It has been a stellar week across the board for comics I think. Lots and lots of interesting and awesome stuff has happened. We have shocking moments, budding romances, good old fashioned adventure and body jumping! Along with something that made my skin crawl.
For this first Picks of the Week post I will be covering a lot more then I will usually be covering. Think of the extra detail and write ups as a bonus to get the ball rolling.
A WARNING though, there will be SPOILERS!
Despite the poor selection of covers this week, the content inside of the covers was on top form. Red Hood and the Outlaws continues to be my guilty pleasure as its space epic story drew to a close. It was big, stupid, quippy fun and ended with a promise that the team will be together for a long time to come which is really good to see. Although The Joker could put an end to that idea as Death of the Family continues. Wonder Woman kicked off its second year with a good setup for what is to come in the next few months. It is going to get really crazy, really fast and I cannot wait!
Before Watchmen: Minutemen # 4 showed the cast dealing with the death of The Silhouette in their own unique ways. It all got very serious as the closeted gay characters, Hooded Justice and Captain Metropolis turned out to be hypocrites (mainly due to circumstances because of the time period). Sally Jupiter shocked me as it was revealed she killed The Silhouette and her partner’s killer, Liquidator. You then got the odd tale of Hooded Justice possibly being involved in the killing of Jewish children in WWII and being a part of The Silhouette’s origin. As ever what makes Minutemen so good is Darwyn Cooke’s amazing art and tight script that follows a lot of the storytelling conventions and techniques that the original Watchmen used. It is well worth checking out if you are on the fence about the whole Before Watchmen thing.
We then get to my two favourites from DC for this week,
Justice League #13 continues to move things forwards at a lighting fast pace while still finding time to have great character beats and quiet moments that speak volumes. Tony Daniel’s art shines through and pops out of the page. His character faces seem more detailed than usual and they look really good. I hope that he incorporates it into his style from here on out. Storywise it is good to see the New 52 Cheeta still having close ties to Diana’s past and making her a figure of tragic failure on Diana’s part. We also see in both the bulk of the issue and the backup, Steve Trevor’s continued rise to Nick Fury of the New 52 DCU as he deals with loosing his job as Justice League Liaison and starting to lay the ground work for what will be the Justice League of America with Green Arrow.
A key part of the issue is the fallout of the Superman and Wonder Woman kiss in Justice League #12. It would have been so easy for Geoff Johns to have them both completely infatuated with each other now that they have “discovered” one another. Instead he does the fair more interesting thing and dials it back with it becoming a fleeting moment that could lead to something more if both parties are willing. A bit of slow build up will solidify their relationship a bit more I think and it plays to the strengths of both characters. (Even though this issue suffers from Superman hovering over people syndrome which is one of my pet peeves) Justice League #13 is also notable for having the single greatest last page ever,
Batwoman #13 is my other top pick for DC this week which is an odd one for me because I am actually on the verge of dropping the book. Batwoman has been an odd comic since it started with the New 52 relaunch. There are elements of it I really like such as the character of Kate Kane herself and J.H. Williams III’s art is jaw dropping at times. Especially when he hides bat logo motifs in his amazing double page spreads.
The annoying thing about the book however is that the story has been all over the place! There is a lot going on and there is a tendency to throw new characters at the reader every other issue. I have long since forgotten what the main drive of the book is as Batwoman moves away from dealing with street thugs, gangsters and the criminally insane of the Bat Family’s usual remit and plunges into poorly told mythological stories and enemies. So why is the one of my picks of the week?
Well I decided that I would see out this current Batwoman/Wonder Woman team up arc then drop the book and I am glad that I chose to get these next couple of issues. The often confusing mystical and mythological aspects of the book have been temporarily replaced with the dark and horrific mythology that DC has been building into Wonder Woman the past year. It fits the book perfectly and shows up the previous confusion for what it is, poorly implemented storytelling. It makes me want to see J.H. Williams III join Wonder Woman as an artist. The issue is also a top pick because it contains something that made my skin crawl.
This double page spread freaked me out. All you can see are the giant millipede monsters, the horrible description of what they are doing to Wonder Woman and the squirm inducing sound effects. It is an instance of all elements of a comic coming together to plant a clear and disgusting image in your mind that you can imagine happening to you. The image may be conjured by your mind but it is the page that puts it there. It is a bloody amazing double page.
Over on the Marvel side of the industry things are equally as good. Captain Marvel continues to go from strength to strength as a book with Carol Danvers seemingly, to me anyway, finally finding her place in the Marvel Universe. This is despite this first storyline being a wibbly wobbly timey wimey adventure. Avengers Assemble #8 is basically one long advert for Bendis’ upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy book and that is not a bad thing. It has gotten me really excited for the new book. I’m totally on board now. We also got this brilliant moment in Avengers Vs X-Men: Consequences #2,
It is one of those moments that cuts you right to the core. Cyclops has become the new Magneto in his own arrogant way.
Marvel NOW! Point One is my first top pick of this week for Marvel. It finally delivers on the promise of the Point One initiative, to provide easily accessible jumping on points for new and established series. This comic has everything: teasers for big stories yet to come, introductions to new characters, humour, action, etc. etc. It is a fun read and as a result of reading it I will be trying out a couple of the comics featured in this book.
There is Guardians of the Galaxy and Young Avengers (the reasons for which I have already detailed). Then there is Nova which looks like it is going to be a fun read. I want to find out more about this kid under the helmet and what he is all about. If you have not checked out Marvel NOW! Point One I highly recommend it because there will be at least one or two things in there that will grab your attention.
New Avengers #31 is my final top pick for a multitude of reasons. It is Bendis on top form and saying goodbye to the book and characters that he has been working with for so long. There is a sense that it is all coming to an end (hence the name End Times!) but before Bendis says his final goodbye he is going to give us a greatest hits remix.
You get classic Bendis, everyone sitting around and eating while huge character beats happen. The humanised superhero team element of Bendis’ run is something I have always loved and I am really going to miss how these scenes are put together and play out. I love seeing the Avengers behaving like normal people (or as close as they can get to normal). It gives a further point of connection to the reader and this issue has it in spades. You have all the stuff with Luke Cage leaving the team to be with his family. Luke Cage retiring is a major deal because it was Bendis who brought him into the spotlight when he initially started his run on New Avengers years ago. Cage leaving adds to the sense of finality. Bendis is finished with the Avengers and as a result so is Luke, for now anyway. We are also treated to some brilliant moments of comedy and companionship from various members of the team,
It is Bendis doing what he does best. The building threat and enemy plot that runs underneath all of these moments, almost in the background is interesting too. The threat is mystical in nature and is gunning for the Avengers. As a result I cannot help but think this is a way to restore Doctor Strange to Sorcerer Supreme status which will be cool. The body hoping nature of the unknown villain also provides some interesting potential story moments. You have it initially being in control of Victoria Hand which brilliantly plays on the reader’s expectation that she is evil and will betray the team she is meant to be working with. Then at the end of the issue you see it take control of Captain Marvel who is a major powerhouse. The next issue is going to be a blinder I can tell already!