Comic Sans: Quick Reviews – Week of March 15, 2017

It’s been a busy week. I am just over a week behind in my comic book reading. This weekend was a weekend away relaxing, and so what did I do? I played catch up, of course! But I still did not get to most of the reviews I wanted to this past week and probably won’t have the ability to get to them in any great detail. That said, I still wanted to put my 2 cents on some of the books I read. So… Welcome to Quick Reviews! A brief statement on each of the books I read from this past week, primarily ones that I simply could not write a full post on, either because of life or because I felt the issue just didn’t warrant it.

First off, I want to say this: I only buy those comics that I enjoy and want to spend money on. So, if I can get this post done regularly over the foreseeable future, you may not see me get negative on a lot of books. If I don’t like them, I stop paying for them. So the negativity on a certain book, if it lasts for a few issues in a row, means I will stop being negative about it because I’ll eventually drop it. Now, some I get from my LCS to try out and provide feedback, and some I get through other means, so there will be quite a variety of commentary here. But don’t be surprised if many of my reviews skew towards the Top 2 publishers. Partly because I enjoy many of the stories, mostly because my OCD prevents me from dropping a title before it is done.

OK, pre-amble done.

Sex Criminals #17

Sex Criminals #17
Sex Criminals #17

Published by Image Comics. Written by Matt Fraction. Art by Chip Zdarsky and Elizabeth Breitweiser. Therapy by the therapist of your own choosing.

I’ve been reading Sex Criminals from the start and I will say that it is one messed up book. And that’s why I keep coming back to it. The uniqueness of the story really makes it stand out as nothing else on the shelves today. When the plot is about characters who, when they orgasm, freeze time and so they can do whatever the fuck they want? Nothing. Else. Like. It. On. The. Shelves.

Seriously. And it’s full of sex jokes any 13 year old would love, but the book is not for 13 year olds. Dear God, no.

This issue focuses on the Sex Police, self-proclaimed individuals who uphold law and order for those who have this strange power. They can get around the time freezing, but only if they themselves bring themselves to orgasm at precisely the right time. MESSED. UP.

This is not a title to read one issue and be done with it. It’s a story that spans multiple issues and arcs. And although this issue is not the best of the run so far, it does progress the plot (yes, there is one behind all the dildo slapping and screwing). And from the preview of next issue, things get even more messed up than I ever thought possible. (Can we say sex gremlins, anyone?)

(For those new to this title, you should also read the letters page. It’s just as messed up as the monthly, with stories from readers, perverted responses, sex tips… The best of which were collected into the lovely hardcover book Just The Tips by the book’s creators!)

Rating: So unique it doesn’t get a rating since you cannot compare it to anything else.

Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat #16

Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #16
Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat #16

Published by Marvel Comics. Written by Kate Leth. Art by Brittney L. Williams and Rachelle Rosenberg.

After her introduction in the Jessica Jones Netflix series, Patsy Walker’s resurgence into the Marvel Universe was inevitable. This series, Patsy Walker AKA Hellcat, was not what I was expecting. It’s a more personal story about the character who has been around for a while (seriously – she was a major part of the original Defenders run for about 70-ish issues in the 1980s – the original Defenders, not the Netflix ones) and her friends. It’s more like a Squirrel Girl or Lumberjanes title than it is a traditional Marvel Super Hero title, but somehow it manages to do both.

Sadly, this is the penultimate issue of the run. It  ties up a thread that has been building throughout the series, with Patsy and her old frenemy Hedy (both of whom were stars of romance comics from Marvel in the 40s-60s – seriously) coming to a tentative truce. Patsy has been dealing with an illness of sorts – when she sneezes, weird shit happens. Transporting to another dimension, changing an American-themed superhero to a Canadian-themed one… Basically, all of her experiences in dealing with demons over the years have caused her to be susceptible to what is effectively an interdimensional flu bug which makes her impact and change the reality around her. The art is a different style, but it really works for this title. It’s fun, fresh, and light, but has that serious undertone when it needs to be.

Rating: 4/5 – A strong ending to an arc that I had no idea how they would end it.

Super Sons #2

Super Sons #2
Super Sons #2

Published by DC Comics. Written by Peter J. Tomasi. Art by Jorge Jimenez and Alejandro Sanchez.

In the DC Rebirth world, 2 of the 3 DC Trinity now have families to worry about. For a while, Batman had Robin who is now the son of Bruce Wayne and heir to the Al Ghul dynasty, Damian. Now there is also Jonathon Kent, the son of Clark “Superman” Kent and Lois Lane. This Superman is from the “classic” pre-New-52 DC Universe (not the original since DC has rewritten their universe too many times… Don’t ask…) and so the adjustment for the family has been a challenge, although for Jon this is the only world he has known. There have been Batman and Superman team-up books for years, but this is a new take on that dynamic as both kids are learning to come into their own, now with friends who they can relate to (even if they don’t want to).

Peter Tomasi is also the scribe for the main Superman series of books for DC and this book keeps that in the family. Damian and Jon break into LexCorp and encounter Super-Lex (essentially, Luthor in a power suit made to honour the New 52 Superman who sacrificed his life). I told you this was convoluted. It’s a fun read that really starts to form the personas of both Damian and Jon as friends and how they can rely on one another. It’s still a work in progress, as is the book. Although it was a fun read, I was expecting more from it, especially after a fantastic first issue. Things need to build up, and it may be a challenge since Damian is also the leader of the new Teen Titans, but Jon is not part of that team. It will be interesting to see what happens when that meeting occurs.

Rating: 3/5. Was a fun read, but it wasn’t a stellar standalone monthly issue. This may be one of those series where the collection of the story arc is better than any one individual issue, which surprised me due to Tomasi’s skill on the other Superman titles right now.

The Mighty Thor #17

The Mighty Thor #17
The Mighty Thor #17

Published by Marvel Comics. Written by Jason Aaron. Art by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson.

This is a different Thor than what is in the theatres right now, as this is not the “original” Thor but rather someone else who is worthy of Mjolnir; in this case, Jane Foster, a woman dying of cancer but who escapes that inevitable future when she transforms into the Mighty Thor. (Why is the original Thor not around, you may ask? Well there’s a whole backstory and it’s more than we can get into here, but read the older issues as well as The Unworthy Thor and Original Sin and you can get caught up.)

Jason Aaron has been the director of Thor and his Asgardian brethren in the Marvel Universe for a number of years now. He wrote the Original Sin event at Marvel that started things down this path, but he had actually started this journey with an earlier series of the Asgardian. This issue is the 3rd part in the current story arc, with Thor taking on Sharra and K’ythri, the 2 gods of the Shi’ar Empire (an alien race closely linked with the X-Men titles). It is essentially a war of the gods, and this issue brings the rest of Asgard into the battle, and it has everything. God versus god. The Warriors Three versus the Imperial Guard. And let us not forget that God of Mischief, Loki, hanging around as well causing… well, mischief.

Rating: 3.5/5. As a standalone issue, it’s not too bad. However, it actually holds its ground better when it is read immediately after the previous 2 issues. Reading it as a whole story actually improves its ranking to me, but I have to measure it based on the standalone issue here.

Coady and the Creepies #1

Coady and the Creepies 1
Coady and the Creepies 1

Published by BOOM! as part of the BOOM! Box line. Written by Liz Prince. Art by Amanda Kirk and Hannah Fisher.

Not too long ago, we posted an article about the launch of this title which had a music video as part of that release. That kind of multi-media approach is definitely interesting and unique for a comic book, but with a book about a punk rock band it’s quite fitting. After reading the book, it’s also a fun title to read. A little horror, a little comedy, and a little bit teeny. But it’s brought together in a fun story.

Liz Prince and Amanda Kirk have created a title that will appeal to a number of audiences. The first issue sets the stage with a newspaper reporter quickly summarizing the backstory (as was shown in the preview we posted) and introducing the main character to the story in a way that is not forced. The horror elements of the book are such that it’s a ghost story (not zombies like every other horror title on the market today) with some interesting twists along the way. Every city the band visits encounters ghosts or some ghostly backstory, but really what city doesn’t have a ghost story in their home town?

This is a new book from creators that I have never been exposed to before and it was definitely something fun to read. It is a miniseries, and in most miniseries the quality level is high because it has a finite end point. We can only hope that this is the case here.

Rating: 4.5/5. A very good read. A fun story. This is one that I would definitely recommend if you want something different that is not too mainstream.

Uncanny Avengers #21

Uncanny Avengers 21
Uncanny Avengers 21

Published by Marvel Comics. Written by Gerry Duggan. Art by Kevin Libranda, Dono Sanchez-Almara, and Protobunker.

There have been many Avengers books over the years, especially since the movie came out. There are currently (if I count correctly) 4 Avengers titles on the shelves – Avengers, U.S. Avengers, Occupy Avengers, and Uncanny Avengers. (Well, 5 if you count Ultimates 2, which is a pseudo-Avengers title… long story.) Of those 5, this is the best one out there. (Sorry, Mark Waid, it is.) And it is an amalgamation of all of the different groups of heroes in the Marvel Universe, focusing on what was called the Unity Squad, an experiment put together by Steve Rogers to bridge the bad blood between the Avengers and the X-Men after AvX. So who is on this team? Rogue (X-Men), Wasp (founding Avenger), Doctor Voodoo (former Master of the Mystic Arts), Deadpool (seriously, he’s an Avenger), Quicksilver (former X-Factor member and one of the original 2nd generation of Avengers), the Human Torch (Fantastic Four), Synapse (Inhuman), and Cable (the mutant who tried to kill the Avengers back in the X-Sanction miniseries). As I said: a mix of everything.

This issue brings (almost) to a close the battle that has been looming since day one: the Unity Squad versus the Red Skull. Why is the Red Skull so dangerous? Sure, he’s been a pain in the ass for a while now, like since the 1940s, but what makes that any different now? Well, he’s got some new powers, like the ability to control minds. How did he manage that? He dug up the corpse of Charles Xavier and, with the help of psychotic scientist Arnim Zola, had Xavier’s brain surgically merged with his own, giving him Xavier’s powers. So how did they stop him? Deadpool gave to Rogue the one thing that Xavier could not breach: Magneto’s helmet. With that on her noggin, the Skull could not control Rogue, who gave him one HELL of a beatdown. After he fell unconscious, the rest of the Unity Squad came to their sense and stopped beating on their comrades with little to no memory of what happened. But wait, where did Rogue take the Skull’s body? Hmmm…

Rating: 4.5/5. This is one of Duggan’s best work to date. This is also how he is ending his run on the title, which gets a new writer in Jim Zub during the Secret Empire crossover. I’m also impressed that with the creative change Marvel is not launching this again as a #1 issue but continuing this series – thank you Marvel! Finally!

Captain America, Sam Wilson #20

Captain America #20
Captain America #20

Published by Marvel Comics. Written by Nick Spencer. Art by Paul Renaud.

Nick Spencer has been running with the Captain America series at Marvel in the same way that Jason Aaron has been running Thor (and Brian Bendis with Iron Man). This is one of 2 Captain America series currently on the market (and, hey, each of those other characters ALSO has 2 titles going on!) and focuses on Sam Wilson, formerly known as the Falcon, who has taken on the mantle of Captain America with Steve Rogers’ blessing. The other series, which focuses on Steve, showcases how the original Cap is actually a deep undercover Hydra agent (seriously – it caused a lot of controversy) and is leading up to the Secret Empire event in a few months.

Both titles have been focusing on some fairly political aspects, with this one being quite focused on race and the judicial system within the United States. This issue in particular focuses on the outcome of a young protege of the Avengers named Rage who was arrested and pronounced guilty of a crime. Rage is sent to a super-villain prison, as he is a super-powered individual and so needs to be placed in a similar environment, only to be attacked and hospitalized. The issue focuses on the dilemma of Sam Wilson who is placed in the position of being both Captain America, who upholds the law, and the hero of the people, which is what he did for years as both the Falcon and in his day job as a social worker. Although the title is focusing on some political aspects, it showcases the personal struggle of the main character who straddles between all of his identities and how he handles that pressure.

Rating: 4/5. One of the best issues of the series so far. The art is fantastic and the panel scenes are like something out of a movie with a montage or voice over while the viewer sees what is happening in multiple locations at the same time. This is a much better run than I was expecting it to be.

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Kelly Cassidy
Staff Writer at Digital Fiasco

Anyone who knows him links “Kelly Cassidy” to comics. A collector and reader for over 30 years, he is a weekly regular at his local comic shop and is usually found trying to catch up with the stack of books he buys weekly. (He is usually 1-2 weeks behind on his reading stack.) He is always up for talking comics here on Digital Fiasco or on Twitter (or anywhere else he can be found in the wild).