A few weeks ago, Marvel gave us lucky retailers an advance of Secret Empire #0 and hot dang did it slap us in our cynical faces with its awesomeness. It’s a legitimately exciting issue and, for the first time in a while, actually feels worthy of the term ‘event’. Since then, I’ve hopped back on to the Steve Rogers title in anticipation, and it looks like it was the perfect time to do so as Uncanny Avengers #22 and Captain America: Steve Rogers #15 deliver a phenomenal one-two punch that wraps up the story started back in the first issue of the first volume of UA and ratchets up the excitement for Secret Empire. Uncanny Avengers sees the team celebrating their victory over the Red Skull after Beast removes the stolen piece of Xavier’s brain that gave him immense psychic powers. Gerry Duggan and Pepe Larraz have given a lot of the spotlight in this title to Rogue and it has paid off wonderfully as she gets some positively breathtaking moments in this issue. And she kisses Deadpool…which strangely enough seems to be the ‘ship that I’ve been waiting to board as I now demand that Marvel produce a Deadpool <3’s Rogue miniseries. While the Unity Squad tries to drink and smooch away the pain of their battle, Cap’s story sees him taking the Red Skull into SHIELD custody, though the Skull ‘escapes’ and is scooped up by HYDRA only to find himself in a much worse position. Spencer’s heavy use of flashbacks was one of the things that knocked me off this title pretty early on, but here they’re used to great effect filling in Cap and Skull’s ‘new’ history as the men also face off in the present. It’s got a heck of an ending that should shake things up quite a bit, even as HYDRA is getting in position for their Cap-led offensive against the rest of the world.
Rock Candy Mountain #1 is a delightfully irreverent trek through the uniquely-American mythos of the early-to-mid-century hobo that made me laugh more than anything since The Fix. The story follows Jackson, a mysterious hobo searching for the titular and mythical Rock Candy Mountain (which gets an interesting essay in the back of the book) and fighting like he’s in The Raid when he has to. He meets up with Pomona, a dapperly-dressed but skittish guy who’s new to the hobo life and they decide to travel together. Writer/artist Kyle Starks deftly weaves in an impressive amount of world-building as we’re also introduced to a hobo-mafia and the actual devil. It’s an exciting, unique debut issue that’s laugh out loud funny and well worth your $3.99.
Extremity #1 was a heck of a first issue that made it very, very clear that Daniel Warren Johnson is gosh-darned superstar and this week’s #2 shows no signs of slowing down. I’m actually kind of in awe of the way that Johnson balances eye-popping landscapes and fight scenes with quiet character moments (which we get a few more of here than in the first ish) and slowly but deliberately trickles revelations about the history of the world.
Superman #20 follows up the big, epic, universe-changing Superman: Reborn arc with a story about Batman being a hormones-in-milk-truther. Seriously. But sweet sassy molassy does it work. My gosh, does it work. If any single issue so far has summed up the ethos behind Rebirth, it is this truly delightful piece of four-color happiness that takes place mostly on the Kent farm as Bruce and Damien show up to talk to Lois and Clark about the reason that Jon’s powers aren’t developing as fast as they should. It’s an unabashedly Silver Age-feeling set up that (mostly) plays it straight, even as Damien whispers the line “Batman doesn’t eat pie.”