Hello, I’m here to talk about comic books. I love comic books and well I love talking about comic books. Here is a new weekly piece where I randomly select six books out of my pull list and give short reviews on them here for you in the hopes you will go out and seek them. Should you do so they are all available at your local comic book store or digitally on Comixology. With that out-of-the-way, lets start!
Sex Criminals #11
Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarksy’s very weird, very out-there, and very entertaining book stood out among the market since its late 2013 debut and really stood out a lot from the competition in 2014. That is part of what made it my favorite comic book last year and well in between all their other endeavors, they’ve managed to find time to come back and get on with the latest issue of the indie comic darling.
We more or less pick up with Jon and Suzy on the hunt to discover more people with the ability to stop time with their orgasms, if this is the first you’re hearing of it, I’d go get those first couple trades right now, but now that they revealed how they’ve used their powers to rob banks, seriously go pick them up, to Jazmine St. Cocaine, she wants no part of the search anymore. They take it upon themselves to continue as the issue also focuses on a new character that seems to share the same ability. Douglas D. Douglas already feels like a fully realized and fleshed out character in just this one issue and the twist, as to his ability, is best left unsaid as the unexpectedness of it is a truly great issue ending cliffhanger.
What Sex Criminals does best is still drawing you in with its concept, but really surprising you as one of the most character driven books on the shelves. Suzy and Jon’s relationship is further explored as it has been before, but a bit deeper given the events of the last couple of issues. They are the heart of this book and are often the funniest parts about as seen here.
Fraction’s understanding of all characters in their respected places in the story right now brings them across as fully realized three-dimensional characters and I’m always gonna praise that as much as Zdarsky’s art which is as crisp, smooth, and beautiful as ever. Now that the book transitions to Miami and the jokes within each panel keep getting as funny as the sense of meta humor within the book, Sex Criminals keeps delivering great storytelling. 5/5
Another fun issue of the current Stewart/Fletcher/Tarr run that has been consistently entertaining further deals with Barbara’s inner turmoil with the fact that her dad is the new Batman. He is tasked with bringing in all masked heroes, which is immediately dealt with in a great way that built up Gordon’s version of Batman and further shows Barbara’s mindset as Batgirl. The secret knowledge of knowing it’s her father in the suit makes Batgirl more motivated to be a better hero when the daddy/daughter takedown of Livewire comes at the end of the issue and it’s a rather exciting fight that helps showcase Babs Tarr’s art which I still personally enjoy. It has a bit of a less dynamic look without the breakdowns of Cameron Stewart, but still looks great. Tarr has helped give the book a new life since coming on and bringing us into Burnside. Livewire herself is well done nicely with an origin recap that didn’t bog down the story or it’s pacing, plus her design is lovely here. Batgirl keep providing great fun, laughs, and superheroism blended perfectly together for everyone to enjoy. A pure delight and the issue ends with a great little reunion. 4.5/5
Black Widow #20
Nathan Edmondson has seemed to carve out an espionage corner in the Marvel Universe with The Punisher, Deathlok, and my personal favorite, Black Widow. While put out due to popularity from the movie, that’s never a bad thing. Same thing happened with several other characters, including Hawkeye recently and that has become one of the best comic book runs I’d say ever. Now with Secret Wars we’re entering the last days of these books. So how is Natasha spending them?
Working on the case from the previous issue of gathering info on a Cuban family. To be honest these past couple of issues haven’t been the most exciting story wise. What’s been the best part is honestly the most intriguing part of the whole series, which has been getting into the mindset of Natasha. Her narration and inner thoughts really helped further flesh out the character than she has been before. Her thoughts during the Secret Wars parts and the main section of the story carry it and even her relationship with her contact in Cuba really is more interesting.
Phil Noto’s art remains as good as it was back in issue one and is crisply beautiful, I love it. I kinda wish the series was having a much better ending than it is right now, but that’s not diminishing in any way. There is still lots of drama and intrigue to keep people along. 3/5
The penultimate chapter of Mark Waid’s complete run on Daredevil is highly fast paced and well drawn out in high stakes drama. Dealing with the Shroud and his crazy plan, the Owl’s daughter, the deal with the Kingpin, and on top of that, Ikari is here to screw up Matt’s day even more. One of Waid’s trademarks since writing the Man Without Fear in 2011 is how he constantly stacks the odds against Matt Murdock. With the book coming to an end it seems right that the odds are even further stacked against him. Waid’s writing is the star of this book and it doesn’t work without the brilliant co-star artist Chris Samnee who is as skilled as ever in making the book come to life with his art. He works the human and superhuman elements of this book well, bringing drama to legal battles and rooftop battles throughout the course of the series.
The issue also ends with how any Waid issue of Daredevil ends in that Matt’s in an impossible corner and takes a month to figure out how to get him out. Daredevil #17 continues to show why Waid’s Daredevil has been the best superhero book since its debut back in 2011 and why its gonna be so hard to see it go away next month with Daredevil #18. 5/5
Gotham by Midnight Annual #1
The last week of July usually means annuals for so many books and here I’m choosing to focus on Gotham by Midnight, a book that focuses on a police unit within Gotham City that deals with the weirder, more supernatural side of Batman’s backyard. Its kinda the replacement for the criminally underrated Justice League Dark, but I’m personally enjoying the book.
Annuals are usually standalone tales outside of whatever story is happening in the main ongoing book or a standalone-ish tie in to a story going on with the book. Here we get a standalone that deals with The Gentleman Ghost and well its just okay. Gentleman Ghost is a weird favorite of mine in DC’s magical world. We get a retelling of his New 52 origin and a different take isn’t as compelling as his story once before the reboot. The story just feels meh all over and something I’m glad was only relegated to an annual rather than be the sole focus or two issues of the ongoing series. While seeing Jim Corrigan/The Spectre and Lisa Drake keep being a dynamic duo in their own right, its just okay. Ray Fawkes is usually more on point with writing and sometimes stumbles and well clearly this is a bit of s tumble to me in all honesty. Christian Duce’s art is nicely done and he could fit well on to the ongoing given how I like the designs of Gentleman Ghost. He can really play with the ghostly aspects as well as Corrigan when he becomes the Spectre. Honestly, just pick up the first trade of the book and single issues to get a much better feel of how good Gotham by Midnight is. 2/5
Southern Bastards #10
Southern Bastards is a crime drama book that is extra deep-fried in said crime. It’s been a heavy favorite of mine and one that goes right to the top of my reads whenever I get my comics for the week. Now for its third arc the book is focusing on homecoming week where Craw County faces its hated rival, Wetumpka County and each issue will have a centrally focused character. Last week we saw the story of corrupt sheriff Hardy and this week we are treated to the coming and goings of Esaw Goings as a town pastor tries to tell him the word of God.
While not as engaging and introspective as last issue, it’s still fairly entertaining to see other parts and people of Craw County, Alabama. Esaw is a simpleton member of Coach Boss’ operations and it shows in his actions and narration, but he’s still interesting enough to follow, though again there isn’t anything as engaging as the focused story of last issue. Here there are no flashbacks to Esaw’s life that helped to make him the person he is today. Jason Aaron knows how to keep a story engaging and entertaining, be it this or his run of Thor or Wolverine and the X-Men. Jason Latour on art still draws this dirty, grimy book with the right amount of dirt and grit that’s needed in such a hostile place as Craw County. Nevertheless Southern Bastards still comes highly recommended and something that shouldn’t be ignored. This is a great book. 4/5
Well that’s all for this week. I’ll be back next week still flipping through the pages.