New beginnings are always important in life. I’m not really one for change though, so I’m probably running the risk of sounding hypocritical here, yet I see the dividends in my friends’ lives when they decide upon this course of action. However, it has to be carefully planned out; It’s not just about a split-second or wanton course of action, but a new beginning has to be meticulously decided in order for it to have the benefits I’m talking about.
That’s what I’m looking for in this week’s list of comics. Let’s get to the list.
New Mutants: Dead Souls #4
I have a nostalgic soft-spot for these characters. The New Mutants were a new beginning in themselves back in the 80’s when it was thought that the X-Men were lost. If you weren’t around to read these stories when they came out, it was a harrowing moment for Professor Xavier as he thought that he would have to face his demons and start again with new students who needed him. But remember, this was at a time when mutants were still rare in their appearance.
Still, now there are too many. Yet there still needs to be a role for this team and sure enough, Mathew Rosenberg and Adam Gorham have found it: acting as paranormal investigators for former New Mutant leader, Karma, who seems to have her own agenda.
We learn some of this in this issue. It’s a bit of a reality twister as we try to understand what has happened. But we see insights into Illyana Rasputin’s character that I never would have appreciated before this title. As for new beginnings, well, let’s just hope that we get see more of these insights into characters that were well-loved from the start.
Another work from Gail Simone as she and artists, David Baldeon and Anthony Piper continue the story arc titled “Killer Instinct”. We are on issue #3 of this title as Domino is tortured by two mysterious assailants who seem to bear a grudge her way, and we still haven’t figured out what their motives are.
I did enjoy the flashback to Domino’s incarceration at the mutant research facility, where we see what type of a lifestyle she was forced to endure. Yet, I can’t help but remember back to the first times when we met Domino back in the late 80’s and I seem to recall her as a lot tougher than this. Simone’s Domino has to be the softest-hearted mercenary I’ve ever read.
I always thought the Punisher could use an upgrade. A new suit of armour and the Punisher has a new way to accomplish his goal. However, despite his new situation, his plan still hasn’t changed.
I’ve decided that I like the War Criminal Punisher. Despite what the world has thrown against him, he still has a job to do and he’s not about to let anything get in the way. I also enjoy that Matthew Rosenberg shows us that he is fallible. His tactical brilliance aside, he can still be ambushed, tricked and set up. The fight scene between him, Taskmaster, Ghost and Crossbones is a great sequence and reminds us that Frank Castle may have gotten a new suit of armour, but his single-mindedness can still lead him to miss things.
What a great character. The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Old Man Logan #41
A hunt … with Kraven at the back of you makes for a very exciting story.
Even though this is a Logan at the end of his life, it’s still a new beginning in that this is a new stage for him. We all go through various stages of our lives and Logan is reconciling himself to this one, in his own way. I feel like every decade has a new overall challenge for me, and to be honest, a man of my age still reading, reviewing and reporting on comics is not where I saw myself when I was younger. However, do I love it? Yes, but it’s a challenge to stay fresh and open-minded and not reactionary.
It’s the same with Ed Brisson’s interpretation of this character. He shows us that despite his age and condition, Logan is not about “to go gentle into that good night”. He’s still a fighter, and Brisson does a great job in presenting this character in this way. Francesco Manna needs to get some appreciation for his work as well. Great stylings and his Kraven is awesome.
I thoroughly enjoy how Kraven also recognizes that. In fact, this is probably the best story in this series because it does more than simply acknowledge Logan’s age, it celebrates it. It’s a lesson for all of us that despite your age and infirmity, you spirit can never be quashed, unless you decide it to be so.
Great book … I’m a convert to this series.
A new start for Jason Aaron. Anything this guy writes is great and in fact, as Thor has once more become what he previously was: The God of Thunder. A return is as good as a new beginning.
This is a good thing. As much as Jane Foster is a worthy Thor in her own right, the mantle of Thor needs to belong to one person. It’s like making somebody else Spider-Man instead of Peter Parker, or someone else Iron Man instead of Tony Stark.
Oh … right. I’m being reactionary.
Well, when it comes to mythological subjects, maybe I’m a little sensitive; after all, it is a subject within one my areas of study. But, I just have a hard time seeing anyone else but the Son of Odin as the Thunderer. It’s a part of me as much as having someone else play William Shatner as Captain Kirk.
There I go again.
In any event, as my resistance to change indicates, it’s good to have the Odinson back as the God of Thunder. He clearly fits a niche that fans have been clamouring for and It’s also a relief to have someone like Jason Aaron back at the helm.
In this issue, we see Asgardia in ruins and Thor and the rest of the Aesir trying to rebuild their shattered kingdom and recover their lost treasures. Of course, Thor has been sent on quest after quest to recover them, which takes him to all places of Midgard, including a confrontation with a favourite villain of mine, the Juggernaut. There’s humour, regret and adjustment as Thor regains his status, yet not the worthiness to wield Mjolnir again.
One of the interesting metaphors I caught in this issue was the fragmented state of Bifrost, the rainbow bridge. One of the tasks of the Aesir is to recover the missing bits of the bridge in order to rebuild it. It’s also a reflection of the diminished reading of this book, fomenting the need to reboot it with a new #1 issue and to reclaim all those missing readers. With Aaron at the helm, that’s a brilliant first step.
However, I wasn’t too jazzed by Mike Del Mundo’s work on this book. Perhaps it was the colouring (sorry, Marco D’Alfonso) but it seemed puffy, inflated and lacked the definition that I’m comfortable with. But hey – that’s just my taste and that doesn’t say anything about the talent and prowess of the professionals involved; it just means that I didn’t like it. See for yourself and make your own judgement.
Still, I have missed Thor. I have always enjoyed him, his love for Midgard and the sense of noblesse oblige that, at times, had a comedy element to it that was always a joy to read. I think that Aaron is the right guy to bring that level of enjoyment back to the title and this will be a pleasure to pick up every month. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.
The Magic Order #1
This is a special issue for Mark Millar. Not only is it a brilliantly imaginative new story, but it also is the first comic Millarworld has published since they were bought by Netflix. So, kudos to Mark as he continues to re-invent himself. So much for being “just a comic guy”, huh?
I’m mesmerized by this book. I’ve always enjoyed stories about secret organizations, and this one follows in the same vein as The Kingsmen, but from a supernatural bent. It’s the responsibility of the Moonstone family to protect the world from all sorts of magical threats, yet what if the next generation of the Moonstone family doesn’t want the responsibility? It doesn’t take away the fact that the world still needs saving.
But there are good, family reasons for why the youngest son doesn’t want to take on the forced responsibility. As a dad himself, Millar knows that there are reasons why the world will just have to find another sacrifice.
Fellow Canadian Olivier Coipel provides scintillating art for this book. It’s a true tour de force as we have entrancing (no pun intended) art, combined with talented writing. The Magic Order is definitely going to have my attention.
I think this new iteration of Kick-Ass scares me more than the previous one. For me, the idea of a kid wanting to be a super-hero was a very trite yet completely understandable premise. But in this new beginning, Patience Lee is a Kick-Ass who really just wants to do the right thing. Providing for her family by taking the ill-gotten wealth of criminals is a noble aspiration for a super-hero wanna-be, but she’s more a super-hero has-to-be.
Patience was willing to risk her life in the Middle-East, but that was out of service to her country. When she got back, her tactical skills were no longer in need. Yet they were the things she was best at. However, it puts her family in proximity to the line of fire. It’s a terrifying prospect.
Sure enough, it just takes one clever person to figure out who she is and Mark Millar and John Romita, jr. have brought that fear to life.
New beginnings aren’t all positive and this one is now a terrifying life-or-death struggle. I’m riveted to the spot reading this book and am both terrified and excited at reading the next issue.
Meredith Finch is another person whose re-invention of herself has my admiration. While she used to manage her husband’s art, and is a dedicated wife and mum, Meredith found her way to writing and now she is the successful author of not only prized characters in DC and Dynamite books, but she is also the creator of Rose, and that’s a beginning that deserves recognition and respect.
Rose is a great title; a story of a young woman who has a unique destiny, she becomes the last hope for peace in her land. A true high-fantasy tale, Rose is the centre of a rebellion that requires her, and her bonded companion Khat, Thorne, to discover who they are in order to allow the kingdom of Ttereve to begin again.
Redemption and forgiveness are more formidable agents of positive change than a lot of people – myself included – realize. There’s a lot of these forces in this book. Rose is an agent of forgiveness, for the land, for the queen’s servants who have asked for it and for those people who have chided themselves for sitting on the sidelines until now. It’s a story where change can happen, but it requires conviction for it to have a real effect. Sure enough, that’s where Rose shines. The desire to see things through – that’s a lesson for us all to learn as we grow and change.
The first issue of a new or rebooted series, in this case, is always something to be interested in. It’s either a classic re-visit to a beloved franchise or it’s a new interpretation of a favourite title that manages to take readers by surprise. Off the top of my head, I can only think of a handful of titles that have succeeded wildly when an old title gets more of the same treatment but I can think of a dozen that fail when there is an abandonment from the original values of the book. Like I said, new beginnings have to be very well-thought out for them to make a positive impact.
Robert Venditti is the writer tackling this task. Titled “What’s Past Is Prologue” starts off with a recognition of the rich history behind this staple DC character. The beginning enticingly draws you in with a brilliant combination of factual and fictional history, seamlessly blending the history of the sentient Gorillas in the DC Universe with the trade routes of the Greek seafarers. It’s very imaginative and also establishes Carter Hall as not just a man of action, but a man of history. This is a well-thought out blend of a traditional and revised perspective of this character and it’s an excellent new beginning, in my opinion.
Bryan Hitch provides the pencilling on this book. I haven’t been kind to Hitch’s writing in the past, but I have to say that I enjoy his art.
Not only does Venditti acknowledge the rich history behind this character, but he has added his own little twist on the story that will make this rendition of Hawkman more exciting and essential to the DC universe than before. This new beginning is a winner in my book.
Plastic Man #1
Another new beginning! I’ve always loved Plastic Man. I’ve always believed that his own special “break-the-fourth-wall” perspective was the forerunner for present successful superheroes like Deadpool. Just with a lot less swearing and killing, I suppose.
Gail Simone provides us with this story, backed up by the artwork of Adriana Melo – who, I have to say, I have just subscribed myself to her legion of fandom.
… about three minutes ago, actually.
Plastic Man has always been a fun character. In this book, Simone shows us his carefree attitude mixed with an amount of guilt for his criminal past. It goes far to help in allowing the reader to become re-acquainted with him. The dialogue is snappy and relaxed, which either shows Gail’s ability to make writing look easy or that she’s had a lot of fun re-inventing this character. She’s brought in Eel O’Brien’s shady criminal past while at the same time giving him a new purpose. Tinged with a degree of humour that she clearly enjoys writing, she’s done a great job with this particular new beginning.
Mister Miracle #9
Probably the best re-invention of a classic character in a long time. Mitch Gerads and Tom King have shown us an example of an excellent partnership in working out the story on this particular New God. The cornerstone of King’s writing has always been family relationships. You can see it in his work on Batman but as we see Big Barda and Scott Free wrestle with their obligations to New Genesis and their new family, it becomes even more so apparent.
It’s a comment on our society. Even though things get incredibly crazy in trying to maintain a job, the demands of a family and of our identities in an increasingly busy western world, it’s the bonds of family that remind us of what the truly important things in life are. Even though this series is a new beginning for this character, it’s a reminder of how much our values should stay the same, or else, what else are we struggling for?
But what if you could accomplish everything you wanted to in this crazy world, at the expense of everything you were trying to accomplish it for?
That’s the conundrum in this issue and it’s one that is based on Tom King’s incredible writing source and forces a reader to consider what it is that he or she would give up. I was completely taken off-guard by the end of this issue. It was a staggering finish that makes this the number one re-invention of a classic character. In fact, I’d even venture to say that this is probably DC’s best comic right now. King is a goldmine.
He’s also a goldmine for me, as I decry this title to be the pick of the week. It’s almost a given that King gets the nod from me with his titles, but Mister Miracle is a truly unique title that has even attracted the attention of television shows like Late Night with Seth Meyers. In fact, at the time of this writing, Tom will be on the show as a guest.
Still, Tom is long overdue for a chat with me. I’m pleased to see his ever-growing success, and as a comics journalist, I want to know more about it as possible!
Congratulations, Tom. Your devotion to your craft has brought you a great deal of acclaim. Now you’ve got television appearances and while it’s a re-invention of the Mister Miracle character, it’s also a re-invention of Tom King, in a way that’s only known to you, until we talk, that is.
That’s it for this week. May the best of new beginnings find everyone as you embrace a new comic book Wednesday!