Happy new year! Once again, this is a two-weekly catchup – I haven’t covered everything I read in the past fortnight here, but a couple of the new #1s I tried in the last week of 2016 are in there. Meanwhile, the current week featured almost all of my favourite current titles – I haven’t written about Shade, Green Arrow or WicDiv here as there’s not much I’d say about them that I didn’t already say last month. They were all really good, though.
Giant Days #22
(Boom! Box / John Allison, Max Sarin, Liz Fleming, Whitney Cogar, Jim Campbell)
A storyline that’s been steadily bubbling for the last few issues reaches its payoff, and it’s utterly exquisite. Ingrid is a fantastically-written voice, Daisy’s reactions are complex, sympathetic and believable, the nuance in Sarin’s character expression is at its peak, and Esther still manages to get all the funniest bits. Giant Days is the single best comic in the world and, to coin a line from it, this issue is the apotheosis of how it makes me feel.
(DC / Tom King, Mitch Gerads, Clayton Cowles)
In 2012, DC published a comic (Catwoman #1) that ended with Batman and Catwoman having sex on a rooftop. In 2017, they (sorry for the spoilers, but) have published another. But the difference between the two couldn’t be more marked. King re-teams with his Sheriff of Babylon co-creator Gerads for a contemplative, nine-panel-grid-driven epilogue to the “I Am Suicide” arc, and it’s a hugely evocative and atmospheric piece. And while it’s deeply sad it finds the time for a bit of humour, too. This is the kind of single issue that’s going to be remembered in years to come.
Supergirl: Being Super #1
(DC / Mariko Tamaki, Joelle Jones, Sandu Florea, Kelly Fitzpatrick, Saida Temofonte)
The first issue of an out-of-continuity reinvention of Supergirl that feels more than a little like a Kara version of Superman: American Alien. And, like that book, it does a much better job of reinvention than the Earth One line of books, with an enhanced focus on Kara’s non-costumed identity (in fact, she’s not even actually Supergirl in this issue at all). This might be the first time that an authentic voice has taken on the idea of Supergirl as a super-powered teenager, and it’s hugely refreshing for that; it’s also interesting that it appears to be taking place in a Superman-free world. While DC continue to struggle to get a handle on exactly what a Supergirl book should really be, this might have a strong chance of being it.
The Unstoppable Wasp #1
(Marvel / Jeremy Whitley, Elsa Charretier, Megan Wilson, Joe Caramagna)
This is a book that really, really wants you to like it. Whether it succeeds in making me do so, I’m not actually 100% certain – I’m not sure if it’s not trying a bit too hard to make its lead character enthusiastic and lovable, and to recapture the spirit of The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl (a book to which it does, at times, feel somewhat like a tribute act). By the end of the issue, I felt slightly battered into submission rather than charmed. This will definitely have its fans and I’m not sure it does much wrong – and the art is a kinetic, colourful delight – but I only really need one Squirrel Girl in my life, and the one we’ve got at the moment does me fine.
Rocket Raccoon #1
(Marvel / Matthew Rosenberg, Jorge Coelho, Antonio Fabela, Jeff Eckleberry)
I don’t want to be totally down on Marvel’s new launches, but this one didn’t really click with me either. I think the problem is that we’ve already got one book where a former member of the Guardians is moping about on Earth having been exiled there, and Zdarsky and Anka’s Star Lord, while I didn’t outright love it, did it better than this does. I was a huge fan of the previous, Skottie Young-led Rocket run, which had just the right blend of humour and absurd space action; this, by contrast, is just a little too gloomy. Rocket’s voice is there, but there’s not much else to grab me.
(DC / Peter J. Tomasi, Patrick Gleason, Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, Marcelo Maiolo, Rob Leigh)
I should be more excited about this issue than I think I ultimately was – I’ve loved what the Tomasi and Gleason run has done so far, and I love DC’s alternate universes, especially when they involve alternate Supermen. Maybe it’s just that picking up threads from Multiversity reminds me that it’s been so long since Grant Morrison did anything new at DC, and that – as good as the current team have been on this book – I’d rather it was him doing a story like this. But this is otherwise fine, and starts to set up something intriguing, so I’m definitely happy to see where it goes.
Justice League Rebirth: The Atom #1
(DC / Steve Orlando, Andy MacDonald, John Rauch, Clayton Cowles)
I was genuinely disappointed to get to the end of this and discover that it’s a trailer not for an Atom series, but for the upcoming Justice League title. Because it’s a really strong introduction to a new version of Ryan Choi (who, with the best will in the world, I never really clicked with in his original pre-New 52 incarnation). It does that thing that new DC launches do every so often where they use Spider-Man as the template for a new character, but based in the wealth of history and legacy heroes that DC has to offer. It worked really well with the Giffen and Rogers Blue Beetle – something I often use as a touchstone – and it works here, too. I’d like to read more stuff about this character, and by this creative team – I’m just not certain I want to follow them to that JL book.
Next week: Spider-Man, New Super-Man, Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, Detective Comics.