The Fiction #1
The Fiction is a book Frankensteined together from many different inspirations. There are thematic scents of The Never-Ending Story, structural elements from Stephen King’s It and aesthetic shadows of the late Jim Henson. All of these come together to tell the story of a group of children who spent their youth wandering a surreal pocket universe contained inside a magic book. When one of their friends does not return from this world the children abandon it, only for the book to claim another friend years later. While The Fiction may co-op structural and thematic fragments from great works of storytelling, it fails to match the quality of those works. Hurried pacing and overly purposeful dialog prevent the story and characters from ever gelling. Intriguing line and color work can only dress up a story that is nothing more than packaged exposition.
Thors takes every possible permutation of the Thor character and involves them in a police procedural. This book is built on stacks of cop show clichés, but the large scale absurdness of those clichés being acted out by giant flying men with magic hammers makes this book a fun and novel experience.
The comic book medium is often left wanting for meaningful and grounded romances. The final issue of Alex+Ada is the strongest in the series, closing out a romance that shows the rest of the industry how it’s done. Human, rocky and tragic in the sweetest way possible the relationship between Alex and Ada closes in an immensely rewarding fashion.
Old Man Logan #2
From the way the haunting desert sun back lights the world, to the way familiar characters navigate an alien land, Old Man Logan embodies a sense of panicked and kinetic adventure. Beyond that, the series continues to harvest the past of Old Man Logan for complex conflict. Pulling strings of guilt to force the hero along an ever painful road to redemption. It is an Eastwood style story with all the fancy flash of the Marvel universe.
Deadpool’s Secret Secret Wars #2
If you like Deadpool you will like this book. Perhaps that is overly simple but this book only succeeds when it is embracing the silly, haymaker humor of its lead character. That is usually enough to carry it. However it has major problems in the way it manufactures a story around its humor. The book’s timeline is a mess. It tries to steal mystery by delivering the plot out of order but fails to do so with any grace. The end result is a book that feels like a bunch of Sunday paper funny pages stapled together in indiscriminate order.
Southern Bastards #9
Southern Bastards has disguised itself by refusing to be what you expect it to be. Every time you think it has settled on a status quo it breaks it and rebuilds another. Issue nine is an issue that repeats this pattern, yet the shift in norms is much more subtle than it has been in the past. Characters we thought were just background extras blossom and reveal themselves to be major forces in things to come. Again Southern Bastards asks its readers to follow it down a previously unseen back country road, promising more heart break with every step.
God Hates Astronauts #9
This book is dumb. So dumb. But that is why I love it so much. God Hates Astronauts uses a mastery of the medium to fuel its silliness. Enlisting everything from onomatopoeias, to panel layout, to narration to cobble together a book that feel like a runaway Adult Swim bumper. Its sense of humor is endearing and the book is bloated with creativity to the point of rupture. There is no other book like this out there.
While this issue of Runlovekill contains more revelations on its main character’s past than any other before it, the series as a whole, remains uninteresting. Its sci fi dystopian future is still too familiar and soulless, its main character is still angsty and unlikable and it story is condescendingly coy in the way it unfolds. This book’s beautiful art and design end up wasted on a narrative without gravity or personality
Empty Zone #1
Empty Zone has moments where its personality volcanos forth and a special book can be seen. The way it fetishizes both tech and the occult is gross while simultaneously being intriguing and a scene where a robotic bounty hunter with the face of a panda starts a bar fight demonstrates a since of levity that needed to be spread out through the entire book. Every cool nugget ends up getting tangled in the genre clichés and YA sensibilities. The story’s sci fi world does little to differentiate itself from any of its contemporaries and its noir droll becomes exhausting the moment it’s introduced. This could end up being an interesting series but it does little to sell itself in its pilot issue.
Oh, Killstrike #2
Oh, Killstrike is funny but not as funny as it thinks it is. Most of its humor is based on the recontextualizing of the same joke. Killstrike doesn’t understand our world so he does and says things that are awkward based on our cultural norms. The book does a good job of keeping the situations fresh and it has a better success rate with its jokes than a lot of books but it carries a feeling of staleness. The rhythm of its humor ends up predictable and the series needs to evolve to become less dependent on its own formula.
The jarring shift in both setting and characters that starts off this issue is shed quickly as Low #7 gives the reader an emotionally punchy story meant to launch the next act of the series. Plot wise, there isn’t much familiar here for people who have been reading Low. However the theme of hope constantly rising and being quenched in a world that is bleak and dying is still present. The new setting and character fit nicely into this universe.
Infinite Loop #3
Infinite Loop is a romance story that doesn’t understand romance. The relationship between the two lead roles is forced and feels more like the banging together of two Barbie dolls than the complex interweaving of two personalities. The affection shown between the lovers is always superficial and empty. Taking the form of either sex or the simple fulfillment of “wouldn’t it be neat…” musings. It doesn’t feel like love so when that “love” is threatened the menace feels toothless and the overall story loses its stakes.
Secret Identities #5
Secret Identities’ deglamorization of the super hero idea has proven to be the best spandex and cape centered narrative since Invincible. In this issue another one of the members of Frontline has their heroic facade peeled back to reveal a broken person struggling to carry the idea of being a super hero. The skeletons in the cupboards of all the various characters have only got more interesting and more twisted. The secrets witnessed by the reader are beginning to build up. The wait to see how all these backstabs and lies are going to pay off has created some of the best tension in all of comic books.