- Action Comics #862, by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank & Jon Sibal (DC)
- Countdown to Final Crisis #9 of 52 (backwards), by Paul Dini, Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Keith Giffen, Tom Derenick & Wayne Faucher (DC)
- Fables #70, by Bill Willingham & Niko Henrichton (DC/Vertigo)
- Justice Society of America #13, by Geoff Johns, Alex Ross, Fernando Pasarin & Richard Friend (DC)
- Legion of Super-Heroes #39, by Jim Shooter, Francis Manapul & Livesay (DC)
- Thor #6, by J. Michael Straczynski, Oliver Coipel & Mark Morales (Marvel)
- The Clockword Girl #3 of 4, by Sean O’Reilly, Kevin Hanna & Grant Bond (Arcana)
- The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury #295 (#1) of 6, by Brandon Thomas, Lee Ferguson & Marc Deering (Archaia)
- Mouse Guard: Winter 1152 #3 of 6, by David Petersen (Archaia)
- Primordia #3 of 3, by John R. Fultz & Roel Wielinga (Archaia)
- The Secret History #5 of 7, by Jean-Pierre Pécau & Leo Pilipovic (Archaia)
- RASL #1, by Jeff Smith (Cartoon)
- Project Superpowers #1 of 6, by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Carlos Paul (Dynamite)
Three issues into Jim Shooter’s return to the Legion of Super-Heroes, results are mixed. His characterizations have been brutally heavy-handed at times, and it’s still not at all clear to me where his long-form story arc, “Evil Adventus”, is going: So far we’ve gotten an invasion of Neptune’s moon Triton by unknown aliens, and Lightning Lad having trouble holding onto the reins of Legion leadership.
Issue #39 is somewhat better: It focuses largely on Princess Projectra, the illusion-caster whose world was destroyed during Mark Waid’s run on the book, and who is now a princess without subjects. Shooter effectively subverts Projectra’s own heavy-handed characterization to help her character grow a little, and it’s easily the best sequence he’s yet written in his return. There’s also an enjoyable sequence with several Legionnaires cleaning up some escaped alien pets, although it doesn’t seem to move the story forward.
Francis Manapul is a decent Image-style penciller (if that’s not an oxymoron), although I find his layouts o be awkward, keeping the story from really flowing. He and Shooter combine for the issue’s low point, in which two of the female Legionnaires have a midnight conversation while in skimpy undergarments, and one of them then seduces a male Legionnaire in short order. The whole scene felt uncomfortable and pointless.
So all things considered I’m not as enthusiastic about Shooter’s run as I was at first, though I’m giving him a lot of latitude for being rusty as a comic book writer. Signs point to “getting better”, but I’d be a lot happier if he’d completely abandon the occasional attempts to present an “adult” comic book.
The Many Adventures of Miranda Mercury‘s central conceit is that it’s #295 in a long-running series (the first 294 have never been published), and is the first issue of the six-issue sequence which will lead to the end of the series. It’s a little silly, but it’s no less silly than lots of what’s in Robert Kirkman’s Invincible and that’s a very good series. If comics can’t be silly once in a while, what’s the point?
This issue is mostly a run-of-the-mill adventure in which Miranda and her aide, Jack Warning, capture a high-tech Rubik’s cube which actually contains an alien genie, and they want to do the impossible and open it, so the opener can get his heart’s desire. At the end of the story we find out why this is the beginning of the end for Miranda.
It’s an extremely well-crafted story, and it’s been getting good reviews around the Web: Brandon Thomas’ script flows nicely, with excellent pacing and dialogue. Lee Ferguson’s pencils are just as good, if not better, with colorful designs, a terrific sense of motion, and a (presumably deliberate) throwback style to the days of adventure comic strips. This is a fun comic book, and I hope the last 5 issues are as good.
Archaia Studios Press seems today to be much where Dark Horse was twenty years ago: A small company which somehow is managing to attract some top-class talent with fun story ideas, and which is getting a lot of notice as a result. ASP does unfortunately have a problem with shipping items in a timely manner, which will probably limit the company’s success until they iron out these issues. But I can’t complain about the quality of their content so far.
Jeff Smith’s Bone was one of the best comics of the 90s, and after doing a 4-issue SHAZAM! mini-series for DC, Smith is back with a new ongoing series, RASL. RASL is about a thief who can apparently walk between dimensions – though he doesn’t have full control over the power, which he calls going into “The Drift” – and who sprays the letters “RASL” on the walls of his targets. In this issue, something goes wrong and he ends up in the wrong world being pursued by a man with a gun, with the suggestion that he knows who sent the man. He runs away and ends up in a desert landscape. So it’s a bare introduction to the premise, and not much clue of where it’s going to go from here.
RASL could hardly be more different from Bone: The latter was comical and romantic, while this one is hard-hitting and noir-ish. That’s certainly not bad, but it was surprising to me. The fantastical elements of the premise remind me a little of Quicken Forbidden (and whatever happened to that series, I wonder?), but no doubt Smith will put his own stamp on the series soon enough.
So I still have little idea what to expect from RASL, but I’ll certainly be back for more.