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Best Comics in February Part 2: Houston's Own Superhero and a Stephen King/Joe Hill Team-Up

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Yesterday we brought you part 1 of our monthly series. We're back with six more comics from February you shouldn't miss!

All Star Western #6

Aside from his appearance in Batman: The Animated Series, we've just never been all that into Jonah Hex. We thought that having him teamed with Amadeus Arkham, who has basically become DC's version of Lovecraft's Randolph Carter to rescue children in what will one day become the Bat Cave, would be a great odd-couple adventure. Unfortunately, Hex remains an extremely unlikable character. We were much more into the secondary feature, Barbary Ghost, about a Chinese woman who becomes a vigilante in order to take down the gangster that murdered her family. She's short on character development, but her simple revenge drama plays much more like the westerns the comic is trying to imitate.

Rating: 5 of 10

Conan the Barbarian #1

Conan is not hard to do well. You just have to have the "barbarian" part of his title beaten into your head until you never forget it. The savage is out on a pirate adventure this time, looking for battle and a pale pirate queen that we're pretty sure Neil Gaiman is going to send up suing Dark Horse over for her resemblance to Death. It's a fun book, but somewhat shorter on battle than you'd expect.

Rating: 6 of 10
Army of Darkness Dynamite #1

You'll pardon us if we turn into Jay from the Kevin Smith movies for a moment. Dude, all of a sudden there's like the chick with a shape-shifting hand, a rack of sweater meat who turns out to be an alternate dimension version of Ash. You think she's about to get down with Cleopatra, but oh no, now she'd killing dead fucks in a pyramid. That 'bout sums it up.

Rating: 4 of 10

Road Rage #1

Though we would've preferred the team-up between Joe Hill and Stephen King to be a merging of the universes of N. and Voluntary Committal, their ode to the violent biker genre is still a pretty good ride. A mysterious 18-wheeler is out for a tribe of motorcyclists on the run from a meth-fueled murder scene. Grindhouse has never been done better.

Rating: 6 of 10

Batman #6

Is there such a thing as too much Batman? Scott Snyder, who must seriously be the busiest comic writer alive, has Batman up against a deranged court of owl folk (Note: The proper collective noun for owls should be a parliament), and he spends most of the time getting the absolute crap beaten out of him. Honestly, in the new 52 we feel that Batman's true place is the cult of personality that seems to have grown up around him. He's far better as a legend than he's currently being portrayed.

Rating: 5 of 10
Scarlet Spider #2

Going to drop the royal we for this last one. Hey guys, Jef here. I want to say I'm sorry because I missed out on a lot of the hoopla surrounding Houston's first superhero. Call it laziness, my pissy goth nature or just whatever you like, but I am genuinely sorry because like Gotham we didn't get the hero we wanted, we got the hero we deserved. I should've told you.

Kaine...freakin' Kaine of the Spider-Man Clone Saga that was the worst storyline around until One More Day came and threw up Spidey's cornflakes. That's who we ended up with, a flawed clone of Peter Parker that has taken up the mantle of the Scarlet Spider, and who stumbles from one adventure to another, ready to head for Mexico at any time to escape his life.

And yet...he is perfect. Absolutely perfect for H-Town in ways that I'll never be a good enough writer to articulate. We're two issues into the series, and Kaine hates it here. Fair enough. We've never known anyone who didn't want to escape our misfit city...but we've also never known anyone who did. In the end Kaine, like so many artists and business people, comes to realize that this really is a magical place that seems to be ignored no matter how big we grow. We need a superhero because we face the same odds as the better-known locales every day, but we tend to face them alone.

Kaine's rescues are...awkward. Benevolent terrorism might be a better term. Altruism is strange for him, and he always has one foot out of the door. He is as unique as we are, and we share the misshapenness of birth. In the end, though, I have such faith here, even at the parts I sneer at. Scarlet Spider captures the heart of our city in ways that have never happened before, and again, I am so, so sorry that I let it happen without telling you when it first started. I'm doing it now. Keep Kaine and carry on!

Rating: Perfect

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