We have a short week of content here, as I’m only working two days this week to prepare for an early Thanksgiving dinner Wednesday night. In honor of that, I’m trying to stuff as much of these turkeys in like mashed potatoes. Oh yes, I yam.
Wow, that was terrible. Anyway, today, we’ve got the close of the first arc of Kill Or Be Killed, a war between Alpha Females in Archie, the Trinity continues to be lost in a dream world and the second issue of the He-Man/Thundercats team-up you never knew you wanted.
Before we start, the issues of DC Comics this week featured a tribute to artist Steve Dillon (Hellblazer, Preacher) who died last month. It was a great image of Preacher’s Jesse Custer that popped off my iPad screen.
Alright, now that I started to tear up again, let’s get to the reviews.
Kill Or Be Killed 4
Written by Ed Brubaker
Art by Sean Phillips and Elizabeth Breitweiser
This was advertised as the end of the first arc of the new Brubaker comic, but as the writer himself notes in the back of the book, the issue doesn’t really give anyone any closure. It “ends on a cliffhanger,” in Brubaker’s words, like I needed any more incentive to pick this book up every month.
The fourth issue of Kill Or Be Killed follows Dylan’s continued attempts to get used to his new life, killing one bad guy a month in order to satisfy the demon that spared him when he tried to kill himself. He buys a ski mask and some gloves; he starts reading up on criminology to figure out how to find a new target. And he starts sleeping with his best friend, Kira, who’s dating his roommate.
The mission he takes on this month, though, really messes things up for him. Dylan decides to take on Russians who operate a strip club in Brooklyn, who he assumes are abusing the girls and forcing them to do things against his will. Nothing is ever that black and white, though, and when he shoots the Russian and tries to set the girls free, one of them attacks him and lays a beating on his face. Unfortunately, Kira and Mason are awake, waiting for him when he gets home and Dylan has to lie about what he was doing.
Sean Phillips’ art in this issue was absolutely gorgeous, catching every emotion, every angle of New York City he drew and every heartbreaking decision that Dylan made. I’ve always enjoyed his work, but with this book, he’s quickly becoming my favorite artist. He’s a perfect match for Brubaker’s words, which themselves can be heartbreaking and emotional.
On another note, one of the birthday presents my wife bought me this year was the deluxe hardcover edition of Brubaker’s and Phillips’ The Fade Out. It’s a gorgeous volume that collects the whole miniseries in one package, and it beautifully displays everything that was great about the book. Highly recommended as a pick-up for anyone who enjoy the team’s work.
Written by Mark Waid
Art by Joe Eisma, Jack Morelli, Andrew Szymanowicz and Jen Vaughn
Who know who is freaking terrifying? Veronica Lodge, when she decides she needs to take revenge on you for a slight. Cheryl Blossom discovers that in the latest edition of Archie, as Veronica decides to fight back against the queen bee of the French boarding school where Veronica was shipped off after her father lost the election to be mayor of Riverdale.
Still annoyed by Cheryl’s treatment of a work study student last issue, Veronica turns the tables on her, buying off her fellow classmates and giving Cheryl a taste of her own medicine, sending Cheryl off to Paris for a party that didn’t exist. Unfortunately, because Riverdale gave her a soul, as Veronica puts it, she takes no satisfaction in defeating her new enemy. Instead, she just misses Archie more than ever.
Speaking of that ridiculous redhead, he’s still depressed about Veronica leaving, but still accepts a date with another girl. It doesn’t end well. Archie ends up over at Jughead’s trying to wash the tar out of his hair and clothing (you know what? Just read the book…) and decides that acting like Jughead was better than being Archie. Of course, he does this as he’s only half-planned a 20th anniversary party for his parents, so now it’s Jughead to the rescue next month. This won’t end well, either…
The split focus of the book works, but I really can’t wait til all the primary players are back in Riverdale, because I think it allows for a better storytelling overall. But we’re working up to something here, clearly, and I am certainly along for the ride.
Written by Rob David and Lloyd Goldfine
Art by Freddie E. Williams III
What a ridiculous crossover this is. To recap: Skeletor has taken out Mumm-Ra and stolen He-Man’s Power Sword. He’s directed the combined might of his evil warriors and Mumm-Ra’s mutants to take out He-Man as a distraction while he concludes a spell to become all-powerful and ever-living.
The second issue was filled with action, as He-Man takes on the evil mutant warriors, with the help of King Randor, and exposition, as Skeletor explains to a disembodied Mumm-Ra what his plan is. The only glimpse we get of Lion-O and the Thundercats comes at the end of the book, and it’s just to set up the next issue, which will surely see the team from Third Earth try and take down an all-powerful Skeletor, as he has stolen He-Man’s power. Oh right, He-Man’s alter ego, Prince Adam, was stabbed through the chest and now that he’s lost his powers, he’s probably not feeling all that well.
Freddie E. Williams III’s art is gorgeous and it holds the book together, but it’s being dragged out, which we know frustrates me. The story needs to pick up the pace to jam-pack the rest of the miniseries. I want to see more interaction between the Thundercats and the Masters, and I’m kind of expecting at this point that it won’t happen til AT LEAST issue 4. Hopefully, I’m wrong on that.
Written by Francis Manapul
Art by Clay Mann and Seth Mann
In the review for the second issue, I referred to the plant that has captured Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman as a Black Mercy, which is what Mongul used against Superman in Alan Moore’s classic “For The Man Who Has Everything.” According to the solicits for this book, it’s actually a WHITE Mercy. My apologies for the error, but, you know, it’s not like the plant was named anywhere within the pages of the book. So, whatever.
This time around, we’re in Gotham City, as Batman begins to suspect something is amiss as he gets lost trying to get around. And a young Bruce Wayne continues to be traumatized by the death of his parents and manipulated by his psychiatrist, Dr. Harleen Quinzel. Wait, that’s not right, either. Oh, right, this IS an imaginary tale…
The best part of this book – which for the most part is nothing but filler – is the final page, as Lois Lane crashes into the barn where Poison Ivy has the team trapped, driving a tractor and threatening the villain. Remember how I said an angry Veronica was scary? I think an angry Lois is probably scarier…
I want to like this book, I REALLY do, but it needs more substance in each issue. There’s very little in each issue so far that couldn’t be combined into one. I’m wondering how much longer this arc will go. I’d be OK with Lois taking Ivy out next issue, honestly…