This time on Heroes and Villains, we’ll be looking at a variety of comics out this week and last, from a variety of genres and companies. Meet me after the jump for my thoughts on Lazaretto #1, The Black Sable #1, Robot Western #1, Secret Empire #10, Generations: The Archers #1, Wonder Woman #29, the Supergirl Annual#1, and more… be warned, there may be spoilers…
This comic has been called Animal House meets Lord of the Flies in the hype, but I don’t really think that does it justice. We see a typical first day of college, nothing we haven’t seen before, but well done by Clay McLeod Chapman and Jey Levang. Anyone however who actually knows what the word ‘lazaretto’ means knows that there’s something sinister going on beneath that façade. There’s a super-virus afoot and infecting the students slowly with devastating results. This is a wait and see book, but it’s so well done that I’m going to recommend it. Definitely thumbs up, but don’t eat before reading.
This comic introduces us to a new character and new concept in the Zenescope universe. In the future world of space travel and human expansion, a new age of piracy has risen, and at its forefront, the Black Sable. Everything we love about pirates, space opera, and sexy Zenescope heroines is blended together here in a gritty, graphic, and galactic romp. Another home run, check it out.
Son Comics’ Robot Western is exactly what it sounds like – it’s a western, with robots. All the clichés in character and situation are here, only set apart from repetition by the substitution of robots for the human characters, a robotic update to the atmosphere, and vibrant and stunning art. This was a surprise as I was expecting very little from this title, and was knocked out of my seat by it. Give this one a look, you won’t regret it. Issue two is underway and should be released shortly.
Thank King Kirby this nightmare is finally over! But is it really? No matter what, in my opinion the character of Captain America has been irreversibly damaged, but let’s take a look at Secret Empire #10 regardless. As a whole I think this series has been diminished by Nick Spencer’s declining writing and the uneven art and work of multiple artists, but this final issue ends the story with a whimper rather than a bang, and if nothing else, such an epic should have had a bigger pay-off. Yes, the good guys win, maybe, and we may have even gotten some semblance of our old Captain America back, but the general feeling is not a good one. As a reader, I felt soiled, and harmed.
The resolution is one full of deus ex machina as many predicted way back when this all started. The Cosmic Cube started this, and it will finish it and reset it all at the end. But like a bad joke, this plot needs to be explained by various characters before it’s clear to the readers – breaking a major writing rule: Show, don’t tell. It feels like Spencer just gave up a couple issues into Secret Empire and had fully run out of steam by the end. Once one sorts through all the Civil War re-stagings by artist Steve McNiven, and gets to the battle between the two Caps, I, as a reader, have run out of steam too. Would the Avengers really have stood down, with the fate of the planet and the human race at stake, and let them fight it out?
We are left with so many questions. Is the Black Widow truly dead? If Kobik granted trips through time for so many heroes, why couldn’t she bring the Widow back? And what happens to the Nazi, ahem, excuse me, Hydra Captain America (who I might add is the real deal, not a Cosmic Cube-created duplicate, right?), does he go to jail? Saying I did not like this is not telling anyone anything they did not know before, but one big question remains – in the upcoming ongoing series, can even Mark Waid and Chris Samnee save Captain America?
Generations: The Archers gives us a peek at one of Kobik’s gifts to various Marvel heroes (a vague and weird out of context motivation for such meetings), in this case, a way for the two Hawkeyes, Kate Bishop and Clint Barton to meet each other in their primes. Stranded on an island (shades of Green Arrow, it even sort of resembles a starfish!), the two must fend off various old school villains like Boomerang, Crossfire, Taskmaster, Bullseye, and one of my favorite villain/anti-hero/Avengers, the Swordsman. I loved this comic, good story, sharp art, and an excellent meeting of the two heroes done as well as such meetings should be done. This is my first Generations comic, and I hope the rest are this good, recommended.
DC Comics seems to be launching super-villain teams in the two books I’m looking at this week. There’s no introduction or what-has-gone-before in Wonder Woman #29, so I have to guess about quite a lot here as we open with our heroine and Etta fighting off some familiar and not so familiar foes – like Cheshire, Plastique, Cat Eye, Abolith, and a couple others. Wonder Woman has the stiff speech of a stranger to our land, and Steve Trevor tries to be an action hero, so there’s two strikes against this comic, three if you count not introducing the villains and situation. This is made up for with a philosophical discussion of whether Diana’s DNA could be used to cure diseases. It did perk my interest, but I can’t fully recommend it, this time. I had higher hopes for a Wonder Woman comic.
Last week’s Supergirl Annual introduced a new, present day, version of the super-villain group whose name should send shivers down the spine of any Legion of Super-Heroes fans – the Fatal Five. With currently no Legion on the shelves for quite some time, and appearance of a version of their greatest foes is better than nothing, but something tells me they may be returning, let’s hope. This Fatal Five is composed of golden age zombie Solomon Grundy; Magog from Kingdom Come; Supergirl’s Brainiac foe, Indigo, her cinematic nemesis who was played by Faye Dunaway waaay back in the girl of steel’s movie debut, Selena; and led by a different 20th century version of the Emerald Empress. She’s deceived them in battling Supergirl, and may just win this one.
Now I have to confess, I don’t think I have read a Supergirl comic since the days of Superman Family, or her death in Crisis if that counts, so this was all new to me. I appreciated that her continuity was adjusted in Rebirth to be closer to her TV status quo, so I did catch on to what was happening pretty quickly, unlike Wonder Woman above. I liked this comic a lot. I loved Supergirl’s battle with the Fatal Five (have always wanted to see her fight Grundy), and loved the integration of the TV series into the comics, and especially the introduction of Selena into the comics. This was great stuff, definitely recommended. And for more on who and what this new Fatal Five really is, check out Peter LoCasto’s post at the Legion of Super-Bloggers right here, and Anj‘s review of the comic here.
Also on shelves this week are Stray #1 by Vito Delsante as the sidekick-turned-hero makes his way back to the Actionverse, the new all-ages comic Star Wars Adevntures #1, and the second issue of Robyn Hood: The Hunt. Trades you should look for include The Black Beetle: Kara Bocek, Kong of Skull Island Volume Two, the Mouse Guard Alphabet Book, and the Star Trek: The Original Series Adult Coloring Book – Where No Man Has Gone Before, all cool stuff.