I’ve been a comic book reader for as long as I can remember. Given how my dad was a former collector, there’s a good chance I read through a comic before even getting my hands on a coloring book. And I’m still at it reading comics on a daily basis to this day.
I figured that, with the dozens of titles I read in a year, it might be productive to share my thoughts on them in this new series I’m trying called OMNIBUS. I read a lot of bad comics as much as I read good ones so not all the books you’ll see in this series will be recommendations. Think of this as a comic book diary.
Remember that scene in X-Men: First Class where Magneto visits some Nazis chilling in a bar and gleefully murders them? That’s pretty much the selling point for this Magneto solo run.
Cullen Bunn and Gabriel Walta’s take on the Master of Magnetism is relatively simple yet so precise. A no-frills John Wick-esque revenge tale of Magneto hunting down people who have wronged mutantkind. There are elements of a forensic procedural to it as the story cuts between Magneto’s bloody road of vengeance with the S.H.I.E.L.D. officers hunting him down.
The premise gets muddled halfway when the then-event Axis ties in but Bunn still manages to stay true to the core of Magneto’s pursuit of ending bigotry against mutantkind no matter the cost. If you’re itching to see a relatively standalone arc starring one of Marvel’s greatest villains, this is the book.
A sheriff’s wife vanishes without a trace. With no leads in sight, he places his suspicion on a community of squatters settling in a nearby unclaimed piece of land called the Grass Kingdom, with whom also the sheriff is feuding. That particular piece of land has had its own fair share of troubles, dating back to the pre-colonial days when Native American tribes inhabited the land. In the not-so-distant past, a notorious serial killer may have once lived in the Kingdom too. As the mystery of the missing wife unravels, the Grass Kingdom is forced to look into its own past and come to terms with its secrets.
Grass Kings is a part murder mystery, part character drama, and part history lesson written by Matt Kindt, one of the most underrated creators in the business, and drawn by artist Tyler Jenkins. It’s an old-fashioned tale of betrayal and grief, told through Jenkins’ beautifully rustic watercolor drawings and Kindt’s reflective writing. Its characters are a diverse lot and the Grass Kingdom itself feels lived in. It’s a surprise this hasn’t been made into a show yet because it has the makings of a great small-town drama.
Jessica Drew can’t catch a break. After remaining in comic book obscurity from the late 80s onwards, the character eventually experienced a renaissance in the 2000s when Brian Michael Bendis made her one of the lead Avengers of that era. There was one catch though: the Jessica Drew of this New Avengers era was a Skrull and had been for quite some time. This Skrull impersonating Drew was, in fact, the Skrull queen Veranke and had orchestrated a decade-long secret invasion of Earth.
That brings us to the Spider-Woman solo series by Bendis and Alex Maleev, which tackles the aftermath of the Skrull invasion from the real Jessica Drew’s perspective. The miniseries is a spy thriller that has Jessica Drew dealing with the world’s worst hangover. What do you do when you wake up missing four years of life and find out that someone took over the world in your identity? You hunt the remaining people involved in it.
The comic isn’t remarkable by any means; it starts off great but eventually goes nowhere interesting. Part of me has a hunch that the upcoming Secret Invasion show will have a similar tone to this comic. You won’t miss out on anything if you don’t ever read this.
Tom King furthered his penchant for turning superhero stories into existential domestic crises with the wonderfully manic Mister Miracle miniseries for DC in 2018. In essence a companion piece to his thematic Marvel counterpart Vision, Mister Miracle is a deeply complex examination of what it’s like to be a son of Darkseid and all the craziness that comes with being a New God.
The complexities of being a son of Darkseid are examined through the homelife of Mister Miracle, as he lives his day-to-day with his loving wife Big Barda. The story’s vantage jumps from their home to Mister Miracle’s professional life as an escape artist to their duties fighting a war against Apokolips for New Genesis.
As someone who has never read a comic featuring these characters before, what blows me away is how Tom King and collaborator Mitch Gerads managed to draw me in through the banality of it all. The comic isn’t afraid of exploring the silliness of Mister Miracle calling Big Barda to talk about babysitting in the middle of a war or debating whether the Female Furies would make good party guests the same way it is bold enough to examine heavy themes of suicide and trauma.
These characters have always been intimidating to my non-DC fan self so see them in this new light is refreshing.
You can never go wrong with a good Viking story and Black Road is exactly just that. Somewhat of a spiritual spinoff from Vertigo’s pseudo-historic epic Northlanders, Black Road chronicles the road of vengeance a Pagan warrior named Magnus the Black takes after witnessing a helpless Catholic priest get killed by his kind. Throughout his journey, Magnus reflects on the harsh realities Scandinavia is faced as the Christians forcefully take over all that he has known.
The comic is absolutely brutal in all regards. It doesn’t mince words in its criticism of Christianity as much as it doesn’t hold back with gore. But even in the face of all that darkness, the book has some really empowering things to say about faith and life.