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.
If you’ve never read an Inhumans story before and don’t know anything about them, don’t let that stop you from picking up Uncanny Inhumans #0. While there’s no sign of an issue #1 any time soon, this book is purportedly the “prelude to one of Marvel’s biggest launches of 2015.” Black Bolt is the king of the Inhumans and this is definitely his story. The one thing to know about him going into this is that his is the power to level entire mountains with a whisper. So how do you tell a comic book story with a hero who dare not speak? Writer Charles Soule and artist Steve McNiven do it masterfully. They did a little book recently called Death of Wolverine, and it’s great to see them working together so soon. Soule’s writing is straightforward and simple, yet very intriguing. Readers who’ve been following the recent Inhuman history and Avengers events will see some interesting issues addressed. There’s a humorous back-up story that I could’ve done without – it does nothing for the lead story and just makes you wish there’d been more Black Bolt material. McNiven’s art never fails to impress – I found myself staring at each panel, trying to soak up every line.
Avengers: Ultron Forever would appear to be the story we should have gotten in the Age of Ultron limited series. Time travel, a world ruled by Ultron – this book is just plain fun. And Utlron actually shows up. In the three issue event, a future Dr Doom pulls seven Avengers from various points in time, seeking their aid to overthrow the robotic tyrant and his own Ultronized-Avengers team. Not many other titles lend themselves as well to time travel adventures as the Avengers. Writer Al Ewing took a chance and chose lesser known team members, making things a little unpredictable. The dynamics between the mis-matched characters work well. Alan Davis and Mark Farmer are one of the very best penciller and inker teams in the all of comics. But I have to say that there are sequences wherein the figures felt a bit loose, without the typical Davis solidity and grace. Despite the amount of dialogue and exposition needed to tell this story, plenty happens in the first issue – something else that was lacking in Age of Ultron. I’m looking forward to the next two chapters.
Any week there’s a new Southern Bastards is a good week. Number eight wraps up the book’s second story arc and it doesn’t disappoint. Jason Aaron stuffs each issue with more heartache and emotional gravitas for his characters than most books do in an entire series. These past few issues have shown us what made the book’s antagonist, Coach Boss (yes, he’s a high school football coach whose last name is “Boss”) the S.O.B. he is in the story’s present day. Aaron catches you with a jab at the end, followed up with a fast left hook that’ll make you hate him for holding off til June for the next issue. To describe the story of how one man’s obsession with playing football for his local high school team drove him to corrupt his soul, it would sound too strange to work. Aaron tells it beautifully, set against the backdrop of a small, poor, southern town, and with the tragedy of a grand Shakespeare play. I was relieved that learning Boss’s backstory didn’t make him any less a villain, didn’t make us overly sympathize with him.
Not content to mine just the live action films, Marvel’s newest Star Wars book, Kanan the Last Padawan, is based on the cartoon, Rebels. Nearly the entire first issue is told in flashback and centers around Kanan’s childhood. As a padawan to Master Depa Billaba, he was called Caleb Dume and they fought together in the Clone Wars. So there’s some Clone-on-Separatist fightin’ action, complete with lightsaber-swinging Jedis. This book fits the bill for anyone interested in Star Wars outside of the core, film characters. I was a big fan of the Clone Wars tv show, and it certainly feels like those stories, except for the end when… well, you’ll see. It’s practically an all-ages book and I’d recommend it to most young Star Wars fans. Pepe Larraz‘s art surprised me – clean and simple, it made me think of JG Jones or Terry Dodson. It’s perfect for this kind of book. Kanan the Last Padawan isn’t trying to break any molds or reinvent the wheel – it’s just what it needs to be for Star Wars fans who don’t think that three comic titles are enough.
So here we are. Convergence. The much-hyped DC event that some of their series have been building to for months – in fact, the book begins at the end of Superman: Doomed #2, when Supes glimpses all of the multiverse. From there, Convergence #0 follows him, much like Alice down the rabbit hole, as he tries to understand the nature of his new reality. This issue, built to set up the rest of the Convergence events and explain the setting for them, is not particularly action-packed. But just the way I think an zero issue should be, it is a preface to the action, the taste-test to whet your appetite. I honestly got a chill when the current, New 52 Superman becomes aware that there was a Superman other than him, the pre-New 52 and often missed Superman. Is that the feeling readers had in the silver age Flash #123 when they saw Barry Allen become aware of Jay Garrick? Will this feel like a big money grab? Yes, but as long as it’s well done, who isn’t going to be thrilled to see their favorite characters from different eras throughout DC’s history brought together. While not a big Superman fan, I appreciate the fact that writer Dan Jurgens chose DC’s flagship character to usher in the event. After all, it’s his adversary, Brainiac, who’s brought about the conflation of DC stories. If you’re on the fence about whether or not Convergence is for you, flip to the last few pages. DC smartly included a glossary of the worlds that Convergence will draw from, complete with visual aids. Some are obvious. Some are definitely, “They’re using that?!”
The zeitgeist in comic books today is hard to ignore. Even pessimists who say that publishers have always stolen from one another have to admit there’s an overarching trend. In little events like Avengers: Ultron Forever and mega books like Convergence, we’re seeing characters taken out of their continuity and juxtaposed together, a comic book mash-up. Not a new idea – famous books like Crisis on Infinite Earths and little series like Avengers Forever have already used this idea. Now, it appears to be happening in many titles all at once, and will soon be exploding full force in Marvel’s Secret Wars. How much more hyperbole and epicness can the medium handle? Are these stories exciting to new readers who haven’t seen it all before? Will it drive other readers toward more indie titles, or maybe away from comics altogether? Let’s at least try to enjoy the ride along the way to whatever happens. Let’s find those books, whatever event they’re a part of, that thrill us, excite us, and make us feel.
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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