All-Star Batman #1
Okay, so DC Comics is letting Scott Snyder play with Batman again, this time going into detail with some classic villains and giving them new context and new story. Here, Bruce and Harvey are going on a road trip outside of Gotham, but Two-Face has hired everyone he could find to try and kill the Bat and save him. Ho-hum. The best Two-Face story that comes to mind is the one a web comic called Surrealist Obituaries did a number of years back. I think I might post that on Facebook, because it’s pretty much guaranteed to be better than this. Which isn’t to say it won’t be pretty – Declan Shalvey, Danny Miki, and John Romita can make anything pretty.
A classic tale of boy taken to a fantastical world where he is the Chosen One, brought to a magical land from an ordinary one to save the land from a Terrible Evil. Thing is, the Evil in question knew the Chosen One just wanted to go home, and so the two of them cut a deal. Complicating things is that the boy has aged twenty odd years, but only a year has passed in the real world: a year that saw his family fall apart. Further complicating things: that deal he cut involves him killing certain refugees that fled that fantastic world for the ordinary one, and one of those refugees happens to be the Chosen One’s grandfather. Some of the coolest fantasy going.
Blue Hour #1
One of the more recent comics companies to spring up over the past few years, Action Comics has been doing some really interesting high-concept psychology pieces disguised as science fiction mostly. In this case, it’s a group of earth settlers moving to a planet and planning to build a new society based on the lessons of the failed old one. Trick is, they’re now on a bi-star system and an alien planet. The suns are yellow and blue, but when the yellow sun leaves the blue sun alone in the sky there are some interesting consequences. At least, according to the locals – will the colonists be smart enough to heed their words, or will they fall prey to the blue hour?
Darth Vader #24
Kieron Gillen’s Darth Vader comics have been some of his best works and are some of the best comics Marvel is putting out right now. Taking place between episodes IV and V, we’ve seen Vader deal with the fallout of losing the Death Star, learn that he has a son, recruit allies, and face down potential replacements that the Emperor has been experimenting with. Vader’s just killed his way to the last replacement, but that one guy is the man who designed Vader’s life support armor and he had a trump card – the power to shut the whole thing down. Vader’s now trapped in his armor, and here is where we learn if Vader is truly more machine than man. This is going to be awesome.
Detective Comics #938
I’m kinda glad DC Comics is doing this bi-monthly thing – I really didn’t want to wait to see where James Tynion IV is taking this story. Batman’s uncle, a military man, has been so impressed with his nephew that he’s put together a Batman task force and planned to give it to his daughter, Bruce’s cousin Kate. You might know her better as Batwoman. Bruce interfered with that plan, Kate learned about that plan, and now Bruce, Kate, and the small team they’ve put together are going head-to-head with the blackest of black-op teams, a group that has patterned itself off of them. I kinda hope James Tynion IV gets a Batwoman spinoff series, because he does the character justice.
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas #4
You saw the movie, right? Fun little romp, wasn’t it? It’s also based on a true story and is just one of the legendary exploits of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson, one of the greatest writers of the past century. Nominally, he wrote on politics and sports, but his actual writings and experiences are the sort of thing one would expect of fiction, of old bardic epics… of comics books. IDW Publishing has done a good job of illustrating the madness of a professional madman, with Troy Little succeeding at the unenviable task of choosing what part of Hunter’s mania to highlight. This is how Hunter went to cover a race and then an anti-drug police convention while taking pretty much every drug ever. You must read this.
The Flash #4
Really, I was just needing some flashy goodness to get ready for the new season, but then I saw Joshua Williamson was writing and – given how much I love Nailbiter and Birthright – immediately went out and read the previous few issues so I could fully appreciate this one. The story here is a unique one: a group of science-based terrorists calling themselves the Black Hole has found a way to weaponize the Speed Force and plan to use it to kill all the people they don’t like. Being terrorists, they have an extreme agenda that involves hurting innocent people so that they can inspire a whole new generation of terrorists, and it’s up to the Flash to stop them. This is fun.
Night Trap #3
Okay, confession time: I only picked this up because of the game of the same name. Back in the early-nineties, a barely playable video game called Night Trap took center stage (along with Mortal Kombat) as an older generation sought to blame another new form of media for the ills that generation perpetuated. They did it with novels, with comics, with music, with role-playing… hell, they did it with post offices when those became a thing. Change is good, and this comic is entirely different from the game and written by Cullen Bunn, who is one of the best horror writers you’re going to find in this medium, and who is writing a love letter to classic slasher movies. Cool beans.
Combine James Bond and Batman and you end up with Ninjak~! Ninjak is the ultimate weapon of MI-6 in Valiant Comics, the badass normal who hangs around s an equal with god-beings through sheer force of training, strategic planning, and a very particular set of skills. Matt Kindt brings his usual brilliance, juggling two storylines as Ninjak tries to find a cure for the taint that has followed him back from the land of the dead in the present, while in the future he and the Eternal Warrior prepare to face down an enemy that wants to end all life on earth, and everywhere else. Matt is joined by artists Khari Evans and Andres Guinaldo to illustrate one of better high-stakes comics out this month.
Wonder Woman #4
Greg Rucka’s take on Wonder Woman has been pretty much everything we hoped it would be, balancing the character’s two big themes of mercy and truth while also playing with her divine origins. We’ve learned that all sorts of powers are at play, that the Olympians are still out causing trouble, and that Ares is waking up and that’s about the worst thing that could happen to anyone and everyone. Diana is on her way home to try and fix that particular problem, and there’s something of a duel coming and it’s been built up beautifully, with Nicola Scott really going to town on the lush artwork. The second comic I’m reading this week, right after Vader.