- #6 Star Wars High Republic #4 By Cavan Scott and Ario Anindito
Although it ranks toward the bottom of my ranking this week, Star Wars High Republic delivers on some entertaining action and surprisingly lovecraftian themes. We approach what seems to be the conclusion of this arc where our newly appointed Jedi Knight Keeve reminisces about training with her master, the hilariously names Sskeer… you know… because he speaks with a “ss”… because he’s a reptile. Top notch stuff there Mr. Scott. I always find it interesting when monstrous themes are introduced into the Star Wars universe like the ones we find in this arc. In a world filled with trade tariffs and sometimes complicated cosmic-political intricacies that lead to things like separatists and imperial regimes, carving out a corner for a good ancient hive mind monster is always welcome. The interiors remain pleasant and consistent. This series hasn’t quite blown me away yet but it’s good enough to keep me buying to see what happens next. As I’ve mentioned in another Star Wars article, we fans are beholden to even the most mediocre of content.
- #5 Amazing Spider-Man #63 By Nick Spencer and Federico Vicentini
Nick Spencer really shines when he harps on his excellently (and hilariously) developed characters from his old Superior Foes of Spider-Man run. It’s too bad I pick up the Amazing Spider-Man for… well, Spider-Man. That being said I do enjoy seeing Boomerang a lot these days as well as the new beetle. If you’re looking for a good chuckle this is a fine read but I fear many fans are now exhausted with Spencer’s pacing and his lack of ability to really push the Spider-Man story forward. After 63 issues and the infinity that was Last Remains it feels like Spider-Man fans are hanging in limbo chuckling our way to the next arc that will no doubt lead back to the unfinished Kindred. I think we’re all ready to just move on. At least we have amazing interiors to hold us over. Vicentini on this book really giving Pat Gleason a run for his money which I gave high praise to in the last issue. It’s nice to know we have some all star artists on Marvels poster boy.
- #4 Venom #34 By Donny Cates and Iban Coello
An undoubtedly exciting issue for fans of all things symbiote. A companion to the now finished King in Black event, this issue of Venom gives us a delectable taste of things to come with the likes of Flash Thompson. I really enjoyed this issue and only push it back for the time it spent harping on the events of King in Black #4 before progressing any plot but Cates does an excellent job providing a narrative and inner voice to both Eddie Brock and Flash Thompson. In addition to this context we receive, Cates dishes out his now probably trademarked comic insanity by pulling Eddie out of his state of death in the form of a giant venom that hangs off the side of a building before attempting to deliver some smack down on Knull. You can’t make this stuff up… unless you’re Donny cates of course. Iban Coello delivers beautiful interiors as always on this book. It’s really a shame to see us reach the conclusion of this team. I’m looking forward to the final issue of Venom and seeing where the character goes moving forward.
- #3 Conan the Barbarian #20 By Jim Zub and Cory Smith
Jim Zub continues to show how much he understands the formatting of a classic Conan story with this new installment of the Barbarians story. It’s surely nothing we haven’t seen before but there’s a great sense of familiarity with the direction of the story and how well it’s executed. As format dictates, Conan finds himself a foreigner in a strange land with a beautiful woman at his side who seeks his protection but also fears him to a degree. They find themselves in between an oppressive regime and a violent insurrection. What can Conan do in this scenario? What he does best. Kill indiscriminately. As action packed as this issue already is, it really ramps up in the last few pages when Conan has to face off in a wrestling match against the leader of the insurgents. Zub shows a deeper understanding of Conan by putting him not only in a situation where he must exercise his physical strength, which is as barebones as you can get with the character, but by exemplifying his cunning and ability to survive in the most dire situations. This combination of themes ends the book on a great cliffhanger that leaves you hungry for more.
- #2 Immortal Hulk #45 By Al Ewing and Joe Bennett
This issue really ramps up the idea that we’re approaching the end of this iconic Hulk run not only shown by the intensity of the plot but by the surreal nature of the art. Joe Bennet is now firing on all cylinders as he pushes the boundaries of his imagination to create horrors beyond our wildest nightmares, even invoking John Carpenters “The Thing” in some panels. Really amazing and terrifying work that deserves acclaim. Al Ewing continues to push the bar with his phantasmagorical themes that have been slowly building to an epic climax. After seeing a barely alive iteration of Savage Hulk for several issues, as well as watching Bruce Banner be horrifically benched and Joe Fixit try and clean up all the pieces, this book ends on a big RED note that I can’t wait to see blow up in the next issue. Keep your eyes peeled as this series starts to close up!
- #1 King in Black #5 By Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman
Topping the Marvel list today is the highly anticipated finale to King in Black. I expected Donny Cates to bring his brand of comic craziness to this issue and he delivered in spades. The new Captain Universe/Venom fusion tear through the climax using an amalgam of Mjolnir and Silver Surfers board that cut through Knull and possessed celestials like butter. It’s everything a superhero fan could ever ask for and it’s shown beautifully through the handiwork of Ryan Stegman who brings cosmic heat to every page. Page after page of action comes to a close with a more personal moment between Eddie and his son Dylan before a finale that really leaves you hanging in the balance. We’ll have to wait for the grand conclusion of Cates’ Venom run to see what lies in store for Eddie Brock and the Venom title in general but one thing for sure is that this event did not disappoint.
- #1 Batman #107 By James Tynion IV and Jorge Jimenez
The 2nd issue in the arc following the future state hiatus and it’s actually a refreshing change of pace. For being the “worlds greatest detective” we certainly don’t get to see Batman detect too often. This issue throws that notion to the water and we see him collaborate with oracle to trace the steps of the criminal behind the “A-Day” gas attack at Arkham. The parallels between the gas mask panic, social upheaval, and quarantine recommendations from Gotham officials is not lost on me. Comics, like all art, tend to imitate life now and again so it’s a not-so-subtle commentary on modern realities. That being said it’s a slow burning arc that leads us closer and closer to the horrors Bruce Wayne will become subject to at the hands of scarecrow who has a terrifying new look thanks to the magic hands of Jorge Jimenez who needs no introduction. His work since the end of Tom Kings run has been consistently fire. He brings the entirety of DC up a few levels with his work. That being said, I’m always looking forward to more Batman!
- #1 The Silver Coin By Chip Zdarsky and Michael Walsh
Higher praise could not be given to possibly my favorite book of the week. I picked this up on a literal whim because I have an extremely large amount of goodwill towards Chip Zdarsky after the blessings he’s bestowed on the likes of Spider-Man and Daredevil but to watch him write without the constraints of Marvel and the character bibles that comic writers are often beholden to was nothing short of extraordinary. To put is concisely this book follows a rock band in the late 70’s getting pushed out of the way by the disco wave. The guitarist stumbles upon a silver coin accidentally left by his mother upon her abandonment, that when used as a pick, grants him the ability to play in an almost hypnotic beauty. This gift does come at a price however. I won’t spoil how these events unfold but it ends up being an incredibly visceral piece of horror that wraps up its entire story in one, bone chilling, issue. The following issues will be taken on by different writers and follow the coin as it changes hands throughout the years and brings its own brand of unholy horror to whosoever wields it. Michael Walsh appropriately delivers a gritty and horrific display of interiors that really lets you feel how dark this story is underneath, as well as above, the surface. A sleeper hit this week and I hope that you can track it down and sell this book out. Zdarsky and Walsh along with Image comics, certainly deserve it.
- #1 The Cimmerian: Iron Shadows in the Moon #1 By Robert E. Howard and Virginie Augustin
Another Conan book from a different publisher. Ablaze comics has been amazingly adapting original Conan stories written by Robert E. Howard into seperate mini series that in my opinion have been fantastic. The previous tale was the well known “Frost Giants Daughter” that did an incredible job of adapting the story. This new mini adapts Howard’s Shadows in the Moonlight and so far embraces the fundamental tenets of the character to the T. And why shouldn’t it? It’s literally written by the man himself. The art here is what truly adds layers to Howard’s classic tale as we see Conan arrive to a scene where a beautiful slave is on the run from an army who has used and abused her. This army happens to be the same as the one that slaughtered Conans most recent employers in the business of hiring sellswords. Conan does what he does best to the slaves harasser (kills) and goes on his merry way, but not before the slave sticks to him like glue for the protection he’s so clearly capable of. Beautiful and telling panels that often require little words to speak volumes are present throughout this issue and ends on an island filled with horrific mysteries that I can’t wait to see explored in the next issue. If you like adventure, violence, and beautiful maidens, don’t miss an issue of The Cimmerian.
- #1 God of War: Fallen God #2 By Chris Robertson and Tony Parker
I was wholly unimpressed by the 1st issue of this mini series but continued to give it a chance because I am a genuine fan of the character and video game series. You can imagine my disappointment when issue 2 spends its entire duration doing the exact same thing as the first. Kratos just seems to be angrily walking around different terrains angrily as he runs away from the blades of chaos until he falls asleep like a baby. He then wakes up to find the blades next to him and he proceeds to throw another tantrum as he rejects his destiny. This is literally 90% of 2 issues worth of comic book. If Dark Horse or Chris Robertson didn’t have an interesting story to tell with Kratos or God of War perhaps they shouldn’t have because this may very well be worse than nothing. Even the art is fairly bland and takes a few seconds to look over and appreciate. Each page is made up of very large panels with few words which allow you to finish this book where nothing happens in all of 5 minutes. I might actually retract my first sentence of the review because upon further though I’m thoroughly IMPRESSED that one can have 2 issues of a comic book where the same thing (nothing) happens. I think lesser of Kratos for having read this. I will continue to read to see how long Kratos can run away from the blades before falling asleep again. I’ll bet he can last a full issue next time.