Comic Picks By The Glick
Dark Horse Previews Picks:  June 2018

Dark Horse Previews Picks: June 2018

March 31, 2018

It’s the end of an era in these solicitations as a long-running manga series reaches its final volume.  That’s right true believers, Neon Genesis Evangelion:  The Shinji Ikari Raising Project vol. 18 will finally arrive on our shores this August (remember, Dark Horse collections are always advance-solicited by two months).  While there’s still no definitive word on whether or not the company will make it to the same point with “Eden: It’s An Endless World!” they were still able to publish eighteen volumes of increasingly tiresome and desperate “Evangelion”-based fanservice comedy.  Yeah, the first few volumes provided an amusing change of pace compared to the source material. As things went on, the only enjoyment I was able to get from it involved looking for commentary and in-jokes within the localization.

 

So yeah, as that last sentence implies I’ll be picking up this volume.  The completist in me demands it. Everyone looking for actually decent “Evangelion”-based comedy is recommended to pick up the “Comic Tribute,” “Tony Takezaki’s Neon Genesis Evangelion,” or “The Legend of the Piko Piko Middle School Students.  Or better yet, go out and buy all the volumes of “Eden” you don’t have yet. It’d send a better message to Dark Horse about the kind of manga you want them to publish than more of this licensed crap.

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Marvel Previews Picks:  June 2018

Marvel Previews Picks: June 2018

March 30, 2018

Officially, Chip Zdarsky has signed an exclusive deal with Marvel Comics.  He wrote the most recent “Howard the Duck” series for them and is currently writing “Spectacular Spider-Man” and “Marvel Two-in-One,” the latter of which has an annual illustrated by “Injection’s” Declan Shalvey solicited this month.  While I’m very familiar with his art in “Sex Criminals” I’ve yet to actually read anything he’s written. Maybe it’s time to change that given how Marvel has liked what he’s done enough to make him exclusive.

 

Meanwhile, in unofficial exclusive news, Jonathan Hickman may be coming back to Marvel.  The writer was reportedly set to sign up with DC to write “The Legion of Super-Heroes,” but those characters have been placed off-limits as Geoff Johns has plans for then in “Doomsday Clock.”  With “Clock” now on a bi-monthly schedule, Hickman decided to re-up with Marvel due to new editor-in-chief C.B. Cebulski’s influence, the promise of greater creative control over his books, and the ability to get it all started sooner.  If this turns out to be true, then it’s a win for Marvel. It’s a bit disappointing for his Image titles that aren’t “East of West” which is nearing its conclusion. We’re not going to see any more “Manhattan Projects” are we?

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Image Previews Picks:  June 2018

Image Previews Picks: June 2018

March 28, 2018

To my surprise, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ Kill or be Killed wraps up with its twentieth issue in these solicitations.  Its first two volumes established it as one of their better series, a trend which continues with the third one.  I’ll have a review of that up in the next week or two. Those of you expecting the pair to swiftly follow it up with another series may have to wait a while.  Brubaker is currently working with Nicolas Winding Refn, director of “Drive,” “Only God Forgives,” and “The Neon Demon,” on a new series for Amazon Prime. Titled “Too Old to Die Young” it follows a wide-ranging cast of characters as they make their way through L.A.’s criminal underworld.  It’s been given a straight-to-series order for ten episodes and will begin shooting in L.A. later this year.

 

Given Brubaker’s crime-fiction-influenced comics writing history, this sounds right up his alley.  Particularly in the sense that it’s been a while since we’ve had a proper “Criminal” miniseries while the setup and name of “Too Old to Die Young” sound like a natural fit for that title.  Still, this does mean that Brubaker may be dialing back his comics work while he focuses on this series, and that’s a shame. I wouldn’t worry too much about Phillips, though, as he’s probably being swamped with offers to work with other writers now that his most trusted collaborator is busy elsewhere.

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Assassination Classroom vols. 19 & 20

Assassination Classroom vols. 19 & 20

March 26, 2018

We are officially in the home stretch here with only two volumes left in the series and the plot reaches its climax here.  After some early bits of drama in vol. 19 to introduce the mercenary bad guys of this volume, and comedy, as Koro-sensei helps his students put together a class yearbook, the anti-sensei forces in the government make their move.  They’ve got a ridiculously high-tech and complex plan designed to take him out, as well as some PR on the ground to discredit his stint as a teacher, that conveniently leaves some time for the kids to organize their own plan to save their beloved instructor.  This leads to a fun action sequence where we get to see just how capable these little “assassins” are and what they’re capable of when they work together. Which is good because the volume ends with the real big bad of the series and his latest creation showing up with the intent of putting Koro-sensei down for good.

 

Then we get to vol. 20 and we get to see the series at its very best and worst.

 

(Spoilers for vol. 20 follow after the break.)

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DC Previews Picks:  June 2018

DC Previews Picks: June 2018

March 25, 2018

There’s a new imprint on the DC block:  Black Label. If you’ve been wanting to read some out-of-continuity tales featuring the company’s most popular superheroes by some of its biggest creators then this is what you’ve been waiting for!  Me? Well, I won’t say no to reading more “Batman” stories from Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo as their Batman:  Last Knight on Earth features the Caped Crusader thrust into a hellish desert future with only the Joker’s head in a jar for company.  We’re also getting a Batman/John Constantine team-up story in Batman:  Damned from Brian Azzarello and Lee Bermejo, Wonder Woman Historia:  The Amazons from Kelly Sue DeConnick and Phil Jimenez, and the previously announced Superman:  Year One from Frank Miller and John Romita Jr.  There’s also Wonder Woman:  Diana’s Daughter by Greg Rucka and The Other History of the DC Universe from John Ridley, both of which have yet to secure artists.

 

All of these sound promising, though I will admit that a couple of them are morbidly so.  At this point in his career, the thought of seeing Miller tackling Superman’s formative years engenders a kind of trainwreck fascination.  Maybe Romita Jr. will help keep him in line as his contribution to the latest “Dark Knight” project, “The Last Crusade,” was the closest any of that title’s spinoffs have come to capturing the spirit of the original.  Now, Azzarello wrote that one-shot and he’s one of a handful of creators to have written both Batman and Vertigo-era John Constantine. I can’t say I’m thrilled by the idea of these two heroes teaming up, but if this is going to be a mature readers project then maybe the writer can bring us the best of both worlds here.

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All-New Wolverine vol. 5:  Orphans of X

All-New Wolverine vol. 5: Orphans of X

March 24, 2018

Something occurred to me after I read this volume.  Laura “Wolverine” Kinney hasn’t killed anyone over the course of “All-New Wolverine.”  Stabbed and knocked out a bunch of people, yes, but she hasn’t been directly responsible for any of the actual deaths that have happened in this run.  A Wolverine series where the title character doesn’t murder any bad guys? I never thought I’d see the day, let alone witness the series in question be any good.

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Amazaing Spider-Man:  Worldwide vol. 7

Amazaing Spider-Man: Worldwide vol. 7

March 23, 2018

With this volume, longtime Spider-writer Dan Slott has finally put Peter Parker back in a familiar status quo:  Working for the Daily Bugle. Not as a photographer getting sweet shots of Spider-Man, mind you, but as the new editor of its science section.  Before that happens, he has to throw down with the new physically fit and Hydra-aligned Doctor Octopus who has come to take back the company that he built up from nothing during his “Superior” days.

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Comic Picks #259:  Letter 44

Comic Picks #259: Letter 44

March 21, 2018

A killer premise has both good and bad soap opera foisted upon it in this sci-fi series.

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt vol. 6

Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt vol. 6

March 19, 2018

It seems like mangaka Yasuo Ohtagaki finally got around to watching “Memento” before he sat down to create this volume-length story.  I say this because the first half of vol. 6 has the same gimmick as that classic film: a story told in reverse. Things start out with Bianca, one of the veteran mobile suit pilots on the Spartan, in a tough position against Zeon forces on the Antarctic tundra while the narrative unspools in reverse to show us how they wound up at this point.  This approach works well enough, but there’s no getting around the fact that it’s pure gimmickry. There’s no reason this story had to be told in reverse as the gains from telling the story in this way -- some suspense over Bianca’s fate, amusement from seeing an obviously doomed crew member die before you realize she was just a redshirt -- feel pretty negligible overall.  Ohtagaki could’ve told the story in the first half normally and I can’t imagine my overall reaction towards it changing all that much.

 

That the narrative approach to the first half is just a gimmick is also reinforced by the fact that normal service is resumed once Io shows up in his Gundam and takes the fight to Zeon’s undersea forces.  It’s a tense, well-executed battle in which one of this title’s erstwhile protagonists demonstrates some ingenious quick-thinking to survive the conflict and its aftermath. All without any kind of gimmickry.  Then you reach the end of the volume and realize that the only details meaningful to the overall plot of this current storyline have been saved for last. So maybe the reverse-storytelling gimmick does help distract from the fact that you’ve just read a volume of (well-executed) filler.  When the series is over with, vol. 6 will most likely be remembered as “The One Where the First Half Was Told in Reverse.” Let’s hope future volumes wind up being a bit more memorable than that.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Jimmy’s Bastards vol. 1:  Trigger Warning

Jimmy’s Bastards vol. 1: Trigger Warning

March 18, 2018

If it seems like we’ve been here before recently, that’s because we have.  Garth Ennis and Russ Braun are together again with the story of an ersatz James Bond coming face-to-face with his thoughtlessly cavalier lifestyle.  Jimmy Regent is the “Not Bond” in question and we’re introduced to him as he’s saving London from a blimp attack by two members of his rogues gallery:  Theolonius Trigger and Bobo the Bastard Chimp. (Clearly Ennis is drawing on the pre-Daniel Craig era of Bond Villains for this series.) Congratulations are in order, along with being teamed up with a new partner, Nancy McEwan, who believes she knows exactly what to expect from Regent.  While this is happening, the many disgruntled bastard children from Jimmy’s love ‘em-and-leave ’em legacy with women have all teamed up to finally give their dad what’s coming to him.

 

“Jimmy’s Bastards” is clearly meant to fall into the “comedic” section of Ennis’ works and it’s biggest failing is that it’s really not all that funny.  Some bits made me smile, but the humor here is either childish, outlandish, or some mix of both. A late-volume twist has the genders of everyone in London being swapped and many members of both sexes trying out their new equipment in all the ways you’d expect from a Garth Ennis comic.  If that sounds hilarious to you then the style of humor this series trades in will be right up your alley.

 

There are some things that I genuinely liked about this volume, however.  Regent is a charming bastard in spite of himself and his thoughts on things like political correctness and social justice (mirroring Ennis’ own musings I would imagine) do make a certain amount of sense.  McEwan makes a great foil for her partner and gets some awesome moments of action hero glory towards the end of the volume. Then there’s the art from the always-great Braun which does its best to sell the comedy, but does a better job of making the action and character moments genuinely involving.  With these things going for it, I think I can bring myself to see what the second volume has to offer. So long as it’s the concluding volume, because I can’t see this concept sustaining anything more than that.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com