Although I’m a little fuzzy on the reason why, Rocket Raccoon‘s big plan to clear his name begins by turning himself over to the authorities and getting thrown into one of the worst prisons of the known galaxy. Of course that’s where things get interesting as with the help of a certain wooden stowaway the raccoon gets into all kinds of mischief including a prolonged prison-break montage.
It may not be quite as fun as the immensely-enjoyable first issue (there’s a bit of a lag between the montage and when the fleet of Rocket’s crazy ex-girlfriends all show up), but there’s plenty of insanity to enjoy here. Longtime fans of Rocket Raccoon will notice the explicit mention of Halfworld suggesting that a least some of Rocket’s bizarre origins remain in place while opening up the door to the possibility of seeing some of those characters down the line.
On a personal note I’ll also admit to shelling out the extra cash for the Stan Sakai (the genius behind Usagi Yojimbo) variant cover which is pretty damn cool. Worth a look.
The opening arc of new creative team Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato comes to a close as Batman‘s fight with the Kings of the Sun ends with Batman victorious but Annie Aguila‘s own battle and path of vengeance is a bittersweet reminder that not everyone in Gotham City can be saved.
The Icarus arc has spent quite a bit of time on Batman’s relationship with Detective Harvey Bullock, which continues here. It will be interesting to see if this trend continues moving forward or if Manapul and Buccellato have other members of the GCPD or Batman’s supporting cast to highlight in the coming months (I’d know I’d like to see Renee Montoya back on the force).
Stripped of any super-villain, or larger-than-life Bat-villain, the Icarus arc sets a tone for an intriguing book on Batman’s battle with the street-level criminal element of Gotham, while highlighting his reliance on his detective skills, that I hope to see continue as well. Worth a look.
Finally the wait is over. After a two-year absence Stan Sakai returns with a new Usagi Yojimbo story. Released in time to help celebrate the 30th anniversary of the rabbit ronin, the first issue of Usagi Yojimbo: Senso jumps 20 years into the future of the character with Usagi now serving the fully grown Lord Noriyuki whose armies battle those of the treacherous Lord Hikiji.
Filled with plenty of battlefield action, as well as the introduction of Usagi Yojimbo’s grown son Jotaro, Usagi Yojimbo: Senso #1 plays on themes of the changing warfare of the times as military inventions begin to creep onto the battlefield. It’s in the comic’s final panels, however, where things get really interesting as a rocket of unknown origin crashes in the middle of the battlefield.
I’m not sure exactly where creator Stan Sakai is taking the character with the new six-issue mini-series, but I’m thrilled that my favorite fluffy samurai is back in action once more and look forward to see where this future tale may lead him. Worth a look.
[Dark Horse, $3.99]
Marvel Comics’ unsubtle move to further turn Star-Lord into the Han Solo of the Marvel Universe goes into overdrive here as the second issue of the solo-series focuses on the character’s scruffy, smuggler with a heart of gold nature. Making an uneasy alliance with his half-sister, Star-Lord infiltrates a bounty hunter’s lair as a prisoner, nearly gets eaten by something that looks an awful lot like the Sarlacc Pit (although is revealed to be more than meets the eye), and manages to escape with a pocketful of credits.
Mentioned in the first issue of the comic, Legendary Star-Lord #2 offers us the first look at the villainous Mr. Knife (who we will no doubt be seeing more of), while also developing the relationship between Peter Quill and the sister he never knew he had.
Disconnected from the rest of the Marvel Universe (or the Guardians own continuity) the opening two issues have provided some fun but they also showcase why Peter Quill works better with partners rather than in Solo (pun intended) missions. Hit-and-Miss.
Beaten and caged by the League of Extraordinary Villains, the second issue of Super Secret Crisis War sees Samurai Jack, Ben Tennyson, Dexter, Bubbles, Blossom, Buttecup, Ed, Edd, and Eddy meet and begin fighting back against the robot army created by their shared enemies.
The first issue of the mini-series focused primarily on Aku‘s plan and gathering the other villains (Mojo Jojo, Vilgax, and Mandark) to his cause. Here the heroes carry the bulk of the load as each shows off for the other. The lack of powers or fighting prowess makes Dexter, Ed, Edd, and Eddy certainly stand-out, but I have no doubt writer Louise Simonson will find a way to give each their own heroic moments.
Once again Derek Charm’s art is top-notch (especially his gleeful rendition of Aku). With the heroes getting the majority of the time we don’t get much Mojo Jojo other than the foreshadowing the monkey genius is already starting to bristle with his role within the League. The escape of the heroes might not be the League’s only problem. Worth a look.
The four-issue Star Wars mini-series from writer Matt Kindt and artist Marco Castiello concludes with a final tale featuring Luke Skywalker and his companions from the perspective of an Imperial Spy shadowing the young rebel. Initially waiting to strike until Luke’s unorthodox plan is made clear or he leads the spy to the rest of the rebel group, Ellak soon finds himself conflicted over his assignment and even begins rooting for Luke’s success.
Although I’m sad to see Dark Horse Comics loosing the rights to the Star Wars Universe at a time when they are putting out some of their best stories, I am glad that we got to see Kindt and Castiello’s vision of the core characters through the eyes of others. The mini-series picked up steam over its final two issues and ends on a high note.
The reveal of what the entire operation was for might be a little too cute for my tastes, but it doesn’t detract from some strong storytelling that bridges both old and new characters in a way I hope the new films can manage. Worth a look.
[Dark Horse, $3.50]
The over-sized final issue of the series brings the story of Josephine, Nicholas Lash, and the Bishop and his obsessed cult to an end. Opening with a fairy tale description explaining the reasons behind Josephine’s existence and the sacrifice demanded of her, Fatale #24 picks up with a tortured Lash in control of the Bishop soon to be joined by Josephine who the group finally catches up with.
Still keeping details close to the vest, for the second issue in a row the series explains more about Josephine and her relationship to the cult. Fatale #24 wraps up the storyline of every major character with a bloody end when Josephine’s plan hits a snag or two almost costing her life.
I am surprised of the finality of events shown here as I expected writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips to leave Josephine’s story a bit more open-ended. However, given the character’s long life there are likely dozens of untapped stories to be told should the pair choose to return to Josephine’s story somewhere down the line. Worth a look.
The latest Smallville Season Eleven Special turns its attention the more magical and mystical aspects of the wider Smallville Universe by offering the first team-up of Zatanna and John Constantine. As a bigger fan of Zatanna than Hellblazer, I’ll admit I enjoyed both versions of the characters who are thrown together while dealing with the cult of Brother Blood who desperately wants a book of magic which once belonged to Zatanna’s father.
With some surly Constantine, some backwards incantations, and he reveal of the true enemy Blood wishes to bring forth, Smallville Season Eleven Special #5 – Harbinger also introduces a new character to the Smallville Universe who can now assume her rightful place with the Teen Titans.
The comic collects all four of the previously-released digital Harbinger issues in single issue. And Daniel HDR’s art, particularly the two leads, fits well with the wider vision of the Smallville Universe writer Bryan Q. Miller continues to carve out. Now if I could just convince him to add some super-hero rabbits to the mix. Worth a look.
After fracturing the team a couple of issues back and imprisoning its members across the galaxy, the series reunites the Guardians of the Galaxy in the latest issue with such relative ease you have to wonder what the point of this arc was. Yes, Peter Quill finally got the better of his father, but surely that small victory (with possible huge ramifications) could have been handled without disrupting the team and removing the core dynamic which makes the series work.
Although Venom hasn’t been found, apparently Carol Danvers is sticking around for the time being. Although I like the character, I have much the same complaints about her addition as I did about Venom where neither really fits on a team that has already been trimmed down of far more interesting characters (Cosmo, the time-displaced Vance Astro and Starhawk just to name three).
Although it still has the feel of a Guardians issue, I think both longtime fans and those inspired by the movie to pick up the issue may feel somewhat disappointed. Hit-and-Miss.
Constantly defeated by Samurai Jack‘s prowess in battle, Aku decides to change tactics and attack the samurai’s mind in the latest issue of the IDW series. Taking various forms and disrupting Jack’s childhood memories, at first Aku wins several small victories, but the master of shape shifting darkness soon finds out just how mentally strong his adversary is as well.
The story from writer Jim Zub focuses on the mental strength of the time-displaced hero offering several moments of levity once Samurai Jack’s unconscious begins fighting back against Aku’s attempts to destroy the samurai’s mind.
Although I think Andy Kuhn’s art is a little rough in spots, the adventure does offer the artist a chance to draw Aku in several different shapes and sizes and give us variations of younger Jacks. The result is a fun storyline that underscores the fact that Jack’s ability in battle and magical sword are far from the samurai’s only weapons against the evil that is Aku. Worth a look.