is a reasonably good issue, and an important statement about Internet trolling, but I do kind of wish that this comic would be more overtly political.

MOTOR CRUSH #3 (Image, 2017) – untitled, (W/A) Babs Tarr, (W) Brenden Fletcher & Cameron Stewart. The last line of this issue, “I know what you really are,” suggests that Domino is some kind of human-motorcycle hybrid. Also, there’s a mysterious new character who wears a mask and who knows Domino’s secret. This conclusion makes me excited to see what happens next. Babs Tarr’s artwork this issue is fantastic as usual, but another thing that stands out to me is the coloring. In the scene in Lola’s apartment, the difference between Babs and Lola’s color schemes is very striking.

THE WICKED + THE DIVINE #26 (Image, 2017) – “Parental Guidance,” (W) Kieron Gillen, (A) Jamie McKelvie. The Great Darkness attacks Baal’s family – i.e. his mother and younger siblings, not his wife and his children, as I had initially thought – but the other gods drive it off. And then they vote against forming a united front against further Great Darkness attacks. I wish I’d been paying more attention to the relationships in this comic. I keep forgetting how the characters feel about each other, or who’s been sleeping with who. And that makes me feel like I’ve been missing the point.

WONDER WOMAN #16 (DC, 2017) – “Godwatch, Part 1,” (W) Greg Rucka, (A) Bilquis Evely. This story is effectively “Wonder Woman, Year Two.” Phobos and Deimos team up with Veronica Cale, who has designed a technology with the suggestive name of Cyber, and Diana fights a chimera. This was an okay issue, but Bilquis Evely is no substitute for Nicola Scott.

GOTHAM ACADEMY: SECOND SEMESTER #6 (DC, 2017) – “Second Semester, Part 2,” (W) Brenden Fletcher, Becky Cloonan & Karl Kerschl, (A) Adam Archer & Michelle Sassyk. One of the best things about this series is the way it creates a sense of mystery, curiosity and exploration. Sometimes it reminds me of those Barks and Rosa stories, like “The Old Castle’s Secret,” where Scrooge and the nephews explore an old ruin filled with traps and hidden passages. This issue in particular reminds me of that sort of story. The other great thing about this comic is the characterization, and this issue has a lot of that too. The Colton/Kyle scene is rather touching.

INCREDIBLE HULK #221 (Marvel, 1978) – “Show Me the Way to Go Home,” (W) Roger Stern, (A) Sal Buscema. An average issue. Walter Newell (Stingray) takes Bruce Banner to Manhattan, not knowing who he is. When Walter realizes he’s let the Hulk loose in Manhattan, a Hulk-Stingray battle ensues. As usual, Alfredo Alcala’s inking in this issue is so heavy that it completely overwhelms the pencils, although the pencils are rather generic and boring to begin with.

DOCTOR STRANGE #37 (Marvel, 1979) – “And Fear, the Final Victor!”, (W) Roger Stern & Ralph Macchio, (A) Gene Colan. This issue is a chapter in the Dane Whitman-Victoria Bentley saga which extended across a large number of Marvel comics over many years, from approximately Defenders #4 to Avengers #226. This issue, Ningal, the Dweller in Darkness, animates Dane Whitman’s statue and uses it to attack Dr. Strange. Apparently the last time the statue appeared before this run of Dr. Strange stories was Avengers #157, and after this issue it didn’t appear again until Avengers #226, meaning it was left as a dangling plot thread for quite a long time. Other than that, the main thing I remember about this issue is that Clea gets jealous whenever Doc acts nice to Victoria Bentley.

JONESY #10 (Boom!, 2017) – “Fight 4 Ferrets!,” (W/A) Caitlin Rose Boyle, (W) Sam Humphries. I notice that Boyle gets top billing this issue. After a successful social media campaign, Jonesy convinces the mayor of Shepard City to reopen the ferret center. But then she decides to move back to Plymouth in order to confront the as-yet-unexplained situation that caused her to leave. This was a fun issue, with an obvious but fairly subtle political subtext. I’m sorry this series is only going to last two more issues. I hope we see more from Caitlin Rose Boyle.

DOCTOR STRANGE #16 (Marvel, 2017) – “Blood in the Aether, Chapter Five: The Dread,” (W) Jason Aaron, (A) Chris Bachalo & Cory Smith. It’s been announced that Aaron and Bachalo are leaving this title. I’m fine with that; I’ve enjoyed their version of Doctor Strange, but I think it’s run its course. This issue, Doc finally confronts Dormammu, and barely survives thanks to assistance from Mordo. The surprise Shuma-Gorath appearance is a nice touch.

XENOGLYPHS #4 (OSSM, 2013) – untitled, (W) Omar Spahi, (A) PJ Catacutan. This comic book is about as bad as a comic book can get without being overtly racist. I can’t imagine why anyone would ever have paid $3.99 for this when there were so many better and cheaper entertainment options available.

SUPERMAN’S PAL JIMMY OLSEN #133 (DC, 1970) – “Jimmy Olsen Brings Back the Newsboy Legion!”, (W/A) Jack Kirby. This is one of the essential DC comics of the ‘70s, and the most important issue of Jimmy Olsen. It’s the first Fourth World comic, and it introduces the Wild Area, the Outsiders, the Whiz Wagon, Habitat, Flipper Dipper, and Morgan Edge as well as reintroducing the Newsboy Legion. I have of course read this story before, but on reading it again, what strikes me about it is how heavily it’s influenced by ‘60s subcultures. Despite already being over 50 at the time, Kirby must have been fascinated by ‘60s youth culture. He didn’t have an insider’s understanding of phenomena like biker gangs and hippies, but he did his best to understand such phenomena through the lens of his own sensibility, and the result, at least for this one issue, is a bizarre and fascinating blend of Kirby with ‘60s counterculture.

STEVEN UNIVERSE ONGOING #1 (Boom!, 2017) – untitled, (W) Melanie Gillman, (A) Katy Farina. I was unimpressed by the previous Steven Universe comic, but this one is much better. Steven finds an injured baby bird and nurses it back to health with the aid of Lapis Lazuli and Peridot, until it can fly away on its own. Like the TV show, this comic is very cute and heartfelt. I’m not caught up on the TV show, so I had no idea who Lapis Lazuli and Peridot were; an explanation would have been useful.

WIMMEN’S COMIX #11 (Renegade, 1987) – “Fashion Confidential,” (W/A) various. This issue is devoted to fashion. It contains a large number of short pieces by artists including Alison Bechdel, Joyce Farmer, Dori Seda, Aline Kominsky-Crumb, and the underrated Sharon Rudahl, who was the subject of Maggie Galvan’s paper at MLA. All the stories are quite brief, and some of them, such as the one by Krystine Kryttre, were unappealing to me. But overall this was an entertaining and thought-provoking comic, which explores a fascinating subject that’s rarely mentioned in other comics. It makes me want to collect more of Wimmen’s Comix.

UNWORTHY THOR #4 (Marvel, 2017) – “War of the Unworthy,” (W) Jason Aaron, (A) Olivier Coipel et al. This series has been kind of average, but this was probably the best issue yet, because of the flashbacks. The two-page Frazer Irving flashback with teenage Thor was perhaps the best. Also, it’s always nice seeing Thori the hell-puppy again. I do find it hard to believe that Thor and Jane Foster were sleeping together back in the Silver Age.

POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #13 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, (W) David F. Walker, (A) Elmo Bondoc. This issue is all right, but this Alex Wilder story has been less interesting than any of the previous stories in this series. I’m sad that this series is ending, although it will be replaced by a different Power Man series also written by Walker.

SPECTACULAR SPIDER-MAN #106 (Marvel, 1985) – “No Fury,” (W) Peter David, (A) Luke McDonnell. I read this last month, but forgot to review it because I misplaced it. This Spidey/Wasp/Paladin team-up is mostly a humorous story. PAD is very good at writing Spidey’s witty banter, and he also effectively portrays Janet van Dyne as a strong-willed woman who merely pretends to be silly and shallow. Amusingly, the letters page spoils the fact that Jean DeWolff is going to die next issue.

THOR #209 (Marvel, 1973) – “Warriors in the Night!”, (W) Gerry Conway, (A) John Buscema. The only unique thing about this formulaic, boring story is that it takes place in England, and is therefore full of English stereotypes. Thor encounters a new villain called the Demon Druid who turns out to be an alien, trying to get to Stonehenge so he can use it as a launching pad back home. This story probably contradicts other Marvel comics that offer alternative explanations for Stonehenge, including Captain Britain’s origin story.

SENSATION COMICS FEATURING WONDER WOMAN #11 (DC, 2015) – “Vendetta,” (W) Josh Elder, (A) Jamal Igle. This is a reasonably well-written and well-drawn story, but it annoys me because of its reliance on stereotyped narratives about Africa. The plot is that Wonder Woman brokers a peace deal between two warring factions in Central Africa, but Ares interferes and tries to make the war worse. So the first problem is that this story is a white savior narrative. The Africans can’t make peace with each other on their own, so Diana has to do it for them. Second, the writer seems uninterested in the causes of the war; he presents both sides as equally bad and equally unwilling to reconcile. It seems as though the war is driven by personal conflicts between the leaders of the two factions. That’s not how wars work in real life. Clearly this story was inspired by the Rwandan Genocide and the Second Congo War, but those events had complex causes, including the legacy of European colonialism. So this story is a trivialization of very serious real-world issues.

MS. TREE #12 (Aardvark-Vanaheim, 1984) – “Deadline, Chapter Five: That Was No Lady – That Was My Life!”, (W) Max Allan Collins, (A) Terry Beatty. At one time, Ms. Tree was the only work in the mystery/crime/thriller genre that I had any interest in. Lately I’ve gotten much more interested in mystery fiction, so maybe Ms. Tree was a gateway drug. This specific issue is a standard example of the Ms. Tree formula, though it does have one awesome underwater action sequence. Terry Beatty’s artwork is easy to criticize, but I think it was perfectly appropriate for Max Collins’s stories.

FLASH GORDON: KING’S CROSS #4 (Dynamite, 2017) – untitled, (W) Jeff Parker, (A) Jesse Hamm. Another exciting and funny issue. Ming captures the heroes using spores that cause them to hallucinate. Embarrassingly, Flash and Dale have visions about sleeping with each other. Then, Ming gets himself elected the ruler of Earth.

MERRY MEN #1 (Oni, 2017) – untitled, (W) Robert Rodi, (A) Jackie Lewis. I thought about ordering this when it came out, but for some reason I didn’t. This queer take on Robin Hood is funny, cute, and fairly historically accurate, but somehow it left me kind of cold. I had trouble caring about the characters. I feel that the premise of this comic is awesome, but the execution could perhaps have been better.

New comics received on February 17:

LUMBERJANES #35 (Boom!, 2017) – “Might as Wheel” (part two), (W) Shannon Watters & Kat Leyh, (A) Carolyn Nowak. Part two of the roller derby story is perhaps even better than part one. It’s full of sweet and funny moments, like Mal’s sudden growth spurt, or the description of derby names as “comically over-violent combined with some sort of wordplay.” This is one of three recent comics about roller derby, and it’s notable that all three of them (the other two being Roller Girl and Slam!) are very different in tone and are targeted at different audiences.

SEX CRIMINALS #16 (Image, 2017) – “Goals,” (W) Matt Fraction, (A) Chip Zdarsky. An early candidate for the best comic book of the year. It begins with a recap of the entire series, which is hilarious and also useful, since it’s been nine months since the last issue. The scenes with Jon and Susie discussing their relationship are very realistically written, and the “good old days” sequence is adorable. It’s really nice to see these characters again, and I’m glad that Chip still has time to work on this comic, given how much his popularity has exploded since it began. My only problem with this issue is the ending where Ana gets fired. I guess they placed her on administrative leave instead of firing her. But in real life, if a tenured professor was fired for having had a previous career as a porn actress, it would be at least as big a national scandal as Steven Salaita’s firing.

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT #15 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, (W) Kate Leth, (A) Brittney L. Williams. I’m very sad to hear that this series is ending. It was the third best Marvel title, which sounds like faint praise, but the two best are Ms. Marvel and Squirrel Girl. Besides Squirrel Girl, it was perhaps the most adult-female-friendly Marvel comic. Kate Leth says that she’s ending the series on her own terms, but the impression I get is that this was not a planned ending. I think the series was cancelled for low sales, and Kate was given the opportunity to finish it on her own turns. Of course I could be wrong, and I hope I am wrong. This issue, Sharon holds a holiday party, which turns into a disaster because Patsy is still infected with the magic from Bailey’s bag.

Also:

PATSY WALKER, A.K.A. HELLCAT #14 – I read this comic but forgot to review it.

MANIFEST DESTINY #26 (Image, 2017) – untitled, (W) Chris Dingess, (A) Matthew Roberts. The second part of this untitled storyline is very similar to the first part. As I read this issue, I found myself wondering just how many men the Corps of Discovery had to begin with, and how many of them are still alive. Because it seems like just about every issue, at least one of the men gets killed or mutilated.

SUPER SONS #1 (DC, 2017) – “When I Grow Up…”, (W) Peter J. Tomasi, (A) Jorge Jimenez. I was looking forward to this, and it does not disappoint. It’s cute, funny and sweet. Damien and Jon’s relationship parallels that of their fathers, but because of their young age, they exaggerate their fathers’ more extreme tendencies. I loved the Super Sons story in the main Superman title, and I’m glad it’s been spun off into its own series.

ANIMOSITY #5 (Aftershock, 2017) – “Here There Be Dragons,” (W) Marguerite Bennett, (A) Rafael De Latorre. The novelty of this series has worn off a bit, and I’m starting to see the logical problems with the premise. As discussed in the plankton’s conversation on the first page, it’s not entirely clear where you draw the line between animals and other organisms like bacteria, and it seems logically unsustainable to imagine that every virus and bacterium in the world is now intelligent. My other difficulty with the premise is that the animals are all too similar. They all seem to think and act like humans, and in particular American humans. Maybe there’s a plot-related reason for that, but I feel that the animals’ behaviors and speech patterns should be more reflective of their species. We have seen that the principal dog character is extremely loyal, but there seems to be little difference between the cat, the buffalo and the humpback whale. Besides all that, this is an okay comic.

MY LITTLE PONY: FRIENDS FOREVER #37 (IDW, 2017) – untitled, (W) Jeremy Whitley, (A) Agnes Garbowska. Rarity visits Manehattan to design costumes for Sapphire Shores’s concert, but discovers that she will have to work with Trixie. Mistrust and disharmony ensue. Like all the best Friends Forever stories, this story ends by stressing what the two protagonists have in common – in this case, “an almost irritating persistence.” Agnes Garbowska does a great job of depicting the characters’ emotions.

ANIMOSITY: THE RISE #1 (Aftershock, 2017) – “The Rise,” (W) Marguerite Bennett, (A) Juan Doe. I think I liked this spinoff title better than I liked the latest issue of the main title. This issue is about a city where the animals and humans have managed to coexist without killing each other. I particularly like the opening scene, where we see six different human/animal encounters happening at once, and then we realize that all these encounters are happening in the same place.

MIGHTY THOR #15 (Marvel, 2017) – “The Asgard/Shi’ar War, Part Two: The Challenge of the Gods,” (W) Jason Aaron, (A) Russell Dauterman. Thor battles the Shi’ar gods Sharra and K’ythri, a pair of awful jerks whose power makes them completely blind to the concerns of mortals. Their power is effectively established when one of them beats up Gladiator, Marvel’s version of Superman. But I think what I like best about this issue is Volstagg’s filibuster, which begins with a detailed description of his breakfast. Another cute thing in this issue is Shadrak, god of daffodils and documentation.

HERO CATS OF STELLAR CITY #15 (Action Lab, 2017) – “The Secret Origin of Rocco” and other stories, (W) Kyle Puttkammer, (A) Peter Cutler. This is a little confusing because it’s not clear where it fits into the series’ timeframe. Why do only Rocco and Rocket appear in this issue and not the other Hero Cats? Is this story taking place before the rest of the series? Otherwise, this is another fun issue. I forget if we’ve seen Kjarl before, but he’s a funny new character.

SPELL ON WHEELS #5 (Dark Horse, 2017) – untitled, (W) Kate Leth, (A) Megan Levens. An effective conclusion to a pretty good miniseries. It turns out the real villain is Andy’s dead grandmother Ada. The protagonists exorcise her ghost, take revenge on Claire’s evil ex-boyfriend, and go off to look for more magic. Clearly this conclusion is intended as a hook for a sequel miniseries; I wonder if that sequel is going to materialize.

BETTY BOOP #1 (Dynamite, 2016) – “Enter the Lizard,” (W) Roger Langridge, (A) Gisèle Lagacé. I’ve ordered every issue of this series, since it’s written by Roger Langridge, but I just now got around to reading it. This first issue is a pleasant surprise because its tone is very similar to that of the original Betty Boop cartoons. Just like in his Popeye adaptations, Langridge shows a deep understanding of the original material. The Fleischers’ earliest Betty Boop cartoons were super weird, disturbing and creepy as well as being full of sexual innuendo, and Langridge effectively captures that tone. The plot this issue is that Betty and her grandfather are evicted from their house by a talking lizard and a bunch of ghosts. Also like Langridge’s Popeye, this comic shows deep historical knowledge; it’s full of references to jazz and contemporary popular culture. And this issue even includes rhyming dialogue that scans properly. I want to read the rest of this series soon, but first I decided to read another comic that’s based on similar inspirations:

SHADOWLAND #2 (Fantagraphics, 1989) – “The Crafton Curse!”, (W/A) Kim Deitch. Langridge’s Betty Boop may be inspired by the darker aspects of early animation, but Kim Deitch has made an entire career out of delving into the dark heart of early 20th century popular culture. This comic is the conclusion of a two-issue story which is tangentially related to Stuff of Dreams and Alias the Cat. I’m not going to summarize the plot, but it’s full of horror and debauchery and creepy pseudoscience, and it ends with a woman climbing a bonfire to retrieve a broken painting. It’s one of Deitch’s major works.

DOCTOR STRANGE #17 (Marvel, 2017) – “State of Misery,” (W) Jason Aaron, (A) Frazer Irving. There’s not as much story in this issue as in a typical Jason Aaron comic, but in exchange, Frazer Irving’s art takes center stage. I was already impressed with this artist’s work when he did Seven Soldiers: Klarion, and since then, his style has become even more distinctive and unusual. I especially like his version of the Man-Thing, and I also like the opening scene where Doc resolves a dispute between two bizarre creatures that inhabit his living room. This issue makes the ridiculous claim that Dr. Strange’s entire career has lasted just five years, which shows how unsustainable Marvel continuity has become.

INVINCIBLE #133 (Image, 2017) – “The End of All Things, Part One,” (W) Robert Kirkman, (A) Ryan Ottley. As I have statd many times before, I think this series has jumped the shark. I’ve hated almost every issue since #111. I decided I would give it yet another chance since it’s about to end. I shouldn’t have bothered, because this is another frustrating issue. It begins at Oliver’s funeral. The fact that Oliver is dead is bad enough, but on top of that, Mark’s grief causes him to act like an immature jerk; he attacks Allen the Alien for no reason. Also, the wedding in this issue is perhaps the most disappointing wedding in the history of superhero comics. Given that we’ve been reading about Mark for 126 issues, it seems insulting to devote only two pages to his wedding. It’s too late for me to cancel my order of #134, but after that, I’m done with Invincible.

BRAT PACK #3 (King Hell, 1991) – untitled, (W/A) Rick Veitch. In four separate sequences, each of which occupies one quarter of each two-page spread, the four new sidekicks are trained by their mentors. Veitch makes excellent use of parallelism here. For example, there’s one two-page spread where each quadrant of the two pages is a close-up of the face of one of the superheroes. Later in the issue there’s a sequence where each of the superheroes comments disparagingly on the other three. In terms of content, this issue is mostly devoted to showing us how horrible the four superheroes are. I need to look for the last two issues of this miniseries.

SPIDER-GWEN #15 (Marvel, 2017) – “I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight! (With Yooouu!)”, (W) Jason Latour, (A) Robbi Rodriguez. I’ve fallen behind on this series, but that’s not because it’s bad. This was a fun and well-drawn issue. However, Gwen’s limited number of “power-ups” is a severe and frustrating restriction. At the end of this issue, Matt Murdock suggests that he can give Gwen as many power-ups as she needs, and I think that deal might be worth taking.

THE BACKSTAGERS #6 (Boom!, 2017) – untitled, (W) James Tynion IV, (A) Rian Sygh. This was another fun issue, but it’s kind of hard to care about this series, given that it’s ending just as it’s getting interesting.

SPIDER-GWEN #16 (Marvel, 2017) – “Sittin’ in a Tree, Part 2,” (W) Jason Latour, (A) Robbi Rodriguez. Annoyingly, this issue is part of a crossover. The Spider-Women crossover killed the momentum of this title, and I’m sorry to see that it’s already embroiled in yet another crossover. At least the interactions between Gwen and Miles Morales are a lot of fun.

ULTIMATE COMICS: SPIDER-MAN #21 (Marvel, 2013) – untitled, (W) Brian Michael Bendis, (A) Sara Pichelli. This is a forgettable comic, but at least the dialogue is less annoying than in most Bendis comics.

AUTUMNLANDS #14 (Image, 2017) – “The Touch of a Goddess,” (W) Kurt Busiek, (A) Benjamin Dewey. This was the best Autumnlands in a while, with the caveat that this series has been unimpressive lately. The Galataeans decide to disobey the goddess’s command to commit suicide, but several of them have to sacrifice themselves to save the others. I do wish we would finally get some answers about what the hell is going on in this world. I feel like at this point we still don’t know much more than we knew when the series began.

ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN #559 (DC, 1998) – “The Day of the Super-Comet,” (W) Karl Kesel & Jerry Ordway, (A) Tom Grummett. Like the previous issue, which I read last year, this issue was part of “The Dominus Effect.” In this crossover, three of the four ongoing Superman titles featured stories based on earlier eras of Superman. In the case of Adventures of Superman, that era was the Silver Age. So “The Day of the Super-Comet’ is a Silver Age-esque story in which Luthor and Brainiac give superpowers to everyone in Metropolis– except Dan Turpin, because he’s the only one who doesn’t want to be a superhero. And Turpin ends up saving the day because he’s the only person in town who’s immune to kryptonite. This story feels a little inauthentic because it includes characters like Turpin and Maggie Sawyer who didn’t exist in the Silver Age, but otherwise it’s an effective pastiche of Silver Age Superman, and it makes me wish that the original Silver Age Superman stories had been better than they usually were.

ATOMIC ROBO: THE FLYING SHE-DEVILS OF THE PACIFIC #2 (Red 5, 2012) – untitled, (W) Brian Clevinger, (A) Scott Wegener. This is better than an average issue of Atomic Robo because of the title characters, a group of hard-drinking female pilots and engineers. I especially like Lauren, who reminds me a bit of Ripley from Lumberjanes.

GREAT LAKES AVENGERS #4 (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, (W) Zac Gorman, (A) Jacob Chabot. My favorite thing about this issue is the cover, which depicts Flatman saying “Shh! I’ve disguised myself as a copy of the Great Lakes Avengers comic book!” It’s a nice piece of self-referentiality or materiality or something. The story was fun as usual, but I’m a bit disappointed that Good Boy didn’t really kill Dick Snerd – he certainly would have deserved it.

ACTION LAB: DOG OF WONDER #5 (Action Lab, 2017) – “The Comet’s Tale, Part Two,” (W) Vito Delsante & Scott Fogg, (A) Reilly Leeds. I really don’t like the art in this issue; it looks sub-professional, though this is partly because of the poor reproduction. The art isn’t bad though.

DOCTOR STRANGE #1.MU (Marvel, 2017) – untitled, (W) Chip Zdarsky, (A) Julian Lopez. When I read this I may have been too tired to fully appreciate it, but I felt it was below Chip’s usual level of quality. Googam and Goom have a lot of funny dialogue, but otherwise this is just an average crossover tie-in issue. I hope Chip’s growing popularity does not cause him to lower his standards.

MULTIVERSITY: PAX AMERICANA #1 (DC, 2015) – “In Which We Burn,” (W) Grant Morrison, (A) Frank Quitely. As discussed in an article I recently read (http://www.break.com/article/alan-moore-and-grant-morrison-occult-war-for-25-years-3080666), this issue is Grant’s attempt to one-up Watchmen. It stars the Charlton characters who inspired the Watchmen, and its pages are based on a 16×16 grid, in contrast to Watchmen’s 3×3 grid. It has an intricate structure that resembles the symmetrical structure of Watchmen #5, but is even more complex; it consists of eight segments that are arranged in non-chronological order. As usual with Grant, I had trouble figuring out what exactly happened in this issue, and I felt like I would have to read it multiple times, and possibly backwards, to understand it. But whereas Grant’s recent work often seems to be complicated just for complexity’s sake, I think this issue would repay the effort needed to decipher it.

CAVE CARSON HAS A CYBERNETIC EYE #5 (DC, 2017) – “Night Pudding,” (W) Jon Rivera & Gerard Way, (A) Michael Avon Oeming. Another good issue. This issue gives us some insight into Muldroog’s history and its culture, which appears to involve a lot of casual nudity.

BLACK WIDOW #6 (Marvel, 2016) – untitled, (W/A) Chris Samnee, (A) Mark Waid. So Natasha’s big secret is that she was responsible for kidnapping Ho Yinsen and delivering him to Wong Chu. Why is that such a big deal, if she did it before she defected? I mean, I suppose it impairs Tasha’s relationship with Tony Stark, but whatever. As usual, the primary and perhaps the only reason to read this comic is Chris Samnee’s brilliant artwork.

TRANSFORMERS: MORE THAN MEETS THE EYE #49 (IDW, 2016) – “Speak, Memory, Part 2,” (W) James Roberts, (A) Hayato Sakamoto. I’m more than a year behind on this series. I’ve kept buying it out of loyalty, but I haven’t been reading it. I suppose it’s finally time to get caught up. This issue is about a villain who has the power to make Transformers forget how to transform.

GUARDIANS OF INFINITY #3 (Marvel, 2016) – “Guardians of Infinity, Part Three,” (W) Dan Abnett, (A) Carlo Barberi; and “Guardians of the Lower East Side,” (W) Darryl “DMC” McDaniels & Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, (A) Nelson Faro Decastro. The main story this issue is boring and formulaic; it lacks the excitement of DnA’s previous run on Guardians of the Galaxy. The reason I bought this comic is the backup story, written by DMC of Run-DMC, in which the Thing and Groot explore the Lower East Side. This story shows a certain lack of experience on the part of the writers, but I’m willing to forgive that because it’s so well-intentioned and it shows so much heart. One key part of this story is the scene where a Puerto Rican woman describes Groot as the ceiba tree spirit from Puerto Rican mythology.

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