Singles Going Steady is Comics Bulletin's weekly single issue review roundup. We try to cover what we can.
Bravest Warriors #1
(Joey Comeau, Mike Holmes, Ryan Pequin, Zack Sterling Steve Wands; BOOM! Studios)
It would be easy to accuse Pendleton Ward of riding his own coattails with the upcoming animated web series Bravest Warriors. After all, a premise involving a group of youngsters performing daring do in strange and distant lands as envisioned by the creator of Adventure Time does sound a lot like Adventure Time. And judging by the plethora of battle burns and anthropomorphic dessert treats that show up here, that seems to be a pretty accurate assessment. But to that I say, so what? In a world that can sustain more than one spinoff of Pawn Stars and a quartet of Paranormal Activities, I think we can handle a couple of really smart, really imaginative all-ages cartoons — especially if they're as funny as this one.
Like Adventure Time, the comic book adaptation of Bravest Warriors is an absolute success. In fact, it may be even more impressive. When KaBOOM! first started publishing comics based on one of Ward's animated series, the burden was only to mimic and supplement an already established brand. With Bravest Warriors set to debut on YouTube later in November, the creators of this book don't have the audience's familiarity to lean on as a crutch. Nonetheless, I feel like I've already gotten to know Chris, Wallow, Danny and Beth in the span of just 22 pages, even if the jury's still out on which one is actually the bravest.
Of course, it would all still register as disappointment if this book didn't generate the lulz, but on just about every page, Bravest Warriors delivers the goods. From the absurdity of a cupcake gladiator battle to the snarky factoids printed at the bottom of the page, there are plenty of opportunities for yuks here. While the events of this issue are no less mundane than an afternoon watching movie trailers or a trip to the laser tag arcade, the world of Bravest Warriors is clearly a wild and wacky place. It's one I look forward to visiting for many years to come.
– Chris Kiser
(Kelly Sue DeConnick, Phil Noto, Richard Starkings and Comicraft; Dark Horse)
Continuing from the Dark Horse Presents serial (all conveniently collected in a #0 issue), DeConnick and Noto turn up the intrigue and add a few more spokes to the wheel. Real enjoyable stuff, but I'm mostly fond of the title character being this violent, potentially uncontrollable entity — sure we've got Hulks and Venoms acting scary destructive counterparts to their human alter egos, but rarely is that force something as seemingly gentle as beautiful woman in flowing white fabric.
I always liked the look of the eponymous Ghost — the white hood and the guns strike me as iconic — but for the first time I'm actually interested in what she does, too.
– Danny Djeljosevic
(Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Cris Peter, Clayton Cowles; Marvel)
This final issue of Jonathan Hickman's FF calls itself "A Fantastic Four Epilogue," and as accurate a description as that is, it's one that could have just as easily been applied to any issue of the series over the past several months. The bulk of Hickman's stint with Marvel's First Family consisted of an intricately plotted sweeping epic, but once that wrapped up, this book and its sister title often felt like they were just treading water until the start of Marvel NOW. Like Tolkien, who probably ended things about 150 pages too late on The Lord of the Rings, Hickman looked to be taking his final bow a bit too long after his crescendo.
Thankfully, none of that puts a damper on the sweetness and sincerity of his swan song. FF #23 is everything you loved about Hickman's run in one last 20-page package. As the future Franklin Richards bids his farewells and prepares to return to his own time, we get to enjoy some nice fun and adventure between him and his younger self
in an alternate universe, partake in some belly laughs with Ben and Johnny at the bar and cut a few onions as he says goodbye to his parents. The letter from Hickman to fans on the last page ties a nice bow on it all, stating succinctly what we've known all along. In the midst of all the time travel, alternate universes and alien warfare, the heart of this run has been nothing but family — no more, no less.
– Chris Kiser
Wolverine MAX #1
(Jason Starr, Roland Boschi, Connor Willumsen, Dan Brown, Cory Petit; Marvel)
This might be the biggest shock of the year if the publisher even bothered to promote it: Marvel Comics have released an adults-only Wolverine comic whilst under the ownership of the Walt Disney Company. Not only is Wolverine a character who appears on bedsheets and backpacks, but you may remember that the Garth Ennis Fury MAX series resulted in George Clooney dropping out of a potential S.H.I.E.L.D. movie in those pre-Marvel Movieverse days. You'd think they'd have called it Logan MAX or something, but optimism suggests that Marvel is still in the business of selling comics so Wolverine MAX it is.
Then again, Marvel MAX books are hardly so shocking — it's mostly been pulpy comics utilizing Marvel properties where the characters can say "fuck." Wolverine MAX is no exception — slightly more violent than the usual Wolverine book, we open with Logan missing his legs, a shark biting the head of a Japanese girl and our hero disemboweling said shark. Solid.
Drawing the present-day sections is Roland Boschi, a solid artist that Marvel appears to employ exclusively for Punisher, Ghost Rider and Wolverine comics. Looks fine, but the real outré moments come from artist Connor Willumsen, who illustrates six beautifully weird flashback pages full of wavy linework and Kyle Baker-esque cartooning more expected in a Strange Tales anthology than a fan-friendly ongoing, teasing the Wolverine MAX comic we need rather than the pretty good one we're getting. Shame Willumsen won't be illustrating any more of it, though.
Ultimately, it's an ultraviolent Wolverine comic that takes place in Japan and has nothing to do with any sort of X-thing. Pretty much what it should be.
– Danny Djeljosevic
Justice League Dark #13
(Jeff Lemire, Mikel Janin, Victor Drujiniu, Ulises Arreola, Rob Leigh; DC)
Justice League Dark has become a perfectly decent mainstream superhero book, and I mean that in the harshest way possible. It seems like forever since this book began as a refreshingly offbeat and twisted take on the DCU's magic-based characters. Long gone are the swarms of killer teeth and physically manifest psychoses that gave Peter Milligan's first story arc its unique and gloomy charm, replaced by a wave of normalcy that has brought it more in line with the rest of the uninventive New 52. The only truly strange aspect of the series at this point? That one-time indie darling Jeff Lemire is the guy who has driven it down such a conventional path.
While the Janin-Arreola art team keeps this week's issue looking like something special, everything else about it feels like it's fresh off the DC assembly line. References to A.R.G.U.S. and the "Red" and the "Green" keep the book shackled to the pseudo-planned continuity of the New 52, while a big, surprise baddie reveal involves a character who first appeared in the Zero issue just a month ago. I can appreciate the effort to retain at least some of the madcap whimsy that came before (The comic does end with a pair of gothic mansions racing each other down a magic wormhole, so that's pretty neat.), but it isn't enough. This is a plain old superhero book, with competency as its greatest selling point.
– Chris Kiser
Journey Into Mystery #645
(Kieron Gillen, Stephanie Hans, Clayton Cowles; Marvel)
Kieron Gillen finishes off his cult-favorite run following the adventures of Kid Loki, which thankfully doesn't quite end the way we pessimistic comics readers expect — probably because this permutation of Loki i
s actually popular with readers. Let's consider him the Stephanie Brown of the Marvel Universe, except that Loki's publisher is actually interested in his vocal fanbase.
Loki deals with his run-long conflict in a surprisingly finite way — well, in superhero comics terms, "finite" always comes paired with the mitigating adverb of "seemingly" — and has a nice character-revealing hug with Thor. If I used nouns like "feels" or were capable of "feels," I'd certainly use or have those. People who do use that get to stop at the big black THE END page that the "Everything Burns" story arc had been employing and have a happy ending and never have to read another Loki comic for fear of emotional disappointment, while the rest of us get a pretty amazing scene of a conflicted Kid Loki in the pivotal epilogue.
Next issue has Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schitti taking over the title and focusing on Lady Sif, which has me pretty excited because Immonen's a fun, underrated writer, while Loki's adventures continue in Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's upcoming Young Avengers which I'm so stoked for you have no idea.
And the Rest
Mind MGMT #6
(Matt Kindt; Dark Horse)
Adventure Time #9
(Ryan North, Shelli Paroline, Lisa Moore, Steve Wands, Shane & Chris Houghton; BOOM!)
Secret Avengers #33
(Rick Remender, Andy Kuhn, Matthew Wilson, Clayton Cowles; Marvel)
(Brandon Graham, Giannis Milonogiannis, Joseph Bergin III, Ed Brisson; Image)
Batman Incorporated #4
(Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn, Dave Sharpe; DC)
Raised on a steady diet of Super Powers action figures and Adam West Batman reruns, Chris Kiser now writes for Comics Bulletin. He once reviewed every tie-in to a major DC Comics summer event and survived to tell the tale. Ask him about it on Twitter, where he can be found at @Chris_Kiser!
Danny Djeljosevic is a comic book creator, award-winning filmmaker (assuming you have absolutely no follow-up questions) and Co-Managing Editor of Comics Bulletin. Follow him on Twitter at @djeljosevic or find him somewhere in San Diego, often wearing a hat. Read his comic with Mike Prezzato, "Sgt. Death and his Metachromatic Men," over at Champion City Comics and check out his other comics at his Tumblr, Sequential Fuckery. His webcomic The Ghost Engine,with artist Eric Zawadzki, updates twice a week.