Comics to Heal the Soul

C’mon, get happy! It’s new comics time! Possible spoilers (but only if you haven’t been paying any attention to interviews from the writers or, well, the internet), so you’ve been warned!

Incredible Hercules #141: I’m sad this is the last issue of this title. Sure, I only started reading it in single issues at the start of the current Assault on New Olympus storyline, but I’d read everything else (except the apparently awesome Incredible Thorcules story) in trades and felt this was a title worth following monthly. And it was. We get some interesting twists here (the new chief deity of the Olympians makes sense, but she turns out to be just as cruel and calculating – more so, really – than Hera ever was), a couple of deaths that were telegraphed from quite a ways back (Van Lente and Pak have been telling us that a certain Prince of Power would die). There are a couple of choice bits that were interesting: finding out who was really behind, well, essentially everything that’s ever happened in Hercules’s life, Amadeus Cho’s resigned acceptance of his new role, a couple of nice sound effects. However, Herc’s defeat of the big baddie doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (I mean, the Aegis plate bounces the kinetic energy of his attack back at him the first time, but doesn’t three pages later? Seems a little off to me, fellas). This isn’t the end for these characters (there’s a two-part Fall of an Avenger thing coming out in the next couple of months, which will lead into a new title, Prince of Power, staring everyone’s favorite self-proclaimed “Seventh Smartest Person in the World”), so it’s good to know there’ll be more from this creative team with these characters. The Agents of Atlas backup feature was decent, too, and the ending to that had a decent little twist, too, and tied things back into the original miniseries (what with Venus’s assumptions about her identity) rather nicely.

Joe the Barbarian #2: The pace really picks up in this issue and we’re thrust right into the action. Deathcoats are hot on our hallucinating hero’s trail, he’s joined by a samurai rat name Chakk (actually Joe’s pet rat, Jack), and Captain Pickard gives him a pretty useless phaser (well, seems useless so far. This is Grant Morrison we’re talking about here, so you have to assume everything was done for a reason). Sean Murphy’s art is beautiful, and with the able assistance of Dave Stewart on colors and Todd Klein on letters, this is one of the best possible creative teams you could hope for in a comic. Loved Joe’s interaction with Lord Arc, whose “The journey – arduous, companions on the way, et cetera! Traditional rules apply!” had me laughing out loud. Morrison is using something of a stock fantasy plot here – young man falls into a world not his own and must make a journey to save the world and get himself home – but it’s the twist of this just being the kid’s hallucination (or is it? Again, it’s Morrison, so who knows what’s really happening just yet) that adds an interesting dimension to an otherwise standard plot. Morrison’s always playing around with storytelling conventions and metafiction, always tweaking little things and playing with the basic notions of narrative, so I’m interested to see where he takes this.

Deadpool #19: This issue felt kinda flat, and not just because of its use of Hit Monkey as a plot device. No, it was the characterization of Spider-Man; things just felt off, and Peter Parker seemed to have way too much anger and not nearly enough snark in him. And Deadpool just didn’t bring the crazy funny in this issue. There’s a chance for hijinks next issue, sure, but as the opening issue of a story, this just didn’t draw me in.

Atomic Robo: Revenge of the Vampire Dimension #1: Hot damn, new Atomic Robo! Any week that features Atomic Robo is a good week. In this case, we get to see one of the current Tesladyne’s employees on his first day, which also happens to be the same day a dimension full of “vampires” break through into Tesladyne and Robo and his team have to contain them. Well, I say “Robo and his team,” but it’s really all about the force of nature that is Jenkins. Brian Clevinger throws in some great lines (“Action geology.” Heh), and Scott Wegener’s art is fantastic as always. This issue was essentially done in one, which leads me to wonder what they’ll do with the other three issues in this mini, but I trust in Clevinger and Wegener to steer us right. They haven’t let me down so far.

Trade this week was the second volume of J. Michael Straczynski’s run on Thor. There’s some decent stuff going on in this title, between the machinations of Loki (and the revelation about Loki’s female body is a nice twist) and the trick to kick Thor out of Asgard. I’m actually really interested now to see what Matt Fraction does when he takes over the title post-Siege.

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