This week Sam looks at Giant Days and Lantern City from BOOM! Studios, with one fairing better in terms of entertainment for her. Kylee continues to enjoy Harrow County – seriously, if you’re not reading this series, you’re missing out on some fantastic horror!
From DC Comics, Jackson read New Suicide Squad and Batman, both of which he enjoyed immensely. Unfortunately, Star Wars Annual was a rare miss in the Disney/Marvel comics machine.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you think in the comments!
Giant Days #9
Author: John Allison
Artist: Max Sarin
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
Ed takes center stage this issue which I love because, well, I love Ed. Ever since joining the school paper he really seems to have found himself. He’s also managed to get over his little crush on Esther… by falling hard for the paper’s editor. Unfortunately things don’t go very well for him in that regard and he finds himself incredibly embarrassed after a haphazard encounter back at her place.
Meanwhile, the campus is going crazy after the paper runs an exposé on the student body president. They discover that he never really spends any time doing anything for the students. In fact, he leaves a dummy of himself in his office! This incites a riot because apparently that’s something college kids actually care about. In the end, nothing changes and the paper gets shut down for basically doing their job and running the news. At least Ed managed to reconcile with the editor and learn something about himself.
Also… who is the creep in the Politico sweatshirt trying to get involved in everyone’s business? I can’t wait to find out.
Lantern City #8
Author: Matthew Daley & Mairghread Scott
Artist: Carlos Magno
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
I really like Lantern City. I think it’s a unique book. But, man, does it ever feature some really boring bureaucratic scenes. What good does two pages worth of wealthy people yelling at each other really do for the story? What’s the point in having Killian effectively say the same lofty things every issue? It’s getting repetitive. The best parts of the book are when we go into the underground and see how things are shaping up with Pont and the revolutionaries.
This issue we, at least, get to do that. We meet up with Lizel again who is leading a group of revolutionaries against her father, Sander’s wife, and Pont. Unfortunately, no one has been able to get to Rennie yet to pull him out of Pont’s camp. Not that Sander has much time to deal with that. No, he has to go deal with Killian faking his own death and planning some crazy Messiah resurrection. And also apparently invading his own city with some random army of outsiders? I don’t even know. Dude just keeps getting crazier and crazier.
Consequently the book gets crazier and crazier – and I’m not yet sure that’s a good thing.
Harrow County #8
Harrow County closes out its second arc in a somewhat rushed climax that feels at odds with the slow build of previous issues, but still manages to be satisfying in its characterization and closure. From start to finish this issue is a roller-coaster clash between Emmy and Kammi, with Haints taking up on both sides of the fight. I’d argue that the position of Kammi’s Butler might be the most interesting, as he’s set upon Emmy to kill her with the reasoning that he himself gives – she’s so much like Kammi that, for a moment, he can pretend that he’s free.
And when the dust, ghosts, and ghouls settle, it’s unsurprising that Emmy comes out of the fray as the victor. After being dragged from her home by the roots of Hester Beck’s hanging tree, the woman herself makes an appearance to pull Kammi back to the earth with her. Crook’s artwork makes the moment unsettling and just a little bit heartbreaking as Emmy ignores her pleas for help, something I’m sure will come back and rear its guilty head in the future. The issue ends with Emmy and her Pa fixing up the house the old-fashioned way because it reminds her Pa that this is real.
History shows from the previous arc’s end that peace and tranquility never last long in Harrow County, even as the spooks went silent in the wake of the battle. Bunn and Crook continue to write a masterfully compelling comic that looks at otherness in such fascinating ways, making Harrow County one of the must-read series of 2015.
New Suicide Squad #15
Author: Sean Ryan
Artist: Philippe Briones
Publisher: DC Comics
One of the most important, memorable moments in comic book history occurs in John Ostrander and Luke McDonnel’s Suicide Squad #10 when, after breaking into Belle Reve prison in an attempt to bring down the squad, Batman faces down and is crushed by Amanda Waller. The frequently underestimated, overweight black woman stares down Batman, the established superhero and one of DC’s most profitable characters at the time, and tells him that he can’t touch her, can’t stop her from doing the things she wants to do, killing the people she wants to kill.
Then, Batman just leaves, mercilessly beaten and with his tail between his legs. Waller’s a villain Batman can’t punch, can’t break by the means he’s used to facing his foes. She’s bigger, more dangerous and, for once, has planned further ahead then the world’s greatest detective. It’s a sobering moment for Batman fans and it’s one of the best moments of characterization Waller receives, a character defining moment the likes of which every subsequent Suicide Squad series tries to replicate.
This week’s New Suicide Squad #15 tries to both undercut Waller in the same way she once did to Batman, as well as show her place in a very changed world. After an aborted attempt to bring down a drug cartel, Waller leads her mostly broken squad in a fact-finding mission to expose the secrets of the team’s new head, the ethically compromised Vic Sage. With a nihilistic, suicidal Harley Quinn, an impotent Deadshot, and Captain Boomerang the only team member even barely holding it together, things go sideways almost immediately and an encounter with a source reveals that the tables have been thoroughly flipped on Waller and the nature of her power is questioned.
Much of Waller’s characterization in the original run on Suicide Squad draws from the common perception of the Reagan-era intelligence community, an ethically black group of operators who answered to no one and had the backing of a government that was willing to sweep their sins under the rug. New Suicide Squad #15 questions whether Waller and, by extension, the US government has that same power anymore in the age of global conglomerates, compromised legislators in bed with corporate money and a nation slipping further and further into debt. It’s a sobering issue that clashes big ideas with grimy, purposefully dated violence and, as usual, it proves to be one of the best super-villain books on the stands.
Star Wars Annual #1
Author: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Angel Unzueta
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Like an awful lot of Star Wars characters, Emperor Palpatine works better the less you see of him. An utterly corrupt being, physically scarred and broken by all-consuming evil, he’s more interesting as a puppet master than as a proactive, nefarious force. He looks silly in action and is never more foreboding and dangerous than when he’s sitting on the throne, watching as evil and temptation bring down even the most stalwart of men. Unfortunately, this is a rule Star Wars comics through the years have rarely followed.
Star Wars Annual #1 is no exception although it tries to mitigate the problem as much as it can. In deep cover on Coruscant, rebel spy Eneb Ray is tasked with extracting some Senators from an Imperial installation before they are executed. However, his objectives change after he bumps into another rebel spy and the pair realize they have a shot at bringing down Palpatine.
Writer Kieron Gillen has a long history of writing villains and he’s done a capable job with Palpatine in Darth Vader, but it just feels wrong here. Part of it is that the Emperor gets so much time on panel. He necessarily feels diminished the more you see of him and with Rey as a new character, and not a particularly compelling one at that, it’s hard not to be more interested in him than the Rebels trying to bring him down. Ultimately, the book feels silly when it’s trying to be nihilistic and serious and features an ending that feels less like a conclusion than Gillen and artist Angel Unzueta just running out of pages. It’s a rare misstep in Marvel’s Star Wars line and a let down after Gillen’s several-year-long hot streak.
Author: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Publisher: DC Comics
One of Scott Snyder’s great strengths as a writer seems to be writing twists that feel painfully, achingly, head-slappingly obvious as soon as readers reach the final page. Since becoming one of comics’s most recognizable, bankable stars with the exceptional “The Black Mirror” storyline in Detective Comics, he’s delighted in pulling the rug out from under readers with twists that feel so unexpected in the moment but clearly and subtly built up to for many, if not, dozens of issues.
Batman #47 is no exception. While much of the meat of the issue focuses on a deadly battle between the sinister Mr. Bloom and Gordon, Bruce and Duke’s misadventures with the Penguin form the issues heart. The audience surrogate character in the fantastic We Are Robin, Duke’s usual active role is flipped here as he tries to guide the still partially-amnesiac Bruce to realize who he really is. The moments where Bruce gets closer and closer to remembering his life as Batman are terrifying and exhilarating in equal measure and drive home the nature of horror and heroism the character embodies. All that leads up to a last page reveal of another hole at the center of Bruce Wayne and it’s a delicious twist of the knife for both readers and characters.
Snyder and Capullo’s run on Batman has been rightfully praised as one of the best stories of the New 52 for years now and their partnership has brought out the best in both of them as they explore Gotham City’s twisted nature. It’ll be interesting to see how their latest twist is resolved in future issues but, for now, it’s just as fun to see how they built up to that latest, tantalizing cliffhanger.