Best Comics in April: Parenting Vader-Style and Garth Ennis's Shadow
Once a month the amazing staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects a pile of the best new releases for us to peruse and judge.
I was initially unimpressed with the rebooted Justice League as it was basically a showcase on why almost every other member is a tool except for Batman. Picking it up over half a year later, the team is still kind of a whiny bitchfest, but appears to have become an actual effective fighting force. The latest storyline involves the attempts by Green Arrow to seek membership by basically stalking the team and getting involved in their fights. It's merely the centerpiece in a growing plotline that has an increasingly suspicious U.S. government wanting more control over what is essentially a vigilante group with enough power to wipe a country off the map. It's always fun watching comic books show what politics would be like in a world of supermen.
Rating: 6 of 10
A new series from Image deals with the hypothesis that the Manhattan Project was simply a ruse to conceal even more amazing technological advances being made by the top scientists of the 1940s. Not the most original idea ever passed, but Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra manage to deliver it with absolutely amazing storytelling ability. From Oppenheimer's demonic secret to the mysterious Einstein, kept locked in a strange room studying an unknown artifact, the book rivals any other we've ever seen in terms of alternate history. In this day and age, you have to be really something to make Nazis not seem cliché. Fantastic read.
Rating: 9 of 10
Another entry from Image, which is apparently setting itself up as the home of some of the choicest public-domain characters. Garth Ennis is behind the new Shadow, not that big a stretch considering the similarities between the powers of Lamont Cranston and Jesse Custer when you come right down to it. It's a good first issue, with no amazing divergences or otherwise Ennis-level shock. If you want a good old-fashioned pulp book, then here is your best shot.
Rating: 7 of 10
A distinctive change of pace from our usual fare, Reset follows a washed-up actor who agrees to take part in an alternate reality experiment because he's desperate for money. The experiment allows him to relive his life from graduation on, but he is so obsessively focused on a single insult from a high school crush who never otherwise spoke to him that he continues to keep resetting the experience to that one pivotal moment. Meanwhile, behind the scenes the experimenters appear to be controlling much more than just a woozy helmet. It's a rather bizarre book that Peter Bagge's art makes into a somewhat surrealist cartoon universe. Definitely worth a look if you want something off the beaten path and with all the hallmarks of a good Futurama episode.
Rating: 7 of 10
The tale of Texas under theocratic rule continues in the third issue of the series. Jen has finally signed up with Jessie the Liberator in the underground resistance to the Christian extremist regime. Thus far, the book has more or less followed the plot of the original short film by Gary Watson, who assures us that the next issue will begin to go places that the film couldn't quite get to. As the politics around these parts get more and more repressive, there is probably no comic book more important for you to be reading.
Rating: 7 of 10
Not a comic, but an adorable children's book I picked up while at 8th Dimension, Jeffrey Browne lovingly depicts what life would be like if Vader was a devoted modern father to a four-year-old Luke. From handing over his ice cream when Luke drops his to force-fueled tickle fights, it's got to be the most heartwarming and adorable thing ever published. If there is anything more guileless and awwww-inducing than watching a tiny Skywalker wrap trusting arms around the black leg of Vader and saying, "I love you, Dad," then I haven't seen it.
Rating: 8 of 10
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