Comics Catch for March 28, 2012
Comics Catch compiles short reviews of a bunch of new comics worth reading each week.
BOOK OF THE WEEK: The New Deadwardians #1: Sure, vampire and zombie comics -- or vampire/zombie stories of any kind -- seem a little overdone. But sometimes you find a monster book that puts an interesting spin on the concept, and everything seems new and exciting again. The New Deadwardians #1 is one of those books. The first in an eight-issue miniseries, this issue (written by Resurrection Man's Dan Abnett) takes place in early 20th century London. Much of the city's lower class (who live in Zone B) have fallen victim to a zombie outbreak, while a lot of richer folks (who live in Zone A) have barricaded themselves in their swanky neighborhoods and, as protection from becoming zombies themselves, have voluntarily become vampires. Vampires, you see, are immune to the zombie virus and live forever. But of course, with a bunch of posh, immortal vampires running around, life in Merry Olde England has changed pretty drastically. This series follows Chief Inspector George Suttle, the last homicide investigator left in the city -- because who dies anymore? But when a corpse turns up… a corpse of a supposedly undead vampire, no less… things get shaken up in the cold, stagnant world of London's elite. With great, expressive art from INJ Culbard and a gripping, strange tale, The New Deadwardians is definitely a great book to pick up this week.
All-Star Western #7: After the conclusion of All-Star Western's second story arc, our two heroes -- bounty hunter Jonah Hex and psychiatrist Amadeus Arkham -- take a break from Gotham City to track down one of their town's most notorious criminals in New Orleans. While they're there, they get mixed up in a struggle with a violently anti-immigration crime ring that makes "savages" fight to death for their pleasure in an arena (the timing of this issue's release, so close to the Hunger Games movie, is fortuitous). Although setting this Wild West book in Gotham City has so far been one of the most fun things about it, there's still a lot of goodness to be had in following Hex and Arkham to other cities. If anything, the humid southern hub of New Orleans lets Hex play into his seedier characteristics a little more readily, which is going to come in handy when he has to fight for his life just to entertain the upper class.
Daredevil #10: The villainous Mole Man has stolen all the caskets from a New York City cemetery for reasons unknown, and it's up to our hero Daredevil -- whose father is buried at that cemetery -- to bring peace to its patrons. Since Daredevil's blind, and since so much of this comic takes place underground/in the dark, artist Paolo Rivera and colorist Javier Rodriguez (who are always excellent) get to do some really amazing things with their environments and character interactions. Few comics look as good as Daredevil so consistently, and issue #10 is an exceptionally strong example of this book's tremendous art.
Green Lantern: New Guardians #7: Green Lantern Kyle Rayner and one member from each of the other six Lantern Corps go up against Invictus, an ex-angel with a score to settle against our heroes. He's trying to right wrongs committed against those in his care centuries ago, and he's willing to do whatever it takes to see justice done -- no matter what the cost. New Guardians is a solid sci-fi/adventure comic starring some of the more interesting characters to come out of DC Comics in the past few years, and it benefits from really great art via the detail-oriented, action-packed work of Tyler Kirkham. Every issue feels perhaps a bit lighter on plot development than it could, but the action contained within is top-notch.
Justice League Dark #7: Though their team could barely manage to pull together last month, the mystical heroes of the DC Universe, including Zatanna, Deadman, John Constantine and Shade, now travel to Gotham City to combat a vampire uprising. This comic isn't quite as successful as The New Deadwardians in presenting an interesting take on vampire stories; where it excels is in 1) exploring the darker side of DC's heroes (which you'd expect from the title) and 2) having really great, detailed art from Daniel Sampere, a newcomer to this book who hopefully sticks around. Cameos from Batman and Batgirl don't hurt, although one suspects this series will get a good deal more interesting when Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Sweet Tooth) takes over as writer in a couple months.
Secret Avengers #24: A mad scientist has created an entire robotic civilization hidden under the Earth's surface, and he's populated it with some of the Avengers' greatest synthetic enemies, like Doombots and Sentinels. Those robots have decided they want their revenge on the surface world, and now our black-ops team of heroes (led by the relatively untested Hawkeye) has to stop them. This story arc of Secret Avengers, writer Rick Remender's first, has taken a classic and cheesy sci-fi plot and made it work in a superhero spy story; he should be commended for that. The stakes feel real, the villain's believable enough, and the plot's sufficiently complex to make for an engaging read. Add to that great art from Gabriel Hardman and a pretty unique cast of characters (when was the last time you read about Captain Britain?), and Secret Avengers continues to be one of Marvel's best books.
Transformers: Robots in Disguise #3: In the midst of some serious sociopolitical turmoil on Cybertron (following the recent end of the Great War), a bomb goes off right in the middle of a gathering of Transformers. Then another one strikes. Who's causing this chaos, and what have they to gain? Autobot scientist Wheeljack's on the case, and he's going to get some help from a totally unexpected source… the former Decepticon turncoat Starscream. Robots in Disguise continues to be a fascinating look at an alien culture trying to reconstruct itself after millennia of war; just like the robots named in the title, the allegiances of sympathies of the characters in this book are always changing. Yes, RiD offers a more subtle form of action than you may be used to seeing in a Transformers story (though its brother series, More Than Meets the Eye, has plenty of that), but for fans of these characters it's truly interesting to see this slightly more cerebral take on our favorite giant robots. Maybe Transformers is growing up a little bit.
Unwritten #35.5: The last issue of Unwritten saw the end of "Tommy Taylor and the War of the Words," in which our hero finally got to the bottom of his mysterious past as a quasi-fictional character with magical powers. At the end of that issue, we wondered what direction the series could take now that most of its secrets had been laid out on the table. Unwritten #35.5 seems to answer that question, though fairly subtly, by introducing a new villain (?) for the series. This issue follows Daniel Armitage, an under-employed English major who ends up taking a job with this series' villains. At first he doesn't understand what his task is, but after a chance encounter with Tom Taylor, he becomes possessed with a new, frightening purpose in life. Could Daniel be the anti-Tommy? Of course a series as interesting as Unwritten couldn't leave too many questions answered for too long; #35.5 gives us a whole new mystery to ponder and ensures that hopefully this book will keep on going for a long time.