Dark Horse Comics’ classic Star Wars series comes to a close here wrapping up the final arc as Han, Luke, Leia, and Chewbacca race to rescue Leia’s childhood friend who has been working for years as a Rebel spy inside the Empire. Rescuing Seren from the determined robotic bounty hunter IG-88 is easier said than done, but by the end of the issue the core group is safe, the mission is successful, and Luke shows off a little foreshadowing of the Jedi Master he is destined to one day become.
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m disappointed to see the work writer Brian Wood and artist Stéphane Créty have done on this title come to an end. Their 20 issue run is some of the best comics Dark Horse put out in the Star Wars Universe and I wonder what else we might have see had their run been able to continue.
Star Wars #20 works as a final issue giving each of the core members their own moments to shine while teasing us on adventures we sadly won’t be able to see continue as the rights return to Marvel Comics (who, after what we’ve seen here, have some big shoes to fill). Worth a look.
[Dark Horse, $2.99]
After (finally) wrapping up the Xavier and the Future Brotherhood of Mutants storyline last month, All-New X-Men takes a break and gives the characters a chance to breathe. All-New X-Men #30 deals primarily with the state of two relationships, one which has been brewing for several months and the other which turns out to be a pleasant surprise.
As the cover suggests, this is the issue where Angel and X-23 finally get together. It’s certainly an odd pairing, but as Angel states during the issue he doesn’t need to know why he likes Laura only that he does. This is a relationship I’m going to want to see develop over the next several months.
The other major plot thread involves Emma Frost trying to pick a fight with Jean Grey, but not for the reason you may suspect. The ending of that story completely changes the pair’s dynamic (which didn’t have anywhere to go) and opens up the door for several new possibilities between Scott Summers‘ ex-girlfriends as actual friends. Poor Cyclops. Worth a look.
Continuing to mirror the events in Fables as both series move towards their end, Fairest #28 offers more of the animal uprising on The Farm where the non-human creatures demand the glamours promised to them. The creation of a handful of glamours chosen by lottery passifies the angry mob (at least for now).
In the comic’s other story, we witness Reynard be forcefully rejected by Snow White only to find some love, and much more trouble, on a farm not far removed from the Fables’ home.
Fairest #28 is a solid issue, but it still lacks the strong female lead that the series was built upon (unless Reynard’s new love interest turns out to be more than she seems) making it feel much more like an issue of Fables which bothers me a bit as the spin-off doesn’t look like its going to get a chance to go out on its own terms. A short interlude focused on the odd Mr. Webb is actually far more interesting than either of the main plotlines of the issue. For fans.
The second-issue of Dick Grayson‘s new series featuring Batman‘s former partner working undercover as an agent for a shadow spy organization known as Spyral finds Grayson and Helena Bertinelli after the mad-scientist inventor of a bizarre piece of technology known as an “enhanced stomach” which has gifted the woman with super-speed but also turned her into a bloodthirsty cannibal.
Although it keeps the feel of last month’s opening issue, Grayson #2 isn’t quite as strong (probably because the enhanced stomach sounds more dumb than exotic or dangerous). The second issue does continue to develop Dick and Helena’s relationship while offering us a good look at how motivated Spyral is to get its hand on technologies which can help them in their secret endeavors.
Also of interest is the fact that Midnighter returns for a cameo, still fuming at being beaten by an unknown Spyral agent meaning we’re likely to get another battle between the pair fairly soon. For fans.
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]