This week, Kylee looks at the end of Past Aways from Dark Horse Comics, while Jackson reflects on Bryan Hitch’s career while reading Justice League of America #8 and 90s nostalgia brought back by X-Men ’92 #1.
Check out all of our reviews below and let us know what you’re reading in the comments!
Past Aways #9
Author: Matt Kindt
Artist: Scott Kolins
Publisher: Dark Horse
Source: Dark Horse DRC
I loved Past Aways a lot and I’m sad to see it ending (especially on such a random number as issue #9), but Matt Kindt and Scott Kolins did a great job of wrapping up a series that they seemed to know was coming to a close, tying up loose ends and giving readers a stark look at what happened to the team that was, at the very least, coping together in the past.
With their fallen leader a distant memory, the few past aways that are left make a desperate last-ditch effort to return to the future. Unfortunately, as it happens from time to time, not everyone makes it when a crazed continues to Phil pursue them through time. But some of them do and the ripples that are left in their wake make for a fascinating look at existentialism in our remaining characters.
Matt Kindt does an excellent job of exploring the butterfly effect of our characters actions and leaving a haunting, empty feeling behind when comparing the first issue to the last. Herb’s inability to remember the fallen crew members juxtaposed against the simple pleasure of finding coffee questions priorities and importance as time moves forward. Scott Kolins does a great job defining the society of the future with our most complete look, alongside the tweaks from the team’s adventures. It’s alien and familiar at the same time, with a celebrity zeitgeist just as at home right now in the present.
If you didn’t have the chance to read this series during its original run, I highly recommend you pick it up and give it a read. The characters are interesting and unapologetic and the writing is as snarky and entertaining as any team-up should be.
Justice League of America #8
Author: Bryan Hitch
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Publisher: DC Comics
When Marvel released The Ultimates in 2002, so much of the series’ promotional material focused on the cinematic scope of then up-and-coming superstar Bryan Hitch, who’d just made Stormwatch and The Authority two of the most instantly iconic comics of the decade. The word they used was “scope,” emphasizing Hitch’s attention to detail, his ability to ground fantastic characters in a world we’re familiar with. His worlds were real and that attention made the earth-shattering battles that defined his comics feel dangerous and personal.
Hitch’s work has often been attached to runs of wildly differing quality but that sense of scope has only deepened over the years. Pay attention to this week’s Justice League of America #8 to see exactly why. After seven issues of planet-shattering, time-traveling, mountain-destroying action, the League finally descends on Kryptonian god Ro as Superman tries to hold the Earth together.
It’s a pulse-pounding issue, showing Hitch’s fantastic sense of scale in fight choreography and landscape work. The issue opens with Ro and Superman’s battle through the arctic before a twist that changes everything. It’s a gut punch of a twist that only gets better as the League desperately tries to bring down a god they can barely touch with the help of a villain they can’t control.
Hitch has always drawn heart-pounding, grounded fights and the tangle in the Arctic, as well as the battle in Metropolis, feels like it could happen in your backyard and it only makes the actions of these icons even more intense.
With debates still ongoing about the violence, characterization, and ridiculousness of Batman versus Superman, Hitch shows off how a grounding in the real world can benefit character and story instead of betraying them. As this book wraps up, it’ll be interesting to see how he resolves the battle between a god and a pantheon of icons, especially before he takes over Justice League in the wake of DC Rebirth.
X-Men ’92 #1
Author: Chris Sims and Chad Bowers
Artist: Alti Firmansyah
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Nostalgia is a potent force, able to smooth over the roughest bits of our memories for something smoother, more satisfying and more lovable. Nostalgia is the kind of force that can make an X-Men comic about the early ‘90s dredge up warm reminiscing about a cartoon, good times at the Xavier Institute and characters like Gambit and Rogue and not say, rage about the spectator market that began Marvel’s decline into near bankruptcy, storytelling that lead to years of dangling plot threads that were left unsatisfied and a never-ending gauntlet of virtually unreadable crossovers.
X-Men ’92 #1 leans on nostalgia awfully hard and makes it easy to remember what you loved about this era of X-Men. Writers Chris Sims and Chad Bowers showed off a solid understanding of these characters on the miniseries during “Secret Wars” and they’re helped by artist Alti Firmansyah, who draws these characters in a cartoonish style as invigorating as an orange soda on a Saturday morning. There’s a plot here but it’s mostly secondary to some exciting world building.
The setting will be familiar to fans of that classic “The X-Men at the Xavier School” premise but characters such as the X-Statix and Generation-X kids, Maverick and the Strucker twins are fun touches for longtime fans of X-Men errata and Marvel secondary characters. The reveal of the villain is a little expected, particularly if you’ve followed Sims’ other comics work as well as his criticism, but it has a lot of potential and is a neat choice to take on these characters.
X-Men ’92 is going to scratch a very particular itch for a certain segment of X-Men and comics fans but there’s enough smart and new here to appease those looking for something bigger and more exciting for these characters. It’ll be interesting to see how and if the book will embrace or reject the time its meant to reflect but for now, it’s an easy book to recommend wholeheartedly.