Faster Than Light is a pretty engaging new sci-fi yarn from Image Comics that knows how to borrow from the best. Set at the onset of man’s discovery of FTL travel, the story follows Captain William Forrest as he takes command of the Discovery and begins mankind’s journey to boldly go where no man has gone before. As I mentioned earlier, this book knows what genre touchstones to cherry pick to get readers comfortable with the world- the aesthetic of the book is somewhere between Interstellar and the remake of Battlestar. The crew’s ostensible mission of exploration is somewhat of a cover as the powers that be know of a an alien species that poses a threat to humanity and the true mission is to find allies and resources that can help prepare them for the inevitable conflict. It was this twist (it’s early on, no spoilers) that reminded me of the brilliant Next Generation episode “Q Who” where Q, in order to prove to Picard how much he needs him, flings the Enterprise 7,000 light years away into Borg territory. Encountering the Borg much earlier than they ‘should’ have, Picard and company come away from the experience humbled and scared, but also with resolve. Of course the story structure of late 80’s syndicated television kind of squandered it with obligatory one-offs and Wesley Crusher, but there was a feeling by the end of that episode of purpose and immediacy. To tie it back, that’s the feeling that Faster Than Light left me with at the end of this first issue, and I can’t wait for the next one.
Speaking of space, this week sees the release of Journey to Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Shattered Empire (let’s do a little work on those titles, guys) from Greg Rucka and Marco Checchetto and if you’re at all a Star Wars fan, then just stop reading and go buy this because it’s yet another quality comic book designed to leave you destitute. Taking place at the tail end of the Battle of Endor, the story focuses on rebel pilot Shara Bey and her boyfriend, rebel special-ops soldier Kes Dameron (a surname that should be familiar to any of you who didn’t snag a Kylo Ren or Capt. Phasma figure on #FORCEFRIDAY) as they start to sweep up the remnants of the empire. Most of the big names make an appearance here, but it’s focus on a wartime romance between two soldiers sets it apart for me.
I did something recently that I (shamefully) rarely do anymore and jumped into a comic I hadn’t read any of with the 3rd issue. That comic was Red Hood and Arsenal and I’m so glad I did. There’s nothing earth shattering about this book, mind you, it’s just a whole lot of fun. It’s a bromance in every sense of that word, with the supervillains almost feeling incidental to Roy’s feelings, Jason’s feelings, and Roy and Jason’s bro-ship. The two leads are written with surprising depth, which makes it all the more fun when the over-the-top quip filled action scenes happen. If you haven’t been giving this a shot (and I don’t blame you), pick up an issue and check it out.
Shorter than usual Secret Wars Roundup!
Civil War throws an unexpected twist into the story that really works to up the stakes as it heads into the home stretch. Oh and in case you’re worried, none of Yu’s gorgeous spreads get massacred by the ALLNEWALLDIFFERENT ads Marvel put in the books this month.
Amazing Spider-Man Renew Your Vows ends its run as one of my favorite Spider-Man stories of the last several years. Annie May Parker is, in a shocking twist for a child character, just terrific and hopefully the narration over the closing scene that promises more to come isn’t just a tease.
Giant Size Little Marvel AvX ends on kind of a confusing note. Are these twins going to appear in a main universe story later on? Speculators, grab your wallets. Still none of that distracts from the fun there is to be had here as the Inhumans (DO YOU LIKE THEM YET?) show up to join the fight for the new kids’ attention.
Red Skull has been a nasty little series about bad men doing bad things, so it’s fitting that ends the way it does. It does feel like this series would have been served well by at least one more issue to draw things out, as the twists feel a little forced, but overall this was a fun read featuring two of Marvel’s best villains.
Mrs. Deadpool and the Howling Commandos wraps it up in a very Deadpool fashion. Though I was never really invested in this series, it always got enough laughs out of me to keep reading. I mean really, “Aunt Beru cosplay.” That’s gold.
1602 Angela Witch Hunter once again drags except for an absolutely perfect alternate reality version of Cloak and Dagger (they’re performers in the Globe Theater). Still it’s hard not to recommend something that artists Stephanie Hans and Frazier Irving are working on, as their art alone is almost worth the cover price.
A-Force isn’t really a bad comic, just a bland one. The story is beyond simplistic, the new ‘character’ is somewhere between one of Stephen King’s magical mentally handicapped children and Tinkerbell, and all of the beats are telegraphed way in advance. Much like Angela, this one is partially redeemed by its art. Jorge Molina has a great sense of composition and a really nice fluidity to his action shots.
Korvac Saga ends on a great note that, for the first time in my life has me invested in this iteration of the Guardians. With the madness that has plagued Forest Hills revealed to be a result of Michael Korvac’s powers unintentionally leaking from his mind, the Guardians and the Avengers have to pick sides. It’s a really nice climax to the series though, if I have one complaint it’s that the effects of this story didn’t ripple outward into other domains.
Planet Hulk ends its run in a pretty unexpected way and I’m quite happy it did. Doc Green’s identity reveal was a surprise and it leads to a decision you wouldn’t expect from Steve (well, A Steve). Overall this was a mostly entertaining series that could have done with a little more dinosaur action and less circling, but the ending almost makes up for it.
I’ve said before that Secret Wars 2099 is clearly just a backdoor pilot for a new 2099 ongoing, but the ending just really hammers that home. Not that I’m complaining, mind you, especially when they find a way to bring 60’s Marvel Monsters into the mix. If there is an ongoing coming soon, then they’ve certainly gotten it onto my pull list.
The penultimate issue of Siege leaves us with a heck of a tease for the finale, but not before wrapping up the assault of Nick the Fury with some more gorgeous double page spreads from guest artists. That’s not to neglect what writer Kieron Gillen contributes- his Abigail Brand is so good, it almost feels like he created her himself.