I need to start this post with an apology. This was going to be the grand return of Break From the Bat, covering our favorite releases from January, and it was going to post before any February releases hit shelves… But due to me picking up some additional posts here, this got pushed back so Batman-related posts could take priority. I’d toyed with the idea of just postponing the return of Break From the Bat until March, but there were too many books that are simply outstanding, and I didn’t want to ignore them. I’m talking some seriously good, outrageously entertaining books that deserve all the praise they can get! Because of this, I decided to go ahead to run with the post, even if it is a little delayed. So, if you’re interested in what the comic review team is reading/ loving outside of Gotham, then this is where you need to look! Check out our favorite releases below, and let us know what your favorite titles are down in the comments section – especially if we’re missing out on something great!
Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1
It’s no secret that I love Buffy the Vampire Slayer (and Angel). I’ve commented on my love for both shows/ books, and I’ve championed them for over a decade because they’ve personally impacted me in many ways. So, when BOOM! announced they were relaunching Buffy, I was a little hesitant. What exactly does this mean? How are they going to relaunch it? What about characters like Faith or Fred/ Illyria? Will they be gone now, or will they eventually reappear? Will this be like DC’s New 52 where stories are just regurgitated?
As you can tell, I had many questions and fears… But at the same time, I was excited. The thought of seeing Buffy and gang living, existing, in 2019… It’s kind of exciting. We’re talking about taking Buffy and the core concept and how it started, then reimagining it for 20+ years later with new technology, new social norms, and a whole new set of potential problems. And yet, my hesitation still seemed to win out. Regardless, the Wednesday of Buffy’s debut came, and I knew I had to give the book a shot.
So, is it good? Absolutely! It’s great! It’s better than I could’ve expected! Bellaire’s script, along with Mora and Angulo’s art, is perfect! Everything you love about Buffy is represented here, and I can’t stress that enough. I know there were some people that were dissatisfied with the previous Buffy run, but this take deserves your attention. Buffy is Buffy. Giles is Giles. And Willow and Xander are Willow and Xander… But they’re all slightly different because of the change in time. There are cell phones, Willow is already out, and the notion that being a nerd is kind of cool in today’s culture is totally recognized. I love it. But more than anything, this book embraces what Buffy is really all about – family. In fact, BOOM! understands this so well that they have an entire page dedicated to explaining this at the end of the issue! This is a book that if you’re fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer/ Angel, then you’ll find it both fresh and familiar. And if you never dipped your toes into the Buffyverse but found yourself curious as to its allure, then this is the place to start.
ACTION COMICS #1006 & #1007
The Man of Steel mini made me question whether Bendis was the right pick to write Superman, but now that we’re a good ways into Action Comics, I must say, he’s killing it! I’m enjoying Superman as well, but Action Comics really is something special. It’s clear that Bendis is taking time to really build and establish a world around Clark, and I appreciate that. The time spent at the Daily Planet consists of some of my favorite scenes. The interactions Clark has with his coworkers feel real. The topics they discuss, the way they speak to one another, it reminds me of my office job. I’m also happy to see that what I assumed would be the standard, six-issue arc is turning out to be much more than that!
I really enjoyed #43, and still think it’s one of the best comics I read last month. I can’t remember seeing Rocha’s work look this good, and I thought Kelly Sue’s story was excellent. #44 isn’t bad, but it’s not nearly as tight as #43, and I miss the confidence and purpose pretty badly. I’m definitely still on board, though.
THE GREEN LANTERN #3
Oh boy. I’m really digging this book. I’m a big fan of both Grant Morrison and Liam Sharp, and seeing these two powerhouse comic creators teaming up is like a dream come true. The story so far has been wonderfully psychedelic and cosmic, and while Hal Jordan is written as a jerk, the creative team still manages to let his heroism shine through his pessimism. The creative team also spends enough time with other Green Lanterns, so it’s not just about Hal — his fellow corpsmen have roles to play as well. This is currently my favorite series on my pull list. I especially love Sharp’s lush layouts — his artwork truly has poetic qualities because it’s so detailed and vibrant. If you are into deep space adventures and masterful art, this is a series you don’t want to miss!
With so many new books hitting stands recently, I can understand how one might feel overwhelmed. So, let me help you. You need to get this book! Naomi is a fun take on the DC Universe from an average person’s perspective, and it captures friends and relationships perfectly. The book is almost like a conglomerate of Gotham Academy, Runaways, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but way more grounded and with fewer superhero antics or themes… for now.
The thing that stands out the most to me are the characters. They’re real and diverse. Naomi is a captivating character in her own right, but every other character around her, as well as the narrative itself, is completely engaging and relatable. If the depiction of Superman was perfect. Was this a surprise for me? Sure. In fact, I thought this book was so good, that it might go down as Bendis’ best contribution to DC Comics to date. Yes, I really think it’s that good.
I haven’t decided what I would rate it, but I really, really like it. The written characterization from Bendis is excellent, but Naomi comes alive with Jamal Campbell’s artwork. Very little action, mostly talking, and yet still very compelling. Time to place bets on who her parents were. Do you think it will be heroes we know?
Murder Falcon #4
If you aren’t reading Murder Falcon, you’re missing out, and that’s all there is to it. The artwork is fun and imaginative, full of motion and energy. The story is as hilarious as the name might suggest, but it’s also unexpectedly touching, and issue #4 tugs those heartstrings harder than ever before.
Gideon Falls Vol 1: The Black Barn
I’m just throwing it out there: Andrea Sorrentino is my favorite artist and I’ve been following this guy from project to project. While I’ve collected some of his books as floppies, I’ve decided to trade-wait Gideon Falls so that I can binge-read full arcs, and man — I can’t wait for volume 2!
Gideon Falls, written by Jeff Lemire, illustrated by Andrea Sorrentino, and colored by Dave Stewart, is a thrilling horror story rich with plot twists and disturbing imagery. The story starts off rather slow but in doing so, it simultaneously builds suspense as the mystery is introduced right at the start. This also leaves plenty of room for the creative team to build toward the mind-boggling final chapter; a smart creative decision.
As the story progresses we realize that every question is answered by more questions, until even reality begins to collapse and we find ourselves in an H. P. Lovecraft inspired, inexplicable horror-scape. Throughout the comic, Sorrentino’s art is perhaps the best he’s crafted so far in his career, but especially during those final pages when all hell breaks loose, he experiments with storytelling techniques he has not used before. Panel borders break apart, characters fall from the one panel into the next, and the perspective rotates and twists and turns, creating a dazzling and deeply psychedelic effect. What’s more, Stewart’s excellent colors add a lot to the book’s overall aesthetic: his colorwork is gritty and dirty, which reminds me of grindhouse movies — a fitting look for a story about dark folklore set in a small rural town.
The writing is also incredible. Lemire hardly if ever uses exposition, but makes full use of the literary showing principle. His dialogue is strong and natural, and new plot points arise from the dialogue organically. Furthermore, this is not the kind of story where things merely happen to characters — the story is pushed forward by actions that the characters take. In other words, every single action of the main characters has consequences, and the creative team masterfully shows these consequences. As such, this book is not for the faint of heart.
If you are into horror stories, H. P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, Twin Peaks or Lemire/Sorrentino collaborations in general, then you won’t regret spending some of your time and money on this trade paperback. Enthusiastically recommended!
I didn’t love the first arc of this new Avenger’s title. The introduction of the characters felt super clunky. I’ll have to see how things go in the next issue, but this flashback to the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC was a whole lot of fun, and really cool. It focuses on Fan Fei, the world’s first Iron Fist, and it’s chock-full of brutal, hilariously-named kung-fu strikes, hordes of Man-Apes, and more. The artwork is handled by Andrea Sorrentino, but it looks completely different (aesthetically) from his usual work, and yet still amazing. This is art that deserves to be savored on large sheets of paper, so if they ever release a premium format hardcover for Aaron’s stuff, I might pick up a volume just to get this one issue in a worthy format.
Of course, I grabbed Avengers #13 as well, seeing as Sorrentino drew the interior art. I agree with you, Brian, that this was a whole lot of fun. Sorrentino’s artwork indeed looks very different here compared to his usual stuff, and that’s because, as he said in a tweet, he used a so-called “bright line style.” I don’t think he uses this style often. As a result, the book is also colored very brightly by Justin Ponsor and Erick Arciniega. If you are familiar with Sorrentino’s work and are used to it being very dark and heavy on shadows, you will probably be surprised when you see his work in this issue. It’s really beautiful and it’s great fun seeing an artist who I’ve been following for a few years now successfully reinvent himself on his latest projects.
The writing is solid as well. It’s heavy on exposition, but I think this is hard to avoid in this particular 20-page comic book. Jason Aaron covers a lot of ground here, essentially compressing an entire adventure arc into this single issue. But having said that, the creative team does pay extra attention to the key moments so that these really stand out. All in all, I think that the creative team has strategically chosen which scenes should be developed in full, and which moments can be described with exposition, so that the pacing of this one-shot is preserved.
And seriously, that krakatoa face exploder is ****ing brutal. Read the issue to find out what I’m referring to. If you’re into action-driven fight comics, you’re going to love this!
Captain Marvel #1
With the film right around the corner, I was quite curious to see what this relaunch would consist of. Marvel would surely put their best foot forward, right? Well… Not necessarily. The opening pages of this issue are a lot of fun as Captain Marvel and Spider-Woman team up to stop a giant sea creature/ potential alien. There’s a chemistry between these two that’s a lot of fun and infectious. Unfortunately, just as I started to settle in with this book, convinced that any hesitations I had were unnecessary, the book took a turn for the worst. Attempts at emotional conversations came off as awkward and cheesy, while a lot of attempt at cuteness made me roll my eyes on more than one occasion. To add insult to injury, Kelly Thompson felt the need to have almost every character talk about how great/ superior Captain Marvel is. Gag me. I hate when writers do this. Show me, don’t tell me. On a positive note, Carmen Carnero’s art is quite good… It’s just not good enough for me to pick this title up on a monthly basis. I’ll be trade-waiting.
Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #2
Let it be known that if there’s one book you should be reading, Tom Taylor’s Friendly Neighborhood Spiderman is that book! I can’t express the joy I experience when I read this title. Taylor is only two issues in, but for both chapters, I’ve found myself grinning like an idiot through each and every page. The depiction of Spiderman is superb. The humor is great. There’s an abundance of heart. And, above all else, we’re receiving a captivating story! Trust me, this is a book that’s worth adding to your monthly rotation!