Once a month the amazing staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects a pile of the best new releases for us to peruse and judge.
Star Wars: In the Shadow of Yavin #2:While we all wait impatiently for Episode VII to become reality, do take a few moments to check out Shadow of Yavin. The book takes place immediately after the destruction of the first Death Star, with Princess Leia turning to black ops and espionage in order to ferret out an imperial spy in the Alliance. Brian Wood's script is fantastic, and feels like it was birthed from the original series itself.
He introduces Colonel Bircher as a main antagonist, who takes over Darth Vader's star destroyer command in the wake of his failure at Yavin. In one brief scene he manages to fill every page with swagger and cool, combining the best of Grand Moff Tarkin and Hans Landa of Inglourious Basterds. The real treasure, though is the art of Carlos D'Anda. His wookiee could use some work, but Princess Leia has never been so wonderfully drawn.
Rating: 8 of 10
The Adventures of Augusta Wind #3: This month's children selection is probably stretching that definition. J.M. Dematteis is channeling a bit too much of the darker moments of Sandman to be called kid friendly, and Vassilis Gogtzilas' art is too mad to be considered truly pretty. The book follows a young girl who discovers she's secretly from a fairytale world with the ability to fly on an umbrella. She faces strange demons, which may or may not just be hallucinations, as she tries to save her storybook family. It's a fairly standard book that doesn't offer much more than you could get out of re-reading Rushdie's Haroun and the Sea of Stories, but if you want a good, non-princess romp that's not afraid to frighten you'll love Augusta.
Rating: 6 of 10
Green Arrow #17: Despite a few mistakes here and there it's pretty safe to say that DC's reboot almost two years ago was a grand move that has done a world of good for its characters. Green Arrow was one of those few mistakes. #17 has Jeff Lemire stepping in to reinvent the Oliver Queen once again, this time as a broken man with a destroyed life being targeted by a shadowy cabal. Lemire takes the cocky arrow and leaves him almost dead and framed for murder. It humanizes Queen, as Batman's loss of his family humanizes The Dark Knight, and makes for some fascinating storytelling.
Rating: 7 of 10
Hawkeye #8: As long as we're talking archers, let's look in on Marvel's Hawkeye. Just a quick note, David Aja is drawing the best covers in comics right now. They're truly a work of art. I'm not entirely sure the same can be said for Matt Fraction and his storyline. Clint Barton has become something of a constant fuck-up in his own book, always on the horns of some wacky dilemma that he only gets out of through sheer badassness and the tired intervention of other Avengers to bail him out of jail. It's fun in a Dukes of Hazard sort of way, but at times it's more like Judd Apatow and Quinton Tarantino teamed up on a movie.
Rating: 5 of 10
Catwoman #17: I was in love with Catwoman when the reboot started, but eventually a combination of comically impossible anatomic art and Selina Kyle being a shrieking train wreck ruined the book. Checking in with her further along now, she's still something of an unstable adrenaline junkie, but seems to have come into more focus as a character. She finds herself stealing art, only to wind up having to rescue her friend and accomplice who has been hauled in to try and capture Catwoman. There's a hilarious fight with a morbidly obese and mentally challenged Penguin henchman that is unforgettable.
Rating: 6 of 10
Justice League of America #1: Speaking of Catwoman, she got herself on a new Justice League along with Martian Manhunter, the new Green Lantern, Hawkman, and freakin' Vibe of all people. The one-dimensional ethnic stereotype with sound powers actually gets redeemed and fleshed out some in his new role, almost in a young Peter Parker kind of way. Steve Trevor is tasked with forming a team capable of taking on the likes of Superman and Wonder Woman is it ever becomes necessary. #1 is little more than vignettes of the recruiting process, but it already looks to be a damn fine book along the lines of Suicide Squad.
Rating: 8 of 10
Happy! #4: Grant Morrison's bloody, awful, beautiful mini-series comes to its close. It's got everything from a disgraced cop seeking his kidnapped daughter with a trail of over-the-top violent murders of scumbags to an army of imaginary friends fighting a junkie Santa Claus starring in a horrific live kiddie porn feed. It's one of the most brutal books ever written, and there is no way you should miss the finale. Somehow, even in such a bad world, there's still a little hope.
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Rating: 9 of 10
Doctor Who: Prisoners of Time #2: With the 50th Anniversary looming IDW is featuring a gigantic series featuring all eleven Doctor's, one each month, in a plot that involves them all. Last month's First Doctor story brought back the Zarbi, which he fought with Vicki, Ian, and Barbara at his side. It was a historical wonder guest starring Thomas Huxley and captured the magic of the classic series perfectly.
This month, the Second Doctor with Jamie and Zoe find themselves fighting a slave trade with the help of the Ice Warriors. Patrick Troughton's Doctor is the hardest to portray outside of television because he draws so much of his character from his physical nature. It's still a rip-roaring good time with plenty of nods to places and people all across the Whoniverse, and it will be wonderful to see just what plot lies behind a mysterious figure bent on separating The Doctor from his companions. It's the perfect adventure to keep us going until November.
Rating: 9 of 10