Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review: Jan 7, 2015

Happy New Year! What do we hope for at the beginning of a new year? I think the most common aspiration is for the New Year to be completely different from the old one. I can’t say that I disagree with that notion, but I am given a lot of hope with the advent of the growth of the comics industry. More and more independent titles are being chances to shine in the market place and as Marvel and DC fight for dominance of the silver screen, fans are taking notice of the “other guys” in the industry.

Let’s take a look at some of these titles.

 Image Comics

East of West #16


Amazing … just simply amazing. This book can’t disappoint. Its scale is truly epic … with the Endless nation now rising to assume power of its own the story has just accelerated to the point where I need to tell people to stop trying to look for back issues of this book and now find the trade version and read uninterrupted. I have sung the praises of this story in the past so much that I think I have to stop writing about it. Even though this was a December title, this made the anticipation of reading my pull list ever so sweet.

 IX Generation #1


This is a Top Cow/Image co-venture. It weaves the Aphrodite IX and Witchblade properties into a pretty good re-imagineering. Matt Hawkins scripts this book pretty darn well, and I’ve always been a bit envious of the guy’s talent. I just wish we could see more of his work. Drawn by “the Croatian Sensation” Stjepan Sejic, this book was definitely fun.

Marvel Comics

Ant-Man #1


I was not expecting this story to be so engaging. Writer Nick Spencer has drafted an amazing job of picking up where the Irredeemable Ant-Man left off. Ramon Rosanas‘s work is excellent and inviting. Together these two have done an excellent job of prepping the Marvel audience for the placement of Ant-Man in the regular 616 universe but also to whet their appetites for the coming of the MCU version with Paul Rudd. Yeah, Marvel has the formula for mixing endearing characters and films right. They proved that with Guardians of the Galaxy (though the film release could have been a bit faster) and I think they have it right with this comic. Good read.

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #1


I wanted this comic to succeed the moment I saw the title come up on the distribution list. Squirrel Girl has been such an awesome underdog character – comedic, yet not overly-exaggerated or over the top like Deadpool.  A true humorous masterpiece. The trick with this character is to treat her with moderation. She was typically presented as minor comic relief yet she was still able to rescue Power Man and Jessica Jones’ baby, defeat Thanos and manage to present herself as a serious hero.

This comic just didn’t do it.

Written by Ryan North, the dialogue was really juvenile. It was as if the character was re-tooled for a younger audience, yet the context of the story had a majorly complex antagonist in the form of Kraven for Doreen Green to contend with. Also, Squirrel Girl seems to be incapable of internal monologue and the reader is subjected to her inability to relate to regular people in a vain attempt to have a secret identity, despite the fact she has a large squirrel tail.

The cutesy, campy art by Erica Henderson totally missed the mark in presenting this character. Mike Deodato has drawn Squirrel Girl to look nimble and lean – like a squirrel. That’s a standard. Instead of that, we get a blockish looking figure that denies the athletic way this character has been presented as in the past.  Sad to say, this was a real disappointment to me.

 Wolverines #1


I honestly didn’t know what to expect with this comic, so obviously tinged with the overly commercial objective of cashing in on Wolverine’s recent death. However, I can’t say I was overly impressed. Written by Charles Soule and drawn by Nick Bradshaw, this is intended to be a weekly series.

I didn’t find a lot of depth in these new characters (Junk, Skel, Neuro Endo and Shogun) and I think I would have preferred a story that focused more on them and their background in creating a more solid team. Of course, there was probably more backstory to be considered from The Death of Wolverine series, but in any case, I just didn’t find this compelling.


Men of Wrath #4


You know what makes irredeemable characters great?


There’s a tiny bit of redemption in this story. If you’ve been following it, there’s a tradition of violence that seems to be handed down generation to generation in the Rath family; a father to son curse that one generation deems determined to break – but can’t. So while there is not a huge amount of redemption, there’s just a dash, to keep the character from being predictable. I am loving this book and you will too. Strong, compelling characters that make you want to hang on their every word, just to see where they will take you. This story is a great ride that really gets your heart pumping. It’s definitely an extreme series of terrible, reactionary events that shock or sicken you. Then they are heightened by a sliver of goodness that makes you catch your breath. This book is definitely earning its way into my list of favourites.

Dynamite Comics

Shaft #2


It’s good to see this character interpreted a little more maturely than the “black-ploitation” character of the 70’s. But this is Shaft becoming Shaft. The story delves a little into his memories of Vietnam as well as growing up in the urban jungle. David F. Walker does a great job of relating the two backgrounds together as the crucible that forges John Shaft into the calculating and cool hero of the streets that we know.

Damn right.

John Carter: Warlord of Mars #3


Ron Marz has got this classic story’s number. Anything that continues the adventures of Edgar rice Burroughs’ timeless adventurer to Barsoom works for me. But I have to give similar credit to Abhisek Malsuni’s art for bringing these characters to life – particularly Princess Dejah Thoris. This is nothing short of 19th century pulp sci-fi fun brought to life again in comic pages. I’m a big fan of this book and it’s definitely worth adding to your own lists.

A pretty good list this week, but there can only be one. The pick for this week’s pull has to go to:

Ant-Man #1

Now, I’ve never been a fan of Ant-Man – whatever incarnation, but I have to say this re-introduction of Scott Lang made a thorough impression on me. I like to read about flawed heroes and see them overcome their greatest threats: themselves. That’s what Lang is; he’s an imperfect character with real integrity and moral issues, yet he recognizes within himself the capacity to do good for external reasons. The most important of these is his daughter. I love that this guy goes to job interviews in his costume because he doesn’t have a suit; I love that his ex-wife thinks that he’s a complete loser yet his daughter completely idolizes him. He has to beg Tony Stark for a job in order to maintain his relationship with her.

Oh … and he has super powers.

This is a rich character-driven story that deals more with the internal factors of personal development and redemption. To see somebody better himself is what my job as a teacher is all about and I am really entertained by stories with characters who have that need.

What’s 2015 going to be like? Well, I can’t answer for you, but I know that for me, it’s going to be a super-heroic year of great promise. Whether it’s on the big screen or it’s in pages, comic literature is going to be a part of that optimistic perspective. In either case, I’m looking forward to seeing how the year unfolds. Hope you are too.

Just continue to read comics!

About Captain John K. Kirk

Captain John K. Kirk
John Kirk is an English and History teacher and librarian in Toronto, Canada. In addition to the traditional curriculum, John tries to teach his students to make sense of geek culture. And with the name "J. Kirk," it's hard for him to not inject "Star Trek" into his lessons. Comics, RPGs and the usual fanboy gear make up his classroom resources.

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