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. (P.S. Make sure to come by our booth at Comicpalooza this weekend!)
Batman, Incorporated #1 (DC Comics)
It’s been almost a year since the DC Universe was rebooted, and Grant Morrison has been busy writing the adventures of Superman in Action Comics. Now, with a second season of Batman, Inc., he gets to return to his epic about the caped crusader. Damien is stiff chafing under the rules of his father. He has to follow orders, he’s not allowed to kill people, blah blah blah. His mother, Talia al Ghul, has been revealed as the head of the criminal cartel called Leviathan, and she has put a half-billion dollar hit on the boy wonder. Hitmen come out of the woodwork, even a washed-up loser who based his gimmick on the Saturday Night Live Goat-Boy sketches from a decade ago. Artist Chris Burnham replaces Frank Quietly, and brings a very similar level of detail to the carnage and craziness. Unconnected to Scott Snyder’s Night of Owls event, this Bat-book is essential reading for people who like things that are awesome.
The Flash #9 (DC Comics)
Gorilla City is one of my favorite bizarre corners of the DC Universe. Starting with last issue though, it has been totally re-imagined. Its citizens worship a bolt of lightning, and many of them see the Flash as its messenger. The lightning first empowered the ancient Mayans. Then once it was done with them, it destroyed them. Next, the Speed Force sped up the gorillas’ minds, and allowed them to see the past, present, and future. Their new leader, Gorilla Grodd, wants only conquest and destruction. He revels in causing fear in his foes, right before he rips open their skull like a Pez dispenser and eats their brains. When Grodd sneers to the Flash that he cannot outrun fear, Barry has a response that defines everything that this series stands for. He says that he is running towards it. The only way to conquer fear is to look it in the eye and face it.
The Guild: Fawkes One-Shot (Dark Horse Comics)
Co-written by BFFs Felicia Day and Wil Wheaton, this single-issue story tells the story of what happened to the leader of the Axis of Anarchy’s leader Fawkes between the last two seasons of web series The Guild. Fawkes was a self-styled Epicurean. He could only sample once romantically, then move on to something(one) else. Something about Codex got under his skin though, and his brush with actual human emotions has kinda ruined his life. If you’re like me, and need something to fill the roughly 10 minutes a week that Geek & Sundry isn’t updating their YouTube channel, this book is a must-read. In a totally unrelated occurrence, the new Guild expansion for the Munchkin card game is also out this week. Cross-promote-age!
Captain America #12 (Marvel Comics)
The true worst person in the Marvel Universe has never Been Victor Von Doom, or even Wilson Fisk. It’s Henry Peter Gyrich. He pretends to be a patriot, but that’s just a lie. He uses the flag and his alleged loyalty to his country as an excuse for being a bully and a facist. It’s been that way since the Avenger comics of the 1970s. Who could forget the cover to Avengers #181, where he fires three-quarters of the team so he could control them better? Gyrich has always been a bottom-feeding scumbag, but now he’s a flat-out murderer. The former Avengers liaison has commissioned a new Scourge of the Underworld, and he’s using him to kill super villains who have turned state’s evidence. I’m not going to spoil the last-page reveal, but suffice it to say that longtime Captain America readers will recognize the face under the Scourge’s mask. Another fantastic issue by Brubaker and Zircher.
Aquaman #9 (DC Comics)
Do you STILL think Aquaman’s just a fish-talker? Then you’re obviously not reading this comic. Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis have done more than just rehabilitate this character, they’ve made him AWESOME. This issue continues to parcel out the story of Aquaman’s early years. We are introduced to another member of his non-team from before the Justice League, a man called The Prisoner. He is bound to a pair of golden shackles that can’t help but evoke Paradise Island. We get glimpses into both his power and damaged psyche, but only glimpses. A photograph on his desk shows a military unit that he was once a part of. Somehow the ghosts or spirits of these other soldiers live on and empower the Prisoner through his manacles. He is clearly tormented by survivor’s guilt, and there are hints of much worse demons as well. In addition to meeting more of The Others, Dr. Shin confesses to Mera the origin of the bad blood between Aquaman and Black Manta. It’s not what you think. It’s much worse.
Justice League Dark #9 (DC Comics)
And with a single page, the tone of this series totally changed. The role of Indiana Jones will now be played by John freakin’ Constantine, and it’s awesome. Tying into the events of Free Comic Book Day’s New 52 special, Steve Trevor shows up on Constantine’s doorstep. He tells the hung-over magician that the Black Room, the top-secret warehouse of all the mystical artifacts that the U.S. has ever dug up, is quite real and under the control of an agency called A.R.G.U.S. They had an operative named Dr. Mist, who they had placed undercover with Felix Faust’s Amazonian death cult. Two weeks ago, they lost all contact. They need Constantine to reassemble his team of magical lunatics and shut down Faust. Knowing what kind of man he’s dealing with, Colonel Trevor doesn’t waste any time and cuts straight to the bribery. If Constantine and his Justice League Dark are successful, then he gets ten minutes alone in the Black Room. When then New 52 started, this was the team book that I was the most excited about. The first issue was awesome, but then never quite lived up its potential. With this issue, that has all changed. If you read it and didn’t like it, or if you never tried the series before, do yourself a favor and check out this issue. Writer Jeff Lemire has proven with books like the current Animal Man series that he can walk the fine line that separates classic DC and the Vertigo line with amazing results. This book is easily my favorite of the week.
Green Lantern: The New Guardians #9 (DC Comics)
The Reach, the alien warlords who created the Blue Beetle armor worn by Jaime Reyes, are poised to invade the peaceful planet of Odym, home of the Blue Lanterns. Saint Walker has just returned home to inform his people of the events of the last eight issues. Ganthet has been lobotomized by the Guardians, and somebody has managed to steal rings from every order of Lanterns except for Orange. What’s cool about this issue is that we see Saint Walker in action. He is not a pacifist, but somebody who fights for what he believes in. As the other Blue Lanterns look on in awe, he inspires feelings of hope in them and makes them fight on. Meanwhile, Kyle Rayner and the others make their way to Odym. They may not be a traditional team, or even be able to stand each other’s company, but they all know that their futures are tied to the fate of Saint Walker.
Amazing Spider-Man #686 (Marvel Comics)
This is the penultimate chapter of the epic Ends of the Earth storyline, and stuff happens very, very fast. There are betrayals, unexpected team-ups, and crazy twists galore. The Chameleon and Mysterio have managed to trick Spider-Man, Silver Sable, and Black Widow into believing that Doctor Octopus has killed the entire European nation of Symkaria. As Peter tries to save people that aren’t in any actual danger, and Silver Sable looks to gain revenge on her butchered people, Black Widow encourages them to pull out and cut their losses. If not for his massive ego getting in the way, the heroes could have been distracted long enough for Doc Ock to burn the whole planet. Once Spidey takes control of the situation, it’s time for the final showdown. The best part of this issue is the revelation on the last page. The Parker Luck is infamous for a reason.
Secret Avengers #27 (AVX tie-in) (Marvel Comics)
James “War Machine” Rhodes hits the nail on the head when he says, “I really thought a suicide mission to fight the damned Phoenix Force was as bad as things could get. You all somehow managed to make things worse.” The Kree believe that the Phoenix will bring evolution to their dead-end race. They have been a people without a future, so it only makes sense that they look to their past. Mar Vell was their greatest hero, before he broadened his horizons. He fought not just for the Kree, or even for Earth, but for their entire cosmos. He was the most cosmic hero that Marvel ever had, and his death from cancer in the classic Death of Captain Marvel graphic novel stands as one of the best comics ever written. So far, this story arc is a fine sequel to that story. Ultimately we know that these Avengers will fail, and the Phoenix will arrive on Earth. MILD SPOILERS AHOY: Readers who have looked ahead in the solicitations have also noticed that there is a new Captain Marvel series about to begin, but it’s one starring the former Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers. If it’s half as good as these issues of Secret Avengers have been, then I can’t wait to read them.
All Star Western #9 (Night of the Owls tie-in) (DC Comics)
Batman: The Dark Knight #9 (Night of the Owls tie-in) (DC Comics)
The Mighty Thor #14 (Marvel Comics)
Fantastic Four #606 (Marvel Comics)
Deadpool #55 (Marvel Comics)
Superman #9 (DC Comics)
Transformers: More than Meets the Eye #5 (IDW Comics)
The Fury of Firestorm, The Nuclear Man #9 (DC Comics)