This is, to say the least, an astonishingly large amount of comics this week, at least compared to what I have been getting in my pull of late.
Saga #27- Image
Saga, of course, takes top billing. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples abandon the triptych format of the last few issues for an issue that just buckles down on Marko- and it’s a doozy. Marko spends the issue tripping balls on a bad batch of fadeaway, and Prince Robot and Ghus are trying to figure out a way to pull Marko and Yuma out of their overdosed state. This issue really provides a sense of catharsis for much of the tension that built up over the last arc. The rest of the family getting kidnapped, though providing a slam dunk cliffhanger ending for the last arc, nonetheless really failed to provide emotional closure for Marco, and Saga has been building towards this issue for a while now. Both Marko and the story have a much stronger sense of direction now. Since it’s already one of the single best comics coming out, well… If you’ll excuse me, I’m going to fanboy out for a little bit.
ODY-C #4- Image
Saga and ODY-C in one week? Fuck yes. Odyssia and her crew have to escape from the cyclops’ den, and the comic gets more than appropriately visceral in the most literal sense this outing, leading eventually, to, well… some windy conditions. (Hah. Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.) Matt Fraction and Christian Ward are really getting into the swing of things here. Ward’s art continues to amaze- even my curmudgeonly roommate who hate comics, science fiction, kittens, and fun loves Ward’s art. (He has very, very strict views on the Odyssey, however, so he’s not sold on the story yet, though if I can get him to actually sit down and read it, I have high hopes.) I’d honestly say that ODY-C is one of the chief contenders for best art in my pull- Saga is the only competitor this week, though there’s plenty of other great art on display.
Insert obligatory raving about Saga. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are continuing to keep this arc balanced on all three of the main stories so far- Dengo and his captives, Team Lying Cat, and the dads. This arc so far seems to really be one focused on character development, moreso than plot development, which isn’t a bad thing at all. (Especially considering how common the reverse is in the industry.) Dengo especially stands out in terms of growth- not that I particularly expected Saga to have anything less than a fully fleshed out, complex villain. Also, that ending splash page? Hooboy.
Descender #1- Image
Descender starts off with an interstellar (Alliance? Council?) at the height of its power, and on the eve before an attack by unstoppable, moon-sized humanoid robots. It then skips ten years forwards, into a world where over three fourths of the inhabitants are dead or gone, the planet lies in near ruins, and angry mobs have destroyed most of the robots in existence. When a childlike robot companion wakes up on an abandoned mining colony, a hunt for him begins as it is revealed that his model of robot might actually have something in common with the massive destroyers. I’m torn on this one. Dustin Nguyen’s art is fantastic, no question there. Jeff Lemire’s writing is solid in the sections revolving around the protagonist, Tim the robot boy and his robot dog, Bandit. Many of the other scenes, however, have some quite clumsy over-exposition, at least in my mind. There’s a comment I’ve heard bandied around about science fiction, though: That science fiction movies run twenty or thirty years behind science fiction novels in terms of ideas, which, to be fair, is pretty much spot on. I think that the same adage might be applicable to comic books, though perhaps not to the same degree. It’s not a commentary on the quality of the work at all, but it might have something to do with my reaction to the exposition here- it’s stuff that is already old hat in science fiction prose, so it just feels forced.
SAGA! Saga Saga Saga Saga Saga! Saga! …Okay, I might be a little excited. Just a little. But… Saga. In all honesty, if I had to pick a favorite comic from my pull, it would have to be Saga. So fucking good. The newest volume of Saga opens up with depressing backstory, depressing story, depressing foreshadowing, dragon piss, an axe wielding baby seal (hi Ghüs!), Hazel being adorable, half a planet, Dengo making poor decisions that are going to draw the family farther into the middle of the war, and… well… Dunno what else I have to say there, actually, because spoilers. (Seriously, though, why aren’t you reading Saga yet?) Despite following up with the majority of the cast, it even finds time to introduce- or at least show- new characters, without it feeling like a particular intrusion into the screen-time of the rest of the cast. Also, Sophie has glasses now, and Lying Cat is being taught tact!
Hawkeye #21- Marvel
After a nearly five month delay, we finally got more Hawkeye- it’s just too bad that next issue is the last of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s run. This issue is very much an ode to the John Wayne film Rio Bravo, which is actually the name of the issue. (For those of you who’ve seen of Assault on Precinct 13- that’s basically an updated version of Rio Bravo). This issue, well… it’s goddamn heavy. One of the opening scenes has Clint sending the children and other noncombatants away from the building to safety as they prep the apartment building for battle against the Tracksuit Draculas. This issue is rapidly pulling together all of the elements that Fraction and Aja have been pulling together over the course of their run. Grills even gets a bit of postmortem vengeance. The sheer amount of work that was put into this comic becomes more and more apparent with every readthrough. The good guys don’t get a victory without paying a real, heavy price for it- and not the hilariously forgettable, easily brushed off price you’re used to in superhero comics. This is what a superhero comic should be. Boomerang arrow: it comes back to you in the end.
I know, I know, it’s been forever since I’ve posted one of these. But hey, I can finally afford my comics again! Yay employment!
(Lady) Thor #2
I was genuinely skeptical about this series. I was a reader of Thor: God of Thunder for its entire 25 issue run, and I loved the hell out of it. Some of the best art of any superhero comic, a truly epic aesthetic, time travel, and Gorr the Godslayer, Voldemort’s bigger badder brother. So when they announced that Thor was becoming unworthy and being replaced, I pretty much dismissed it as another gimmick, like any superhero death or depowering. But I’m swiftly changing my mind. The God of Thunder storyline is picking up where it left off, but in a very new way. We still don’t know who Lady Thor is (though I feel that it should be obvious to readers of God of Thunder), but she brings a whole new style to the hammer. She’s less single knockout blow, more hurricane of fists, lightning, and hammerblows. Regardless, Jason Aaron and Co are keeping there momentum going at full throttle from Thor: God of Thunder, with the added bonus of being a great starting point for new readers.
Sorry the pull review is late this week. Without further delay:
Beasts of Burden One-Shot: Hunters and Gatherers
Dark Horse Comics Evan Dorkin, Jill Thompson
For those of you who have never read Beasts of Burden before: WHY? Seriously, this series about dogs and cats defending the town of Burden Hill from supernatural threats is amazing. Great characters, wonderful art, a dog lycanthrope, it’s got it all. I think it passes the Bechdel test, but I’m not entirely sure that it is particularly useful here, since you’ve got to guess the gender of the various animals from context clues/familiarity with the series, and there is no way to tell for some of the minor characters and extras. (I still have to finish the series proper myself, but I’m working on it). I think I’m just going to start commenting on whether a comic passes the Bechdel test, the test is non-applicable, or it is a serious failure. Otherwise, just assume it failed, which is sadly pretty normal in comics. (more…)