Once a month the amazing staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects a pile of the best new releases for us to peruse and judge. Yesterday we looked at the massive crossovers dominating the Marvel and DC landscapes. Today we look at the books that aren't involved.
Finally our home-produced tale of a secessionist, theocratic Texas has passed beyond the cliffhanger ending of the short film that inspired it. Last we left our hero, Jen Frazier, she'd managed to smuggle an evolution textbook to an underground copying ring for preservation against the book burners. Not all that much happens action-wise in #4, but a much better look at the setting of this possible future is shown. We get to see a governor blind to the offenses committed by his thuggish underlings, and the hypocrisy of rape and deviance that inhabit the cells where Jen is being detained. It's a powerful springboard, and you can only hope that Gary Watson manages to squeeze out a happy ending in the next two issues of the run.
Rating: 7 of 10
Another great kid's comic done by Baltazar Franco. Superman has always been one of the most kid-friendly characters of all time, and it's nice to see that aspect of him preserved even into the gritty modern world. The book is low-key, whimsical, and consists of little more than robots, cute jokes, and cut and dried good and evil. If you have a young child that you would like to get involved in comics then anything by Franco, especially this latest Superman title, is a must-buy.
Rating: 8 of 10
The classic story of Bruce Banner has been turned on its head. Separated from the Hulk, Banner went all mad scientist and ended up detonating a gamma bomb that fused him as a repressed personality of the Hulk. Now whenever Hulk calms down, he blacks out and turns into the criminally insane Banner, who uses him to further a variety of sick plots. Only by staying angry can the Hulk remain a hero, and he gets a little help from the Punisher who agrees to repeatedly shoot him in the face whenever asked. The two team up to take down drug dog/human hybrid drug dealers in Mexico in a brutal episode that shows what the Island of Dr. Moreau would look like if Robert Rodriguez had directed it. Fascinating new take on the classic Hulk.
Rating: 9 of 10
I gave up on Justice League Dark after two issues. Shade the Changing Man was given way too much space for being as boring as fuck as he is, and the rest of the book was all about Deadman's love life. 8th Dimension talked me into giving it another shot, and I'm glad I did. John Constantine assumes his rightful place as the head of the team, and goes off on a mission from the U.S. government to retrieve a powerful magical artifact from a witch doctor in Peru. The story flows much better, and Constantine is a much better hub. In a way, it felt like the excellent work Warren Ellis did on Secret Avengers. Plus, there are some hints that the book will begin exploring Neil Gamain territory like Sandman and Books of Magic in the future.
Rating: 7 of 10
No I didn't flip my wheels. Best of Enemies is a comic book history of the dealings between the United States and the Arabian countries from the country's founding until 1953. having recently read Michael Oren's Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East: 1776 to the Present, I can tell you that the history aspect of it is impeccable. Where the book really shines is in its somewhat abstract illustration design that uses surrealism with a simplistic cartoon style to hammer home messages outlining the complex political mechanisms that the two regions have engaged in. The book isn't totally objective, and opens with a retelling of the Epic of Gilgamesh with bits of George W. Bush and Donald Rumsfeld quotes sneaked into the mouth of the oldest story. It's not heavy handed though, and should definitely sit proudly on any shelf that contains Maus and Persepolis.
Rating: 8 of 10
I'm already a huge Doctor Who fan, and I always used to enjoy the episodes of Next Generation that followed Monday Night Raw. So when the two team up I get involved. The plot deals with an alliance between the Borg and the Cybermen, whish is terrifying as it is predictable. Meanwhile, the Doctor, Amy, and Rory gallivant about ancient Egypt in typical DW fashion. The crew of the Enterprise doesn't make an appearance until the very last page, where the TARDIS crew finds Riker and Data in '40s San Francisco, but it seems like a nice setup for a grand dual adventure. J.K. Wooward's art is just ungodly spectacular, and while finding someone to write good Doctor dialogue outside the show seems to be getting harder and harder, the Tipton Brothers and Tony Lee do a passable enough job.
Rating: 8 of 10
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