What’ve we got this week? A one-shot, a first issue, the start of a new story arc, and the prelude to the prelude to a new story arc. It’s about as mixed a bag as it sounds, to be honest, but every one of these books has at least something going for it, and you can’t always say that. And so, with that in mind —
Never one to pass on the chance to squeeze as much blood from a rock as they can (and then some), Marvel is cashing in on the resurgent popularity of the Hulk with a series of one-offs from their main series, the first of which is The Immortal Hulk : Great Power #1, which sees Bruce Banner’s gamma powers temporarily take up residence in Peter Parker — and if one guest star’s not enough for you, the entirety of the Fantastic Four is on hand, to boot. On the one hand I wanted to hate this one, because it’s such an obviously cynical cash-grab and it’s priced at five bucks, but Tom Taylor’s script is actually pretty fun, and the art by penciler Jorge Molina and inkers Adriano Di Benedetto and Roberto Poggi is certainly more than serviceable. Yeah, nothing here is gonna make you forget about Al Ewing and Joe Bennett, and it’s far from an essential purchase, but if you’re looking for a nice little side-step, this provides it. I read it twice, so what the hell? I don’t even feel particularly ripped off by it — even though, logically speaking, who are we kidding? I was.
Our debut issue for the week is writer John Layman’s latest project for Aftershock, The Man Who Effed Up Time #1. Again, this is no re-invention of the wheel or anything, but for a predictable-enough genre yarn it’s not bad at all. Playing right into the standard time-travel trope of “if you change even one thing, you’ll screw up everything,” this one’s about a schmuck lab assistant whose former best friend stole his work, stole his girl, and now treats him like shit, so when he invents a time machine, he goes back to try and “fix” all that — and ends up creating an alternate reality where Abraham Lincoln became an emperor (or king, or something), and his distant heir now sits on the throne. The script is light-hearted, heavy on the humor, and features smartly-written (if painfully obvious) characters, while the art by Karl Mostert is clean, simple, and almost admirable in its eschewing of the slick in favor of the effective. It is, however, another one that checks in with a five dollar cover price, so I dunno — you might be better off waiting for the whole thing to be collected in trade.
Moving on over to Dynamite, Red Sonja #13 kicks off the second year of this latest iteration of the series, and while interior artist Bob Q and cover artist Jae Lee (who’s done better work than he turns in with this one, that’s for sure) are both new faces, writer Mark Russell is still around, and let’s just be honest — he’s the engine driving this thing, and the reason everyone’s picking it up. That being said — Mirko Colak’s art was a lot better-suited to this sword-and-sandals stuff than Q’s rather workmanlike illustration, but for people just concerned with a continuation of the narrative, this shouldn’t disappoint. The new arc kicks off with Sonja having won the war that took up the title’s first year, but at a pretty steep cost — her people are now starving to death. What to do? Well, how about venturing into the territory of your sworn enemies to see if they’ll give you a hand? Hey, it’s comics — crazier shit than that has worked before. I’m still enjoying the heck out of this book, so I’ll probably stick out this storyline, even if it doesn’t look as period-appropriate visually, but it’s all riding on Russell from here on out — which is probably not anywhere near as dire as it sounds, given that he has yet to let me down on anything he’s worked on.
Finally, over at Image we’ve got Copra #5, which is the first of two issues that set the stage for the big confrontation with the villainous Ochizon that writer/artist Michel Fiffe has been building up towards since the start of this title’s first incarnation. Next issue is billed as the “prelude” proper, so yeah, this one is the “prelude to the prelude” that I mentioned at the outset of this column. It’s a fun ride with some great foreshadowing, even-more-creative-than-usual page layouts, and eye-popping colors — and I really gig the texturing effect that Fiffe is playing with in his art here. Of course, I’m always ready to follow this book wherever it goes, and even though this issue was pure set-up, it was good set-up, so if you’re enjoying this comic, it’s safe to say that you’ll be well-pleased with this most recent installment. I know I sure was.
And that’ll do it for this time around, apart from my customary reminder that this column is “brought to you” each and every week by my Patreon site, where I serve up exclusive thrice-weekly rants and ramblings on the worlds of comics, films, television, literature, and politics for as little as a dollar a month. Subscribing is the best way to support my continuing work, so I’d be very appreciative if you’d take a moment to check it out by directing your kind attention to https://www.patreon.com/fourcolorapocalypse