Comics 7/26

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Jul 262018

Go For It, Nakamura! – Syundei (Seven Seas / Macmillan)

Go For It, Nakamura! is a somewhat cute manga about a shy gay boy who finds it tough to talk to his crush. It does a reasonably good job of portraying Nakamura’s awkwardness, but there’s really not much substance here. The events of the story follow the sort of vignettes one can find in any high-school slice-of-life story from Japan, to the extent that they don’t really feel particular to these characters. Syundei’s willingness to indulge in absurd plots like that of the school play makes the book’s choice to avoid any kind of actual boy-boy action feel like a conscious tease. Also, that Nakamura! doesn’t really get into any high school experiences that are characteristically male substantiates the occasional criticism that yaoi books are stories about women written as men, a choice that disappears both women and gay men from their own stories. I can’t say any of this offended me, but the book just didn’t seem to have any angle or flavor, so I wouldn’t really recommend it.

Justice League Dark #1 – Tynion IV / Martinez Bueno / Fernandez / Anderson / Leigh (DC)

Coming out of No Justice I wanted to take a look at all the new Justice League books but thought that the squad that had the least grounding at that time was the new “Dark” roster. It’s a team of oddballs, pairing up traditional figures like Swamp Thing and Zatanna with Wonder Woman and oddball characters Detective Chimp and Man-Bat, with nary a chain-smoking English dude in sight. I still don’t know if I’m completely sold on this book: its central dilemma is one that probably has to be cheesed out of and this first issue doesn’t give the main villain, the Upside Down Man, much of a spotlight. Tynion, however, nails the characterization on Bobo and Langstrom, and makes the sale on why this team needs to be acting rather than the fractious and self-absorbed forces that consider themselves the heart of magic in the DC universe. He gets bonus points for Klarion’s little bit. The art is also stellar. This is a strong debut, definitely enough to get me to come back.

Comics 7/18

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Jul 182018

Gideon Falls #5 – Lemire / Sorrentino / Stewart / Wands (Image)

Well let me tell you I am really glad I picked this book up at random last month because it is great. The business with the red markings is such a smart piece of visual storytelling. The changes to the panels themselves after the door to the black barn is seen on page 21 are equally smart. Everybody on this book is playing at the top of their game and if you like horror at all you owe it to yourself to give it a spin.

The Immortal Hulk #3 – Ewing / Bennett / José / Romero / Hornschemeier / Sauvage / Brown / Mounts / Petit (Marvel)

There, I wrote down the whole friggin’ art team for this one, so don’t say I never did anything for you. Immortal Hulk continues its run of being a nigh-perfect motw comic. I have a real weakness for the core idea of this comic, where differing viewpoints are represented in completely different art styles and idioms. I absolutely love it, especially the cop’s very Silver-Age story. My complaint here is that the conceit pulls the story too far away from Banner, and unfortunately the divided viewpoints act to conceal, rather than reveal, the truth of the story. As such it ends up being a little too clever for its own good.

Port of Earth vol. 1 – Kaplan / Mutti / Popov / Peteri (Top Cow)

This was a random grab. It’s a science fiction story with the central conceit that aliens didn’t come here to conquer or ask for help, they came to do business. And business, for an extremely limited number of people who have been able to benefit from alien technology, is good. For everyone else it is varying degrees of bad, as the alien technology has led to widespread unemployment, and alien visitors who illicitly leave the port have a nasty habit of killing dozens of people. The story follows one of those incidents and is framed by its aftermath. I enjoyed the book but felt that the dialogue between the two police officers in the story felt contrived and inappropriate for men who had been working together for a substantial length of time. A fridging and a strange act of convenient stupidity also mar the late bits of this volume. I don’t regret the purchase and might grab the next trade, but am not interested enough to follow this month by month.

Comics 7/11

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Jul 122018

The Dead Hand #4 – Higgins / Mooney / Bellaire / Cowles  (Image)

This is a hard issue to say much about because it’s mostly absorbed with the plot mechanics necessary for Harriet to finally see who the dead hand is. Higgins smartly inserts the shootout in the spaceplane hangar between scenes of Harriet walking out on her mother and Harriet hiding in the back of the truck, because the logic of the whole thing doesn’t work particularly well. I loved the color work in the shootout, although again the amount of gunplay seems a little high. Nonetheless, the tension is ratcheting up nicely, as the town’s secrets start to get exposed, Roger’s systems begin to fail, and the spies draw nearer.

Exiles #5 – Ahmed / Rodriguez / Lopez / Caramagna (Marvel)

The real draw of this series has been the loopy alternate universes Blink’s team has gone to visit, and the absence of that sense of the bizarre is keenly felt in this arc-capping issue. The Exiles have found the villain who has been eating the multiverse so there’s no time to explore alternate realities. That alone would probably make this my least favorite issue so far, but I also just didn’t care for some of the events. Sabretooth’s cameo should have been skipped, and Khan’s death felt like a box-ticker rather than something supported by the drama or necessitated by the plot. The final assault with an army of Blinks and the pirate crews is great, as is Lil’ Wolvie, but overall I felt this was a weaker issue than the previous four. I’ll look forward to the next issue, when this book gets back to the universe-hopping it does best.

Outpost Zero #1 – McKeever / Tefengki / Beaulieu / Maher (Image)

A sci-fi tale set on a failing human colony on an icy planet that has lost touch with human civilization (if that even exists anymore). The focus of the story is a group of kids who are just about to be pushed into working for the colony. There’s an interesting subtext in that most of them are taking “aptitude tests” but somehow they end up doing the same jobs as their parents. The issue does a good job of drawing the kids and showing their relationships and motivations, except for the blond jerk. It also sets up mystery boxes it doesn’t need and that I frankly don’t care all that much about. That said, it’s got its hooks in me and I’ll be picking up the next issue.

Titans #23 – Abnett / Peterson / Plascencia / Sharpe (DC)

You can blame this on my lingering weakness for Beast Boy, without whom I probably wouldn’t have pulled this issue and despite whom I’m unlikely to pull any more. This new run kicks off with a sort of bare-bones motw that sends the power levels over 9000 to come up with a villain that threatens this multiply-redundant team of powerful heavy hitters. Nightwing has nothing to do this issue other than spar with Miss Martian over the fact that this is his team, consarn it, and he’ll give the orders. Despite having everybody in everybody else’s head thanks to MM’s telepathic link, no other interesting interactions really come up. This book needs to either come up with cool problems or interesting team dynamics and neither of those is in evidence. Without them, there’s just no hook, and considering the art style isn’t my taste, this is a probable drop.