- #3 X-Men #3 By Jonathan Hickman and Mahmud Asrar
Off the bat I can say this book was a technical marvel. The narrative structure Hickman created around one of the most interesting aspects in this current X-Men arc with the children of the vault was nothing short of expert. He crafted a love story In the middle of an impossible mission spanning a century (or what our heroes feel is a century). I think this run is going to be well revered in the annals of X-Men history but even with that high praise I must admit this is one book that’s going to be so much better in trade. There are so many interweaving and overlapping arcs and plots that occur in this run so far that when there are weeks between issues and there are other books to keep up with, it’s terribly easy for one to lose track of what’s going on. I definitely felt this confusion watching the main team explore the vault in a heist/spy thriller fashion. I was able to resonate with all of the beats Hickman laid out for me but I just wish I had a better grip on the story. Once the run wraps I’ll make sure to give it a clean read through. Mahmud delivers incredibly proficient and impressive work on the interiors that not only get the job done but succeed in evoking the helplessness and subsequent hope found in love and friendship that Hickman laid on thick in this book. I was a real fan of this book and I’m looking forward to more
- #2 King in Black: Ghost Rider #1 by Ed Brisson and Juan Frigeri
This book was marketed as a tie in but it was 110% actually the 8th and final issue of Ed Brissons Ghost Rider run that was abruptly cancelled several months ago but was now allowed to finish. The backdrop of King in Black did little to affect the main storyline of Johnny Blaze: King of Hell dragging Mephisto through New York on a path to destroy Lilith who’s attempting to lay claim to the throne. He encounters Danny who we last saw was the brand new Spirit of Corruption who is now hilariously going by Death Rider. Without spoiling the intricacies of the plot, Brisson makes excellent use of the pages he’s given to finish up his run with a satisfying conclusion and some awesome action sequences to boot. It really is a shame the run got cancelled when we get to see what Brisson was able to pull off in what was a rushed conclusion. He even makes an incredibly meta jab at the end by having Danny mention that this story wasn’t the “ending we wanted” but that “we take what we can get”. Sad, self aware, and funny indeed. Brisson and this book deserve major props as well as Frigeri who delivers beautiful interiors that make watching this epic conclusion a sight to behold as well as to read. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for the future of the riders and to see what tricks Mephisto has up his sleeves.
- #1 King in Black: Beta Ray Bill #1 By Daniel Warren Johnson
Wow. This is the word that consistently invaded my mind as I read this tragic, high octane tale. I already expected great things from this book and still managed to walk away thoroughly impressed and hungry for more. The entire book being handled by Johnson alone in regards to script and art lends to the spectacle that is this book but also rationalizes the quality with how consistent the art is with the tone of the story. The art plays effortlessly with depth of field and still manages to clock in just under wacky. Rough gritty lines and inking lend to a darker tone and meet right in the middle with the high octane, ever in motion, action sequences. The story itself in 30 pages tells of inadequacy, destiny, worthiness, brotherhood, and romance. It weaves these themes without missing a step. My biggest concern is that this tale is relegated only to a mini. If you are not familiar with the legendary horse Thor you are doing yourself a disservice by keeping yourself in the dark. Get this book sold out and give yourself over to the thunder.
- #1 Flash #768 By Jeremy Adams and Darko Lafuente
A new status quo and a fresh start is often welcome in comics when plots and arcs become a little too convoluted or overstay their welcome. This is not to say that Joshua Williamson didn’t have a fairly entertaining stint on The Flash but perhaps it was time to move on. Even more welcome when the new Flash being introduced is none other than the OG Wally West himself. Wally has been getting tossed around by DC for the last decade or so making it very clear they didn’t know what to do with him. They built certain events around him such as Heroes in Crisis which left many fans of the speedster with a sour taste in their mouth for mischaracterization of the popular ginger hero. Now they’ve decided to double down in this new, post death metal, launch by setting up Wally West as the new Flash replacing the beloved Barry Allen. Ironically enough the book starts off with Wally rejecting his powers entirely and attempting to live a normal life by having his mentor Barry cut him off from the speed force. After some heartwarming narration from the 2 the unexpected happens and Wally is catapulted to the Jurassic era and must speed away from all manner of dinosaur. A fairly lighthearted book that will certainly lead to Wally embracing his namesake and allowing Barry to handle greater business in the Omniverse while we follow our new hero in his day to day antics. The art by Lafuente was… questionable at times but overall a solid piece of work that doesn’t expressly turn me off. Sometimes an artist has to get used to the ebb and flow of certain characters and Flash is not an easy task to take on. The book was a fine set up for what I hope will be an entertaining run for the fastest man (men?) alive.
#1 Power Rangers Unlimited: Heir to Darkness by L.L. McKinney and Simone Ragazzoni
As much of a fan I am of the Power Rangers I must admit I was oblivious to the existence of Astronema when she appeared in the most recent issue of the ongoing Power Rangers series. She was clearly set up as part of a big reveal so when this issue advertising her origins was announced I just knew I had to get it. Astronema was a popular villain in the classic Power Rangers In Space iteration of the team and has since developed a following. After reading her origins in this book I can see why she was so compelling a villain. Unlike Rita Repulsa or the Dread Lord Zedd, Astronema has a sympathetic backstory undoubtedly filled with tragedy and manipulation. We are taken through her past as from a wee age she is battle hardened in a strange alien community that values strength, independence, and power all in pursuit of killing Rangers. McKinney successfully weaves nostalgic threads that remind me of relationships found in games such as Kingdom Hearts or shows such as Gungrave. The back and forth between past and present and the emphasis on lessons learned, the destruction of weakness in the form of sympathy and compassion make for a chilling tale. By the end of the book you watch as a villain, who seemingly had no choice but to become one, is fully formed. I’ve grown to really like Astronema and am excited to see the role she plays in the upcoming Power Ranger stories.