Afterlife With Archie is a title that seems to be plagued with inexplicable breaks between issues. The first two were on time, but all the issues since have been at least one month late. And it gets really annoying when a new title is constantly late like this. The only saving grace in all this is that the title is so high quality in all respects and that takes away some of the sting of it. In the last four issues we’ve seen a constant build-up of tension and drama in the series and now it is time for this first arc on this amazing zombie-apocalypse comic to come to an end and we get yet another awesome issue.
Afterlife With Archie #5 steps away from the usual approach of the previous issues and is this time narrated by none other than Smithers, valet to the Lodges. In many ways, this issue is his “origin” story as we see how he came to be in the service of the Lodges and what kind of a connection he has to Hiram and Veronica. Through him, we also get some interesting commentary on lots of different characters, and it works really well. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa’s writing is as good as it has ever been and the same goes for Francesco Francavilla’s art too.
After another inexplicable break, Afterlife With Archie returned last week with its 4th issue, and delivered an intensely personal story as far as the titular hero Archie is concerned. Till now there has been a lot of death and mayhem in the happy-go-lucky town of Riverdale as a zombie plague ran rampant following Sabrina’s necromantic resurrection of Jughead’s dog Hot Dog. And some of it has been quite horrific. But the stakes have never been so intensely personal as we see in this issue. But that’s not so surprising since Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla have been doing this on all their previous issues.
In the previous three issues we got a very wide look at the goings-on in Riverdale as the writer touched on an immense cast of characters, but this time we see that cast pared down to just Archie and his immediate family, plus the Blossom kids. With each of the previous issues the creative team has made reconnecting with all these characters a very fun journey, and this new one is no different. Archie’s “adventure” as he reconnects with his family, and what the epilogue means for the longer story, is very fun. Of course, Francavilla’s art continues to be to phenomenal too!
After yet another break, one of Image’s newest titles returned to shelves this past week with its sixth issue. Across the five issues we’ve had previously, writer Greg Rucka and artists Michael Lark and Santi Arcas built up a well-defined post-apocalyptic (of sorts) world around the protagonist Forever Carlyle, a genetically engineered and conditioned woman who acts as her family’s ambassador and head of security. Its been a fairly good series thus far, and I’ve enjoyed what the creators have done. This isn’t the type of story that would ever be told at the Big 2 and Image is a perfect fit for this title.
In the new issue, we continue to get a wider perspective of the world and the setting itself. We are able to see just how the world works and how the Serfs and Wastes are treated by the Families. This is by no means a happy setting, bleak in the extreme actually, and this issue shows that off nicely. In fact, it highlights how ruthless this world is. And the art is quite decent. No big scenes here this time, and everything is more or less a subtle play on the larger themes.
As far as me experimenting with non-superhero comics is concerned, Image has been my go-to publisher of choice. They have an incredible diverse array of books out right now and they continue to add more each month. One of the new properties they added this year is Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus, a post-apocalyptic series featuring a female protagonist. With its 4-issue first arc, the creators set up a really great setting with some great characters and despite the extra one-month break in-between the last issue and the new one, my interest in the series has not dimmed at all.
The first arc ended rather explosively, with quite a few things going down and the new issue picks up where #4 left off so that we see what kind of a fallout those events have had and how the characters themselves have changed and adapted to suit the new status quo. Apart from everything else, Rucka and Lark take us back in to the past with a great flashback, and we get to see even more of the world as it has come to be. Particularly, we see what kind of events have shaped Forever as she is. And that’s a huge part of the fun of the new issue.
After a 2-week delay (might be as much as 3), Geoff Johns’ Justice League #25 finally hit stands this week. As the overlord of all of the Forever Evil titles and controlling the core story of this mega-event, Geoff Johns has been doing great on his most high-profile New 52 book and the new issue is more of the same. If the art on Forever Evil itself could be much better, then that mini-series too could be really good. Thankfully, this is where we get Justice League to plug in all the gaps, where Geoff can let loose with all his crazy ideas and come out with something really good.
Despite what it shows on the cover (another misleading Forever Evil cover by the way), Justice League #25 really is about Geoff exploring the backhistory of Owlman, who is the Earth 3 evil version of Batman. And other than Owlman, we also get to see Dick Grayson through Owlman’s eyes, which was pretty neatly handled. Sadly, Ivan Reis & Co. are not on the art duties on this issue, and we have Doug Mahnke & Co. stepping up to the table, but that ends up benefiting the title rather than taking away from it. And in the end, this proves to be another great issue of Justice League from Geoff and team.
After the success of Matt Forbeck’s 12-issue run on the title, IDW launched a new phase of Magic the Gathering comics in October with Planeswalker Dack Fayden under the pen of new writer Jason Ciaramella and series veteran Martin Coccolo. The first issue was quite a fun read, largely in part because it kept the same tone and momentum as Matt’s own issues, which I loved, and I was quite looking forward to the second installment last month. But, for whatever reason the issue was delayed and it comes out today (still a few hours to go for US readers).
The second issue unfortunately suffers from a sophomore slump. Where the first issue was planes-jumping high adventure and Dack’s typical madcap heist story, the second issue doesn’t really offer anything interesting. There is a distinct lack of story progression here and I found that I didn’t like it as much as I liked the first issue. The artwork is still brilliant but the writing definitely lets it down.
Slightly slow comic-reading week again, but not by all that much since I got to read a graphic novel as well, so that balances things out a little bit. Really interesting week this one, particularly with the launch of a Harley Quinn ongoing from DC Comics and some really good second issues or the start of new arcs for some of the other regular books.
The month is closing out now though, not all that much time left, just a handful of days, and I’d like to end the month on a good high. TO that end, I might well be reading two graphic novels at least this weekend to catch up on things a little since that particular reading pile creeps higher every week or two weeks. Getting almost scary now!
Vertigo took some (further?) forays into the horror genre last month, the month of horror, by bringing out a new series called Coffin Hill, written by Caitlin Kittredge and drawn by Inaki Miranda. With a story revolving around your heiress Eve Coffin, Kittredge created a dramatic world with all the typical horror elements, but none of the cheesiness and very little of the cliches. Her world was full of interesting characters, and interesting events, which made the first issue a great experience, not to mention Miranda’s spectacular artwork.
With the second issue, we see the world developing, and so do the characters, as more mysteries are introduced while some are answered. Where the first issue could be called a bold but hesitant step forward into the genre, the second issue is the opposite. It feels as if an experienced writer is at the helm of the series. Sure, there are a few flaws, but the second issue proves to be a much more satisfying read, which is what I wanted and what I got.
Writing a comic that is aware of its socio-political nature, and working that into the script itself, can be a daunting task. There are a few books that have attempted to do that over the years, but none with as obvious a message or delivery as Gail Simone’s The Movement from DC Comics. It is a modern-day comic that creates a very believable modern aesthetic, and it explores “superheroes” who take over from the social services that are supposed to protect the people.
In the five issues thus far, Gail and artist Freddie Williams have given us a really wonderful look at their setting, and they’ve populated it with some really interesting characters. There are distinct superhero-team vibes in the comic, which is really interesting considering what kind of a comic this really is. And no superhero team book is complete without some internal disagreement, and that’s what Gail explores in this issue.
As the larger cosmic event Infinity begins winding down, so do the various tie-ins and current arcs going on in the related books. Mighty Avengers, a book which launched in synchronicity with the event in September, ended its first arc this week, and it has been doing quite decently from what I’ve heard of the sales for the first two issues. Of course, there’s also the matter of the exact make-up of the team, which has generated no small amount of buzz itself.
This is a book that showcases the minority characters, and characters that are seemingly overlooked by the rest of the Marvel universe considering that most of the books the publisher is putting out right now are X-Men books with largely similar teams, and Avengers books that are all about the high-profile heroes. Al Ewing has done great in bringing together all these characters and telling a really fun story involving them, partnered up with some decent artwork,
Event comics are often maligned because of their meta-perspective, giving us the overlay of events happening across an entire line. Some can be really good, such as how the recently concluded X-Men: Battle of the Atom was in its first month, or how Throne of Atlantis and Trinity War were. But some can be… bad, such as Infinity because the event comics don’t really give you a consistent story to follow. Or characters for that matter. Geoff Johns has had more experience with event comics than most writers today given all the work he did for Green Lantern in its pre-New 52 days, and so he’s often a dependable guy for such comics.
Sadly, he seems to be missing the mark again and again with Forever Evil, the main 7-issue event mini-series specifically. In two issues thus far he’s given a lot of different perspectives to advance the main storyline, setting up the various tie-in comics for the event, or even drawing on them to further the main storyline. Its a “feeding off each other” effect that isn’t really working for me. And the art is mediocre at best.
And finally this mini-series is at an end. Its a been a long road, all five weeks of October to be precise, but the story is done and dusted and there have been some important changes in the status quo of Feudal Japan, changes that have rocked the island nation and its foundations. And there have been heroes here, and villains aplenty as Rob Levin brought this screenplay to life as a comic.
When I first picked up this mini-series, I wasn’t expecting it to be as good as it turned out. Not really. I thought it’d be decent fun and that was that at the time. But then I began reading it, tuning in each week for the next installment, and finally we are here as Rob Levin closes out the story of Kichiro and Orochi, of a Vampire invasion of Nippon. This week’s final issue turned out to be fairly good, but it was still plagued by all the deficiencies of the previous issue unfortunately.