A weekly column in which Jake gives short blurbs about the comics he’s picked up that week. Reviewed in the order read, which varies but generally by increasing anticipation. Disclaimer: he knows very little about art, at least not enough to considerably honor such tremendous undertakings, so…yeh, there’s that.
Writer: Al Ewing
Artist: Kenneth Rocafort
Color Artist: Dan Brown
Letterer: VC’s Joe Sabino
You know it’s a jam-packed week when a book featuring Miss America Chavez and Monica Rambeau written by Al Ewing is the first book on the list. The Ultimates is a group formed to fix the new universes most ultimate problems and, as such, it’s a team comprised of some of the most powerful individuals on the planet. Al Ewing’s proven he’s a writer that can take the biggest and zaniest of ideas and break them down into fun, delicious chunks and this issue is no exception. Although we don’t exactly understand what this team’s first mission is, we get an excellent idea of their mission statement from the examples we’re given. From Doc Brashear’s presentation of a frightening new substance to Rambeau and MAC’s battle on an alien world, you get a sense of what this team is about. Honestly, the reason this is so early on the list is I wasn’t sure if I would like the art style, having never read a Rocafort book to my recollection. I’m glad to say my reservation was unfounded as both he and Brown to a fantastic job with every aspect of the book. Utilizing some dynamic paneling choices to intricate environments, Rocafort and Brown are more than a match for whatever weirdness Ewing throws at them. With a great cast of characters and a unique mission statement, Ultimates is going to be a damn great series to read.
All-New Hawkeye #1
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Ramon Perez
Colors: Ian Herring
Lettering: VC’s Joe Sabino
Spinning directly out of the events of the last volume, Clint Barton and Kate Bishop (Team Hawkeye) must find a way to overcome the gap that’s cast between them and work together again. Only, they don’t. For years, as evidenced by the book’s second half, a flash-forward to the future where Kate Bishop has turned the Hawkeye name into a peacekeeping entity and Clint’s self-sabotage has left him friendless and alone. It’s an interesting choice of story, one that’s a bit trickier to pull of than the book’s usual choice of showing us stories of the past. But Lemire pulls it off and hints at a bunch of things in the future that sound incredibly fun. It’s just too bad the art isn’t up to par, which is a strange thing to say considering how it’s the same team that was killing it on the last volume. Whereas Perez representations of the past were watercolored-esque and astounding, his choice of style for the future storyline is sketchy in the total sense of the word. While it’s definitely a thematic choice, it leaves the product with an unfinished and subpar feel. Perhaps as a result, the present storyline’s art also appears to suffer from a lack of quality, though in fairness he’s not given a whole lot to work with there. The last volume of Hawkeye was able to get out of the shadow of the Fraction run and become an incredible story in its own right, which makes it so strange that it seems unable to do so to itself in this new volume, especially because nothing has changed on the creative team. Subjective as it might be, that’s the impression I get from this lackluster #1.
The Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw #7
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Benjamin Dewey
Color Art: Jordie Bellaire
Lettering: John Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt of Comicraft
It’s baaaaaaack. After the earth-shattering (see what I did there) events of last arc, we find Dusty and Learoyd stranded in the wilderness, separated from the rescued group of city-dwellers that have their own problems to deal with. It is the former plot that we mostly deal with, as Dusty struggles with his faith in the Great Champion who is still coming to grips with being a man out of time. Busiek hasn’t missed a beat and effortlessly weaves in exposition in character work as Dusty explains more about the nature of the Autumnlands (also why it’s called that, so yay!). This is accompanied by a wonderful series of illustrations by Dewey and Bellaire. From the explanation of magic to the haunting departure of Seven-Scars, the art in this book is top-notch and beautifully complex. Ah Autumnlands, it’s been too long and I’m so glad you’re back.
Secret Wars #7
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Color Artist: Ive Svorcina
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Still happening! That’s right, the penultimate issue of Secret Wars is here and Doom’s kingdom has come crashing down around him. With enemies marshaling on all sides, the Doom struggles to keep his world intact…despite the fact that we already know it doesn’t stay that way. Yes, some of the punch has been taken out of the story now that we are aware that it seems All-New All-Different is so all-new or all-different, but Secret Wars is still a pretty fun crossover event. After all, in this issue we get to see Apocalypse throw down with an army of Thors and Baron Sinister versus the Goblin Queen. Hickman’s tightly plotted script keeps the reader entertained, thanks to some snappy dialogue and it’s ability not to take itself too seriously. Ribic’s art continues to amaze and thankfully there are no overly cartoonish expressions this time around. He and Svorcina do an excellent job of selling the carnage and despair of the world’s last battle. There’s only one issue left, and it looks to finish as strong as the rest of the series.
Southern Bastards #12
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Chris Brunner
Color: Jason Latour & Chris Brunner
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
A shift in the creative team this month sees things get really weird in this issue of Southern Bastards. We circle back to deal with the fallout of Earl Tubb’s death, focusing on the beating of his young friend Tad Ledbetter as well as one of Coach Boss’s flunkies, Materhead. As such, it’s kind of a mishmash of an issue. The two stories connect at the aforementioned beating and its consequences, but the issue still feels a bit disjointed. However, despite Latour subbing in for Aaron on writing duties this month, the dialogue is as strong as ever. On art, Brunner is guesting on this issue, and while his style is a bit more cartoonish than Latour’s, it’s a good fit for an issue that features a gloriously chaotic sequence involving a brain damage/drug-induced hallucination involving a cartoon chicken. Brunner can also pull of the sinister scenes that Southern so often calls for. Owing to a set of disparate stories, the third arc of Southern Bastards seems a bit more disjointed that the previous two. However, all that is set to change as it appears we’re finally going to get to see the climactic showdown of Wetumpka and the Rebs next issue.
Superman: American Alien #1
Writer: Max Landis
Illustrator: Nick Dragotta (Matthew Clark)
Colorist: Alex Guimaraes (Rob Schwager)
Letterer: John Workman
Pretty sure this is the highest a DC book has ever been ranked on the Pull List. Superman: American Alien #1 gives us a brief snapshot into the life of Clark Kent and his adoptive family as Clark struggles with his blossoming powers. The result is heartwarming and one that doesn’t back down from the drama. Landis makes you feel the trepidation of the Kents as they deal with their superpowered son and the sadness and disappointment of a young boy grappling with who he is. It’s just a feel-good comic that doesn’t try to add anything crazy to the Superman mythos other than making you emphatically empathize with everyone involved. Meanwhile, Dragotta and Guimaraes provide a soft touch to the tale with rounded lines and delicate colors. The action is conveyed well, and while some of the yelling expressions are a little much, every other one speaks volumes. It’ll be interesting to see where the series goes from here, what with skipping along the timeline and a rotating cast of art teams, but it certainly is a strong start.
BOOK OF THE WEEK
The Wicked + The Divine #16
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Leila Del Luca (Jamie McKelvie)
Colorist: Mat Lopes (Matthew Wilson)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
With the Morrigan imprisoned, we take some time to learn both her and her wayward boyfriend’s backstories. While it’s generally what you’d expect thanks to the hints and teases dropped along the way, there’s still enough to surprise the reader and make the whole enterprise entertaining. Gillen has a field day hamming it up, both with early the Morrigan (Marian) and her present self, that is simultaneously sincere and self-mocking. He also injects a healthy dose of emotion, as one would suspect, that naturalizes the whole experience. Leila Del Luca, of the much-loved Shutter, is on art this week and providing very expressive work, and is therefor a perfect fit for the issue. From facial expression to body language Del Luca nails every scene. Lopes works nicely on colors to as while the present in Woden’s Vahalla is a bright and shiny affair, the Morrigan’s past is suitably drab and mundane. Song still marches on as WicDiv remains effortlessly strong.
So what did you pick up this week?
Agree or disagree with anything said here?
Let us know in the comments.