This Week in Comics—December 18, 2013

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Animal Man finds himself on another planet fighting for his life, the Future Foundation leads an all-out assault on Doctor Doom, Harley Quinn steps out Arkham Asylum and into her own place, death chases Marko and Alana as Prince Robot IV finally locates their hideout, and Aric loses control of the sacred armor to the Harbingers.

With the FF/Saga combos, this is one of my favorite weeks of the month (though next month’s FF will be the last).  Both FF and Animal Man are winding down with Animal Man scheduled to end with issue #29…and the new Harley Quinn series is not very likely to fill either empty hole on my shopping list.

Saga is still by far the winner for the week, though most of the comics had a rather solid showing.  For full reviews of each issue (and possibly related links to previous reviews)…Read on!  Next week (and the following week) will feature rare Tuesday “This Week in Comics” with the holidays mucking up New Comic Book Day.

This Week in Comics—December 18, 2013 includes:  Animal Man (2) #26, FF (2) #15, Harley Quinn (2) #1, Saga #17, and X-O Manowar (3) #20.

Animal Man (2) #26

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Jeff Lemire

Artist:  Cully Hamner

Date:  February 2014

Title:  “Godseed”

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Animal Man (2) #26

Buddy Baker finds himself whisked from Earth and battling for survival on an alien planet.  When he meets a being called the Bridgewalker, Animal Man learns that he might never see his family or Earth again.

Animal Man is ending.  Jeff Lemire has decided to end the comic with Animal Man (2) #29 and the character will join Justice League at that point.  The events of this issue do leave me wondering how this will happen.

I love Animal Man and loved the Grant Morrison version of the character.  As Lemire leads Buddy to his ultimate role as Seed Planet protector, it does start to feel a bit like Morrison’s odd twisting storyline.  I don’t know where the story will go and that has me a bit excited about it (though mourning the comic).

I do however find the Bridgewalker character a bit generic.  He just kind of comes off as a Guardian with Animal Man/Swamp Thing powers.  I also am not loving Brother Blood’s role in the series and hope that the final showdown is better than his earlier appearances.

I do like Cully Hamner’s art…though I do think Travel Foreman spoiled readers with his unique take on the character when the series launched.  Hamner’s art is still pretty raw and basic…something I enjoy instead of completely processed art.

Animal Man will remain on my list until the end.  The series has had its ups (the first arc) and downs (too entrenched in Rotworld), but this issue shows some of the interesting things that first made the relaunch a success.

FF (2) #15

Publisher:  Marvel Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Lee Allred/Matt Fraction

Artist:  Michael Allred

Date:  February 2014

Title:  “Operation:  Latveria”

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FF (2) #15

The Future Foundation has discovered the time is right to strike!  With a thought out plan, Ant-Man is intent to take down the man who claimed the life of his daughter.  Doctor Doom, however, isn’t so easily surprised and the fight is on and only one man may remain standing.

I still can’t praise FF enough.  It is a fun, smart series that feels both outside or the Marvel Universe and inside of the Marvel Universe (I guess the appearances of Black Bolt really don’t work with the whole Infinity storyline).  I just wish it wasn’t ending.

The series continues to show great innovation by not taking itself too series.  Despite going up against one of Marvel’s heavy hitters, the book is still fun and lighthearted.  I love, love that the plans for the invasion are made by using Heroclix to plot movements of attacks…made me laugh out loud.

Allred’s art continues to be spot on.  I would love to see a big poster of Allred drawing the Marvel Universe, just to see how he’d draw all the characters.  He’s one of those artists that takes the ideas and concepts of early artists like Kirby and expands and develops them even further.

Though the fight gets a little garbled with a lot going on in the issue, FF (2) #15 is still a must for me.  The series is a fun break from the heavy series of the Marvel Universe, and I wish more of Marvel Comics would look at it for a model of how it is done.

Harley Quinn (2) #1

Publisher:  DC Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti

Artist:  Chad Hardin

Date:  February 2014

Title:  “Hot in the City”

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Harley Quinn (2) #1

Harley Quinn is out on her own!  With a big new apartment on Coney Island that she has to pay for, Harley is out for work…and finds it.  With two potential jobs, Harley finds a new problem.  Someone has put a target on her head and everyone is out to collect.

I have never been a Harley Quinn fan.  I thought Harley Quinn #0 was kind of interesting with tons of artists giving their versions of the character, but it contained very little story except the basic framework for this issue’s starting set-up.  Though Harley Quinn (2) #1 isn’t a bad issue, it also isn’t the best issue either.

With little love for the character, I didn’t like the stuff like the goofy stuffed beaver or the dachshund stuff.  She isn’t as over-the-top as in the animated series or her first series, but she isn’t quite as in line with the Suicide Squad portrayal.  It is still a bit much for me to enjoy.

I will say I do like Hardin’s art for the series.  His Harley design is fun and creates a lot of great cheesecake imagery (something Harley Quinn is essentially built around).  I do regret that some of the artists from Harley Quinn #0 didn’t get the opportunity to do full issues.

Harley Quinn won’t be a regular purchase.  I didn’t get into the rather generic story enough to make it a series that I had to come back to.  I guess I can see how people can like Harley (if people can like Deadpool, they can like anything), but she’s not my cup of tea.

Saga #17

Publisher:  Image Comics

Cover Price:  $2.99

Writer:  Brian K. Vaughan

Artist:  Fiona Staples

Date:  December 2013

Title:  —

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Saga #17

Prince Robot IV has located the hiding spot of Klara, Marko, Alana, Izabel, and baby Hazel.  Now, the group is faced with the decision of helping Heist who has helped them in the past or remaining hidden to protect Hazel.  Unfortunately, Prince Robot IV isn’t alone…Marko’s ex Gwendolyn has also located Heist’s hideaway along with Lying Cat and she wants Marko too!

Saga is a great series and probably my favorite series being written right now.  Each month (somehow), Brian K. Vaughan finds a way to surprise you with the comic.  In this issue a shocking ending occurs and once again, it leaves me waiting for the next issue.

The comic held an issue or two too long on the whole Heist think (an extra-long break between issues didn’t help), but it still is strong.  Here, we get to the fruition of the wait with a big showdown with Prince Robot IV…and there is more coming.

Fiona Staples also continues to be one of the best artists.  I love her designs and the comic often gets bloody…really bloody.  The stark nature of the art just adds to the shock when it does.

To get one great comic and to get it at only $2.99 when there are so many terrible comics charging more makes Saga not only a great read but a great deal.  I love the story, love the art, and love the whole product…it is a must!

X-O Manowar (3) #20

Publisher:  Valiant Comics

Cover Price:  $3.99

Writer:  Robert Venditti

Artist:  Cary Nord/Vincent Cifuentes

Date:  December 2013

Title:  “Control”

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X-O Manowar (3) #20

Aric is at war.  After an attack led by Harada and the Harbinger organization, Aric discovers Livewire has captured his sacred armor.  With the world’s army’s closing in, and Aric seemingly defenseless, the battle for Earth and Aric’s people could be over before it begins.

X-O Manowar (3) #20 is marketed as a “Unity Tie-In”…this is not entirely accurate.  It is continued from Unity.  The events in the comics occur after Unity #2 so if you haven’t read Unity #2, don’t expect to completely understand what is going on (though it is decently laid out in the comic’s cover page).

Unity marks Valiant’s first really big event.  I don’t like big events, but I will give Valiant some leeway until I see how it handles crossovers.  I already think that they are a step above Marvel in that at least they provide a nice catch-up page…something that would have helped immensely with Infinity.

It is nice to see Aric somewhat vulnerable.  Through the course of the first twenty issues, I don’t feel he’s ever faced a real threat that seemed big enough to take him…the armor was too powerful.  At least without the armor helping him now, I think the character seems a bit more fallible and that is a good thing.

I like Nord and Cifuentes’ style for the comic.  It has a nice texture with good detail but not too much detail to make it overly inky.  The facial expressions aren’t always great, but I do like the color and design…especially of the backgrounds and sets.

X-O Manowar is one of the better titles out there right now.  I want to see how this whole Unity find falls out before making a complete judgment on this storyline, but I wish that many of these Valiant series would remain independent.  Valiant has done a good job so far of keeping the crossovers to a minimal, but the company as a whole is finding its feet.  I just hope that it stays away from yearly storyline like Marvel and DC which frankly I think wreck the flow of most of their series.

Preceded By:

This Week in Comics—December 11, 2013

Followed By:

This Week in Comics—December 31, 2013 Holiday Edition

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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