May 11th was a slow week for the Nerdophiles comics crew. Sam catches us up on the second-to-last issue of KaBOOM!’s The Baker Street Peculiars while Kylee shares her thoughts on the latest Harrow County from Dark Horse. (If Sam had her way The Baker Street Peculiars would be a much longer series.) Meanwhile Jackson has somewhat mixed feelings about this week’s All-New, All-Different Avengers.
Let us know if you read any of these issues and what your thoughts were!
The Baker Street Peculiars #3 (of 4)
Author: Roger Langridge
Artist: Andy Hirsch
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
With their lives on the line the Peculiars are starting to fall apart. Rajani blames Humphrey and Wellington for their predicament and can’t seem to believe she was stupid enough to trust someone else and believe she could have friends. While Rajani refuses to talk to anyone, Molly and Wellington try to figure out a way to keep them all from being turned into human golems.
Though he’s not the most imposing figure, Humphrey manages to put on airs and get Kipper’s attention. He convinces the criminal golem that a group of kids and a gassy dog aren’t worth turning into golems – not when there are so many other monuments around London for him to enlist in his crusade. Kipper agrees and sets off to turn even more statues into his lackeys. But at least they are able to sneak a note to Sherlock Holmes out with him.
When they realize they are on their own Rajani comes to the rescue and picks an un-pickable lock and Humphrey uses his newfound confidence to boss around the giant tiger statue left behind to guard them. Though she wants to take off on her own, Rajani is convinced to stick with the Peculiars at least long enough to find Sherlock Holmes and stop Kipper and the golems. Of course they end up finding themselves in a pretty sticky spot at the end…
Meanwhile the actual Sherlock Holmes(?) and the reporter we briefly met earlier are doing… something. I dunno. Probably positioning themselves to take the credit for saving the day from the kids who at the end of the next issue – the last one – will probably remain the anonymous heroes. Also: it really sucks that the next issue will be the last. I really enjoy this book. I wish it were an on-going! There are so many great four-part stories they could tell.
Harrow County #12
Author: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Hannah Christenson
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: Dark Horse DRC
Harrow County was bound to have a stumbling block at some point and, sadly, issue 12 seems to be where we’ve run into some troubles. There is very little forward momentum with this issue, which is fine for side characters, but we’re finally refocusing on Emmy and her adventures this week, after taking a fun side tour with Bernice. With a dialogue that felt like filler and a plot twist that was telescoped – but still the best part of the issue for where the series is going next – it was the series’ weakest issue to date.
This may have been due in part to the artist on the issue, Hannah Christenson, whose artwork would be at home in any horror story, but misses the mark on tone for Harrow County. Her exaggerated features and twisted imagery casts an uncomfortable glow on Emmy’s world when audiences are used to more of a sinister childhood whimsy. Often, I had to stare at the page to find that Emmy’s face wasn’t bruised and bleeding, but shadowed, and that sat uncomfortably with me throughout my reading experience.
At the very least, this sets up the next main story arc for the series and the return of a character we all knew we hadn’t seen the last of.
All-New All-Different Avengers #9
Author: Mark Waid
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Publisher: Marvel Comics
It’s been a rough couple years to be a Pym. Since Hank’s last book, the under appreciated Avengers A.I., was cancelled back in 2014 and Janet’s kidnapping at the hands of an enraged Havok at the end of “Axis,” things have somehow only gone downhill. It’s only been in the last few months that Rage of Ultron, Rick Remender and Jerome Opena’s controversial, super-violent Ultron story has finally come into continuity and with it, Hank was sent into space and bonded to his homicidal son. Both Janet and Hank are characters who’ve been defined by increasingly dark stories over the last decade and it’s increasingly become clear that there’s little that could be done to bring back what makes them iconic without fundamentally starting these characters over from scratch.
Introduced in one of this year’s Free Comic Book Day issues, Nadia Pym feels like a conscious attempt to do just that. Her origin goes back to Hank’s little remembered first wife and her personality is something of a blend of the sassy society girl take on Janet Van Dyne from Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the single minded scientific know-how of Silver Age Hank. That personality is further expanded in this week’s All-New All-Different Avengers #9, which mostly slows down the action to focus on the new character. It works here, drawing on many moments of Avengers history to introduce Nadia while tying her into characters like Black Widow, Ant-Man, Winter Soldier, Vision and Wasp. It all works pretty well and her characterization will remind long-time readers of Mark Waid’s work as reminiscent of what he did with Impulse back in the ‘90s. There’s also some smart work here in framing the story around Jarvis and his devotion to Hank and Janet, even as those two have dramatically changed from the characters he once knew.
Mahmud Asrar illustrates the issue capably but without much character. His work tends to hew pretty closely to Marvel’s house style and there are scenes here that need something a little more stylish. The sequences exploring Nadia’s past in Russia’s Red Room are screaming for art that accentuates the dehumanizing nature of her training and development. Instead it feels a little flat and that’s a shame. Still, the writing offers a compelling portrait of a new legacy character, a specialty of Waid’s and she fits well in a team filled with characters trying to fit others’ expectations for them.