Let’s take another look at some recent books beginning with the most recent issue of Infinity then followed by Avengers Arena #16, Dark Shadows: Year One #6, Godzilla: Rulers Of Earth #4, Mars Attacks Judge Dredd #2, Memory Collectors #1, Rocket Girl #1, Suicide Squad #24, and Superman/Wonder Woman #1
INFINITY #4 (Marvel)
Infinity is turning into everything that Age of Ultron was not. In other words: it’s good. It’s better than good. Marvel has consistently said that this will change everything, and I agree. Would you ever think that the cosmic powers of the Marvel U would hand over military control to Captain America, and simply by surrendering give the alliance control? Yeah, that happened. What about Black Bolt launching a Terrigen Bomb onto Earth and creating a next generation of Inhumans, simply to hide Thanos’ son from him? Yeah, that happened too, which is what’s setting things up for the “Inhumanity” event that follows soon. Would we see the alliance envoy approach the World Builders to surrender, and their envoy – Thor – kneeling before the new ruler of Hala, the homeworld of the Kree? Yup, that happened too. It’s just too bad that Thor had first tossed his hammer out of Hala’s atmosphere and had it pass through a sun, gathering up speed and power before returning to his hand… through the World Builder’s chest. Freeing Hala. Giving the alliance the proof it needed that the World Builder’s are not as invincible as they claimed. Jonathan Hickman has really been building to this in the pages of Avengers and New Avengers and, even though I’ve found it hard to enjoy some of the solo issues of the book at times, I know that Hickman is a long-term story planner. It reminds me a lot of what Claremont used to do on Uncanny X-Men – a new reader can pick it up and enjoy it but long-term readers really get the benefit of hindsight. It’s not often that we see this from Marvel, but they appear to have a lot of faith in Hickman and it is not misplaced. This was the best issue of Infinity yet, and it’s the first event from Marvel in a long time that has me wanting the next issue right away. -Kelly Cassidy
AVENGERS ARENA #16 (Marvel)
With this issue, we hit part 4 of 5 of “Boss Level“, the final chapter of the series. Based on previous wording coming from Marvel, we can expect the conclusion of this series (along with Infinity: The Hunt) to set the stage for what’s coming for the younger heroes within the Marvel U. Although at one point I was ready to drop this series, knowing it had a finite end made me stick around. It’s definitely not been at the top of my list for favorite reads, but when you take a story arc in its entirety rather than an individual issue the title has had some great stories. And with this issue we are nearing the end game, with even Arcade mentioning that the entire events of the book take place in 30 days and it took 29 of them for something interesting to actually happen! At least it sounds like that was intentional, and not just me (which is what I was worried about at first). But this issue had a few discoveries, such as Death Locket still crawling around behind the scenes in Arcade’s lair, but not pulling one over on the clown. In fact, he turned things back around on the cyborg girl until he, too, is ambushed from behind… by Chris Powell? Yes! The original Darkhawk is not dead after all, even with Chase now wielding his amulet in the Arcade-verse! OK, Mr Hopeless, you’ve made this reader quite happy. Although some of the other characters I could care less if they live or die, Powell is different to me and I am glad that he has survived so far. I’m interested to see how you’ll end off this series and what’s up next! -Kelly Cassidy
DARK SHADOWS: YEAR ONE #6 (Dynamite)
This is the final part of the origin of Barnabas Collins. He tries his hardest to protect his family while maintaining his curse, and failing because he has to feed. His main target now is Nathan Forbes, the man who is trying to destroy the Collins Family for his own financial gain. He also knows about the secret of Barnabas and it’s the threat of being killed by the vampire that scares him most and pushes him to try to destroy Barnabas forever. It’s a great final chapter to the beginning of who we now know as Dark Shadows.
This series did a great job in filling gaps and answering questions without stepping on previously established history and I liked that. After reading this I have to admit that I would like to see similar stories based on other Dark Shadows players like the witch Angelique. I bet her back story would be very interesting. But, the long and short of it is Dynamite had a great idea and was able to put an amazing creative team on it and it certainly delivered a great story. Good job! -Skott Jimenez
GODZILLA: RULERS OF EARTH #4 (IDW)
Okay, let me first mention that while the art on the monsters is amazing it feels like the art on the humans here is kind of…lacking. But it isn’t horrible, just lacking. As for the story here it’s really starting to come together. The aliens are coming to take over the Earth but first must wipe out the humans and monsters first, this is why they have the Godzilla samples, they are using the Godzilla sample to do just this but first they have to take out Godzilla himself and they send their creation Destoroyah who really gives it to the King of the Monsters until a surprise appearance of Mothera turns the tide.
This series is building to something big and I really enjoy how this series is using concepts from previous runs and makes them part f a bigger picture. It’s nice to have a series with long running continuity, I just with they didn’t restart it every year. But it’s a small price to pay to have the most entertaining Godzilla series ever!
The only thing that’s painful with this book is trying to decide what covers I like. -Skott Jimenez
MARS ATTACKS JUDGE DREDD #2 (IDW)
From the first page, this issues blows away the competition. By that, I mean that literally the Martians are blowing away all the leadership of every mega city across the world. East-Meg One, Brit-Cit, Euro-Cit, Cuidad Barranquilla, and Antarctic City all fall prey to the Martians as they take over every corrupt government and criminal syndicate. Judge Dredd fights with the thing from the pit, a giant alien bug that the Martians were controlling, until they were all killed. The fight rages and, just when the bug thinks it has won, Dredd stabs it in the eye, grabs his lawgiver, and feeds it a Hi-Ex round. The best line… “Too bad for the thing.” As the story continues, Dredd has Mumbletti, a major crime boss in Mega City One, brought in for questioning. Getting nothing, even from the cavity search, they implant a special device in his colon for listening and sonar visuals. Too many colon jokes… Before long the Maritans are onto it (“Silence his bottom! Silence it now!”) and Mumbletti is no more. By now, Judge Anderson, the telepath, has figured out what Dredd was already thinking… these are no mutants, they’re aliens. A great story by Al Ewing, very corny, as have all the Mars Attacks stories of the past. The artwork is a great mesh of classic Dredd and classic Mars Attacks well drawn by John McCrea and colored by Jay Fotos. I enjoyed it and look forward to next month for issue #3. -Aaron Clutter
MEMORY COLLECTORS #1 (IDW)
Have you heard of the artist Menton3? No? Well if you like artistic styles – as well as a story in this case – that is quite dark in its nature, then pick up Memory Collectors. It’s the first of a 3 issue miniseries and it’s something that is visually quite different from anything else right now. The art is quite abstract and is not your typical panel-to-panel storytelling, but it’s something quite gorgeous to look at. The colors are far and few between, with most of the visuals focusing on a black, white and grey tone, so when we do get a splash of color on the screen it truly does have an impact. It reminds me a lot of the original The Crow story, where it is something so different that it’s memorable (which is kind of ironic, considering the name of the book). But with a lot of focus on the visuals, we cannot forget the story which also goes into great detail. There is a lot of backstory to get you into the characters, and Menton3 translates several pages from a visual medium to more of a prose/narrative style. There are some visuals still which really compliments the prose, so it’s not completely disjoint and does not take you away from things, but the historic flashbacks with detail are better suited to his prose I think. I was truly impressed with this title and picked it up because… well, it looked lonely on the shelf at my LCS. I spent today reading this book in my hotel room before heading back home after a funeral and, after a very long weekend as a result, it was something different that reminded me that comics are not just one specific style but something different to many. This is something worth reading. It’s something worth looking at. And it’s something worth enjoying.
ROCKET GIRL #1 (Image)
It’s always good to try something new and seeing Rocket Girl sitting on the shelf today I thought I would do just that. This was a fun book to read, especially as it involves time travel (which is usually a fun topic for someone like myself) but that the story begins in 2013… but not the one we know. Our cars do not fly, nor do we have teenagers performing the duties of the police. No, really, that happened here. Our main characters is a teen cop from 2013 who travels back in time to 1986 in order to save the world. It may mean destroying her own timeline but in our main character’s words – “What’s right is right!” The fact that we have time travel going BACK from today (to the reader) and that our today is the future is something slightly different. Usually we have people from the future returning to our current day but not here… and it’s a nice change. Brandon Montclare wrote this story with art by Amy Reeder, and it’s a fun story. Not stellar, but fun. It could become stellar, though, because it has grabbed my attention. When you have new characters you’ve never seen before, it can be a challenge to get readers involved and have them continue to want to pick the book up. Rocket Girl did just that – it’s not the book I’m most looking forward to, but I am looking forward to the next issue. The fact that the scenes in 1986 are real – anyone else remember actually seeing a real video game arcade back in the day? – give it that level of authenticity, and it also allows the creators to generate a story that is visually correct. They don’t have to guess what the time looked like as it’s happened, and they don’t need to worry about what 2013 looks like because it’s not the 2013 we live in. But it’s worth a read. -Kelly Cassidy
SUICIDE SQUAD #24 (DC)
Spy fiction seems to be the uprising genre in Superhero comics as of late, with Secret Avengers, Mind MGMT, Zero, and Suicide Squad on the verge of major popularity. The appeal of spy fiction is not lost on me; it gives you intriguing, layered characters, plot twists out of nowhere, and exciting sequences demonstrating gadgets and spy techniques. Suicide Squad #24 seems to be a different kind of spy fiction, rooted in the black-and-white world of superheroes and supervillains and attempting to give it a grayer shade of morality. These are villains operating for a government system in a world they now rule, only because they were promised things they normally wouldn’t have. It takes a twisted code of ethics to be a villain, and even more twisted code of ethics to be a villain working for the very government that’s out to get you. Kindt and Zircher help define a world of complex rules and betrayals and how these types of people would operate as a secret spy-like government organization, and what kind of effect that would have on their psyches’. As great as Ales Kot’s Tarantino-esque “too-cool-for-school” take on Suicide Squad was for its four issue run, I can’t help but feel that Kindt is trying to take the comic back to its roots of organic character growth and complex plot mechanics once previously defined by John Ostrander. Zircher’s art is appropriately gritty, giving the book an industrial, urbanized vibe more in line with today’s spy fiction. It complements the mood of the writing just as any great art should. Also, I can’t wait to see how that plot twist at the end works out. That was a really cool thing of Kindt to do. -Julien Loeper
SUPERMAN/WONDER WOMAN #1 (DC)
During “H’el on Earth” I started to get back into this Superman since DC relaunched its universe. Sure, Luthor is always gonna be the big Superman baddie, but everyone ended up with new major villains. Batman had the Court of Owls, which really modified the mythos of the Bat so that it wasn’t just a rehashing of the previous universe. But it was meshed so well into the overreaching story that it COULD have been in the previous universe or this one; that’s what made it great. But this was missing from Superman until H’el, but then it quickly went downhill again. I dropped the 2 Superman titles and am ready to drop the whole Superman family of books (except the Batman Superman title which is actually pretty interesting). I picked up this book because I had expectations and wanted to see if I was right. I was not. This was not your typical love story book (honestly, I was expecting this to be one of those love comics from the 50s and 60s but with super heroes). It had 2 powerful heroes trusting one another, and writer Charles Soule actually made Superman not as much of a jerk as he’s been since the universal relaunch. It impressed me. Plus, seeing the villain of the book take on Wonder Woman in a finale scene that reminded me of the last time I probably really liked Superman (around the time of his major death, coincidentally). Maybe this just means that I am not a Superman fan, but I am a Doomsday fan. That could very well be the case. All I know is that Tony Daniel’s rendition of Doomsday was one I enjoyed quite thoroughly. Although I am not convinced that this book needs to be added to my pull list yet, the appearance of Doomsday will have me picking up the second issue to see what happens next. -Kelly Cassidy