Sam read the now-ongoing series, Goldie Vance from BOOM! Studios this week, while Kylee is still trying to enjoy Weavers, also from BOOM! She also reviewed the haunting Harrow County from Dark Horse Comics and Jackson enjoyed New Super-Man and Nightwing Rebirth from DC Comics, as well as All-New X-Men #11 from Marvel.
Check out the full reviews below and tell us what you’re reading in the comments!
Goldie Vance #4
Author: Hope Larson
Artist: Brittney Williams
Publisher: BOOM! Box
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
All right, well, that’s the end of the first arc. Goldie uses the various clues she’s managed to find over the course of the last couple of issues to track down Ludwig. It turns out he was kidnapped by the Russians – and it isn’t the first time. He’s a former German rocket scientist and he was taken to Russia and forced to work on their space program until he managed to escape. His big plan was to run away to NASA where he’d hopefully be safe and find work.
The necklace? It included his life’s work – a design for some sort of rocket fuel. And the people who stole it? Technically they are the good guys. They’re part of some Tomorrowland-esque group who hopes to find a free Mars at some point in the future. A little outlandish? Maybe. But 1960s futurism was, I guess. Look at Star Trek. Still, they seem to be serious.
They even try to recruit Goldie who is quick to say that she belongs on Earth. But at least she gets something out of it. One of the people with the super secret Mars initiative knows her former employer and gives her a letter to give him ensuring that Goldie and her father get their jobs back. Kind of a cop out maybe but it works. Honestly, I’m more interested in whether or not anyone’s actually going to get to Mars and whether or not Goldie and her little friend are going to wind up being a thing. Because I can get behind two bad ass racer girls in love.
I’m so glad this is now an on-going and no longer just a miniseries. I can’t wait to see where subsequent story arcs take us!
Weavers #3 (of 6)
Author: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Dylan Burnett
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Source: BOOM! Studios DRC
I want to like Weavers, I really do, but it’s difficult to become invested in a limited series when the ending is set and there isn’t a lot of forward momentum to the plot. Sid is still trying desperately to conceal some selective truths from the rest of the group, while forwarding his own mystery agenda. The fact that it’s still a mystery after three issues, with only three to go, makes little sense plot-wise and leaves readers to watch as unlikeable characters make ridiculous decisions. Also, the whisper text has really, really gotten old.
However, the art is servings its purpose and actually makes the writing more interesting. Dylan Burnett is doing better and better with the nightmarish imagery that comes from unleashing the spiders and, while gratuitous this issue, the violence highlighted throughout is particularly horrifying and in line with the cliched characters. I haven’t given up hope yet, but if there aren’t substantial answers in the next issue, it may be time to tap out. The idea is fascinating, steeped in interesting mythology, but the execution needs work.
Harrow County #14
Author: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Source: Dark Horse DRC
Not only do we learn about Levi’s “familial” connection to Emmy in this issue, but we get a haunting, and heartbreaking, series of flashbacks to Emmy’s mother. Once Bernice and Clinton are safely out of harms way, Emmy is brought to a mysterious pop-up house. While Emmy is rightfully wary because of her last experience with a magical house, her curiosity eventually wins out and she is introduced to a large group of mysterious characters. Their purpose, and intent for Emmy, is still unknown at the end of the issue.
Cullen Bunn continues to write haunting fairy tales as he expands the Harrow County mythos. Not much was revealed this issue, but it held the same kind of anticipatory dread as previous issues. Tyler Crook masterfully creates some beautiful two-page spreads and such a grotesque twisting of what otherwise might be idyllic farm life that the entire issue is worth a second look. A calmer issue that sets the tone for a future arc, Bunn and Crook continue to work together to create one of the most arresting on-going series.
New Super-Man #1
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Artist: Viktor Bogdanovic
Publisher: DC Comics
Much is made of Superman as a universal myth but he’s a distinctly Western one. His genesis is grounded undeniably in Judaism, namely the stories of Moses, with additional elements of the story of Jesus added, particularly over the last 30 years. It ends up slightly feeling as if Superman’s a figure of universal respect and heroism for some, but distinctly at odds for others.
Gene Luen Yang’s exactly the right writer to establish an Eastern Superman and New Super-Man #1 carries the weight of his authorial intent. The issue introduces us to Kong Kenan, a distinctly unheroic Shanghai born-and-bred teen. More than anything, he’s a bully, one who feels that the pain he inflict is karmic justice for the tragedy that took his mother from him. He’s driven by ego, if for no other reason than that no one has ever stood up to him. Kenan’s something of a combination of Peter Parker and Kon-El, particularly as the character appeared in the early ‘90s. He’s brash, egotistical and casually cruel but nursing a broken heart and the wounds suffered from a life in a long-broken home. There are readers who aren’t going to connect with a character like this, one so divided between relatability and churlishness but he feels human and complex in the same way that real people are.
Viktor Bogdanovic illustrates all of this with a distinct grittiness that makes Kenan, his conspirator father, the mysterious Dr. Omen and and the inquisitive Laney Lan with a grounded cartoonishness. It’s a little odd to see an artist so often associated with darker, grimier comics illustrating a book like this but Bogdanovic feels like he’s mostly grounding the book’s complicated characters in a fully realized Shanghai than anything. To his credit, he does a great job drawing a predominantly Chinese cast without leaning on racist signifiers. It mostly works, although Mr. Kong has a few panels where he too closely resembles mustachioed white characters, namely Floyd Lawton or Commissioner Gordon instead of a Chinese mechanic.
This first issue is predominantly devoted to setting the stage, establishing how Kenan could be chosen to be the Ministry’s newest attempt at creating a Superman but what works best is establishing a hero who distinctly isn’t the Man of Tomorrow, at least not yet. It’s impressive t see a book, much like Marvel’s Ms. Marvel, that spends so much time establishing a complicated character before they become a superhero and Yang and Bogdanovic do a wonderful job creating both a character and world that’s neither straight forward or simply heroic.
Nightwing Rebirth #1
Author: Tim Seeley
Artist: Yannick Paquette
Publisher: DC Comics
It’s been hard watching DC struggle to reintroduce so many of its characters at post Rebirth. More than anything, the publisher’s newest initiative has brought many of its characters back to basics and the newest wave of #1 issues have often had problems telling why these characters matter and why their newest adventures are worth buying into. Arguably, Dick Grayson would be one of the hardest characters to bring back to his most famous incarnation. Dick’s spent so much time in so many roles, as an acrobat, a sidekick, a cop, a vigilante, a team leader, Batman, a father figure, a super spy and so much more. There’s a risk of losing what makes him unique in stripping him of that mutability and bringing him back to being Nightwing.
Nightwing Rebirth #1 is written by Tim Seeley and drawn by Yannick Paquette, both of whom have had plenty of experience with the character but they let the subtleties speak for themselves. Instead of getting bogged down in history, they focus on what’s most enduring about Dick, his ability to reinvent and refocus. Returning to Gotham after breaking Spyral’s sinister machinations, Dick reconnects with Damian and Bruce as he prepares to find a way to fill his promise to the Court of Owls that he made back in “Robin War.” Of course, nothing’s that simple and Dick quickly beings making plans to bring down the secret society that’s making a play for worldwide influence.
The issue’s smartly framed both around moments from Dick’s past and the characters who’ve mattered most to him. The issue makes time for him to reconnect with Damian, spar with Midnighter and find a new role as Batman’s closest partner and friend. The emotional beats are going to feel familiar with longtime fans of this character but they’re illustrated and written wonderfully. Unlike so many of the Rebirth #1 issues that have come before it, Nightwing Rebirth #1 spends very little time setting up story, with only a scant few pages establishing the new machinations of the Court of Owls, but it gives readers a reason to care about Grayson, a man who willingly gives up everything for another shot at doing what’s right. It doesn’t matter what he’s doing or who he’s going up against, this is a trip that’s well worth taking.
All-New X-Men #11
Author: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Mark Bagley
Publisher: Marvel Comics
The question of fate has hung over All-New X-Men since the first volume of the series launched back in 2012. Dragging the past X-Men out of the past to change the future has always raised questions about how and if these characters can change themselves or their futures but Dennis Hopeless has found an ingenious way to interrogate the book’s premise by adding Evan to the team. A young clone of the future Apocalypse, Evan has always known the future he’s likely doomed to, becoming a genocidal, unstoppable conqueror, and much of his emotional arc in books such as Uncanny X-Force and Wolverine and the X-Men has focused on his struggle to do anything he can to reject that destiny. His mere existence posits that it’s possible to escape fate but every moment when he’s pushed to anger and violence is a reminder of just what he’s capable of becoming.
All-New X-Men #11, part of the X-line-wide “Apocalypse Wars” crossover, sees Evan and Hank McCoy stuck in ancient Egypt, encountering the first incarnation of En Sabbah Anur, the mutant who will unleash devastation in a few milleniums time. Seeing an opportunity to change his fate and undo his future, Evan questions forcing his temporal duplicate to escape what he’s doomed to inflict and finds a young mutant willing to do the same. What separates Hank and Evan here isn’t so much a willingness to change the past, a crime both are willing to commit, it’s the willingness to accept the devastation that comes with that crime. Evan knows that saving En Sabbah Anur removes himself from the timeline. He knows that with success comes his own undoing and he’s willing to accept the consequences. In a way, he knows accepting that death, that sacrifice, effectively denies the fate he knows he has to face. His face-off with Hank in the book’s climax is emotionally devastating and it illustrates both Evan’s potentially devastating selflessness with Hank’s occasionally malicious hypocrisy.
Dennis Hopeless has increasingly shown that he’s one of the best X-Men writers of the last decade, acutely aware both of the larger themes of the series as well as the soap opera emotional complexities that make the series’ smallest stories so memorable. This is an issue that doesn’t shy away from some of Marvel’s most tangled continuity snares but it renders those stories with emotional complexity and relatable questions about heroism and sacrifice. It’s also wonderfully illustrated by Mark Bagley. Where Bagley occasionally has trouble drawing characters in non-superheroic settings, setting a story in a distinctly super-heroic historical setting lets his talent for cartoonish, slightly exaggerated figures and fights shine.
All-New X-Men #11 is one of the best issues of the series yet, a fully realized and emotionally rich interrogation of the nature of battling fate, questioning your future and self-sacrifice. It’s an issue that showcases all of Hopeless’ strengths as a creator, with fully realized art that Bagley’s become known for in his decades of work at Marvel. This is a must-read comic and one of the best issues of the year.