Finding time to put together full write-ups of all the great books out there each week can be tough, so this quick run through will hopefully provide some pithy (and in some cases spoilerish) thoughts on some of the stuff that I wasn’t able to spend more time on recently
All-New Hawkeye #1 – Stepping out from the shadow of Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Annie Wu’s excellent series was always going to be tough, and although this new start is a perfectly fun one even it doesn’t quite succeed. Jeff Lemire writes a solid Clint and Kate relationship and the set up is ok if a little cliche (the story immediately runs from the low-stakes New York apartment setting of the previous arcs by jumping straight into Avengers missions and mountain top AIM bases). The art is solid too, but nothing in this book is exciting, smart, or funny enough to get me back for another issue.
Batgirl: Endgame #1 – A surprisingly effective instalment in the Batman Endgame event that fortunately requires no knowledge of the wider story without sacrificing any narrative cohesion. This is such a simple story, with Batgirl helping citizens escape from central Gotham and the Joker into Burnside, that it could easily be a throwaway issue, but the inventiveness and creativity on display is delightful. The action is beautiful and effective, there are moments of high tension and wonderful levity, and Batgirl proves why she is one of the best capes out there with some clever heroics.
Gotham Academy #6 – The Gotham city guest stars do not disappoint this issue, but there is never a threat of them overshadowing the defiant and gutsy Olive or the gleefully energetic Maps. Aided by outstanding art the writing in this issue manages to brilliantly balance melancholy, action, angst, and comedy, with just enough resolution to keep things satisfying. The central narrative of this story has been as much about Olive finding her ‘new normal’ as it has been about the mysteries of the Academy’s North Hall and this arc-finale delivers on that promise; with all of the pieces in place the next arc in this book should be a masterwork of joyful exuberance.
iZombie (TV) #1.1 – The trailer for this show came across as somehow underwhelming to me, and the lack of the wider comic book world of monsters felt like a missed opportunity, so I went into this with some negative impressions. Somehow though the show won me round, and whilst it still has a lot of work to do to make its supporting cast more endearing I found myself fully on board with Liv and Clive as a supernatural mystery solving duo. There were moments of fun and a few smart ideas in this first episode, and the show has a lot of potential. If they can balance the slightly flat romantic plot line with the exciting stuff that is.
Jem and the Holograms #1 – I have no familiarity with this property at all so it was the great art and being a fan of writer Kelly Thompson’s CBR columns that got me on board. There is a lot of setup here and whilst there was some good work drawing out the central characters and themes of the ongoing story, I must admit to being left a little underwhelmed by the end. The art is indeed great, but it is rarely in service of interesting visuals here as we get mostly talking heads. This is a perfectly solid start to a bigger story, and may well read better in a collected volume, but as a pilot issue I’m not sure it really grabbed me enough.
Nameless #2 – Grant Morrison gets into the meat of his story after last issue’s complex and mysterious setup. The world of Nameless gets a lot more fleshed out, as do the supporting cast, and there are some smart and tense scenes here. The art also won me over a lot more, and the surprises in store certainly hit hard. All of that said there seemed to be some inconsistencies in the place of magic in this universe – last issue it seemed like everyone was familiar with real magic as a concept, but here there are cliched disbelieving scientists and arguments about its value. This did enough to keep me on board for another issue at least, but it isn’t a must read yet.
Ninjak #1 – I’m a big fan of MIND MGMT from writer/artist Matt Kindt so I approached this book with an open mind, sadly I didn’t find quite what I was hoping for. The story of an upperclass Englishman turned super-ninja-spy could be an interesting one, and there were some nice ideas in this issue, but I never really engaged with the hero or the plot. I was also struggling to work out where this thing is set, England (the castle) or America (that cinema/taxi cab), or if it was just jumping between locations and not telling me.
Silk #2 – Cindy Moon is a fresh and unique voice in the Marvel U and despite being cut from the same cloth as Peter Parker she is distinctive and endearing in all the right ways. This issue manages to keep the laughs coming even as Cindy battles a goofy (in a good way) Hydra robot and some solemn memories are explored. The beautiful art from Stacey Lee captures the Silk’s toughness and character perfectly, and her world is at once welcoming and fraught with danger. Cindy’s contemporary world could probably do with filling out a little, and some supporting characters may be worthwhile, but the mystery at the heart of this book is already a compelling read.
Southern Cross #1 – Becky Cloonan delivers an intriguing first issue that does a lot of good work creating an interesting universe and central mystery. There are plenty of ways this story could go and almost every character looks like a potential trove of secrets and betrayals. This is a solid start to what could be a very complex and rewarding scifi mystery.
The Flash (TV) #1.15 & #1.16 – Wow, do the writers of The Flash know how to spin a good time travel yarn. Part one set up some excellent, yet inevitably impossible cliff hangers and part two took the story in a very different direction whilst still managing to play with the same themes, events, and overarching character beats. This show remains candy-floss fun with a few depth and character issues, but it is the sweet and kind that keeps you coming back for more. Harrison Wells is superb, I’m cut up about the Linda resolution, and I kinda hope Cisco and Caitlin get together at some point.
The Walking Dead (TV) #5.15 – The second half of season 5 has seen a real upswing in quality for the show (starting from an already good place), and this latest episode delivered some powerful scenes and brilliant character dynamics. Michonne went on a journey of self-discovery and it was surprising where she ended up, even as other characters progressed more or less as expected. Poor Rick though…the writers seemed to put him in a corner for the fun of it, and his inevitable breakdown played a little too much like previous seasons for my liking. Plus, y’know, maybe he’s right!