Greetings, Nerd Bastards readers. Jake here, from The Hall of Comics – where heroes shop. I’m a bagged 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 week’s best pulls in comics. So sit back, grab a snack, and check out the latest comic book titles you should be reading.
Hold onto your hat ’cause there are some pretty fantastic reads this week. All five of these titles put a smile on my face. And not because they reinvent the wheel or accomplish anything earth-shattering, but simply because they each delivered a solid, enjoyable story and filled me with a sense of wonder, the way comics should. Case in point, Mark Millar’s new Huck from Image. Millar has built a career trucking in conventional comic book scenarios with a, “yeah, but what if that really happened?” twist. Huck is a simple gas-station attendant who possesses near Superman-like abilities. He and his neighbors keep it a secret as he uses his powers to perform one ritualistic good deed each day. Fans of Millar’s recent work – like Starlight, MPH, and Jupiter’s Legacy – know what to expect. There’s a certain sweetness, almost children’s book, quality to it, but with Millar’s edge lurking just below the surface. The real star may be Rafael Albuquerque’s art. It’s got an elegant, light touch but the forms & figures are never thin. His images are dense, and the storybook impression is enforced by the amazing work of colorist Dave McCaig. No wonder this has already been optioned for a movie.
Batman Europa is reminiscent of Batman stories from the 70s and some of the good 80s stuff. It’ll be particularly satisfying to anyone who’s been disappointed by the recent developments in the ongoing, current Batman title. This is a four-issue series in a traditional Batman setting without reference to any of the character’s specific continuity. The Dark Knight discovers that he’s been infected with a lethal virus and must travel to Berlin to track down the source. But the Joker is waiting for him when he gets there, and that’s when things get interesting. Co-writer Brian Azzarello (who co-wrote the upcoming Dark Knight III) has a quality track record on books like 100 Bullets, and he wrote two of my favorite Batman stories – the Flashpoint Batman series and the Batman serial in DC’s Wednesday Comics. I expect most people will pick this up for Jim Lee’s pencils. In the past, I’ve thought Lee’s pencils were a little too rigid, too hard. But this time, I wish they had that edge to them. The layouts were by someone else and I think that fact, plus the coloring, resulted in a soft, almost pastel chalk look to the book that doesn’t suit the story. Nevertheless, this is straight-up, old school Batman and there’s never anything wrong with that.
Vader Down is the best debut so far in Marvel’s various Star Wars titles. It’s written by Jason Aaron, who’s been on the main book since the beginning. The story is in keeping with what we’ve seen in both Star Wars and Darth Vader; the Sith lord is on a search to find the pilot who destroyed the Death Star. While flying solo in his personal Tie Fighter, he suddenly and unexpectedly encounters an entire squadron of X-Wing fighters. I’ll leave the rest for you to discover, but it’s a lot of fun. What I was struck by in this one-shot issue, is that I didn’t feel I had to retroactively imagine the plot into what I already remember of Star Wars history. At least, not to the degree that some of the stories have asked me to do. This felt more like a stand-alone adventure that won’t have implications outside the pages of this book. Now, that could change, obviously, as this story arc will continue in the regular Vader and SW titles. Mike Deodato’s art is incredible, as usual – maybe moreso here because he reigns in the exaggeration he sometimes uses in superhero stories. His depiction of the classic characters and their ships is tight and spot-on. There’s one particular panel of Han Solo where he manages to nail Harrison Ford’s expression while still maintaining classic Deodato style.
I was very happy to see the new Ms Marvel series continue to deliver the level of quality and type of story that we’ve come to expect from G Willow Wilson. Some reference is made to the as of yet unexplained conclusion of the Secret War event and the fact that 8 months have passed since it happened, but other than that this is the same story line and series as the previous Ms Marvel title. I’m going to break a personal rule and use the word “delightful” to describe Takeshi Miyazawa’s art, which is so perfectly suited to the book. I appreciated the fact that a nod is made to Kamala’s membership in the new Avengers team. Many modern books don’t acknowledge a character’s involvement in another series, but to pretend that Kamala’s life hasn’t been impacted by the fact she’s running with the biggest team around would’ve been a gross oversight. The attention and care that’s given to a romantic relationship played out in the book’s side story, actually touched me a bit. This book is a cut above a lot of superhero fare, even by today’s standards. It might be a little too PG for every adult reader, but I wouldn’t hesitate recommending this book to anyone looking for a fun and well-written superhero adventure.
Here’s the best of the week: The Mighty Thor #1. Regular “Meanwhile” readers know of my man crush on Jason Aaron, but honestly, his work on Thor is undeniably epic. If you thought his nine issues on the last volume were too short, you’re right. Like the other All New All Different Marvel series, this begins almost as if Secret Wars never happened. Jane Foster is Thor and she has cancer. Transforming into the goddess protects her from the disease while at the same time advancing it in her mortal body. Dr Foster is getting her chemo treatment when the story opens, and while this is routine for far too many real life patients, it’s a highly unusual scene in a comic book. The combination of a real-life villain in the pages of a fantastical story about a Norse deity made an impression on me and certainly sets this book apart from the pack. The story quickly moves onto the political climate in Asgard where things are quickly going from bad to worse. Odin has shut down anything good about the shining city and Malekith is making his move to further his alliance with Roxxon Oil. Aaron balances intrigue, betrayal, frailty, politics, and adventure so well, I’m always disappointed when I get to the end of an issue. This book should be on everyone’s reading list. Thor is back and so is my favorite Marvel book!
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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