This week in comics, Saga #5 still doesn’t exist for some reason, National Comics launches with Eternity #1, and Image continues to blow minds with Prophet.
All-Star Western #11
Palmiotti and Gray are finally bringing all the strands of their story together in “The War of Lords and Owls”, and it’s turning into a damnably enjoyable story at that – better, even, than Snyder’s own “Night of the Owls”. Followers of the Crime Bible have come to the still-growing Gotham from Europe hoping to find a foothold for their cult in America, not knowing that the city is already under the sway of the new Court of Owls. The two groups are clashing, and Jonah Hex, Amadeus Arkham and Talullah Black are caught in the middle. Black might be my favorite new character of the last couple months as she combines the rough ‘n tumble bad-ass attitude of Jonah Hex with an even more devil may care attitude towards violence – a surprisingly enjoyable combination, especially since she ends up narrating the bulk of this issue. Moritat’s artwork, especially the lack of backgrounds in a great many panels, remains my only real problem with a book I’ve otherwise enjoyed considerably for a good few months now. (A-. DC Comics, $3.99)
I, Vampire #11
It’s an all-out monster brawl in the latest I, Vampire, which lacks the intelligence of recent issues, but more than makes up for it in excitement. The Van Helsings have set loose a plague of zombies in the vampire camp – zombies that infect any vampire that tries to eat them – leaving Mary, Andrew, Tig and the Professor to find a way to destroy two armies of monsters. It does a good job delving into some of Andrew’s own darkness (something the series has needed to do for awhile) while still keeping things exciting and pushing the story forward. Excellent plotting, solid character beats, art that at times out-Jae-Lee’s Jae Lee, and lovely, muted coloring rounds make this the year’s most thoughtful Vampire Vs. Zombie brawl. (A-. DC Comics, $2.99)
Justice League #11
This… was not the strongest issue the title has seen. While “Shazam!” continues to improve over its exceedingly weak opening stories, “The Villain’s Journey” is weak – Graves is overdesigned, his origin is trite and his powers are ambiguous and unexciting. But Johns and Lee still manage something of a crowd-pleaser, as the last two pages offers up a couple solid twists that could take us in some neat directions. This arc hasn’t been working for me on any level, but I’m impressed that Johns manages to find a plot point, a character interaction, something in every single issue that leaves me coming back for more. (C+. DC Comics, $3.99)
Justice League Dark #11
Justice League Dark continues its streak of solid, enjoyable ensemble comics storytelling here as Faust and Constantine fight to be the first to reach the Black Room and find the Books of Magic, a battle that takes place at the heart of ARGUS. There’s a plot twist that I’m EXTREMELY leery about near the end of the issue, but Lemire has proven to be a solid, engaging writer, while Mikel Janin’s art is only getting better every month. Justice League Dark isn’t a ‘must-read’ title yet, but it’s growing fast into one of DC’s most exciting books thanks to some exciting ideas from Lemire. (B+. DC Comics, $2.99)
National Comics: Eternity #1 (of 1)
This felt a little too much like the opening issue of iZombie – a young, dead person who works with other dead people and has the ability to bring them back (after a fashion) so he can try to help them out – but, for all that, it’s still a relatively enjoyable introduction to Kid Eternity. Lemire does a good job setting up some solid conflicts for an ongoing series (though, of course, this is a one shot…), and Cully Hamner’s art is fluid, cartoonish and gorgeous as always. There’s a cool idea here, but I’m not sure how effectively this issue sells that potential. (B-. DC Comics, $3.99)
It’s difficult to describe just what makes Brandon Graham’s Prophet quite as excellent as it is. Is it the high-concept sci-fi hooks that he executes with shocking confidence? The rotating cast of talented indie artists that make the book look like nothing else on the shelves? The way he trusts the reader to follow along with some pretty messed up ideas with a minimum of exposition? Whatever it is, Prophet is some of the best sci-fi comics has seen in years, a cocky, bad-ass spacefaring adventure story with twists like you wouldn’t believe. This is a solid issue, as the original Prophet goes to try and find what happened to his old team, but it lacks some of the madcap inventiveness that characterizes the series as it slows down and finds the ongoing story it wants to tell, and it’s hampered by a fairly lackluster back-up feature this time around. Nevertheless, this is a series worth reading, folks. (B+. Image, $2.99)
– Cal C.