Another week of Convergence, plus the next Secret Wars (just the second issue of the main title; Marvel’s tie-ins to it aren’t starting until next week), the revelation of who Lady Thor is, and a bunch of other Marvel and indy books that stood out. As with last week, all the Convergence titles also feature a different preview of one of DC’s June titles, so read through the reviews to see which new-book appetizer appears where:
Convergence: Aquaman #2 (of 2) — Writer: Tony Bedard; Art: Cliff Richards; Colors: John Rauch
Convergence: Batman: Shadow of the Bat #2 (of 2) — Writer: Larry Hama; Pencils: Rick Leonardi; Inks: Dan Green; Colors: Elmer Santos
Convergence: Catwoman #2 (of 2) — Writer: Justin Gray; Art: Ron Randall; Colors: Gabe Eltaed
Convergence: Green Lantern: Parallax #2 (of 2) — Writer: Tony Bedard; Pencils: Ron Wagner; Inks: Bill Reinhold; Colors: Paul Mounts
Convergence: Justice League International #2 (of 2) — Writer: Ron Marz; Art: Mike Manley; Inks: Joe Rubenstein, Mike Manley and Bret Blevins; Colors: Sotocolor
Convergence: Suicide Squad #2 (of 2) — Writer: Frank Tieri; Art: Tom Mandrake; Colors: Sian Mandrake
Convergence: Supergirl: Matrix #2 (of 2) — Writer: Keith Giffen; Pencils: Timothy Green II; Inks: Joseph Silver; Colors: Hi-Fi
Convergence: Superman: Man of Steel #2 (of 2) — Writer: Louise Simonson; Pencils: June Brigman; Inks: Roy Richardson; Colors: John Rauch
The main Convergence title has revved right up: with Brainiac out of the picture, Deimos is in charge, and he’s suckering all the bad guys into trying to kill all the good guys for him (after which he’ll kill the bad guys, too, and use all that death magic to become all-powerful, but of course the bad guys, being bad, don’t see any of that coming…). Benes and Pansica provide lots of character-filled splash pages with lots of super-powered posturing, and the promise of a huge fight next issue: in other words, exactly what this series should be delivering. Meanwhile, the tie-ins feature heroes from right before Zero Hour, about twenty years ago, and they’re fighting either characters from the Wildstorm universe, from the Kingdom Come future one, or from the city of Electropolis, home of the electricity-powered characters Lady Quark and Lord Volt. Almost all the books follow the same pattern as last week: there’s a fight, ended by a planet-wide earthquake (the sign that Deimos just took over from Brainiac, and cancelled the whole Hunger Games competition), and then a resolution, followed by an eight-page preview of a post-Convergence DC book. Aquaman is the one-handed version of its title character versus the Wildstorm assassin Deathblow, and has the grim and gritty tone of that book (as seen by Aquaman’s solution to being dehydrated, and needing liquid to sustain him: imaginative and grotesque in equal measure). The preview is of a new Dr. Fate title, this one involving a medical student of Middle-Eastern ancestry who finds the helmet (DC apparently having noted Marvel’s success with a young Muslim hero over in their Ms. Marvel); it’s by Paul Levitz, with art by Sonny Liew, and is a very solid beginning: Levitz has been around forever, and knows how to set up a good story, while Liew has just the right clean-lined, almost-caricature style to handle domestic scenes with humor, but still be able to bring the mystic drama too: it’s one of the better previews so far. Batman: Shadow of the Bat has both the Azrael and Bruce Wayne versions of Batman fighting against the Wildstorm vampire team Wetworks; Hama and Leonardi do a solid job, especially if you were following the Bat-titles right around the time of Batman #500 and the whole Knightfall/Knightquest saga. The preview, of Deathstroke, is written by Tony Daniel and James Bonny, with art by Peter Nguyen, and is a pretty standard version of that character, enlivened a little by Nguyen’s crosshatchy, busy style. Catwoman has Selina against the Kingdom Come version of Batman, leading to a team-up and a more downer ending than most of these mini-series; the preview is of Gotham By Midnight, and the bad news here is that, while that supernatural-detective-squad series is still written by Ray Fawkes, it no longer features art by the amazing Ben Templesmith (no surprise, given his slow pace, but still…), with artist Juan Ferreyra given the unenviable task of stepping in and trying to duplicate Templesmith’s unique, shadowy-sketchy style. Green Arrow has Oliver Queen and Conner Hawke against the older Kingdom Come version of Black Canary, plus Olivia Queen, her (and, sort of, his) daughter; the Morales art raises it a notch above most of the other books this week. The preview is of a new Green Lantern title, Green Lantern Corps: Lost Army, about a squad of GLs (including John Stewart, Kilowog and Arisia) who are, you know, lost, and stranded on a hostile planet; it’s written by Cullen Bunn with art by Jesus Saiz, who also provides the bright, nice-looking coloring. Why not put that preview over in Convergence: Green Lantern: Parallax? That title has the borderline-crazy Hal Jordan against Electropolis, with predictable results, although it’s actually more Kyle Raynor’s story; the preview is of Lobo, also by Cullen Bunn and with art by Cliff Richards, and that title looks just as dark and humorless as ever.
Halfway through the tie ins: the next up is Justice League International, with the Blue Beetle/Martian Manhunter/Fire/Ice version of that team up against most of the Kingdom Come heroes; it gets points for ending with a “Bwahaha.” The preview is of Justice League 3001 (the continuation of, duh, Justice League 3000), written by Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis and with art by Howard Porter; that’s the original ’80s JLA revival writing team, with Porter a seasoned JLA artist from the Grant Morrison run, and this is a good opportunity to check out this light-hearted, future-set title if you haven’t been following it. Suicide Squad is another book with a downer ending, but that’s not unusual for this title, and it’s got the best art of the week, courtesy of Tom Mandrake. The preview is of Aquaman (I know: why not put it in Aquaman? Oh, DC, your marketing decisions are as mysterious as ever…), again by Cullen Bunn (he must be writing all of the new books; this is his third this week), with art by Trevor McCarthy and an Aquaman who’s being hunted by the Atlanteans. Again. Superboy has the Kon-El Superman-clone version against the older Kingdom Come Superman, and it’s OK, with a preview of the new Action Comics story (written by Greg Pak and Aaron Kuder, with art by Wil Quintana), which features a significantly-depowered Superman on the run in the Arctic, trying to get to his Fortress of Solitude and doing so with unexpected results; it does the best job of any of the previews this week in making its readers want to check out the new book itself, to see what happens next. Supergirl: Matrix is actually more of an Ambush Bug story — but, since the writer’s that character’s creator, Keith Giffen, it’s a lot of snarky meta-fun, and anything that ends with a Bugs Bunny reference is fine is my book. The preview is of one of DC’s more quirky new books: Bat-Mite, written by Dan Jurgens with art by Corin Howell; I’m not sure they’re going to be able to sustain the necessary manic tone over a year’s worth of issues, but these first eight pages look pretty good. Finally, Superman: Man of Steel follows John Henry Irons and his niece Nat as they battle the Gen13 characters; Simonson and Brigman are a pair of high-quality old pros, used to working with one another, and they provide one of the better stories of the week. The preview is of yet another of the new quirky books: Bizarro, with script by Heath Corson and art by Gustavo Duarte, involving that opposite-talking (and thinking) character teamed up with Jimmy Olson; as with Bat-Mite, I don’t know how it’ll work in the long term, but it’s a breath of fresh air right now.
Thor #8 — Writer: Jason Aaron; Art: Russell Dauterman; Colors: Matthew Wilson
Captain Marvel #15 — Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick; Art: David Lopez; Colors: Lee Loughridge
Captain America and the Mighty Avengers #8 — Writer: Al Ewing; Art: Luke Ross; Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Legendary Star-Lord #12 — Writer: Sam Humphries; Art: Paco Medina and Juan Vlasco with Andrea Sorrentino
My Marvel books for the week. Secret Wars, having destroyed both the Marvel and Ultimate Universes in its first issue, now surveys the aftermath: a seemingly-omnipotent Dr. Doom has cobbled together a planet with the remains of the multiverse — lots of alternate-timeline versions of the characters we know, from a city from Howard the Duck’s world to an Asgard made up of dozens of different Thors to the Old Man Logan timeline to… well, you know, whatever the writers wanted, just like Convergence — and rules it as its deity, with Dr. Strange and Sue Storm by his side. Ribic’s very good at the quasi-medieval setting, and Hickman keeps all the plates spinning merrily — including the last-pages arrival of a new set of players; add in the Alex Ross cover, and this does its summer-event job of providing a high-energy, pyrotechnic mashup of Marvel’s colorful history. Meanwhile, Thor reveals the woman behind the helmet — an unexpected choice, especially for all the speculators who thought they had it nailed a couple of weeks ago, and bought up back issues with the wrong character’s first appearance, although it makes a great deal of sense in retrospect. Aaron and Dauterman continue to make this better than anyone expected it to be, and make a case for continuing it for a good long time. Captain Marvel has Carol Danvers back on earth, and losing a friend, in an affectionate, and affecting, story by the regular DeConnick/Lopez team; there’s no punching, but it’s an effective one-issue breather, and a reminder of just how good this comic can be, even in the quiet issues. Another captain, Captain America and the Mighty Avengers, is a “last days” book tied into the destruction of the regular Marvel Earth in Secret Wars: it offers a review of the planet (and team’s) last couple of months, and a thoughtful, philosophical take by the “other” Avengers on all the activities in the Hickman Avengers books. Meanwhile, and very quietly, Bucky Barnes: The Winter Soldier has become a psychedelic, experimental wonder: this issue showcases Rudy’s art in a series of single and double-page splashes, as Bucky, his future self, his sidekick and his lover try to prevent a planet’s destruction, mostly by tripping on an alien drug. If you miss all those cool J H Williams III layouts from Alan Moore’s Promethea, this is the comic for you, and if you’re tired of all the cookie-cutter, middle-of-the-road superhero art out there, it’s worth a look: it’s exactly the kind of comic that’s going to get cancelled,, and then ten years from now everyone will discover it and marvel at it, and wonder why no one realized how great it was at the time. That leaves Legendary Star-Lord, a book whose main character never actually appears in it; instead, the spotlight is on Quill’s half-sister, Victoria, and on a version of The Collector that we haven’t seen before: younger, more stylish and more creepily focused in his collection habits. The art team has a good-looking style reminiscent of Adam Hughes, and combines with the smart script to make this worth a read.
Harrow County #1 — Writer: Cullen Bunn; Art: Tyler Crook
Mythic #1 — Writer: Phil Hester; Art: John McCrea
Indy first issues: Injection is by the Moon Knight relaunch team of Ellis and Shalvey, so it’s automatically worth picking up. Typical for an Ellis first issue, it starts with a woman in a madhouse, hints at earlier teams and investigations gone wrong, throws in some multidimensional portals and weird computer malfunctions, and then leaves us to come back next issue and start to figure out what’s going on. OK by me. Harrow County is spooky rural horror, not that far from Wytches but more traditional, with spooks and haints and a young farm girl with a widowed father, a mysterious past and powers waiting to be awakened. Crook has a watercolory style that works well with both the country setting and the creepy parts. Mythic is one of those supernatural-investigative-team books, with a trio of main characters (the witchy girl, the hardnosed ex-military guy who can kick supernatural butt, and the rookie) helping out people with weird problems; it’s enlivened considerably by Hester’s wild-eyed ideas (science is just an illusion; everything really runs on magic; a drought is caused, not by weather patterns, but because the sky and the local mountains haven’t had sex lately), and by the McCrea art, which automatically makes everything better, especially when it’s as suited to the material as it is here.
Saga #28 — Writer: Brian K. Vaughan; Art: Fiona Staples
Miami Vice: Remix #3 — Writer: Joe Casey; Art: Jim Mahfood; Colors: Justin Stewart
The non-debuting indy titles: Rebels is Brian Woods’s new historical book, taking a close look at the American Revolution through, in its first arc, the story of a recruit to Ethan Allen’s Green Mountain Boys. Wood’s very good at this kind of thing; his Viking series, Northlanders, did something similar, but there’s more resonance when its our own history, and country. Mutti’s art appears just as careful in its research as the script, and the result’s been a very solid first couple of issues. Saga continues merrily along, good as ever: lots of characters’ arcs get updated this time, and there’s a separation and a death, and it’s all just as cleverly written and beautifully drawn as always. Miami Vice: Remix has the always-interesting Joe Casey, plus once-local artist Jim Mahfood, whose undergroundish/psychedelic version of Crockett and Tubbs (who are fighting a drug lord whose product turns its victims into pseudo-zombies) makes this an action-filled, over-the-top and very entertaining comic. Finally, Astro City offers the first chapter in a story about a talking gorilla who comes to the title metropolis; it’s just as smoothly-told, intriguing and warmly human as all the other installments in this series, still one of the best superhero books on the stands (and look at that Alex Ross cover! As always, click on the images to see them in their full size…).