Comic of the Week: Daredevil #10, ‘comics don’t often get as good as this’

By d. emerson eddy — The current volume of Daredevil could be considered a masterpiece. Every issue has delved deep into Matt Murdock's soul and lain it bare, while getting to the very heart of the complicated relationship between vigilantism, the police, duty, responsibility, and morality. I don't believe there's been a sheer force of nature driving this series since Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli's “Born Again” arc back in 1986. Every single creator who has been working on this volume of Daredevil has been integral to delivering this story and elevating the heights of this series.

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Comic of the Week: Invaders #4 and Namor’s secret history

By d. emerson eddy — Since his surprise heel turn in the most recent volume of The Avengers, Namor has been a difficult character to pin down. This has been true of his motivations and actions lately through the stories in that series, as well as in the Defenders: The Best Defense crossover, and here in the new Invaders series, too. His erratic mood swings, as he went back and forth seemingly indiscriminately between hero and villain, were once explained by an “oxygen imbalance” in his blood, but we were told earlier in this series that this isn't the case now. With all that in mind, this issue begins to explain Namor's hidden history and how it might feed into why…

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REVIEW: Daredevil #1 is a subdued, intriguing start for Zdarsky and Checchetto

Daredevil #1 is out 2/6/2019.

By Zack Quaintance — Of all the major corporate superhero writers in comics, Chip Zdarsky—for my money—is the least predictable. Sure, all good stories have twists, and I’m not saying that I know every move that a Tom King or a Brian Michael Bendis or a Jason Aaron is going to make. Far from it. I do think, however, that I know the overall type of story that those and the other major Big 2 writers are generally interested in telling. I can’t really say the same for Zdarsky.

Zdarsky’s interests as a storyteller are varied and surprising, quite frankly. He’s the guy who took what was essentially a throwaway run on Howard the Duck (2015), one he was probably hired to write more than anything for his sense of humor, and turned out as poignant and heartrending of a story about parenthood as I’ve ever read (in the over-sized and in my opinion seminal, Howard the Duck #2). And sometimes just when you think you know what his books might be about—Oh hey, apparently this Marvel 2-in-One run is a buddy road trip through the multiverse—he swerves and throws you an annual that tells the best story in a decade (include everything Hickman did) about Doctor Doom.

This level of unpredictability is what made Zdarsky such an inspired choice for Daredevil, a franchise that has a long history of teasing out career-best work from some of the most celebrated and idiosyncratic writers and artists in all of comics. Everytime a celebrated Daredevil run ends—be it Bendis/Maleev, Waid/Samnee, Charles Soule and his many recent artistic collaborators—I find myself irrationally thinking, There’s no way the next team can do it this well.   

So, this new run brings two major and intriguing questions: how will this team put its on stamp on this character, and where will Zdarsky’s thematic interests take us as he scripts it? This intrigue was on full display in the first issue of the new run, a debut that didn’t feature standard launch trappings like the introduction of a new villain, a massive status quo change, or some other CBR headline-grabbing snap-flash element, the sort that has come to mark blow-out, new creative team, $5 first issues. Zdarsky, Marco Checchetto, and Sunny Gho’s Daredevil #1 is instead a slow-burning affair built on a relatively simple premise: for a hero like Daredevil, is fatigue and an off-day more dangerous than things like assassins or undead ninjas, and are his own motivations his greatest enemy? This is all perhaps well-travelled ground, but so is most everything in superhero comics, and this creative team has earned full trust that they will bring something new to the ideas and character via their execution.

I should also note that this is the type of debut issue in which the creative team is not yet ready to tip its hand. It wasn’t massively decompressed (at least not relative to other comics these days), but it also didn’t seek to overfill its pages, instead dedicating ample space to flashbacks that telegraphed the role Daredevil’s ubiquitous Catholicism stands to play in whatever crisis is coming (a glimpse of which comes at the tail end of the issue), or his much ballyhooed (at least by the Netflix television show) willingness to thrash enemies severely but not kill them. It was an incredibly well-crafted comic, in everything from the art to the dialogue to the scenes it choose to feature, and with the promise of unpredictably looming so large, it’s one that has me excited.

Really, what is most impressive about this issue to me is the sheer variety of thematic spaces the story manages to traverse, any one of which will make for a rich focus in storylines, issues, or other tales to come.

Overall: A top-notch debut that does everything well while paving many thematic roads moving forward. Writer Chip Zdarsky is often unpredictable, and I’m excited to see the scope of his take. The one thing I can predict, however, is that damn fine comic book-making will be on display throughout. 9.0/10

Daredevil #1
Writer:
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99

For more comic book reviews, check out our review archives.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Best New Comics January 2019 - Naomi, Guardians, and Young Justice

By Zack Quaintance — Regular readers will know this is the column wherein we look at the best new comics from January 2019, specifically one-shots and new #1 issues. They may also notice that I’ve cheated this month, selecting six comics for my usual top 5. First of all, I set the rule so I’m kind of like, oh well. Second, I expanded that section this month so that it wouldn’t be pretty much all Big 2 superhero comics, and I don’t think that’s ever a bad thing.

The good problem that I had this month was that both Marvel and DC launched a pair of super high-quality comics that I couldn’t leave out of my top five, with Guardians of the Galaxy and Invaders coming from Marvel, and Naomi and Young Justice from the Distinguished Competition. So yes, it was a great start to the year for fans of superhero storytelling. In fact, I may write a full piece about this sometime soon, but I think we’re in one of those rare periods where both of those publishers are putting out generally stellar work. But that’s a topic for another time.

Today, let’s get on with our look at the best new comics of January 2019!

Quick Hits

As d. emerson eddy noted in his Comic of the Week feature, Buffy the Vampire Slayer #1 is accessible and entertaining even to readers who may not have seen the old show...a group that embarrassingly includes me. That said, I thought this book was fantastic.

Another TV-based book I thought was fantastic? Adventure Time: Marcy and Simon #1 by Olivia Olson and Slimm Fabert. I’m a huge Adventure Time fan, and thought this book—which is set after the TV show ends—more than did the source material justice.

Let’s keep the transitions rolling and note that another book that more than did its source material justice was the new Conan the Barbarian #1, from Marvel, which was also a Comic of the Week pick this month.    

A little less exciting (at least for me) was Marvel Comics Presents #1. I still like this format—prestige creators telling short, one-off stories about the Marvel Universe—but other than the fantastic Namor story, this first installment was pretty average.  

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1.jpg

There were a couple nominative #1 issues this month with the Uncanny X-Men and Justice League annuals. The former was a character-driven story that minimized the weirdness of Cyclops coming back, and the latter a grandiose space opera epic that clarified some points about what’s happening in Justice League and why.

Another great Big 2 #1 was Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, which got even better with its second issue. Full review of the debut here.

Another comic I wrote a full review of was Oliver #1 by Gary Whitta and Darick Robertson. It’s a post-apocalyptic story with only a loose connection to Oliver Twist. I recommend it.

And one more review comic, Wyrd #1! You can read my full thoughts via the link, but this is a book that has all the hallmarks of the start of a special run.

Finally, I liked Barbarella / Dejah Thoris #1 well enough, but I overall recommend paying attention because the series’ writer, Leah Williams, is on the rise and it’ll be interesting to see how earlier work like this compares to later stuff.

Top 5 Best New Comics January 2019

Criminal #1.jpg

Criminal #1
Writer:
Ed Brubaker
Penciler: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Read our full review of Criminal #1!

Ho man, what have we as contemporary comics fan done to deserve a team as talented as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (joined here with colors by his son Jacob Phillips)? Seriously, the comics these guys make are almost too good. I read Criminal #1, which was an over-sized issue, with such an intense focus that I don’t think I liked up once until I was entirely through out. It’s that immersive.

Contributing writer Bo Stewart really summed up why it works so well in his review, but I’ll just reiterate again in brief: these are two masters of the craft working in tandem with a level of alchemy that is perhaps unprecedented. Do yourself a favor and read this comic.

Guardians of the Galaxy #1.jpg

Guardians of the Galaxy #1
Writer:
Donny Cates
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99
Read our full review of Guardians of the Galaxy #1!

As regular readers of the site may be aware, Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s Thanos Wins was one of our top comics of 2018, and now it’s essentially being continued in Guardians of the Galaxy. Of all the writers at Marvel—even the long-tenured vets—Cates arguably writes the best new #1 issues, and this one is no exception. It establishes a killer premise, gleefully speeds through it in grandiose fashion, and leaves the reader fondly looking for the release date of the second issue.  

As with Criminal, we also ran a full review that elaborates in greater depth on this comic, so I will again keep it brief and just note that I’m not even all that big a fan of Guardians of the Galaxy, and yet the continuation of this series just became one of my most-highly anticipated comics of 2019. So, yeah.

Invaders #1.jpg

Invaders #1
Writer:
Chip Zdarsky
Artists: Carlos Magno with Butch Guice
Colorist: Alex Guimaraes
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $4.99

I’ve always liked Invaders more as a concept—the team of Golden Age Marvel characters that fought for the allies in WWII—more than I have in modern execution. Their stories have always felt like nostalgic throwbacks, inherently dated. This new comic, however, essentially flies in the face of that, with a first issue that seems to promise an exploration of the old times that will take us to modern places that are new.

How, you may wonder, does it do that? Well, if you’re so curious you really ought to read the actual comic, which, believe me, is very good. Chip Zdarsky is Marvel’s most nuanced writer. He may not write the flashiest stories (ahem, Donny Cates) or the best long-form narratives (Jason Aaron), but he’s the most likely writer in the Marvel stable to surprise and to land big emotional moments. This issue, which ends with a cliffhanger rooted in the past, gives every indication Invaders will be well worth readers’ time.

Naomi #1
Writers:
Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Josh Reed
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99

We don’t play favorites in this section, but, truth be told, Naomi #1 just might be our favorite new comic of the month. It takes a new approach to DC Comics most iconic heroes in a few ways. It takes us to a new town we’ve never seen (a hip, semi-rural enclave in Oregon), it gives us a young girl we don’t know (yet), and it dives deep into her point of view, how she sees Superman and what as an adoptee herself she sees to relate to, as well as why.

There’s a mystery that seems destined to end with Naomi growing into a superhero, maybe even a Kryptonian or Superman analog herself, but moreover, there’s just a really solid human story here. Whereas Marvel has basically an entire universe of everymen and everwomen, that has never been DC’s strength. Naomi is looking to fix that, and I for one am hella excited to see where this comic is headed. Oh, and Jamal Campbell’s artwork is absolutely stunning.

Peter+Cannon+Thunderbolt+#1.jpg

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Casper Wijngaard
Colorist: Mary Safro
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamie
Price: $3.99
Read our full review of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1!

Wowzer, did this comic catch me by surprise! I—embarrassingly—had no familiarity with Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt as a property. I did not realize he was one of the original characters from Charleston Comics that the Watchmen characters were later based on, and I certainly didn’t know the rights had gone up for grabs and become property of Dynamite. That said, I love what Kieron Gillen and Casper Wijngaard seemed to be engaged in after this first issue.

You know the drill—more thoughts in our review—but this has a last page that all Watchmen fans will be interested to read. It could ultimately end up being a very nice counterpoint to Doomsday Clock.  

Young Justice #1.jpg

Young Justice #1
Writer:
Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Patrick Gleason
Colorist: Alejandro Sanchez
Letterer: DC Lettering
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99

The Brian Michael Bendis-curated Wonder Comics imprint has arrived, and it is...well, wonderful. Young Justice #1 was the inaugural issue for the new imprint, and if this is the tone these books are looking to strike, well done. It’s fast, funny, and bent on being very tongue-and-cheek with DC continuity. It’s exactly the sort of in-universe lighter imprint DC needs, what with the other parts of the line seeming to perpetually bend back toward dark and gritty.

The most interesting thing about this individual story though, is the way it plays with continuity. It seems to know that readers have questions about the current status quos of characters like Impulse, Connor Kent, and Cassie Sandsmark, which by extension plays to more questions about what from the New 52 counted and what is wiped away. This is the central mystery the comic is built around, and it’s a really intriguing one, to be sure.

Check out more of our many monthly lists here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Comic of the Week: Marvel 2-in-One #12

Marvel 2-in-One concludes this week, and what a wonderful ride it has been.

By d. emerson eddy — All good things come to an end. That's the reason why The Simpsons is currently in season 30 while Futurama was allowed to go into that good night twice. For the past year or so, Chip Zdarsky has been writing one of the best Fantastic Four series not to be called by that title, aided by artists like Jim Cheung, Valerio Schiti, Declan Shalvey, and finally for the latter half of the series' run Ramón Pérez. Marvel 2-In-One represented the heart and soul of the Fantastic Four team as Ben and Johnny travelled the multiverse to find their missing family. In many ways, the heart was broken and the soul was crushed as Johnny found that Ben had been lying to him about the rest of them being alive, and later the broader sense of Reed and Sue lying to them both.

This has been a good year for Chip Zdarsky Marvel tales, with him proving repeatedly on Peter Parker: The Spectacular Spider-Man and Marvel 2-In-One that he could deliver highly emotional, introspective character pieces. He could guide us into the heads of some of our favourite heroes and let us know how they tick. He does so here again with this series finale, letting us in on the raging tempest inside Johnny Storm, as he and his sister hash it out. First through retail therapy, then a confrontation with the Mole Man and Rachna Koul tying up a couple loose ends from earlier in the series. It's only been in this title where the larger complications of Reed, Sue, and the kids being off on their adventure have been addressed in any sort of meaningful, mature manner, and it has been magnificently accomplished.

It took me some time to come around to Ramón Pérez's slightly different style on this series than his previous thinner and cleaner lines on titles like Nova, but the style here grew on me. The darker, heavier lines worked well on the beaten-down world run by a villainous Spider-Man, continuing to give weight to the emotional situations between Reed & Ben last issue and Sue & Johnny this issue. With Federico Blee's colours, there's a certain bleak feel to the art that works incredibly well for the frustration and disappointment that feels for what amounts to a betrayal from the rest of his family.

Overall, this has been a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching ride, dealing with what it means to be a member of this fantastical family and what happens when there are impediments in the way for that family to function to its fullest. Chip Zdarsky has handled the hard questions and messy emotions of having your family let you down here, but he reminds us at the end that they're still a family, and that families are at their best when they stick together.

Marvel 2-In-One #12
Writer:
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Ramón Pérez
Colourist: Federico Blee
Letters: VC's Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

Check out previous Comic of the Week selections.

d. emerson eddy is a student and writer of things. He fell in love with comics during Moore, Bissette, & Totleben's run on Swamp Thing and it has been a torrid affair ever since. His madness typically manifests itself on twitter @93418.