The Pull List was slightly lighter this week than the past three, partially due to me not managing to pick up any additional ongoings from Marvel or DC. I made a heroic effort to catch all the way up with Doctor Strange, but fell an arc short.
This week’s comics felt a little ho-hum for me, with even typical standouts like Flash and Paradiso falling flat. However, it also brought not one but two near-perfect comics, plus one unexpectedly great debut.
Here’s The Pull List for the 14th of March, 2018. New adds to the pull list are marked with *; dropped titles are marked with #.
- DC Comics
- Action Comics (2016) #999
- Batgirl and The Birds of Prey (2016) #20
- Detective Comics (2016) #976
- *Eternity Girl (2018) #1
- The Flash (2016) #42
- Mister Miracle (2017) #7
- Sideways (2018) #2
- Suicide Squad (2016) #37
- Titans (2016) #21
- Trinity (2016) #19
- Wonder Woman (2016) #42
- Image Comics
- Bonehead (2018) #3
- *#Dry County (2018) #1
- *Infidel (2018) #1
- Paradiso (2017) #4
- #Sleepless (2017) #4
- Slots (2017) #6
- VS (2018) #2
- Marvel Comics
- All-New Wolverine (2016) #32
- Astonishing X-Men (2017) #9
- Avengers (2017) #684
- Marvel Two-in-One (2018) #4
- New Mutants – Dead Souls (2018) #1
- Old Man Logan (2016) #36
- Weapon X (2017) #15
- X-Men: Blue (2017) #23
- Smaller Publishers: Aftershock Comics, Archie Comics, Black Mask Studios, & Boom! Studios
- Judas (2017) #4, Boom! Studios
- *Come Into Me (2018) #1, Black Mask Studios
- *Vampironica (2018) #1, Archie Comics
- *Betrothed (2018) #1, Aftershock Comics
Before we begin, a reminder that 2.5 stars on my rating scale is an average comic book and my bell curve distribution peaks at 3/5 stars! Don’t freak out and assume a comic book is terrible because it has 2 stars. That means it’s just a hair below average (and there are a lot of those this week)
Picks of the Pull
Big Two (Marvel/DC) Pick of the Week:
Action Comics (2016) #999, DC Comics
Dan Jurgens leaves us with a truly perfect, contemplative issue of Superman that puts a wrap on his stellar Rebirth run but also addresses his writing from over 25 years ago, as beautifully rendered by artist Will Conrad and colorist Ivan Nunes.
In Metropolis, Lois is newly reunited with her estranged Army General father after saving him from execution in the last arc. It’s his first time meeting Jon (sort of), but General Lane isn’t in on the Superman secret, so he thinks Jon is a regular kid. That makes it even more tense as Lois and her father square off across the dinner table about the philosophy of Superman. Jon has never been exposed to this kind of hatred and xenophobia about his father before – which is also, by extension, aimed at him.
Meanwhile, Superman is in space dealing with a routine chore of breaking up an asteroid that will stray a bit too close to Earth for STAR Labs liking. Superman is thinking about fathers – General Lane, his own father Jor-El, as well as Zod – all of whom were tangled in the cross-time plot he just wrapped with Booster Gold.
Superman can see the errors in the ways of each of those parents and they in turn reflect his errors back upon him. Clark Kent is good-natured to a fault, but he’s not always right. General Lane isn’t entirely wrong about him – sometimes his absolute power corrupts him, both in how he metes out justice and in how he isn’t accustomed to apologizing for his actions.
As a result, Superman decides to put right two wrongs. One is with Hank Henshaw, the Cyborg Superman, who he currently has imprisoned in the Phantom Zone. The other, eventually is General Lane.
I’m usually against comics aging our beloved superheroes into parents. Inevitably some future author wants to ignore that part of them, and in real life it’s hard to turn off you identity as a parent (something I understood even prior to becoming one). Yet, Jurgens has used the development to tell a truly memorable tale about Superman changing and maturing into something even more true to his iconic self over the course of the past three years, beginning with Convergence.
Despite a few weak spots along the way, this run will be remembered fondly as one of the best Superman stories of all time, held up alongside Jurgen’s own run during “Death and Return of Superman” in the 90s.
Independent & Creator-Owned Pick of the Week:
Judas (2017) #4, Boom! Studios
I was at once fascinated by and skeptical of the concept of this four issue dissection of Judas’s dissent into biblical hell. I love re-examining and expanding our shared myths, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would Judas wield a sword and slay demons as the fallen apostle? Would he join with Lucifer to plot his revenge against Jesus?
What Jeff Loveness had in mind was much subtler than either of those possibilities. This series explores the tragedy of predetermination, with a Jesus who was born to die and a Judas who never had any choice but to betray them. These two men, wronged by heaven’s plan, meet again in the depths of Lucifer’s hell.
While the first three issues of this series could be said to closely follow a biblical outline of Jesus and Judas, I felt that here we got more of the original concept I was expecting. This shows us the behind-the-scenes moments that lead to Jesus’s return to life, and how Judas has been fundamentally changed. Ironically, he is freer than ever now that he has been sentenced to eternal damnation.
This never turns into an action movie about saving Jesus from hell, but it does share some plot DNA and visual identity with Hellboy‘s most somber moments. It’s a stunning, beautiful ending to a story we already know by heart. Judas ties the story of Abraham to Jesus’s resurrection, but also a rehabilitation of Judas – both in how he lacked free will and how he found it.
Eternity Girl (2018) #1
I felt as though this issue was a case of the hype and hunger for a new series slightly outstripping its quality.
Writer Magdalene Visaggio has amassed a solid fan base (me included) thanks to her spectacular creator-owned Kim & Kim, and it’s outstanding to see her score a book in DC’s boutique Young Animal line-up. She weaves an utterly fascinating character in Eternity Girl, an undying woman trying to live a normal life.
It’s a terrific concept in search of a narrative clever enough to keep up with it.The single-page glimpses into Eternity Girl’s past in the back matter of the Milk Wars crossover had more Morrison-esque heft than this issue. It’s mostly about setup, with half of it spent listening to the eternal Caroline narrating unsuccessful suicide attempts to her therapist and enjoying cake and vodka with her best friend. It feels like deleted scenes from a superhero Groundhog’s Day. While there are many worse things than that, it softens the intriguing history between Caroline and her deceased arch-nemesis.
I think it was a mistake to separate this first issue from the preview material, which could have easily been reprinted here. Despite feeling this was closer to average than great, I’m still in for the ride.
Batgirl and The Birds of Prey (2016) #20
This issue pumps the breaks on Batgirl’s revenge trip to shift the focus onto Huntress and her relationship with her mother.
Of the core trio of Birds of Prey, the New52 Huntress has generally been getting short shrift in character development. That seems a little unfair given that the other two ladies appear in other places and she generally does not (Batgirl in her own title, and Black Canary in Green Arrow). This issue makes her the narrator and the star.
For fans of the character from her origins in Grayson, it’s a terrific continuance of the conflict in wanting to be a part of a family again versus being sickened by her mother’s subterfuge. For Birds of Prey readers, it might seem like it comes out of left field. Either way, It looks terrific, but it might be a little too much all at once – especially after a big emotional cliffhanger for Barbara last issue.
Detective Comics (2016) #976
The fallout of Batwoman’s fateful decision in #974 continues, although it’s now turning out to be much worse for Bruce than Kate. Batman’s family of at-risk crime fighters is disintegrating.Orphan is broken and thinks she might deserve to die. Tim Drake is obsessed with programming the world to be better. Meanwhile, Batwoman, Azreal, and Batwing are feeling incredibly successful as members of the Colony.
Surely those fates will reverse, but it’s satisfying to see Batman be so fundamentally wrong in his emotional disconnect from a situation. Also, the art from Javier Fernandez and colors from John Jalisz look damned incredible.
What’s fascinating to me is that it has taken us this long to reach a point where Kate and Tim are making deals with their proverbial devils – black mirror versions of their own moral selves. It puts into perspective how up until this point this series has been all about Batman’s own absolute morality as the litmus test for his lieutenants. From the start it was clear that Batwoman would increasingly chafe against his rules, but Tim’s similar separation is the bigger shock (although it’s been expertly telegraphed since the very first issue).
There are only five issues left of James Tynion’s run on this title before he moves onto Justice League Dark (!!!), and they very well might be my five most hotly-anticipated issues of 2018.
The Flash (2016) #42
The Flash hasn’t had tremendous art consistency to match Joshua Williamson’s constant drumbeat of plot, but a fill-in here from Dan Panosian (who also created the better-looking Slots, below) feels incredibly jarring. Panosian’s textured artwork isn’t match for the typical glossiness of this series, even if that varies between square-jawed faces from Carmine di Giandomenico and more traditional rubbery superheroes.
As for the plot, There’s not much to learn or do here, as each group of Flashes further the conversation from the last issue – Barry convincing Godstorm to held him, New Kid Flash and China Flash trying to convince Meenah to stand down, and Kid Flash playing hero.
Tighter, cleaner artwork could have sold this downtime issue. Instead, it’s just mid-arc filler.
Mister Miracle (2017) #7
Mitch Gerads turns in an absolutely stunning issue of artwork in this domestic dram.. No fighting. Very little movement. A lot of panels of Big Barda’s face. And it’s just utterly, transfixingly gorgeous.
It turns out that Gerads has become my major reason for staying with Mister Miracle, as each issue seems to further confirm that Tom King doesn’t write comics for me.
I don’t mean that King’s writing ought to be customized especially to my own tastes and preferences. It’s that in reading his consummately planned, meticulously assembled Mister Miracle I’ve come to realize I’m simply not his target audience.
King’s style is tilted heavily towards “writing for trade” and on the individual issue level is reliant on tricks of structure over heft of narrative. Like a museum exhibit or an IKEA furniture story, King wants to keep you in a chute and push you from panel to panel while you marvel at the origami craft of it all.
What’s missing from that is the actual delight of reading a comic book. As with his Batman run, once you press your way out of his narrative Yellow Brick Road, all of the potent emotion it was pulling you through suddenly feels a bit flimsy. This version of childbirth was cribbed from a hundred television versions of “real” childbirth with, the third issue in a row to rely on benign conversation and repetitive paneling to deliver its emotional punch.
That’s not to say it’s bad or not amusing. The amassed Furies in the waiting room were entirely hilarious, and the final moment of realization was deftly set up and thematically dense. However, this plot saddling the iconic Big Barda with motherhood has completely let the air out of the tense plot of depression and revolution in the opening issues of the series.
I have no doubt that it will all connect in the end, because that’s King’s schtick, but I’m starting to wonder if it will be interesting again before then for any reason aside from Gerads’s career-best art.
Sideways (2018) #2
Kenneth Rocafort’s art here continues to be a sheer joy, from Gotham skyscrapers to isolated lakes. However, the youthful Spider-Man energy from the first issue doesn’t bounce back here, as we’re mostly beholden to our hero being so beaten up that he can hardly move.
That does yield some good character moments with his mother and BFF as they each try to defend him from different kinds of threats in life. As much as I love the lack of decompression, I think we downshifted from the big, fun heroics a little bit too soon.
Suicide Squad (2016) #37
This issue features terrific pencils by Jose Luis – they stand up to some of the strongest work on this title to date, which has included a killer’s row of artists including Jim Lee himself!
I didn’t think an issue most about a tense conversation in cyberspace could be this thrilling and ultimately upsetting but after a lot of treading water this title is finally pulling together its plot threads and treating its characters like people rather than just weapons. When Harley stands up first for her teammate (who she once tried to kill) but then for the person she was just facing off against it really shows off the heart of this book (echoed weirdly, but Killer Croc).
Suddenly, the lineup of who you were rooting for is very different from the previous issue. Rob Williams endures as one of my favorite writers in comics, and it feels good to see him refocus this title.
Titans (2016) #21
This script has a lot of lab chat with Mallah and his robot brain and a lot of no one listening to Arsenal while he doesn’t explain himself all that well about his accidental relapse. Ultimately, Arsenal’s fight with Nightwing is pretty satisfying, but this issue was a slog of missed connections that didn’t even have all of the rewarding continuity of other recent issues.
Trinity (2016) #19
Jack Herbet’s pencil work on this issue are incredible. This book is gorgeous – one of the best-looking DC comics I’ve seen in quite some time. And, for a second issue in a row, Robinson is writing a vastly more interesting Wonder Woman here than he is in her own title.
The actual plot of this issue is a bit more static than the last two. In those, we had no idea how the Trinity would be able to cross a vast magical world with their two most powerful members handicapped. Here, they’ve completed their journey (with one of the handicaps explained away with a literal handwave) and all that remains is to see them through a final battle which has little consequence to the narrative since we’ve already seen them in the present day no worse for the wear.
Still, it allows for some good moments of interplay from the Trinity, which marks this as the strongest of the gaggle of recent alternate worlds/dimensions stories that have appeared in all three characters’s titles.
Wonder Woman (2016) #42
DC has not been skimping on the art rotation on this title the past few months -Jesus Merino’s pencils look incredible here.
As for the plot, I’m not sure what I could say at this point. We do get Wonder Woman briefly having a fight, but Robinson seems to be willing to do anything he can to avoid writing scenes with Diana as the focus or any development for her.
We get her brother’s flashback and a lengthy lasso-inspired confession from Darkseid’s Daughter, but the Wonder Woman content of this Wonder Woman comic book remains depressingly low – especially when it comes to Diana acting with agency to address the current threats to the world rather than just running to wherever she is pointed.
It’s a sad state of affairs that we’re now 42 issues into a Wonder Woman series that has only managed to feature an interesting, dynamic version of its title character in 12 issues of a Year Zero origin story and an awkward fill-in arc after Rucka’s departure.
Bonehead (2018) #3 (Top Cow / Glitch)
There is something magical about this comic about a mute masked parkour superhero and the vigilante-turned-cop whose place he’s taken in the hierarchy of this bombed out future city. It’s quickly becoming one of my most-pleasing reads every month!
This issue advanced both of their plots, deepening our understanding of our police officer as he hits a wall in his investigation and giving us more action between our masked hero and the street gang that has taken a (not entirely unkind) interest in him.
The art from line artist Rhoald Marcellius and color artist Sakti Yuwono continues to be bold, blocky, and vivid in an awesome way! My only real complaint is that the plot about a deadly street drug seems to dead-end quickly in the opening pages here, which made me wonder we even bothered with this brief feint after the revelations last issue.
Dry County (2018) #1
I enjoyed this slice of life comic strip despite myself, more for its format than its story. It follows a miserable Sunday Comics illustrator somewhat in the illustration style of a Sunday comic, but with his internal monologue as torn pages of a narrated journal.
It’s a nice device, and it makes for big, easy-to-read lettering that somehow gives his misadventures a slightly comic edge, even when he’s just being a drunk who makes poor decisions. He flirts with a woman in the laundry room and winds up tangled in her own relationship drama as she fllees one bad relationship for the next.
Hmm, I wonder if they’ll be good together?
This was well-made, but “ne’er-do-well nice guys” are not really my sort of thing to follow monthly – I’d like it better in a collected graphic novel format.
Infidel (2018) #1
A dense multi-cultural, multi-generational personal drama layered with the aftermath of crime and the implications of horror.
Most comics wouldn’t dream of trying to tackle a set of relationships this complex right off the bat – the Muslim fiance of a widowed father of a young girl who moved back in with his racist mother, who lives in an apartment building that was recently the site of a mass murder in one of the adjoining apartments. (And, that says nothing of the woman’s overbearing Muslim mom, who didn’t even want her to go to college).
It’s an intense amount of plot, but it never feels like too much. Maybe that’s because the issue starts with a disturbing scare and then jumps right into an adorable conversation about Star Wars – it makes you want to know who these people are, and what is haunting them.
With this dense plot and wonderful art throughout, Infidel is something new, different, and worth reading.
Paradiso (2017) #4
Paradiso started out as one of my favorite new series from Image, but this arc-ending issue doesn’t hold up against the quality of the first pair of issues. It clarifies a few connections and has some of the biggest action we’ve seen yet, but it still hasn’t really resolved into the thrilling thing suggested by the first issue. The artwork has devolved into a sort of beige sameness. The big action was hard to decipher, and I had trouble telling apart all but the most physically unique characters.
If this was the end of the first trade (the next issue arrives in July), I think this series and its story is a lot worse than I initially assumed.
Sleepless (2017) #4
Leila de Duca’s artwork is some of my favorite in comics, and this closeted world of court intrigue with no sense of the people it rules is fascinating. However, Sarah Vaughn’s habit of glacially-slow plot development and oblique revelations about her characters is strangling this series during its first arc. Maybe this will read better in trade, but I’m not deriving any enjoyment out of it on a monthly basis.
Slots (2017) #6 (Skybound Entertainment)
Dan Panosian’s Slots comes to a quite sudden end, as the events of this final chapter seem abrupt compared to the long-teased plot up to this point. It all still looks great, and the sudden turn of plot makes a ton of sense – so, it’s not bad! But, a lot of the themes that this series built up over time (including the special luck of a few of the characters) doesn’t especially get paid off. It feels like we were rushed out of this interesting world in a hurry. It was a fun read on the whole, but it feels slighter now that it is complete.
VS (2018) #2
VS is a beautiful comic book with a substantial problem: it’s all about its visceral, high-tech action scenes, but for a second issue in a row those scenes don’t make a lick of sense.
It’s obvious at this point that part of the theme of this book is that so many players in the virtual battles are disposable, and its fine for them to be interchangeable cannon-fodder. However, the figures all look the same, the action repeatedly shifts perspectives to cross the 180 line or to switch scenes with no notice. That doesn’t make this book awful, but it does mean I frequently find myself skimming pages that I’m meant to linger upon.
It’s the info in the background that’s really making me love this book. We get some more information about the meteor looming over Earth from the intro of last issue, and we see that everything is commercial on this version of Earth – they even sell supplements for prayers.
There’s a rivalry developing between our ornery old gladiator and the young, nimble leader of the team, and I’m hoping it plays out more off the battlefield than on.
All-New Wolverine (2016) #32
A delicious, fast-paced, one-shot resolution to one of Laura’s first and most unforgivable crimes.
I really loved this comic book, but I have to admit that it pandered hard (especially the awful, out-of-character final scene). Did we need the motivation behind Laura’s old assassination to be about white supremacy? Do we have to hear Laura make winking jokes about Nazi stomping to appreciate her vengeance? I think I would have been fine with this guy being responsible but also being a Nazi, but eliding the two was all a little too convenient of a retcon for me.
Ultimately Laura gets a few nice character moments, including one about how her respect for life doesn’t make her weak. I enjoyed the slightly looser art from Djibril Morissette-Phan on this story. The Juan Cabal art from the “Orphans of X” arc would have been too articulated and pretty for this, and may have made it funnier than it needed to be.
Astonishing X-Men (2017) #9
This issue hits the same problem we had in the middle chapters of the first arc: repetitive choreography that can’t obscure the lack of stakes in our story.
We spend pages pulling apart X and Psylocke, but there is no weight to that because there’s no risk. What was at risk there? Them getting stuck together permanently? With Proteus suddenly gone, it’s not like there’s a major time constraint or another threat dividing the team’s attention.
Then, there is a hilarious bit with Old Man Logan stabbing X thinking he has a healing factor. (He does not.) It was great as brief gag, yet we keep lingering over X, his body, and his healing process. Again, his survival was never in question, so it’s hard to understand why it needed so much focus in the artwork. If anything, it seems like the X-Men plot is just stalling for time to give the Proteus plot enough time to unfurl. Except, I don’t think we’d question how the issue ends if it had four less pages of setup and was occurring in a nearby London suburb rather than Scotland.
What makes this all really painful is that Soule’s plot for Proteus is a work of mad genius I’m in love with it. It’s something I’ve never really seen explored in X-Men before, and no character other than Proteus or Legion could make it work.
Avengers (2017) #684
The intrigue of the “No Surrender” story really grinds to a halt here so we can resurrect The Hulk and launch him to his upcoming Immortal Hulk series with a newfound horror vibe.
Honestly, it’s done pretty darn well – especially with a cheat sheet in the back of the book to explain all of the continuity of Hulk’s flashbacks. However, a lot of this issue is given over to the (underwhelming) reveal of Voyager’s true identity and the USAvengers team scurrying around their base in preparation for the incoming Hulk.
USAvengers has a great cast, but it was an average, lightweight book at its best, and seeing it take over the narrative here from Rogue and Falcon sucks the momentum out of this thrilling Avengers story coming on the heels of the last issue, which also kept us away from the main teams.
Marvel Two-in-One (2018) #4
I HAVE A LOT OF FEELINGS ABOUT THIS COMIC BOOK.
First, it’s so wonderful to see Valerio Schiti’s work elevated to this level. his figures are gorgeous. His panelling is gorgeous. He’s drawing a beautiful book worthy of starring Marvel’s flagship family.
Next, Chip Zdarsky has The Thing SO RIGHT in a way I haven’t read him in a long time – better than Hickman wrote him, I think. The pathos of having Thing alone know the secret of the dimensional device is crushing, and makes his gruff exterior seem even more flippant than usual.
We all know I don’t like any alternate universe plot, but this one comes so heavy with implications from the recent past of Fantastic Four that I cannot stop turning it over like a Rubik’s Cube. Most of the Reeds were dead even before Secret Wars, yet we meet a new one here. All the worlds were dead even after Secret Wars, but we’re on one that has been created where the Fantastic Four suffered the worst possible tragedy.
We know from the epilogue of Secret Wars that it is Franklin and Valeria that are populating our new multiverse, so: why would they make this world? It speaks to their act of creation being fundamentally different than Wanda’s in House of M. They are not creating the worlds that SHOULD exist, but the ones that MUST.
I really hope Zdarsky follows that thread to its logical conclusion – not only to reuniting the Fantastic Four, but to giving us some resolve about the renewed Marvel Universe (a topic so far really only addressed by Ewing in Ultimates)
New Mutants – Dead Souls (2018) #1
This is a fantastic X-Men comic book with just a few tiny flaws. It is super rich in continuity, but if you don’t know the recent continuity the caption boxes will do the trick for you.
While the Haatchi corporation in general is a good example, Rictor in specific is the best one. This book never comes out and says he’s the gay team member. It doesn’t mention he’s extra-snarky because he’s on a break from his boyfriend and just almost died in a crazy old mutant’s basement (in Iceman #11). It just gives us a caption about his name, his powers, and his jerkiness. Yet, all of those other aspects are clearly there in his few lines of script.
He comes off the best out of the entire team here. Magik is a bit more oblique – she’s not someone we’ve ever really witnessed living a “normal” life or caring about money, so it feels like there must be something more in this arrangement for her than a paycheck or getting fragments of the old gang back together.
The combination of Rictor and Boom Boom plus Rahne and Karma gives this a delightful merged feel of multiple eras of New Mutants without making it feel like X-Force in the slightest. If anything, it’s much closer to X-Factor, with 3/5ths of the team from Peter David’s run.
The artwork was good, but at some points I wanted it to dial down the Mark Texiera scratchiness of the line work. I might prefer this penciler with inks over him, but I do like his models for the team – they remind me a bit of David Baldeon.
Ultimately, Rosenberg knocks this first issue script out of the park, but we also saw him do that on the middling Phoenix Resurrection. We’ll have to see if his consistency remains high in the next two issues.
Old Man Logan (2016) #36
This issue starts with a really intriguing beat – a weathered, broken Old Man Logan realizing that the confidence he had that his future had been averted was misplaced. Things could still bend around to create his world – with all of the magic and resurrections of the Marvel Universe, no present day status quo means his fate is unavoidable.
However, from there it becomes a standard McGuffin plot with some information that may or may not take down NYC’s new mayor, The Kingpin. It’s a lightweight plot, and the speed with which Logan leaps right into it without a lot of reflection on his earlier revelation is disappointing.
Weapon X (2017) #15
This story really deserved to be promoted into the Old Man Logan ongoing, as it’s so much more core to who Logan is than the story currently running there.
Greg Pak and his frequent writing partner Fred Van Lente explore Sabretooth’s tradition of always trying to kill Wolverine on his birthday, despite the two of them being on the same team. It’s like this annual event some how snapped Creed out of the rest of his goodness. Prior to that sudden snap, I loved the idea that Logan has to find more missions quickly before his killers get too bored and just start killing again.
Roland Boschi’s art can sometimes have a flat, 2D quality to it, but he surprised me with a kinetic fight here. This was a very fun issue that hints this book has some fight left in it even with Old Man Logan’s departure seeming imminent.
X-Men: Blue (2017) #23
Who knew that all this title needed to go from also-ran to the best X-Men book on the stands was to jettison the time-displaced team?
Oh, wait… everyone knew that.
It’s like Cullen Bunn has come alive here after a year of sleepwalking as he gets to write drama that effects all of mutantkind starring a heavy-hitting cast of Magneto, Polaris, Havok, and Emma. In this context, his knockoff Wolverine and Storm don’t even come off as annoying, as they are just pawns on the chess board rather than the naive focus point of the book.
This issue looks great (Jorge Molina is a delightful chameleon of pencil work) and feels like a return-to-form to Bunn’s Magneto series. It just goes to show how much wasted potential we have with a book focused on the uninteresting problems of the original X-Men.
Aftershock Comics, Archie Comics, & Black Mask Studios
Betrothed (2018) #1, Aftershock Comics
This comic goes through all the trouble to set itself up in the halls of a high school and feints that we’re going to see magical, star-crossed lovers borne from a magical world have to fend off their fates while being normal kids … and then it ends by dumping them right into the magical world.
Maybe that means there will be a lot of excitement and adventure in our future, but I cannot help but thing that this book is a great concept with the wrong focus. It felt like there was a terrific 40 issue series that could have played out between pages 5 and 6.
I’ll read the next issue purely because I’m fascinated to see what is so great that they gave up this other story to tell it.
Come Into Me (2018) #1, Black Mask Studios
This doesn’t really do a great job of selling a medical start-up or setting up a hard sci-fi medical process for sharing brains. It’s far too fast and loose with both, galloping through set-up with a cast of cardboard cut-out characters. Also, it was really tough to read this lettering. The front was was much too condensed. Altogether, an unpleasant experience.
Vampironica (2018) #1, Archie Comics
This is a “put up or shut up moment” for me as a reader. I said I would follow Greg Smallwood to anything after falling in love with his art on Moon Knight, which is how I found myself reading an occult alternate universe Archie Comic about Veronica as a vampire.
(She’s already bitchy and eternally young – what else is there to write about?!)
Smallwood is both the writer and artist here, co-scripting with his wife Meg. We get a surprising slam of an opening – where we’d usually expect the frivolous Veronica to be bitten by a vampire at a party, it turns out she’s the slayer who arrives to save the day. From there we cut back to follow Veronica on the last day of her normal life, which sketches out all those familiar Archie romantic triangles for us and then quickly ushers in the horror.
Greg Smallwood’s textured colors here, which look like they were done in charcoal and pastels, are marvelous, and gives the series a touch of grit.
Though the issue is a lightning-fast read, it’s stylish and solid. It doesn’t tip its hat too far on the tone of the series or what this undead Veronica will be up to every month, but I’m definitely interested to find out.
I could be wrong, but I believe Meg Smallwood is Greg’s sister, not his wife. ;)