I liked a lot of the books that came out this week and disliked a few as well. In general though, there’s plenty of good reads on the stands every week and I’m not going to write down on “good” simply because it makes up a majority of my pull list. However, three of the absolutely best books in all of comicdom all came out this week.
1. East of West
3. Young Avengers
So if you’re really looking for recommendations, then go no further. Just go buy these books and all of their previous issues. Not reading things this good probably makes you a bad person. I’m not saying that to be mean. I don’t want you to be a bad person, but not reading those three books is about the most awful thing I can imagine right now. So go treat yourself. I’ll be here waiting for you to get back.
If “Saga” had been released this week too, then I probably would have died from over stimulation, so it’s a good thing that #13 won’t be out until August.
Astro City #2
Recommendation: If you haven’t read Astro City before, the beauty of the series is that there’s no barrier to entry. This issue is just as good as the first in this volume. It tells a story of coming across unexpected things in the course of living your life, both exciting and terrifying. It’s an incredibly human story set in a universe of superheroes and, like everything in “Astro City”, it’s super.
Avengers Arena #12
Recommendation: Wooooooo! I can’t explain that exclamation without spoilers, so I’ll just say that this issue kicks some serious butt, as do several characters between the covers. It’s odd that the two best Avengers books (the other being “Young”) have nothing to do with the Avengers.
Recommendation: Going into an eleven issue arc, you would expect a lot of set up to take place in the first several issues. While there are quite a few elements that being played for the long game (Red Hood Gang, Edward Nygma, Bruce’s return to life) that doesn’t stop Scott Snyder from providing plenty of momentum. This issue kicks off with another great action sequence, but the real meat of the story comes later. Both of Bruce’s confrontations with his past are compelling (even if the conversation with Alfred played like they were almost stating the conflict). Beyond that, Nygma and the brilliant framing of his conversation with Bruce is superb. Like always, Snyder’s “Batman” is great.
Recommendation: Chew is mirroring the style of some classic Ennis’ series like “Preacher” and “The Boys”. It’s picking up a lot of momentum after a dramatic mid-way point and now appears ready to jump back into the past to lay the last bit of groundwork for what is shaping up to be an epic finale (that’s still about two years off). On top of all that it’s maintaining a great sense of humor, creativity, and story economy. John Layman is the man.
East of West #4
Recommendation: It’s really hard to talk about “East of West” due to its dense scope and existence within an entirely unfamiliar world. I will say this. It speaks volumes that such a complex book is so superbly enjoyable each and every month. This is really one of the best comics currently being published.
Recommendation: Francavilla returns for this issue offering very, very dark shading to a Rockwell-esque farm home. Like many of the previous issues, it revolves around Hawkguy, but doesn’t fully engage him. Instead you’ll get to meet Barney who will treat you to a story about family that will give you a few laughs along the way (“Bro bro bro bro bro bro”), but left me in tears. If you’re reading this, but not “Hawkeye”, then you’ve made a terrible mistake. It’s just too good for me to properly convey.
Six-Gun Gorilla #2
Recommendation: When a sci-fi Western works, it just works and, like “Firefly”, this is an idea that works exceedingly well. Violent explosions and gun battles, a talking gorilla, intergalactic heartbreak… This book is just a lot of fun.
Superior Spider-Man #13
Recommendation: One thing you cannot fault Dan Slott or Doctor Octopus for is thinking small. In much the same way that Slott carefully crafted a rich, multi-faceted life for Peter Parker, he’s doing the same for “Spock”. Every issue adds a little more to the legend of the Superior Spider-Man and the end of this arc does not disappoint as a continuation of the series or as a resolution to its own arc (at three issues, the longest yarn yet).
Superman Unchained #2
Recommendation: I walked into this issue not expecting to like it, because the debut was mediocre at best. However, there’s a massive improvement here as substance takes precedence over style. Snyder’s opening sequence builds tension and shows how Superman can save a city from destruction, while still punching things. The rest is generally good, but General Lane comes across as a two-dimensional “Thunderbolt” Ross. There’s still too much focus on style as well. Lots of unnecessary splash pages (and cross hatching) leave the book feeling disjointed or overblown at points. Jim Lee draws a gorgeous poster, but his art still carries so many of the flaws of 90’s storytelling. I can’t help but feel that we’d be getting a much better book with a different artist on board.
Uncanny X-Men #8
Recommendation: This is easily the best issue of the series so far. It’s got a lot of character work focused across the whole team, while building tension or humor (often both) into every scene. The best part of the issue may have been the allusion to “coming out of the closet” at the end, but just about every scene was memorable. We’ve all seen Bendis at his worst recently, but this is him at his best.
The Walking Dead #112
Recommendation: Okay… This is getting ridiculous. I feel like these tense moments and action sequences are being inserted in spite of characters, not because of them. I’ll wait to see how this cliffhanger is resolved, but if Negan is willing to let Rick live at this point, then this officially becomes a story about plot, not characters. The train is going off the rails.
Young Avengers #7
Recommendation: Some people may call this issue “filler” and, technically, they might be sort of right. But they’d also be great, big idiots. Gillen has us catch up with our heroes, retread the series so far, and introduce a new character before jumping into the next adventure, which sounds like filler. But it’s definitely not. There are searing emotional beats, an incredible amount of humor (I laughed almost non-stop for twenty minutes), and three absolutely mind-blowing page layouts. I have no idea how this book is so filled with so much creativity every month, but it is. To those of you not reading “Young Avengers”: Comics, you’re doing them wrong.