We dig into cosmic horror, Spider-Man family problems, plus a slew of super heroes. Gird yourselves.
We’re back with another edition of Comics Collection to celebrate the passing of April, and it having been a month since the last installment, we’re bringing you another super-sized edition. You’re welcome.
This month sees our heroes Stew and Marshall digging into a slew of super hero titles that remind you how convoluted mythology can get when a publisher is 50-years deep in the comics biz, as well as some Lovecraftian science fiction and a biblical epic set during World War II. Stew checked out Amazing X-Men, All New X-Men, Moon Knight, Magneto, Batman, Thor, and Daredevil. Marshall, meanwhile, Marshall checked out The Light Brigade, Caliban, and Spider-Man: Family Business.
Read on then, O readers, and learn what you might want to spend the weekend catching up on.
Amazing X-Men #5
It was of a skimpy week for me when it came to comics. My regular subscriptions only delivered a few books, not many of which I considered all that noteworthy. Luckily there was one candidate that won me over just by the virtue of being really danged fun. Amazing X-Men 5, more specifically, is from cover to closing an exercise in the ridiculous. Following the X-Men as they assist an undead Nightcrawler in battle against a horde of spirit pirates intent on raiding and pillaging the souls of heaven. Sincerely, it’s one of the most bonkers things that I’ve read in awhile. That said, it works because its writers strike a great balance of exploiting its fun factor while also maintaining notes of seriousness that lend it a bit of poignancy by its end. Granted, it also kind of furthers the cliché of dead characters never staying dead, but I’m going throw a stone in the pond of assumption and say that most dedicated X-Men fans have already made peace with that.
Favorite Moment: “You just got repelled. Bub.”
While I probably run the risk of looking like a walking talking advertisement for all things X-Men, I’m gonna have to go ahead and push the second issue of Marvel’s new Magneto series. Whereas the book’s number 1 issue struck a lot of the right chords for in terms of its smaller scale, issue 2 spends more of its time exploring Magneto’s character via an inner dialogue that really succeeds in casting the oft-times ultra villain as a character painted very much gray. Flashing back and forth between his present day activities and his past persecution at the hands of the Nazis, it provides some brilliant basis for why he’s willing to take such extreme measures while also, in a few spots, showing him being empathetic toward the victimized and downtrodden, even if they’re normal humans.
Favorite Moment: “…There’s always further to fall.”
Moon Knight #2
I know next to nothing about Moon Knight. That being the case, his character is one that’s always intrigued me and, in turn, I was hoping the launch of his new series would give me a chance to get acquainted with him. Sadly, I made the mistake of not reserving a copy of Moon Knight 1 with my local comic shop and missed it. That being the case, I grabbed issue 2 and I can happily report that it’s left me over the moon (nyuck nyuck nyuck). Sincerely, this is about as perfect an introductory story as I could have had to the character. Opening with a sniper picking off a series of targets (in a really arresting sequence) in the city, the issue follows Moon Knight as he arrives on the scene and dukes it out with said murderer. It doesn’t offer much in the way explanation as to who Moon Knight is, but it’s exciting, simple, self-contained and, most importantly, intriguing enough that I was immediately itching for more.
Favorite Moment: “Aoww!”
Mark Waid’s run on Daredevil was easily one of the most consistently excellent comic books of the last few years. It was, in turn, terrible to see the series, launched back in 2011, come to an end this past February. The only thing that kept it from being an outright tragedy was the fact that Waid would be headlining the series’ re-launch which, much to my delight, finally landed in my subscription folder at Earthprime Comics this past week. Dropping the reader into the story in medias ras. We see Daredevil following the move to California prompted by the final issue of the previous run. That being the case, everyone’s favorite horn head is very much out of his element. A New Yorker through and through he finds himself fighting against his unfamiliar environment almost as much as the baddies he spends the bulk of the book walloping. Really, when you get down to it, there isn’t much new here. That said, fans of Waid’s previous Daredevil work will feel right at home. Considering the quality of said work, that’s definitely a good thing.
Favorite Moment: “I know every inch of it in ways no sighted person ever could.”
All New X-Men #25
All New X-Men issue 25 is noteworthy less for its role in the actual ongoing story of All New X-Men and more the variety of scenarios it explores and the huge cast of artists it employs for the job. Focusing in on Hank McCoy as he restlessly worries over the potential consequences of his decision to bring the original X-Men team to the future, the issue employs more than two dozen different artists, each of whom makes their mark on a few pages. Filled to the brim with dramatic, tragic, uplifting and humorous scenarios of alternate fates gone by, it’s overall just an interesting issue. It’s also well worth the price of admission just to see Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series-esque take on the various incarnations of Jean Grey.
Favorite Moment: Bruce Timm Jean Grey.
When last we left the caped crusader he was knee deep in the events of the Zero Year prequel arc and locked in a desperate battle to stop the Riddler’s plot to flood and gas Gotham. Stopping the gas but failing to stop the flooding, Bruce wakes up after months of unconscious healing to discover that Gotham is nearly ruined and its populous is under the control of the Riddler who jas blocked all escape and rules with an iron fist. What interested me in particular about this issue is the way the Riddler’s Gotham very much seems to mirror that of the locked down city in The Dark Knight Rises. As interested as I am to see how this all turns out, I’m almost more intrigued as to how Scott Snyder’s take on a locked down Gotham will vary from Christopher Nolan’s and how it will all play out with the Riddler at the heart of its turmoil rather than the film’s somewhat clumsily portrayed Bane.
Favorite Moment: “Gentleman meet my friend the “$%$! psycho in a Batsuit.”
Thor: God of Thunder #21
The last time I touched on Thor: God of Thunder, I described it as containing some cursory similarities to the almighty king of 90s cartoon cheese: Captain Planet. Two issues later, that impression has only been strengthened and good lord if writer Jason Aaron isn’t pulling it off. The key, again, is the coupling of present day’s Thor’s battles against super polluters Roxxon with the efforts of the future ancient Thor to protect a barren Earth (assumedly destroyed by humans) from a hungry Galactus who has returned to finally claim the planet as a meal. Both facets of the story are handled beautifully and would be interesting on their own. Coupled together however, they bring a special gravitas to things that might have otherwise been missing. Also, it’s Thor taking on Galactus one-on-one. Such are the things that awesome is made from.
Favorite Moment: “And lo, Galactus vomits.”
The Light Brigade
Can you imagine how Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos would read if it was historically accurate and its heroes fought fallen angels and Nazis? Then you’ll know exactly what to expect from The Light Brigade, a 2004 mini-series now recollected as a gorgeous hardcover. Set during World War II, the book follows a platoon of American soldiers fighting a supernatural Nazi army while two warring angels plummet from the sky. Learning that their opponents are inhuman creatures who provoked the Biblical flood, the Americans must now prevent them from claiming the Sword of God, a weapon which would allow them to storm Heaven’s gate. What follows is an unique war story that’s fun, action-packed, and spectacularly gory. The Light Brigade is also impressively researched, accurately presenting the equipment and living conditions of World War II-era soldiers alongside a healthy amount of undead monsters and mythology. It’s possible the heavy Christian imagery might rub some readers the wrong way; outside of a single atheist character, all the soldiers embody some level of religious faith and discuss it just enough to lend the book an inspirational feel. I doubt that’s the intention, but even if it was, it’s far from the main focus. The Light Brigade is first and foremost a bloody, pulp-inspired war story that puts grand heroics and action set pieces above all else. If you enjoy that, whatever your religious affiliation, odds are you will enjoy this book.
Favorite moment: A close tie between Sauriel waking during Zephon’s speech, and when the frozen Nephillim of past armies join the battle.
Garth Ennis tends to repeat certain key themes across each of his books, whether criticizing religion (Preacher, True Faith), appreciating military history (War Stories, Battlefield[), or parodying how stupid superheroes can be (The Boys, Hitman). For that reason alone Caliban comes across as unique, swapping Ennis’ traditional black humor for speculative science fiction with a Lovecraftian edge. Set in a future where humanity’s dream of space colonization died generations ago, Caliban‘s Earth now settles for gathering resources using highly advanced mining ships. When the Caliban collides in hyperspace with a mysterious alien vessel, the two craft merge into a single object that separates the human crew from each other… assuming they weren’t phased through a wall or sucked into space during the collision. It’s not entirely clear what kind of threats Caliban‘s protagonists will face, but the void of space and inability to call for help offers immediate tension, not to mention the sense that things won’t end well for survivors. The first issue introduces the characters and danger nicely, while future issues promise to take a Ridley Scott’s Alien approach to sci-fi horror. If that sounds up your alley, then Caliban is definitely for you.
Favorite moment: Stumbling across the lovestruck crew member post-collision.
Spider-Man: Family Business
A big part of Spider-Man’s mythology deals with loss, whether his parents, Uncle Ben, or Gwen Stacey. So after a half-century of losing family, how does one raise the stakes without turning Peter Parker into Batman? New family members, of course! In Spider-Man: Family Business, Peter meets Teresa Parker, a previously unknown sister who joined the family trade as a secret agent. Not realizing Peter is a superhero, Teresa “rescues” him from a kidnapping attempt and whisks him across the world, seeking answers tied to one of their parents’ old cases. The book blends superheroics and espionage elements quite well, even as Peter admits he’s a far better Spider-Man than he is Jason Bourne. Canonical fixtures like the Kingpin and Hydra appear as villains or ties to the Parker family history, while the book’s action sequences range from car chases to a giant robot fight. On the character development front, Family Business introduces some great additions to Spider-Man lore. The dynamic between Peter and Teresa is both amusing and touching, and their parents are reimagined not only as spies, but the Mr. and Mrs. Smith of the Marvel Universe. It’s hard to say whether Teresa will return, thanks to a too-neat-and-tidy ending that wraps up any loose ends. Still, Family Business remains an entertaining standalone book that raises intriguing possibilities for the ongoing Spider-Man saga.
Favorite moment: “22 black.” “This is Baccarat, sir.” “Then I rescind my bet.”