Kylee is lamenting the penultimate issue of Past Aways, which has become pull-no-punches in exploring the team dynamics.
DC Comics knocked it out of the park for Jackson with The Omega Men and Grayson, with Marvel not too far behind, even if there are hints of re-tread, in Daredevil.
And, sadly, Sam’s computer is in the shop so we’ll be missing her picks this week. She’ll be back with us next week, though.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you’re reading in the comments!
Past Aways #8
Author: Matt Kindt
Artist: Scott Kolins
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: Dark Horse DRC
After a long wait, the penultimate issue of Past Aways has what’s left of our team finally making an attempt to get home. Curiously, they’re undertaking this journey with two out of three of the remaining members verbally acknowledging that they’d rather not go back. There is nothing left for Herb or Marge to go back to, having lost their family and their purpose respectively before volunteering for this job.
The revelations of last issue, that Phil murdered Art and was building up a secret cache of weapons in case the team turned on him (look how that turned out) and that Herb is the reason they’re stuck in the twenty first century, are almost glossed over in the name of expediency. After cannibalizing Phil for the pieces they needed, it was time to hopscotch through different time periods in an effort to get home. Unfortunately, more than one set-back forces their success into question – whether they’re successful or not will be seen in the final issue.
A lot happens visually, while so little happens in advancement of the plot. The jumping between time periods takes up about as many pages as the reminiscing on why it’s a terrible idea for two out of three people to go back. No tears are shed for Phil, nor does Herb get anything close to a slap on the wrist for putting everyone in this position. As we close out this series, it’s all stark, no-bullshit moving forward and the art lends itself to their chaotic journey and tumultuous emotions. I can’t wait to see how it ends.
The Omega Men #8
Author: Tom King
Artist: Barnaby Bagenda
Publisher: DC Comics
I’m not a particularly emotional guy. It’s not to say that I’m the manly, Gary Cooper type but I just don’t tend to get emotionally overwhelmed by media. Unless it’s about a dog dying, or overt bleakness or that scene in The Force Awakens when Rey pulls Luke’s lightsaber, it’s pretty unlikely that I’m going to shed a tear. That being said, I welled up on the last page of The Omega Men #8, a comic that ends on such an unrepentantly bleak, haunting, horrific gut punch that it makes the last seven issues, all dark, painful comics in their own right, feel like riding on training wheels.
Before I started reviewing comics here, I wrote a piece on my blog describing the first two issues of The Omega Men as an attempt by writer Tom King to make the audience feel complicit in both Primus’ terrorism and Kyle’s inaction. You were meant to feel as helpless to impact change as the ostensible hero of the story. The Omega Men #8 reveals that everyone is complicit in the atrocities that have lead them to become the galaxy’s preeminent religious fundamentalists.
In an issue that mixes characterizing flashbacks with an exposition filled reveal of the fate of the war torn planet Voorl, no one gets away clean as they’re used and abused by the Citadel’s quest for resources and planetary security. There’s some smart world building here with the Citadel rushing to save their planet from the doom that came to Krypton but the costs of their fear are made achingly human in the toddler, Scrapps. Seeing her young life destroyed brings her actions as an adult into a stark, new, heartbreaking light.
After seven issues of genre and character breaking, grand political statements, it’s fascinating to see King and artist Barnaby Bagenda focus on the human cost of a war for resources. It turns The Omega Men from terrorists to men and women desperately seeking redemption in a way that doesn’t feel like a cheat or too nakedly emotional. The Omega Men earns its emotional catharsis and the twist of the knife of its latest reveal in a way that so many other comics would have failed to do.
Author: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Garney
Publisher: Marvel Comics
My relationship with Daredevil as a character, comic and franchise is both innately personal and obscenely comprehensive. Other than about 25 issues from the mid ‘90s, I’ve read every comic with his name in the title ever published, but despite a long and exhaustive history as a hero, Daredevil tends to get wedged into only a few types of stories, generally owing tone and form to Frank Miller’s character defining run on the character.
These stories are bleak, overwhelmingly violent and extremely pessimistic, focused on very human failings and Miller’s views on his fellow man as intrinsically criminal. With so many issues of Daredevil coming from this template, there’s often a feeling of “been there, done that,” like you’ve picked up a story that’s already been told many, many times.
Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s new run on Daredevil overwhelmingly felt this way in the first two issues and this week’s #3 barely escapes the same trap. Bringing Matt back to New York City has put him back into a familiar role and even giving him a sidekick and a new job in the DA’s office hasn’t really changed the premise or character in any real, compelling way. Daredevil #3 manages to dodge the less than compelling premise by giving readers one hell of a compelling fight scene.
Garney is turning in some career best work on this book and Matt Milla’s extremely limited color pallet paints the fight in stark reds, blacks, pinks and purples. It’s a bold, compelling artistic choice. A brawl with The Hand ninjas has an intensity only highlighted by moody greys and blues in the scenes immediately following it, cooling down the intensity and contrasting with the brutal violence.. Milla’s decision to color Murdock’s fight scenes and his scenes in the District Attorney’s office with a similar pallet is intriguing and paints an intriguing portrait of the danger intrinsic in both environments.
This run on Daredevil is a testament to the strength of having a unique, talented colorist and penciller in your corner, particularly when you have a bold, specific vision of how the comic will look. It’s still a book with a less than compelling villain, a not particularly solid grasp on Matt as a character and a style entirely in debt to Miller’s iconic run, but as an artistic spotlight, it’s a dynamite comic and a showcase of a comics’ legend working at the peak of his abilities.
Author: Tim Seeley and Tom King
Artist: Mikel Janin
Publisher: DC Comics
To some degree, all media dealing with espionage and spies has to reckon with James Bond. The character casts such a long shadow over the entire genre that many films, shows and books define themselves by embracing or rejecting the things that define Bond, the sex, the gadgets, the car and gun fetishism, the b-movie style, and artistic openings. Grayson has mostly paid only slight homage to cinema’s premier secret agent, mostly by embracing Dick’s sex appeal and charms but this week’s Grayson #16 takes aim at MI6’s premier agent and ends up with one of the best comics of the last 5 years.
Armed with the knowledge of Spyral’s insidious origins and Otto Netz’s intent to create an eternal war, Dick teams up with Tiger to bring down every agent on Helena Bertinelli’s payroll. What could have been solely a fight issue is instead a stylish experiment in alternatively embracing and mocking the style of James Bond.
After entering a bar filled with would be Bond-babes, all with labored sex-based-pun names, most of the book is dominated by Dick making up a theme song as he brings down agent, after agent, after agent with ease all while antagonizing his less-than-enthusiastic partner with increasingly belabored wordplay, all to hilarious results. As someone who longs for the days of Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis’ “Bwa-ha-ha” comics, the divide between action and humor here is perfect, both wonderfully silly and instantly recognizable for longtime fans of the character.
So much of this issue’s success comes down to Mikel Janin’s daring layouts that pay homages to so many Bond credits sequences and Jeremy Cox’s rich, evocative colors but, as usual Tim Seeley and Tom King’s script shines and they’ve developed such a feel for how Dick Grayson operates in the world of high espionage and super villainy.
It’s rare to see a usually action-packed comic this wholeheartedly embrace comedy and homage and it makes for a tantalizing proposition, even for those not used to the visual language and genre tropes of ‘60s spy fiction. All in all, it’s possibly the best comic starring Dick Grayson ever and one of the best comics DC has published in years.