Welcome everyone to CWPB Giant Size – the first of its kind! Since I was out of town last week I didn’t get a chance to pick up my books, leading to a respectable stack when I stopped by my store for my weekly pick-up. Instead of spacing them out or pushing some to the post-credit, I decided FUCK IT and now we’ll have a giant-size action packed adventure with everything that came out in the last 2 weeks. Additionally, I’m exploring talking a little more about story specifics so beware some slightly-less-light spoilers. Buckle in!
Action Comics #997
The “Booster Shot” arc of Action Comics continues, with Booster and Superman teleported slightly into the future to a planet called New Krypton and ruled by the tyrannical General Zod and his family. Unsurprisingly, the family of villains hold something of a grudge against Superman for repeatedly beating them up. Meanwhile, Lois’s rescue mission of her father continues, with Jon (Superboy) still following in the shadows. This issue brought both stories pretty solidly forward, and honestly I’m a little surprised at how dark it was. It’s nothing new for comics to end on a cliffhanger to make you buy the next month’s issue, but pretty much nothing went well for our heroes this issue. It’s especially surprising to see it in a Superman book, since his whole thing is being absurdly overpowered. I liked it though, and for the first time I feel like I pretty much have a grasp on the arc after spending a few issues with it. I still don’t know the specifics of what Superman did to Zod & Sons Inc, but this issue gives enough information to get by on thanks to increase in helpful editors’ notes and no new dependencies on past issues. It’s also great seeing Superman fight actual equals of strength (or at least approximate equals) in other Kryptonians. We get a few nice panels and splash pages that really stand out and put the “action” in Action Comics (I’m not sorry). This arc is definitely escalating, and I look forward to the next issue.
The Brave and the Bold #1
God DAMN have I been excited for this book since it was announced! The king of the Irish faerie folk is murdered, and Batman and Wonder Woman are drawn into the mystery. The first book serves mainly as set-up, mostly introducing Cernunnos (the deity that comes as an ambassador to Diana) and Tir Na Nog, the hidden home of the faerie folk. I’m an absolute sucker for Irish/Celtic/British mythology (also all mythology), so a long exposition issue is absolutely welcome to me. As it stands, a few threads are established. The faerie folk are angry and feel imprisoned away from the mortal world, Cernunnos needs help to placate them, and then as he and Diana arrive the king is found dead. There’s also a strange old man in Gotham who believes an entrance to Tir Na Nog will open, and Batman investigates some strange behavior in the Irish Quarter of Gotham. So far the stories are just beginning to take shape, but I’m really excited to see the DC Universe delve into some good folklore. Characters like Wonder Woman and Thor that straddle the line of mythology and superhero are always most interesting to me when they lean more heavily into their magical roots. Being a 6-issue miniseries it should be a pretty focused story, and I’m already hopeful that it could be one of the best non-Hellboy folklore stories in comics. The art fits perfectly, all the gods and creatures look absolutely incredible. I’m thrilled to see this start, and I hope it continues to be the best thing ever.
Detective Comics #974
“Knight’s Fall” concludes with a gorgeous cover paying homage to the old “Death in the Family” classic. The Victim Syndicate’s plan to return Clayface to his monstrous ways succeeded well enough for Batwoman to take the shot that ended his life. This issue doesn’t need any action, it just deals with the fallout of her decision. I’m always interested in stories that examine whether or not Batman’s no-kill policy is flawed, since there is certainly a case for it him sometimes putting his ideals above the lives of people he could save. Seeing Batman and the Bat-Family fail is also always a welcome change, since it keeps the stakes high and keeps the story engaging. Apparently both of DC’s flagship bi-weekly books decided to have similarly dark issues at the same time. This issue was very solid, with all the characters establishing their point of view on the situation. Tim (Red Robin) is the only one that feels a little weak to me – he seems to just be parroting back Batman’s ideology. However, he was recently dead (?) and saw a future where he’s a bad guy (??) so I may be missing the proper context from that since it seems to be driving most of his actions at this point. Regardless, #974 focused on character over action and I really enjoyed it. Absolutely can’t wait for “The Trial of Batwoman” as the next arc, and I’m curious to see what implications this has for her solo book – I read it way back during the New 52 and I like her character, so we’ll see how this plays out.
Astonishing X-Men #8
Astonishing X-Men continues to be on shaky ground, with the newly resurrected (formerly Professor) X accidentally unleashing Proteus, and old X-Men villain. Additionally, Bishop’s timeline database indicates signs of a timeline that ends with a “mindkiller apocalypse” which honestly sounds rad but is probably bad news. Unfortunately, the issue doesn’t do too much other than establish the situation. There’s a bit of Proteus possibly killing people, then a whole discussion about whether or not to trust X. Despite knowing that Proteus’s weakness is metal (LAME) and having the Logan + Archangel metal tag-team, they opt to have Psylocke and X telepathically communicate with him. This leads to another long discussion, which ultimately leads nowhere. Other than the cliffhanger in the last panel, I don’t really feel like anything happened. I agree that X being reborn/resurrected is strange and is worth having a discussion about within the team, but it wasn’t enough to carry the issue. There were a few good jokes, but otherwise nothing stood out to me. The art even had a few places where the facial expressions felt like they didn’t match the situation at all. I might be looking for things to be critical of, but I don’t know how much longer I’ll stay with this book.
Doctor Strange: Damnation #1
I knew basically nothing about this book going in, but it has Blade and Ghost Rider on the cover so I thought, “Hey, maybe some of the stuff from Spirits of Vengeance will come up in this!” As of the first issue, I can say I was probably wrong. Something happened to completely destroy Las Vegas (A quick Google search reveals Secret Empire began with Evil Captain America having Las Vegas destroyed) and with magic in Marvel back on the rise, Dr. Strange decides he’s going to undo that. Anyone who knows literally anything about the rules of magic is probably thinking what a colossal dumb fucking idea that is, but whatever. It happens. Of course, an evil demonic casino also rises with the newly resurrected Vegas. Mephisto is mad about the fact that the greatest den of sin and iniquity just got literally dragged back up from Hell just when he was having a good time, so he and Dr. Strange have to compete for the souls of the living etc. The book ends with the idea to assemble a team that includes the aforementioned Blade and Ghost Rider, so that part still interests me. All in all this issue wasn’t bad, I just don’t have any investment in Dr. Strange or in the fallout of Secret Empire so I’m probably approaching it from the wrong place. The art is great and it looks like it should have a pretty big impact on the universe however it shakes out, so if you’re into the concept I can recommend it. I just want to see more payout from the cool Heaven v Hell stuff in Spirits of Vengeance, which has yet to happen.
The Mighty Thor #704
The actual death of the Mighty Thor draws ever nearer, and each issue as it does gets better and better. The most recent entry in The Mighty Thor does a tremendous job of balancing the conflict happening in Asgardia with the conflict happening in Jane. The main story of the book has two sections: Odin and Odinson battling the Mangog on Asgardia, and Jane stuck at the hospital without knowing what’s going on. The issue is cut with flashbacks to every time Jane has lost someone dear to her – her mother to cancer, her father to a heart attack, and her ex-husband and son to a car accident. Seeing a bit of Jane’s inner conflict is really powerful. She has to reconcile the awful things that happen to her, and at first she can just not believe in a higher power. But what about when she personally knows a god? When she becomes one? How do you balance that? It’s a concept that I expect will continue to pop up, and it adds a lot to this issue. The main action comes from the battle on Asgardia, which is of course big and spectacular. I think a lot of the bigger panels here would be beautiful and iconic if the Mangog itself didn’t have such fucking awful design. My personal dislike for the villain aside, the fight truly is great. There are two pages in particular that have an amazing combination of art and dialogue as Odin thinks to himself about how if Asgardia dies it will go down fighting that stood out the most. I will say, I wonder what’s going on with the greater war of the realms? Obviously Malekith’s plan is succeeding since Asgardia is getting totalled, but where is he? I don’t mind the focus on Jane’s immediate conflict, but I do hope that either before or after she dies we can get more resolution of the conflict between the realms. I always talk about how I prefer “Thor the Myth” to “Thor the Avenger” and I’d like to get as much time with this very myth-focused story as possible. This remains one of my favorite books, and as much as I look forward to Odinson being a focus again I can genuinely say that Jane Thor has been a treat to read and I am very glad to see such a strong book come out from all the dumb controversy.
Old Man Logan #35
Another comic that wraps up an arc this week, “Moon Over Madripoor” finishes up in #35. This issue very much feels like a wrap up, with a few different threads getting wrapped up in quick succession. The fight with Gorgon and the regenerating Hand ninjas, Logan’s diminishing healing factor, the Regenix drug, Shingen (Silver Samurai) being morally grey, and Mariko’s future now that she’s resurrected all sort of get half-sorted. It feels very much like this arc was the beginning of something bigger, but it did also stand up as a decently enjoyable story. I like seeing Logan confronted with some issues from his life before the events of the original Old Man Logan. It can be easy to forget that this Logan lived most of the same life as the “real” Wolverine since he’s usually treated as a different character. The series has spent a lot of time focusing on the places where the two Logans diverge, and the places where they’re the same are just as interesting. Speaking of which, I expect the next story line to be a bit short so we can get to see some cool conflict as Wolverine returns to the Marvel Universe! Assuming the two meet, it won’t be the first time that alternate timeline Wolverines have met but it’s still an interesting thing to dive into.
When I saw a Bloodborne comic was coming I knew I had to get it. However, I felt the same way about the Dark Souls comic (also by Titan Publishing) and never got around to reading it after hearing loads of bad things about it. I decided to jump into Bloodborne anyway, because even if the story isn’t anything special it’s an excuse to jump back into one of my favorite worlds. If you ever have a stretch of hours that you want completely wasted, ask me some of my feelings on Bloodborne. I won’t dive too much into it now, but I really love the world of the game. It feels very complex and nuanced and real, with so many tiny details that add up to paint a picture that looks a little different the closer you get. The comic, at least so far, seems to be attempting to capture that. It has the same cycle, with death taking the same shape as it does in the game. Every death isn’t big and dramatic, just part of what happens. Bloodborne even more than Dark Souls addresses the death head on, and so it doesn’t feel unnatural to have the “main character” of the comic die and wake up in the Hunter’s Dream. The comic doesn’t make any attempt to cater to newcomers either, which I like. Character names and group concepts are just thrown around without much explanation. I’m not saying I think you should need a degree in Souls-lore to read the comic, but so much of the appeal of the world is the mystery that I don’t want a bunch of long exposition. The main “story” of what the main character hunter is trying to accomplish seems like it might be similar to the game, but I don’t think it’s just going to follow the same path. Already the hunter isn’t as alone as you are in the game, and I like the idea of seeing some characterization happening. Your character in the Souls games doesn’t ever have any personality which fits the game but wouldn’t work in a comic. Getting to actually see into a main character’s head gives an opportunity to see more aspects of the world, and that excites me. It also has the potential to ruin some of the mystery and appeal, so I’m hoping the comic stays good. As it stands, I recommend the issue if you like the game or want to jump into something pretty weird.
That’s it for this week, hope you enjoyed the better split between different publishers in CWPB Giant-Size Special! Next week’s entry will be back to the normal size, so look forward to it. Thanks as always for reading.
Comic Wolf Post-Credit
Welcome back people who scroll an extra two inches! It’s everyone’s favorite section where I scramble to come up with something clever to talk about every week. As you know, I finished my DC catch-up segment. Hooray! But that means I need new ideas. Oh no! Joking aside, I have a few other series and graphic novels to catch up on, so expect more of those appearing soon. However this week, I have a different kind of back issue. Apparently a few years ago, my store got a special exclusive variant cover for Valiant’s Book of Death. I didn’t know that happened, but when I found out my coworker was nice enough to give me a copy. I literally don’t know anything about the book (or much about Valiant in general honestly) but since this cover is exclusive to my store I want to check it out!
Book of Death #1
Just looking at the comic before reading it, the checklist on the back clued me in that this was some sort of big event for Valiant books, including 4 main issues and 4 tie-ins called “The Fall of ___” for 4 big Valiant heroes. I pretty much immediately braced myself to have no idea what the fuck was going on. I was right! However, the book does a fine job of giving you brief descriptions of the characters and concepts, especially if you read the inside cover. The gist of the story is there’s a young girl who has the power of a Geomancer, and also has a book that foretells the end of the world. The Eternal Warrior, an immortal and also a member of a superhero team, has taken it upon himself to protect her so she can read the book and figure out how to stop the end. Unfortunately, the girl has powers she can’t control and is causing a lot of death so Unity (the superhero team) feels they need to stop her. There’s also some mysterious evil force that captured another Geomancer and is forcing him to hunt this girl. It seems like the event is Civil War meets something more cosmic like Darkseid or Apocalypse, which I dig the idea of. Even with no attachment to the characters, the conflict makes sense. It’s well written enough to be engaging even to someone with no knowledge, to the point that I might seek out the rest of the series and check it out to see how it all resolved. The art is awesome, and not just the AMAZING AND EXCLUSIVE COVER DONE BY FRIEND OF THE STORE ZACK DOLAN (ok, I’m done). There’s one page in particular that legitimately freaked me out, which is impressive. I’m glad I got the chance to check this out since it’s so far outside of what I normally read, and if I do pick up a trade or anything expect that to show up in a future post-credit.
Thanks again for sticking around for my weird segment! Stay tuned next week for some kind of catch up, either a few issues or a GN.