This week there were a couple dozen great books released, as well as a lot to simply check out with the next round of new DC titles and returning series as well as the scores of Battleworld tie-ins from Marvel. Outside of this there were a lot of leading independent titles that see either first issues or new arcs beginning, and even a few strays in the Marvel world that are not directly interacting with Secret Wars quite yet. We have selected three to talk about, and will return later with reviews that are specific to first issues and Vertigo books, respectively.
This has been one of the defining series of the new Image Renaissance, defining Jason Aaron as the kind of writer that comes in the footsteps of Garth Ennis. Southern Bastards has switched perspectives once, starting with Earl Tubb until his murder from The Boss. Now the narrative begins to shift to the Sheriff, an essentially corrupt character that were are beginning to understand his background in the town. Looking both backwards as his history as a high school football prodigy to a passive accomplice to the Boss’s crimes, we are learning a new character that is both fully realized and sympathetic in a very real way. This is an interesting turn for the series as the central narrative simply shifts perspectives while maintaining the same story at its core. This allows for three-dimensional look at this town, the generational reliance on crime and extreme violence. This issue is a great next step into the third story-arc, and really does remind us about the made-for-trade structure of these popular indie books. Southern Bastards reads great in trade, but it is hard to wait that long and each issue has a great narrative structure that means issue to issue it is easy to feel satisfied and remain engaged. This is a new step for the series, but we are beginning to get a good sense of what it will be in the long term and it is exactly what the comic book industry needs right now.
Stumptown Vol. 3 #6 (Oni Press, Greg Rucka)
This is the beginning of a new arc in this numbering of Stumptown, the PI story from Greg Rucka. This begins by focusing on high-end coffee, of all things, which is probably a call back to the Portland home culture that is rich in the book. We see Dex’s sister arrive unannounced, tension continuing with the neighbor, and conflicting cases coming up in the barely-ends-meeting professional work of private investigation. There was not a great deal here to start the arc, but we can depend on what the history has been thus far and it seems that the story quality is going to remain consistent from the past. This is a new-generation Rockford Files, which is something Rucka has said openly, and that is just fine. This is a good jumping on point for new readers, though it would have been nice to see more actually taking place to get us hooked in. Likewise, it is also much more text heavy than the series is known for, which, at times, gets a little dry. None the less, the track record of Stumptown is enough to be excited by this new mystery.
This series has been a great little gem from Marvel’s back alleys, and the drawing force, the relationship between Norrin Radd and Dawn Greenwood, is in full force as the series rounds down its initial run. This issue is set, at first, in the future on a utopian planet for Norrin and Dawn live in perpetual sexual tension as they refuse to step out of the platonic forest and into their real feelings. It is revealed later that their minds have been fogged, a complexity that is best left to explanation through Mike Allred’s strange pictography. The issue ends exactly where we want the two characters to be, but the real question is what happens next for the book. Is it going to continue after Battleword? What we can say is that this is definitely the end of both the second arc and, likely, the first generation of the book’s story. If this really is the end, I would like a little more substance, but as a marker of the characters’ growth, it is sufficient.