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:
Batman & Robin #7 (DC Comics)
The conclusion to the “NoBody” story arc is truly an epic read. Bruce Wayne is not just fighting a run-of-the-mill bad guy, he’s fighting a man who has tortured, and plans to murder, his son. Batman fights like a man possessed in some of the best action choreography in recent memory. As cool as the issue is though, all of that pales in comparison to the final page. This is a cliffhanger that we’ve been waiting for since Grant Morrison first introduced Damien as a character in Batman #655. Stay away from spoilers and read the issue; you’ll be glad you did.
Avengers Assemble #1 (Marvel Comics)
Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley, the original creative team behind Ultimate Spider-Man, have launched yet another Avengers title. This brings the grand total of Avenger comics that Marvel publishes to approximately 28,912. What makes this book stand out from the rest of the pack is genius in its simplicity. Avengers Assemble features the same roster as the upcoming movie release, provides a fresh jumping on point for new readers, introduces an update on the classic stable of villains known as the Zodiac, AND also exists in mainstream Marvel continuity. It manages to provide something for any reader that is interested in following the Avengers.
Wolverine & The X-Men #7 (Marvel Comics)
Concludes the whacked-out sci-fi stories of: the X-Men shrinking down and pulling a Fantastic Voyage into Kitty Pryde to cure her from being impregnated by a host of Brood; Wolverine and Kid Omega ripping off a casino in outer space; and an alien xenobiologist attempting to murder Broo for his crime of violating the natural order of the cosmos. Somehow it all gets wrapped up and clears the stage for the upcoming Avengers vs. X-Men. As cool as that crossover is going to be, I can’t help but wish we could get at least another six months of stories like these.
Locke & Key: Clockworks #5 (IDW)
This is the best comic that I have read in months. Locke & Key is a series of six 6-issue miniseries. All together, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez are telling a sweeping horror epic that spans from the modern day to the American Revolution. If you have not read the previous volumes, the first four miniseries have all been collected and are ESSENTIAL reading for people who like things that are awesome. This issue depicts in its entirety a story that has been hinted at for the previous four volumes. We see exactly what happened to Dodge in the drowning cave 25 years ago that has damned so many people today. If you have read the previous issues, those revelations should set your brain on fire. If you have not read the previous issues, what are you waiting for?
Saga #1 (Image)
You know when you get hooked on a book has been coming out for about a year, and all the cool kids have already been reading it since issue #1? It happened with The Walking Dead. It happened with Y: The Last Man. It’s going to happen again with Y creator Brian K. Vaughn's Saga. You’re going to wind up getting hooked on this comic whenever you get around to reading it, so why not start with the first issue for a change? There is so much awesome in this book, I don’t want to spoil it. Instead, I’m sharing three random quotes, without any context: “I imagine his Highness wants to show the current administration that the Robot Kingdom can still pull its weight and deliver some righteous vengeance when the need arises.” “I was born on a planet called Cleave, an ancient ball of mud circling a faded old star.” “Wasn’t expecting…this much gristle.”
The Thief of Thieves #2 (Image)
This comic reminds me a lot of the television series Leverage. Sure, both stories are about people on the wrong side of the law, but it goes deeper than that. The tone is very similar. It’s a fun and fairly light-hearted romp, right up until the moment where it isn’t. Issue #2 begins to show the reader Redmond’s backstory. Sure, he’s the world’s greatest thief, but that life brings him no joy. We begin to discover the personal losses and tragedies that plague him, but a major mystery remains. Why is Redmond quitting the game now, of all times? What happened that caused him to abandon his life of crime now, when he steadfastly refused to do so before? We’re gonna have to keep reading to find out.
Conan the Barbarian #2 (Dark Horse)
If your only knowledge of Conan is a monosyllabic Arnold Schwarzenegger lumbering across the silver screen, then this comic will be an eye-opening read. Robert E. Howard’s literary Conan is as quick and cunning as he is ruthless and savage. In this issue, Conan takes on the crew of the Pirate Queen of the Black Coast Belit and the seas run red with blood. Watching our favorite barbarian embark on a nautical killing spree is truly a spectacle to behold.
Saucer Country #1 (DC Vertigo)
Arcadia Alvarado is the governor of New Mexico, and she is hours away from announcing her candidacy for President of the United States of America. She has a deadbeat ex-husband causing concern amongst her staff. Oh, and last night they were both abducted by aliens from outer space. Writer of many good things, including the stellar Doctor Who episodes “Human Nature and “Family of Blood,” Paul Cornell has a lot going on in this first issue, and all of it is interesting.
Scarlet Spider #3 (Marvel Comics)
This is the final issue that friends of the store Chris Yost and Ryan Stegman completed before coming to Houston in January. From here on out, we can expect to see an even more accurate depiction of our city. Any minor quibbles with the comic book version of Houston are totally abated by a web-slinging Scarlet Spider suddenly running out of buildings and crashing in downtown. Kaine’s supporting cast continues to be fleshed out with this issue, creating a fun group dynamic for our (anti-) hero to bounce off. The coolest development happens towards the end of the issue. Houston is only a few hours from New Orleans, home to a certain Guild familiar to Gambit fans. The future is about to get even more complicated for the Scarlet Spider.
The Shade #6 (DC Comics)
I wish this book came out daily. Anyone who I’ve talked to about comics for more than 20 seconds knows how I feel about James Robinson’s Starman (the greatest comic ever written by man or beast). One of its greatest strengths was its ability to create a fully realized world with a history that was both decades deep and totally accessible to new readers. The Shade proudly continues that tradition. La Sangre, the Shade’s surrogate daughter and vampire protector of Spain once again battles her nemesis the deranged zealot known as the Inquisitor. Javier Pulido’s art is fluid and full of subtle emotion, perfect for illustrating the story at hand. If you like books that star a charming and MOSTLY not-evil protagonist, check out The Shade.
Suicide Squad #7 (DC Comics)
This week’s installment gives us the new 52 universe’s origin of Harley Quinn. Many of the broad strokes are unchanged from her earliest appearances in the beloved Batman: The Animated Series. She was still Dr. Harleen Quinzel, a young and inexperienced therapist working at Arkham Asylum, and she still fell crazy in love with the infamous Joker. The changes made in this issue elevate Harley from unhinged sidekick to full-blown femme fatale. Harley is very much in control of her own actions, and does exactly what she wants. While I still prefer the character’s classic look, her new appearance continues to grow on me. By making it her actual skin and hair, rather than clown makeup, she stops being a girl playing dress-up and becomes the Joker’s equal. I still miss Deadshot’s moustache though.
Batgirl #7 (DC Comics)
Gail Simone is the best, and so are the comics that she writes. In this week’s issue of Batgirl, Simone gets to reunite the original Birds of Prey, Batgirl and Black Canary. They drink tea, talk about their feelings, and kick each other’s asses while making snarky comments. It’s awesome! While Barbara has physically recovered from the wounds that she received from the Joker, there are still ongoing emotional wounds that need treating. It’s great seeing a more nuanced and realistic treatment of the sort of baggage that any costumed vigilante would be bound to carry. That said, this issue is anything but a downer. As always, Simone manages to infuse the book with a fun energy that makes it one of the best and most consistent comics on the stands.
Green Lantern #7 (DC Comics)
With this issue, we begin a story that we’ve been waiting for since Blackest Night began: the origin of the Indigo Tribe. While those obnoxious, tiny, space fascists, the Guardians of the Universe, continue to plot against the brave and loyal space cops that serve them dutifully, Sinestro and Hal Jordan become reacquainted with the former Black Hand. According to William Hand, the Indigo Tribe plan to “fix” Sinestro the same way that they did to him. Even though Sinestro totally has it coming, and a lot worse, it sure is creepy. Also, the gibberish that the Indigo Tribe speaks seems to have at least ONE word that we can understand: their word for “Green Lantern” seems to be “Abin Sur.”
There were so many great comics this week! We’ve barely scratched the surface. Other great books include:
Fantastic Four #604
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 9 #7
Captain America #9
Incredible Hulk #6
Demon Knights #7
Adventure Time #2
Knights of the Dinner Table #184