Every Wednesday, 8th Dimension’s Jeremy Bulloch reads every comic that comes out, and recommends some of the best titles for you to check out. It’s another big week with lots of good titles to choose from!
Scarlet Spider #6 (Marvel Comics)
This is the final issue drawn by friend of the store Ryan Stegman. His work on Scarlet Spider was too awesome, so he got promoted to a more high-profile book. While we will all miss him here, I’m sure that his work on Fantastic Four will be, well, fantastic. Starting next issue, the art team of Khoi Pham and Tom Palmer will take over. They totally rocked on Daredevil, so I can’t wait to see their take on the Scarlet Spider, Houston, and a certain FBI field office director who shall remain nameless. As for the events of this issue, it manages to both close out the first arc while setting the stage for a ton more stories. After Aracely “saw a commercial on the teevee” for barbecue, she and Kaine go to what looks like a Pappas BBQ and gorge themselves. It’s not all ribs-and-brisket fun though. The deranged daughter of Kraven the Hunter, Anna Kravinoff, is in town stalking our hero. She and her family have killed Kaine once before, and he would rather that not happen a second time. Throughout the issue, a mysterious threat lurks just on the fringes. We don’t know what or who is coming, just that things will be getting even worse for our anti-hero. Oh, and Kaine gets a tattoo.
Batgirl #10 (DC Comics)
GWHAH! I am far from squeamish, but there’s a moment with a bear trap that made my eyes pop out of my head. Charise Carnes, the so-called “Butcher Brat” of Gotham is introduced as a foil for Barbara Gordon. Depending on who you believe, she either murdered her family, or was forced to watch as they were brutally slain in front of her as a child. Now released from prison, she is using her vast wealth to forcibly gentrify Gotham City, whether the city wants it or not. Serving her is a gang of vigilantes called the Disgraced. We know little about them so far, aside from their bloody code of vengeance straight out of Hammurabi.
Green Lantern #10 (DC Comics)
Abin Sur never gave up, and neither will Hal Jordan and Sinestro. Natromo had been inspired by the deeds of the fallen Lantern of Sector 2814 to create the Indigo Tribe, but failed to learn that pivotal lesson. Thanks to his destruction of the Indigo Central Power Battery in the last issue, the spree-killing maniacs that made up the Indigo Tribe had been freed. No longer forced to feel compassion by their rings, they had returned to their murderous ways. Now a depowered Sinestro and Hal Jordan are fighting for their lives. If they survive long enough to repair the Indigo battery, then that means that they get to fight the Guardians of the Universe in a battle that they cannot possibly survive. Or, as Hal and Sinestro call it, Wednesday. If you’re like me, when you watched Superfriends back in the day, it never would have occurred to you that your favorite hero would be Sinestro. But if you’re like me, then Geoff Johns has totally won you over.
Batman #10 (DC Comics)
There are always those comic books that come out and flip established continuity on its head. Suddenly everything that you knew is wrong. It takes a very skilled writer to make that work in a way that adds to a story, rather than take it away. Some of the best retcons become an irreplaceable part of the story, like when Alan Moore let us know that Swamp Thing was never Dr. Alec Holland, or when Geoff Johns explained how Hal Jordan was innocent of the crimes committed by Parallax. In Batman #10, Scott Snyder joins that elite group of creators. Bruce Wayne begins his final confrontation with the Court of Owls this week. I refuse to give any spoilers for what happens here. Just know that it is a fantastic addition to the Batman story. Come to the store and we can geek out together over how freaking great this comic is. It. Is. Crazy.
Captain America #13 (Marvel Comics)
Political scumbag Peter Henry Gyrich has brainwashed Dennis Dunphy, the homeless vigilante and friend of Captain America known as D-Man. Dennis is now known as the assassin Scourge, and he is hunting down former villains in SHIELD protective custody. Brubaker and Zircher are always awesome, and this issue is no exception. Virtually the entire issue is Bourne Identity-grade action. It’s fast-paced, brutal, and really, really cool.
Before Watchmen: The Silk Spectre #1 (DC Comics)
Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner are two of my favorite creators, and having them team up on a great character like Laurie Jupiter is a dream come true. Just like last weeks’ Minutemen #1, this is a great comic. Anyone dismissing it without reading it has Cheez Wiz for brains. So let’s dig into the comic a little bit. It’s set in 1966, when Laurie is in high school. Her mother Sally, the original Silk Spectre, fanatically and sometimes brutally trains her daughter to take over the family business of crime fighting. Laurie is frustrated. All she wants is to fit in at school and date a nice boy, but her mother’s training regimen leaves no time for such normalcy. Amanda Connor’s art is lush and gorgeous, especially in depicting the characters’ real civilian lives. Most of the comic is illustrated with a classic Kirbyesque grid layout of between 6 and 9 panels, just like the original Watchmen. Rather than coming off as a pastiche, it really works with the retro story that is being told. Pay attention to the “acting” that Conner’s characters perform. Her facial expressions and body language are outstanding, perfectly depicting the mood and emotional tone at all times. We know that Laurie’s story is ultimately a sad one, but her doomed relationship with Dr. Manhattan is still in her future. This is a more idealistic and innocent Laurie. But this is the Watchmen, and we know that cannot last.
Avengers Assemble #4 (Marvel Comics)
The previous issue ended on a similar cliffhanger to the Avengers movie. The Zodiac crime cartel’s evil benefactor was revealed to be the mad god Thanos. Thanos is moments away from seizing the Ultimate Nullifier, the most powerful weapon in the Marvel Universe. This fits into the “bad thing” category. The cover of this issue shows off one of the best parts of the comic, a down and dirty fight between a mind-controlled Hulk and the rest of the Avengers. Mark Bagley’s skill at depicting fast-moving action sequences really shines. Avengers Assemble is a fun comic that stands totally on its own. You don’t need to read 40 other comics to get the whole story, it’s all self-contained. If you enjoyed the Avengers movie (and who didn’t?) then this is the comic that most closely captured the same vibe.
Spider-Men #1 (Marvel Comics)
It’s the 50th anniversary of Spider-man this year, and Marvel has lots of big plans for our wall-crawler. This comic is one of their biggest Spidey events, a crossover between the mainstream 616 universe’s Peter Parker and the Ultimate universe’s Miles Morales. In the 12 years since the Ultimate universe was launched, there have been many teases of a crossover. The most notable was the launch of the Marvel Zombies universe. Here, they finally go for it. Peter Parker is having a normal day as your friendly neighborhood Spider-man. He saves some people, gets chased by the cops, and stumbles upon an extra-dimensional version of his foe Mysterio. Through a complicated series of events, Peter finds himself in a very different New York City than he’s used to. This issue is largely setup, but it’s good setup. Brian Michael Bendis has me curious to see what happens next.
The Massive #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
The world has been broken. Tsunamis, landslides, oil spills, earthquakes, massive fires and other natural disasters have killed millions of people and collapsed both economies and governments. Captain Callum Israel of the eco-terrorist group the Ninth Wave and his ship the Kapital have been out to sea for months, attempting to use their scientific knowledge to find out what the hell happened. It has been weeks since they lost contact with their sister ship, the Massive. They have reason to believe that the Massive is still out there, having picked up a sporadic and mysterious radio signal. There are many mysteries hinted at, but nothing is spoon-fed to you. This comic drops the reader in the deep end and expects them to be able to keep up. Writer Brian Wood is best known for his independent comics like Demo and Channel Zero, and the Vertigo titles DMZ and Northlanders. The Massive joins the ranks of other cool creator-owned non-superhero books that have launched this year like Saga and Saucer Country.
Incredible Hulk #9 (Marvel Comics)
Hulk is the hero, Banner is the monster. Get it? Good. This issue gives us the Hulk fighting Atlantean meth-heads. Have you ever seen a giant hermit crab underwater pirate ship? I have, in this issue. I also saw the Hulk ride a whale piggyback and punch out a giant squid while underwater hillbillies fired hammerhead sharks out of shotguns. The “Stay Angry” story arc has been as crazy as an episode of Adventure Time. Why did Banner buy a finger from a half-dog Mexican drug dealer or steal a magic rock from mermen? Well, those are all great questions. Hulk doesn’t know the answer either.
Batman & Robin #10 (DC Comics)
Saucer Country #4 (DC Vertigo)
Deadpool #56 (Marvel Comics)
The Shade #9 (DC Comics)
Suicide Squad #10 (DC Comics)
Avengers #27 (AvX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
Uncanny X-Force #26 (Marvel Comics)
AvX Versus #3 (Marvel Comics)
Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season 9 #10 (Dark Horse Comics)
Fantastic Four #607 (Marvel Comics)