Top Comics to Buy for March 20, 2019 - Lazarus, Criminal, Wild Storm, and more

By Zack Quaintance — Someone pinch me, I must be dreaming...this week’s comics seem like they were precisely custom-tailored to my tastes. Indeed, many of the books that I gush about on the regular (which is admittedly a long wish) have new issues coming this week. That includes a long-awaited return of Greg Rucka and Michael Lark’s Lazarus Risen, the steady drumbeat of horrifying excellence that is Immortal Hulk, and top-tier creator-owned books from Image, be it Monstress or Criminal.

There’s a lot of my old favorites among the Top Comics to Buy for March 20. There are also some notable new books arriving too. I’m thinking specifically here of Dark Red #1 from AfterShock Comics (a rapidly rising indie publisher) and Invisible Kingdom #1 from Dark Horse. The latter is a trippy visual tour de force laced with complex ideas about everything from commerce to religion (see our Invisible Kingdom #1 review) while the former follows a vampire who works at a rural gas station in Trump’s red state America (see our Dark Red #1 review too). It’s all good stuff.

So, without further adieu, on to this week’s comics!

Top Comics to Buy for March 20, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Lazarus Risen #1
(read our review!)
Writer:
Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark w/Tyler Boss
Colorist: Santi Arcas
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $7.99
NEW STORY ARC! "FRACTURE I," Part One LAZARUS returns in an all-new prestige format! New series, new story arc, new size, and a new quarterly schedule!
Introducing a new ongoing LAZARUS series-at 64 pages, perfect bound, LAZARUS: RISEN continues the story of Forever and the Carlyle Family... featuring an oversized, 44-page story by Eisner winners GREG RUCKA and MICHAEL LARK, an all-new short story exploring the larger world of LAZARUS by Eisner-nominated writer LILAH STURGES, an all-new supplement to the Modern Age: World of Lazarus Roleplaying Game by Green Ronin, original design artifacts and art supplements, and more! Two years have passed since the Carlyle Family was betrayed in battle, and the Conclave War encroaches on every side. As a new era dawns, Johanna Carlyle goes on the attack to ensure the survival of her Family, relying on the loyalty and support of the Carlyle Lazarus-her sister, Forever-remaining at her side. And while their united front may be enough to turn the tide, the cracks are beginning to show…
Why It’s Cool: Lazarus is one of the best creator-owned comics of the modern era. It’s complex, suspenseful, immersive, and compulsively readable. Now, the book is transitioning to a prestige quarterly format, which means fewer issues per year but just as much content (hopefully). In this first issue back, the comic hasn’t lost a step at all. In fact, I’d argue that it’s actually better than it used to be in monthly installments. Rucka and Lark are veteran creators who make compressed comics that are rewarding to read both in installments and trade. As such, this book hits certain story beats within each issue. Having the extra pages of the quarterly format allows them to do much more, like a TV show expanding from 30 minutes to an hour. It’s really something, and this series gets my full recommendation. Simply put, if you love comics you really ought to be reading Lazarus.
Read our Lazarus Retrospective!

Criminal #3 (read our review!)
Writer:
Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE LONGEST WEEKEND," Part Two-Jacob's weekend taking care of his old mentor takes a turn for the worse.  As always, CRIMINAL contains back page art and articles only found in the single issues.
Why It’s Cool: In this new volume of Criminal, you can practically feel writer Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips fighting to change the narrative that monthly comics are dead. They do so in a couple of ways in this issue. First of all, they wrap up an incredible two-part story that they started last month, making it so it fits into the larger arc of this comic while also standing on its own as a satisfying bit of graphic sequential storytelling. Second, they make it a meta story in the best way, one steeped in comics history and culture that literally reminds the reader that comics have been dying since 1954. In the hands of lesser creators, this could feel preachy, forced, or even self-indulgent. But a master team like Brubaker and Phillips pulls it off flawlessly.
Read about Criminal’s previous volumes!

Immortal Hulk #15
Writer:
Al Ewing
Artist: Joe Bennett
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Dr. Leonard Samson is a gamma mutate and part-time superhero who recently came back from the dead. He's been wanting to discuss that with an old patient of his... But he's not here to see Bruce Banner. Take a seat on the couch, IMMORTAL HULK. It's going to be quite a session.
Why It’s Cool: Phew, that last issue of Immortal Hulk was a doozy. But, really, I could probably say that after every issue of Immortal Hulk. This is, simply put, Marvel’s best comic in years. The concept and creative team from the start have been sound, but you can say that about a lot of Marvel’s books. What really sets Immortal Hulk apart is that it hasn’t ceeded any quality in the service of deadlines or events or anything. It’s been as unmovable in that regard as the Hulk himself. At the same time, it’s pushed into increasingly new and horrifying plot territories, keeping the feeling of unpredictable storytelling tension that powered its earliest issues. One way the story has done that is withholding much of the Hulk’s ample supporting cast before bringing them in slowly one by one. This issue looks to be the one in which Doc Sampson enters the fray. So, hurray for that. One last note: I only read this book after dark and strongly suggest you do the same.

Monstress #21
Writer:
Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
It's a turning point in Maika's life when she comes face-to-face with a stranger from her deep past.
Why It’s Cool: Love! War! Family! It’s all here in the latest issue of what has fast-become the most grandiose arc of Monstress to date, which is really saying something when you think back to the opener. Monstress #21 really has an overload of the things that make a single installment of a long-running story pop: new revelations, new characters, the promise of action to come soon, a clear push toward the climax, and a set of artwork as varied as it is stunning. I’m constantly impressed with the work Sana Takeda has done with this book, yet I’ve rarely seen her hit such a versatile range of visuals as she does in this issue, be it the adorable renderings of Maika as a child to the intricate character and equipment designs we get in the modern day. Writer Marjorie Liu also writes some of the best and pithiest dialogue for her heroine yet, bantering as she does with a key figure in her life (no spoilers). From start to finish, just a stunning issue.

The Wild Storm #21
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccellato
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher: DC Comics - WildStorm
Price: $3.99
The experimental subjects code-named Apollo and Midnighter have broken cover. Combat-optimized superhumans are now loose on the Earth.
Why It’s Cool: Last month’s The Wild Storm #20 was the best issue of this series to date. After 19 issues of slow burn, the creators finally unleashed Apollo and The Midnighter, giving nearly the entire issue to a prolonged action sequence followed by a bit of romance. Was it fan service? Perhaps a little, but it was earned and also executed in the best possible way. This issue brings the focus back to some of the other characters, but make no mistake—the march to the assembling of The Authority continues, and oh what a thing that will be when it happens. There’s only three issues left. Two years ago I’d have guaranteed that this was building into the launch of a new The Authority comic, but with DC scaling back publishing plans under its new corporate owners, I’m inclined to estimate these three issues will be the last we see of these characters for some time. But, hell if I’m not going to savor every page of it. With a writer like Warren Ellis collaborating with an artist like Jon Davis-Hunt, this comic is just too good.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Dark Red #1 (read our review!)

  • Dungeons and Dragons: A Darkened Wish #1

  • Invisible Kingdom #1 (read our review!)

  • Life and Death of Toyo Harada #1

  • Monstrous European Getaway #1

  • Rise #1

  • Spider-Man: City at War #1

  • Spider-Man: Life Story #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Aquaman #46

  • Archie #703

  • Avengers #17

  • Batman #67

  • Bitter Root #5

  • Black Badge #8

  • Electric Warriors #5

  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #4

  • Guardians of the Galaxy #3

  • Justice League #20

  • Middlewest #5

  • Naomi #3

  • Stronghold #2

  • Thor #11

  • Uncanny X-Men #14

Check back to the site later this week for reviews of Lazarus Risen #1, Criminal #3, and more!

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

A Lazarus Retrospective: Family Above All

Lazarus Risen #1— the launch of the series new, quarterly super-sized format—is out 3/20/2019.

Lazarus Risen #1—the launch of the series new, quarterly super-sized format—is out 3/20/2019.

By Taylor Pechter — What family truly means can be complicated. Is it just the people that are closest to you? Or is it something greater? It’s a complex question, and in many ways the answer is a core focus of Image Comics’ soon-to-return series, Lazarus. Written by Greg Rucka, illustrated by Michael Lark (with inking assists from Tyler Boss), and colored by Santi Arcas, the world of Lazarus is one rooted in dystopia. After an economic collapse and a war that led to an event known as the Macau Accords, the globe has been sectioned off into regions run by certain wealthy and powerful families. Each family has a specially engineered being called a Lazarus, which acts as both a liaison and the leader of its military force. Forever Carlyle is the Carlyle family Lazarus. This comic is her story.

Who is Forever Carlyle?

Staring in the year X+64 (which means 64 years after the Macau Accords divided the planet), we are introduced to Forever. In this introductory scene, she is shot, killed and subsequently self-revived. She is being monitored from afar by her family members Johanna, James, and Bethany Carlyle, who watch everything from her actions to her vitals.

As James goes over her trauma report, the audience slowly becomes familiar with the unforgiving world of the series. This is a world where the ruling families are in constant conflict over land, where they preside too over civilians separated into a quasi-caste system. The civilians who work directly for the families are their Serfs. Everyone else is Waste, treated as second class. Occasionally, they have a chance to be Lifted to become Serfs. It’s all very frightening.

In the story of Lazarus, the two factions spearheading the conflict are the Carlyle Bloc and the Hock Coalition. Caryle rules most of the Western United States while Hock oversees the Eastern regions. Both of them have allies in conflict across the world. Forever is the pride of the Carlyle Family. She is the commander of their elite strike force called the Daggers. However, Forever gets a mysterious message in the middle of the night that sows seeds of doubt about her role in the family.

The message reads “He is not your father. This is not your family.” As Forever ponders her place in the world, Hock and his allies start to move on Carlyle territory while Carlyle moves on Hock. This conflict comes to a head at the Conclave, driving the plot forward.

The Conclave that Rules the World

Not all of Forever Carlyle’s battles in Lazarus are physical.

The Conclave is a meeting of the families where they discuss terms regarding territory, and—if worse comes to worse—war plans. The meeting takes place on Triton 1, the floating base of the Armitage family, who is officially neutral in the ongoing conflict but has heavy ties to Carlyle. As tensions rise, Forever confronts her brother, Jonah. Jonah was kidnapped by the Hock’s while planning treason to his family. This is the first betrayal that Forever is subjected to and it won’t be the last as she helps Jonah escape custody. She is then thrust into a fight with Sonja Bittner, Lazarus of the Bittner Family, which is then a member of the Hock Coalition. Forever fights to prove her family’s innocence. She prevails in the contest but her father and patriarch of the family, Malcolm Carlyle, is subsequently poisoned and left in a coma. Little does Forever know, Malcolm has been secretly training a younger version of her to possibly be a replacement should she falter.

As the Conclave War rages on, the forces of Carlyle, Hock, and their allied families are in all-out conflict. In the middle of this, Forever’s crisis of conscience reaches its zenith. Not only has Jonah’s betrayal hit her hard, she also starts to forgo her normal regimen of medication, which keeps her stamina in top condition and also allows her family to control her. This does not go over well with her sisters Johanna and Bethany. Johanna breaks and tells the truth to Forever, about her development and her potential replacement, thinking it would build trust with her again. It has an opposite effect.

Forever denounces Johanna, not only for her personal actions, but for the overall way the family has treated her. Forever has been betrayed by the people she holds closest to her. It is then she sets out with her allies on a final push. Along with the forces of Morray and Bittner, they start a Lazarus hunt, targeting first the Rausling family in Central Europe.

The Conclave War

The gritty, photo-realistic artwork in Lazarus makes for one of the most immersive reading experiences in comics.

After a decisive victory over the Rausling Lazarus, Sonja Bittner along with Forever and the Morray Lazarus Joaquim (who is romantically engaged with Forever), set their sights on the most dangerous and secretive Lazarus of them all, the Vassalovka Lazarus, simply known as the Zmey, or the Dragon. As the name implies, Vassalovka’s seat of power is in Russia, and they remain a question mark until at last entering the war against Caryle and its allies. The fight against the Vassalovka Lazarus is brutal, with yet another betrayal, with Forever’s paramour Joaquim being forced to turn on her by the chemical control maintained over him by his family.

Meanwhile, after his escape from the Conclave, Jonah Caryle washes up in the Danish town of Agger in disputed Bittner territory. It is there where he creates a new life and eventually falls in love with a local and have a baby. However, a tragic event cuts that relationship short as we move into the Fracture storyline in the upcoming Lazarus: Risen #1, which is due out next week (stay tuned for our review!).

With Lazarus, Greg Rucka weaves a tale of intrigue that is predicated on the concept of family. Forever is a woman trying to find her place. Who she really is as a person is tested not only through her psychological inwardness but also her interactions, not only with her immediate family, but also their allies and enemies. Joining Rucka is his collaborator from his classic work for DC Comics, Gotham Central, Michael Lark. Lark adds a layer of reality with his rough and textured style. The pages are perfectly paneled, whether they are dynamic action scenes or emotional character beats. Adding hues is colorist Santi Arcas whose colors are mood driven, including  moody blues, stingy greens, warm oranges, abrasive reds, or even drab tans and browns.

All together, these creators have made a lived-in world that has both its light and dark sides. Overall, Lazarus is an achievement in world building and storytelling with a deeply thought out setting and relatable characters with resonant themes. As a parting gift, I leave you with the Carlyle family motto: Oderint Dum Metuant...which means, Let them hate, so long as they fear.

Read more of Taylor’s writing on our comics analysis page.

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter@TheInspecter.

Age of X-Man Round-Up: Life is not as marvelous as it seems

By Allison Senecal —  I’ve been *dramatic wheeze* deathly ill this week, so y’all are about to get what is likely a very buzzword-heavy Age of X-Man round-up this month. There are twice as many issues to cover in this one too, so brevity is key. All but one of the event’s miniseries have now launched, and we have a lot of great set-up (great, folks) but no deeper action happening just yet. Uncanny X-Men, on the other hand, is rolling along, already getting meaty. Hope everyone stuck with it after the first over-sized issue following Disassembled, because this run is quickly looking like a winner.

As a refresher: these monthly round-ups serve as both reviews and as actual honest-to-god recaps! So you, yes you, don’t have to read absolutely everything if you don’t want to, or maybe you’ll just be titillated enough to try a new series. Either way.

Lights! Camera! Glob!

Previously on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: NextGen #1
Writer:
Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Colorist: Jason Keith
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 2/13/2019
Key Characters: Glob, Anole, Pixie, Armor, Shark Girl, Rockslide

The crux of it? Glob gets bullied for writing X-Men fan fiction, and readers will instantly get the feeling that he remembers more about the pre-AOXM world than he lets on. The young mutants’ study session is interrupted by a house fire, which they rush to fight. Armor catches Blob mind-wiping Bling, who was seemingly attending a revolutionaries’ meeting at the house with Anole, who tells Armor not to tell anyone he was there. The issues ends with Armor confronting Glob with what she’s witnessed and him assaulting her, shouting “This is the only way I can show you the truth.”

The team here gives us a really great world-building first issue. I find “classroom world-building” a little lazy in prose, but it works better in comics, and even more so here. Some teacher narration guides us from major to major so we get a good feel for the ways in which the Summers Institute readies students for the “real world”. In typical first issue fashion for these minis, the utopian setting is normalized before its layers are pulled back, revealing that &%$# just isn’t quite right.

Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #1
Writer:
Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Colorist: Dono Sánchez-Almara
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Released: 2/20/2019
Key Characters: Nightcrawler, Meggan, Stepford Cuckoos, Magma

The opener here is an action scene from one of Nightcrawler’s horror flicks (in this reality, he’s the world’s most famous actor), which ends with him and leading lady Meggan popping a power dampener onto the film’s antagonist and having her whisked away for reeducation (eek!). Normal behind-the-scenes hijinks ensue, with brief appearances from Kurt’s trainer, Magma, and agents, the Cuckoos. Kurt and Meggan attend a charity dinner where some folks are overheard disparaging the Cuckoos for showing off their family ties. After the dinner, Meggan kisses Kurt and they retire together. *eyebrow waggle*

Same as the other AOXM #1’s, we get a typical day-in-the-life setup, this time with a Hollywood flair. Some unsettling bits are tossed in to make us whisper-scream “what the…” and we’re left with a good hook for the next issue. McGuire is a great writer choice for Kurt, and the art team is spot-on for the needed Hollywood sleekness. I love the designs for Magma and the Cuckoos. Super sharp.

Age of X-Man: X-Tremists #1
Writer:
Leah Williams
Penciler: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Roberto Poggi
Colorist: Jim Charalampidis
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 2/27/2019
Key Characters: Psylocke, Jubilee, Northstar, Iceman, Blob, Moneta (new character)

This mini has been pitched heavily (by both fans and Williams, bless) as “horny utopia cops” and that’s….yeah. We open on a scene of frivolous normalcy, with Bobby and Jubilee trying to bake “thank you” cookies for the X-Men.  Sexy Blob interrupts everyone to deliver their newest mission, a couple on their third violation of the guiding principles. Grumpy Team Dad Northstar waits in the Vanagon and reads. After a chase and struggle, the couple is iced (thanks, Bobby!) but not before the woman lets slip that she’s pregnant. Oh no! What’re a few horny, and seemingly moral, cops to do?

I have to think this set-up is purposely at odds with their fairly militaristic guest appearances in Alpha and Nextgen. I guess if you’re gonna write about Age of X-Man’s cops, you gotta make them likeable. The main “oh no” factor here is the presence of weird little slur-slinging neo-Nazi Moneta, a mutant to whom we’re just being fully introduced, but want to know more about. Come for Rahzzah’s sexy redesigns, stay for Williams’ deft dialogue skills, including heavy-handed-humor-because-AVOIDANCE Bobby.

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Letterer: VC’S Joe Sabino
Released: 3/6/2019
Key Characters: Bishop, Beast, Forge, Polaris, Honey Badger, Dani Moonstar

Following the events from Age of X-Man Alpha, Bishop finds himself in mutant utopia...prison! It’s called the Danger Room, because of course it is, and Forge is the warden, because of course he is. Throughout the issue Bishop is plagued by visions of the real world, and via a series of (mostly nasty) interactions with fellow inmates, he comes to find out that Polaris is as well. Jacked up Beast makes several unfriendly appearances, getting upset with Bishop because he won’t leave Gabby (under his protection) alone. Gabby is a little &$#% in this universe and I still love her so much. After Beast attacks Bishop, the prison is put on lockdown, with prisoners confined to their cells, and Bishop receives a note. The dream is REAL. The reality FALSE. Get out!

It’s no secret I’m a huge fan of Ayala and Peralta (and now Spicer coloring him!) and this was my most anticipated mini going into AOXM. It doesn’t disappoint, even if this is largely another set-up issue in the vein of the other #1’s. If you weren’t familiar with Bishop pre-AOXM, after the events of Alpha and this issue, you’re at least by now rooting for him thanks to the groundwork laid by these creative teams. Of the miniseries so far, I think Bishop makes for the most straightforwardly compelling protagonist. Guess we’ll see how he fares!

Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #12 & #13
Writer:
Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg & Guru-eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/20/2019 & 3/6/2019
Key Characters: Magik, Dani Moonstar, Karma, Wolfsbane, Havok, Cyclops, Wolverine, Multiple Man, Strong Guy

Phew. Ok. #12 starts with Scott and Logan breaking into a O.N.E. (remember Colonel Callahan from Dead Souls and Astonishing?) facility. Of course, it goes sideways immediately and they end up fighting some new-fangled Sentinels, which turn out to have *gasp* some of the Transmode-infected New Mutants powering them. Looks like O.N.E have been experimenting on mutants this whole time. The now bolstered team heads inside to free Magik, Wolfsbane, and some Multiple Man dupes, and it’s revealed that Havok’s been used as an energy source for the whole facility since we’ve seen him last. He’s freed but one of the dupes explodes, and Strong Guy seemingly dies while shielding some of his teammates from the blast. After Cyclops stops her from taking revenge, Magik portals them all to safety.

In issue #13 we find out the X-Men are now operating out of the back of a bar owned by one of Logan’s mutant-friendly acquaintances. Cyclops presents the newly formed team with a list of targets, problems he wants to clear up to remind the world what the X-Men are all about. First target? Dark Beast. At his purported location the team instead finds an army of cyborg Multiple Man dupes, and the real Jamie Madrox who absorbs a dying dupe to find out Dark Beast’s actual location. The team tracks him down, a fight ensues (Magik quickly ends it), and they capture him. Back at their hideout, they catch footage of the Mutant Liberation Front on a tv… *ominous music*

I just really love that this series is keeping the action moving while still giving us fantastic character work. Old-school Scott and Logan bickering. Summers brothers emotions. Great carryover from New Mutants: Dead Souls on Illyana and her struggles with being what she sees as a competent team leader. We also see Strong Guy’s redemption arc from previous X-series (most recently Dead Souls) come to a (again, seeming) close with his sacrifice in #12. The scene there between him and Illyana is heartbreaking. I do hope we get more from the other New Mutants in coming issues and they don’t just get lost on the sidelines, but no other real complaints from me on this run. Even Larroca’s art isn’t losing me!

Next Time on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #2
Release Date:
3/13/2019
How do you deal with a problem like.... peaceful Apocalypse?

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse & the X-Tracts #1
Release Date:
3/13/2019
Let’s get this show on the road!

Age of X-Man: NextGen #2
Release Date:
3/20/2019
What did Blob do to Armor?? Is Anole ok? Will the teachers find out some of the students share a secret?

Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #2
Release Date:
3/20/2019
Will Kurt and Meggan be found-out? Will the Cuckoos be ok?

Age of X-Men: X-Tremists #2
Release Date:
3/27/2019
What will our squad of friendly neighborhood watchmen decide to do with a pregnant mutant?

Check out last month’s inaugural Age of X-Man Round-Up here!

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.

Top Comics to Buy for March 6, 2019 - Die #4, The Green Lantern #5, and more

By Zack Quaintance — At the risk of sounding repetitive, this first Wednesday of the month has really morphed into a monstrosity of great new comics. So much so that I’ve once again extended our usual top five picks to six. Hey, more content’s a good thing, right? Anyway, I could have also easily extended it to seven or eight or nine. It really pained me to cut great titles for this upcoming Wednesday like Doomsday Clock #9, Immortal Hulk #14, and Justice League #19.

But I figure pretty close to most everyone has their mind made up about those comics at this point, so why not shed some light on lesser-known books that are still in their early stages? I’m thinking specifically here of the creator-owned comic Self/Made, which continues to shock me with the high quality of both the its stories and ideas. It’s really turning into something special, the type of book I find myself reading toward the top of the stack each week and coming away shocked at where the story seems to be headed.

Anyway, on to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for March 6, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Die #4 (
read our full review!)
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Stephanie Hans
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"FANTASY HEARTBREAKER," Part Four-Our heroes reach the civilization of Glass Town and do what heroes have always done upon reaching civilization. As in, go to the pub. As it's DIE, you can guess people don't exactly get happy drunk.
Why It’s Cool: We’ll have a more detailed and thoughtful review of this comic later this week, but let me just say here that this is the best issue yet of a series that has been fantastic from its start. This is the smoothest and most immersive issue of Die so far, which I attribute to the previous three issues having done such great work toward familiarizing us with these well-realized characters. With so much of that work behind the story now, the creators are free in this comic to really hit some deep (and troublesome in the best way) emotional beats. Don’t miss this issue; don’t miss this book.

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
ENTER THE AGE OF X-MAN!
In the Age of X-Man, when you break the law, you aren't sent to just any prison. You're sent to the Danger Room...a penitentiary filled with the roughest and meanest mutants that don't fit into X-Man's utopia. They each have a reason for being there. And they're all ready to kill each other.  But that's about to change, because the newest prisoner just arrived...Lucas Bishop!
Why It’s Cool: It’s a great combination of concept, creators, and character, with those respectively being the well-conceived and intricate Age of X-Man alternate universe, writer Vita Ayala (one of our favorite rising stars within the industry), and Bishop, always an underrated (if convoluted) X-Man. Seriously, Ayala has just been doing fantastic work lately, be it their superhero book for Valiant Livewire, the creator-owned Submerged, or the installment of the recent Marvel Knights mini-series that focused on T’Challa. These have all just been stunning comics, and we’re expecting nothing less from the Prisoner X miniseries, which follows Bishop into the underbelly of what is shaping up to be an Orwellian faux-utopia of an alternate universe.

Green Arrow #50
Writers:
Collin Kelly & Jackson Lanzing
Artist: Javier Fernandez
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $4.99
Spinning out of the events of JUSTICE LEAGUE: NO JUSTICE and HEROES IN CRISIS! When a black ops organization discovers Green Arrow's long-held secret-a mysterious weapon in the form of a box, given to him by the Justice League-they'll deploy their top undercover agent: Black Canary! On opposite sides of this festering secret, Green Arrow and Black Canary will clash as only two lovers can-by aiming straight for the heart! A mystery six months in the making, the box that can destroy the Justice League will be opened...and the Emerald Archer's world will be forever changed. This extra-sized anniversary issue of Green Arrow's life isn't just ending...it's burning to the ground!
Why It’s Cool: This if the finale of one of the quintessential Rebirth books, and it’s also what is quite possibly the last book headlined by the Emerald Archer that we’re likely to get in sometime, what with DC Comics very public intent to keep its publishing line at the slightly reduced level we’ve seen in recent months. The writing team of Kelly and Lanzing are perhaps the best choice for this job too. As I believe Kelly outlined fairly recently online, the duo had a fairly elaborate plan for a 50 issue run that would get to the core of one my personal favorite characters. We’re obviously not getting that, but look for them to give us a truly epic send off that packs in as much action and as many of their ideas from that outline as is feasible. Savor it, too, I know I will. Also, we’ll (sort of) get an answer to the question from No Justice, the natural one that came up when J’onn gave Ollie a box he said was capable of stopping the entire league...

The Green Lantern #5
Writer:
Grant Morrison
Artist: Liam Sharp
Colorist: Steve Oliff
Letterer: Tom Orzechowski
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
"Blackstar at Zenith!" Hal Jordan has abandoned the Green Lantern Corps to join the Blackstars! But to do so, he'll need to convince their leader, Countess Belzebeth, and pass an initiation test. Which means he must survive a series of trials on the vampire planet Vorr, whose entire population wants to feast upon him! It's cosmic goth at its bloodiest...with a cliffhanger that's even bloodier!
Why It’s Cool: This run has been fantastic from start to finish, and this issue keeps it going. As promised by the creative team before the book even launched, The Green Lantern has been a series of quisi self-contained space cop procedurals. This issue builds on all that has come before while telling yet another compelling story built upon some of the key qualities and continuity bits that define Green Lantern. Also, as anyone who follows artist Liam Sharp will surely attest, the detail and imagination in the artwork he’s previewed for this comic has just been astounding, somehow even better than the tremendous heights he’s reached in earlier chapters. Think about it too long, and it will blow your mind as thoroughly as Morrison and Sharp seem hell-bent on doing.

Self/Made #4
Writer:
Mathew Groom
Artist: Eduardo Ferigato
Colorist: Marcelo Costa
Color Flats:
Mariana Cali
Letterer: A Larger World Studios’ Troy Peteri
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE 'TA-DA' MOMENT": Amala has made it to our world-and she is distinctly unimpressed. What's a girl with a new robot body and some pent-up rage to do? Paint the town red.
Why It’s Cool: Simply put, because this is the best comic I’ve read in I don’t know how long that rushes head first at the central questions of life itself. That’s maybe being a little dramatic, but this really has quickly turned into a story with a lot to say about creation. In this issue, we also get some really clever interplay between characters that’s analogous to that between child and parents, plus a tour de force visual journey through a near-future version of Sydney, Australia, along with the now-standard breakneck plotting that’s come to define the book. This is yet another major surprise from Image Comics in the past year or so that more readers should be talking about. I get that you might not be familiar with these creators, but you’re doing yourself a disservice by sleeping on this book.

Top New #1 Comics

Others Receiving Votes

  • A Walk Through Hell #8

  • Batman #66 (read our full review!)

  • Blossoms 666 #2

  • Cemetary Beach #7

  • Doomsday Clock #9

  • The Dreaming #7

  • Eclipse #13

  • Giant Days #48

  • Immortal Hulk #14

  • Justice League #19

  • Killmonger #5

  • Paper Girls #26

  • Red Sonja #2

  • Uncanny X-Men #13

  • Vindication #2

  • Young Justice #3


Check back to the site later this week for reviews of Astro Hustle #1, Batman #66, Uncanny X-Men #13, and more!

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for February 27, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This week feels like a bit of break, in that there aren’t roughly 50 titles I want to read and another dozen I want to put in our five slots for the top comics to buy for February 27, 2019. However, that’s not to say that there aren’t good comics coming out this week. There are plenty of really great books, more than enough really, and we’ve done our best to highlight a diverse array of them as we do every Monday.

Leading the way is Ice Cream Man #10, which we’ve been waiting for anxiously since Ice Cream Man #9 blew our minds back whenever that first came out. We also have the sophomore issue of Invaders finally arriving after the debut seeded a mystery and then went away for six weeks, as well as the continuation of three runs we’ve without questioned mentioned in this space before. So, go forth and rejoice with these comics, as well as any of the other titles that strike your fancy on our Top #1 Comics this week or the Others Receiving Votes.

With all that out of the way, let’s take a closer look!

Top Comics to Buy for February 27, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Ice Cream Man #10
Writer:
W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colorist: Chris O’Halloran
Letterer: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
Ice Cream Man #10 Review
"HOPSCOTCH MÉLANGE," Part Two: En este cap tulo, no existen las fronteras. El mundo está lleno de amor, pero el amor es peligroso.
Why It’s Cool: So yes, Ice Cream Man #9 blew our collective mind and expanded our perception of what this vignette horror series might ultimately prove to be. Ice Cream Man #10, meanwhile, is a bit of a return to this comic’s core concept: a mostly one-off comic in which the principal characters have horrifying things happen to them that speak to universal ideas of existential dread...with the titular Ice Cream Man and his own foil bouncing around the periphery. At least that’s how it used to seem, anyway. Knowing what we know from Ice Cream Man #9, they now feel like the center. Regardless, this is one great comic. Look for a full review later this week.

Invaders #2
Writer:
Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Carlos Magno with Butch Guice
Colorist: Alex Giumaraes
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
After the SHOCKING reveals about NAMOR last issue, THE HUMAN TORCH goes deeper into the Sub-Mariner's PAST, hoping to uncover his plan. But CAPTAIN AMERICA goes the direct route: TO ATLANTIS. Alone against THE MAD KING and his ARMIES in the exciting second chapter of WAR GHOSTS: THE AMERICAN AMBASSADOR!
Why It’s Cool: The first issue of Invaders was a fantastic update of the WWII Invaders concept, essentially catching up with the core characters from that bygone book—Namor, Captain America, and Winter Soldier/Bucky plus a bit of Jim Hammond Human Torch—to give us an update on their statuses as it still pertains to the war. What does that mean? Well, something is off with Namor, and it’s fallen to his old war-time compatriots to address his behavior. I won’t spoil it, but the first issue ended with a mystery. We can’t wait to see where this second installment picks up.   

Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #2
Writer:
Kieron Gillen
Artist: Casper Wijngaard
Colorist: Mary Safro
Letterer: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Price: $3.99
Humanity is at a crossroads, between life and annihilation. The threat comes not from space, but from a place absolutely inconceivable to anyone other than Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. Only he can take Earth's remaining heroes to confront that which threatens us all...but when he knows so much more than they do, should he? Also: strike a light, how hot is Tabu now? This is what happens when you give "DREAM DADDY" as the main artistic direction.
Why It’s Cool: Speaking of ending with a mystery and picking up somewhere fascinating, our next book is Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt. This comic is about a character that one of the Watchmen characters—Ozymandias—himself was based on, and it’s using the homage as its central conceit. We discussed all of this in our review of Peter Cannon: Thunderbolt #1, but it’s worth revisiting because the second issue continues to build on the charater’s connection to Watchmen. I don’t want to tip any of the surprises, but this is one of the most metafictional comics I’ve ever read and I’m absolutely fascinated to see what a team of creators as collectively strong as writer Kieron Gillen and artists Casper Wijngaard and Mary Safro are ultimately aiming to do here.

The Terrifics #13
Writer:
Jeff Lemire
Artist: Joe Bennett
Inker: Dexter Vines
Colorist:
Mike Spicer
Letterer: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $3.99
The Terrifics are back! And they're ready to enter the final battle with the Dreadfuls, Doc Dread's revenge squad that has systematically wiped out dozens of Mr. Terrifics from across the Multiverse. As the many Mr. and Mrs. Terrifics fight for their lives, the cavalry is on its way-but will Phantom Girl, Plastic Man and the repowered Metamorpho reach the battle in time? And how can the heroes possibly count this as a win with a mountain of bodies in Doc Dread's wake?
Why It’s Cool: It’s no secret that writer Jeff Lemire is winding down his time on The Terrifics (and if he is to be believed, on work-for-hire gigs in general), and while we’re excited to see what his replacement, the intriguing Gene Luen Yang, will do with this team, we’re currently enjoying the hell out of Lemire’s finale. This is some of the most character-driven emotional storytelling taking place in all of superhero comics, with multiple storylines so well-developed they threatened to make me cry during recent issues (I’m sentimental and don’t care who knows it). Lemire is also joined here by artist Joe Bennett (with Dexter Vines ink and Mike Spicer colors) who is one of my favorite prolific superhero artists, generally associated right now with Immortal Hulk. Anyway, The Terrifics continues to be a must-read comic and we’re excited for this issue.

Wasted Space #7
Writer:
Michael Moreci
Artist: Hayden Sherman
Colorist: Jason Wordie
Letterer: Jim Campbell
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Read our full Wasted Space #7 Review!
Reunions and betrayals! Our reckless heroes stage a rescue mission to save Rex-and secure the nuke still threatening to kill everyone. Along the way, Billy and Molly make a pit stop at a galactic gas station, where they discover brain-freezes and morality, and past demons catch up to Dust and Fury.
Why It’s Cool: Wasted Space is the best space opera in all of comics today. The first five issues of this book—all of which you can read more about on our reviews page—were pretty tightly plotted, orienting readers to this series’ versatile tone and characters. A TON happened in that arc. Toward the end of it, publisher Vault Comics announced that this series would become an ongoing, making issues like this one possible. Wasted Space #7 is loaded with character moments, rewarding progressions, and setup for the future. It’s an absolutely joy to spend time with this dysfunctional group that writer Michael Moreci and artists Hayden Sherman and Jason Wordie have brought together here. Check back later this week for our full review.   

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1

  • Captain Marvel: Braver and Mightier #1

  • Emotional Data One-Shot from Silver Sprocket

  • Forgotten Queen #1

  • Honor and Curse #1

  • Punks Not Dead: London Calling #1

  • Sweetie #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Action Comics #1008

  • Amazing Spider-Man #16

  • Black Hammer: Age of Doom #8

  • Black Panther #9

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer #2

  • Captain America #8

  • Daredevil #2

  • Flash #65

  • Hellboy and the BPRD - 1956 #4

  • Martian Manhunter #3

  • Redlands #11

  • Shazam! #3

  • The Wicked + The Divine #42

  • Wonder Woman #65

  • Wyrd #2

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

DC’s Wild Bunch: Gail Simone’s SECRET SIX

By Taylor Pechter — What do DC’s deadliest marksmen, a washed-up big game hunter, the man who broke The Bat, the daughter of an immortal, a banshee, and a human rag doll all have in common? They form the band of baddies known as the Secret Six. Spinning out of the events of the major DC Comics stories Villain’s United and Infinite Crisis, Secret Six is a book that follows these characters as they do work as a mercenary outfit.

Penned by fan favorite writer Gail Simone with assists by legendary Suicide Squad scribe John Ostrander and the work of a cadre of artists including Dale Eaglesham, Brad Walker, Nicola Scott, and Jim Calafiore, this series is rich with distinct themes connected to its six main characters, as well as to how they affect work as a team. It all adds up to a modern classic superhero story about comradery, love, addiction, mental illness, and much more.

Secret Six - Deadshot

What lies at the heart of Secret Six is its characters, each with their own intricacies that not only inform their character but also their place within the team. To start with, let’s talk about one of the most recognizable team members: Deadshot. Floyd Lawton—alias Deadshot—is one of Batman’s deadliest adversaries, also touted as one of the deadliest assassins in the entire DCU.

With Deadshot, Simone’s story examines how his job has affected his morality as well as his mental state. In a great one-shot issue titled “Control”, written by Ostrander, Floyd meets with a priest to confess his homicidal tendencies. Through his many years of work, he has grown numb in his morality. The only way he knows how to satiate himself is by killing. While these qualities make him a hard teammate at times, his brotherly rivalry with Catman (more below) and his connection to Scandal help pull him through.

Secret Six - Catman

Speaking of Catman, let’s move on to him. Thomas Blake is the son of a big game hunter. His father was abusive to his mother, at some points threatening to run away with him. As he grew up, he became a formidable big game hunter and tracker in his own right. He eventually crossed paths with Batman, but ultimately became a has been. That is until he left for Africa and got marked by one of the lions in the pride he ran with.

After declining membership in the Secret Society, Catman joined the Six to combat the Society. In “Cat’s In The Cradle”, a story that focuses on Catman, we follow him as he tracks down the kidnappers of his son, Thomas Blake, Jr. Sadly, he couldn’t save his son, but the narrative comes back to Catman absolving himself of his past. He realized he couldn’t be there for his son, and it tears him apart.

Secret Six - Bane and Scandal   

Bane and Scandal are next. We all know Bane as the man who broke Batman. He is a master tactician and hand-to-hand combatant. However, Bane also battles addiction to the fictional steroid known as venom. Throughout most of this series, he has kicked the substance. He refuses to use it for fear of again losing control. Bane eventually gives into his temptations to juice up in order to save Scandal’s life.

Consequently, Bane is then stuck by his craving, even to the point of waking up in the middle of the night for a hit. Scandal, meanwhile, is Scandal Savage, daughter of the immortal Vandal Savage. As the leader and organizer of the team, she carries many burdens. Not only does she have to worry about her team not killing each other, she also has a lot of baggage pertaining to her relationship with her father and also with her lover, Knockout. This combination of loneliness and atonement is what drives Scandal’s arc in the series. Scandal and Bane are paired together because of the bond that grows between them. Bane becomes somewhat of a father figure to Scandal, helping her through her trouble as she gets over the loss of Knockout. This works quite well for the development of both characters.

Secret Six - Jeanette and Rag Doll

Finally, we come to Jeanette and Rag Doll. Jeanette is the most mysterious member of the team. She was a member of the Hungarian gentry but was eventually sacrificed and became a Banshee. She has a history with Scandal which is hinted at, possibly a relationship. She, however, eventually hooks up with Deadshot. They make a perfect couple since death follows them everywhere they go.

Rag Doll, meanwhile, is the comedy relief of the group. Don’t let this fool you though, he does have a dark side. During the story “The Darkest House” he becomes prince of hell. However, he is brought back to the land of living by Scandal....with Knockout in tow. Rag Doll is a character based around forgiveness. At the start of the series, his sister Alex, known as Junior, was killed by the team. In the story mentioned above, he comes to terms with her death and connects with Scandal on how she felt when she lost Knockout.

While there are other members of the group that come and go—including magic siphon Black Alice, King Shark, Giganta, and more—the six characters discussed above are the team’s core. They not only serve as the backbone of the series, but as a team that brings a much larger story together. They are dysfunctional at times, but that is to expected of a group of villains. What’s great about Simone’s characterizations throughout is that she makes each of these characters sympathetic while also not comprising their villainous personalities.

So with all that in mind, what do say: are you ready to join the Six? Do you accept the mission?

Read more of Taylor’s writing on our comics analysis page.

Taylor Pechter is a passionate comic book fan and nerd. Find him on Twitter @TheInspecter.

Why I Love Black Superheroes

By Toren Chenault — Black History Month is a time to celebrate. I love being black, and I love everything about my culture. And I think it’s important to celebrate culture, no matter who you are. I also love comic books and am in the process of writing my first comic. As a future comic creator and as a black male, I think it’s important to acknowledge the strides we’ve made in the comic book industry when it comes to diversity. See, we still have a long way to go, though. In fact, it saddens me the low number of black writers and artists I see in mainstream comics today. But there are creators like myself that are working night and day, creating wondrous new worlds, hoping to change that one day.

Today though I want to focus on some of my favorite black characters in comics. Most will be superheroes, some will be from smaller companies, but each has touched my soul in a special way. Representation matters. It isn’t just a catchy phrase you should say on Twitter when you’re feeling empathetic. It really does matter. It’s just a great feeling to see yourself in a comic. So, welcome to a special “Why I Love” about black superheroes and black characters.

In this piece I want to spotlight these special characters but also let you know where you can find them currently in the comics. It can be easy to miss things, and we shouldn’t shame others for not knowing what’s out. So, if you didn’t know a certain character was still around, don’t feel bad. This piece is here to help. First up is a DC character who doesn’t get as much love as he deserves—Mr. Terrific.

Mr. Terrific by Alex Ross.

Mr. Terrific

A lot of the heroes and characters on this list defy stereotypes when it comes to black characters. Not every black character should come from violence or be inherently “tough.” Black people, like all humans, are complex. Michael Holt, aka Mr. Terrific, is a good example of that.

He’s a hero born from tragedy, like most are, and he’s a hero who lives with enormous guilt. Mr. Terrific has always been a favorite of mine because of his combination of style and intellect. Not only does he have multiple, multiple Ph.Ds (I think 14 to be exact), but he’s one of the coolest looking characters in the DC Universe. One of the first images I ever saw of Mr. Terrific was the single portrait legendary artist Alex Ross did for the JSA comic. The spheres floating around him, the black “T” on his face, the red, white, and black jacket that says, “Fairplay”...I was hooked. And after reading things like JSA, he became one of my favorites. Sometimes, writers who aren’t black tend to make their black characters too cool. They’ll rely too much on that aspect of the character and let it overtake their personality. Mr. Terrific is the blueprint for how to balance this. The perfect combination of swag and smarts.

Where is he now? Mr. Terrific is one of those characters I don’t think DC Comics as a company understands exactly how awesome he is. He still has an insane amount of untapped potential. He hasn’t been around too much in recent years, but you can currently find him leading his own team in The Terrifics. It was a part of the New Age of Heroes launch, and it currently remains one of my favorite titles at DC. Written by Jeff Lemire, the comic has been a good developmental series for Mr. Terrific. It dives into his loneliness and his past, and it also showcases just how much of a smart, capable leader he is.

Cyborg from  Teen Titans.

Cyborg from Teen Titans.

Cyborg

I literally grew up on the DC Animated Universe. I didn’t have money or any way to read comics weekly growing up, so the DCAU was my education on the DC Universe. And what an education. Cyborg came from that era, and when I saw him on Teen Titans, he became one of my favorites.

Once again,moving past the tropes of the black athlete, Cyborg is another highly intelligent person in the DC Universe. And his backstory is one that hurts. I remember an episode of Teen Titans where he was talking with Starfire about being judged for being different. And he wasn’t talking about being a robot. Cyborg deals with the negative stereotypes of being a large black man and a machine. That’s something I can’t fathom. I actually tear up while writing this because he was such an inspirational character for me. He helped me embrace everything about myself, not just what society told me was important. No matter how people viewed him, no matter how down he got on himself, Cyborg was always one to look life in the face and say, “Booyah!”

Where is he now? I’m going to be honest, I haven’t been a fan of the way Cyborg has been handled in the comics in recent years. He was promoted to the Justice League during the New 52 reboot, but I think with that came the disappearance of some important character traits, as well as history in the DC Universe. But I enjoy good content when I can get it, and that’s exactly what the more recent comic, Justice League Odyssey, is. Cyborg is currently on a cosmic adventure with Starfire, Jessica Cruz, and Azrael. Oh, and Darkseid is involved too. It’s a cool series so far, and just like with The Terrifics, it highlights some of what makes Cyborg a great character.

Blue Marvel and Spectrum.

Blue Marvel and Spectrum

These next two heroes I included as a pair because black love in comics is important. Each is important by themselves, but together, they represent something amazing that we need in comics. Blue Marvel is Adam Brashear (created by black comic creator Kevin Grevioux) and Monica Rambeau is Spectrum. They have some of the coolest powers in the Marvel universe. Blue Marvel is a literal antimatter reactor and Spectrum does what her name suggests. She can become any form of light on the electromagnetic spectrum. My love for them came from Al Ewing and Kenneth Rocafort’s Ulimates. In that comic, they were part of a powerhouse team with Carol Danvers, T’Challa, and America Chavez. It was a series filled with cosmic craziness, cool concepts, and beautiful art.

That series starts with Blue Marvel holding a holographic representation of the element Neutronium as he talks about its complex nature and how it relates to the multiverse. It’s still one of my favorite openings of a comic, and it did a good job setting the stage for what was to come. The pair have a natural attraction to each other, and I love it because it always comes off as genuine. There’s a scene in the story where Blue Marvel is studying Spectrum’s powers. He’s talking about how magnificent and wonderful they are. Of course, he’s speaking in terms of science, but to him science is beautiful, so Spectrum is beautiful. I guess that begs the question does he only love her because of her powers, but I don’t think that’s true. Monica Rambeau is one of the most respected, hardworking people in the Marvel Universe. And I think Blue Marvel recognizes that. Her magnificent powers are just a plus.

Where are they now? We were bound to get here eventually, to characters who haven’t been too active as of late. Marvel is sitting on two of their most powerful cosmic characters right now, and I don’t know why. Ever since The Ultimates ended, Blue Marvel and Spectrum have been scarce. I’m hoping they show up in the new Avengers weekly No Road Home. Still, this doesn’t take away from these great characters and their beautiful relationship.

Miles Morales is becoming a break-out star thanks to the new film Into the Spiderverse.

Miles Morales

I’ve always liked Miles Morales. But in recent years, I’ve become fond of the character. He’s this generation’s Spider-Man and has grown tremendously since his creation. He’s an Afro-Latino hero, and that’s important to his character. I’m not Latino myself, but I recognize the importance of not erasing that side of who he is. Neither side of his ethnicity is more important, and they don’t take away from each other.

Like many others, my love for Miles has intensified ever since his film, Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse came out. It was an authentic, masterful film with tons of heart and action. They made Miles relatable and really drove home the fact that he’s just a good kid trying to do the right thing. He likes art, music, has style, and is still growing as a person. He’s forced to grow up exponentially when he gets his powers, and I loved going on that journey with him—both in the movie and in the comics. Miles continues to be one of the brightest spots for Marvel in recent memory.

Where is he now? There’s plenty of Miles content today, and it’s all amazing. There’s his own title being written by Saladin Ahmed and drawn by Javier Garron. And then there’s Miles on his team, the Champions, and they have their own title, too. Written by Jim Zub and drawn by Steven Cummings. If you loved Into the Spiderverse, but don’t know where to start with his comics, these are perfect as they both had new #1s recently.

Livewire #1.

Livewire

If you’ve read any of my pieces before, you know that I’m a huge fan of Valiant Comics. And within the last two years one of their characters has had the best development in all of superhero comics. Her name is Amanda McKee and she goes by Livewire. An extremely powerful technopath, Livewire debuted in 2011 as a side character who’s loyal to her teacher. Now, she’s a fugitive who led an uprising across the Valiant Universe. She’s become one of my favorites in all of comics, and Valiant has done a tremendous job developing her since her debut.  

Livewire, like most of the other heroes on this list, defies stereotypes and expectations of black superheroes. Especially black women. Livewire has been Toyo Harada’s most trusted student, leader of Valiant’s super team Unity, and she brought together a group of psiots called the Secret Weapons.

Where is she now? I recommend going back and reading the original Harbinger series where Livewire first debuted. Then you can find her in titles like Unity and Secret Weapons. But now, she’s the star of her very own title. It’s being written by talented writer Vita Ayala and the art is being done by the amazing team of Raul Allen and Patricia Martin. It’s one of the best titles not just at Valiant, but in all of comics right now.

Valiant’s  Divinity.

Valiant’s Divinity.

Divinity

Now we’re on to possibly my favorite black superhero in comics today. Abram Adams is Divinity, and he is the most powerful character in the Valiant Universe. That right there means a lot to me. Not only that, but I relate so much to Divinity. His origin is one of circumstance and tragedy. He was left on the doorstep of the Russian government and was trained to become an astronaut. Abram wanted to go to space, though. His obsession with knowledge and learning drove him during his training. And it was that exact obsession that led to him interacting with a cosmic energy that turned him into a God.

Writer Matt Kindt and artist Trevor Hairsine worked on the original Divinity trilogy. And in it, Divinity narrates about life being like a big book. And how he always wanted to see all the pages, reading it all at once. Once he got his powers, he could, but he lost a piece of himself. He lost his wife, his daughter, and everything he was before. There’s a quote from Divinity #4 that is one of my favorite pieces of writing ever.

“Abram Adams was an astronaut. An explorer. A husband and a father. Once I was all of these. But now—now I flip through the life of Abram Adams like the worn pages of a dog-eared novel. Wondering at the meaning. And savoring the best parts.”

If you enjoy science-fiction and want new black superheroes, please read Divinity.

Where is he now? Divintiy hasn’t been around too much recently, but he is a newer character. Kindt and Hairsine worked on Divitniy I, II, and III, and then they worked on its sequel comic, Eternity. Divinity also showed up in Harbinger Wars 2. I’m sure he’ll be around in the future of Valiant.

Conclusion

There were a lot of heroes I didn’t get to. But then again, there really aren’t that many. I mean a couple of things by that. The first being that I didn’t include a good portion of characters. There’s Nighthawk, Black Panther, Vixen, Luke Cage, Sam Wilson, Moon Girl, Mosaic, John Stewart, Static, Steel, Misty Knight, and Black Lightning. There are all amazing characters who bring something different to the table. Both in terms of powers and representation. But there’s a bigger problem with black superheroes.

There still aren’t enough.

And I’m not even asking for more. Especially from big companies. As a fan of comic books and superheroes, logically I wouldn’t mind seeing more black characters from companies like Marvel and DC. But, as a black man living in America in 2019, I understand the realism of companies who profit mainly off heroes who look like Batman and Spider-Man, not constantly creating black superheroes. Yes, things like Black Panther and Into the Spiderverse exist, and both are amazing, amazing feats of cinema, but one or two films won’t fix an institutional problem we have in comic books. What’s the solution? More representation behind the scenes and us, fans and smaller creators, supporting each other.  

I love black superheroes. Because I get a chance to see myself in them. It’s just cool to see someone who looks like you do something awesome. Sometimes, that’s all minorities want. That’s really all anybody wants. There doesn’t have to be a deep message all the time. Just someone who looks like you, doing awesome stuff. And in this article I wanted to emphasize the role we as fans play in supporting black superheroes. Support Marvel and DC when they put out good content like the comics and characters I described up top. But also focus elsewhere. Valiant, Image, BOOM! Studios, and even Dark Horse are all starting to showcase black characters more. Try to get out of your comfort zone and venture into other titles. But also, support up and coming black creators. Where publishers don’t shine, independent creators flourish. There’s a bevy of black creators today making their own worlds, universes, and characters. It can definitely feel overwhelming sometimes. Trust me though, good content is out there, but we have to support it in order to see more.

Toren Chenault, a native of the Cincinnati area, currently lives in Michigan with his girlfriend. A graduate of Michigan State University, he is a long-time superhero fan who counts Captain Atom, Carol Danvers’ Captain Marvel, Daredevil, Divinity, Nightwing, and XO Manowar among his favorite heroes. Mystic Man is his first book. Buy it now here, and check out more of Toren’s Why I Love series here.

Top Comics to Buy for February 20, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — This week was (yet again) an incredibly difficult one to stick to just five choices for our Top Comics to Buy for February 20, 2019...so here we are with six! The PICK OF THE WEEK, however, was a fairly easy call: The Wild Storm #20. Holy cow has this book been a masterclass in patient comics storytelling, and now, for those of us who’ve been here all along, we’re getting rewarded with intense, high-flying action plus the return of fan favorite characters. But more on that below…

Really, superhero comics were better than usual this week with fantastic artwork in Aquaman and the nascent Naomi catapulting those into the top tier as well, while Guardians of the Galaxy #1 was so good a few weeks ago, that its merits managed to also land Guardians of the Galaxy #2 here, but, again, we’ll explain all that in the forthcoming why it’s cool sections.

So then, without further adieu, let’s check out our picks!

Top Comics to Buy for February 20, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
The Wild Storm #20
Writer:
Warren Ellis
Artist: Jon Davis-Hunt
Colorist: Steve Buccelatto
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Publisher:
DC Comics
Price:
$3.99
Skywatch intensifies its preparation for war, increasing its attacks on the planet. For some of these conflict zones, Skywatch's greatest threat is not IO or conventional forces, but the people who escaped from its own experimentation camps. And the four people in London whom it knows little about, but who are preparing to take steps to alter the balance of the world…
Why It’s Cool: I got into this a bit in the intro (sorry, couldn’t help myself), but this is the most action-packed issue to date of a series that has spent its previous 19 installments patiently building toward a war (with one other-worldly super-detailed bout of combat in feudal Japan interspersed). Meanwhile, this issue also returns arguably the two most successful characters to be born from any WildStorm comic. It has a long-form narrative payoff, incredible visual action, and the triumphant restoration of characters we haven’t seen in a while. Simply put, this is the type of comic that reminds you why you like superhero comics.

Aquaman #45
Writer:
Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Robson Rocha
Inker: Daniel Henriques
Colorist: Sunny Gho
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher:
DC Comics
Price:
$3.99
She's heeeeeere! Witness the epic origin of Aquaman's most dangerous foe yet-the nefarious Namma! Meanwhile, Aquaman, still trying to piece together his strange vision of a mysterious red-headed woman, agrees to accompany Caille across dangerous waters to meet her long-lost mother in exchange for recovering his lost memories. But as the two allies (or maybe more?) approach Namma's island, strange events begin to occur that reveal a shocking truth about Caille herself!
Why It’s Cool: We are absolutely loving the early chapters of Kelly Sue DeConnick, Robson Rocha, Daniel Henriques, and Sunny Gho’s Aquaman run so far, which first and foremost looks incredible, but then also features a lofty tale designed to really impress upon readers the importance of the earth’s oceans. Yes, this story makes the setting a key part of the narrative, an always-excellent move for comics about Aquaman. Basically, come to this run for the art, and stay for the storytelling. Whichever you end up liking best, you’re going to be glad that you’re reading this comic.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2
Writer:
Donny Cates\
Artist: Geoff Shaw
Colorist: Marte Gracia
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99
Thanos is dead... Long live the NEW Thanos!
But who will it be?!
Will the new Guardians of the Galaxy find that person in time before the universe comes crashing down?
Why It’s Cool: We absolutely loved Guardians of the Galaxy #1, which was essentially an extension of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s incredible Thanos Wins. As noted in the intro to this piece, the strength of that issue alone was enough to guarantee we’d not only come back for this one but also place it here among our top comics to buy for February 20. What Cates and Shaw are engaged in here is one heck of a cosmic superhero epic, and, for those of us who like that sort of thing, this book is not to be missed.

Mars Attacks #5
Writer:
Kyle Starks
Artist: Chris Schweizer
Colorist: Liz Trice Schweizer
Publisher:
Dynamite Comics
Price:
$3.99
When things may be at their lowest, Spencer Carbutt may just become the man that his father has been trying to make him amidst all of the explosions and meltings and giant insects making a mess of all types of infrastructure. Make sure you grab yourself a copy of the conclusion to the rootinest, tootinest, Martian-shootin'est comic book you did ever dang see!
Why It’s Cool: This book has been funny and surprisingly emotional from its start, especially last issue, and the finale is no exception. In the final issue of this miniseries, the schlubby main character that writer Kyle Starks and artist Chris Schweizer have created completes a neat and satisfying little character arc, with Schweizer doing his best (and most detailed) apocalyptic artwork in this series to date. Highly recommend this whole mini.

Monstress #20
Writer:
Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher:
Image Comics
Price:
$3.99
Five-time Eisner Award winner for 2018! As Kippa descends into the darkness, she confronts the most ancient of foes…
Why It’s Cool: The best-looking book in all of comics returned last month with an action-packed issue that seemed to maybe initiate an end game for this fantasy tale. All of that continues in this week’s issue, which, as always, will absolutely tickle your eyeballs with the sheer talent on display in the visuals. Other than Saga (which as we well know is on hiatus) there’s not a better example today of the immersive world-building power of comics than Monstress. Basically, if you love this medium, you must be reading this book.

Naomi #2
Writers:
Brian Michael Bendis & David F. Walker
Artist: Jamal Campbell
Letterer: Carlos M. Mangual
Publisher:
DC Comics - Wonder Comics
Price:
$3.99
The most startling and intriguing mystery in the DC Universe continues as Naomi searches to uncover the secrets of her own origin. What do her small town's oversized mechanic and the last time a super-powered person appeared in her hometown have to do with the day she was adopted? Big emotions, new characters and a last page cliffhanger that can't be missed lead off this issue drawn by breakout sensation Jamal Campbell. Don't miss your chance to meet the most exciting new character in the DC Universe!
Why It’s Cool: We are firmly in the camp that believes this move to DC Comics has pushed writer Brian Michael Bendis to do some of his best work in years (although, we were thoroughly enjoying his final Marvel books, especially Iron Man and Defenders). We are also thoroughly in the camp that believes David F. Walker is one of the most underrated talents in all of comics and that the Big 2 should quit hiring him, letting him do a few issues of an amazing new comic, and then cancelling it. Well, on Naomi Bendis and Walker are working together, armed as they are with the absolutely stunning art of Jamal Campbell. All of it is built upon a mystery that teases a look at the DC Universe that we’ve never seen before. Count us not only for this issue but for the (hopefully) long haul.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of X-Man: Amazing Nightcrawler #1

  • Anthem #1

  • High Level #1

  • Hulkverines #1

  • Incursion #1

  • Love Romances One Shot

  • Sharkey the Bounty Hunter #1

  • Stronghold #1 (check out our review!)

  • Wolverine: Infinity Watch #1

Others Receiving Votes

  • Avengers #15

  • Batman #65

  • Bitter Root #4

  • Black Badge #7

  • Catwoman #8

  • Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #3

  • Go-Bots #4

  • Hot Lunch Special #5 (check out our review)

  • Lone Ranger #5

  • Justice League #18

  • Miles Morales: Spider-Man #3

  • Relay #4 (check out our review)

  • Shuri #5

  • Uncanny X-Men #12

  • Venom #11

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Top Comics to Buy for February 13, 2019

By Zack Quaintance — You know it’s a strong week for new comics when we expand our top choices to six slots and still have to bump Amazing Spider-Man, Superman and Thor (three absolute favorites in these parts) down to the Others Receiving Votes section. But hey, too many great comics is one of those good problems to have, and we vastly prefer that to the alternative.

This is a great week, really, for readers of all tastes. There’s another pair of new idea-dense comics from Vault, the continuations of some of the best superhero runs today, and a new series from one of the industry’s funniest satirists. It’s the type of Wednesday that reminds me why I invest myself so thoroughly in the weekly comics grind: there’s just no other medium that’s so urgent, profilify, or tonally and thematically varied. It’s a beautiful thing.

Now, onward to the comics!

Top Comics to Buy for February 13, 2019

*PICK OF THE WEEK*
Wonder Twins #1
Writer:
Mark Russell
Artist: Stephen Byrne
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Publisher: DC Comics - Wonder Comics
Price: $3.99
Exiled from their home planet, alien heroes Zan and Jayna must navigate life as teens on Earth at South Metropolis High School, where they're even bigger outsiders than the typical awkward young adults. Under the watchful eye of Superman, the brother and sister pull monitor duty at the Hall of Justice as interns, while also trying to overcome the pitfalls of Zan's brash confidence and Jayna's shy but streetwise persona. If you think you know the Wonder Twins, think again-this book takes the form of the unexpected.
Why It’s Cool: Mark Russell is really at home with old Hanna-Barbera properties, making him an absolutely amazing choice to revive the old Super Friends characters, the Wonder Twins. Doing this property right is a tall order. There’s just so much that can go wrong, but Russell has shown a propensity in the past for taking those ideas—a serious take on The Flintstones, on Snagglepuss, etc.—and hitting them out of the park. This could be his finest work yet, playful and self-aware and relentlessly delightful. It’s a blast to read. DC Comics doesn’t make wry fun of itself often, and I wouldn’t really want them to, but when it’s done this well, it’s something really special.   

Criminal #2
Writer:
Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colorist: Jacob Phillips
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $3.99
"THE LONGEST WEEKEND": Archie Lewis was the artist's artist in his heyday, although that's not what he's famous for. He's famous for being a nightmare to work with-and dangerous. So when an old assistant is forced to chaperone his one-time mentor to receive his lifetime achievement award, well... let's just say things don't go well. As always, CRIMINAL contains back page art and articles only found in the single issues.
Why It’s Cool: Has it been a month already since the excellent new Criminal series started? Wow, that went fast, but hey, I’m not one to complain that the best partnership in comics is back. The first issue was as immersive and authentic as one would expect from the Brubaker-Phillips all-time great crime comics pairing. This book, now on its eighth volume, just seems to get better the more its creators return to this world, the more they broaden and hone and expand upon the tone of these stories. This newest volume is no exception.
Read our review of Criminal #1.

Fearscape #4 (our review)
Writer:
Ryan O’Sullivan
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Colorist: Vladimir Popov
Letterer: Andworld Design
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
After the tragic events of the third issue, the villainous Henry Henry finds himself... No! The advertising copy provided here by the publisher will not do! The events of our third chapter (please refrain from calling them issues) are hardly tragic. Our brave hero bested two villains, yet his reward is to be libeled against in marketing copy? -HH
Why It’s Cool: There are more than a few creative types among those of us who read monthly comics obsessively (which is presumably the core readership of this website...though we’ve—shockingly!—not had it in our budget to conduct a focus group just yet). This is a book, meanwhile, that calls to and calls out creative types on their every last insecurity, unspoken jealousy, pretension, etc., mining it all for great fantasy/horror concepts. This issue might be construed as a turning point, and, like all those that have come before it, it’s an absolutely must-read comic.
Read our reviews of Fearscape #1, Fearscape #2, and Fearscape #3.

Friendo #4 (our review)
Writer:
Alex Paknadel
Artist: Martin Simmonds
Colorist: Dee Cunniffe
Letterer: Taylor Esposito
Publisher: Vault Comics
Price: $3.99
Thanks to an obscure piece of legislation, Jerry and Leo are now above the law. As they rob big-box stores up and down the west coast with The Manufacturer's blessing, their violent exploits are livestreamed to millions of disaffected consumers who've been told "no" one too many times. Beginning to tire of their new status as folk heroes, Jerry and Leo's final heist takes a brutal turn when corporate assassin Zaj Xek the Cremator gets them in his sights.
Why It’s Cool: As with the rest of Vault Comics’ current slate—Wasted Space, Fearscape, These Savage Shores, etc.—Friendo is an unpredictable comic dense with ideas that have much to say about 2019 America. It’s also one of today’s best creator-owned comics, an ever-evolving story that goes to new and terrifying places every week. I’ve written this in all my reviews (and will likely do so again in the near future) but the real shocker with this story is how at first blush it seems like total sci-fi but then starts to seem increasingly likely as you delve into its horrors. Check back later this week for a full review!    
Read our reviews of Friendo #1, Friendo #2, and Friendo #3.

Livewire #3
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artists: Raul Allen with Patricia Martin and Scott Koblish
Letterer: Saida Temofonte
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Price: $3.99
On the run! Fleeing from more than just the law, Livewire's about to find out whether she has the strength to survive on her own in a world that hates and fears her, with only her memories of better days to rely on... but if she's not careful, even those can be snatched away by the mercenary hunting her down!
Why It’s Cool: We have loved both installments of Vita Ayala’s and Raul Allen/Patricia Martin’s new Livewire book so far, and the third issue is no exception. There’s something really special happening in this comic, arguably making it the best Valiant series since Divinity (last year’s Secret Weapons one-shots not withstanding). This issue is a sort of bottle issue that sees the central protagonist engaging in a nakedly honest way with an antagonist during a prolonged bout of combat. It’s a kinetic and poignant way to get across many ideas without slowing the story’s pacing at all, and I absolutely loved it. I won’t say much more past that for risk of spoilers.
Read our reviews of Livewire #1 and Livewire #2.

Magic Order #6 (our review)
Writer:
Mark Millar
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Colorist: Dave Stewart
Letterer: Peter Doherty
Publisher: Image Comics - Netflix
Price: $3.99
This explosive miniseries climax is a high-octane magical battle of good versus evil, as the remaining Magic Order wizards make a last stand against Madame Albany and the forces of darkness. Family bonds are tested, blood is spilled, and black magic threatens life as we know it.
Why It’s Cool: Magic Order #6 marks the end of Mark Millar’s first full series since signing his landmark multimedia deal with Netflix, and it’s been one hell of a way to launch a partnership. Like *insert your favorite action film here* with wizards and witches, Magic Order is an exciting high-stakes take on magical tropes, illustrated beautifully by Olivier Coipel with Dave Stewart colors. Simply put, this is a gorgeous book with one of Millar’s always-sharp concepts at its heart, and we’re excited for the finale (and also wondering if there might be more story on the way in this world eventually…).
Read our review of Magic Order #5.

Top New #1 Comics

  • Age of X-Man: NextGen #1

  • Army of Darkness: Bubba Ho-Tep #1

  • Avengers: No Road Home #1

  • Hit Girl Season 2 #1

  • Marvels Annotated #1

  • Savage Sword of Conan #1

Others Receiving Votes

See our past top comics to buy here, and check our our reviews archive here.

Zack Quaintance is a tech reporter by day and freelance writer by night/weekend. He Tweets compulsively about storytelling and comics as BatmansBookcase.

Welcome to the Age of X-Man Round-Up: Your Guide to Age of X-Man

By Allison Senecal — So! The 10-part weekly series X-Men: Disassembled came, brought Legion and X-Man back to us, and then went, seemingly leaving an X-Men-less Earth-616 in its wake. Regardless of whether you think all ten issues were necessary (I’m on the fence, myself), they certainly succeeded in setting up a comparably more enticing, new era of X-Men comics.

I’m talking specifically about the Age of X-Man event, which started last week and runs through this summer, and Matthew Rosenberg’s new run on the flagship Uncanny X-Men title! AOXM, which consists of six five-part mini-series happening in the same alternate reality, includes a fantastic and diverse slate of rising creators, such as Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, who are showrunning the whole thing. AOXM looks to be a weird, wild riff on Age of Apocalypse, with its own unique aesthetic and premise. As for Uncanny, I’m largely into it because THE NEW MUTANT LADIES (and Havok, I guess) were announced for the main team, but even if you don’t love them as much as I do, I think there will be a lot to love in these comics. I’m hoping even fans disappointed by Disassembled will give one or both a go.

These round-ups, which will be running once a month, will serve as both reviews and as actual honest-to-god round-ups! So you, yes you, don’t have to read absolutely everything if you don’t want to, or maybe you’ll just be titillated enough to try a new series. Either way.

Oh yeah. Cyclops and Wolverine are back, or something! Let’s get the gang back together, eh?

Previously on Age of X-Man

Age of X-Man: Alpha #1
Writers:
Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Ramon Rosanas
Colorist: Triona Farrell
Letterer: VC’s Clayton Cowles
Released: 1/30/2019
Imagine a pastel-tinged perfect world populated only by mutants, where the X-Men are revered, the religion is Hope Summers, and every mutant child is cultivated from an early age to value themselves and their powers. Too good to be true, right? Yep. Thompson and Nadler ace plopping us right into this mutant Utopia and following up the warm fuzzies with an immediate sense of unease. Sculpture of the Original Six X-Men? Check, and you heard that right! Six! What? Did you also forget Nate Grey was a founding member of the team? To top this off, the art team perfectly nails the cozy yet sterile Mid-Century Modern vibe, which always makes me at least think of repressed sexuality and TV dinners. Color palette: perfection.

Besides the opening, where we see the new Marvelous X-Men team in action, this is a delightfully quiet world-building issue, which fits the setting and adds to the general atmosphere of cultivated peace, punctuated only by a (purposely) jarring Bishop arrest scene. This is where things get truly gnarly. Jean is re-educated as a result of her and Bishop’s forbidden romance, and X-23 is brought into the team as his replacement. Sense of cultivated peace successfully shattered. Let the Age of X-Man truly commence.

Age of X-Man: Marvelous X-Men #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Marco Failla
Colorist: Matt Milla
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/6/2019
Characters: Jean Grey, Storm, X-23, Magneto, Nate Grey, Nature Girl, Colossus, Nightcrawler

Much like Alpha, Marvelous opens on several scenes of serenity, this time domestic and not out in the larger world. Magneto cooking, Nate meditating, Jean reading. Blissful. Even the emergency alerts are tightly managed and seemingly non-taxing for our Marvelous X-Men. There are a few cracks in the facade, though. Nate again appears where he most definitely should not (since when was he a member of Multiple Man’s X-Factor team?) Colossus is painting, but it seems to be Lockheed. Noodle on that heartbreaker. The lowkey best part for me is the palette stays consistent from Alpha to this, and I hope that continues into all the minis. Really lends a cohesive and beautifully muted aesthetic to everything.

Of course, things begin unraveling on what appears to be an otherwise routine mission. Looped throughout the entire sequence is a PA system’s litany of “being alone is harmony“ (and other Nate Grey-isms) and slowly Jean begins to hear a psychic undercurrent of “it’s okay to love “ woven in. Once again, there’s a jarring scene that completely breaks the illusion, but this time it’s X-23 confronting Nate about her mission-interrupting memory of…a sister? After some bonding, Nate admits this is true and they had to be separated, and Laura attempts to attack him before being mind-wiped. During the next day’s leisure activities, Jean again hears the voice from the earlier mission, which turns out to be a psychic resistance rallying call sent by Apocalypse. *Jaws music*

Meanwhile on Uncanny X-Men

Uncanny X-Men #11
Writer:
Matthew Rosenberg
Artists: Salvador Larroca (main), John McCrea (“Wolverine Returns”), Juanan Ramirez (“The Last Blindfold Story”)
Colorists: Rachelle Rosenberg (main and “The Last Blindfold Story”), Mike Spicer (“Wolverine Returns”)
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Released: 2/6/2019
Characters: Cyclops, Wolverine, Blindfold, Multiple Man, Layla Miller, Callisto, Chamber, Velocidad

“This is forever.”

This is, simply put, a haunting opening issue. I don’t use that word willy-nilly, but I was in bed for a good half hour thinking about this last night. I tend to dislike the device of telling the same story via different points-of-view, especially back-to-back, but they do it in this issue and it creates a feeling of ever-tightening tension and isolation. All three linked stories are fantastic,  building on each other. I will advise that anyone with suicide triggers should be careful. I feel Rosenberg didn’t make his decisions lightly (though one death was a bit of a throwaway), and I’ve had a couple ugly cries over it, but my two cents are it’s not my business to tell people how to feel when characters die, especially two who are likely favorites to some.

Cyclops is back! And he’s searching for other mutants to join his cause (finding the missing X-Men and fixing everything, because of course), because a world without X-Men is pretty dank. Blindfold eventually finds him and gives a warning. “This is forever.” It echoes through the rest of the issue like a pipe drip you can’t quite pinpoint. Scott hits up other known mutants, including a Chamber-led group in the sewers, and is found by Multiple Man. Jamie warns him about bothering Blindfold, who Scott then finds dead in her home, with the words “this is forever” scrawled next to her. A death-wish leads Scott to an anti-mutant rally and scuffle with Cap, after which he calls attention to himself on national TV and sends a message to other mutants to meet him “where this all began”. Of course he’s ambushed, and saved by Wolverine, leading to a little chills-inducing greeting.

In the next story, events then start from the beginning, this time with Wolverine watching everything from the shadows, and Kid Cable telling him to keep an eye on Scott. Layla Miller tells Logan to find Blindfold if he wants help so he heads down to the sewers where he comes across a rapidly aged Velocidad who tells him Blindfold doesn’t want to be found, of course right before she tracks Logan down and hits him with some ominous conversation. We see the altercation at the end from Logan’s perspective, and his decision to intervene and reveal himself to Scott.

The last story loop belongs to Ruth/Blindfold. We find out she’s won the lottery, getting her out of the sewers, but her powers have been shorting out since the events of Disassembled and she keeps having violent visions. She seems to no longer have a clear concept of past, present, or future. After the previously mentioned exchange with Logan, she draws herself a bath and kills herself, stating she sees she no longer has a future.

Age of X-Man: Alpha #1 provided some STELLAR hooks for the six AOXM miniseries so let’s take a look at what might be next…..

Next Time on Age of X-Man

NextGen.jpg

Age of X-Man: NextGen #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Ed Brisson
Artist: Marcus To
Release Date: 2/13/2019
What is up with that slow zoom-in on Glob’s very haunted gaze? What happens when a bunch of teens and young adults find out not everything is as it seems?

Age of X-Man: The Amazing Nightcrawler #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Seanan McGuire
Artist: Juan Frigeri
Release Date: 2/20/2019
NATURALLY, the handsomest (even without his beard) X-man is a famous actor in this perfect reality. The Cuckoos are his agents. Magma is his stunt coordinator. What could go wrong?

Age of X-Man: The X-Tremists #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Leah Williams
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Release Date: 2/27/2019
Hey, what’s a utopia without a secret police force? *ominous music* Just how much policing do they need to do? Who exactly is Moneta, this new mutant? Why is Bobby wearing suspenders?

Age of X-Man: Prisoner X #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Vita Ayala
Artist: German Peralta
Release Date: 3/6/2019
So where did Bishop go? Here, apparently! What are his fellow inmates in for? What’s up with Dani Moonstar, who is almost definitely in two places at once (here and Uncanny later this month)?

Age of X-Man: Apocalypse and the X-Tracts #1 (of 5)
Writer:
Tim Seeley
Artist: Salva Espin
Release Date: 3/13/2019
Apocalypse?! A GOOD GUY? Basically seems that way….and working with Kitty Pryde? I guess….what the #$%& is going on? Why is he sending subversive psychic messages to everyone?

Allison buys books professionally and comics unprofessionally. You can find her chaotic neutral Twitter feed at @maliciousglee.