DC Previews Picks: August 2018

May 23, 2018

There’s an easy way to tell when a DC event means business.  It’s when they use “Crisis” in its title. The original “Crisis on Infinite Earths” set the standard for being the crossover that really changed everything as it streamlined DC’s continuity in significant fashion.  Subsequent events, such as “Zero Hour: Crisis in Time,” “Infinite Crisis,” and “Final Crisis,” tried in their own way to change things and some were more successful at it than others. Early on there was word that “Metal” was going to have the title “Dark Crisis,” but Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo managed to convince DC to let them keep their title for this event.  Which worked out pretty well from what I’ve heard.

 

I’m bringing this up because in the wake of “Metal” and all of the things it unleashed onto the DC Universe, there’s been talk of the company planning another “Crisis.”  Only this time it’s just going to be called… “Crisis.” Which has a certain purity in it if nothing else. So it’s possible that this could be the lead-in to the “fresh start” or “creative refresh” that DC is planning, or god help us another reboot.  Right now all we can take away from word of this latest “Crisis” is the same thing that all events with its name have tried to do in the past: that it’s going to try its best to change the DC Universe. Whether or not it’ll be successful or even good is another matter entirely.

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Assassination Classroom vol. 21

May 21, 2018

Huh.  It turns out this is the final volume.

 

I’m not sure how I failed to see this coming or how I convinced myself in the first place that this was going to be a 22-volume series.  Oh well, that just means I’ve reached the end of this really good series a little earlier than expected. What does vol. 21 have for us? The last few chapters of the series proper, a four-chapter side story focusing on Koro-sensei, and the one-shot mangaka Yusei Matsui did prior to starting the series.  That one-shot is intriguingly weird, but it’s also a distraction from the quality falling action of the material preceding it.

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The Mighty Thor vol. 3: The Asgard/Shi’Ar War

May 20, 2018

A couple days ago I wrote about how “The Negative Zone War” over in “X-Men:  Gold” didn’t really live up to its title. Among its many problems was the fact that the war in its title didn’t really amount to a skirmish or two before the statue of a god came to life and started rampaging through a city.  Thankfully Jason Aaron and Russell Dauterman are on hand to show us how to properly stage a war in five issues with this latest volume of “The Mighty Thor.” You’ll just have to get over the opening speed bump first.

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Black Science vol. 7: Extinction is the Rule

May 19, 2018

Have you ever wondered what it would look like when Rick Remender writes a story that puts his protagonists so far in the red that it doesn’t make sense for them to come out all right in the end, yet they manage to do it anyway?  Well wonder no more as “Extinction is the Rule” has finally given us that story! After setting up not one, but two cliffhangers for the members of the McKay family and their companions, the writer offers up the briefest of respites (and a foreshadowing of things to come) before plunging back into the threat posed by the Zirites.  While two of the story’s threads converge at this point to allow our protagonists to consolidate their forces, they’re still going to need to deal with the threats posed by the telepathic Draln, the witch Doxta, and whatever scheme Kadir has cooked up to save himself.

 

Matteo Scalera’s art is as impressively kinetic as ever, giving the action scenes real momentum to them.  The action, still contrasting nicely with the low-key narration that usually accompanies it, can sometimes carry you through the increasingly depressing story as it seeks to grind down anyone who even tries to oppose it.  In fact, it gets to the point where Remender can’t even be bothered to properly set up the nasty surprises he has in store for his cast. Witness Pia’s tribulations in the final issue where she’s doomed, then saved, then immediately doomed again along with everyone else!  When the Pillar is used to make one final leap at the end of the volume it feels like a necessary measure to wipe away all of the chaos in the story up to this point. My hope is that Remender is doing this in order to set up the endgame for this series, which should only be two or three volumes (please make it two) away at this point.  After a volume like this the end of “Black Science” can’t come soon enough.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

X-Men Times Three

May 18, 2018

Yes, those “X-Men” books do keep multiplying and piling up for me to read.  The ones that I’m actually interested in following at any rate. So it happens that I picked up three new titles in my last big order of comics.  While that includes the latest volumes of flagship titles X-Men:  Gold and X-Men:  Blue the second (and final) volume of Jean Grey was also in there as well.  Were they any good? Well, while the quality of Jean’s title is sadly irrelevant at this point, “Blue” and “Gold” look to be settling into their own respective levels at this point.

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Comic Picks #263: Avengers — Infinity Stuff

May 16, 2018

Myron is back and we share our thoughts on "Infinity War" and the comics that inspired it.

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Clearing Out My Manga Backlog

May 14, 2018

There were times last year where I was worried that I wouldn’t have a manga title to review in a given week.  Flash forward to today and now my “to review” pile is positively choked with manga. Which is a good thing as there have been times in the past where, as some series concluded, there would be enough new ones debuting to replace them.  Thankfully, that hasn’t been the case and the situation I find myself in now is the kind of First World Problem I’m happy to have.  So click on the link below to see my thoughts on a lot of familiar titles to this site, as well as one brand new one that’s heading up the list.

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Head Lopper vol. 2: Head Lopper & The Crimson Tower

May 13, 2018

The second adventure of creator Andrew MacLean’s Head Lopper -- Norgal if you’re one of his friends -- couldn’t have come at a better time.  We’re in the dry period between the end of Dark Horse publishing new comics and Marvel starting up their own take on the adventures of “Conan” that there’s a distinct lack of barbarian-based action comics out there right now.  “The Crimson Tower” fills that void as it has Head Lopper following two warriors of the Kota, Zhaania the master and Xho the disciple, to the titular tower on a mission of mercy that’s going to involve the slaying of an undead wizard.  Ulrich the Twice-Damned is the master of the Tower and Head Lopper and his companions are only a few of the warriors he has welcomed inside on the pretense that if they slay him, everything he has will be theirs. In actuality, Ulrich is just waiting until these warriors fall victim to the Tower’s many traps and defenses so he can use their leftover parts in his experiments.

 

“Head Lopper & the Crimson Tower’s” biggest fault is that it doesn’t offer anything to change the mind of people who would pass it by because of its resemblance to “Conan” or that it’s a sword-and-sorcery title.  If you’re like me, however, and you did get a kick out of the first volume then vol. 2 will still offer a satisfying experience.  MacLean’s style continues to be impeccable and he makes the many regions of the Tower memorably distinct and displays the action in a clear and engaging manner.  There’s also a surprising amount of heart to the story to keep you involved with it as well. From Zhaania’s mentorship of Xho to her own personal reasons for coming to the Tower, to the tiny Twerpal of the Fonga people who only winds up in this conflict because he was looking out for his little brother Bik and now has to contend with a situation that’s far bigger than he is, literally and figuratively.  As for Head Lopper, he remains the same as he ever was, with his banter between the head of the Blue Witch providing an effective means of comic relief throughout. So even if what MacLean has to offer here isn’t exactly new, it’s still done with a freshness that keeps the story engaging throughout.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Lazarus X+66

May 12, 2018

I get why “Lazarus X+66” is being released as a miniseries rather than an official volume of the main title.  Series artist Michael Lark is only providing the covers to each issue while writer Greg Rucka is just co-writing the issues collected here.  As both creators have been fully involved with the previous five volumes of “Lazarus” it’s easy to see why they wanted to brand “X+66” under its own title in order to manage expectations.  The problem is that it does the miniseries a disservice because this really does feel like a proper volume of “Lazarus” and is therefore something that fans of the series should definitely not ignore.

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Paper Girls vol. 4

May 11, 2018

After my experience with the previous volume I can now say that my biggest issue with this series has now been resolved:  Erin is the “new girl,” Tiffany is the gamer girl, KJ is the lesbian with a hockey stick, and Mackenzie is (as always) the bitchy redhead.  Now that I’m finally able to keep the cast straight in my head, what does vol. 4 have to offer us? How about a version of New Year’s Day 2000 where Y2K panic was in full swing.  If that doesn’t sound thrilling enough for you, then it’s good that creators Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang thought to bring in some invisible giant robots duking it out across the town.  Only Tiffany can see them, but that’s not the biggest shock she encounters in this era after she finds out that she’s dating a vampire-y goth guy she met at business school. As for the other three girls, they’re following a lead from the time travellers they met back in vol. 1 to track down the artist of a comic strip that’s been passing them knowledge through the years.

 

Being able to finally keep the cast straight in my head goes a long way towards making this volume easier to enjoy than vol. 3.  What it can’t fix is the nagging sensation that I’m not going to be able to determine if this series will have been worth my time until the very end.  That’s mainly because all of the action here still feels like setup towards the title’s ultimate goal. From everything the comic strip artist has to say, to what the Grand Father experiences here, to KJ’s realization about her sexuality and Mackenzie’s reaction to it, they all feel like the next part of a story rather than something that can be enjoyed on its own terms.  The increasingly complicated time-travel aspects of the story don’t do it any favors either, along with Vaughan’s increasingly frustrating decision to have the future teens speak in their own symbolic language. Yes, you can Google up a translation for it, but if that’s possible then why bother doing it in the first place? I still have no complaints about the stellar art from Chiang, though it’s not enough to make me hope that the series will be reaching its conclusion sooner rather than later.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com