Comic Picks By The Glick
Paper Girls vol. 3

Paper Girls vol. 3

September 16, 2017

When I opened up this volume to its first story page and saw one of its protagonists being smacked in the head by some rotten fruit, my first thought was, “Which one is she again?”  Reading further in I was reminded that she was KJ, the paper girl who was sent to a different time than her friends were in the previous volume.  She’s further differentiated as the volume goes on as the girl who gets the jump boots and has visions of the future after touching a tentacled-pyramid-thing.  You’ll notice I didn’t include any description of her personality traits as I’m still trying to suss out any distinguishing ones on her part, as well as Erin and Tiffany.  Not in MacKenzie’s case; however, at this point “bitchy redhead” is kind of its own trope.

 

Even if the main characters are lacking in interesting personality traits at this point, they’re still able to drive the plot forward.  This leads to vol. 3 being a decently interesting women-vs-nature story as they meet up with a girl their age (and her kid) to survive the dangers of this period and the three men who want her baby back for their own unknown purposes.  It’s fine for what it is, but does it make the time-travel driven overall narrative of “Paper Girls” any more interesting?  Not really, and that’s even with the addition of another time-traveler to the mix in this volume.

 

If vol. 3 achieves anything it’s in giving me a firm belief that we’re going to have to wait to the end of the series to find out if all of this is going to be worth it.  I can’t say that’s a good place for any series to be in, but I have more faith that Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang will at least make it to the finish line than the “Morning Glories” team of Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma will at this point.  I’m not about to drop “Paper Girls” yet, though everyone else who hasn’t jumped on yet should just continue to wait and see if it delivers in the end.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Mother Panic vol. 1:  A Work in Progress

Mother Panic vol. 1: A Work in Progress

September 15, 2017

“Mother Panic” co-creator Gerard Way says in his afterword that the idea for this series was basically what would Bruce Wayne, and by extension Batman, be like if he grew up in today’s celebrity-obsessed environment.  Way also states that the series started as a creator-owned title before he got the chance to bring its protagonist, damaged and violent debutante Violet Page, and her titular alter ego to Gotham.  I don’t think basing the series out of DC’s most infamous Bat-infested cesspool adds as much as Way thinks it does, but there’s a lot of stuff in this first volume that justifies its subtitle.

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Kill or be Killed vol. 2

Kill or be Killed vol. 2

September 13, 2017

This second volume of Brubaker and Phillips’ vigilante contains two more issues than the first one.  More does not always mean better, but in this case it does as it means we see more of its protagonist’s, Dylan’s, struggles as killing starts to get a lot more complicated for him.  It starts when some cops walk in on him in a diner bathroom after he’s shotgunned a financier to death.  While Dylan is able to extract himself from that situation with an appropriate show of force it’s on the beginning of his troubles.

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Assassination Classroom vol. 17

Assassination Classroom vol. 17

September 11, 2017

While I admire a lot of things about this series its best trait may be how economical its storytelling is.  What I mean is that in comparison to other (very) long-running Shonen Jump titles, mangaka Yusei Matsui rarely feels the need to drag arcs of this series out over multiple volumes.  For example:  Last volume ended with a split between Class E’s students over whether to save Koro-sensei or fulfill their original mission to establish him.  It’s a good setup with both sides having credible reasons for saving or killing their teacher and also something I could see having a long-term impact on the overall storyline.

 

Matsui clearly didn’t think so as he wraps the conflict all up in this one volume.  After Koro-sensei recommends that both sides settle their dispute with a forest paintball match we get a surprisingly tense and methodical battle where just about everyone gets a chance to show what they can do.  The mangaka also manages to set up an effective rivalry between respective group leaders Nagisa and Karma and flesh out their relationship backstory in a way that doesn’t feel too tacked on.  Even though Matsui could’ve milked this conflict for a couple volumes he still delivers a satisfying result before this one is wrapped up.

 

So where do things go from here?  This being “Assassination Classroom” it probably wouldn’t surprise you to learn that the answer is “kinda crazy.”  That’s because the newly re-unified Class E is gearing up for a heist -- aboard the International Space Station!  It’s the right kind of crazy as this plan is just within the title’s realm of logic to push against it rather than break it.  While I’m sure that heist will succeed, it’s the how that’s going to happen which has me anticipating vol. 18.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Catching Up With “Star Wars”

Catching Up With “Star Wars”

September 10, 2017

Thanks to how I buy comics, when I buy comics, and the supply of where I buy comics from (more Cheap Graphic Novels than Amazon these days) I’ve wound up with a small backlog of “Star Wars” comics to write about.  Given the generally good quality of the line from Marvel so far, there are worse problems to have than dealing with this kind of backlog.  Especially since one of them is the first volume of the Kieron Gillen-written “Doctor Aphra” solo title and another is one of the better volumes in Jason Aaron’s “Star Wars” run.  As for the third... well... Charles Soule continues to do the best he can with what he’s given in “Poe Dameron.”  Further thoughts on all of them, starting from the best on down, are after the break.

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Thanos vol. 1 — Thanos Returns

Thanos vol. 1 — Thanos Returns

September 9, 2017

To his credit, it does appear with this volume that writer Jeff Lemire does have a story he wants to tell about the title character.  Specifically involving the tortured (to put it mildly…) relationship he has with his son, Thane.  You see, Thanos the Younger has assembled a group of people -- Nebula, Starfox, and Tryco “Champion of the Universe” Slatterus -- who all have issues with the Mad Titan with the aim of finally taking him down once and for all.

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Moonshine vol. 1

Moonshine vol. 1

September 8, 2017

Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso’s work together on the excellent and long-running “100 Bullets” cemented them as one of the best writer/artist teams in the industry.  Their concurrent/subsequent work on “Batman” also bore this out even though Azzarello’s overwrough vernacular derailed their subsequent creator-owned collaboration “Spaceman.”  The Prohibition-set “Moonshine” is their latest work and I believe the first time they’ve worked together outside of DC/Vertigo.  It involves a good-looking, smooth-talking mobster by the name of Lou Pirlo who is sent by his boss to the backwoods of Appalachia with the job of getting a top-tier moonshiner by the name of Hiram Holt to sign on with them.  Hiram, however, isn’t interested in dealing with any cityfolk lets Lou know that by way of showing him the corpses of the last people who came around asking about his business.  Lou can’t really afford to come back empty-handed, but as he keeps digging deeper into the Holt family business he finds that the secret to their success and security doesn’t lie just with their moonshine.  Rather, it’s because of what happens to them under the shine of the full moon.

 

In case I didn’t make it obvious, the title of this series is both descriptive of the high-quality homebrewed hooch Holt makes and a pun on what the big family secret is.  Well, it’s only a secret if you’re coming into this series completely blind and didn’t hear Azzarello talk about the series back when it was announced.  As I was listening I found there to be a lot of dancing around that big reveal to little effect here.  In fact, there’s a bunch of literal and figurative dancing around in this first volume that doesn’t really go anywhere either.  While Azzarello and Risso’s storytelling has always been of the “slow burn” variety, there was always something happening in every part of their stories to make the burn induce more ecstasy than agony.  There are moments where things do click -- when the other mobsters show up and the bullets and blood start flying -- but they’re few and far between here.  Though this first volume ends with the clear indication that things might get more interesting from here, I wouldn’t be too put out if Azzarello and Risso decided to take a mulligan with “Moonshine” and move on to something else instead.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Comic Picks #245:  Inhumans vs. X-Men

Comic Picks #245: Inhumans vs. X-Men

September 6, 2017

Whoever wins, we lose!  ...No it's not one of the better "X-Men" crossover events, but there's better stuff in the tie-in issues.

Happiness vol. 5

Happiness vol. 5

September 4, 2017

The bad news is that there’s not one moment in the art for this volume that gets me like it did in vol. 4.  There are some striking moments, however.  Gosho’s iron-willed determination to get out of a fiery situation late in the volume is impressively conveyed and followed up with the sequential art version of a match cut to show Makoto in a very bad situation.  Makoto’s drug-fueled hallucinatory freakout a few pages later is also pretty memorable.

 

Yet the majority of vol. 5 is concerned with two threads:  That of Makoto and Nora versus the organization out to get them, and Gosho and Sakurane trying to deal with Yuuki’s murder of his girlfriend and her family.  Mangaka Shuzo Oshimi does at least put some work into getting the reader to believe that these threads are going to turn out one way, when in fact they wind up going in the more familiar, expected route.  I still found the overall experience to be an involving read, even if it ultimately wound up hewing closer to convention than I wanted it to.

 

Then Oshimi quickly tosses the current status quo aside for the final chapter of this volume.  I’m still wondering if that was a good move because it happens when the drama in these two threads has reached their peak.  So I was left with this feeling of, “Why would you do this?!” before I started feeling uneasy about all the time that had passed for the characters and what that meant for them as a result.  Except for one character as we focus on this person to establish that they’re currently living a normal life save for one physical reminder of the time things in their life got really weird and dangerous.  Which is going to happen again as while this chapter makes for an awkward segue from the high drama of what has come before, it still manages to intriguingly set the stage for things to get crazy from here.

 

jason@glickscomicpicks.com

Marvel Previews Picks:  November 2017

Marvel Previews Picks: November 2017

September 3, 2017

Looking at Marvel’s actions over the years, the publisher clearly thinks that any major event they have is worth overdoing.  Which is why in addition to the renumbering of several of their ongoing titles to match their “Legacy” numbering, we’re getting several additional one-off revivals of cancelled series from yesteryear.  Why?  Most likely because Marvel received some (hopefully) decent pitches from Chad Bowers & Chris Sims, Devin Grayson, CM Punk, and Christa Faust to do additional issues of “Darkhawk,” “Power Pack,” “Master of Kung-Fu,” and “Silver Sable and the Wild Pack,” respectively.  It could also be Marvel’s way of testing if there’s any interest in reviving these series/characters.  I wouldn’t expect a new ongoing title for any of these characters to happen as a result of these one-shots, but stranger things have happened…

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