Black Panther (2016) #1
To say that Black Panther #1 is the most-anticipated comic book of 2016 is like saying that every once in a while, Wakanda invents some new shit. Coates, regarded as one of America’s most celebrated Black intellectuals and writers, broke the nerd internet when he announced he was writing the most recognized Black comic book character in existence (all respect to the Goddess Storm). It simply made too much sense and the buzz has set the anticipation on tilt for months. Even with that excitement, there was the very real acknowledgment that Coates has written many great things previously, but not comic books, so there has been so the optimism has been cautious in many respects. If you thought there was a possibility of this book falling down or stumbling out of the gates because of that, you’ll be happy to hear that nothing could be further from the truth. Black Panther #1 is basically what many of us anticipated or hoped for, a fresh and ambitious take on the beloved King of our favorite fictional nation. click for more
Let’s address the elephant in the room: while this is turning out to be a very good book, a few of us roaming the BNP offices had a weird aftertaste in our mouth after the “Black Spider-Man” ordeal from issue #2. I don’t say that to rehash the conversation, but merely to say that’s been one of the few things that has kept this from being a must read so shortly into it’s run. Issue #3 picks up where #2 ended, Miles walking back into his parents home with his grandmother there ready to “straighten him out.”
Yes, Miles’ grades have been shit (and we know why), not to mention he’s been distracted and aloof (dude is a teenager), but I’m guessing Mrs. Morales already regretted the decision to bring her mom in for tough love with Miles. The grandma is mostly humorous, but also intentionally over the top to where she becomes a caricature of every Big Momma that thinks that any one who messes up is on drugs. Still she is entertaining as she pivots us past the first couple of pages of the book click for more
This week’s Midnighter #11 is bittersweet. With Midnighter absent from DC’s June solicitations, it looks like this may be the penultimate issue of Steve Orlando’s solo run. Thankfully, Orlando seems prepared to draw the series to a satisfying conclusion, as unfortunate as it is to see the series draw to a close. Midnighter #11 blends bone-breaking action scenes with more of Orlando’s thoughtful character examination of Midnighter as an extraordinary man attempting to build a more mundane life (by Midnighter’s standards) on the foundations of a past he knows nothing about.
Midnighter #11 continues this arc’s impressive blend of older Midnighter elements with the current DC Comics universe, integrating Stormwatch villain Henry Bendix in as a scientific genius who has crafted the genetically superior the Unified with the help of Amanda Waller and the Suicide Squad. It’s a perfect story for Midnighter: intelligent and violent, showcasing the dry humor and wit that Midnighter has brought to his appearances in other series like Grayson (and, perhaps, making the case for future Midnighter appearances in other DC titles post-Rebirth). click for more
What is already apparent is that A-Force (though they don’t yet have that name) is a true team, no member could solve all of the problems on their own. Which just makes their constant banter more entertaining — while they are arguing, you know there is nowhere else they’d rather be. They also make time to occasionally pose dramatically. There are no less than 5 shots in the first half of the issue that feature better cover poses than most other comics out today, which is to say that Molina is a master of this art, establishing panels only to tilt them, slide them, then abandon them like a stolen car. Combined with the power couple of Thompson and Wilson, they know when to lay it on, and when to let it go silent.
Now the surprise is that the team settles this whole Antimatter issue by the time you get to the staples in the middle of the comic. (Yes, I read physical comics. I also write these reviews out long hand. Shut up.) The after-action meal is now a Marvel cliche. Having shared these kinds of meals with teams of all kinds, they always ring true for me. After so much physical exertion, there’s a certain amount of emotional overflowing that happens, and this team is no different. We already know that no one writes the vulnerable female hero like Wilson, and she brings that skill set to all of the women of A-Force: click for more
Shaft: Imitation of Life #3
After stepping back from his missing persons case, John Shaft is pulled back into the case in an unexpected way. Writer David Walker, artist Dietrich Smith, and colorist Alex Guimaraes all come together to provide a tense chapter in Shaft: Imitation of Life #3.
Walker continues to show a great handle on Shaft’s character and voice. When a vice officer named Gibbs meets Shaft and says, “Vic Anderozzi says you’re an okay guy,” Shaft quickly responds, “And you believed Anderozzi?” The dismissive way Shaft relates to everyone around him highlights his indifferent, bordering on misanthropic, attitude. The dialogue also makes a callback to the previous issue and highlights Shaft’s evolving stance on the gay community in a clever way. click for more
Strange Fruit #3
As is the case with many penultimate issues, Strange Fruit #3 sees just about everything hit the fan. Chatterlee’s looming crises are no longer casting a shadow over the town; they’re on the verge of obliterating the town. While the flood might be the most pressing issue, there’s an impending race riot and a missing child that could tear everything apart…as well as the issue of their mysterious alien visitor, and what exactly he’s doing in Mississippi of all places. Seeing as how this is my first review of this series, I’ll be touching on some broader themes as well as the fine points of this issue. Warning: I will be discussing some spoilers, so consider yourself forewarned.
The African-American community has been newly energized by the visitor, though Sonny is more determined than ever to get out of town while the getting is good. Despite Miss Lantry’s best attempts, Sonny heads out. The Senator and Lantry are trying to unite everybody to work for the common good, but the Klansmen will have none of that, and lay their hands on some dynamite. McCoy tries to meet with the visitor, and has figured out that they do share a common language of sorts: mathematics and physics. Sonny stumbles on the missing boy clinging to debris in the river, and against his better judgment, he saves him. But his good intentions do not come across to Pickens and his men, while the levee begins to fail. click for more
Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur #6
Some comics are so good you arrive 10 minutes early to the comic stores (shout out to Fantom Comics) and then miss where you were supposed to get off the bus on the way to work. True story. If issue #5 showed us the struggle of growing up Black girl brilliant, then this issue is all about the fear, as a Black parent, of simultaneously shielding your child from a world bent on their destruction and equipping them with enough life tools that they can stand on their own… even if it sometimes means defying you.
Those who have been keeping up with my reviews so far will know that I consistently express a dislike of the Killer Folk as characters, but in this comic they’re finally put to their best use as symbols of the stress forcing Lunella and her mother apart. Similar to Lunella’s condition, the Killer Folk are foreign to Lunella and her mother’s world, a constant threat, and seem to be intent on wreaking havoc, with no force capable of stopping them. Much like Blackness itself, the “scent” attached to Lunella is inextricably carried by her mother, so no matter how many times Lunella’s mother holds her hand down the sidewalk, there is (as Lunella points out) no real protection she can offer that wouldn’t also endanger both of them. So how does a parent cope? Click for more
Ultimates (2015) #6
This issue is a bit different. As the Ultimates head back from outside of reality, Galactus goes on his own journey to meet some of the more conceptual elements and faces of the Marvel universe.
This series has been a bit out there, a little weird. Things get even more out there in issue #6 as Galactus visits the Molecule Man and the beings Order and Chaos.This whole issue is about Galactus finding his place in the universe, now that he now brings life to the universe rather than destroying it.
Eternity, the embodiment of the universes, is in chains, and Galactus wants to find out how it happened, why, and who did it. This is a different side of Galactus. He’s not as stoic as we’re used to, and he has a new purpose, so it’s a lot for a fans of the characters to take in. However, it works in the long run because we’re getting something new that’s exciting. click to read more
Captain America: Sam Wilson #8
Things get a bit slapstick in Pleasant Hill this month in Captain America: Sam Wilson #8, the penultimate issue of Standoff. As Sam, Steve, and Bucky search for Kobik through the ruined town, Baron Zemo has sent out his own search party, led by Kraven the Hunter. Writer Nick Spencer mines some genuine emotion out of the trio of Captains, but it’s his thudding attempts at humor with the gaggle of villains that make this issue feel a bit tonally off. While Spencer juggles the story’s tone, artist Paul Renaud keeps the action looking fast-paced and the leads looking handsome as they gain ground in the war for Pleasant Hill. Captain America: Sam Wilson #8 isn’t the most steady of penultimate issues, but with the end of Standoff in sight, Captain America: Sam Wilson is poised to become a very different title. click to read more