Captain Kirk’s Weekly Comic Review – 08/17/2016

For a lot of people August represents the anticipation of a new year. Back to school is around the corner and this brings back memories for those no longer beholden to the school year. Hence the instinctive gearing up that we all seem to do. After all, isn’t there something comforting about a blank notebook?

It’s the same way when you look at Previews magazine or see advertisements for upcoming comics. There’s a rush of anticipation of new reads, twists on familiar characters or brand new heroes to wonder if they’ll succeed, how they’ll fit in or if they’ll be liked.

You know – just like school.

It’s a small list this week, but there are a few new titles on the list. A lot from DC as they continue pumping out the Rebirth stories in an amazing effort of creativity and of course, from Image which has to be the most original publisher out there. Luckily, this isn’t a popularity contest and quality speaks for itself.

Let’s get to the list.

Image Comics

The Black Monday Murders #1


The latest from one of my favourite writers, Jonathan Hickman. This story has the characteristic hallmark of Hickman’s writing – the effortless sprawling attitude in which he approaches epic scale events of either a fantastic or historical nature. For Hickman, creating stories is like breathing for us: essential to our life processes but also a natural phenomenon.

Imagine a connection between the world of economics and the occult and you are just beginning to scratch the surface of this amazing story. When you start delving into the esoterica of financial information and the encyclopedia of occultism, then you know that Hickman has lured you down the rabbit hole well and truly good. Throw in a little magical police work and you have the ingredients for a truly irresistible story.

Every turn of the page leaves me slightly shell-shocked as my mundane brain churns under the yoke of trying to comprehend exactly what Hickman has wrought. It is a staggering read, but amazingly intricate and well-crafted. With Tomm Coker’s grim and shadowy art as a perfect companion to relating this crime story slash alternate occult financial historical tale.

A truly magnificent piece of work.

DC Comics

Batgirl and the Birds of Prey #1


Very confusing. Julie Benson, Shawna Benson and Claire Roe are the team behind this one. I had a hard time trying to reconcile the transition between Barbara Gordon as Batgirl and as Oracle.

‘Nuff said.

Suicide Squad #1


This is Jim Lee’s baby … much better when you bring your “A-game” to a title that is surely getting a lot of recognition because of the film debut this summer.

Don’t call me Surely.


But in all seriousness, Writer Rob Williams has a lot to be pleased about with this book. Not only does he get to work with Jim Lee on the first story in this issue, but he also gets to work with Jason Fabok in the second one.

This was the same flavour of the Suicide Squad I remember in the John Ostrander days. Different era and different artist but still a heck of a lot of fun. Great first issue from these guys and I’m heartily looking forward to the next one.

Batman #5


Okay – this one Gothamed me right in the feels.

Seriously good twist on the Gotham/Gotham Girl story that I never would have expected. Loved the dash of humour Tom King threw into this book and better yet, the developing relationship between Batman and Duke is beginning to grow on me. Loved every page of this book and of course, David Finch’s work is a joy to behold. Great book.

Justice League #3


I love Tony Daniel’s art; it’s crisp, it’s expressive and I always find myself amazed by his attention to detail. I didn’t enjoy the story but I have to give Bryan Hitch credit for trying to come up with a cosmic-leveled threat that’s powerful enough to merit the involvement of the Justice League. That’s a pretty tough act to write.

IDW Comics

Star Trek 50th Anniversary Review


Just a glorious collection of the best covers of IDW’s Star Trek covers in time for the 50th Anniversary. I have to say, I normally wouldn’t have picked this up but it is absolutely stunning when you consider the amount of work that IDW has put into celebrating Star Trek in all its incarnations. I especially love the cross-overs they came up with (Star Trek, Planet of the Apes or Star Trek and Green Lantern – remember those?) as well as the respect they pay to the Abrams version of Star Trek while also going back to the Original Series with the Byrne photo-books.

IDW has certainly done a lot to maintain the Trek license, and of course, they pay their respects to John Van Citters, the executive VP of Licensing. Van Citters has certainly lived up to his job description by maintaining the CBS hold on Trek licensing this year while also clearly enjoying himself in the process. But who can blame him? After all, it’s Star Trek! Probably the most influential science fiction story of the twentieth century and extending itself well into the twenty-first. I’d be enjoying myself as well.

But if there’s one thing this book does is reinforce to me how much I love J.K. Woodward. Seriously – if I could get a commission about a Trek character, it would be from this artist. Missing this guy at SDCC this year was one of my biggest regrets. I’m just going to have to bite the bullet and communicate via email and request one. The problem is: I don’t grovel well on the internet.

J.K. Woodward – prepare for a mass amount of begging and pleading.

Awesome collection – loved every page of it.

Star Trek #60


But then it’s back to the JJ-verse. I know I sound like a reactionary Trek fan from the 80’s – but I am, sorry.

This time it wasn’t so bad.

Mike Johnson does a pretty damn fine job of uniting both crews – from the original series and the alternate series in a mission that allows them to compare each other. There is a sense of respect between the two variants that seems to settle the antagonistic states between these two classes of fans that I have to respect. Johnson … you’re alright in my book and you’re a damn fine Trek fan to boot.

Likenesses are a trepidation for most comic artists – even John Byrne shies away from them, and he’s John Byrne. But Tony Shasteen does a great job of being true to the actors’ likenesses. What Byrne doesn’t get is that readers who love the series will forgive minor imperfections. Plus, with the star power that John Byrne has, he should be able to suffer a few imperfections to his ego. After all, who doesn’t love his work? Shasteen’s confidence is to be commended; he can draw a Yeoman Rand for me any day.

The Pick of the Week

In this case I have to go with my first review and give props to Jonathan Hickman’s The Black Monday Murders.

I think I’ve already given enough boosts to Mr. Hickman’s ego but suffice it to say that this book was a real pleasure to read. Thoughtful comics really engage me, especially when there is clearly a lot of detail for the reader to savour. I don’t know how Hickman does it, but it’s clearly a talent that’s beyond me and all I can do is sit back and seethe with envy.

I’m seething, Mr. Hickman; thanks a lot.

So, getting back to school is still on my mind, but I have ascertained that Jonathan Hickman and Tomm Coker are clearly the cool kids in school that I will either have to suck up to or avoid to save myself from the apparent social disparity between us!

Sigh … even with comics, I’m reminded about my lack of status.

Oh, Great Jack Kirby … when will I be cool?

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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