The Weekly Round-Up #754 w/ The Blood Brothers Mother #1, X-Men #34, Free Comic Book Day, and more

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I’m still trying to dig myself out from under the stack of new comics that are burying me, as life is still insanely busy. But, if you’re interested in my thoughts on new-ish comics from a couple of weeks ago, here we are:


The Blood Brothers Mother #1 – I was excited to learn that Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso were joining forces again to create a series at DSTLRY. Upon picking up the first issue, I was very happy to see that Risso was painting his own work, giving this Western series a watercoloured, washed out look that suits its dark subject matter. Carter is released from a Mexican prison, after his former crew put together the money to spring him, and while he seems uncomfortable with some aspects of the outlaw life, he won’t accept that his girl is married. It seems like Carter is the central character in this very rough story, but it turns out he isn’t. Azzarello and Risso work very well together, and this book is gorgeous. I wonder why there isn’t a possessive apostrophe after ‘Brothers’ in the title, but otherwise I really enjoyed this first issue. I’m looking forward to seeing where this is headed.

Absolute Power 2024 FCBD Special Edition #1 – Mark Waid and Mikel Janín give us a glimpse of what Amanda Waller is up to these days, as she continues to extend her reach and prepare for whatever she has planned for the DC Universe and its heroes. I’ve long hated how much of a caricature of her former self Waller has become since John Ostrander stopped writing her, but I’m also kind of intrigued by all this, as so many DC titles I read have been building towards it. It’s odd to me that Mark Waid always gets brought in for these events, especially given that Joshua Williamson has laid most of the groundwork for it. As far as teasers go, this one was very effective.


Avengers #14 – While the main team is all tied up in the Blood Hunt event, Captain America (Steve Cap) puts together a squad to take on the vampire situation in Manhattan. It’s a little odd that Hawkeye (Kate Hawkeye) is both in this book and one of the tertiary tie-in miniseries, and there’s no explanation of when Hercules returned from space, but other than that, this is some solid superhero stuff (I’m also wondering why Hazmat’s not wearing her helmet). I like that Jed MacKay is going to be doing something else with this book, instead of just retelling what’s happening in the tentpole book during this event. I’m also happy to see CF Villa back on art.

Batman #147 – As Chip Zdarsky’s run continues, and we see how much Zur En Arrh is going to be present in the Absolute Power event, I’m a little surprised that none of this is getting reflected in the other Bat-books. Inter-Bat continuity is at a low point these days; we’ve got Vandal Savage being named Police Commissioner in this issue, but Renee has that job in Detective Comics, and Gordon is doing it in the Penguin’s book. It’s getting kind of messy. I’m enjoying this book, but feel like it’s starting to lose its way.


Bear Pirate Viking Queen #1 – I’m not sure why I’m grabbing impulse buys when I can’t even keep up with my regular titles, but this new, very chunky series by Sean Lewis and Jonathan Marks Barravecchia caught my eye. Barravecchia’s art reminds me a lot of Demon Bear era Bill Sienkiewicz, and that immediately attracted me to this book. It’s the story of an Englishman who finds himself tossed off a boat, only to be rescued, somehow, by a wild bear. He embraces the pirate’s life, with the bear by his side, and assembles a crew which he uses to go after a Royal Bank boat. Soon after, though, they come across a strange vessel from Northern Europe that leads to a huge shift in what this series is even about. Barravecchia’s art is very abstract and strange, and Lewis does not get in the way of it telling the story in increasingly abstract and strange ways. Much of this feels like a dream, which makes this whole thing completely unpredictable. I think I’ll be sticking around for more, especially with this page count per issue.

Birds of Prey #9 – The team has fallen through a portal into a strange alternate version of Gotham. Kelly Thompson is keeping a lot of what’s happening in this issue a secret from us, as the team works to find Barbara and figure out what is going on (and as Meridian goes looking for help in the real world). This is another delightful issue as Thompson shows why she got so many Eisner nominations recently. The art in this issue is by Jonathan Case and Gavin Guidry, and their work fits the general style of this book perfectly. This is one of my favourite DC series at the moment.


The Deviant #5 – James Tynion IV is making this book ever more creepy, as we see scenes from Michael’s childhood, and how his sexuality became mixed up with his interest in the serial killer that he’s now researching and perhaps emulating. At this point, I have no idea if he’s actually going around killing people or not, and I love the way Tynion has made things so uncertain. Joshua Hixson does such a good job of capturing the emotions that Michael’s friend feels when they break into the killer’s abandoned home. This book is very, very good.

Doctor Strange #15 – I’m still struggling with the revelation of who is behind the vampire attacks in Blood Hunt, as it flies against fifty-plus years of continuity, but beyond that, this is an exciting issue. He goes after Strange, turning him into a vampire to prevent him from using his anti-vampire spell, and battles Clea for a bit. Jed MacKay is using this event to advance the sub-plot about Strange’s brother, and it all looks so good with Pasqual Ferry drawing it. I’m definitely interested in where this leads, and like how the cast of MacKay’s Moon Knight is turning up too.


Energon Universe FCBD 2024 Special #1 – This is a bit of a mixed bag, but I enjoyed it. We got a sense of what happened to Megatron, and why he’s not with the other Transformers in the main story (and how his arm ended up on the Ark). It’s cool to see Ryan Ottley draw these characters (although I still wish Daniel Warren Johnson was the artist). The Void Rivals story, by Robert Kirkman and Lorenzo De Felici, continues the story of one of the supporting characters in the series, and ties it further into the Transformers property. The GI Joe story didn’t do much for me, as I’m not really interested in that property, but Jason Howard always does good work. In all, this is a good sampler for what Kirkman and his crew are doing with the ‘Energon Universe’ (which I still think is a weird name, but I understand why Hasbroverse would have been worse).

The Flash 2024 Annual – I fear that Simon Spurrier is starting to lose me with his Flash story. There’s a lot of metaphysical stuff going on and I’m not entirely sure I understand the plot. The multiple artists in this annual don’t help much, as their styles don’t really fit all that well together. I trust Spurrier, so I want to see where this goes, but I’m not really clear on what is happening.

Bloodhunt 1

Free Comic Book Day 2024: Blood Hunt/X-Men #1 – In the lead story, Jed MacKay and Sara Pichelli show us how the start of the Blood Hunt event is impacting a number of characters, including Daredevil and the Fantastic Four, and sets an interesting subplot featuring Blade’s daughter into motion. It was decent. The X-Men story, by Gail Simone and David Marquez has me pretty excited for their upcoming series. This story, which features Jubilee, does a good job of hinting at the post-Krakoan status quo. We know that some governmental agency is running the show at the Xavier School, and that most mutants are in hiding. Jubilee can’t help herself from getting involved when she sees a mutant girl being bullied, and we learn that Simone has a good handle on her character (although I’m left wondering what ever happened to her son Shogo). I’ve been kind of dreading the shake-up of all the mutant books, but this has me interested and hopeful.

Free Comic Book Day 2024: Star Wars #1 – I enjoyed the lead story in this, which has the usual crew returning to Hoth to rescue some rebels that were left behind, but it feels out of step with what is going on in the main Star Wars book right now. I’m not sure if this is supposed to be taking place before everyone fell out with Lando, or after his trial; either way, it all feels too comfortable. The Darth Vader story felt a little impenetrable, which is odd given that I’m reading that series.


Free Comic Book Day 2024: Ultimate Universe/Spider-Man #1 – This is the FCBD issue I was most looking forward to, as I’m really excited to get my hands on Deniz Camps new Ultimates series, which gets a preview story here. Cap, Iron Lad, and Doom are hunting for another hero who has had his destiny taken from him by the Maker, and it provides a nice sampling of the tone of the upcoming series. I am really excited by Camp’s writing these days, and Juan Frigeri’s art is great. The Spider-Man story here is silly and doesn’t make me want to start reading that book (honestly, I haven’t heard anything good about it in a while), and as usual, not even Al Ewing can make me want to read a Venom comic.

Gone #3 – Jock wraps up his oversized science fiction epic with this issue. The series, which is gorgeous, took some strange turns from its first issue to now. It started out being about class struggle on a massive space yacht, but then some alien elements came into the mix and changed things a lot. I’m not sure those elements were needed, but I did really enjoy Jock’s art and character work in this series. DSTLRY is nothing but hits.


The Immortal Thor #10 – Thor fights his comic book doppelganger in the streets while the Enchantress makes her move in the background. I think things are finally clicking for me with Al Ewing’s run, which has so far not done a lot for me. I like seeing Carlos Magno drawing this book – I remember when he was working at Boom! and other independents, and his work has matured nicely.

The Incredible Hulk #12 – Wanting to help his friend, Hulk heads to the Strange Academy and ends up getting Brother Voodoo involved. I haven’t read any comics with the Strange Academy kids before, and didn’t really know who anyone is, but liked the way Phillip Kennedy Johnson used these characters. Nic Klein is back with this arc, and his art looks terrific. This is a very decompressed series, but it continues to grow on me.

Invincible Iron Man #18 – Tony teams up with Magneto and Feilong to stop the Orchis AI-controlled Sentinels, and ends up fighting Nimrod. This is a good action issue, that helps fill in some gaps in what is happening in the Fall of the House of X, but there’s not a whole lot going on here. Rhodey breaks out of prison, but his whole subplot feels like it was just tacked on now. I’m not sure what this series will be after the X-Men stuff ends; Gerry Duggan hasn’t really done much with Tony himself.


Kaya #18 – Kaya has to decide between her own mission and helping the people that have been helping her and her brother. She’s determined to see her mission through to the end though, and that leads to her making some tough decisions. This issue is kind of chaotic, as Wes Craig wraps up another arc. I really enjoy this series, and how many times Kaya has to contend with her own values. Craig’s art is great, and the big scenes in this issue really stood out.

Nightwing 2024 Annual – Travis Moore gets a lot of space to dig into the origin of Bea Bennett, the queen of the Blüdhaven pirates. He weaves her history in and out of Nightwing’s, making her a former agent of Spiral, the same organization Dick belonged to in the excellent Grayson series. There’s a lot going on here, and it stretches credulity a few times, but I like how it works from the position that the DC Universe is a shared one, and that things like Brian Michael Bendis’s stuff with Leviathan impacted other corners of the universe. Moore is a good artist, but he’s also a good writer, which I don’t think I knew before this. I like Bea’s character and hope she sticks around more in this book (which is shaky, given that Tom Taylor’s not going to be writing it for much longer, sadly).

The One Hand #4 – Ram V’s half of this story (shared with Dan Watters in The Six Fingers) continues to get darker and stranger as Ari learns more and more about who is behind the One Hand killings, while he is himself the target of a police investigation. This book is layered and dense, and artist Laurence Campbell and colourist Lee Loughridge do some amazing work together, giving it so much atmosphere and depth. The story seems to be leaning into its Blade Runner-like elements now, and I’m not sure how I feel about that, but I’m enjoying it all a great deal. I think that Ram V might be my favourite writer these days.


Paklis #8 – I find Dustin Weaver’s anthology series to be kind of frustrating. I really like each story, but because he uses the book to serialize numerous stories, and the publication schedule is kind of erratic, I am forever struggling to remember what has happened before. I find I get the various stories confused in my head, and would really benefit from a recap page (or even a single little text box). This issue starts a new serial, Hiro, that is gorgeous and plays with familiar themes for Weaver. Hiro is a young man whose girlfriend is staying in a hotel after her family went missing. It seems that Hiro is also something of a secret agent, and his mission or intentions are not clear. Next we get a good chunky chapter of the Amnia Cycle story, which I really like, but this is the place where my memory failed me. I love Weaver’s art in this book, and find all of his stories intriguing.

The Sacrificers #8 – Pigeon returns home to find that his village is in ruins and his family is missing. When he goes to his friend Noom’s home, he is blamed for all the destruction that has happened since Luna was killed, and starts to believe that it might be his fault, before settling on another plan. I like the way Rick Remender plays with the concept of blind faith in this series, and am curious about what is next for Pigeon. Max Fiumara’s art is fantastic in this series, and seems to be getting better with each issue.


Superman: House of Brainiac Special #1 – Joshua Williamson uses this special to connect his current Superman work with the upcoming Absolute Power event, and to explain how Brainiac had a group of Czarnians ready to work with him. We also get a Perry White story narrated by Bibbo that is less annoying than most Bibbo-related comics. In all, this doesn’t quite feel essential to the House of Brainiac crossover, but it’s not bad either, especially given that it doesn’t have any superheroes in it.

Vengeance of the Moon Knight #5 – I guess I should have read this before the first issue of Blood Hunt, but it doesn’t really matter. Tigra and Hunter’s Moon take on the person that has been impersonating MK, and Jed MacKay does well with these secondary and tertiary characters. I like that 8 Ball is the focus character in this issue, as he works to come up with a plan for the large scale vampire attacks happening in Manhattan. In all, I’m really enjoying this book.


What’s The Furthest Place From Here #18 – I guess this title is getting closer to ending, as Matthew Rosenberg and Tyler Boss are explaining more about how this strange world is set up and came into being. In the first half of the issue, we see Sid give birth in The City, and struggle with what life there will mean for her. In the second half, we see The Academy fight for their freedom from The Keepers, as the family finally gets back together. This is such a whimsical and strange title that I continue to enjoy as its plot devices become more clear. Boss’s art has changed over the course of this run, and I’m not sure I would recognize what he’s doing now as his work, compared to the earlier issues. His figures and faces have become a lot looser; I don’t mind it, but I loved the tighter work he did at the beginning.

The Whisper Queen #1 – I’ll be honest, I don’t remember a lot about the first Blacksand Tale put out by Chip Zdarsky and Kris Anka, but what I do remember feels very similar to this new story. A royal assassin learns that her son has gone off on a dangerous mission after the king that imprisoned her has been killed, and she escapes to go find him, bringing along a close friend and her daughter. While I don’t remember the particulars of this world (aside from the readily available sex and its comfort with portraying intimate scenes of all varieties), I do remember the vibe. I am a big fan of Zdarsky’s writing, and really like Anka’s art, so this checks a lot of my boxes. 


Wolverine #49 – I’m so ready for the Sabretooth War to finish with the next issue. I think that Ben Percy and Victor LaValle spent way too much time stalling the story so it would end with the fiftieth issue. Knowing that everything in the Fall of the House of X storyline takes place after this story makes it even more inconsequential. I do think that X-Force and Wolverine under Percy were some of the more forgettable ongoing series of the Krakoan Age, and I kind of regret that I own all of them.

X-Men #34 – It’s strange how much the quality of Gerry Duggan’s part in the end of the Krakoan Era can vary. Parts of this issue, like when Logan and Kate talk about how to deal with Charles Xavier, are well written and show a solid understanding of these characters, but other parts, like when Firestar, Ms. Marvel, and Laura fight MODOK, are silly and poorly characterized. I can’t help but feel like the end of this era is being rushed a little, and that the story is suffering for it. I do like Joshua Cassara’s work here, and am increasingly curious to see how this storyline is going to end, and what that will mean for the relaunches that come after. 

X Menforever

X-Men Forever #3 – Kieron Gillen is now rushing to finish off a number of plotlines between issues of Rise of the Powers of X, and I’m here for it. Nightcrawler has his first full reunion with Destiny and Mystique since learning the truth of his parentage, but it doesn’t go well. At the same time, Hope heads off to find the Phoenix, sharing a nice moment with Exodus along the way. I think the thing I’m going to miss the most of everything Krakoan is Gillen writing these characters; I hope he lands another book at Marvel (and does some creator-owned work too, of course). I would love to see him write something like Guardians of the Galaxy, but only if it’s a long-term storyline.

Zorro: Man of the Dead #4 – I really liked Sean Gordon Murphy’s reworking of Zorro for a modern story. This was an exciting comic with great characters and even better art.  Between this and The Plot Holes, Murphy fans have really been eating lately, and I’m excited to see what he does next. I much prefer him working with his own books over his alternate Batman stuff, but also think it’s time for him to tackle a longer project, on the scale of Punk Rock Jesus, again.

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The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis – The Messthetics and James Brandon Lewis – The Messthetics are mostly made up of members of the legendary band Fugazi, but for this album they joined up with James Brandon Lewis, a sax player they toured with last year. The result is a kind of punk jazz, with driving rhythms that go to unexpected places. Lewis is a terrific player whose horn floats over the music. I just got to see them perform this album live, and was very impressed. This is worth recommending to rock heads who don’t think they like jazz.

Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru – Souvenirs – I’m surprised that I enjoy the music of Ethiopian nun Emahoy Tsege Mariam Gebru, given that these are dusty recordings of her playing the piano and singing in Amharic. I believe these are mostly religious songs, but of course I have no idea. Her playing is minimalist, with simple compositions, but there is something comforting and beautiful in their sparseness, especially when combined with her voice. I’m glad to have discovered this artist, who passed away last year.

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