Howdy Interwebbers, I’m Matt Cohen, and I dig holes.But when I’m not doing that, I’m reading comics - and it just so happens that I took time out of my busy hole-digging schedule to read some comics this week (Lucky you).
Therefore, I find it my task - nay, my duty - to help you decide what books are worth your valuable dollars. So pull on your long boots cause its time to wade through the week that was.
Batman: Death Mask #1: What a book! Frankly, I am surprised and delighted that this comic even exists. Batman: Death Mask is, in fairly watered down terms, the first Manga incarnation of Batman in the printed form, and it couldn’t be more exciting or innovative. Even when first picking up the book, the reader is immediately met with the satisfying (or totally confusing for the non initiated) realization that the book is read from back to front in traditional Manga fashion. From that point on, if one forgets that the characters are beloved American creations, it seems like you are reading a straight out of Japan, hero Manga story. The Bat’s first foray feels totally fresh and new, almost like meeting Batman for the first time. Writer and artist Yoshinori Natsume has crafted a pretty remarkable piece of art here, which is made more significant due to the fact that its protagonist is one of the most loved and widely read characters in American literary history. The layout, the art, the writing - everything - is near perfect. I don’t want to go into plot because I think this is a book each and every single comic fan should read for themselves. A remarkable achievement and an all together amazing read, a book this good comes around only a few times in one’s life. I applaud both the creative talent and DC for the foresight to produce such a title. Stellar, stellar stuff. And, of course, the best part is, there’s three more issues to come
Titans #1: The first offering from creative team Judd Winick and Ian Churchill reunites the fan favorite Wolfman/Perez Teen Titans roster and I, for one, couldn’t be happier to see them again. Nightwing, Donna Troy (really? No name yet? Cmon folks), Red-Arrow, Raven, The Flash, Starfire and Beastboy are back and this time some of them are sporting facial hair (No… Not Raven). The run starts off pretty great, with Winick i, particular writing at top form. The Titans are all attacked by seemingly random “Baddies” - First Nightwing, then Kori, so on and so on reaching all the way to Robin’s Titans. Even worse, former “lesser” Titans are being attacked as well, even leading to some fatalities. This string of violent and surprise ambushes lead to the circumstantially unfortunate reunion of the Titans. This issue is really just about calling up the members, if you will. We are only given about a page or two with each, but that is fine because, if Winick’s previous work is any indication, this series will take a little while to kick off into full on action mode, which is fine, because it allows Judd to really build up the characters/stakes before letting all hell break loose. Churchill’s art is tight as ever and I am extremely happy he is getting to work on another book (His version of Supergirl remains my favorite). The last page brings a great surprise and reintroduction to an old enemy, and without going into spoilers, lets just say Ravager isn’t the only current Titan with daddy issues. Great read in what I think will be a great series. Check it out.
Honorable Mentions: Green Arrow and Black Canary # 7, JSA#14
Nova V.4 #12: If you haven’t picked up this book yet, you obviously haven’t been listening to me… and that hurts. Richard Ryder has recently, in my opinion, solidified himself as the “top” cosmic character that Marvel is currently offering. Forget Starlord and Captain Marvel, if you want to read the best intergalactic title this side of DC, Nova is the book for you. Somehow, Ryder is still alive, though the worldmind virus has nearly decimated his mind and body, along with countless alien worlds. Last issue’s inclusion of Warlock from the New Mutants was honestly one of my favorite comic moments in years, and this issue had a lot to live up to. Luckily, Dan Abnett and series runner Andy Lanning do not disappoint. Stranded on the tech-planet, Richard finds himself quickly up against an almost invulnerable foe in the form of Technarch, a massive and ancient robotic being. The battle that ensues is worth the price of admission alone. Though this issue is very plot-centric, it still is a very good addition to what has been one of my favorite comic runs in years. Nova is still one the best books Marvel puts out, and if you aren’t a reader you should be.
Avengers Fairy Tales #2: The fairy tale imprint may be around for a long while (judging my sales and critical response) so If you are unfamiliar with the line, this is a great chance to jump on before you miss the boat entirely. Issue 2, like all “Fairy Tale” books, is a standalone story that takes some of our most well known and beloved comic book icons, and puts them into the setting of a classic (or newly invented) fairy tale. This week, we are offered a retelling of the classic tale Pinocchio, starring Henry Pym as Geppeto and Vision as the robot who would be a boy. As per usual, C.B. Cebulski is writing intelligent, funny comics that I find refreshing in an age of doom and gloom. Artist Nuno Plati brings a unique, almost cartoon like quality to the pages and I think it matches perfectly with the tone and overall concept of the series. Every once in a while it’s nice to take a break from continuity heavy “super” comics and, so far, Avengers: Fairy Tales has provided that respite and then some. Great stuff.
Honorable Mentions: Punisher MAX #56, Fantastic Four #556
The Exterminators # 28 : Is this series really up to issue 28 already? My, time flies when you’re having fun. Or fighting an evil army of prehistoric insects bent on worlwide domination. Time flies then, too. Simon Oliver’s indie masterpiece (I think enough time has passed where we can officially call The Exterminators a masterpiece. It’s more then proven itself worthy) is still going strong and shows no signs of slowing. In this issue, drawn by fan favorite Tony Moore, Henry James and the boys of Bug-Be-Gone find themselves nearing closer and closer to a final confrontation with the forces of one time coworker - and new vessel for the ancient bug god - AJ, and the collective armies of Draxx. The action is extremely ramped up in what seems to be the near conclusion of this epic first arc. Henry and gang are holed up in the Bug-Be-Gone offices, barricaded in a back room, and with good reason; AJ has released the ancient forces bound on taking over the world and ushering in a new darkness. Read: Swarms of giant egyptian Hissers that seem to blot out the sun. The next issue of this book is going to be all out war and I’m pretty damn excited to see it. This book remains one of the sharpest and consistently great reads, and this week’s issue doesn’t betray that pedigree. Particularly the last few panels are worth a look, as I was both laughing and kinda freaked out when I read them. Here’s hoping that Oliver keeps up the fantastic work.
Honorable Mentions: The Goon # 23, B.P.R.D 194
6 #4, Groo Hell on Earth #4
Well, that’s all for today campers. But have no fear, I’ll be here next week for the newest chapter of the ongoing saga of Comics & Comics. So dry those tears, fix that hair, and as always,
“Keep em’ bagged and boarded”-
Matt Cohen is currently accusing himself of being a super, super Skrull. The best one in fact.
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