To boldly go into Blackest Night . . .
You got your Paramount in my DC! You got your Power Ring in my Warp Core! It’s madness in IDW’s big summer crossover, and it seems like everybody’s gonna enjoy something. Two universe’s versions of Space Cops/Galactic Protectors meet in this first issue that feels very right for reasons I’m not quite sure I completely understand. I’ve been a Trek fan since reruns of The Original Series and though I’ve come upon the Lantern Corps a little later, I still have a good handle on both franchises. The biggest question I have so far is “Why hasn’t this already been a thing?”
It flows downhill, always.
There's nothing that excites me more when I begin a new series than a well-built world, one that feels lived in, maybe used a bit. It's awesome to step into a believable universe already in progress. It's the same thrill as visiting another country, where you have to be on the ball and you have that new excitement in the pit of your belly. That's just what I was greeted with when I opened the first page of The Spire. Simon Spurrier and Jeff Stokely have given us just such a world; we have enough of a beginning to keep us from being incredibly lost, but there's a sense that we're coming upon something with history, with passions carried out and laid low long before we stepped into this fascinating place.
We live in a fairly ordinary world: we go to work; we play with our families; and if we work hard enough, we can manage to achieve a state of comfort that can make it all worthwhile. Some people, though . . . they live in a special world, where knowledge quite literally is power and to learn and protect that power is paramount. This is the world of Carolyn and her siblings in The Library at Mount Char, adopted by the mysterious Father many years ago and brought to this world of his, where obedience is absolute, because the power they learn to wield can either make the world or leave it in ashes.
She's dead, Jim.
Christie Shinn and Hora Tora Studios bring us an interesting and curious new property in Sepulchre. The official synopsis reads like any revenge tale, promising blood and justice in equal amounts, the slaying of all who oppose the will of the wronged, but this first issue seems so much more than that - something deeper and eminently more meaningful. This seems to be an exercise in absolute faith in a creator's material, being more atmospheric than directly engaging; it's fun to see how the images on the page transform in your mind.
Your perspective determines your reality.
This new comic series by Dave Swartz is a look at a modern-day superhero - not in the sense that an amazing event of gamma rays or too many TV dinners have given powers to an unsuspecting everyman, but that through an understanding of modern scientific thought and discovery, some people have found a way to harness the mystery of the universe around them and choose to become more.
What is a second chance worth?
The finale of Brian Wood’s The Massive is epic in scope and execution. This series has been an interesting mix of pacing: white-knuckled panic, backing into doldrums of expansive waiting. The question from the first issue - What does and environmentalist do after the end of the world? - finds itself being answered in a much more literal sense than I would have otherwise expected, and it wraps up with a subtle, but insistent, message.
I am Jack’s rising action.
Holy crap on a stick, Palahniuk is BACK. Okay, the first issue was good, to be sure, but it didn’t hit me like this one did. The gloves are coming off, and this book is amazing in its scope and pace. There’s nothing to hold on to; you’re sucked in from the first moment to the last page, where you hoped you wouldn’t end up but somehow knew you would. It’s the feeling of being trapped in a car going over a cliff. You’re just ballistic baggage flying through the air like the air freshener and the suddenly-not-swinging hula girl. Boom.
Life finds a way.
The end of the dinosaurs: no extinction-level event has fascinated us more than this one, and as the success of Jurassic Park shows, we love our big, sauropodian forbearers. James Farr and Jon Sommariva put their own stamp on what happened and give us some awesome action to boot. Mixing Dinosaucers and Bucky O'Hare, this book is what eight-year-old me would have clamored for.
A little change can mean a lot.
It's been three months since the showdown between the Cosmic Force and the military in the parking lot of the abandoned theme park. Since then, Martial Law has ruled the Islands, and each side has had the chance to convalesce and rearm. Blamed for their own deaths, the members of the Force struggle with public perception and their own demons while the military buffs out their numbers and equipment for the next showdown. And, all the while, the personal struggle for some plays out.
The circle completes and begins again.
With this issue, Mike Johnson and Rafael Albuquerque close the first arc of their time-hopping series. I’ve really enjoyed the book thus far, though I’m not as sure about some of the directions that the series is taking. The story is still great and it reads very well, it's just that a few of the things that had drawn me in are shifting a bit.
I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore.
Peter Clines builds a helluva story and can wave his nerd flag high with the best of them. In his book, The Fold, Leland “Mike” Erikson has a genius-level IQ with an Eidetic memory to boot and uses it to teach high school juniors English Lit until an old friend comes knocking with a job he finally can’t refuse. Scientists working on a DoD project in the desert have created something that will change the world as we know it, but something seems a little off, and Mike’s just the man to get to the bottom of it.
"The opposite of war isn't peace . . . "
Twenty years ago, the world of comics was a much different place, everything was extreme and to the max. Men were men and men in capes were more so, and the only way a woman could outstrip a man in power was to do it in costume, as well. Not that we've moved terribly far from that status (We only have to look at recent covers of Spiderwoman, Catwoman and Batgirl and the fallout that even five years ago wouldn't have raised as much fervor.), but on the whole we've migrated to a more eclectic array of titles and stories within them. We can have the incredibly bloody slasher book but balance it with works that edify and enlighten, as well. Mercy is a book that fits perfectly into the world we have now, and yet was written in the time of tight-pants testosterone and no-pants lady testosterone. The darkness of Miller and Moore was a darkness of the human spirit: this was the time of Watchmen, this was the age of the Wolverine. This was also the time of Mercy.
This? You think this is the bottom?
Owen Gieni and Ryan K. Lindsay have got a weird one for us. Imagine a world run by people like in The Truman Show, add some mega-emotional/telepathic power juju (a la Mood Slime in Ghostbusters II), dash in a corporate a**bag dropping bad vibes on peeps and feelin' a lot like Gary Oldman in The Fifth Element, simmer on low in a braise of Louis C.K.-style, quasi-philosophical humor of self-depreciation, and serve with a good ol’ kick to the frontal lobe. That’s where I am reading the first issue of this new Dark Horse series, and I kind of like it.
In this fourth issue of David Petersen’s Legends of the Guard, we hear the final three tales from mice who are competing to erase their debt from June’s Tavern with the best story, and get to learn the winner. So far, nine have been wonderfully explored, and Mr. Petersen has saved some of the best for last.