JUSTICE LEAGUE #45 — Another terrific installment as Fabok takes a breather and the Manapul/Buccellato action crew storms in. Johns pulled a pretty charming little trick sliding the Leaguers into their new god gigs in a way that didn’t at the time seem in any way forced but in hindsight was some mathematical precision. I know that he’s eventually going to have to, but I wish Bruce would never get off of that old Mobius Chair. This issue maintains the strong hold that Johns has on the entire ensemble while revealing that, as enjoyable as the first four issues were, the pacing has been a bit more masterful than was immediately apparent, and the really crazy shit is only just getting started.
GOTHAM ACADEMY #11 — Well, doesn’t this keep getting better and better? Was the original plan for Maps to completely steal this series, or is that something that’s developed organically over time? Of course, any time you team her up with a Robin, she’s totally going to take over the show. Nice continuity with Damian’s batarang. And that domino mask is the real deal. This issue is a wonderful time while also doing solid work pushing the overall narrative forward. And solid artistic tag-teaming from Kerschl/Massyk/Chen. That can be dicey but of course is not the case here. Tremendous fun.
BLACK CANARY #5 — Man, as much as I loved Annie Wu on this book, Pia Guerra is making this business her own. With the battle of the bands in effect, this issue is channeling the SCOTT PILGRIM action a bit harder than we’ve seen thus far, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That last page drops a note-perfect cliffhanger that definitely has me on board to see what happens next. Very cool to be exploring this new milieu that the creators have dropped Dinah into.
BATMAN & ROBIN ETERNAL #3 — Cassandra says more in three panels of pointing at Robins than anybody else has in this series so far. And you’ve got to dig her running around the cave with Harper. No good will come of that, I can assure you! More solid work from Pelletier to be had here, as well. We’re still on course with quality work in this series, though the flashback was a bit light this time out.
TITANS HUNT #1 — Fans of the original Wolfman/Perez run are going to swoon over this even before Abnett is good enough to start dropping the copious second-person narrative captions. Borges is a great talent, and it’s good fun to see all of these old iterations of the characters start piecing out what’s going on. That said, I’m not sure the conceit of Lillith being some kind of Big Bad is enough to keep me hanging out with this thing in singles, but I will definitely be happy to check out the trade next year when all is said and done.
KARNAK #1 — Precise. Chilling. An evil merciless bastard who sees the flaw in all things. Not since Emma Frost has Warren Ellis found a character that so epitomizes at least the public persona that he has crafted for himself online since the turn of the century. I knew that I would love this as soon as it was announced, and it fits in very well with the 3.0 iteration of Uncle Warren that we’ve had of late, crossing the tone of creator-owned fare TREES and INJECTION with the boundary-pushing corporate work that Ellis managed not that long ago over on MOON KNIGHT. It was a pleasure hearing him write for Coulson as well; I enjoy Ellis’s voice on the character more than even Waid’s. The Zaffino/Brown art is reminiscent of Jae Lee’s work on that maxi-series with Jenkins several years back, and the muted palette is a very good fit for the darkness of this material. A strong debut.
STAR WARS: SHATTERED EMPIRE #4 — Well, four issues was barely more than a little taste, but Rucka/Checcetto certainly pack in enough lightsaber action goodness here to justify the experience. Han and Leia stay on the bench as Shara Bey escorts Luke Skywalker on a raid for something that turns out to be actually quite important and that does some tremendous work laying down the foundation for the Oscar Isaacs character in EPISODE VII. If you were on the fence about this one because you don’t want to see or read one minute past all the yub-yubbin’ at the end of VI until December 18th, you should know that this doesn’t spoil one thing and just takes the characters a very short distance into the post-VI world while leaving just the tiniest trail of breadcrumbs leading toward all the glory that is going to unfold in just a very few more weeks.
DARTH VADER #011 — This one really just keeps picking up steam as it heads into the end of its first year, which I guess makes sense since they’re ramping up to this big VADER DOWN deal, whatever that may be (not crazy about the title of a Darth Vader event basically conjuring memories of a fifteen-year-old Josh Hartnett Somolia Blackhawk movie, but c’est la vie). But I am really digging how well Gillen is developing the supporting cast, Aphra and those wacky homicidal droids 0-0-0 and BT-1, as well as Thanoth (who doesn’t rate capital letters in the crawl, which seems cold), who is proving to be a bit more of a worthy foil for Vader than everyone else so far. It’s disturbing and fun and a little bit hilarious to be rooting for Vader and hoping that he gets away with his sneaking-around bullshit while knowing that Palpatine is surely just cackling at this whole deal the entire time. Larroca/Delgado continue to provide stellar likenesses throughout. This book could not be firing harder.
BACK TO THE FUTURE #1 — How can you pass on this book on 10/21/2015 of all days? Especially with Bob Gale on script, ensuring the canonical nature of the stories contained herein? Brent Schoonover does a passable job on art, but I wish his style was a bit more photorealistic than what he shows up with here. The stories are both engaging and entertaining. Gale might be a little on-the-nose threading Marty & Doc’s first meeting in through a Needles bullying experience, complete with a “Wha’s the matter, McFly? CHICKEN?!?” prequel, but the character work between the two leads is spot-on enough that we really don’t mind once they start interacting with one another. And I do hope that we’re going to follow up on exactly what Doc was getting up to with Oppenheimer in the second story, there. There’s tons of potential in a project like this, and the first issue has the creative packing it full of quality work thus far. I look forward to checking out the next issue.
ASTRO CITY #28 — This can’t be as easy as it looks because Busiek just keeps turning in fantastic single issues that are as satisfying as they are timeless. A terrific reveal here for long-time fans of the series that also manages not to be too much of a cheat for more recent converts. Very cool recruiting Chaloner to draw this issue spotlighting his countryman. Just very strong work all around, once again. I mean, I’m rooting for Wolfspider. That about says it all.
TOKYO GHOST #1 & 2 — I missed this first issue when it came out and jammed these first two as a double-feature, which turned out to be very much the call as they pretty much function as a pilot episode when taken together. Of course, we all knew that this team was going to knock anything they did together out of the park just because of how great they are, but Remender is really digging deep into the most important aspect of science fiction, commenting on our present via fantastic extrapolation. If only everything we were seeing here was a little bit more fantastic and less plausible. We’ve never been closer to living in such a tech-obsessed science-fiction world. These are themes that it will be interesting to watch the creative team explore as the series careens forward. And that’s all well and good. Until it’s time for Murphy/Hollingsworth to show our guy chasing a ninja, which seems so much more important than all of that weightier social commentary business. Good fun!
THE FADE OUT #10 — Dottie Quinn seems like a good egg, still? I thought that particularly with her on the cover, this was going to be the issue where she turned out to be the dirty one. Phillips/Breitweiser go above and beyond the call here with Charlie’s wispy phantom non-recollections of the night Valeria died. And really just throughout. Thumbing back through, you realize that basically this entire issue is just people talking, but the colors pop so much and the scenes are so well-staged and, yes, well-written, the plot propels you breathlessly toward the last page and the issue never feels excessively talky. More superior work from one of the most consistently great teams in comics.
BEST OF WEEK is too close to call this time, Wednesday Night Faithful. JUSTICE LEAGUE, KARNAK, the combined weight of the Fletcherverse, the STAR WARS books, ASTRO CITY as always, TOKYO GHOST, everything was just really great but nothing was demonstrably better than everything else. It’s a good problem to have.