Welcome back to our weekly look at what’s hitting the shelves, as I spotlight my favorite picks! This is a relatively small week, but it does contain some really choice material. Taking the lead is Manifest Destiny #11, which blends speculative historical fiction and monster mayhem. It’s a brilliant high concept: What if ol’ Tom Jefferson’s off-book spec ops mission for Captains Meriwether Lewis and William Clark was to investigate supernatural forces inhabiting the Louisiana Purchase (the real reason we got such a deal from the French!) as The Corps of Discovery charts a path to the Pacific Ocean? It’s rich with history, action, and imagination at the hands of writer Chris Dingess and artist Matthew Roberts, with lush colors by Owen Gieni.
Image Comics has other great material out this week too, everything from Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s Deadly Class #8 (another entry in Remender’s expanding oeuvre examining the parent-child dynamic, specifically lost kids in the vacuum of parentis absentia), to a duo from Warren Ellis that includes Supreme: Blue Rose #4 with artist Tula Lotay and Trees #6 with artist Jason Howard. These are both the kind of sci-fi that Ellis excels at, the former is a psychological mind-bender that plays fast and loose with non-linear time and the very nature of reality, while the latter is a more classic “what if?” concerned with the way man deals with the unknown, in the vein of an old Twilight Zone episode, but on a global sociological level.
Oni Press will also have a really good week, with The Life After #4 by Joshua Hale Fialkov and Gabo, a story that’s slightly comedic, but has bouts of poignancy, but isn’t afraid of sudden bursts of action amid the deeper mystery. It’s a real triple threat in that regard, and also unique for the “sidekick” (Ernest Hemingway!) sort of upstaging the ostensible protagonist of the series. I enjoy the book, and I think it’s still flying under the radar of many consumers. Also from Oni Press, Antony Johnston and Christopher Mitten are on the last leg of their grand post-apocalyptic opus with Wasteland #58, marking just two issues left until the series wraps. Johnston has taken the book in a completely unexpected direction with this last arc, with flashbacks to the present which predate The Big Wet and begin to explain the events we’ve seen taking place 100 years in the future.
Now, I don’t care much about Wolverine, or Marvel Comics, or a corporation’s intellectual property catalogue, and how they choose to manage event comics purporting a pseudo “death.” At this point, all signs seem to be pointing to the fact that it’ll be in name alone, ie: perhaps the character of “Wolverine” (as a masked adventurer) ceases to be for a time, but I’m sure Logan, nee: James Howlett, will live on. This gives Marvel the most storytelling mileage after all, they can bench him, effectively taking him off the board like Han Solo in carbonite, do all sorts of things on the periphery in the interim, and always tease him taking up the mantle again. But. All of that said, Charles Soule is a writer I respect, so I’m curious how he’ll snikt! the landing in Death of Wolverine #4 purely from a craft standpoint. I was sworn to secrecy, but at a recent event, he was generous enough to share with me what the final word of the final panel of the final page will be, so I want to see how he gets from point A to point B.
Lastly, on the TPB front, I’ll recommend Star Wars Volume 4: A Shattered Hope, the last entry in the Brian Wood run from Dark Horse Comics. This volume collects some fascinating material, including a two-part story that was very dark in tone about a black ops hit squad Vader puts together, all from the perspective of a young Imperial Ensign, who becomes disillusioned with her once bright-eyed military service. It also houses the somewhat rare FCBD 2012 issue, a short story involving an early team-up between Darth Vader and Boba Fett, explaining in part why this go-to guy is the Dark Lord’s Bounty Hunter of choice. With Marvel now effectively at the helm of forthcoming Star Wars titles, these 4 trades will likely go out of print, so snap them up while you can!