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Deathmatch #7 (Boom! Studios): In about half a dozen issues, Paul Jenkins and Carlos Magno have created an instant set of superhero archetypes to deconstruct that I care more about than the Marvel and DC fare that they subvert. This issue witnesses additional match-ups, like the long awaited showdown between Sable and Mr. Chuckles (imagine a female Batman and an even more clownish Joker), Meridian finally comes clean with what really happened at The Rift, and the whole thing is one of the most thrilling and entertaining books of the year. Grade A.
Catalyst Comix #1 (Dark Horse): Joe Casey comes at this thing and attacks the genre like he’s working three sides of the same triangle. He fast forwards to the apocalypse like a Kirby-esque shot of adrenaline, revitalizing Titan in a post-9/11 number with Dan McDaid, where the protagonist questions his own identity as time marches on. Are superheroes there to deal with weird threats or does their very existence actually create them? The second with Paul Maybury journeys to a cosmic well that’s the mother of all threats with Amazing Grace in a shared universe that’s like Godland meeting 2001. This is Joe Casey’s “Final Frontier.” The third entry is probably the most fun, with Ulises Farinas, reminding me of a 1970’s Power Man and Iron Fist riff. There’s a suit who goes-a-recruitin’ for Agents of Change, with Warmaker and Wolfhunter, and mentions of Rebel and Ruby. It’s important to look at these three stories as a triptych forming one image. We’ve got New York, LA, and The Cosmos. We’ve got superheroes, space, and street level. We’ve got what feels like the 70’s, the 80’s, and the 90’s in a modern package that’s akin to Rob Liefeld asking Brandon Graham to come in and revitalize Prophet at Image (with other creators also taking on other 90’s work, Joe Keatinge on Glory, etc.). Here, it’s Mike Richardson asking Joe Casey to come in and run wild with old Dark Horse shared universe ideas from the 90’s. With quirky styles, social relevance, and tons of content for just $2.99, this has heaps of potential. Grade A.
Satellite Sam #1 (Image): It seems like people are either loving or hating this book, but I’m leaning toward the former. The only really negative things I can say about Fraction and Chaykin’s latest offering is that, at times, the art felt really grainy and smudgy – to the point you can’t even read the names of the cities above the clocks on the wall on the very first page – but maybe that was done intentionally to reflect the snowy TV reception of the time period this story is set in(?). I also thought the pacing was pretty inconsistent, going from being very decompressed (literally 5 pages of a chick walking the streets of New York trying to find their titular star) to wildly fast and staccato by the end, to packed with dense dialogue in the beginning. It just wouldn’t settle down. That said, I liked it! From choice turns of phrase like “piece of strange,” to the insider baseball, behind-the-scenes, retro-Newsroom, Sorkin-esque network politics, manic magic old-timey drama of producing live TV, and subversive 1950’s undercurrent, it seems like Chaykin has shifted down to the point I can stomach his sometimes over-the-top aesthetic, and Fraction is redlining it up where I like him the most. I'm in. Grade A.
Ten Grand #3 (Image): I read most of these books days ago and did all sorts of things before sitting down to write reviews up, so (gasp!) I’m having a hard time remembering what went on in this book. I remember thinking it might have been the best issue yet because of the way the stakes are upped by the end, and how JMS and Templesmith continue giving us flashbacks that fill in the earlier years of the people involved. Grade A-.
Suicide Risk #3 (Boom! Studios): Ditto. I remember that some type of “slow burn LA Confidential” type of vibe stuck with me long after I read this issue. Grade A-