Wednesday is New Comics Day, so each week 8th Dimension’s Jeremy Bulloch reads every new comic and recommends some of the best titles for you to check out. Here are this week’s picks!
Avengers vs. X-Men #6 (Marvel Comics)
SPOILERS for the story so far, in case you aren’t caught up! Five of the X-Men more or less have become gods. Cyclops, The White Queen, Magik, Namor, and Colossus have become the living hosts of the Phoenix Force. In the past 10 days, they have remade the world into an enforced utopia. Acting with the best of intentions, they have set themselves up as the rulers of the world. The crazy thing is, their benevolent dictatorship is working. People have free food, water, and energy, removing the causes of most of the world’s ills. The problem is that no mortal – human or mutant – can handle the overwhelming power of the Phoenix Force. Cyclops and the others already are showing signs of megalomania, egged on by the fact that the Avengers still openly oppose their new world order. The return of the Scarlet Witch lights the fuse on this powder keg, leading the X-Men to make a very dire decision in the issue’s cliffhanger. Honestly, my favorite part so far is the way that the Iron Fist and the Phoenix Force have been tied together. The last several issues of New Avengers have set up that story, giving us the history of Fongji Wu. Now that background begins to pay off here in Avengers vs. X-Men. Fongji Wu once was able to prevent the Phoenix from causing the Celestial Rebirth of Earth. Will the current Iron Fist, Danny Rand, be able to do the same? That’s a very good question. In one corner, we have five nigh-omnipotent mutants. In the other corner, we’ve got a guy who’s really good at karate.
Astonishing X-Men #51 (Marvel Comics)
Maybe you’ve heard, but Northstar and his fiancé Kyle Jinadu tie the knot in this issue. Kyle is a non-powered human, introduced in last year’s Alpha Flight miniseries. Thankfully, the wedding isn’t overwhelmed by fight scenes or cameos. Now this is far from the first gay marriage in comics, but Northstar has a higher profile than many other characters, due to his X-Men connection. I’m a big fan of wedding comics, and my wife and I collect them. We have everything from the issue of Justice League where Adam Strange gets married to the issue of Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen where Jimmy marries a gorilla. What’s great about Astonishing X-Men #51 is that there is nothing really sensationalized in it. The creators are telling a very simple, but effective story. Kyle and Jean-Paul love each other, so they’re getting married. Their friends and family come to share in the celebration. That’s pretty much it. My favorite part of the comic is the last page, where the City of New York’s Mayor’s Office shares 10 tips for getting married in New York.
Before Watchmen: The Comedian #1 (DC Comics)
I’ve really enjoyed every issue of Before Watchmen so far, but this is probably my favorite one yet. It’s 1962 and Eddie Blake, the Comedian, is alive and in his prime. He’s not yet the man that we see fall to his death in the opening pages of Alan Moore’s Watchmen (spoiler for a 25-year-old comic). While Eddie is certainly a tough and occasionally brutal man, his defining attribute was once his patriotism. He loved and revered his friend John F. Kennedy, the 35th President of the United States. You kinda can see where this is going, right? This issue is full of Cold War paranoia, government conspiracies, murder, and football. Brian Azzarello continues to impress me after I thought I had my mind made up on his strengths as a writer. I am very happy to be proven wrong. J.G. Jones has been one of my favorite artists for years, and his historical likenesses are spot-on accurate. This might be my favorite comic book of the week.
Saga #4 (Image Comics)
“Welcome to Sextillion,” shout the giant human heads mounted on fishnet-clad stripper legs. As soon as he finished reading the comic, a wild-eyed Noah said, “Wow. They are NOT shy about showing you what happens at Sextillion.” He’s right. They’re not shy at all. Meanwhile, thanks to magic and helpful ghosts, Marko has recovered from his wounds. Now Alana demands answers about his never-before-mentioned fiancée Gwen. Saga continues to be both bizarre and amazing.
The Walking Dead #99 (Image Comics)
SPOILERS FOR RECENT ISSUES! It’s been a while since a death actually registered with Rick and his people. They are so shell-shocked by constant carnage that they were seemingly immune to it. Then Negan’s men murdered Abraham in cold blood. Emotions that have been repressed for months overwhelm the survivors, and everyone tries to deal with their grief. All this sets the stage for big developments in next month’s milestone Issue #100.
Winter Soldier #7 (Marvel Comics)
Project Zephyr produced Soviet super soldiers who were trained by the Winter Soldier to be perfect assassins. Bucky and the Black Widow dealt with all but one soldier, a man named Leonid Novokov. Seeking revenge on his mentor, Novokov murdered Fred Davis, an old man who had once been a replacement for Bucky during WWII. He now has captured a Russian scientist named Professor Rodchenko, an operative of the infamous Red Room training program who had tinkered with the brains of countless operatives. Rodchencko implanted cover identities in Soviet agents through the mid-1970s before defecting to the United States. Michael Lark depicts some incredible action, with everything from gunfire to exploding Winnebagos.
Daredevil #14 (Marvel Comics)
The best solo superhero story on the rack continues to shine. Daredevil has been kidnapped and taken to Latveria, a final bit of fallout from the Omega Drive incident. The Mega-Crime cartels had been laundering their illicit gains through the Bank of Latveria with the help of the Chancellor Exchequer Beltane. The fees and interest lost to Latveria were quite extensive, hence REVENGE! Daredevil has been found guilty of fiscal terrorism, and there are no light (or even fair) sentences in Latverian criminal justice.
Mars Attacks! #1 (IDW Publishing)
In 1962, the TOPPS trading card company released a series of gross and violent "Mars Attacks" cards where evil Martians ran rampant across the Earth, killing and subjugating any humans they came across. Inspired by the often gory Weird Science art of Wally Wood, these cards were loved by kids and hated by parents. Unlike my generation’s Garbage Pail Kids, the company bowed to pressure from parents and halted production. Also unlike Garbage Pail Kids, the movie is pretty great. This comic starts up 50 years ago, depicting the same initial invasion. A Martian named Zar is trapped on Earth after his UFO crashes, setting up the eternal struggle between Martian and Carnival Worker. 50 years from now, Zar will be known as General Zar, and he will gain his revenge. This comic is full of fun black humor and violence. I wouldn’t recommend it to the squeamish, but it’s a lot of fun.
Green Lantern Corps #10 (DC Comics)
John Stewart has been found guilty of the murder of Lantern Kirrt Kallak, and has been sentenced to death. The Alpha Lanterns have been the judges and jury, now they will serve as the executioners. John is stoic as always. As he confessed to the family of Lantern Kallak, every soldier has a breaking point. Kirrt reached his, when he was asked to bear more than he could handle. Now John is at his own breaking point. He plans to submit to the ruling of the Alpha Lanterns. Guy Gardner and the rest of the Corps feel differently. A story gradually has been building in the Green Lantern titles for several years. The Guardians are clearly corrupt and no longer working for the best interests of the universe. Their Alpha Lanterns are similarly flawed, driven entirely by their cold and inhuman logic. Soon the Corps will be forced to either destroy or recreate itself. The John Stewart case will clearly be a big step in one of those directions.
Nightwing #10 (DC Comics)
Nightwing’s undead great-grandfather William Cobb claimed that Gotham would be better off if he had become an assassin for the Court of Owls, but Dick didn’t agree. He thought that the city could be saved. Sonia Zucco is the daughter of “Boss” Zucco, the gangster who murdered Dick Grayson’s parents. She goes by the name Sonia Branch now, and she may or may not be an actual legitimate businesswoman, running the Gotham Municipal Bank. Dick has a legitimate business proposal for her. He wants to revitalize Amusement Mile, a long abandoned theme park. This would give a new home to the Hally Brothers’ Circus and provide something special for families in old town Gotham. Meanwhile, Nightwing is still totally framed for the murder of the Strayhorn brothers. Internal Affairs had been forced to clear Detective Travis Nie in a previous evidence tampering case involving Batman due to lack of evidence. Is he involved in the Strayhorn case? Commissioner Gordon thinks so, but is frustrated by his inability to prove it. There’s a ton going on in this comic, and all of it’s pretty awesome.
Wonder Woman #10 (DC Comics)
Punisher #12 (Marvel Comics)
Avengers Academy #32 (AvX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
New Avengers #27 (AvX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
Secret Avengers #28 (AvX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
Uncanny X-Men #14 (AvX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
Batwoman #10 (DC Comics)
The Shadow #3 (Dynamite Entertainment)
Dark Avengers #176 (Marvel Comics)
Venom #19 (Marvel Comics)