Each Wednesday, we compile short reviews of new comics worth reading.
BOOK OF THE WEEK: Captain Marvel #1: At the last two conventions we've been to, Marvel has been full of hype for this new series starring Carol Danvers, who's now inherited the cosmic powers of the former Mar-vell. The book was compared to last year's breakout Daredevil, and we were told that it was going to be one of the best comics to come out this summer. Well, hype like that isn't unusual in the comic industry, but in this case it was pretty much warranted. Captain Marvel #1 pulls off three great things when most first issues struggle with doing more than one: 1) introducing the character, 2) making us care about her with a cool hook not just as a superhero but as a person, and 3) being totally exciting and action-packed. Kelly Sue DeConnick's script starts with a terrific action sequence in which the powered-up Captain Marvel and Captain America take down the Absorbing Man, then quickly delves into Danvers' personal life and motivations with compelling sequences that quickly set up important members of her non-super supporting cast. All throughout, the art from Dexter Soy is incredible, especially his powerful use of colors. By the end of these pages you're invested in Captain Marvel's mission and will want to follow her further. Hopefully this series will let us do that for a long while.
Avengers vs. X-Men #8: As this comic opens, the Phoenix-possessed Namor has declared war on Black Panther's nation of Wakanda, where most of the Avengers have holed up. Namor's willing to go to terrible lengths to take out his enemies, which includes basically drowning Black Panther's whole country. Luckily, the Avengers have an ace up their sleeve to defeat this angry mutant, but at what cost? AvX #8 is really just a riveting issue-long fight scene; though giant comic crossovers like this always want you to feel like the stakes are really high, it actually comes off that way in this book. Things definitely change dramatically in these pages, and it's hard to imagine how the dust of this event will settle.
Batman Beyond Unlimited #6: In these three stories set in the future of the DC Animated universe, Superman, Batman, and the rest of our favorite heroes fight for survival against threats both new and familiar, like a computerized version of Lex Luthor operating through illegitimate offspring and a cult that plans to bring down the heavens by turning an ancient evil loose on the realms of New Genesis and Apocalypse. There's a lot to like here for fans of the Batman Beyond cartoon but also for people who aren't looking for a super continuity-heavy adventure starring the Man of Steel or the Dark Knight; folks who haven't checked in on DC Comics for awhile, for instance, will enjoy this futuristic take on some classic Jack Kirby Fourth World stories from the '70s.
Batwoman #11: Batwoman's second arc ends with a pretty hollow victory for our heroine: even if she can stop the mythological monsters who've been plaguing Gotham City since the series began, might something worse lay in wait beyond this threat? Well, yes. Batwoman's MO since the beginning has been to pile on plot after plot; it's definitely one of the monthly comics most interested in juggling B, C, D, E, and F stories, so it should come as no surprise that the end of an arc doesn't really mean the end of much. Of course this comic is great as usual, filled with sharp characterization, really tense/creepy moments, and really nice art from Trevor McCarthy, the third penciller to work on this series and the best replacement for original artist JH Williams III yet.
Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre #2: Desperate to get away from her controlling mother, Laurie Juspeczyk has gone out West with her new boyfriend Greg to start a new life. Of course, it happens to be the swingin' 1960s, and she happens to be in San Francisco, the city that essentially birthed the movement of free sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll in the US. Laurie's found herself enmeshed with some of these psychedelic visionaries and their more relaxed ways, but still she feels the pull of the crimefighting lifestyle. We can never really escape our parents, huh? Silk Spectre continues to be one of the best of the Before Watchmen titles, with brilliant art from Amanda Conner and a smart, engaging script from Conner and co-writer Darwyn Cooke. Even though we know Laurie won't necessarily end up the independent woman she wants to be, it's fascinating watching her struggle with the conflicting halves of her personality in these pages.
Daredevil #15: Much like last month, Matt Murdoch finds himself trapped in Doctor Doom's sovereign nation of Latveria, wanted for economic crimes against Doom's empire. After a near-escape last issue, though, Doom's cronies aren't taking any chances this time—they've drugged Matt to the point that he can no longer use any of his super-senses; now they're determined to find out how his amazingly adaptive brain works, even if they've got to kill him in the process. How can Daredevil get out of this one? The answer will probably come as a surprise. It also makes sense, and is beautifully drawn by Chris Samnee. Every month Mark Waid seems to find new horrible situations to put Daredevil in, and every month it's ridiculously awesome seeing how he gets out.
Justice League #11: David Graves has suffered at the hands of the Justice League, or so he thinks. Now, he's going to make the World's Greatest Superheroes pay by causing them to relive their greatest pains. When you've got a team with guys like Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern on it, that sounds pretty awful. In this issue the League fights through some of their personal/interpersonal issues to bring this demented criminal to justice, but what they learn about themselves in the process could taint the team forever. Also, why, when faced with the spirits of departed loved ones, does Cyborg see himself? This is a good, if kind of unfocused, issue from Geoff Johns and Jim Lee; besides some of Johns' wilder ideas, the best part of the book continues to be Gary Frank's amazing art in the Shazam back-up story.
Star Trek The Next Generation/Doctor Who #3: The Borg have joined forces with the Cybermen, which actually makes a lot of sense; these guys are super-similar! While the combined forces of the Enterprise D crew and the Doctor attempt to figure out what their enemies want and how to stop them, this issue makes brilliant use of a flashback to show that this isn't the first time people from Star Trek have encountered Who's Cybermen. The middle of the book switches to a vastly different art style to show a time when a previous Enterprise crew—and a previous Doctor—met these villains, though the current Doctor doesn't seem to remember having that memory for very long. Just what is going on? For these characters, things look bad, but for us readers everything is fantastic, from the amazingly smart script to the perfect art from JK Woodward and the Sharp Brothers.
Unwritten #39: As Australian police get further into the mystery of the "Cult of Tommy," which has sprung up in the wake of Tom Taylor's sudden public surge in fame, we learn a good deal more about the origin of Lucas Filby, the cult's mysterious leader, who's got a serious love of the fictional world. Where does Filby come from, and why does he worship Tom Taylor? Perhaps more seriously, what price could his devotion exact on the rest of the world? Mike Carey and Peter Gross continue to produce can't-miss comics with Unwritten, a series that asks us to think hard about the place where fiction and reality meet.
Wonder Woman #11: If you know your Greek mythology, you know that Hera is quite the jealous queen, and in the pages of Wonder Woman, she's doing playing. She's finally put a price on the head of Zeus' latest illegitimate offspring, and it's a price several of her children aim to collect. Of course, this unborn child—and her mortal mother—have fallen under the protection of Wonder Woman, and she's not going to give up without a fight (does she ever?). As usual, Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang tell a great story that mashes up classic mythology and superhero action-adventure; this issue'd be pretty perfect if it weren't for a scene where Wonder Woman's pregnant friend rams her truck into one of the bad guys chasing them with her in it. This seems like something a pregnant woman would know not to do.