Comic Book Wins and Losses for the Week of February 21st 2018: Infinite Damnation

Posted by February 26, 2018 Comment

I swear, this will stop getting later and later. Solicits and other distractions late last week prevented me from getting to this sooner. Plus, I had to get around to reading other publisher’s comics lest I would be forced to unfairly leave them off the list again. Plus, with the week Marvel just had, I needed more winners than losers to take the edge off.

Now, without further ado:

Superman #41 cover by Viktor Bogdanovic and Mike Spicer
Superman #41 cover by Viktor Bogdanovic and Mike Spicer

Win: Superman #41 and Its Complexities.

A subset of very cynical people are prone to scoff at the idea of Superman being able to bring any complexity and nuance to a story that is still pondering the idea of right and wrong. Superman did just that this week and with none other than James Robinson, a writer prone to adhering to stock superhero structure to a fault. Despite that reputation, Robinson rolled out a narrative that ponders how far a hero should go to save lives, and it doesn’t take the easy way out.

Infinity Countdown Prime
Infinity Countdown Prime cover by Mike Deodato Jr. and Frank Martin

Loss: Infinity Countdown: Prime and the Case of the Spit-Roasted Eyeball

Infinity Countdown: Prime was a shockingly awful read. Beyond any astonishing editorial oversights in regards to reeling in the otherwise talented Mike Deodato Jr.’s gore-filled work in this tie-in, this book only has meandering and repetitive exposition to offer its readers. While it’s cool to see the likes of Adam Warlock and Adam Magus brought back to the spotlight, this book is more boring than anything else. Plus, the extended scenes between Wolverine and Loki feel unnatural as hell. This doesn’t bode well for this latest Infinity excursion.

Luke Cage #170 cover by Rahzzah
Luke Cage #170 cover by Rahzzah

Win: Luke Cage #170’s Beautiful Finale

Not all of Marvel’s output bore sour fruit this past week, and one of the brightest books from the House of Ideas was the heartfelt finale to David F. Walker’s Luke Cage. A self-proclaimed send up to an old Uncanny X-Men issue and The Princess Bride, this chapter of the Power Man has him weaving a fantasy superhero tale with his child, the future Captain America of 20XX, Danielle Cage. It’s an endearing, funny, and sweet tale. If Luke Cage must end, then at least it ended like this.

Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 cover by Rod Reis
Doctor Strange: Damnation #1 cover by Rod Reis

Loss: Doctor Strange: Damnation- He Just Makes Everything Worse

In addition to making this story a follow-up to Secret Empire, Nick Spencer, in his collaboration with Doctor Strange scribe Donny Cates, has decided to revive his famed story by weaving a conflict in which our heroes have once again ruined the lives of so many people. With his powers returned, Doctor Stephen Strange decided to resurrect half of Las Vegas, both the population and the city itself. This was done without consideration or asking anyone else’s permission or advice. He just does it, Mephisto arrives, and this city, which already lost much of its people to Hydra, burns with demons and, well, damnation. Another Marvel story intended to make you hate your heroes, Damnation succeeded in being the other big disappointment for the week.

Daredevil #599 cover by Dan Mora and Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Daredevil #599 cover by Dan Mora and Romulo Fajardo Jr.

Win: Daredevil #599 Isn’t Just Biding Time for #600

Not content to just sit back and wait for the milestone to come to them, Charles Soule and Ron Garney are putting in the effort to keep the Man Without Fear’s title compelling all the way to #600. This issue plays with Hornhead’s powers to show how traumatizing the Fisk Administration is becoming for Matt Murdock. Plus, we get some introspection into Fisk himself and Blindspot, and Muse is being made into a real bogeyman of the like few villains could even dream. Garney’s artwork is becoming one of the definitive Daredevil styles.

Venom #162 cover by Will Robson and Edgar Salazar
Venom #162 cover by Will Robson and Edgar Salazar

Loss: Venom #162 Is Another X-Men: Blue Issue

Cullen Bunn was given the reigns of Venom this past week to continue its crossover with X-Men: Blue , “Poison X.” This issue had half a plot, an increasingly insufferably antagonist, and was only saved from complete self-destruction by the art of Edgar Salazar and Ario Anindito. The dialogue was pretty dire in this one too. Were I not being paid to read such things, I would drop this like a led balloon.

Mighty Thor #704 cover by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson
Thor #704 cover by Russell Dauterman and Matthew Wilson

Win: Thor #704 and the Ballad of Jane Foster

Jason Aaron’s Thor does it again with an epic issue of heartbreak, war, and dire decisions. While the Odinson and Odin himself battle the Mangog, Jane Foster reflects on the great losses of her life and what being alive really means to her. Overhearing that Asgardia is hurtling into the son due to the Mangog’s actions, she must decide if she will pick up Mjolnir once more. Plus, Russel Dauterman and Matthew Wilson make it such a gorgeous book to boot.

Green Lanterns #41 cover by Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes
Green Lanterns #41 cover by Will Conrad and Ivan Nunes

Loss: The Weakest Issue of Green Lanterns Yet with #41

While Green Lanterns #41 wasn’t an outright bad comic book, it is by far the weakest chapter of Green Lanterns yet, and this is my personal favorite DC title of the moment. The pacing was unnecessarily bogged down by the book trying to get a little too cute with its antagonists and our heroes taking far longer to resolve a situation than it should take two Justice Leaguers with the most powerful weapon in universe. Again, it wasn’t bad. It was just disappointing.

Mata Hari #1 cover by Ariela Kristantina
Mata Hari #1 cover by Ariela Kristantina

Win: Mata Hari #1 Gives a New Look at a Historical Figure

This one caught my eye on the comic list this past week, and I can say with confidence that Mata Hari is a series worth watching. Recounting the tale of a Dutch woman accused of being a German spy during World War I, this issue bounces around pivotal points in her life while she awaits execution by the French government. Despite this seemingly scattered narrative, it paints the portrait of a woman as the world sees her. This leaves the rest of the series open to really examine the woman herself.

Amazing Spider-Man #796 cover by Alex Ross
Amazing Spider-Man #796 cover by Alex Ross

Loss: Amazing Spider-Man #796’s Arm Puns

I intended to lay off of Amazing Spider-Man this week, but the endless “lost your arm” puns, jokes about the “lost your arm” puns, and the failed deconstruction of the morality of the “lost your arm puns,” I couldn’t let this one slide.

Alters #10 cover by Leila Leiz and Leonardo Paciarotti
Alters #10 cover by Leila Leiz and Leonardo Paciarotti

Win: Alter #10’s Emotion-Driven Finale

It’s not often that a comic can really drive itself forward on the raw emotion of the characters, but Alters #10 managed to accomplish this near-perfectly. Paul Jenkins and Leila Leiz have something special with this comic, and I hope Season 2 starts soon.

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 cover by Rian Hughes
Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing Special #1 cover by Rian Hughes

Loss: Milk Wars Swallowing Itself

While I enjoyed Cave Carson has a Cybernetic Eye/Swamp Thing #1, I will say that this story’s introspection into the very practice its creators are participating in is turning into a snake-eating-its-own-tail situation. I am a very pretentious guy when it comes to comic books. Don’t out-ponce this ponce. Also, don’t make it too easy for people to call you a hypocrite. That’s also my job.

Pumpkinhead #1 cover by Kelley Jones
Pumpkinhead #1 cover by Kelley Jones

Win: Pumpkinhead #1- This is Why I Like Cullen Bunn

It feels unfair to rag on a bad Cullen Bunn book like Venom #162 without looking at the kind of pulpy horror in which he specializes. Pumpkinhead is a brilliant yet pleasingly trashy adaptation of a 1988 horror film. The setup is bizarre and grabbing, the pacing is slow enough to give the finale proper buildup, and the art is great. This is another miniseries to watch.

Punk's Not Dead #1 cover by Martin Simmonds
Punk’s Not Dead #1 cover by Martin Simmonds

Win: Punk’s Not Dead #1- We Ain’t Got No Place to Go, So Let’s Go to the Punk Rock Show!

An awkward and repressed teen, a punk ghost named Sid, and a clandestine British organization intent on investigating the supernatural. Yeah, you should check this one out.

Quantum and Woody #3 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco
Quantum and Woody #3 cover by Julian Totino Tedesco

Win: Quantum and Woody! #3- Surprising Emotional Resonance from the Cynical Series

This entry of Quantum and Woody! focuses on their father and the last time they saw him. It dives into how each of the brothers copes with loss. It still has plenty of laughs, but it also has an understated ending which shows some confidence in its audience to “get it.”

Bloodborne #1 cover by Jeff Stokely
Bloodborne #1 cover by Jeff Stokely

Win: Bloodborne #1- Seek the Pale Blood

I will save a lot of this for the review proper, but Bloodborne #1 delivered on everything I hoped for from this series. It has some deep-cut lore references while diving into one of the biggest mysteries of the game. What it does with it still remains to be seen. However, Ales Kot and Piotr Kowalski have me excited and optimistic after this one.

Edit: Mata Hari was Dutch, not French

(Last Updated February 26, 2018 8:59 pm )

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About Joshua Davison

Josh is a longtime super hero comic fan and an aspiring comic book and fiction writer himself. He also trades in videogames, Star Wars, and Magic: The Gathering, and he is also a budding film buff. He's always been a huge nerd, and he hopes to contribute something of worth to the wider geek culture conversation. He is also happy to announce that he is the new Reviews Editor for Bleeding Cool. Follow on Twitter @joshdavisonbolt.

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