Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 01/23/2019

I think the driving force in a successful story is the amount of curiousity it can inspire in the reader. Comics aren’t an exception to that notion. However, in many respects they have a disadvantage than other media formats. With only 20 to 30 pages per issue, they have a substantially less amount of opportunity to inspire that reader, to give him or her more questions to ask and to look for as they explore the plot. So, that’s what we’re looking for in this week’s comic list. Without any further delay, let’s get to it, shall we?

TKO Studios

Sara #1

Now, this isn’t exactly a pick for this week, but I just became aware of this first issue in a mini-series of six. I also understand the publishing house – TKO Studios – is new too. So, clearly, there are lots of questions there that will have to wait until another day.

This is a story by Garth Ennis and Steve Epting. Both are creators whose work I’ve followed for years and this book really hits on the faculties of both creators. Epting is a master at drawing combat. His Captain America stuff is amazing. I know … I own some of his original work. Garth Ennis is a military history megabrain and this story about Soviet female snipers in World War II is not only captivating but a draw for all those like-minded military buffs to read a fictional account of what it must have been like in the wartime USSR.

Of course, I’m sure that Ennis would say that it could never match the actual experiences, but this is a pretty damn close approximation, I’m sure. Given Ennis’s attention to detail and in his stories, he leaves us with more than just curiosity, but a near-academic reason to read this book and learn what he knows of that time.

I love the characterization of Sara, our lead figure in this story. She is methodical, stoic and solitary. Even when she is in company with her fellow snipers, she still retains a degree of separations and a stern, silent way of manifesting a degree of potential leadership. I want to know more about her background; why she became a sniper, her training and even how her proficiency stacks up in comparison to her comrades.

I’m a World War II buff myself and I studied Russian History in university and even some of the language. Russia is a place of great fascination for me, so this hits the historical and comic-loving side of my personality.

It’s a great story and I’m also curious to learn more about TKO and how they were able to snag such amazing talents on one of their debut comics.

DC Comics

Batman #63

“Knightmares – Part 3” and I’m dying to know just exactly what sort of crazy dream-trip is the Batman on? More importantly, who’s doing this to him?

Tom King is partnered back with Mikel Janin again as they continue to delve deeper into Batman’s dreaming, unconscious mind. Surely but slowly, it’s becoming apparent that Batman is under some sort of an attack. It isn’t clear who from and while there are a few more details dropped in this book, revealed by our good friend, John Constantine, they still aren’t enough to give us the full picture. Hence, the need to keep reading this book.

King has a penchant for long reveals. It’s definitely his style, but it also sells hardcover compilations. The longer this story goes, the better it’ll be for a hardcover. Which I completely love, by the way. While I love the comic medium, sometimes I just want to completely binge on a story.

It answers more questions that way, am I right?

Freedom Fighters #2


I had a lot of questions left over from the first issue, which even though I loved the premise of that book, it really didn’t answer any of my questions. So, I’m looking for some of those answers with this read.

It’s a coincidence that the last DC title was one about nightmares and one of the lines of exposition from this book that caught me was “they are the Freedom Fighters and they’re living the American nightmare”. It’s so true. For a nation that prizes individual liberty, it’s a poignant line and I wonder if it was intentionally added, especially given the politics of the day?

Just a question.

I need more background. I mean, the last issue saw the death of the original Freedom Fighters in the 1940’s and the subsequent occupation of the United States by a victorious Nazi Germany. We see Uncle Sam disappear after the faith leaves the USA and he gives up. We get a brief introduction to the new Freedom Fighters, fifty, sixty years later, so where did these new Freedom Fighters come from?

Well, that’s the first question, isn’t it? But then there’s the fact that we’ve only had about 50 – 60 pages in the last two months to get a sense of this story. We need to wait for an answer.

So, it’s a heck of a set-up. Robert Venditti and Eddy Barrows are heading in the right direction with this book. By giving us just a little bit of information in the very beginning, we get enough to whet our appetites.

I think next issue is prime for an origin story; that’s the biggest question on my mind about this book right now.

Marvel Comics

Friendly Neighbourhood Spider-Man #2

Tom Taylor and Juann Cabal give us another alternate perspective on the Amazing Spider-Man, but as I mentioned the last time I talked about this title, it’s not so much of another view, but a re-visiting of the basic concepts of Spider-Man that made him a hero in the first place.

The question that I posed – and that was answered last time – was why bother? Well, the answer is fairly straightforward: for those who feel in love with Spider-Man back in the 60’s, it was because he was a simple character with motivations that every outsider kid reading this book could relate to.

The simple fact here is that in his 50 years, Spider-Man is no longer the simple kid we could grow with. We grew up, so did he. Peter Parker has died, been cloned, married, had kids, built a technology company and been to other dimensions. He’s seen more than what we could imagine. Is he the same character? No.

Tom Taylor brings us back to those values and to that character and makes him that person again. Will his experiences show up in this story? I’m sure they will but in the meantime, Taylor is exploring new concepts and storylines with the perspective of that original Peter Parker.

Will we like it? Well, I guess that’s the big question here. For my part, I find it refreshing. I can’t ignore all the continuity that has been created and yeah, I’m a little wary of any sort of canonical errors that might rise up, but it’s the return to those original character values that has earned my praise. I mean, after all, what would Peter Parker do?

War is Hell #1

If you’ve ever spoken with, or interviewed Howard Chaykin, you know that you’re always going to get an answer to any question you might have about his work. In fact, you may even get more than what you anticipated!

Chaykin’s a veteran comic writer and seeing him in a Marvel book is a bit of a surprise. He’s worked for Marvel before but my question would be: why is he back with Marvel, given as most of his recent work has been through Image Comics? The obvious answer would be money and I’m sure Chaykin would admit that first. But it’s my thought that the creator-owned model of publishing would give him the creative control he seems to prefer. I could be wrong, but that’s the dominant question I have for this book.

It’s a short story – the first in the book – titled “Swing Verboten” about a Luftwaffe pilot who likes jazz and has a bit of an abrupt ending. I can’t say it’s his best work, but it’s Chaykin – I’ll take anything I can get of this guy’s work.

The second story is titled “War Devil”, by Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Alberto Alburquerque, provides us with a nerve-wracking examination of PTSD explained through mythological means. It’s really quite a brilliant little piece and really builds on the clear purpose of this book, namely a throwback to the “weird war” stories that were popular in the 1950’s before the crackdown on comic censorship.

All in all, this is a great start for this title. As a war history buff, I’ll definitely be looking for it next month.

Image Comics

Oliver #1

I’m fascinated by this title. It has all the elements needed to inspire a healthy curiosity about what promises to be a thoroughly captivating story. We have an apparent post-apocalyptic England; a pregnant woman ready to deliver a unique child with a mysterious origin and a group of characters who also have their own special circumstances for the reader to figure out as well.

Darick Robertson and Gary Whitta are the creative-powers-that-be behind this book. They give us a world that’s entirely familiar; I mean, to any devoted and longstanding comic reader, a post-apocalyptic world is not a strange place. Also, the notion of a child being a “chosen one” of sorts is also a well-known idea. But, the presence of these notions gives the reader permission to access the text comfortably and to ask questions. For example, when you look at the book titles on the spines in a library, you see that Oliver’s guardians are enlightened, though not Human. I want to know more about that background.

I’d also like to ask questions about the influences. There are so many that I can guess at, but things like Dickens, Shakespeare – titles that we see in the library and referenced in the exposition; those are universal influences. Derived from authors who understood the underbelly and guts of humanity, these are influences that highlight the humanity in this story. Oliver’s guardians are more than human, but not entirely. Yet, the same idea applies to Oliver. While we know of his guardians’ origins, we still have to learn more about the nature of his humanity.

See? So many questions and so few pages.

Reading comics with questions like these is an exercise in patience. Unless it’s a hardcover you can binge on, you have to patiently wait for each issue to drop. Luckily, I’m a patient man. I can afford to wait.

Oliver #1 is the pick of the week for this week’s round-up. It’s a source of great curiousity for sure, but it has the makings of a fantastic story that’s sure to be a memorable classic in people’s long-boxes.

We don’t ask questions unless we feel brave enough and we sense the need. with its familiar setting, inviting characters who we immediately care about, this is the comic of the week that I’m the most curious to see develop.

Until next week, may all your questions be answered by long and enjoyable hours of comic-reading!

Pick of the Week: Oliver #1

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.