Got some comic dollars burning a hole in your pocket? Well, let us help you spend them. Here’s some highlights from the past week that should be able to help you decide where to spread your reading sheckles around. Once again, we are a bit Marvel heavy, but we are in the midst of an outpouring of new Marvel #1’s and we went to help guide you to the gems.
Harley’s Little Black Book #1
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner
Artists: Amanda Conner and John Timms
Inks: Dave Johnson
Colors: Paul Mounts and Hi-Fi
Let’s start with a little DC action. Harley Quinn very well might be the breakout star of 2016. With Margot Robbie playing Harley in the character’s cinematic debut in Suicide Squad, the character will receive exposure like never before -and DC is getting ready. This week, DC introduced the second ongoing Harley Quinn comic with Harley’s Little Black Book. Now, when a character receives his or her own team-up book, such as the old school Marvel Team Up with Spider-Man or Brave and the Bold with Batman, you just know that character has gotten popular! Such is the case with Harley who has been experiencing a golden age of love thanks to creators Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner. Well, Palmiotti and Conner bring their magic to this new book as Harley teams up with Wonder Woman in Merry Old England. Together, the unlikely pair takes on the villainy of the Barmy Bugger and it’s as zany as it sounds. Along the way, we get a little insight to Harley’s past as a bullied young (albeit, a very violent) girl who worshipped Wonder Woman. Now, Harley gets to team up with her hero whether Diana likes it or not. I’ll tell you what, I wish Palmiotti and Conner wrote the monthly Wonder Woman comic because they understand the complexity and the fun nature of the character. This book should be a potluck every month, but with Palmiotti and Conner on board, you just know it will have a chance to be fun. Conner took care of the art chores on some of this one and her pages perfectly meshed with John Timms who is an able hand in creating a visually fun, action packed story.
Big Picture: Can the market sustain two Harley Quinn books? Well, with the Suicide Squad film less than a year away, DC certainly hopes so.
All- New X-Men #1
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Mark Bagley
Marvel has already launched two new X-Men team titles with a third on its way. All-New X-Men is an interesting bit of business because it continues the adventures of the time lost original X-Men in the modern world. Many thought that once Brain Michael Bendis’ writing stint ended on the “X” books, the original X kids would be shunted back to their own time, but such is not the case, as Dennis Hopeless and Mark Bagley’s new book focuses on this team of X characters. While the newest volume of All-New X-Men doesn’t have that immediate, dire, high stakes feel that Bendis’ run did, this is still one loaded and fun “X” title. This book basically plays catch up with each young X-Man and Hopeless seems to have a particular penchant for crafting a well rounded young Iceman and Cyclops. The threat of the book, zealot followers of the older, recently deceased Cyclops, feels recycled but the focus of the book are those humanistic moments between these time-lost heroes.
Big Picture: I’m not sure if there is enough story here to justify keeping the young X-Men in the modern era, but on the strength of this first issue, I’m willing to go for the ride. With X-Men: Apocalypse focusing on a very young team of X-Men, I’m sure Marvel wants to have a very youth oriented book featuring the classic X-Men pantheon. And if this is the place I must go to get my monthly Mark Bagley art fix, so be it.
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Ron Garney
Color Artist: Matt Milla
Any writer who followed the great Mark Waid on Daredevil was in for one hell of an uphill climb. Other than Frank Miller, Waid arguably crafted the greatest run on Daredevil in the character’s rich history, so Charles Soule certainly had his work cut out for him. But Soule doesn’t play Waid’s hits in Daredevil #1, instead, Soule begins to blaze his own trail. First off, Soule returns Matt Murdock to Hell’s Kitchen and quickly establishes the classic noir feel that fans expect from that setting. Soule deftly and quickly introduces DD’s new status quo, from a new crime fighting partner in Blindside to a new, creepy as hell villain in Tenfingers. The stakes are high, and after a decade of Bendis, Ed Brubaker, and Waid greatness, Soule makes sure this newest volume of Daredevil maintains the quality legacy of its predecessors. Ron Garney’s art certainly helps bring this title to a level of greatness as the master artist has upped his game to deliver a hard hitting classic, yet distinctive, DD. And Matt Milla’s muted tones are a sight to behold in a complete package worthy of the name Daredevil.
Big Picture: Season two of Daredevil is coming to Netflix and this comic, as well as it’s return to noir glory, will be a great companion piece to the long awaited second Netflix outing. Blindside has the feel of a character that could be around for a long time to come.
Guardians of Infinity #1
Writer: Dan Abnett
Penciler: Carlo Barberi
Inker: Walder Wong
Colorist: Israel Silva
Back-Up Story Writer: Jason Latour
Penciler: Jim Cheung
Inker: john Dell
Colorist: Laura Martin
On paper this one should work, with one half of the creative team that introduced the modern day, “Hooked on a Feeling” Guardians mashing up the current team with the classic, futuristic Guardians. This sounds good to us, and should scratch that Guardians itch for classical fandom as well as the modern day Guardians boosters. All the players (or most of them) are present with Rocket, Groot, and Drax representing the modern Guardians and Vance Astro, Martinex, Charlie 27, and Nikki representing the classic team, but while the book is pretty good with a peppering in the space laughs, it all just seemed forgettable. There are too many characters, no palpable threat, the art is busy and lacks a tactile feel, and it all just seems tossed together to fulfill the marching order of somehow getting these two disparate teams of Guardians together. I trust in Dan Abnett as a creator and assume he has a few more cards to turn over to make this book function on its own merits, but as of right now, this opening salvo did not justify yet another Guardians book. An overly long, strange back-up tale featuring Rocket and the Thing meets the WWE was waaaaaayy too long didn’t help matters, even with gorgeous Jim Cheung artwork.
Big Picture: Yeah, I get that Marvel wants as many Guardians of the Galaxy books as possible, and I get that Dan Abnett is the guy to turn to, but so far, this is just an overstuffed space adventure without that patented Guardians heart. Although, this Bronze Age baby is always happy to see Charlie 27 and Martinex.
Star Wars #13
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Mike Deodato
Colorist: Frank Martin Jr.
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Just a brief note on the latest issue of Star Wars, because dear lord, is it good. This is the latest installment of “Vader Down,” and where it lacks in, well, Darth Vader, it makes up for it with some classic Star Wars action. This issue sees Han Solo, R2-D2, and Chewbacca go up against Vader’s operative Dr. Aphra and her two psychotic murder droids. This is a literal laugh a page romp and contains all that pure Star Wars comedy that defined the original trilogy.
Big Picture: These days, any great Star Wars comic is a way to while away the minutes until The Force Awakens. This comic provided some seriously fun minutes.
4 ½ stars
All-New Inhumans #1
Writers: James Asmus & Charles Soule
Artist: Stephano Caselli
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Back Up Story Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Nico Leon
Colorist: Andres Mossa
Whoever thought we would see the day where Marvel was publishing three Inhumans titles, but here we are, and while Marvel may be overestimating the marketplace for the Inhumans, that’s not to say that each of the books aren’t really engaging. The mission statement of All-New Inhumans seems to be to spotlight some of the more recently introduced Inhuman characters. That’s not to say the classic Inhumans introduced so long ago in the pages of Fantastic Four aren’t front and center as Crystal and Gorgon seem to be the book’s main heroes. Gorgon in particular has a fascinating new status quo as the thunder-hoofed warrior finds himself wheelchair bound as he takes on the Professor X role for the mutant analogs. The new characters have some meat on their narrative bones and Asmus and Soule pack in a great deal of story to kick things off.
Big Picture: How in the world do we have three Inhumans titles and no Fantastic Four monthly? Be that as it may, this was a great read and one wonders if any of these new Inhuman characters will play a role in the distant Inhumans film or on Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD.
3 ½ stars
Invincible Iron Man #4
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Invincible Iron Man continues its run under Brain Michael Bendis and David Marquez. In this latest issue, Tony Stark battles high tech ninjas and tries to unravel the mystery of why a non-armored, non-disfigured Doctor Doom is trying to help Stark take down Madame Masque. The big news from the fourth issue is that Mary Jane Watson has joined Stark’s supporting cast. Since the end of the Spider-marriage, MJ has gotten kind of a short thrift in the Marvel Universe, so this could be a place for her to shine for the first time in years. MJ just pops up towards the end of this one as Bendis opts for a very decompressed story as not much happens at all: Ninja fight and MJ and then cliffhanger. But Bendis writes a Stark that echoes Robert Downey Jr. and Marquez’s art is frenetic and gorgeous so there is a lot here to enjoy, just not, you know, a great deal of plot development.
Big Picture: It’s nice that Mary Jane will have a regular home, and a very different home than fans are used to. This run may be decompressed but it’s selling like hot cakes, and Bendis writes a very engaging, movie friendly Stark.
2 ½ stars
Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Frank Cho
Color Artist: Sonia Oback
The new Hulk, Amadeus Cho has arrived in a Hulk comic that defies convention. One expects a Frank Cho-drawn comic to be humorous and one wouldn’t be disappointed with Totally Awesome Hulk #1, a very different take on Hulk storytelling. The comic was beautifully paced, hilariously told, but contained that undercurrent of menace one would expect from a Hulk comic. Cho’s (the artist not the character) art is refreshingly restrained, showing the artist’s skills beyond his ability to draw hot babes that look like Linda Carter. Greg Pak co-created Amadeus Cho and has the character’s voice down pat.
Big Picture: This is a daring move by Marvel, but with these two creators at the top of their game, it worked. Cho (the artist not the character) is not known to stay on books very long and I will be curious to see if this book can maintain the standard of excellence established in the first issue if and when the artist leaves.
Red Wolf #1
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Penciler: Dalibor Talajic
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colorist: Miroslav Mrva
I wish this new Marvel western title made it clearer about what continuity it takes place in (is it the 1872 world or the regular MU), but other than that, there really is nothing to complain about in Red Wolf #1. This was a quality little Western yarn that took a pretty fascinating twist at the end. The art was perfect for the subject matter and I look forward to see if this new title can live up to the promise of the first issue.
Big Picture: If Marvel wants diversity, this bad boy fits the bill. I will be very impressed if this book, a no frills Western adventure, survives this current unforgiving market, but it darn well should.
3 ½ stars
Gotham Academy #12
Writers: Brenden Fletcher and Becky Cloonan
Artist: Karl Kerschl
We will end things with my current favorite DC Comic, Gotham Academy. This issue is the last part of a story arc, so this probably isn’t for newbies, but guys, get the trade; Gotham Academy might be the best new book since the New 52 (are we still allowed to call it that?) kicked off. This book is all charm, humor, horror, and has some of the most delightful characters to hit the DCU in a very long time.
Big Picture: I’m not a Gotham hater, but really, this, THIS right here needs to be a new TV series. It really is that good. Check out the trades or jump on board with the next issue.