Everyone enjoyed their comics this week! Sam tackled Giant Days, from BOOM! Studios (and this was definitely not the last issue like she thought).
Jackson saw an interesting turn of character in Green Lantern, from DC Comics, and also liked the examination of a minor character from the myriad of minor characters in G. I. Joe in Transformers vs. G. I. Joe from IDW Publishing. His favorite, five-star rated, comic of the week was Marvel’s Black Widow #1.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you’re reading in the comments!
Giant Days #12
Artist: Max Sarin
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
All right, so, election day is here and… wow. Things really don’t go as planned. Susan’s candidate doesn’t just lose but she finds out she was being played by the winning candidate and her nerdy friends the whole time. She lost McGraw over a total lie. Yikes. She’s incredibly upset as you can imagine. Meanwhile McGraw is just sawing planks of wood into pieces until he’s physically injured. And Esther’s fling with her lecturer in turn comes to reflect on her grades after he possibly marks her down out of spite.
Luckily, Daisy has a plan to at least cheer them up. Well, if you call forcing Susan and Esther to go camping a plan or something that’s likely to cheer up these two homebodies. But they do have a pretty decent time and Susan comes to terms with the fact that she’s responsible – at least to a large extent – for what happened between her and McGraw. The girls all have a sort of revelation that they owe a lot of their good times to their relationship with one another. Except Esther takes that affirmation of their friendship to mean they’ll love her no matter what – even if she leaves university for good!
I don’t know why I thought this series was ending this month, guys. I guess I’m an idiot. We’re still good for at least two more issues and probably a few more beyond that. And I’m glad because I need Susan and McGraw to at least reach some kind of real closure!
Green Lantern #50
Author: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan and Vincente Cifuentes
Publisher: DC Comics
There are few characters who deserved a resurrection less than Hal Jordan. The former Green Lantern turned universe-threatening super villain Parallax died in the mostly forgotten ’90s crossover “Final Night” and, honestly, it was the best thing that happened to the character in years. After committing mass murderer in the “Emerald Dawn” storyline, his sacrifice in “Final Night” didn’t redeem his character but came as close as possible to doing just that, giving him a shot at a legacy that didn’t focus on how he destroyed the Green Lantern Corps.
Then came “Green Lantern: Rebirth,” the miniseries that brought Hal back into his role as the preeminent Green Lantern and retconning his sins as the influence of a giant, fear spreading space bug. It’s arguably the most memorable Green Lantern comic of all time and arguably one of the worst, rehabilitating one character’s image at the expense of 20 years of continuity and every character who survived his assault. Various writers have tried to reckon with Hal’s legacy as a turncoat and killer to various success but writer Robert Venditti has arguably most directly confronted the legacy of Parallax in his ongoing run on Green Lantern.
Long foreshadowed, this week’s Green Lantern #50 sees Hal Jordan, now a criminal on the run in an attempt to redeem his disastrous leadership of the Corps, confronting a time-displaced Parallax, seemingly the character who helped Superman fix the universe in the wake of last summer’s Convergence event. It’s mostly a fight comic, with two characters of incredible power clashing in the newly reinvigorated Coast City but it attempts to reckon with the two sides of Hal Jordan.
Both are characters scarred by what they’ve done and forced to come to terms with what those sins mean about who they are. In the context of a mainstream superhero comic in 2016, the focus on guilt, self-loathing and never being able to forgive yourself are admirable but it’s a comic trying to have it two ways, It wants to reckon with what Parallax did back in the ‘90s and honestly examine whether Hal Jordan is a character worthy of the redemptive arc he’s gotten all while having two characters cause mass chaos with a city spanning fight scene.
Trying to examine whether Hal’s homicidal actions can be forgiven lose some punch as he punches Parallax through the streets of Coast City. That being said Billy Tan and Vicente Cifuentes nail the art here. Tan’s had his ups and downs on the series but he has such a command of Hal’s body language, face and attitude, both in the current day and as Parallax, is well done here and the fight scenes are electric, showing off both characters’ powers.
Green Lantern #50 is fueled by good intentions, honestly examining a character whose often gotten a pass for committing some of the most heinous crimes in modern comics. It’s also nice to see Venditti, who’s taken a lot of heat for not following Geoff Johns’ take on the franchise too closely, stick by his vision for the character and the DC cosmic universe back to its roots. It’s a comic that will play better for readers who’ve followed the character before “Green Lantern: Rebirth,” especially fans of Green Lantern in the ‘90s, but it’s a deep dive into the character worth taking.
Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #11
Author: Tom Scioli and John Barber
Artist: Tom Scioli
Publisher: IDW Publishing
A lot is made of Tom Scioli and John Barber’s wildly experimental style and alternative comics influence on ‘80s pop culture mashup book Transformers vs. G.I. Joe but the comics’ propulsive, dynamic pacing often is left out. In the backwater of this week’s #11, Barber and Scioli write about the conscious decision they made to focus on that pacing in the issue’s commentary.
Scioli writes, “When I started working on this series, I decided that one of the rules would be to set it in the eternal present,” and that focuses shows, but being the thoroughly irreverent comics creators that they are, this is an issue entirely filled with flashbacks and flashbacks within flashbacks. It works better than it has any right to.
Taking place far away from the ongoing guerrilla war on Cybertron, Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #11 focuses on Falcon, a minor G.I. Joe character even by the low standards of minor G.I. Joe characters, as he tries to get qualified to become a Joe and join the war. For fans of the campiest parts of ‘80s pop culture, it’s a plentiful showcase of loving homages to movies and comics.
A battle in the ring between Duke and Falcon homages Rocky, Raging Bull, and a host of Marvel comics stories all at once and spotting the Roadhouse and Predator are just as enjoyable. It’s a fun change of pace for the comic and offers a compelling starting point for readers interested in the series and aren’t ready to jump into the deep end..
Fans of the kinetic, layered, over-the-top mashup stories the series has defined itself with may not be as satisfied with Transformers vs. G.I. Joe #11 as they have been with the rest of the series, but by breaking their own rules Scioli and Barber have created something different from every other issue of the series so far.
Black Widow #1
Author: Mark Waid and Chris Samnee
Artist: Chris Samnee
Publisher: Marvel Comics
There are few more influential comics than Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD #1 from 1968. It’s an issue that begins with a silent three page sequence, one of the first of its kind, that sees Nick Fury, the consummate spy master and ladies’ man, break into a military facility, sneak past guards and then is shot in the back of the head as Steranko rips the rug out from under readers for the first time in his classic, genre-defining series.
To some degree, every story about SHIELD has to reckon with the long shadow of Steranko’s short run on Nick Fury and Mark Waid and Chris Samnee face it head on by breaking down the masterful storytelling, running it in reverse and crafting one of the best debut issues of all time in Black Widow #1.
After the two’s landmark run on Daredevil, good things were expected of another team-up of Waid and Samnee and they deliver in spades here. Opening in media res, Black Widow flees from Maria Hill and SHIELD agents and what follows is a showcase of why Samnee is recognized as one of the best artists in the business. With minimal dialogue and narration, Samnee creates a dynamic, exciting chase sequence, showcasing the many weapons of Natasha Romanoff, from her weapons and martial arts expertise, to her sexuality, her survival skills and her determination.
The most incredible thing about the issue, much like the opening of Steranko’s iconic debut, is an early page-turn that dramatically pulls the rug out from under readers, subverting expectations and broadening the scale of what this comic could be in a shocking, awe-inspiring way. It’s a sequence that has to be seen to be believed and serves as well as a jaw-dropping action sequences as a statement of intent from its creators. Hold on tight, it’s going to be an incredible ride.