As promised, here’s the first of what I hope to be a weekly series taking a look at the 5 best comics I read from the most recent NCBD. Let’s hop right in…
1. Guardians of the Galaxy #15
Al Ewing’s Guardians of the Galaxy has been a gift to me. Marvel Comics made a huge mistake when they changed up the comic book Guardians to make them more recognizable to fans of James Gunn’s MCU films. Fortunately, Donny Cates and now Ewing have taken them as far away from those iterations as possible and, in doing so, blown open the doors to all kinds of new possibilities.
Ewing’s Guardians have opened up their ranks to keep up with the problems caused by several volatile political situations going on throughout the galaxy. Issue 15 narrows the view a little bit and puts Richard Rider at the center of the book (this auto-ranked it as the best book of the week). Rider’s been through it over the last couple of years, is struggling to reconnect with his bestie (a very changed Star-Lord) and has had enough of compromising with villains. This is exacerbated by the Guardians inviting Doctor Doom to join the team and a visit to S.W.O.R.D. headquarters to meet with Magneto. The Human Rocket and the Master of Magnetism have a great brawl followed up by a better conversation that takes place on the eve of the Hellfire Gala: big changes are coming to the galaxy, even bigger than the ones that have already shaken it to its core. And while the mutant terraforming of Mars seems like it should be the biggest blip on their radar, another team of Guardians make a huge discovery that leads directly to the upcoming crossover event, The Last Annihilation.
It’s common for publishers to joke that new books or new events will “change everything.” It’s no joke to say that Ewing’s work on Guardians has done that without any of the hype.
2. Infinite Frontier #1
I’ll happily admit that I’ve never been very good at keeping track of the DC Universes Crises and Otherworld tales and Rebirths and that, to me, the overall continuity is confusing. I’ll also admit that all the Death Metal stuff just really confused me more. That having been said, Infinite Frontier #1 gave me a feeling of hope that even I might be able to understand where DC Comics is taking things moving forward because it seems like there making a move to streamline things. So while it might get worse before it gets better, I think it’s going to get better.
With the general populous now aware that they exist within a multiverse, a group of heroes, lead by Green Lantern Alan Scott, has set out to monitor any threats to its well-being; Thomas Wayne arrives on an alternate Earth looking for the Flash and meets President Superman and Justice Incarnate; another Flash discovers a new way to move through the multiverse where he meets Psycho Pirate, in the employ of Darkseid, on Earth Omega Dr. Bones blackmails Cameron Chase into coming back to work for the DEO; Roy Harper is revealed to be Roy Harpers, including the Black Lantern Roy from Death Metal and is being chased by a new villain named X-Tract.
The book seems like an all-new direction for a DC event, though Psycho Pirate does tease a new Crisis is imminent. I’m not sure what direction DC has planned for things after this event, but issue #1 sets up the key players and plots to be resolved over the next few months in a way that seems like the right place for you to jump in and enjoy the ride.
3. S.W.O.R.D. #6
Another book by Al Ewing on the list and that shouldn’t surprise anyone. Ewing has been one of Marvel’s most consistent top talents for years now and while he’s been hailed for his work on The Immortal Hulk, he’s been having a lot of fun playing in the Cosmic corner of things dating back to his work on The Ultimates. This book neatly follows up on the events of not only the prior X-books but also the aforementioned Guardians of the Galaxy #15. Here, we pick up after the mutants have terraformed Mars and moved the island of Arrako and its inhabitants there.
The book features a surprising and entirely welcome 3+ page conversation between Steve Rogers and Doctor Doom in which the 2 show mutual respect for one another while they try to come to terms with the mutants incredible display of power. As they continue to grab more and more control of power on Earth through their pharmaceuticals, the mutant’s parallel move to control trade and power in the galaxy is revealed by Abigail Brand: a new material called mysterium that can only be made by mutants. Mysterium is a new metal that is tougher, stronger, a better conductor and all around better than pretty much any other option available for building ships, making computers and doing all sorts of other space shit.
The big reveal, however, isn’t the metal itself but that Brand is giving it away to those who will acknowledge Planet Arrako (the one that used to be Mars), not Earth, as the governing body of the Sol system, a system the mutants now see on par with the other great empires of the galaxy. And the issue ends with a great reveal as the Regent of Planet Arrako and the Voice of the Sol system makes her appearance. S.W.O.R.D. has been a great ride from book 1 and it doesn’t lose any momentum here.
4. Robin #3
I’m a sucker for anything with Damien Wayne so when this new book was announced, I knew I was in. Damien has been taken to an island where the League of Lazarus, an offshoot of the League of Shadows, is holding a Lazarus Tournament that includes old, new and reinvented characters. It’s a great “tournament” setup that’s allowing readers, and Damien, to explore what makes Batman’s son tick. Damien’s more than capable of handling himself in almost any situation but the book, this issue especially, does a great job of exposing the weaknesses he refuses to believe he has and it ends with one hell of a cliffhanger…well first a clifftoss and then a cliffhanger.
5. Shadowman #3
A new take on an old 90’s book, Shadowman by Cullen Bunn is becoming one of the most interesting horror books on the market. After taking the fist 2 issues to catch up on who Shadowman is and prepping the canvas, book 3 takes us down a path that ends with a revelation that makes everything a whole lot bigger. Bunn has always done great work in the horror genre and the art in this volume, by Jon Davis-Hunt, is captivating and reminds you why this medium can be so great. It’s not too late to find all 3 issues of this one in your LCS and get on board for what’s looking like a wild ride.