This week, Sam got two cliffhangers in Lantern City #11 from BOOM! Studios, while Kylee enjoyed another installment of Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics. Kylee also read the penultimate issue of Gutter Magic from IDW Publishing and Comics Experience. She’s eagerly awaiting the conclusion of the series.
Jackson enjoyed seeing a story arc close with Action Comics #50 from DC Comics, but was dismayed to see how the New 52 and Marvel bumbled Loki’s characterization in The Might Thor #5.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you’re reading in the comments!
Lantern City #11
Author: Matthew Daley & Mairghread Scott
Artist: Carlos Magno
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
Sander tries to reason with his brother Kendal, but it doesn’t go well. Instead Kendal’s forces become the Fortache’s first test. They defeat them and, though he’s initially wary of going against Pont, Sander and Lizel convince Kendal to join them and help them take the city from both Pont and Killian. They lead their forces against Pont’s but it turns out Pont has an ace up his sleeve – Rennie. When they come face to face on the battlefield it’s Sander’s own wife who points a gun at their son’s head to force him to back down.
Meanwhile, elsewhere saboteurs who have snuck their way into Killian’s inner circle are trying to crash the airship carrying the wealthy aristocrats to safety. Terna realizes something is wrong and realizes that the pilot is dead and there’s no one to fly the airship.
Both storylines end there on cliffhangers, which is a pretty rough way to end things if you ask me. I need Terna to have her big badass moment! And I need Sander to save Rennie so he and Jom be best friends forever. I’m just not sure if Lantern City will give us that happy of a resolution.
Harrow County #10
Author: Tyler Crook
Artist: Cullen Bunn
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: Dark Horse DRC
After somewhat of a filler episode last month, Harrow County strives to get back on track and just barely misses the mark. This issue is a whole lot of exposition for the “twist” ending that was heavily foreshadowed, but the focus on Bernice made for a nice change of pace and a look at the larger world of Harrow County.
Tyler Crook is back this issue with spreads that work incredibly well to bolster Cullen Bunn’s words. While talking about the history of the hollow Bernice lives in, the art doesn’t just show what the place looks like now, but it hints to the incredibly interesting history that the townspeople had with the government. It’s easy to see the ‘what ifs’ and imagine a series where Bernice is the center and the hollow showcases the fallout of Hester Beck.
Speaking of Bernice, she becomes the focal point of the issue and it’s nice to see her independent of Emmy. The minor hiccup I had with her musings and interpretation of the world was how blasé she seemed to be about her grandfather being one of the things Hester Beck made, how none of the ‘childhood stories’ he’d told her were real. It didn’t seem to have any kind of impact, much like the beginnings of this arc.
Readers are left with a cliffhanger that was telescoped well in advance, but I’m hoping (and have full confidence in the creative team) that the next issue pays off on this set-up.
Gutter Magic #3
Author: Rich Douek
Artist: Brett Barkley
Publisher: Comics Experience / IDW Publishing
Source: Rich Douek
The penultimate issue of Gutter Magic begins with a hard discussion between Victor and Cinder. Having just suffered greatly for nothing more than his connection to Cinder, Victor is understandably upset and disinterested in whatever Cinder has to say. But rather than be apologetic, Cinder asserts again that it’s unfair how he can’t harness magic – even as Victor uses his abilities to pour and bring himself a drink from across the room.
They part on poor terms and Cinder enlists the help of the unscrupulous Ratcatcher to procure Victor’s airship. It works, but the double-cross, which should have been something more surprising, was treated with a shrug by the main character. Perhaps if Cinder had been surprised in the way Blacktooth was, readers could have felt more of an impact from Shiver’s arrival. With such little fanfare, the battle begins to tread clichéd territory until an unexpected dragon crashes the party.
While I was somewhat confused by Shiver’s motives, I really did enjoy every panel that the dragon was depicted in. Barkley’s strong lines and bold colors really helped it to pop. Utilizing the diversion, Cinder’s luck continues as he escapes the fray. Leading into the final issue it appears as if he may finally get the answers he’s been searching for. I can’t wait to see how the creative team wraps up such a fascinating and expansive miniseries.
Action Comics #50
Author: Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder
Artist: Aaron Kuder, David Messina, Javi Fernandez, Bruno Redondo and Vicente Cifuentes
Publisher: DC Comics
DC had an incredibly difficult time finding a voice and place for Superman in the opening of the New 52. Some of that is because more than almost any other DC character, Superman depends on having a large, established cast of characters to be his best and the first year of DC’s relaunch robbed him of that. He was no longer close to Lois, had a significantly changed relationship with Jimmy Olson and quit his job at The Daily Planet to work for a blog-startup with Cat Grant. One of the things that Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder did best when they started their run on Action Comics with was build a new support system for Superman with new characters and rebuilding old relationships in surprising ways.
This week’s Action Comics #50 embraces the world they’ve done to create a new support network for Clark. After watching the world rally behind him and following Metallo’s ultimate sacrifice, Superman takes one last shot at bringing down Vandal Savage and his brood with a desperate attack on the Watchtower. While this is an action packed issue, filled with fill-in artists covering the action-beats, Kuder draws Clark’s running internal monologue and it’s a reminder of how great his take on Superman is, filled with cartoonish joy and stoic heroism.
More than anything, Action Comics #50 will be most remembered for its ending, a long foreshadowed and slightly-spoiled-by-solicitations end of the line-wide “Truth” storyline and it’s a fantastic reveal but it’s also a testament to how strong the creative direction of this book. Pak and Kuder have such a command of what they wanted to do with Superman and more than anything else, Action Comics #50 justifies the tinkering with characters and continuity that’s come to define the New 52.
The Mighty Thor #5
Author: Jason Aaron
Artist: Russel Dauterman
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jason Aaron’s run on Thor, starting with Thor: God of Thunder in 2012 was the first time I’ve ever read a Thor comic. I jumped on the book solely because of my appreciation of Aaron’s past work on Wolverine, Wolverine and the X-Men and Punisher MAX and found a book that spoke to me because of what it wasn’t. Primarily with the pencils of Esad Ribic, Aaron’s cosmic take on Thor worked for me where the mythic, Norse inspired Thor comics of the past often didn’t. The book has tonally shifted since those days, with a return to the Walter Simonson inspired storytelling that defined the character in the ‘80s as Jane Foster took up the hammer.
And, I don’t know, it just doesn’t work for me as well here. In this week’s The Mighty Thor #5, Jane squares off with Odin, who’s gone mad with power and regret. Their fight is some incredible stuff, with Russel Dauterman’s slick, clean layouts and Matthew Wilson’s colors giving an enormous and incredible scale to the face-off between these two gods.
Aaron’s script also highlights the difference between Odinson and Jane, who both have very different relationships with Odin that inform the way they fight the All God. While the battle forms the crux of the issue, there’s a lot of moving pieces in the issue as well that readers will have to keep track of. Malekith rings in his sham marriage to Aelsa to seize control of Alfheim with the help of Laufy and Enchantress and Loki makes a move that puts him back on the path of villainy.
Loki’s heel turn here is probably the worst part of the issue and really shines a light on the flaws of Marvel’s current numbering and release strategy. When last we saw Loki, he had killed his future-self and exorcised his identity as the god of lies in Al Ewing and Lee Garbett’s excellent Loki: Agent of Asgard series. It was a book that showcased the characters’ past as both a trickster and a talespinner and ended with the character rejecting his place as a divine being defined by evil and chaos.
He rejects the eternal conflict he has with Odin and Thor and decides to go his own way. It’s a lighter take on the character and one Ewing clearly wanted Marvel to showcase going forward but here, Aaron totally ignores it. Loki’s back in his old costume and back to his nefarious, backstabbing ways here and it just feels disappointing. It both kills the resolution of Ewing and Garbett’s series and takes Loki back to a place fans have already seen him for decades. It’s rote and expected even when it seems to want to be read as a shocking moment.
More than anything, it feels as if The Mighty Thor #5 is more interested in telling familiar stories in familiar settings than anything else. Sure, Jane Foster’s wielding the hammer and the villains are making new alliances but everything’s the same. Gods are battling, betraying, killing, and feasting as if stories told less than a year ago don’t and never did matter. It’s a profoundly disappointing turn, especially after seemingly having a clean creative slate with the title and a killer opportunity to show who these characters are when they’re not embracing their traditional roles.