Minute Reviews: May 14, 2014 Releases

This is the first of possibly many weekly posts, where I give a short reaction to various books I’ve read this week. And that’s more minute as in small than as in time, but whatever works for you. (Got a better name? I’m happy to hear it.)

Astro City #12

Astro City #12The best of this week is, as is often the case, Astro City. While this issue isn’t feminist at all (the only women present are a girlfriend and daughter), it’s still brilliant. (And they just finished an arc featuring one of the most explicitly feminist characters in comics, Winged Victory.)

This is an in-depth character study of a villain. Nobody does character study like Astro City. This time it’s a fellow that likes to dress up super fancy and commit crimes. I’ve tried my hand at creating a universe of super heroes, and it’s not easy to come up with interesting superheroes, and I’m always amazed that Busiek can rattle them off like nobody else. The Sweet Adelines, a barbershop crime team? Wow.

There may very well be universes with better written comics than Astro City, but I’m convinced we’re not living in one of them.

Lumberjanes #2

Lumberjanes #2I’m in love with the Lumberjanes.

It’s sort of like an all-girl Goonies in the weird woods. It’s goofy, offbeat, and utterly charming. It’s impossible not to read it and try and decide who is your favorite lumberjane. (I think I’m on team April right now. She’s simultaneously both the most femme, and the most eager to go along with adventure, and I love this mix.)

Sometimes people think feminism means Wonder Woman and Xena, strong women kicking ass. And I like those things. But it also means Lumberjanes – a group of young women who are capable, interesting, and telling their own stories.

Also featuring my favorite fake merit badge ever!

Afterlife with Archie #5

If you haven’t heard of this title yet, it may be surprising. What it is, is a genuine zombie horror book. It’s scary, gory, and heartbreaking. The fact that these characters are all so familiar makes this a lot more emotionally effective than typical for the genre. And the artwork is just perfect. Horror fans and Archie fans, check this out! I’m not really one for zombies typically, but this is just executed flawlessly.

Life with Archie: The Married Life #35

This title is ending soon (with a much-spoiled twist, thanks comics press!) As often happens in these circumstances, there’s a rush to tie up storylines in this issue. It’s not quite as effective as typical, but I still stand by my claim that this is the best modern-day normal life comic since Strangers in Paradise. It’ll probably fall into an obscurity that it doesn’t deserve, because this is primo stuff.

Batgirl #31

Not a bad issue. A creepy villain, an advance of a long-term shadowy corporate adversary, and some screen time for Batgirl’s roommate Alesia. Who is one of the first major trans characters in the supporting cast of a mainstream comic, so I’m always happy to see her. It’s a good issue of a good comic.

Iron Man #25

I’ve liked a lot of Keiron Gillen’s work on things like Uncanny X-Men and the sublime Journey Into Mystery, but his Iron Man has been hit and miss. This issue gives Tony Stark a chance to totally kick some Dark Elf ass, which is satisfying, but does kind of go on after a bit. I liked it but am ready to move on from this storyline now.

Star Wars #17

It’s a shame that the Star Wars license is reverting to Marvel in a few months, because this is the best Star Wars comics have ever been. (It was inevitable, though, with Marvel’s parent company buying Star Wars from Lucas.) This issue had more action and fewer of the wonderful character moments that this run has been notable for, perhaps because of the aforementioned need to tie up storylines in the limited issues left.

Captain Marvel #3

Carol Danvers, now there’s a character that has a feminist sensibility. Fighter Pilot background, top billing in the Avengers roster, and a can-do, no-nonsense attitude. I love her, and I love this version of her, dropping the cheesecake aspects of her past and upping the depth. This issue is more of her gallivanting through space, like you do, and it’s fun.

Batman Eternal #6

DC’s weekly Batman series. I like the idea of weekly series so much – they can have a lot of momentum and pack in a bigger story than most comic pacing has pages for. This particular iteration is kind of all over the place – each issue seems to have limited relation to the earlier ones. One of those storylines, though, is Stephanie Brown, aka Spoiler, one of my favorite characters from the pre-new-52 era that got erased in the dubious reboot, and I’m in to see what they do with her. Which in this issue, is not appear. The Spectre shows up for some reason as they build tension about some mystical shit that is going to hit the fan along with all the other disparate elements introduced so far. If they can keep this all straight by the end and have a coherent story, it’ll be a miracle, but as messes go it’s pretty fun.

Shutter #2

An indy series about the daughter of some kind  of cross-dimensional explorer hero, who mostly wants to do her own thing and not follow in her father’s footsteps. The universe of weird has other ideas. I’m not sure really where this is going, but it’s interesting enough so far. I’m hoping for a little more agency to the main character soon, though.

All-New Ultimates #2

I like this team a lot. Not one of them is a white male. That’s pretty rare in superhero teams! Despite having All-New in the title, it’s actually a fairly been there, done that story, with a new team learning how to work together and not being as successful against a more cohesive group of villains on their first time out, and squabbling amongst themselves. Marvel publishes a lot of books like this – good superhero fare, but not groundbreaking particularly. (You could also read New Warriors, Mighty Avengers, or X-Men for the same itch!) Still, I like the team roster, and I like teen superhero team books, so I’m not disappointed.

Worlds’ Finest #23

I’m still happy that the put the apostrophe in the right place. It’s the little things in life. This is another book that’s fun but not blazing new ground, and I read because I like the roster. In this case it’s Power Girl, who is the Supergirl of Earth 2, and Huntress, who is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman from Earth 2, who get trapped in the main DC Universe and do their thing. Strong female characters doing their thing. Sure, I’ll read that.

Kevin Keller #13

I read this book because I’m just thrilled this book exists. Kevin is the gay teen in the Archie line. And this book is exactly like any other Archie comic (except the two earlier in this review!) Kevin has dating drama, but it’s all fairly low key. He has rivalries with the other kids, Reggie is kind of a jerk sometimes, Veronica uses him as her Gay Best Friend because of course she does, and for the most part the world treats him well and doesn’t give him trouble for being gay. I can only imagine what reading this title would mean to a teen gay boy, and I hope they keep publishing it for a long time.

Fables #140

Fables might be the second best Vertigo comic ever. (Behind Sandman, and in the same class as Books of Magic in my book.) It’s consistently great, and almost never has an issue that falls into cliches or shoddy storytelling. Unfortunately, almost never is not quite never, and this is the rare issue that isn’t that good. Well, still go back and read the collected editions of this Fairy Tale mish-mash epic. And we’re heading into the home stretch, with #150 announced as the series finale. And we’ll just kind of forget this little paint-by-numbers adventure happened.

All-New X-Men #27

In last year’s X-Men event, we were introduced to a team of Brotherhood of (Evil) Mutants from the future, with an interesting roster including a Mystique-esque shapeshifter and young Charles Xavier look-and-power-alike. This issue, for some reason they come back and attack this team of X-Men. There’s a lot of fighting, and some development of the two above mentioned Future Brotherhood members, who are both children of Mystique in the end. Whatever is going on here might be interesting once it’s revealed, but in this issue, it’s just chaos and confusion. And the backstory mentioned above isn’t really all that interesting. I think the future Brotherhood is one of those ideas that was more interesting when they were a mystery.

Whew! I don’t know if I’m going to write up this many every week (I read way too many comics!) so enjoy it.