Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 08/14/2019

There are big things in the world, bigger than you or me, but the question is: where do we fit in all of it? Luckily, the fluidity of the comic medium allows us to explore these concepts. Yeah – I know, it seems like a bit of an exaggeration, but comics do allow us a safe distanced perspective to be able to fit these ideas into our world vision and help us to make sense of things bigger than us.

Let’s get to the list for this week.

Marvel Comics

Conan the Barbarian: Exodus #1

Esad Ribic tackles both artist and writer roles in this latest iteration of more of Marvel’s exploration of the Conan character. Don’t get me wrong: I love as much Conan as can be thrown at me. The character is a timeless classic and the essential swords ‘n’ sorcery figure to know. But I’m worried about saturating too much of the market with this title. After all, there are two other Conan titles this month and I think I’ve included a Conan title in my review round-up for the last few weeks.

Sometimes too much of a good thing is one of those big concepts we need to learn to deal with and in my experience, I’ve always found that moderation is best.

Still, this is a great book. Ribic is light on dialogue and exposition but he makes up for it with his art which is a model in sequential art. At his heart, Conan is not just an adventurer – he’s someone who adventures find. He’s literally a force of nature in that self-interest is his driving force and if wealth, pleasure and comfort should come out of whatever befalls him, then so much the better.

Sure enough, in the first few pages, Conan goes from eating raw rats to finding water, weapons and eventually a meal that he can cook and enjoy. The “silent bear-kill” scene is intensely powerful.

Conan is life incarnate and I thoroughly enjoy how Ribic has effectively taken the measure of this eternally enjoyable character.

Doctor Strange #17

Again … gigantic concepts bigger than what most mortals should have to contend with and yet Stephen Strange is right there in the middle of it all!

Part Six of “Herald Supreme” sees Barry Kitson and Mark Waid tagteam on storytelling duties for this book. Strange is between the threshold of universes; one that stands next door to the fledgling our universe has been reduced to after he neutralized Galactus’s link to the Dread Dimension and the power of Dormammu. When Galactus brought all of that creative energy into him, Strange had expected him to expel it, thus righting the cosmic imbalance and restoring the universe.

However, … and this is where big concepts can get annoying, particularly when they don’t work out the way we hapless mortals want them to … the power was contained and is waiting yet to be born.

As decision-making processes go, Strange acquits himself wonderfully. He’s a surgeon and he knows how to prioritize, assess and triage injuries like its his second nature. Is it any surprise that he employs those skills in this situation, despite the fact that the implications are overpoweringly intimidating?

What a great representation from a character. This was a fun book and I’m definitely thinking about the end of the universe after this.

Fantastic Four #13

Dan Slott and Sean Izaakse continue this incredible example of a hero who not only completely knows the right thing to do, he also knows where he fits in the universe. That man is Benjamin J. Grimm – the blue-eyed, ever-lovin’ Thing. Outmatched by the Puppet-Master’s control over the Hulk, the Thing has to fight to save his new bride from the maddened actions of her twisted father.

Dan Slott gives us a hero who can’t be denied. The odds are stacked against Ben Grimm but Slott’s presentation of him shows us that he understands the condition of the noble heart. We all need to aspire to that one moment in time when we can all show our true greatness. Maybe it’s that moment that will help us to make sense of those big ideas in life.

DC Comics

Titans: Burning Rage #1

This is old-school comic styling from Dan Jurgens and Scot Eaton. It’s a fantastic story of the Titans completely up-to-date but done in the way that comics should be done. Great plotting, wonderful execution and revamps a classic storyline that is not only faithful to the original but makes this a worthy introduction to new readers of the Teen Titans.

When the villain, the Disruptor, seeks to steal a dangerous piece of technology from STAR Labs, it’s the Teen Titans, as well as the hopelessly ill-equipped Police who are there to defend them, But, that’s what I like about this issue: the idea that the heroes can’t help along with the cops give validity to their struggle. It shows the villain’s strength, but their defeat shows a slight chance of overcoming the villain’s plans in the end.

That’s what makes a good comic: the elongation of the struggle and Jurgens gets that. This was my favourite DC comic this week.

Event Leviathan #3

Okay … this is working on me now. I get where Bendis is heading but in the beginning, I had some difficulty with the story. It’s becoming clearer now that I’ve allowed the first couple of issues to sink in. I just have a bit of difficulty with following Alex Maleev’s art sometimes in trying to make sense of the sequential action. This isn’t a criticism … just my own inability to follow it, I guess.

I think I look for the relationships in a story and given that those are an integral part of understanding characters, I don’t think that was emphasized enough in the beginning, more implied.

However, given that we fully understand that this is a conglomeration of the best detectives the DC Universe can offer, the seriousness of the team acts as an incentive to understand the plot more.

It was tough, but with the dynamics of the relationships accelerating the story, the book has become more understandable. Stick with it and I’m sure you’ll experience the same insight that I did.

IDW Publishing

Road of Bones #4

As the Soviet prisoners make their way across the frozen terrain, they are haunted by two evils.

The first, is mind-crushing, privation level of starvation.

The second dwells in the realm of the supernatural.

Between the two, I honestly don’t know which is worse. When you consider the political climate this story is set in – and trust me, given Soviet history was one of my areas of specialization in school – this is definitely not only wholly interesting, but completely relevant as a source of story ideas about forces that are more powerful than just human daily concerns.

What I love about this book is the intersection of the supernatural and the irresistible driving momentum of history. The Soviet regime had a more despicable effect upon Russian society than anything the Nazis could throw at them. Given the USSR was the nation that suffered the most at Nazi German hands in World War II, that’s saying a lot.

But when a society’s restrictions impose on one if its citizens a choice between cannibalism and imprisonment in one of the most inhospitable regions of the world for a petty crime, then people must make dreadful choices. It’s a harsh story, and while it may be limited in character dialogue, it’s still a book that must be read for the dimensions of horror and the inhumanity that is evinced during this time. It’s like being witness and acknowledging the horrors of the time.

Lots of big issues to work through in this story. It’s got a lot of meat, that’s for sure. Rich Douek and Alex Cormack have a winner story here.

Star Trek: Year Five #4


You know, “A Piece of the Action” was never one of the TOS episodes that made my list of good, dramatic Star Trek stories. It was always a funny one, and in fact, I think it’s on every significantly curated list of humorous Trek episodes, but that was about it in my opinion.

Star Trek: Year Five began with a more serious overtone and the change in mood with a visit to the planet Sigma Iotia II and a return to the same sort of story throws the reader off balance; at least a reader with that sort of expectation in mind.

It isn’t a bad story. Brandon Easton manages to insert the same sort of tone in the book that one would have found in the episode. That takes a degree of skill to replicate and provide that sense of Trek you want in a comic adaptation.

Martin Coccolo’s art is astonishingly good. I found I really enjoyed the amount of background detail in the panels and that’s an intense level of work. Very active background that doesn’t detract from the central story. I’d like to see more of his work in the future.

Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim #1

Walt Simonson makes this book the Pick of the Week. If it’s too hard for us mere mortals to understand our place in the universe then imagine how difficult and complicated it must be for gods?

This book actually came out a couple of weeks ahead of this week’s list, but for some reason it wasn’t in the IDW review package. I honestly wish I’d have been able to read it a lot earlier because this is a book that not only I have waited for in drooling anticipation, but I regard this story as probably the best thing that Simonson has ever created. This is his magnum opus right here, folks.

Simonson delves into his own love of Norse Mythology and uses that for the rich basis of the second iteration of this tale. Thor is still trying to make sense of the combined Nine Realms after the last battle of the Norse Gods, in which he is the only one of the Aesir who has survived, albeit in a half-undead form known as a Draugr.

We begin this book finding Thor in mourning his beloved family at a funeral pyre. Then, out of nowhere, he hears a summons from his father, Odin. Thor responds crosses the Dusk Lands and learns the history of those last days that he missed.

Family, history, tradition, honour, legacy – these are all giant concepts; enough to make one wonder about his or her own, not to mention the Aesir’s own sense of these things. But in his sadness, Thor is wrestling with what we all do in our own lives: our purpose. But what is his purpose now that all these things are gone? The enemies of the Aesir are still alive and are aware of his return. Does he honour them through trying to rebuild the world they knew or does he focus on revenge?

It’s somewhat of an allegorical story because there are often disasters in our own lives that force us to take stock of how we deal with them. The concepts I just mentioned can act as either guides or reminders for what is important in our own lives. Do we dwell on their loss or significance or do we let them propel us to greater things in our lives?

I’m not a creator; I don’t have the artistic ability to envision and present the world in the way I’d like to see it and share that vision with others. But I guess I’ll settle for being able to support creators in their work. There’s a place for people like me, if only to help make sense of their concept of the larger issues in life to other folks. Not to say that other people can’t figure it out for themselves, but the more people know about these creators’ works, then I guess that’s somewhat of a role, and maybe I can make some sense of this thing we call life that way.

Until next week, may you gain greater insight into where you fit.

Pick of the Week: Ragnarok: The Breaking of Helheim #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.