Comics Catch compiles short reviews of a bunch of comics worth reading each week.
Army of Darkness #1: Most of you have probably seen Sam Raimi's hilarious Army of Darkness movie, because who doesn't love Bruce Campbell? Today Dynamite Entertainment launched a new comic book series based on that cinematic classic, with one important twist—instead of Ash, our main character's now Ashley. She has the same basic backstory as the Ash we all know and love (comes from Suburbia, has a crap job, stumbles upon a magical connection to creepy monster things called Deadites), but she's a girl. She also has magical powers—instead of having a chainsaw mounted at the end of her arm, she can turn her appendage into whatever she wants it to be. She also also runs around with a wise-cracking Deadite sidekick who quotes Saturday Night Live and Simpsons bits. It's strange, but not un-funny, and it does distinguish Ashley from Bruce Campbell's character. A lot of this first issue treads on familiar territory for AoD fans, as Ashley travels through time and space to stop the dead from taking over the Earth. The book has a good sense of humor to it, and the last few pages promise the return of our favorite S-Mart employee, but readers might find that the book doesn't quite hit the right mix of new and familiar concepts. B
Daredevil #9: The Man Without Fear takes a trip into the depths of New York City in this creepy issue. After Matt Murdock's law firm gets word of a rash of disappearing coffins at a local cemetery (the same cemetery where Murdock's dad is buried!), Daredevil opts to investigate. This takes him into the underground lair of the Mole Man, a dank, dark place that lets the art team of Paolo Rivera and Javier Rodriguez do some really interesting work with a super-limited palette. As good as Mark Waid's story is (he always comes up with really interesting ways for our hero to use his powers), Rivera's pencils are definitely this book's number one asset; check out the impressive spread on pages 2-3 of this issue for proof. A
Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes #5: What do you get when you cross one of science fiction's longest-running series with DC Comics' 31st-century superheroes? An amazingly fun comic, it turns out. Here our two teams are thrown together into a world neither knows, one whose timeline has been altered by an immortal conqueror familiar to both longtime comic readers and Star Trek fans. Somehow, this guy controls the powers of a god, and he's using them to enslave whole worlds to his will. Will Captain Kirk, Cosmic Boy and the rest be able to return to their homes and set their timelines right again? Either way, it's a lot of fun watching them try! A-
Star Wars: Dawn of the Jedi #1: A few weeks ago we reviewed the #0 issue of this series, a primer to get readers ready for the Dawn of the Jedi experience. While that book did a good job introducing the characters, locations and concepts important to Dawn of the Jedi, it didn't really prepare us for how engrossing this series would be. The first half of the comic is a history lesson that details the origins of the Force and how it is that a group of warrior-monks called the Je'Daii came to study it. Then in this comic's second half, the action kicks in as we're introduced to Tul'kar and Xesh, part of a conquering army called the Infinite Empire who go around the galaxy looking for Force-adept individuals to bend to their will in the most disturbing ways possible. No story's complete without good bad guys, and writer John Ostrander has created a couple great ones here. Smart money's on the robotic-looking Xesh, a "Force hound" who can sniff out Jedi like a mutt, being this book's breakout character. Also, it must be said this book looks great; penciller Jan Duursema has been doing Star Wars work since the '80s, and it shows. This is probably the most engrossing Star Wars comic to come out in a long time. Fans—jump aboard now. A-
Transformers: More Than Meets the Eye #2: If you bought our assertion a few weeks ago that Transformers comics are growing up into more serious sci-fi stories, here is further proof. MTMTE is the "adventure" half of IDW's two current Transformers series; while the characters in Robots in Disguise attempt to govern a reunified Cybertron, those in MTMTE are out in the galaxy looking for their ancestors who, it's rumored, have colonized countless civilizations just waiting to be discovered. If it sounds a little like Battlestar Galactica, well, that's not such a bad thing, is it? But we must also note that MTMTE is very, very funny. Writer James Roberts has a sharp sense of humor that makes light of some of the more silly aspects of Transformers comics ("It's not polite to ask someone what they turn into!" one character yells), but he's also very good at coming up with exciting long-term plots and really interesting character development. The cast he's assembled for this series, while lacking most Transformers mainstays (no Optimus Prime, no Megatron), is sure to produce a lot of great conflict, whether it's Swerve, the metallurgist ("skin care expert") who craves adventure or Brainstorm, the brilliant weapons engineer who just happens to have a humongous record of murder. It's intense, it's funny, it's giant robots who turn into stuff and beat each other up. You can't go wrong! A-
Wonder Woman #6: Last month we had a few reservations about fill-in artist Tony Akins, who returns here to finish up a two-issue story. Fortunately, the action scenes that dominate this issue are a better fit for Akins' expressive visuals than more quiet, talky scenes are. As such, Wonder Woman #6 recovers pretty nicely from last month's dip, although regular series penciller Cliff Chiang is still missed. As usual, Brian Azzarello's story is top-notch—here Wonder Woman, Hermes, and an Earth girl named Zola (pregnant with Zeus' child) try to broker a deal between Hades and Poseidon to divvy up all of existence now that Zeus has left his throne. For a certain type of literature/history nerd, all this mythology stuff is super interesting, and since it serves as the basis for Azzarello's take on the character, anyone who remembers geeking out over mythology units in school should give this book a gander. B
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Batman #6: Bruce Wayne tries to recover from last month's mind-bending bad trip at the hands of the Court of Owls, a group of killers who, apparently, have been secretly shaping Gotham City's history for centuries. As this issue opens, Bruce is caught in their underground maze and still drugged, but he's about had it up to HERE (imagine a very high line) with owls, so he starts to fight back. But since Bruce is still feeling the effects of the Owls' drugs, he doesn't see things quite right. That lets artist Greg Capullo cut loose on some amazing and crazy (cramazing?) visuals that mix the metaphorical with the real (PS: how Bruce sees himself is terrifying). Seriously, Capullo deserves a medal (Eisner nomination) for this issue alone. Scott Snyder's script, meanwhile, is totally unsettling; it's rare that things look so hopeless for Batman, but Snyder is determined to run him through the ringer on this one. For us readers, that means a creepy, cerebal, mind-warping experience. But, poor Batman. A