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.
Typically, I have to kiss a few frogs so that I can find you guys some princes to choose from. This week was nothing but princes. I’ll try not to get over excited as I write this, but fair warning, you’re going to need a bigger boat this week.
Trust me, I considered the smart ass approach of writing a paragraph of “I am Groot.” Yes, there’s plenty of that joke in Groot’s first solo issue – partly why it could just have easily been called “Groot and Rocket.” Rocket is essentially our interpreter but doubles as comic relief. He appears to make an exit as the end of the book, though, so #2 could be a whole ‘nother ball of wax. I enjoy a lot of titles being published today, but even those don’t all have heart. This book’s got heart without being saccharine. It’s rated “T”, but I think it could be shared with your little fans of the talking tree. I loved the gags by writer Jeff Loveness, especially one at the expense of a certain Kryptonian. Brian Kesinger’s art is so easy on the eyes, almost a Pixar feel to it, if Pixar movies had lines. This book is just what you want it to be.
If you’ve been reading any of the various Secret Wars series, you know that they’re all a little different insofar as how much they each interact with the event itself and the rest of Battleworld. Amazing Spider-Man: Renew Your Vows #1 doesn’t touch on SW, much to my relief. All signs are that Dan Slott was given free rein to return to the days of Peter’s marriage to MJ and tell whatever story he chose. Very wise of you, Marvel. I don’t want to spoil any of the issue, and even if I did there’s so much that happens it would be hard to summarize. We begin with Peter juggling his happy family life with crime fighting. Suddenly, two simultaneous threats present themselves, one of them directly endangering MJ & and their infant girl. It’s Dan Slott working his tried-and-true Spidey magic that brought me back to the character a few years ago. Andy Kubert was a great choice for this type of story and I enjoy his work a lot – there’s a splash page that made my jaw drop. But I wish he’d inked his own work – John Dell’s assist leaves a few panels thinner, weaker than they should be. I think Spidey fans will gobble this up – true to everything we love about the character but still fresh with room for the unexpected. Spider-Man doesn’t always pique my interest, but I’m very much looking forward to see where this series goes.
DC could have delivered us a bowl of cold ramen noodles and it would’ve been welcomed after 2 months of Convergence. Instead, they’re serving up a tasty return to solid storytelling, beginning with Justice League #41. You might remember that I gushed over Geoff Johns’s kick-off to the Darkseid War in a “zero issue” type approach with #40. That was no fluke. With his set-up and exposition over, the story begins in earnest with so many tasty tidbits I thought my head would explode; villains you love to hate, the intro of Mr Miracle, Batman and the Flash working the forensics of a super crime scene together – this is classic Justice League fare, people! Lex Luthor is still hanging around, but used sparingly and really well. There’s a battle with the newly introduced Darkseid’s daughter that is paced so well you’ll wish Johns wrote every DC book. Part of me still wants to twist Jason Fabok’s pencils into those of Ivan Reis’s. One gets the impression that he’s overwhelmed by a story of this degree, but he gets it right for enough of the book that it doesn’t bother me. Suffice to say, I’m really happy to see DC’s flagship team is back in a big way.
Okay, deep breath – whew, here we go. I must balance my instinct as a retailer not to over sell you Secret Wars #3 with my instinct as a fan to shout from the rooftops how amazing this title is. With this week’s issue, as in any truly good story, Jonathan Hickman gives us what we want from the story along with what we don’t expect – he blends those two elements seamlessly and in big doses. In fact, this title is so far at the other end of the spectrum from the riddle-inside-a-Chinese-box-wrapped-in-an-enigma that was his Avengers series, it’s hard to tell that it’s the same writer. He clearly explains in this issue just what happened to get us from the ending of the entire Marvel Universe to the events in Secret Wars. We also learn… oh, it’s just so good I won’t even hint at it. It feels like Hickman’s clinical, almost dissecting approach to his characters has also changed into someone who has the same fondness for these characters that we do. The big, bloated Marvel events of the past don’t usually take time with each of the many characters involved, but SW does. Esad Ribic’s soft, warm renderings certainly help, although I wish he could find a facial expression between resting and shock. I loved all the reveals and I loved how all the characters react to these changes that’ve happened to preserve their existence. If you read no other Secret Wars series, do yourself a favor and at least try the main title.
While I haven’t kept up with Grayson, I was a big fan of the series where we first meet the Midnighter, The Authority. That was a title from Wildstorm, but I have a hard time picturing the character in the normal DCU. Regardless, Midnighter #1 is an impressive debut issue. Lucas Trent is a ruthless vigilante whose past involves the altering of his identity, an identity which may now be in jeopardy. That sounds like all sorts of juicy possibilities for a monthly solo series. Rather than just a Batman or Wolverine rip-off, the Midnighter’s power set has its roots more in sci-fi tech. Thanks to a computer in his brain, he can predict an opponent’s every move, leading to some violent fight scenes that are rendered in interesting fashion by Aco. I thought the art throughout was fantastic. The character’s private life as a gay man is depicted in a frank, nonchalant way that I don’t think any of us would have ever expected to see in a DC comic just a few years ago. Writer Steve Orlando doesn’t make a particular point of the matter, it’s just there when Trent isn’t fighting bad guys. There’s certainly enough edge to this title to make it seem more like an indie book and I’m looking forward to the next one.
At the risk of beating a dead horse, have I mentioned that I’m happy Convergence is over? If you, as a fan, have a hard time with a series or event, believe me, from the retailer’s standpoint it’s even moreso. Through each stage of our process – the ordering, filling of subscriptions, hand selling, stocking – it’s more problematic when a publisher throws a wrench like that into the monthly routine. So did you enjoy DC’s 2-month long event? Did you think anything good came out of it? For me, a lot of the umbrage I take comes from those pesky Chip Kidd covers. The head of design that signed off on those things is probably the same person who thought that putting issue numbers at the bottom of Marvel’s comic covers was a smart move. Thankfully, our long national nightmare is over. Now we can look forward to Bat-Mite and Prez. Uh…
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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