The Escapist’s Comics and Cosplay crew offers its recommendations for comics for the months of May and June.
It’s been awhile hasn’t it? And while we wish we could say we’ve been lost on some cosmic adventure in unknown parts of the universe, I’m sad to say that our poor comic round-ups have merely been lost in the shuffle as mounting work schedules left us unable to keep up. Now, however we’re back and we hope you’ll join us as we of The Escapist’s Comics & Cosplay channel offer you some reading recommendations from the months of May and June.
On deck this week: Stew Shearer and Marshall Lemon. And first on the list, it’s…
Silver Surfer #2 (and beyond)
Much like with my recent introduction to Moon Knight, I missed the first issue of Marvel’s new Silver Surfer series. This was a bit of a bummer on my part because this was another character that I’d heard of but never read and had been looking forward to acquainting myself to. Luckily, the series didn’t dive so deep into its story that I couldn’t catch on in issue 2, which I picked up recently and pretty much loved from cover to cover. The book wholeheartedly embraces the inherent weirdness of Marvel’s cosmic storytelling and uses it to present a sincere story with its tongue just far enough in its cheek that it should earn more than few grins from the reader. Particular compliments also go out to writer Dan Slott who, in Dawn Greenwood, has produced a new female character who’s utterly likable and imbued with a flavor of natural capability that’s just fun to watch. Grab issue 2 and the rest of the series while you’re at it.
Favorite Moment: “Earth. It’s always someone from Earth.”
It’s pretty well accepted as fact at this point that Scott Summers is the dullest, most boring X-man there is. He’s the straight-shooter to Wolverine’s rebel, the boy scout to Gambit’s rogue. He’s Richie Cunningham when everyone wants to be the Fonz. And yet I’ve always kind of liked him best. You can perhaps understand then why I was excited about the prospect of a Cyclops solo series following his time-displaced younger (the squarest version of his square character) blasting off into space to go on adventures with his galactic buccaneer father. The first two issues, in turn, do exactly what they need to do, grabbing the reader with a fun tone while also laying the foundation for organic and potentially meaningful character development. The first two issues are colorful, goofy and loaded with potential and you’d be wise to pick them up.
Favorite Moment: “Think like a pirate.”
I don’t know why it took me so long to pick up Starlight. I like space opera, it’s written by Mark Millar and the art is gorgeous. I should have had this sucker in my stack at the checkout the first time I wandered past it. For some reason though I ignored it and now I’m kicking myself because this is one of the best comics I’ve read in a long time. A send up to the space serials of old, it follows Duke McQueen, a Buck Rogers type who in his youngers years freed an alien world from tyranny just to return to Earth and have no one believe. Now an aging widower, his life is turned upside down when an alien rebel seeks his help and sets him on the course to adventure once again. I’ve recommended issue 4 because it’s the most recent one. That said, I’d urge you to go out and buy the two before it as well because I’m confident you’ll love the series as much as I did.
Favorite Moment: “Leave him alone before I stick my toe in your ass.”
Ms. Marvel #5
I have a daughter and a constant goal of mine is to read more comics with strong female characters so when the day comes that she’s looking for a superhero to admire, I can point her in the right direction. After marathon-ing five issues of G. Willow Wilson’s Ms. Marvel, I can safely say that this book will be on the list. Whether you’re a father, a daughter, a son, a mother or that cliched lonely nerd who never showers and lives in a dungeon-esque basement, you should be reading Ms. Marvel. Each page is an absolute delight thanks in no small part to its wonderfully written protagonist Khamala Khan. And if you need more convincing, stay tuned to The Escapist for Marla Desat’s review of the first five issues.
Favorite Moment: “You’re not the one staring at super-sized gerbil poop.”
Moon Knight #4
Frankly, if Warren Ellis opted to do nothing with Moon Knight[i] but write an endless series of stand-alone issues chronicling its hero dealing with street level crime and supernatural mysteries, I think I’d be happy with that. Much like the three books to come before it, [i]Moon Knight #4 is an exceptional story that’s just as likely to capture you with its visuals as it is its writing. Following the titular vigilante as he investigates abnormalities in an experiment with lucid dreaming, it’s a tour de force of surreal imagery that perfectly captures the horrors that can come from dark thoughts as we sleep.
Favorite Moment: “You’ve been breathing in his dreams.”
Aquaman Volume 4: Death of a King
Aquaman is a series some critics claimed was the only good thing to come from the New 52 (it’s not, but more on that later). Thankfully, the Death of a King storyline is another excellent example of why that’s so widely believed. In the wake of Volume 3‘s Atlantean invasion, Aquaman has finally ended his self-imposed exile and accepted his birthright as the king of Atlantis.
Unfortunately, the transition isn’t a smooth one; Aquaman’s new subjects don’t trust him fully, and now he must defend Atlantis from simultaneous political and physical threats. Humans are scavenging and selling Atlantean weapons, Ocean Master’s trial is inspiring rebellion, and an ancient being has returned to challenge Aquaman’s rule. Each of these events could warrant their own storyline, but somehow Death of a King balances it all and throws in two separate attacks on Atlantis for good measure. It’s hard to imagine Geoff Johns and Paul Pelletier to top this, but after reaching the last page you’ll want to keep following the series to find out.
Batman: Year Zero Volume 1: Secret City
When DC introduced its New 52 reboot, not every hero got a brand-new origin story. Characters like Batman and Green Lantern were already established from previous books, so creators just picked up where the old canon left off and assumed readers would notice any subtle changes. Year Zero is DC’s first attempt to tell a New 52 origin after the fact, referencing New 52 events from The Court of Owls to Death of the Family along the way. Does it explain how Batman was able to raise and train four Robins in a mere five years? No. But thankfully it gets everything else right, fleshing out the early years of Scott Synder’s Batman while paying tribute to classics like Batman: Year One and The Killing Joke.
After faking his death years prior, Bruce Wayne is a faceless vigilante, adopting countless alter egos in his endless war on crime. But when the Red Hood Gang and its charismatic leader introduce costumed super-villainy to Gotham, Bruce realizes he needs his own frightening persona to strike fear into his opponents. It’s a nice step beyond the usual “parents die, train, become a bat” checklist, implying that Batman exists because of Gotham’s rogues gallery instead of the other way around. On top of that, while Volume 1 is a perfectly adequate standalone Batman origin, its surprise cliffhanger introduces a game changer that raises the stakes exponentially for Volume 2.
Justice League United #1
As a Canadian, the first issue of this series was a guaranteed buy for me. Originally advertised as Justice League Canada, this series replaces the Justice League of America book following the events of Forever Evil, relocating the team to Northern Ontario while keeping the cosmic-level threats the League normally faces. I’m not ready to say Justice League United is an especially good book yet; it lacks the novelty and charm of Jeff Lemire’s Justice League Dark, and it definitely loses points for using the New 52 version of Lobo as a villain.
But the book also introduces Adam Strange to the New 52 as a Canadian archaeologist, and reimagines his connections to Rann and Alanna as well. I’m also intrigued by the final roster, featuring JLA holdovers like Martian Manhunter, Green Arrow, and Stargirl as well as the new addition of Animal Man. And of course the cosmic-level threats are still out in force, most noticeably with elemental giant cutting across the Canadian landscape and a spontaneous teleportation to another world. To top it all of, DC went ahead and put that Justice League Canada logo on the book, and I couldn’t wait to start reading.
(But seriously, DC: Can we just have the old Lobo just teleport in through a dimensional portal and frag that bastich? The fans will definitely thank you for it.)