It’s not Christmas but my very own Comic Santa Claus has just arrived to deliver my shipment of choices for discussion this week. However, I must confess, my mind is already clouded and distracted by thoughts of Star Wars sugar plums … and Star Trek lumps of coal.
However, I must focus on comics, regardless of how disparate these two franchises have been treated this month. They are both so influential that they have representatives in this week’s comic list. IDW – the name for Star Trek comics and Marvel, the reasserted partner in Star Wars comics have both honoured these franchises so well, it makes me wonder why J.J. Abrams couldn’t treat both of these amazingly influential nerd masterpieces equally as well.
Not going there. This is about the comics.
Still … it’s in the back of my mind. Just sharing.
Let’s get to the list.
Star Fleet Academy #1 (of 5)
I actually thought this was a pretty well-put together comic. I liked how Johnson and Parrott managed to put a little bit of insight into the few years Kirk, Spock and Uhura were at the Academy together during the unseen moments of the first reboot movie. It made things a little more contextual and I have to add that the side story of the other cadets was also entertaining.
I normally don’t like anything associated with the reboots. Trust me – it’s an issue that will take longer than the scope of this article for me to fully explore, but I found that I quite enjoyed this. If it can entertain a grizzled ST-TOS fan, then they’ve done something right.
Judge Dredd #1
I love Judge Dredd; always have and always will. I owned the first copy of 2000 AD when I was a wee lad living in Scotland and Judge Dredd was the first story in that comic. In fact, you might say that Dredd was one of the earliest characters I followed in comics on a regular basis.
I normally avoid dystopian future stories, but it was the idea that hard choices had to be made for this society to survive that really struck me – even as a kid. Dredd represents that character who is prepared to do anything within the strict confines of his powers- the Law – in order to preserve the fabric of Mega City One. It’s an attitude that really hits most Brits, who at the time of Dredd’s creation, were children of World War Two parents. They were really familiar with this “The Greatest Generation” attitude and that resonated with their own kids.
Ulises Farinas and Erick Freitas are relatively unknown to me, as is the artistry of Dan McDaid. So it was a bit of unknown territory for me. First off, I’m not too keen on McDaid’s art. It’s a little rough and undefined and while it might fit the new scenario that Farinas and Freitas have conjured up, it just wasn’t for me.
However, Farinas and Freitas have hit on something pretty nifty with the idea of taking Dredd out of his natural environment and putting him in a place where his perspective doesn’t apply. The Law is no more in the setting of this comic. While it was a little contrived, I was really appreciative of the guts it took to try something new with this character. However, I have to confess, I am hoping that this will not be the new setting for the comic. While Dredd can leave Mega City One for a little bit, he’d better not leave it for good.
Secret Six #9
Gail Simone and Tom Derenick team up to write and draw this month’s instalment of this dysfunctional team. I have to say, I find this book to be a bit of an odd preoccupation. I like the mix of characters for some reason and the fact that there’s everything wrong with each of them. I’m still also intensely curious about the apparent identity of Big Shot as Ralph Dibney. Did I miss something in my hiatus away from DC comics? Sigh
I liked it. I don’t fully understand why I like it – maybe it’s their rebellious nature; they’re true outsiders with very few redeeming qualities, but maybe it’s my teacher’s nature to be drawn to the outliers.
Justice League #46
Wow … Frances Manapul’s cover really struck me. I honestly thought it was Darwyn Cooke for a second – it was that good.
Apparently Frances is pinch-hitting on this issue to get it on track for the Batman-Superman film. Interesting. Still, he’s a great artist so it’s always great to see his work featured.
Good story – I enjoyed this segment of the Darkseid War. There are some really interesting character developments happening and I love anything with Mr. Miracle in it. Big Barda and Scott Free were always characters that I felt didn’t get enough love and it’s great to see them included in this issue.
Darth Vader Annual #1
I’m seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens tomorrow night … and I already miss Darth Vader. Thank God there’s this comic to assuage any sense of nostalgia I might experience tomorrow.
Just a solid reminder of why Vader is probably the most celebrated villain in modern pop culture. This is a great story outside of the current Vader Down crossover event and it’s a good one. Lenil Yu provides the art for Kieron Gillen’s scripting – and it’s a really good collaboration. Definitely worth picking up.
All New X-Men #2
I don’t know why I bother. I love Mark Bagley’s art but I have a problem with the story on this one. I think it’s a holistic problem, given that there really hasn’t been a good perspective on the X-Men since the later 1990’s. I don’t get it but maybe somewhere down the line, someone will come up with some sort of unified X-Men theory that will save the franchise from obscurity and bring it back to the status it once held.
Mike Del Mundo’s art in this book is a little too … pastel for my tastes. I was expecting Arkon, to be honest but instead I get Becca the Squire and Goleta the Awesome Wizard Slayer. I’d like to say that this is truly reminiscent of the 1970’s drug counter-culture inspired original Weirdworld, but it isn’t. It’s like a very clumsy caricature that mocks the original rather than pay homage to it.
Ivar Timewalker #12
I am mesmerized by this book. It’s got a very odd take on the notion of multiple timelines and sometimes, I find I have to go back and read it again. Of course, this is after I take a painkiller for my headache. It’s confusing, unsettling and definitely surprising. You never know which way the plot will turn in this book and that’s a good thing. Comics can be fairly predictable sometimes and this is a story that will take you on a ride. Fred Van Lente rocks.
Is this the last issue? It feels like this is the last issue. It’s definitely got that last issue vibe. Valiant is trying to create the shared universe concept with their books and I think it’s a great idea. Manowar, Ninjak, Archer & Armstrong – all great characters and definitely complement each other. It’s a shame that Ivar is done – but with a time traveller, you never can tell.
Well, with the emphasis on Trek and Star Wars this week, the comic pick for this week’s reviews has got to go to:
Darth Vader Annual #1
It’s what an annual should be: it reinforces why the team or the character is such a great one. It extols the character’s virtues and reminds us why we love him or her so much. In this case, we are reminded why Vader is so formidable and after an entire regime tries to assassinate him; he manages to find a way to defeat and salvage his enemy to corrupt him for his own purposes in the future. He is a classic master villain who is not afraid to get his hands dirty.
But with the approach of the seventh instalment of the Star Wars saga, could there be any other choice? Let’s face it, everyone on the planet is in a Star Wars frame of mind right now. Vader reigns supreme and even though all the reviews say that the new Star Wars film is awesomely good, I hope Abrams has found a spot in it to pay tribute to this master of the Dark Side of the Force.
May the Force be with you – even the dark side.