It turns out February had a bunch of new series come out and a bunch of new arcs to books I had been enjoying. VS #1, X-Men Red #1, Star Wars: Thrawn #1, and The Terrifics #1 all made their debuts and each offered something a little different from the other. While Batman #41 and Super Sons #13 stood out during the third week of the month with some new story lines that I thought served as great examples of why you should have already been reading their books.
Without a doubt, though, my favorite two books of the month were the Swamp Thing Winter Special and Thanos #16. I feel like just about every comic fan, no matter your preferred publisher or genre, should read Swamp Thing. Honestly you could probably use it to teach aspiring comic writing on how to make a good comic without overdoing it on the dialogue. Thanos #16 may never be taught in schools but it’s my favorite current title. It really has everything for the comic fan who has read and seen almost everything.
Speaking of all-time great comic books. Make sure you fill out your brackets for Cosmic Madness. The tournament this year is setting up to be our most unpredictable yet. Just wait until you have to choose between Watchmen and Dark Knight Returns! You’ve only got two weeks to turn those brackets into us before voting begins!
As always if you think I missed something or there’s a book out there you think I should be reading don’t hesitate to fill me in. Hopefully you find something on my list of the month’s must reads that you haven’t tried yet. As always though be careful because there are…
Week 1: Wednesday, February 7
Iron fist #77
Before we get into all the new first issues I want to highlight a book that is right up my alley. With a wide range of bad guys you get a chance to see Danny Rand at his best. There are plenty of awesome fight scenes and a bunch of sweet Kung-Fu moves like a Rising Grasshopper Kick or the Chip-Fu Backward Technique. Although the best fights scenes come when some big shot Kung Fu guy tries to take on Sabretooth and Sabretooth crudely takes them out with a scratch to the face.
Why you should read it: Iron Fist #77 somehow feels like both an indie comic and a Marvel book. It has the team-ups you’re looking for and Iron Fist brings it as the lead character. But Danny Rand is the only character that really feels like a superhero. Sabretooth is dialed back a little and the plot, while action packed, feels like it could be the next hit Image book. Unfortunately this is the final issue of the story arc and the next issue will tie-in (ew) with the new Doctor Strange Damnation title. While that may turn you off from adding it to your pull, I would encourage you to at least flip though issue #77 to see the Immortal Iron Fist ride a Dragon into battle with no regard for any human life below. If only Game of Thrones and the actual Iron Fist show were taking notes.
swamp thing winter special #1
I’m not really sure where to start with this one. It’d be easy to praise Tom King some more but I feel like I already do that pretty often. The same can be said for Jason Fabok. It was also really cool to see the tribute to Len Wein with one of his stories in the back. Granted they didn’t put any text in (why put words in Wein’s mouth) but that made it even better. Len Wein’s vision shown through and it really showcases the amount of work that it takes to make even just one comic book. But what strikes me the most as I sit here and type this, I’m still not sure if the Len Wein story makes the Tom King story even cooler or vice versa. Without the Len Wein tribute in the back, King’s story would still hit hard but I don’t know that I would have taken the same half hour break to let it sink in. Without King’s story, I doubt I would have craved every bit of the tribute to Wein as I did. Even with 80 pages I just never wanted the book to end.
Why you should read it: It’s a masterpiece. In that half hour break I mentioned in the paragraph before, the first thing I wondered was what must be going through the heads of Jason Fabok and Kelly Jones? What it must be like to get such a well-crafted story placed in front of you and have the joy? honor? privilege? to bring that story to life? Of course they know the plot. I knew what the end result of Tom King’s story was about half way through but that didn’t blunt the impact by the time of the reveal. If anything it made it heavier. It’s plotted so well that the dialogue is almost an afterthought. That’s why the Len Wein Story is so impressive as well. The dialogue is actually an afterthought and yet the story is this beautiful contrast of light and dark that’s planned by the writer, not the artist. Don’t get me wrong the artists are just as important as the writer and Fabok and Jones once again did an absolutely beautiful job. However to me, this was the epitome of fantastic comic writing. It’s the best book of the month and already the book everyone will have to try and top for the rest of the year.
I promised we’d get to those new first issues. Who doesn’t love a good War World? Oh and Space Gladiators too! VS is your favorite video game brought to comics. The main character is a savage, cocky killer with Doc Ock Arms and all around him seem to be pawns for the slaughter. All the while there are cameras to document everything and call for commercial breaks. At its core, VS is everything the Roman’s dreamed their gladiators could be with a little added Capitalism sprinkled in.
Why you should read it: Esad Ribic’s art is phenomenal once again. You may remember some of his stuff from Thor: The God Butcher or Secret Wars but something about his pages in VS are even more awe inspiring. The colorist, Nic Klein, uses a bunch of dark blues and purples to really draw out the depth of Ribic’s art. So while I’m pretty excited to see the fighting and action in later issues, if I had to pin down one reason why you should read VS #1 it’s because there were 4 or 5 big beautiful pages that I wish I had painted on the walls of my house.
x-men red #1
You may have noticed that out of all the books I picked last month, I didn’t pick any of the Phoenix Resurrection issues. It was alright but at the end of the day I knew how it was going to end (Jean Grey Returns…). Now we get to X-Men Red #1 and we finally get to see why Jean Grey is back. X-Men versus the world has always been the best part of the X-Men mythos. Fighting to survive against Trask, battling for freedom from the Weapon X program, struggling to distance themselves from Magneto, and confronting the Hellfire Club while they abuse their god given gifts. That’s what it means to be an X-Men and while some X-titles begin that way somehow they all inevitably end up in space or lost in time or saving the world from some demi-god. Now you know I love Astonishing X-Men but that book has gone down a similar path too. Now it is up to Jean Grey and this new team of X-Men to try and change the mind of the general public.
Why you should read it: Inevitably this book will go down the path of most X-Men books. For now though, Jean is rescuing young mutants and trying to change the hearts and minds of everyone. X-Men Red #1 was the perfect step in the right direction. It’s back to the grass roots of what it means to be an X-Men and it couldn’t be led by a better character. Jean Grey is absolutely back and X-Men Red is a must read for any X-Men fan.
Week 2: Wednesday, February 14
Two years of Flash stories have all led up to this. Joshua Williamson has already dubbed 2018 the year of the Flash and after the Flash Annual and now this “Perfect Storm” story line he’s set to prove it. With the original Wally West’s return in DC’s Rebirth Special and Williamson’s continued additions of speedsters, it’s finally time to have it all come crashing down around the Flash Family. And who better to bring about the end of the Speed Force than my personal favorite Flash Villain, Gorrilla Grodd!
Why you should read it: Don’t let the cover fool you. This is a classic slugfest between Grodd and Barry Allen. It showcases just what makes Grodd so dangerous and why he seems to be the only villain (outside of a litany of speedsters) who seems to ever give the Flash trouble. Carmine Di Giandomenico has the lighting flowing too. You’ve got the Lord of Lighting’s staff, Negative Flash’s purple bolts, Grodd’s crazy red eyes, a couple guest speedster appearances, and of course Barry Allen himself! Each page is chock full of crazy motion and wild color that builds and builds before being violently stripped away when Barry is stripped from the speed force. Plus the return of a character we’ve all been waiting for will make you down right excited for issue #41! It really is a Perfect Storm!
kICK ASS #1
Kick-Ass is back! Well sort of… It’s an all new Kick-Ass and she actually kicks ass! Say hello to Patience Lee, Afghanistan war veteran and single mother who’s tired of taking crap in this often unfair world. In fact Patience is almost the exact opposite of Dave Lizewski. She doesn’t start with some street thugs either, Patience goes right for the top because that’s where the money is.
Why you should read it: Mark Millar sure knows how to write a comic book. The book opens with an excellent action scene that introduces the reader to the skills that Patience possesses and a character that I’m hoping shows up later in the series. He then adds in some backstory to get you invested in her story before bringing everything full circle with another fight scene that’s even better than the first. Plus this is John Romita Jr. at his best. Now I’m not the biggest JR JR fan but I can’t imagine a Kick-Ass story with anyone else and even though this is a new Kick-Ass it is definitely a kick ass story!
Out of all the titles that didn’t make the cut last month Punisher was the closest to making the list. It has constantly been one of the first books I read on the weeks that it comes out and features Frank Castle at his best. After Nick Fury gave him War Machine armor (retrospectively a poor idea…), Castle has taken it upon himself to overthrow entire organizations/countries that he deems as scum. No quarter. No mercy. Each issue is Frank Castle killing and destroying as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Why you should read it: Issue #221 starts with The Punisher looking to fix his suit by any means necessary. Which means about half the book is classic Frank as he shoots and stabs his way through an old SHIELD outpost that has been taken over by Rogue Russian Nationalists. Don’t worry, Rosenburg made sure to leave enough room in the book for a couple kills in the armor too. But the absolute best part of the book is the variety of Frank’s kills. Sure he could just go around shooting everybody but when each issue has 10+ kills, Frank tends to have a little fun with it. My current favorite so far came from this issue, when Frank sneaks up under the ice on an unsuspecting ice fisherman. Poor guy never stood a chance.
Star wars: thawn #1
Thrawn. Maybe you’ve read the original Thrawn Trilogy or seen him in the Rebels TV show. While many things from the original Star Wars novels are no longer canon, Thrawn has survived through countless re-imaginings. Although that is hardly surprising. That is Thrawn in a nutshell. A survivor. A brilliant tactician. A warrior. That’s what made this comic so good. It captures the essence of who Thrawn is.
Why you should read it: In just a few short pages Thrawn is able to transition from refugee to Lieutenant in the Empire. You can see each and every step he takes to achieve his goals and the ruthlessness that allows him to do so. Out of all the Star Wars mini-series that have come out, Thrawn has a chance to be the best. It offers a different look inside the empire and for anyone who hasn’t been introduced to Thrawn yet, you’re in for a real treat. It’ll show what an Empire that isn’t run by morons is capable of.
Week #3: Wednesday, February 21
All Hail the Current “King” of Comics! Another week and another Tom King book at the top of my pile. Seriously this man is churning out quality comics week after week and sometimes it feels like his one ongoing title falls by the wayside. Truth be told I haven’t enjoyed every arc King’s Batman. I thought the first “I Am” arcs were a little weak but the War of Jokes and Riddles was awesome. Now after a few lovey dovey date books we are on to his next big story. Poison Ivy has taken over the minds of every living being on Earth. Everyone that is except Batman and Catwoman. Aside from the obvious questions about how Ivy has become so crazy powerful or why she continues to wear a onesie when she is supposed to be one with nature, the book is going to center around how Batman can overcome such insurmountable odds? But my biggest question is can/will Tom King give me something really epic instead of the personal storylines he obviously excels at.
Why you should read it: Quite frankly, King doesn’t have to make some big epic story for me or for you to read his stuff. You should be picking up any book that has his name on it at this point. If you haven’t, though, Batman #41 is a good a time as any. You won’t need to have read anything before this, Batman and Catwoman are engaged and that’s all you need to know. Though, I will leave a couple of pages of Batman cleaning Flash’s clock if you need any more convincing.
infinity countdown prime #1
Infinity. As comic book fans you’re going to see this word a lot in the coming months. Aptly named The Infinity Countdown, Marvel’s newest event will help you to countdown the days until Infinity finally hits theatres. Of course the book and the movie will have nothing to do with each other but you can see where the two are beginning to overlap. The stones in the books are now going to change to match the colors of the stones of the movies and many of the characters that’ll play major parts in the book will likely play big parts to come in the MCU. Captain Marvel, The Guardians of the Galaxy, Loki, Thanos, and Wolverine? Well maybe that’s just where the overlap ends.
Why you should read it: The brief history on the Infinity Stones in the back was certainly a welcomed sight with the return of Adam Warlock on the horizon. Wolverine is officially back too and already popping his claws though Loki’s face. Plus it looks like Ultron and Hank Pym are going to play a heavy roll in the things to come and it could mean the separation of the two. However if you’re like me you’ll want to read it because ever since Secret Wars the Marvel Universe has been in a bit of a slump. I want to see if they can start a chain of events like they did with the original Civil War back in 2006. Secret Wars effectively ended an era of Marvel comics unlike anything they had done before and they haven’t been able to get back on track since. Civil War II’s name brought promise but it was ultimately a failure. Secret Empire was a fantastic book but outside of Stevil Rodgers nothing seems like it’ll have lasting repercussions. Now we get to find out how much of Marvel’s newest event is a plan and a commitment going forward or if it is just a book to coincide with the movie.
Super SOns #13
Jonathan Kent is the single best thing to happen to Damian Wayne’s character. They work together for all of the same reasons that Batman and Superman do but potentially even better. Damian’s holier-than-thou attitude plays off the boyhood charm of Jon just like their Fathers do and they are presented with even better opportunities for dialogue. Middle school for example. It allows Damian to act like a brat but be confronted by someone who ignores it in most cases (kind of like Dick Grayson used to) instead of constantly commenting on it (a la Beast Boy in the current Teen Titans run). It helps too that Jon’s powers have fully manifested themselves and we now have two fully realized superheroes in the bodies of 13 year olds. Now not every issue plays off their two roles perfectly but with Talia as the main antagonist in the coming “Family Trap” storyline, you’re going to get to see these two adolescents abuse some fully trained ninjas which I can promise will be hilarious.
Why you should read it: As I said above, Talia is in town. Which means that this issue and the foreseeable storyline will have the two focused on an essentially trivial family drama. Hopefully this means they aren’t presented with a worlds ending situation where you’re scratching your head wondering why they haven’t just called their fathers to handle it. It’s a fun, easy read that has witty banter throughout and should leave you in a better mood than when you started.
Week #4: Wednesday, February 28
The terrifics #1
Finally the New Age of Heroes book I had been looking forward to the most has been released. It didn’t disappoint either. The Terrifics features Mr. Terrific, Plastic Man, Metamorpho and the all new Phantom Girl! It’s a great team full of characters who traditionally don’t fair to well on their own but together will work great. It’s also the first of the New Age of Heroes book that seems to really address the all new Dark Multiverse (although Sideways could eventually). So far it’s looking like this is the new Fantastic Four book you’ve been looking for. Four heroes traversing an unexplored territory of space while dealing with whatever trouble comes their way.
Why you should read it: While I doubt there has been too much commotion for a book starring Metamorpho, the same cannot be said for Mr. Terrific and Plastic Man. Mr. Terrific has needed his own team for a while now and it doesn’t look like the JSA is coming back anytime soon. Plastic Man is the single funniest character that DC has (sorry Harley) and if you’ve been reading the Injustice titles you know he’s been criminally underutilized in the main DCU. But the biggest reason to try it out, is the same reason I mentioned above. If Marvel doesn’t want to give me the Fantastic Four then I’m willing to try DC’s version. Plus I’ll also read anything Jeff Lemire writes.
So it looks like most of my picks for the month of February have centered around new #1 and new story arcs but to cap it off I want to talk a little more about my current favorite title. In Thanos #16 we are given the thrilling origin of the Cosmic Ghost Rider. How Frank Castle made three deals with different devils to become the Spirit of Vengeance, the Herald of Galactus, and the right hand of the Mad Titan himself. All this while he loses his mind to become the character many hypothesized to be Deadpool when the books started.
Why you should read it: If you’ve been reading Thanos then you’ll finally get the back story of Thanos’ rise to power and the origin of the Cosmic Ghost Rider that you have been craving. If you haven’t been reading Thanos… well then you should probably go see your primary healthcare provider. Two Thanos’ and a Cosmic Ghost Rider against a dark and twisted Silver Surfer does not disappoint. Especially after they were just showing how easy it was for Thanos to waste Galactus. Donny Cates is somehow able to make me crave the next issue with the EXACT same character at the end as well. Bravo Donny. Bravo.
Well there you have it. February summed up in 3000 words or less. As always feel free to come by and visit me in the store if you want to critique my picks!