Greetings, Nerd Bastards readers, Jake here from The Hall of Comics – where heroes shop. I’m a bag and boarded professional. My passion (and business) is to read, write about and sell comics. In an alliance forged in the stars, The Hall of Comics will be dropping by Nerd Bastards weekly, to bring you the latest word and the weeks best pulls in comics. So sit back, grab a snack, and check out what latest comic titles you should be reading.
The new Image title of the week, The Empty, by Jimmie Robinson is a strange one. It’s simple enough premise, but I’d have a hard time selling it to a customer. Robinson did it all, and I enjoyed that aspect of the book – that’s it’s a singular vision, a pure depiction of one person’s idea. An imaginary human tribe in a vast, deadly wasteland encounters a strange newcomer from another place, cast out by her own tribe. This mysterious woman could be their salvation, but the tribe’s elder wants nothing to do with her. And what of her own people – why did they do away with her? While the story is a bit thin, I think it suffers more from Robinson’s art. It’s ambiguous whether or not the characters look the way they do because of his style or because of how they physically appear. The dialogue is not very sophisticated. Again, deliberate style or lack of craft? What we end up with is a “children’s book” air about it, a kind of fable or fairy tale. Not interesting enough for me to pick up #2.
They say this cat Vader is a bad muth-SHUT YOUR MOUTH! But I’m talkin’ about Vader. I really dig this first issue. He’s a complicated Sith and Keiron Gillen has smartly written him that way. The preview we’ve all seen of Darth Vader meeting with *gasp!* Jabba the Hutt is actually the book’s weak point. Other than Salvador Larroca‘s stunning art, there’s nothing convincing here. (The image that did it in for me was Vader trading blows with a Jawa.) It’s a moment that feels crafted to elicit fanboners and act more as the “sneak peek” fodder that it was. But after that, it’s all up hill. Gillen weaves what we’ve learned about Vader in episodes 1-3 with the character we loved in the original films. Kinda like putting a little bit of peanut butter into a whole lotta chocolate. While I’ve liked the new Star Wars series so far, I don’t think it’s adding to the mythos of the heroes. However, Darth Vader #1 already has much to tell us about circumstances and events following the Death Star’s destruction. Star Wars got the lion’s share of the hype, naturally, but Vader is the book to watch.
If you weren’t too put off by the long wait since Secret Six #1, you’ll be greatly rewarded in #2. Sadly, it looks as if I’ll never get my favorite book back, Gail Simone‘s earlier incarnation of the Secret Six. But she’s quickly creating an excellent runner-up. We get some Catman back story flashbacks in this issue. If I described them, they’d sound tired and overly familiar. But one of Simone’s many talents is using minimal, sharp writing to build characters that are, well, COOL! – even in cliche prison scenes. By the book’s end, you’re ready to cheer for these 6 underdogs and she leaves us wanting more of them, wanting to learn more about them. Ken Lashley‘s art looks like something I’d usually shy away from – LOTS of lines that are sometimes thick and ragged. In fact, the last 3 pages actually fall apart for me, those characteristics completely out of control. Mostly tho’, it works with the book’s tone and setting – a somewhat dangerous style for some very dangerous characters. A great read, but another warning: much like Jason Aaron‘s Thor, the mystery that the Secret Six face will only entertain a reader so long before he or she starts feeling like a chump.
Speaking of Jason Aaron, the new Southern Bastards is out this week. (I promise, I’m not on Jason Aaron’s personal payroll.) If you haven’t been picking up this Image title I feel bad for you. Aaron’s seemingly mainstream sensibilities that he demonstrates in books like Thor and Original Sin are cast aside when he tackles his creator owned series, like Men of Wrath and Scalped. Southern Bastards has more heart and gut-wrench in its little finger than many books have in their whole bodies. I love everything about this book, from its rusty/bloody monochromatic color scheme to artist Jason Latour‘s fierce angles. Aaron defies us not to feel bad for even the most evil characters when he reveals their histories. More dangerous than the book’s villain, Coach Boss, are the events that led to his fate. Tragedy on the football field – this has to be one of the most unique books on the racks today.
Amazing Spider-Man #14, the book that sells itself. I mean, c’mon – it’s the finale of Spider-Verse! I’m just here to assure you that it didn’t suck. It’s a very satisfying ending that hits all the right notes, and Dan Slott will almost certainly be addressing some story threads in the issue after this. I think that epilogue will be the real icing on this fluffy cake if he plays it right. The action in this story arc has been amazing – that’s what this week’s book is all about. But the moments in-between that are full of interaction amongst the totems, that’s where the “goody” is, as my Gram used to say. I’d love to see an entire issue of that, almost *shutter* Bendis-style, sans action, more closure on what happens now that all these endearing Spider-people have met.
Didn’t we just leave this party? Yes, there’s another issue of Thor out already. And you might think it’s because #5 is a filler issue, with Jorge Molina on guest artist duties. But Jason Aaron doesn’t miss a beat in this important overview of everybody’s take Thor’s new identity. This epilogue of sorts to the first adventure is dialogue-heavy/action-light. But I continue to be impressed at how Aaron can write material like this so well, and then do a book like Southern Bastards. Odin’s never been a bigger d**k, and I’m not sure I like it, but it suits the story. Fans of the Odinson and Lady Sif will get some love in this issue, as well. Molina’s work is simply beautiful, like stills from a lovingly crafted animated film, altho’ it might be a little too pretty for a regular stint on this book. While this continues to be my favorite Marvel monthly, Aaron should be careful. If the musings about who Thor is continue, if the secret identity is a distraction for much longer, this title could quickly lose its appeal.
All of these great titles will no doubt be overshadowed by the news that Spidey joined the Marvel movie universe this week. Spider-Man in the Civil War movie? Almost certainly, that’s an easy one. But Spider-Ham alongside Rocket Raccoon on the big screen? C’mon, Marvel – I challenge you to give the masses what they really want!
Alright kiddies, that’s it for me this week. Tune in next week for another addition of “Meanwhile at The Hall of Comics”. Wanna know what else is out this week? Check out the full list of releases at The Hall of Comics NEW RELEASE page HERE.
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