While my wallet trembled in fear of next week’s barrage, this week was spent primarily in experimentation: a few new series, a new miniseries, and a mostly-successful gamble on a Comixology sale. Here’s what I picked up this week.
Injustice: Gods Among Us (2013) #19
Tom Taylor & Kevin Maguire
After a somewhat disappointing previous issue (I hate having my political and religious stances being placed in opposition to my ability to enjoy a book, but Taylor was a bit too over-the top with Catwoman’s little speech for my tastes), it was refreshing to be reminded this week of why I praise this series. Nothing is black & white in Injustice, and everyone has a different perspective on what’s happening as Superman, Wonder Woman, and their friends continue to police the world with their own new brand of “justice.”This issue provided a lot of different perspectives, but two of them are the focus: those of Billy Batson and Shazam.
But wait! you say, Aren’t they the same person? Not exactly. And that’s what makes the character, and Taylor’s handling of him, so interesting. You’ll need to read to the end of the issue to get both perspectives, in a series of panels deftly interwoven between the action portion wherein Cyborg and Wonder Woman deal with Black Adam. Personally, I thought it was absolutely worth it.
Remember that this is a 99¢ weekly digital comic. It’s hard to beat that, folks.
Avengers: The Enemy Within (2013) #1
Part 1 of 5
Kelly Sue DeConnick, Scott Hepburn, & Jordie Bellaire
Captain Marvel is one of those titles you hear about frequently from people as a niche title that’s really good and deserves more attention than it has been getting. Of course, like Gambit, Demon Knights, Dial H, and numerous other titles that fall under that category, it’s also one of those titles that everyone will be surprised isn’t cancelled until it actually is. Yet despite lackluster sales and dubious artistic choices ever since the series’ original artist Dexter Soy dropped off, Marvel still seems to be trying to keep Carol Danvers alive.
Their latest attempt, ironically, is to give her a dangerous brain lesion. This affliction keeps her grounded — literally — because if she flies or uses her powers she runs the risk of killing herself. What better time, then, for someone to start harassing her, putting her loved ones in jeopardy, and generally trolling her into using those powers, right?
So that’s where this issue begins, and I can safely call it a good jumping on point because, well, I haven’t been reading Captain Marvel OR Avengers Assemble, the two books which this crossover mini-event will involve. The premise is established pretty quickly, as is Danvers’ relationship with Jessica “Spider-Woman” Drew, who provides the shoulder to cry on/tough-loving jokester to Danvers’ unwilling straight man. There are some great laughs in this issue along with some poignant moments, and aside from the utterly ridiculous encounter they have in the park I pretty much loved it.
With a guest artist onboard for these issues and DeConnick — the standard writer for both of the books in the crossover anyway — penning the whole event, this one looks like it will be worth your time. If nothing else, take it as an opportunity to tell Marvel not to cancel another well-written book. Give it the sales boost they’re clearly hoping it can generate.
Uncanny X-Men (2013) #6
Brian Michael Bendis & Frazer Irving
I’m usually a pretty take-it-as-it-comes kind of guy when it comes to comic art. A lot of it is decent to me but rarely do I feel compelled to single it out. But Frazer Irving’s art is so unique, so brilliantly different from anything else I’ve seen, that it bears breaking the trend and actually pointing to it. It’s tough to say whether I’d appreciate an entire series with Irving, but for these issues dealing with Illyana and limbo, it’s a perfect match. Some truly goregous panels are offered up, with very striking images of limbo, the unfortunate X-Men who were pulled into it, and the terrifying and huge Dormammu who pulled them there. Irving puts in just the right amount of detail with faces (his various renditions of the Cuckoos and of Angel are particularly striking) when the scene calls for it, and leaves things more abstract and vague at all the right moments. It’s rare for me to say an issue is worth buying just for the art, but this probably qualifies.
Narratively this is one of my favorites from Bendis. We are introduced to what appears to be a new mutant in a brief couple pages which transpire outside of limbo. We are also seen Maria Hill and Phil Coulson trying to figure out where the sentinel came from a few issues back and what’s really going on within the mutant ranks and the people who are clearly hunting them. This issue also confirms what anyone who has seen the previews for upcoming issues already knows (and if you don’t know and don’t want it spoiled, skip to the next paragraph): that the newest addition to S.H.I.E.L.D. is none other than Alison “Dazzler” Blaire.
Within limbo we get some really hilarious exchanges between the students. It’s hard to remember, considering how many issues we’ve been through, but not much time has elapsed since this series began; one or two of these kids woke up this morning thinking they were a normal human being, and have since then manifested latent superpowers and been transported to hell via magic teleportation. Rough day, you know?
Uncanny X-Men remains my favorite Marvel ongoing, and Bendis and Irving knocked the latest issue out of the park. There’s a lot going on and a lot more seems poised to go down. If you’re looking for an awesome X-book, look no further.
The Green Team: Teen Trillionaires (2013) #1
Alt Baltazar, Franco, J.P. Mayer, & Ig Guara
When DC originally announced two new politically-charged comics, a lot of people made the mistake I did of assuming that they were related. Gail Simone’s The Movement tackled an Occupy-style collection of disgruntled disenfranchised lashing back against corruption. Many guessed The Green Team would just be the other side of that coin. But in fact it’s nothing of the sort: it’s an entirely different story about a group of teenagers who have access to ludicrous amounts of money…would-be Bruce Waynes and Tony Starks who may or may not also be self-absorbed narcissists with time to kill and a legitimate reason to worry for their safety.
I bought this issue reluctantly, expecting either politics or boredom to get in the way of enjoyment and fully anticipating this would be the only The Green Team issue I ever read. But I will be buying the next one. Because I actually really enjoyed meeting Mohammed, Commodore, Cecilia, J.P., and L.L., and the way this issue ends sort of changed everything I was beginning to assume about it. Make no mistake: there’s business and politics and family drama here, but there’s also superheroes and villains, and plenty of potential fun to be had.
P.S., in case you missed it, don’t forget to check out my assessment of Fanboys vs. Zombies, also bought and read this week!