This week was a good week for comics. Sam reviewed the one-shot Lumberjanes book and is holding out hope that more comes of this first spin-off issue. Kylee continues to be creeped out by the haunting Harrow County, while Jackson helps us say goodbye to this first run of Ms. Marvel and Kamala Khan until she returns with Secret Wars.
Check out our full reviews below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Lumberjanes: Beyond Bay Leaf Special #1
Author: Faith Erin Hicks
Artist: Rosemary Valero-O’Connell
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
A one-shot spinoff of the main Lumberjanes series, Beyond Bay Leaf Special #1 sees series newcomers Faith Erin Hicks and Rosemary Valero-O’Connell team up to tell their own Lumberjane story. They’re one hell of a creative team so I was pretty excited for this issue. (And disappointed that it was just a single one-shot.)
Anyway, our story starts with Jen taking the girls into the woods to do a little stargazing despite their protests. It seems they’re perfectly happy to go traipsing around at night in search of adventure but in search of education? Not so much. While the stars are pretty awesome, spectral ghost ponies are apparently even more awesome. Ridley sees one, becomes distracted, and takes off into the woods. She learns that this horse is the last of it’s kind free in the world and asks for help saving her brethren.
The others, who go in search of Ridley, get lost and are found by Sola, a creepy woman who is out hunting something. It turns out, she’s a collector of sorts. She’s trying to collect all of the spectral horses – and all of the Lumberjanes! But with a little ingenuity and Lumberjane heroics they manage to defeat Sola and rescue the horses. The story is solid and it feels like a longer story than just one issue. I loved it. I love Faith Erin Hicks, though. So I really hope she comes back. Buy this issue so people know how much we love her and she comes back!
Lantern City #6 (of 12)
Author: Matthew Daley & Mairghread Scott
Artist: Carlos Magno
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
It’s Sander’s first day working on Killian Grey’s personal guard and it doesn’t start out particularly well. Terna almost burns the place down and he comes very close to sleeping in a little too late (since it is, apparently, the first time he’s ever slept in a real bed). There’s a lot more for him to get used to and he’s going to have to do it quickly. Servants and guards and anyone else who comes up from the dregs has to adapt quickly and learn to survive or they’ll be gone before long. And Sander is playing a much more dangerous game than any of the others ever have.
In accompanying Killian he finds himself respecting the man and really beginning to appreciate this wealthy life. He even seems to fall into a sort of routine with Tarna and Jom. But while Killian remains the idealist Sander can respect he’s not respected by the ruling council. And while Killian seems like a good man he does things that even Sander finds questionable. After sending three men from a wealthy family to their deaths Sander has little time to reflect on what Killian just did before the man drops a bomb on him. His men have found his wife. (But not his son?)
I was about as bored as Sander was in some of these scenes. It’s nice to see how the upper echelon works, I guess, but hopefully we dial back on the meetings and such in the next few issues.
Harrow County #6
We were introduced to Emmy’s sister in the previous issue of Harrow County and in this issue we finally learn more about her. Kammi may look exactly like Emmy, but they’re diametrically in personality – if you didn’t already see that coming. Where Emmy is sweet and unassuming, Kammi is quick to dismiss her friend Bernice and overzealous in her interest in Hester Beck’s death. She goes so far as to attempt to dig up the witch’s body while Emmy looks on abashed.
If that’s not enough, Kammi heads into town without correcting anyone about her identity when she’s mistaken for Emmy, right up until the jilted husband from before confronts her. Instead of dismissing his jealous whims like Emmy had, Kammi gleefully helps him get his revenge. Though it is a little heavy handed, there are still enough nuances to the story to keep readers intrigued. Why doesn’t Kammi’s bodyguard sleep? What’s this “familiar” business she’s talking about?
Cullen Bunn’s writing hints at a larger picture that we’ve yet to see; perhaps Kammi is just another spooky bump in the night that needs some coaxing from Emmy to be content. As always Tyler Crook sets the haunting tone with his artwork and the coloring from Ma’at Crook lends itself to the whimsical, yet dark, vibe of Harrow County.
Ms. Marvel #19
Author: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: Adrian Alphona
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s hard not to overstate how fantastic of a character Kamala Khan, the newest Ms. Marvel, is. A play off of Marvel’s trademark Spider-Man-esque origin story for teen characters, Ms. Marvel’s greatest strength isn’t in her powers, her personality, or her enemies but rather in what she represents. Ms. Marvel is fully a product of her time, an internet-obsessed, multi-faceted character, divided between her religious background as well as the freedom she seeks. The explosion of popularity was all but assured and this week’s finale of the series, Ms. Marvel #19, is an important stepping stone for the series as it moves onto the next phase of the character.
G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona deliver a character-focused finale for Kamala in this issue. It’s an issue more focused on resolving some character issues while leaving others open for resolution and expansion. Kamala deals with her mother knowing her super heroic identity as well as her brother’s potential role in her life. She’s also forced to make peace with what she means to her classmates and maybe, her friend, confidante and just maybe more, Bruno.
It’s a low-key issue that notably feels more of a transitional one than a final one. Kamala and Bruno’s conversation at the end is the emotional backbone of the book and its an interaction that I’m sure will continue to define both characters when the book relaunches in the wake of Secret Wars. For now, there’s little that can be said that the book itself doesn’t, that Ms. Marvel #19 is, “the end… of the beginning.”
Author: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
One thing that’s often been forgotten in the many, many discussions of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s run on Batman is the looping, The Sopranos style structure that the book so frequently uses. Very rarely reliant on the start-stop pacing seen so frequently in the ’80s and ‘90s, when books would build up to a cliffhanger, only to have the next issue resolve the cliffhanger and build up to the next one, Snyder and Capullo tend to have characters deal with individual challenges while greater, storyline-spanning problems bubble away in the background before consuming everything in a thrilling climax. It tends to make each proceeding issue something of a mood piece, or a chapter in a novel, each one giving a distinct feeling or greater dimension to a larger whole.
This week’s Batman #45 is a fine, if slightly notable, example of this sort of plotting. Gordon, still getting used to all of what he’s capable of in the robo-Batman suit, learns to better use his abilities both in and outside of his armor while he becomes increasingly worried about whether or not he will continue to be able to serve the city. Meanwhile Bruce Wayne tries to make the repugnant remains of Joker’s plots to destroy Gotham into something the city can be proud of. Both storylines tend to make use of themes of finding the good in a sea of wretchedness.
Gordon is still dealing with his clear ambivalence about wearing the cowl but the issue’s climax with the sinister Mr. Bloom, sees that he cannot stop doing as much as he can for the city. In the same way, Bruce, even without the identity of Batman to fall back on, can’t stop himself from trying to find a little bit of light in the ever present darkness of Gotham City. Colorist Danny Miki’s taste for neon yellows and vibrant purples has never looked more fittingly out of place than when Joker’s sinister devices and Batman’s former trophies are transformed into a playground for the city’s children.
Fans who’ve flocked to this run of Batman for its blockbuster action may be disappointed by this issue but it’s a powerful example of a distinct creative team doing what they do best, filling in the margins of this twisted version of Gotham City they clearly love with characters just doing their best to fight for another day. There’s little more I could ask for.