There’s some exciting comics out the last few weeks, so let’s just get to this, shall we?

 

New Super-Man #9 (DC Comics)

If you’ve been curious about DC’s Chinese Superman, this is the perfect jump-on point. In the issue, Kenan is recruited by Lex Luthor to help with a Chinese artifact he’d acquired as well as a Chinese industrial spy. In the course of the issue, we meet the teased Chinese Flash, and get some Rebirth clues.

Gene Yang builds on his last 8 issues here, but also makes the issue incredibly accessible. We know each character’s “deal” right away. Kenan is pretty likeable, although he’s quite surly for much of the issue, which pays off great halfway through. Viktor Bogdanovic, with Jonathan Glapion assisting on inks, is really coming into his own. His character work is reminiscent of Greg Capullo, with clear linework propelling the action and the characters forward.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy

 

Extremity #1 (Image Comics)

Extremity has been previewed a lot the last few months in Image books. I think almost anything Image that a reader might pick up has featured a house ad for it, if not preview pages. So I was well aware of the series before it debuted. What I didn’t expect was how good it was. Daniel Warren Johnson wrote and illustrated the book, with colors by Mike Spicer. The story is a raid a group of oppressed rebels undergo against an evil regime, but we also meet some incredibly deep characters. The main character is Thea, an artist who lost her hand in an attack, but we meet her father Jerome, brother Rollo, and some of their adversaries along the way.

While on the surface, this is a fun sci-fi fantasy book, there’s a lot going on beneath the surface. There’s meditations on violence. Revenge has a hollow emotional payoff. And with all of that, IT LOOKS GREAT. There’s a lot of detail in the characters, and the tech and weapons all look cool, while keeping a realistic edge. This is a great launch, and I can promise you it’s going to go under the radar. Pick it up for sure.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

Judge Dredd Annual 2017 (IDW)

Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas pair with three different artists (Dan McDaid, Pablo Tunica, and Farinas himself) to tell three different tales of Dredd’s world. In the first, Dredd and two younger judges travel to Luna City One to retrieve crucial data. In the second, an IA Judge follows a group of Warhammer-inspired Red Judges. In the third, a disgraced Judge faces a Chief Judge in a brutal ploy to win favor for the Judges.

Taken individually, the first story is a bit difficult to follow if you hadn’t been reading Farinas’s current Dredd run. It’s a decent story, with a heartbreaking twist, but it’s a bit tangled in continuity. The second story looked good, but was a slog to get through, with an unearned twist at the end. And the third was by far the best of the bunch, with former Judge Santos quickly becoming an endearing character. Unfortunately as a whole package, unless you’re a huge Dredd fan, it’s not worth it.

Rating: 4.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Pass

 

Adventure Time #62 (BOOM!)

A couple months ago I reviewed Boom! Studios’ Steven Universe, and praised it for how well it depicted the concept of Steven on the page. I’ve got to do the same here. Mariko Tamaki and Ian McGinty bring us an incredibly Adventure Time concept- a “best princess competition” that isn’t just a pageant. When one of the princesses is sabotaged in the first heat of the competition, contest judge Marceline recruits Finn and Jake to investigate.

Tamaki captures the voices of the characters, as well as the general absurdity of Ooo really well. Finn and Jake are perfectly in character, and we get to see some classic Adventure Time Princesses. It feels like the first part of a miniseries like Stakes or Islands. McGinty gives his own spin on the characters without going too far off model. He also creates some great splashes and layouts throughout.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy, especially if an Adventure Time fan

 

Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps #16 (DC Comics)

I’m on the record as not liking the initial launch of this series. It was a continuity heavy story that wasn’t very accessible to me as a lapsed GL fan. However, now that Robert Venditti and company have gotten past that story, I’m actually really enjoying GLC. Last issue was great, with Ethan Van Sciver drawing a story reminiscent of some of Alan Moore’s more horrific and unusual GL tales. This issue, with art by Rafa Sandoval and Jordi Tarragona, is a bit more standard, but no less fantastic. After we see glimpses of Green and Yellow Lanterns rounding up rogue Sinestro Corpsmen, we move to the main event- Guy Gardner in a bare-knuckle brawl with Arkillo, the Sinestro Corps’ heavy.

Venditti delves into Guy’s abusive past, intercut with the absolutely brutal and bloody brawl is Arkillo. Guy, too stubborn to fall, takes a horrific beating BEFORE turning the tide, and Venditti makes it absolutely believable that he could do so. Sandoval draws the hell out of it. Every blow has weight. When Arkillo nearly rips Guy’s ears off, you feel it. When guy takes one of Arkillo’s eyes out, it hurts. It’s a simple, but brutally effective issue.

Rating: 8 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys: The Big Lie #1 (Dynamite Entertainment)

This is a weird one. Anthony Del Col and Werther Dell’Edera bring a modernization of the infamous teen sleuths to the twenty-first century, as the trio investigates the murder of Fenton Hardy, the boy’s father. It’s a great noirish story, with some missteps.

The first problem is that the timeline is weirdly mixed up. Frank and Joe Hardy are straight out of their classic 1960’s setting, but in the present day. The flashbacks depict classic Rockwell-style Americana. The modern day scenes are definitely today. I’m not sure if that was intentional or not. The second is that we’re never told why the police go from assuming Fenton’s death is a suicide to a murder. The last is that it feels like the continuation of a previous miniseries. There’s a lot of exposition here, and it is a little disorientation.

As to the positives though, Frank and Joe are perfectly in character. While both have interrogators who try to go bad cop on them, they both outsmart them. Frank takes a bit of a beating, but he stays calm throughout, which is exactly how Frank would react classically. The mystery is very intriguing. Not only was Fenton framed as a corrupt cop, but a few month later, he turns up dead. There’s two prongs to this investigation that are probably related, and that makes it fertile ground for the famed sleuths to solve. Dell’Edera is a little rough, but overall is great, with teenagers that look like teens, and moody art perfect for the story. Any fan of classic Hardy Boys stories will love it. Unfortunately, Nancy doesn’t show up until the last page, so we’ll see how she’s treated next issue, but I think it’ll work out great.

Rating: 6 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy if a Hardy Boys fan, pass if not

 

Motor Crush #4 (Image Comics)

Team Crush is absolutely knocking it out of the park with this series. Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher and Babs Tarr are working perfectly in tandem as they continue to build their world- where racing is life- and deepen their characters.

Domino Swift finds herself faced with a mysterious benefactor who knows who she really is. She dives deeper into the mystery of her own identity and her link to Crush, which leads to upheaval in all aspects of her life.

The team is ramping up the stakes as they speed (I’m sorry!) towards the end of the arc. I literally cannot separate any single creative aspect of the book, because it’s clearly such a collaborative process amongst them. Although the visuals clearly come primarily from Tarr, this is otherwise a perfect creative lockstep. It remains one of the best books launched in the past year, with great character work, interesting mysteries and very fun, kinetic action.

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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Harrow County #21 (Dark Horse Comics)

Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook’s Southern gothic horror story was one of those I’d heard of, but never read before #18 a few months ago. Now I’ve had opportunity to catch up and read a good chunk of this fantastic series.

In this issue a new arc starts, and something is hunting the supernatural haints of Harrow. Emmy investigates, and finds herself face to face with a threat she didn’t expect.

Cullen is somehow putting out some of the most amazing comics on the stands today. I say somehow because the guy is BUSY. I think I counted 10 books with his name on them coming in March and April. Despite that, there’s been no decline in quality. This is no exception. He’s creative in how the hunter would capture the haints (bear traps work great for gremlins, but the harpies get a barb wire net), and delivers a true emotional payoff.

Crook’s art is beautiful. He draws each page, then paints it in watercolor. There’s shades of Mignola in his work, but it’s wholly unique in today’s comics landscape. This is one of the best books on the stands today.

Rating: 9 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe

 

 

 

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