Heat waves nor heavy rains kept me from getting this weeks comics to talk to you about so let’s go!
The down and dirty wild west of the Marvel Universe got a whole lot dirtier and bloodier in this second issue. Just two issues in and I think I’ve found my favorite Secret Wars book. Western versions and incarnations of superheroes always fascinate me ever since first discovering Jonah Hex. Gerry Duggan takes the concept and really makes it work. The first issue did a great job and planting us down in the world and he continues that greatly in the second issue as Sheriff Steve Rogers gets ready to take on Governor Roxxon’s goon squad of Bullseye, Doctor Octopus, Elektra, and Grizzly in a greatly done sequence and its result will severely impact the remaining issues of the book in a huge way.
The issue does do a great job of further introducing our Marvel favorites into this world and what roles they inhabit and the little Easter eggs that are scattered throughout the book are a delight to see, but really the big draw of the book is the wild west. It pulls no punches at all and is willing to show how tough the west was. Backstories are filled in nicely and dialogue feels wholly organic to the characters and the situations they find themselves.
Nicole Virella’s art is perfectly suited here to give the book a grimy look and feel that reflects the rough times our familiar favorites are living in. Those that need to look clean such as Mayor Fisk and Doctor Banner look well suited and people like Steve, Tony, other townspeople help reflect the town. It’s a perfect combination at work here.
1872 is a book that continues its surprising high quality. So many might be too easy to just say, “Western Marvel!” but Duggan and Virella are doing a damn good job here and making a fully developed world filled with fully developed characters that gets you hooked right away and wanting the next issue right then and there. Trust me, this is one of the Secret War books you should be reading right now. 5/5
I think its safe to say whenever any of us end a long relationship, the world feels like its ending in several ways and is especially worse when you’re a teenager as is continually explored in the second issue of the new modernized version of Archie.
Mark Waid continues the great quality of his first issue here by really fleshing so much out about Riverdale and its residents. I’m surprised by how effective Archie talking to readers are as if this were still some new reality show about the lives of those in Riverdale. It’s used well for some exposition, but it also works for characterization in Archie and others, even when in exposition itself. Waid knows how to keep this up and even knows how to understand teenagers themselves as this doesn’t at all feel like some adults attempt at sounding hip and cool for the kids these days. Waid understands it and it likely borrowing from his own experiences and several years of Archie comics itself.
Balancing focus on Archie dealing with money and car troubles and his tendency to really screw up on his job duties and Betty with her upcoming birthday party made for some wonderful exploration of both of them and their mindsets, though I will admire Betty’s was more fascinating. She’s dealing with the not so subtle advances of Trevor and just trying to be one of the girls. It’s really funny to see her montage of trying to honestly glam up for her big birthday party. Archie however helped to introduced Veronica and her dad into the story, while not fully a big part of this issue here I expect to be introduced further more when issue #3 comes out next month.
Now back to the Betty montage, part of why that is a highlight and the book itself is great is thanks to the incredible art of Fiona Staples. While she’s been killing it on Saga ever since its first issue, its good to see that her art can translate to more honest human and grounded stories that don’t involve aliens, tree ships, and teenage babysitters. Her facial expressions are honestly her strongest suit and say so much for the characters in whatever situations they find themselves in and more than perfectly compliments Waid’s words here
Waid and Staples perfectly continue the thought to be impossible task for modernizing Archie and Riverdale and making it work. Archie Comics wasn’t really ever my thing, it was fine for those that liked it, but it didn’t register until Afterlife with Archie and a few of its other books. Now I’m excited for Archie books and yeah this book is definitely responsible for that. I really can’t recommend this enough. 5/5
The miniseries of Not Superman continues to be so hilariously entertaining. This is seriously a really funny read and enjoyable book for readers of all ages and I think that’s what I like most about it. It’s really something that anyone can access within the DC Universe and still get a nice scope of it. We pick up with Bizarro, Jimmy Olsen, Colin the Chupacabra, and Chastity Hex on the hunt for a bounty that Chastity is after in a western ghost town that is literally filled with ghosts and find themselves crossing paths with El Papagayo and his ghostly bandits.
Everything said about that should tell you how much fun this ends up being. This is the central focus that doesn’t have any mention or appearance of the two government agents that have been tailing Jimmy and Bizarro, which I believe will be touched on with the final three issues. But right here, nothing but weird out there fun of Jimmy and Bizarro just exploring a literal ghost town. Their chemistry is still so on point that it’s really reading like a great mismatched buddy cop movie duo from something that would have been released in the 80s. Heath Corson understands how to write these long-established characters correctly and put them in the weirdest situations possible. Corson is given a whole playground in which to have fun in and he is relishing every corner of it and it’s also thanks to the very suitable and perfectly styled art of Gustavo Duarte. Duarte knows the tone of this book and makes the art really work and helps to provide many laughs.
Bizarro is picking up my funny quota since Howard the Duck won’t be back until the fall, but stands out on its own with where it places itself and just how all in this book is. Really please do go pick this up. 5/5
Doctor Fate #3
The new Doctor Fate ongoing book from DC Comics continues on its origin story of inexperienced med student Khalid Nassour. Doctor Fate to me has always been a fascinating character within DC’s magical/fantasy realm and just comics in general so of course my interest got peaked when it was announced he’d have a new ongoing book and right now it’s keeping my interest, while its spinning its wheels.
Now Doctor Fate is someone I know you’re gonna have to do some explanation with given its history and all, but I feel like the book is stalling a bit. I know this is an origin story for Khalid, but the pacing is a bit of a problem when it goes back and forth between Khalid freaking out about the Helmet of Fate, wearing the Helmet of Fate, his personal life, and his father who appears to maybe have a connection to the helmet in of itself. Paul Levitz usually can handle huge conceptual things; I mean he handled the Legion of Super-Heroes for years. It’s all feeling like a lot right now despite the fun I’m feeling from the book. The stilted pacing is the biggest issue and while its cool when Khalid does put the helmet on and even nicely blending in Doctor Fate and Egyptian mythology, he could do a better job smoothly bringing it in.
Sonny Liew is doing a nice job on art, nothing too big, too showy, it’s a nicely simply drawn, yet dynamic book that really plays well with how trippy the book can be and even making great creepiness with our villain, Anubis. His effects to properly show the force of nature the flood is and action is actually well done, as is his placing of the panels, despite the pacing.
Doctor Fate is still getting off the ground and feels close to finding its footing soon enough since I really want to keep reading a new Doctor Fate book since the character is ripe for great storytelling possibilities. 2.5/5
Cindy Moon has been captivating readers ever since she was introduced back when Peter Parker returned from the dead and her ongoing series has been just a fun, fun, fun read that has been nothing but delightful.
This picks up the cliffhanger of the previous issue where Cindy is being held by someone who has answers about her missing family and its quickly taken to the back-burner when Black Cat. The Black Cat plot is good, but it seems that came rushing backing into the forefront. Now while it’s so entertaining and amazing to finally see Cindy get her K.O. punch on Black Cat, it felt like it was setting up to tease things out further like it does at the end which would be fine, if the ending didn’t show us that we were heading into the ending part of the book with Secret Wars.
Yes the book is coming back in the fall, but man this feels like its being rushed to end right now and pick back up thanks to Secret Wars and that feels annoying to me in how the story might play out. Lee Thompson and Stacey Lee keep up their incredible dynamic together here, the writing and art perfectly suiting the book and its honest all ages approach, while being able to do more adult things that doesn’t feel like it’s talking down to the children that might be reading the book. I’m slightly annoyed that Secret Wars is coming down on the book and affecting the much more interesting mystery at hand and hopefully it might be solved or at least end on a good note to carry the book into its second publishing volume.
Silk #6 keeps things going smoothly for the most part, but a couple middling factors keep it from being a brighter spot in the series despite a nicely done fight scene. 3/5
So while I might be out of luck in terms of new Nailbiter issues until the fall, seriously that is my comic drug, Joshua Williamson’s other Image series, Birthright tides me over well.
Birthright is a different take on the chosen one story that seems to permeate fantasy fiction as it focuses on the family of the chosen one after he goes missing and it’s not pretty. The great thing of Birthright is how it explores that and explores the family even after the child returns but as a fully grown bearded adult that is the hero of the fantasy land that he disappeared to.
Now the story is in pretty deep, but this latest issue was too good not to talk about since it opens with probably the most awkward way for a mother to meet the love of her son’s hailing from another dimension and also pregnant. The opening with Wendy and Rya is awkwardly wonderful, as if it were something straight out of Arrested Development, and even has a moment audience members can relate to when Wendy professes she’s had enough and is ready to know all the answers. Agreed, but with where the story is right now, I’m curious to take the scenic route as it were considering we do even get to see more of Mikey’s time in Terrenos in training and even moments before the big war.
Speaking of the training it comes back to be relevant for right now in the placing of the story and how he tries to protect and keep Brennan. That is the strongest part of the story as Brennan actually becomes the hero himself for an issue and stares down a Diviner. It runs contrast to how we see Mikey first training and his hesitancy to kill and it’s beautifully done to help us dig deeper into Mikey’s past and the journey that led him to who he is today and that’s just fascinating on so many levels.
Williamson’s writing is great as usual, but the art by Andrei Bressan is really the issue highlight as he excels in amazing, fantastical designs and this is really no different. His blending of both Earth and Terrenos is breathtaking and his perspective is very much on point here.
Birthright is high-end fantasy that gets you hook and never stops thrilling you from issue to issue. Series like these are just make you have a greater appreciation for the genre its set within or fall in love with it if you weren’t a fan of it. It’s seriously that good. 5/5
Well hope you’re enjoying your comics this week before the school bell rings yet again. Well catch you next time while I’m flipping through the pages.