Mister Miracle #8 (DC Comics)
This series continues on its path as one of the best superhero comics in the genre. I really think it comes down to one thing- this is the distillation of the ins and outs of adult life through the most fantastic lens possible, Kirby’s Fourth World.
In this issue, Scott and Barda are alternating days between the battlefield and childcare. They’re generals in a brutal war, but they’re also new parents, and they’re dealing with everything that comes with both of those issues, with Funky Flashman hanging on.
Tom King and Mitch Gerads are in such lockstep that it’s not even worth trying to separate their work in discussing this issue. Somehow this issue is able to capture both the horrors of war AND the struggles of new parenthood at the same time. While Scott is having a gaping leg wound fixed by a Mother Box, Barda is telling him about that day’s joy and struggle. While Barda is strategizing on the battlefield, Scott and Funky are videochatting with her to show her Jacob’s first steps.
Every moment is perfectly scripted. Each panel is wonderfully depicted. And in all of their joy and frustration, there’s still the oppressive message that’s driven the entire series.
If you’re not reading this book, I really don’t know what I can say to drive you to it. It’s a damn near perfect comic.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe already!
Goosebumps: Download & Die! #2 (IDW Publishing)
I love that there’s still a place for middle grade terror in the Goosebumps franchise. I grew up on the original Goosebumps books, so it’s a great franchise to keep up with.
Mitra, and her friends try to figure out who attacked them in their sleep, while dealing with a mysterious phone chock-full of strange apps. As she goes through her day, some of the strangeness from the apps start to creep into her real life (and that appears to include actual Creeps, the infamous Goosebumps monster!).
Jen Vaughn, Michelle Wong and Triona Farrell does a great job here. Though it never gets away from the all ages label that Goosebumps should have, some actual scary stuff starts to happen here. Vaughn has taken one of the classic horror tropes, and applied it to our silly technology obsessed world is a great way. It also integrates some of RL Stine’s classic creations throughout in a way that doesn’t seem shoe-horned or contrived.
Wong and Farrell’s art compliments that really well. The story starts relatively mundane, and gradually becomes more unsettling and horror filled as the issue goes on. Clearly some of the cameos are Wong’s work, and they are great for any reader who’s been a longtime fan of the franchise.
If you’re a childhood Goosebumps fan, or you have a kid interested in horror, this is a great pick-up.
Rating: 7 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy if you have a young horror fan in your household
Skyward #1 (Image Comics)
I went into this issue absolutely blind outside of seeing a few covers for this series. I’m extremely happy that I did, and I may have found my favorite 2018 Image debut.
Willa is a twenty-year old courier in a world where gravity has gone haywire. We see Willa’s life in the moments immediately before G-day (when she was only months old), including her parents. Her mother was unfortunately out on a run when gravity went nuts, leaving her fate ambiguous, and her father may have had something to do with it. In the present though, WIlla is an acrobatic runner, jumping from building to building while tethered to her floating wares.
Often a high concept story like this has to choose between world building and character work in this first issue. Joe Henderson’s script does a great job of giving us the best of both worlds. There’s a fascinating mystery. There’s interesting characters (with most of the screen time given to Willa and her father Nate), and some cool twists to them. There’s some great thought that’s gone into building the world too. Willa’s coworker Edison is a double amputee who says G-day is the best thing that’s ever happened to him. Willa carries both a gun and a fire extinguisher for propulsion. It’s a few little touches like that that really make this an engaging read.
Lee Garbett has a lot of fun with his pages here. Through layouts, character positioning, body language, and little background touches, he has done just as much to build this world as Henderson’s story does. His line art provides a great energy throughout, and really helps this fantastic world feel lived in.
This is a very fun debut that I think will fly under a lot of radars, so check it out.
Rating: 8 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Black Hammer: Age of Doom #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
I almost entirely missed the first act of Black Hammer. Outside of a couple random single issues, I haven’t read much of it. However, this issue is a great jumping on point for the continuation of the saga Jeff Lemire is building.
Lucy Weber is the new Black Hammer, and she knows how her father’s teammates were transported to the farm. Before she can tell them though, Madame Dragonfly casts a spell that both makes her forget and transports her away. While Abraham, Gail, Dragonfly and Barbie try to figure out where to go from here, Lucy finds herself in a bar that is home to freaks and monsters, which might be in Hell.
Lemire weaves a story here that feels partly like a fresh start and partly like the next chapter in his ongoing story. There are some fascinating layers here, and even though it’s so dense, it’s surprisingly accessible. The characters are fully realized and that’s really what sells it.
Dean Ormison continues to give us an unsettling world mixing the mundane and the fanatastic. A particular highlight is his character work with Gail, depicting both her youth and her world-weariness in the same instant.
This is a great book that you should dig into.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Buy
Exiles #1 (Marvel Comics)
Back in the late 90’s there was a very vocal contingent of X-Men fans who adored Clarice Ferguson, the short-lived X-Man Blink who appeared in no more than 8 issues of comics in the mid-90’s. I was one of those fans, and I was one of those who picked up her ongoing debut in the Marvel Universe, Exiles, when the first volume launched in the early 2000’s. Now Saladin Ahmed and Javier Rodriguez pick up her adventures in this debut issue.
Clarice is recruited by the Unseen to stop the horrifying menace of a creature called the Time Eater. She begins a mad dash to both escape and try to stop the creature, recruiting Khan and Iron Lad along the way as their realities collapse.
Ahmed takes the setting that was established in past volumes of Exiles and completely turns it on its head here. Instead of fixing reality >as the behest of the Tallus, the series has become a chase, with Blink and her team trying to get a few steps ahead of the Time Eater. He also adds to the character and lore- giving Blink family for the first time, and establishing that the jewel in the Tallus is a fragment of the M’Kraan crystal.
Rodriguez and inker Alvaro Lopez cut loose in this issue. I’ve loved Javier’s work since he took over Spider-Woman several years ago, but where that was an intimate street-level story, this is a massive cosmic epic. Clearly they have no issue in the transition, giving us a truly epic scope across the span of 21 pages. Jordie Bellaire knocks out the color art as well, with three different settings all distinctly using vastly different palates which all look superb.
Marvelites will love this series, and it’s absolutely a must-buy.
Rating: 8.5 out of 10
The Verdict: Subscribe
Tony Thornley is a Mormon geek dad, blogger, Spider-Man and Superman aficionado, amateur novelist and all around awesome guy. He was born and raised in Utah and has been reading comics since age five. His first comic series was GI Joe and he was doomed from there. You can follow him on Twitter @brawl2099.