Once a month the amazing staff at 8th Dimension Comics selects a pile of the best new releases for us to peruse and judge.
Superman Unchained #1: To me Superman remains iconic, but uninteresting. I can count the moments I've been riveted by a Superman story on a single hand, but if anyone can make Big Blue interesting it's Scott Snyder. Of course, he's partnering with Jim Lee on this so it can't be all good.
Clark Kent has taken a page out of Daredevil's book and apparently left his high-collar job for a more low-key journalistic affair. Sometimes these are actually Kent's best moments, when he spends time being human in contrast to being a God. Still, the book is 75 percent giant-punching space drama, including a poster-sized fold-out page that is just not that enticing. There's some hope, though, as the United States military, led by Lois Lane's father apparently has another Superman that was previously used to destroy Nagasaki in World War II. It'll probably just be more punching, but this time with purpose if we're lucky.
Rating: 6 of 10
Thanos Rising #2: Thanos the titan is about to be a household name in the next wave of Marvel movies, and it's about time because he has always been a magnificent character. He's truly an example of a character that has been created but can never really be understood, and Jason Aaron explores his childhood with great depth without ever lifting the mystery.
A genetic mutation of the otherwise perfect Eternals, Thanos is hand-picked by Death herself to be molded into the perfect consort. She shadows his entire life, leading him to situations that turn a boy who just wants to be loved into a killer who has no idea why he is doing it. It's a terrible, gruesome journey that is a worthy entry into the Mad God's mythology. New and old fans will find everything to love about this run.
Rating: 8 of 10
Lazarus #1: Jeremy Bulloch assured me that Lazarus #1 was the best book he'd seen in a while, and he was right. It's like a secular version of Gary Watson's After Twilight on steroids and meth. The story follows a young woman named forever who cannot be killed. Well, she can be but she rises from the dead shortly after.
Forever is part of a dictatorial family that apparently holds hundreds, maybe thousand in serfdom. The world is a dystopia where food is scarce, and Forever's amazing abilities are used to maintain what appears to be a very evil empire. Nonetheless, she already questions what her role is and what is regularly being done to her body in the name of her Family.
It's an instantly engaging book that has all the hallmarks of a good Phillip K. Dick story, but presented with Michael Lark's powerful artwork. There's a huge, simmer political metaphor bubbling just below the surface that with surely take the book from great to epic in the coming weeks. If you're looking for something new and wonderful to try, Lazarus is it.
Rating: 9 of 10
Hawkeye #11: Before you do anything else you need to go check out Adam WarRock, a nerdcore master who has been putting out a song a week dealing with various titles in the Marvel Now line. It's just amazing stuff, and his Hawkeye tune is especially worth the listen.
OK, back? Good, let's talk about Hawkeye which along with Here Comes Daredevil is a book that Marvel does wonderful things with. Matt Fraction and David Aja consistently manage to carve out what it would actually be like if you were a regularly powered hero in a world of gods. It would basically be like being a low man on the totem poll in a big company, and that's exactly how the book portrays him. Imagine if Peter from Office Space had the job of shooting arrows at Doctor Doom. It's exactly like that.
In this issue we actually follow Hawkeye's recently rescued canine companion Lucky, who he liberated from track suit-wearing, bro-speaking Eastern European gangsters. Lucky's typical day solving crime and taking care of his master is one of the best examples of a dog's perception of the world ever put on paper, and is worth the buy just to see it pulled off.
Rating: 7 of 10
Half Past Danger #2: I covered this book this week out of sheer want to continue the explosive debut last month! Half Past Danger is a complete wonder of pulp storytelling that has everything you could want. Nazis, dinosaurs, ninjas, a drunken protagonist haunted by his past. They don't make them like this anymore.
Now our hero Tommy Flynn has been recruited into a team to infiltrate the Nazi-held island where dinosaurs murdered his squad. It urns out that German scientists have determined that a pathogen was responsible for the death of the dinosaurs, but the discovery of living species have them hoping to tweak their own version to eradicate all non-Aryan life in a germ bomb.
This is loses a little of the momentum and shock value of the first, but it sets up some very good character buildups with the promise of some mysteries to come. All in all, it's a really solid book that no one should miss.
Rating: 8 of 10
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The Malevolent Mr. Burns #1: This week's kid's selection shows the privileged life of Montgomery Burns from childhood to his current position as Satan's boss (Who he calls Rupert.) It's a lighthearted send up on Little Rascals-style adventures as Burns attempts to make friends with poor children, only to discover a mountain of gold maintained by ape men. Later he tells the story of how he befriended a runty puppy who helped him plot revenge on some college bullies and founded the proud line of hounds he sics on people.
Simpsons books are generally not all that funny, but Burns is enough of a twisted caricature that he's easy to follow along with. There's a few too many little touches like the bust of Ayn Rand that keep it from being more than a far-too long "money is evil" joke, but the dialogue is written well enough to dig into.
Rating: 5 of 10