The Verdict #46

What a week of fantastic comics! I know what my favorites were, so let’s check out some of them together!



Hawkman #2 (DC Comics)

Hawkman has been one of my favorite DC Universe B-listers probably since Geoff Johns wrote him in his lauded JSA run. At the time Carter Hall was a bit Indiana Jones, a bit Flash Gordon, and a bit Conan the Barbarian and it worked so well. Robert Venditti and Bryan Hitch recapture that here for the first time since Johns’ series, and add some cool new wrinkles to the mythology of Hawkman.

Carter is battling visions of a winged conqueror which has stretched through his many lives. He investigates, ending up in London, where a temple he built as Prince Khufu now sits. Somehow he’s ripped into the past, and ends up fighting his past self, until Khufu realizes that Carter is an ally. He reveals where Carter can find the answers he seeks, and he is swept back to modern London.

The Indiana Jones comparison is apt here. Venditti has a lot of fun using Carter’s connections from his past, and creating a network of contacts that feels just like Indy’s. It makes the world feel lived in, and old, in a good way.

I never would have dreamed that Hitch (with inks by Daniel Henriques and Andrew Currie) would raw Hawkman, but I’m so glad he is. Even when Carter is just on the subway or talking to to a museum curator, the art team has a great eye for keeping things engaging and interesting. The fight between Carter and Khufu is amazing though, and such a highlight. It’s well choreographed and carries a real cinematic weight.

This is a book people may be sleeping on, but they shouldn’t. It’s already one of my favorite books DC is putting out,

Rating: 8.5 out of 10

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Nancy Drew #2 (Dynamite Entertainment)

My favorite books from around the 5th grade to 9th grade were, hands down, the Hardy Boys. Once a month you’d get a novel just the right size to last you a week, then you’d have to wait eagerly for the next book. However, less frequently you’d be able to get Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys crossover novels. They were longer and released less frequently, so you knew they were special. This was my gateway into the world of Nancy Drew, who I still think of fondly. With Kelly Thompson (one of my current favorites) writing her comic book adventures, I HAD to check this series out.

Nancy has returned to Bayport, lured by a mystery. Already she’s been attacked and left for dead. Thankfully, a mysterious young man named Pete comes to her rescue just in time. The duo begin working together to solve a case Nancy left unsolved around the time her mother’s death- the murder of Pete’s mother. But their investigation leads to complications as they discover another body.

Well, when my biggest complaint about the story is that it doesn’t seem to have a classic Nancy Drew style title like “Nancy Drew and the Case of the Forgotten Faller” you know it was a good issue. Kelly catches us up quickly with a flashback, and resolving the previous issue’s cliffhanger. She also gives us some wonderful character work (I love her version of Frank and Joe Hardy), especially with Nancy herself. The dialogue also feels like a real teenager, not just the comics equivalent of the Steve Buscemi “hello fellow teenagers” meme that too many writers write.

Jenn St-Onge and Triona Farrell are a perfect art team here. Jenn shifts her style between the flashback and “now” stories, which is subtle but reinforces the change. It’s not just that the characters look younger- it’s almost like it shifts from a kid’s comic style to a little more grown up style. The characters all look great, and age appropriate (which a lot of artists struggle with). Her facial expressions are also amazing.

Triona does some very similar things with the color art that Jenn does with the line-art. The flashback is slightly washed out. She shifts her palate based on the setting. And the two clearly designed the fashion the characters are wearing together. It’s so great.

This isn’t just a good Nancy Drew comic. This is a good comic.

Rating: 8 out of 10

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Doctor Who: The Road to the Thirteenth Doctor #1: Tenth Doctor Special (Titan Comics)

That’s one unwieldy title, but let’s be honest- if you’re as excited about the arrival of Thirteen as I am, you don’t care about the title. This is the first in a series of one-shots by Titan preparing for the arrival of Jodie Whitaker’s version of the Doctor. It’s not just that though- it’s also a continuation of Ten’s Titan Comics adventures.

Once again, the TARDIS plops the Doctor and his companions in the middle of an intense situation. Walking nervous systems are frying the crew of a ship near the Spiral Head Nebula. The Doctor is able to figure out what’s happening- a weapons test by an unethical corporation- and how to stop it. Meanwhile, in a back-up story, we get a call-back to the infamous “Girl in the Fireplace” in which the Doctor sees a strange portal while wandered the alien ship from that episode.

The lead story is a brisk, fun one-shot in classic who tradition. There’s a problem, a monster chases people, the Doctor is clever, and he saves the day. James Peaty captures the personality of Ten wonderfully. It’s a fun story, but it doesn’t have a lot of depth.

Iolanda Zanfardino’s line art is cartoony and energetic. Ten is wonderfully on-model without feeling photo-referenced (which I love in licensed comics). The nervous system monsters were creepy as well.

The back-up story, by Jody Houser and Rachel Stott, was brief, and fun. It’s not clear how it connects to Thirteen, but I imagine we’ll realize that over the course of this miniseries.

For a Doctor Who fan, this is good fun, and worth the money.

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy



Farmhand #1 (Image Comics)

How can you not be interested in this comic from that cover alone?!

After a horrific nightmare, Gabe wakes his family for a road trip to visit his family. His father Jed Jenkins is the owner of a scientific wonderland- a farm that can grow bioengineered human organs and limbs like fruit or grain. Others want it (including an attempt to steal the science while Gabe and family are at the farm), but Jed and Gabe’s sister Andrea will do anything to keep it safe.

Rob Guillory’s solo debut is just a fun first issue. It evokes a lot of his most famous work to date- Chew- with similar gags, jokes and grossouts. However, he also does a good job with making the family at its core interesting. Everyone has agendas, but it’s not bogged down with them. It sets up a great dynamic moving forward.

As for Rob’s art? It’s gross, funny, and still enjoyable. There are some wonderful jokes embedded in the story that I just loved. He also included a very fun action scene in the middle of the issue that I really enjoyed.

Taylor Wells chips in with the color art here. Overall it looks really good, with some smart effects, and solid choices in palate. In a couple places skin tone did seem a little off, but I’m sure that’s something that will be corrected later.

It’s a debut worth your time.

Rating: 7 out of 10

The Verdict: Buy



The Immortal Hulk #2 (Marvel Comics)

I’m not a big Hulk fan.

However, different Hulk takes do interest me. It’s why I really enjoyed Mark Waid’s Indestructible Hulk, reimagining the Hulk (and Banner) as a science hero. This new run reminds me a lot of Indestructible in a lot of ways. There’s a great emphasis on Banner. There’s a new take on the Hulk himself. And most importantly, the stories are fun as hell.

Bruce wakes up on the bus in a new town. He scrounges up just enough money to get a good breakfast (I love how much Bruce loves his bacon and eggs), and learns about a dark secret in the town he’s ended up in. After the star quarterback died suddenly, others have passed away as well. The common thread- they’ve all lost someone. Turns out the quarterback’s father had been using Bruce’s research to experiment on himself, and created a radioactive incident that he didn’t even realize.

Al Ewing writes his lead as two leads- Banner and Hulk. His Banner is more introspective than many takes have been in the past, and he also adds a few interesting twists to this take on Banner. One that’s received a lot of coverage is Banner had noticed he’s not as smart. I mean, he’s still college professor smart, but he used to be Reed Richards and Hank Pym smart and that worries him. The Hulk meanwhile is just plain frightening. He’s become a cruel vigilante, and it works so well.

Joe Bennett and Ruy Jose knock it out of the park on art. I’ve liked Bennett since his Amazing Spider-Man run back in the late 90’s. This series is just next level for him. It’s exaggerated, but in all the right ways. They make the horror of the antagonist even more creepy, and the final page splash is one of the best last pages I’ve seen from a Big Two comic in so long. Add in Paul Mounts’ great color art- casting everything in a greenish pallor- and it’s a great looking comic.

There is no reason you shouldn’t be reading this book. It’s the best Hulk has been in years.

Rating: 9 out of 10

The Verdict: Subscribe.

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