Nobody here at Hush Comics loves sports metrics more than I do. A die-hard NBA fan, I frequently rank players, teams and track stats every night to see who I should be picking up on the waiver wire (a term I know, but still do not understand at all) in our fantasy basketball league. It’s not really to be the best, but largely because I love the processes behind it; I love spreadsheets and systemic processes in how I arrive at these decisions. I even made a House of Quality together in order to break down which qualities I value in comic book series. This was all inspired by the creation of our Best of 2014 Comic Books collection of articles (which you should check out! A lot of hard work from our team went into those articles), when I realized that we had not been keeping track of which books were the best throughout the year.
Below is a list of what I consider the Top 20 comic books of the previous month. The opinions of these rankings is solely mine, although it is influenced by the weekly review grades that our team doles out. I’m no expert on the ins and outs of the comic book industry, and I admittedly can’t read every book out there, but as long as I have this awesome platform to force my opinion on readers, why not use it? As always, we LOVE sparking conversations about the things we love, or even the things we don’t, so commentary is encouraged!
There just isn’t a better book out there, and starting off Joker’s 75th birthday with Endgame is a great way to ensure the top spot.
Unabashed sexuality and humor make this the most honest book on the shelves. And the freezing time with orgasms thing is great, too.
Unbeatable Squirrel Girl
Plenty of silly to go around, Squirrel Girl isn’t just a great new book, but has potential to bridge gaps between comic book readers of all creeds.
The Walking Dead
Carl is both a lover AND a fighter, as new dangers loom on the horizon (as always). Kudos for making this small world into a bigger, scarier place.
Batman and Robin
Damian is back from the dead – with superpowers; he may be bulletproof, but he is not immune to the human condition as he deals with his own mortality. Beautifully done.
Sure, there’s the teenage angst of the 80’s, the murder, drug trips and the love triangles. But really, “That was no fart” is why this book is so high on the list.
How could Lex Luthor create more havoc as a good guy than as a villain… In any case, a zombie Batman JL vs. Supes and WW? Get the popcorn.
Mutanimals attack! There is so much going on in TMNT right now, but the mounting war with Hob and Splinter interests me most.
Superior Iron Man
Ever think to yourself, “self, Tony Stark sure straddles the line between good guy a-hole and bad guy a-hole.” Well, self, you’re right, and this book is why.
I’ve been waiting for a legitimate MK comic book for years. This is just as bloody and fun as the game, and will get me over til its April release.
It’s like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but worth the time investment. We still get the strategic genius of Agent Coulson, now with superheroes!
Who would I be if this on the list? In what was the most anticipated book this month, I’m already more into this run than I ever was with Dark Horse’s.
Seemlessly poking fun at the Multiverse while creating a cohesive story, Grant Morrison does what Grant Morrison wants. Good for us.
I would never have guessed that Anarky would be the next great Batman villain. This book puts the “detective” back in Detective Comics.
What child doesn’t wish they could go on a Jumanji-style demon-slaying adventure with their family? A really lame one, that’s for sure.
A new creative team introduced a new character, and really revived a series which has since been oerwhemingly underwhelming.
Shutter has been suffering recently from the necessary lull of storytelling, but it’s so unique and gorgeous that I won’t dare remove it from the Top 20.
Each issue has increasingly given me the heeby-jeebies. In a good way. I am not a horror comic fan but I am most definitely a fan of this book.
Shuffle around the creative team, take away his armor, Mark Spector is still one BAMF. Moon Knight is my new underground favorite at Marvel.
Tooth and Claw
Making the list solely on the principle of curiosity, Tooth & Claw is a fantastical book of magic, anthropomorphic animals, and other ill s***.
Saga:“What have you done for me lately” is the name of the game here. Expect Saga to knock one of these series off its high horse when the series returns from its three-month hiatus this week.
Wonder Woman: Barely missed the cut. Great panels and intriguing characters keep me coming back each month.
Spider-Verse: Another Marvel “event” has worn out its welcome and left me pining for the end. I’m done buying six books to understand one story.
Powers: Brian Michael Bendis’ soon-to-be streaming series is a whole new world (to me), but I think I need to learn more before I can really dive in.
Shaft: I expected this to read more like the comic book embodiment of Public Enemy, but it’s got more bark than bite at this point.
Injustice: Gods Among Us: I love this book, even more so since Brian Buccaletto took over, but there is just too much emphasis on “The Dark” recently for my taste.
Character: Captain America, Nick Fury, Bucky Barnes, Black Widow, Agent 13 and Red Skull
Writer: Ed Brubaker (The Man Who Laughs, Fatale, Velvet)
Art: Steve Epting (Crux, Velvet)
SCORECARD (each category ranked on a 10-point scale):
Storyline – 8
Art – 8
Captivity and Length – 8
Identity – 9
Use of Medium – 8
Depth – 9
Fluidity – 9
Intrigue/Originality – 8
The Little Things – 9
Overall awesomeness – 9
When the second Captain America movie (check out our review of the movie Captain America: The Winter Soldierhere) came out, you didn’t think we’d let you watch the film without getting an in-depth look at the graphic novel, too. The story of the Winter Soldier is a relatively new one, coming out just under a decade ago, but it’s one of Cap’s most iconic stories. The actual Winter Soldier story arc spans issues #8-14 (minus issue #10, which is a tie-in to House of M), but there is a lot of necessary back-story in the first volume that build up the suspense to Winter Soldier. Also, while the concept of the movie is the same, the meat of the book is far different from the film, so don’t come in with any preconceptions of what will happen – just enjoy the ride!
By now I’m sure you all know that Bucky, who was Cap’s kid sidekick until his apparent death (in Avengers #56, but like all Marvel characters, Bucky has been ret-2conned multiple times), is the Winter Soldier. This soldier was a tool for the Soviet Union, and was literally “put on ice” to complete special assignments. This might be old hat to us, but ten years ago, this was jaw-dropping. The shock factor of a cheerful kid sidekick becoming the deadliest weapon in the world was unprecedented. Winter Soldier does a solid job of alluding to the shock factor; there are numerous flashbacks and dead drops to buildup what is, in essence, a stand-off between Captain America and the Winter Soldier.
Like the movie portrays, this is not the same Captain America you recognize from the war days. He is no longer a gimmick, or war propaganda; he is a super-soldier with the feeling that he is being played with. It’s a demon that Cap struggles with throughout the book, and What makes Brubaker’s writing so great is he is fully ready to let Cap fall into one of his darkest places (not too dark, but really dark for Steve Rogers). The theory that Bucky was chosen as a symbol to inspire young men to join the war effort was just a cover-up. Bucky was actually the most ruthless weapon the Allies had; he did the gruesome deeds that Cap couldn’t. It’s a brilliant rewriting of a character to fit not just the story, but the times that the story is released in. This fact also sheds new light on just who Captain America is – not just the guy who punched Hitler in the face, but the one who sanctioned the actions that a Bucky, a child, could take in the name of freedom.
The issues are so well-paced. We begin with what looks to be the typical villain arc when Red Skull creeps around and secures a Cosmic Cube (an item capable of turning wish into reality – similar to Loki’s scepter, hmm… However, we’re quickly in the middle of a murder/mystery and forced to play catch-up like the dunces we are. I mean, if Nick Fury can figure out the riddle, I know I can’t. Speaking of Fury, his role in Winter Soldier is significant. While Cap is definitely the one taking the lead during the mission, none of it would have been possible without Fury’s keen eye (pun intended) and S.H.I.E.L.D. resources. That being said, Steve Rogers isn’t inept in any way; he puts the hurt on everybody in his way – often. The characteristic way the shied bounces off of and into foes very enjoyable to look at on paper.
Ed Brubaker’s Captain America: Winter Soldier is one of the best written books about Cap out there, and it’s almost ironic that a story that deviates from what was considered canon has the most identity with Steve Rogers. The ending fell a bit flat, but we do get some closure to the arc, and the aftermath of what happens here echoes through the series for years to come. The mirror image of Captain America and the Winter Soldier also creates dialogue among fans and casual readers alike (Note:Winter Soldier mentions and includes other figures like Falcon and the Invaders. If you want to dive deeper, those are good places to start). Any comic book fan should pick this up and read it – it’s simply the American thing to do.
“I can do everything he does… only slower” – how we feel about big shot blog sites who get their movie reviews in a week early because of special privileges
Oh Captain, my Captain! Chris Evans returns as Steve Rogers in his first solo film since Captain America:The First Avenger in 2011. He is not alone, though, as S.H.IE.L.D. director Nick Fury and mistress of espionage, Black Widow, join him in his mission to take down the Winter Soldier. There is a lot of back-story in this movie found in the comic books (Captain America: Winter Soldier review coming soon), and some of them might be considered light spoilers for casual fans of Captain America’s character, but fans who don’t know might be a little confused without those spoilers. It is never actually mentioned that Natasha Romanoff (check out our article on her here) is the Black Widow, and there are a lot of other details that sort of don’t really make sense unless you’ve seen The First Avenger, Avengers or read the associate comic books. While some might consider it poor story-telling, I look at it as not getting rewarded for doing your homework. Now that Marvel has hooked in the masses, it seems to be setting a new precedent by making viewers delve deeper to understand the whole story.
From the get-go, we can see that this is not your father’s Captain America. The naive young man who stood for truth, justice and the American way has opened his eyes to how the world really works. He still holds a moral standard that makes his colleagues roll their eyes, but is definitely going to throw down in the line of duty. In the strictest sense of it, he is no longer a champion of the American government, but the spirit of America. I feel like a good majority of Avengers showed Rogers being poked fun at for not knowing the various pop culture and historical references and making fun of his theological ideals and sense of and morality. Thankfully, this has been laid to rest and Cap now has a little notepad in which he lists all the things he has to catch up on, most recently added being Marvin Gaye’s soundtrack to Troubleman. Note: this list is actually different, depending on the country you see the film in. It’s a quick way to see how the character has grown, and to avoid beating a dead horse.
What really piqued my interest was Captain America’s level of brutality. Sure, he killed a bunch of Nazis in WWII, but that was war. I expected Captain America to have the same sort of moral compass as a Spider-Man or a Batman, where every life is sacred and not even the most vile are to die. That theory’s thrown out the window here as Cap stabs, smashes and explodes his way to put the bad guys down – most notably in the first ten minutes of espionage-filled action. Have we just evolved our super-hero standards to fit the modern day, or is this a darker, jaded Captain America that we’re seeing here?
While The First Avenger let people believe in the symbol, The Winter Soldier had more of an origin story identity than the actual origin story did. We get to see Steve Rogers become a super-soldier, take down Red Skull and find the courage to defeat an army – but Winter Soldier really embodies the hero that we associate the character Captain America as. A lot of it has to do with the acting; Chris Evans plays the perfect Captain America. Even with an all-star cast at his side, there was never a moment that it didn’t feel like it was his story. The “supporting cast” absolutely makes the movie. I haven’t seen Samuel L. Jackson this bad-ass since he was chopping off heads with a purple lightsaber. I mean, he’s no David Hasselhoff, thank God, but he’s as Nick Fury as you’re ever going to get; he’s the leading agent of a super-spy program for a reason, and Sam Jackson played it to a T. Note: Sadly, there are no exclamations of “Mother-f***er” in this film. Meanwhile, the talented ScarJo plays Black Widow extremely well. She’s sexy without being objectified – a role model for women and a poster model for men, truly the best of both worlds. However, it’s Anthony Mackie’s portrayal of Sam Wilson AKA Falcon that really stole the show. From Mackie’s acting to the way the his costume was designed, Falcon was bad-ass – and from the looks of it, this won’t be the only movie he will be in.
What makes Winter Soldier so great is it’s reflection of current society. Much the way The Dark Knight showed us our fear of terrorism and the symbol of how that is dealt with, Captain America: The Winter Soldier showed us our addiction to using government enforcement. Ah, the plot thickens. Everything is not what it seems though, as the whole shebang has been a conspiracy, an infection that has swept the whole system. Iconic movies like V for Vendetta have portrayed similar messages, but not quite as plainly as Winter Soldier showed it, and especially not as relate-able as to U.S. drone strikes taking down its own citizens. Surprisingly to some, this isn’t the first time Steve Rogers has taken on the entire U.S. government in the name of its people, so who is really the enemy here? I’ve seen the movie and I still don’t know; these are the questions that keep a good movie in the minds of its viewers.
So, we’ve spent a lot of time talking about Captain America, but what about the Winter Soldier? He is in half the title, after all. When the book that the film is based off of (review of that coming soon as well) was released almost a decade ago, the big reveal was that Bucky Barnes – friend and partner of Steve Rogers before his heroic and untimely death in The First Avenger – was actually the Winter Soldier, and it floored readers. Thanks to IMDb and the rest of the internet, we all knew this coming in. The reveal wasn’t quite as built-up as I would have liked, and I feel the whole portrayal of Bucky was really rushed; there was maybe 15-20 minutes devoted to him – and that is a shame because the Winter Soldier (both before and after the events of the movie) is one of the most ruthless killers in the Marvel universe. We do get some superb action sequences with Bucky and Captain America, each blow giving off waves of power, reminiscent of an epic anime fight. While on-screen, they do the Winter Soldier justice – but in the same way that Bucky was a pawn for the Russians, he is also just a pawn for the deeper storyline of the movie.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier also did not shy away from fanboy moments. The Amazing Stan Lee made his usual cameo (honestly one of his funniest), but it was another guest star that made us gush aloud in the theater. I won’t spoil it, but the Russo Brothers, who direct the movie, also are executive producers for a television show we can’t seem to get enough of – we’ll let you guess. We also get a taste of other not so super villains too, with Baltroc and Crossbones getting some screen time (they’re not in their traditional costumes, so see if you can find them). The use of the vibranium shield was spot on and a clear ode to the books; every fight sequence begins or ends with Rogers bouncing this thing off walls, even at one point destroying a S.H.I.E.L.D. fighter plane with it. Captain America was also a monster in combat. Exponentially quicker and stronger than his opponents, he put the hurt on a lot of people in spectacular fashion. Every punch, grapple and shield bash looked just as one from a super-soldier should.
To bastardize a line from The Dark Knight, Captain America: The Winter Soldier is the movie that we deserve, and the one we need. In a time where we are getting dangerously close to superhero super-saturation, it’s great to see a comic book film that favors character development over plot development. There are, of course, the explosions, fight scenes and witty one-liners that set a high standard at Marvel Studios, but what really makes Captain America: The Winter Soldier worth your money is the front-row seat to watching one of the finest characters in comic books saving the world from itself. Although the actual Winter Soldier (or Agent 13, for that matter) wasn’t in it for very long, The Winter Soldier drove home it’s sociopolitical points while still looking like one of the best comic book movies to come out.
And that, my friends, is how you wrap up the greatest horror series in comic book history. This was a Locke for pick of the week before it was even announced. Kudos to Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez for an amazing run of almost six years. I won’t judge you if you haven’t read this book, as it’s been critically acclaimed but still very rarely marketed. There are no cliffhangers, monsters or murderers – just closure. It’s a welcome finale when writers are far more concerned with the integrity of the story rather than a spin-off or a mini-series event. As the son of the great Stephen King, Joe Hill has plenty else to look forward to. The only disclaimer I have for this issue is that you must have read the story to understand the gravity or the events of what transpire in the series finale. I know it’s a bummer but you can get started by reading our review of the first volume here.
Harley Quinn #1 (DC Comics) – B+
Written by Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti, Harley Quinn issue #1 made quite the entrance into her own comic series. Picking up where we left off in issue #0, Harley has packed up all her belongings, at least the ones that were in decent condition after Mr. J blew her stuff up. On her very own Harley, our heroine (to be debated later) is on her way to Coney Island where she has suddenly come into her own property. On her way there, she talks to her beaver (woah, inappropriate) that only she can hear, and rescues an abused dachshund. A girl who likes animals more than people is my kind of girl. The artwork is really amazing. Illustrated by Chad Hardin and colored by Alex Sinclair (Jim Lee’s right-hand man), One of the best panels features Harley pulling up to her new pad. We see all the people of her new hood, including a beggar on the street corner wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and holding a sign that reads “Please help me pay off my student loans. Thanks-V” It’s a nice little nod to the Occupy Movement. The art allows Harley to have a bit of a sexy look to her, but in certain panels we still realize that she is a creepy, crazy clown. She even makes a jab at herself when trying to recreate her Harleen Quinzel look, “That’s what I get for getting an all over bleach job.” Her crazy wit is cute and funny throughout the comic, and we get to see how extreme she can be, especially during roller derby. It looks like this series will be following Harley in her adventures in the big city ala Sex and the City. But we all know Harley is a little less Carrie Bradshaw and a little more Lorena Bobbitt. The only gripe I have with this issue is seeing Harley as such a BA, yet at the end, a dude saves her life. When is Harley gonna be her own woman? Hopefully at some point in this series, Harley will realize how great she is without anyone to save her.
Red Hood and the Outlaws #26 (DC Comics) – C
This issue leads up to the conclusion of the current story arc and while it doesn’t offer anything crazy as far as advancing the plot forward, it does have some incredible artwork throughout. This series has been very hit or miss for me. While I love how awesome Red Hood can be, I personally can’t stand Arsenal as character, and Starfire seems like she should be too powerful for a group such as this. Nothing in 26 issues has changed my opinion of this. I continue to read because of the potential it has to intertwine with Batman; however, since the disassociation with Batman after death of the family, I have been left with a longing for Jason to return to Gotham to dispense his brand of vigilante justice. Only time will tell if this is a book I will continue to read in the future. It definitely has the potential to shine but it will depend entirely on the writers to be able to make it genuinely interesting to read. Perhaps changing the team around wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Supergirl #26 (DC Comics) – B+
If there was a good point to drop into the middle of this series, issue 26 would be the perfect one to do it. Kara does a little souls searching and while in the middle of that, the issue gives a great summary of the events of the last 25 issues. Sure there are some small things that someone just getting into the series would have to catch up on, but none of it is anything major that can’t be read later. What really makes this issue shine how is the introduction of the most badass bounty hunter in the galaxy. Lobo! While he isn’t given a large amount of time, what time he is given is well utilized and promises to make this current arc one of the best so far. My only complaint with this series thus far is that it requires you to stay current with Superman and Superboy, otherwise you risk missing out on key plot points due to the way the stories intertwine
Teen Titans Go! #1 (DC Comics) – B+
Teen Titans Go! Issue #1 was a pleasant surprise for me. It was clearly intended for the younger audiences, but was packed with witty humor. I found myself laughing out loud at several panels throughout. This issue was broken up into two parts. Part one is the mystery of who is eating Cyborg’s sandwich. The mystery aspect of the story was very cute with Robin taking it upon himself to interrogate the group. Using black and white panels for this section and giving Robin old-timey detective lines worked perfectly. Part two focuses on a bet between Robin, Cyborg and Beast Boy on the mini-golf course. Meanwhile, Raven and Starfire go to the arcade. Raven cleverly uses her levitation powers to get a stuffed toy out of the claw machine. Starfire asks, “But where does the claw come in?” “Beats me.” Raven replies dryly. The wittiness of this issue is what carries it. The dialogue is quick and pokes fun at itself a little. The outcomes of each episode are a little silly, but what else is expected for the teens? Teen Titans Go! is a good read for new and seasoned comic readers.
Wonder Woman #26 (DC Comics) – C
Wonder Womanhas pretty much carried the torch for women in DC Comics for the past few years. Protector, warrior, princess of Olympus – Wonder Woman is by all means a powerhouse. Thanks to some great writing by Brian Azzarello, Wonder Womanhas undergone quite the transition into the fight for Olympus. After a godly issue #23, though, things have quite slowed down. It feels like they’re trying to do too much. There are several different story-lines playing out, and over the span of months, I’m beginning to forget what the big picture actually is. While I’m sure this would read better in a graphic novel format, it’s just too complex of a story to be able to pick up every month. However, don’t let that discount the great character dynamics and fantastic use of Greek mythology; this is still a highly enjoyable book.
All New X-Men #20 (Marvel Comics) – B
Laura Kinney (X-23) is back! She’s popping blades and not taking any lip from anyone! She awakens in the old Weapon X factory, (it’s since been converted to the New Xavier School For the Gifted). Scott and Laura have a heart to Adamantium talk about why the X-Men have time traveled. She explains that she has been tortured for a year and is now being hunted by an anti-mutant group called, The Purifiers. This anti-mutant group is led by William Stryker’s son. Can we say daddy issues? The X-Men gear up and prepare to raid this new threats’ hideout when…
Amazing Spiderman #700.4 (Marvel Comics) – C
Bravo to Pasqual Ferry and Andres Mossa for the cover art. The issue is worth the pick up for that alone. Peter Parker is still in the Kaiser Permanente from hell. He has been admitted to a hospital for criminals. Joe Casey writes some harsh lines about our do-gooder, “Consider his reputation, an anti-hero at best…not exactly Captain America. He would not be missed.” Peter’s identity as Spider-Man has been compromised by the staff and now he is in a fight to get out of there.
Amazing Spiderman #700.5 (Marvel Comics) – D
No rest for the weary. Spider-Man tries to enjoy a nap after a day of crime fighting, and who should come flying through his window? Johnny Storm! Brian Reed writes this issue, Spider-Man and The Human Torch. This issue is a throw-away. The story is rushed, poorly planned and boring. Johnny steals some kind of machine from the Baxter Building that came from future Ben. It will destroy the universe and old flame-boy tries to enlist Spidey to help him get rid of it. The Fantastic Four track him down to retrieve the device. Skip this one and give Superior Spider-Man #24 a shot.
Daredevil #34 (Marvel Comics) – B-
After an odd stint in Stone Hills, Kentucky, Daredevil is back in New York City and back to the main storyline; the Sons of the Serpent, a white supremecy group, have corrupted the justice system and look to be taking the whole city from the inside. This story has been building for about ten issues now, and it finally would seem that Daredevil is gaining momentum against the Serpents. After an empowering speech over the airwaves, Daredevil has gone on the offensive against the Serpents. On display are very run-of-the-mill pages from Mark Waid and Javier Rodriguez. The series has lost a bit of the appeal it had in earlier issues, but it’s still fun to read. With the story, and the series’ run wrapping up in two issues, there’s a lot of ground to cover.
Deadpool #21 (Marvel Comics) – B
So I’ll admit, I got a bit carried away with Deadpool #20, the ridiculous story about battling inter-galactic monsters in Wakanda. I’m not perfect and neither is Deadpool. This issue has us follow our favorite hero as he continues his journey to separate himself from S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Preston, who is sharing space aside the multiple personalities of Wade Wilson. It doesn’t make sense if you haven’t read the whole way through, but having read all the issues, it still doesn’t make sense. As he tries to satisfy Preston by watching Madea he is hunted by S.H.I.E.L.D. mercenaries, an irony that is not lost on me. The issue was thoroughly entertaining and full of hilarity. This is the start of the Deadpool vs. S.H.I.E.L.D arc, so it’s a great time to jump on to watch the Merc With A Mouth take down the system. … at least for a few episodes until they put out another stupid filler issue.
Scarlet Spider #25 (Marvel Comics) – C-
This final issue in the series really brings this particular story arc full circle. What I find the most dissatisfying is that you could have almost replaced this issue with the first one and ended the entire series right there. It basically felt like a carbon copy of the first issue, only Kaine has the chops to go through with actually leaving Houston the first time. The artwork wasn’t anything particularly special but it was not bad by any means. This ending felt a little sloppy but after reading the afterword, I am assured that this isn’t the end for Kaine. This character has great potential if explored properly. I really like the idea of a Peter Parker that is tainted and willing to go places and do things that Peter Parker would never do. It is the perfect opportunity to explore that dark side and while this ending may have been a little disappointing, I am looking forward to the future of Scarlet Spider when he returns in NEW WARRIORS #1.
Superior Spiderman #24 (Marvel Comics) – C+
Oh great, as if Spiderman wasn’t arrogant enough. With the great narcissistic Otto Octavius at the helm of the Venom symbiote, things are not looking so great for those close to him. Really, enough is enough. You can make him an asshole, you can make him break up with MJ, you can even make him dance around like an idiot in Spiderman 3… but you do not get to disrespect sweet ol’ Aunt May; that is off-limits. As Spidey’s ego goes to his head, there are a lot of things set in motion by the police, the Golbin gang and The Avengers. I like where this is going, as it’s obviously time for Peter Parker to come back from oblivion and return to the spotlight. The weekly splurge of Amazing Spiderman hints that a Parker return isn’t far off.
Samurai Jack #3 (IDW Comics) – B
This month’s issue of Samurai Jack was a nice change from there the series could have gone. With the first two issues requiring Jack to defeat an unbeatable foe, I was worried every issue would follow the same script. So far, Issue #3 is my favorite. Jack, still following the magical Threads of Time to rewind history from his enemy Aku, lands in what seems to be Ancient Greece. He meets the warrior of the town, Gloer the Great of Grantus. The alliterative character shows Jack around town. But instead of having to fight Gloer, as was expected, he sees that Gloer’s town has already been demolished by Aku’s terribleness. The series is already a little Mr. Peabody-esque. This issue is Mr. Peabody meets Stepford Wives meets Disney’s Hercules. It’s very cute, but still a great use of medium to provoke some pretty deep thoughts for the intended elementary level reader. I highly recommend picking up this issue for your new little comic book reader.
We join our turtles after the fallout of City Fall as they drive to a Northampton countryside home where April O’Neil’s parents live. The family is in shambles and I can feel Splinter pain as he tries to repair the damage that Shredder and the Foot have wrought upon his family. The issue is divided between the turtles and their family issues and the O’Neils meeting Casey Jones for the first time. Ah, but the plot thickens! Our heroes had an unwelcome guest follow them to Northampton (Although not unwelcome to me, as this is secretly my favorite character in the book). Meanwhile, April finds out that there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to the mutagen, and her parents are the one to tell the secret. Ross Campbell has picked up art duties for the main story after doing a couple of the Micro-Series (Leonardo, Alopex) books. Although I was initially sad to see Mateus Santolouco’s grimy style end with City Fall, Campbell’s art is intrinsically beautiful and fitting of the subject matter. As we build towards another storyline, I was thoroughly pleased with TMNT #29, as it serves as a great jumping-on point for fans new to the series while still reflecting on the events of City Fall.
Black Science #2 (image Comics) – A
The second issue of this deep space thriller, Black Science, opened up the story and explained a lot of character dynamic without giving too much away for what’s to come. It’s a captivating sci-fi tale that mixes a little bit of Mass Effect with an 80’s space thriller twist. What Black Science succeeds at so well is its ability to draw in a reader with it’s amazing character dynamics and between-the-lines story-telling. Two issues in and you already know who you are supposed to like and who you are supposed to loathe. Throw in a well-placed flashback scene and now you’re part of the family. First, mutant frog people and now futuristic Native Americans killing Nazis; this is shaping up to be one special series, and it’s not limited to cliches and superheroes.
Saga #17 (image Comics) – A
“The only journalists that deserve killing are sports writers.” Saga is written too well for me to fully appreciate. It’s filled with literary quips. I feel like it’s written only for English majors or burnt-out authors. Needless to say, it’s brilliant. Issue 17 masks its social and political dogma behind vibrant panels and fashionable sarcasm. We find our two journalists greeted by yet another Freelancer named, The Brand. He enchants them with an Anti-snitching potion (Embargon) to impede them from continuing their story about inter-species love. When Upsher and Doff ask The Brand why their writing is so threatening the response is, “It’s the stories with no sides that worry them.” Saga engages everything is our current social spectrum. Nothing is taboo. Homosexuality, popular media, inter-racial relationships, and child-rearing are all on the table. As readers we are also unclear to Vaughn’s stance on these issues. This is what makes Saga so intriguing.
The Will is still bleeding out after being attacked by a possessed Sophie (slave-girl). Gwendolyn is desperate to find help. She makes her way to D. Oswald Heist’s lighthouse. She arrives after Klara’s attempt to save his life from Prince Robot IV. This week’s issue submerges us deeper into this space-opera and will give you a good giggle and gasp (See Prince Robot’s erotic revelation).
Sex #9 (image Comics) – B
Now we’re talking! There’s been a lot of foreplay leading up to Sex, but it seems that the buttons are finally coming undone. What we are shown is a genuine origin story starring our hero Simon as The Armored Saint and his techie sidekick, Keenan. It really brings the story together and explains a lot in the first eight episodes that didn’t make a whole lot of sense the first time through. Guest artist Morgan Jeske’s art has a very distinct appearance from the rest of the series, and gives the issue a very raw, Dark Knight Returns vibe. And, of course, there is raunchy, gratuitous sex – as is expected when your crime-fighting secret hideout is a whore-house. Here’s to hoping that we get more exciting issues like this and less build-up.
Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B
Enter Clone Trooper CT5539, after the Clone Wars and after Order 66. One of Jango’s copies has settled down working and living quite unremarkably on what appears to be a desert planet (perhaps Tatooine – some of the best Star Wars stories star there!). By way of true “events,” Cry of Shadows #1 really has none. The pages are filled with narration and storytelling. Flashbacks and imagination dominate. This isn’t a bad thing though! On the contrary, I was able to connect with CT5539 almost immediately because I was reading his inner thoughts. It’s critical to note that the flesh and blood Vader (or should I say, metal and lube-oil) makes no appearance besides what’s being imagined by CT derived from stories told by drunk cantina-goers. Vader remains a fantasy and a symbol in CT’s eyes. The ferocious tales are vividly and beautifully illustrated by Guzan and Atiyeh. It could be my bias, but Vader remains as imposing and awesome as ever. After meandering through post-war life, CT finds a spark and journeys out to see if the stories about Vader are true. What better way to obtain answers than ask the guy yourself?! The build-up is well done in Cry of Shadows #1 and I’m already anxious to see how the real life Vader measures up to the Vader of CT’s dreams and aspirations.
Ghost #1 (Dark Horse Comics) – B-
The series is a continuation of the original 1990’s Ghost series where Elisa, a journalist, uncovers a crazy secret; the Mayor of Chicago is actual a demon in disguise. The possessed mayor banishes Elisa to hell only to have her brought back to the living world in ghost form by two paranormal investigators, Vaughn and Tommy, after which she proceeds to pull the demon from the mayor. That same demon, however, is able to escape and possess a new host – Doctor October. This is essentially where we pick up in Ghost #1. Elisa is still hunting for Doctor October as well as other possessed persons of power in Chi-town. Issue #1 starts out pretty intensely with Elisa kicking serious demon behind on the monorail. There’s lots of plot development in the first issue (as expected) and it makes for a somewhat slow read. Authors Kelly Sue DeConnick and Chris Sebela appear to be working depth into the story and I enjoy the direction its heading. In Elisa’s return for the demon realm, she only partially recovered her memory; this aspect does much to move the story along and kept me engaged. Demon sketch lack originality, but are beautifully grotesque in detail (props to Ryan Sook). Ghost herself is also pretty B.A. She stunts some really cool tricks and maintains a fearless and confident attitude throughout. I’m looking forward to Elisa’s pursuits to purify her city, recover her memory and take on Doctor October!
Funniest Panels of the Week:
Adrian’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Teen Titans Go! #1.
Panama’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Amazing Spiderman #700.5.
Robert’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Supergirl #26.
Sherif’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Deadpool #21.
Taylors’s nomination for funniest panel of the week from Ghost #1.
Epic Panels of the Week:
Adrian’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Harley Quinn #1.
Panama’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Saga #17.
Robert’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Supergirl #26.
Sherif’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #29.
Taylor’s nomination for Epic Panel of week from Darth Vader and the Cry of Shadows #1.
Cover Art of the Week:
That about wraps it up for our reviews this week! Look for next week’s previews coming soon. Any comic books you didn’t see reviewed that you want reviewed? Any grades you didn’t agree on? Let us know in the comments!
All images taken from ComiXology app and the credit for them goes to the respective publishers; thanks to IDW Comics, image Comics, Dark Horse, DC and Marvel for putting out great books.