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Last Call Comics: Wednesday 5/31/23

Comic Books

Last Call Comics: Wednesday 5/31/23

More comics reviews from Marvel, IDW, and Image!

Welcome to another edition of Last Call Comics. Here, as we continually bolster AIPT’s weekly comics coverage, we catch any titles that might’ve fallen through the cracks. Or, those books that we might not cover but still deserve a little spotlight. Either way, it’s a chance to explore more comics, generate some novel insights, and maybe add to everyone’s to-be-read pile.

Once more, happy New Comic Book Day to everyone.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

— Chris Coplan, Comics Editor

Local Man #4

Last Call Comics: Wednesday 5/31/23

Courtesy of Image.

The thing about good satire is that a project should also be the exact same as its intended target. Local Man has clearly demonstrated that tenement, going above other hero-smashing entries (The Boys, Invincible, Umbrella Academy, etc.) in terms of ripping apart the genre while standing firm as a powerful ode to these larger-than-life titans. The first three issues set the stage for this robust world, slowly building a mystery for Jack Xaver to tackle and a whole universe of history and context to inform his hero’s journey.

Issue #4, though, managed that rare feat in pushing the human drama (who’s killing villains, and can Jack escape the eye of Third Gen?) while opening up all new puzzles to crack, relationships to extend and/or complicate, and heaps of drama to spin further. It was a high point in that it felt like an “end” to an arc, but was still able to push the narrative forward and leave us with a proper climax to look forward to. I won’t spoil what that is exactly, but suffice to say, it’s a big twist that will furter torture and test Jack in compelling ways. And that’s sort of why this book works: it’s suffering and celebration all mixed together, and we’re just along for a wild, weird, and nostalgic ride.

The creative team (Tim Seeley, Tony Fleecs, and Brad Simpson) have outdone themselves in a book that’s done the same since word one — from visual gags and heavy battles (and even more great ’90s flashback art), it’s a top-to-bottom experience of human highs and lows. Because when you’re this cutting and insightful, you’ve got the room and skill to get this profoundly human and unashamedly raw.

Final Thought: If you want to save the world, you’ve got to shatter a few hearts (and maybe some kneecaps?)

Score: 7.5/10

Cat Fight #1

Comics

Courtesy of IDW.

As I’d mentioned in this week’s Judging by the Cover, Cat Fight has a killer tagline (pun clearly intended). And, sure, it certainly achieves that promised mix of John Wick + Kill Bill + Cats, but there’s so much already percolating.

It absolutely recreates this kind of “assassins paradise” a la John Wick, but there’s so much more depth and history to the life of our “hero,” Felix. (Plus, it reaches James Bond-ian levels of cool that the Wick series never truly could achieve.) It may also have the same kind of moral duplicity as Kill Bill at its core, but there’s some solid twists and turns, married with more well-rounded characters, to make it all the more raw and personal. And beyond the appearances of cats and cat burglars, I’m still waiting on the whole Cats thing — but if it’s referring to a bounty of drama and theatricality, then it’s got more than even Mr. Mistoffelees himself.

So much of all this is because writer Andrew Wheeler and artist Ilias Kyriazis have a solid rapport built already; the narrative and visuals play brilliantly while providing all sorts of texture and context respectively. It’s only scratched the surface so far, but already this book could be the cat’s meow for complicated interfamily dramas disguised as a globetrotting caper.

Final Thought: Like actual cats, this title is playful, unpredictable, and never afraid to draw a little blood.

Score: 8.5/10

Alien #2

Comics

Courtesy of Marvel.

I was certainly among the folks who were a little puzzled at yet another Alien title debuting. Especially one so close to the truly impressive work from Phillip Kennedy Johnson and Julius Ohta. Yet writer Declan Shalvey, artist Andrea Broccardo, and colorist Triona Farrell have, in just two issues, demonstrated why more Xenomorphs is a good thing.

It’s not so much because it’s an especially groundbreaking story but rather because it leans into what made this franchise so compelling in the first place. And that’s the protagonists; in this instance, the family (Dr. Batya Zahn, her partner Dayton, and daughter Zasha) offer a rich and realistic core of humanity amid all the terrifying aliens and pointed commentary on capitalism. There’s other decisions made — placing this on a tiny ice moon, the emphasis on Dayton’s injury (he’s missing an arm), and even the behaviors of those Weyland-Yutani cretins — that enforce something essential about Alien as an institution and meaningful story structure. And, of course, none of it would feel as impactful without the work of Broccardo and Farrell — they’ve managed to reinforce this pre-existing world with a certain joy, sense of momentum, and freshness to make it feel newly-sleek and novel without mitigating the franchises’ storied visual identity.

We’ve only got a few issues left of this five-part run, and the action’s already reached a fever pitch as the Xenomorphs rise from their chilly tombs. But while enough of us may already be licking our chops at the forthcoming buffet of carnage, it’s the family and their survival (or not?) that drives this story forward. That, and we always need more Chestbursters.

Final Thought: Come for the visceral action, but stay for the heartwarming tale of family and anti-capitalism messaging.

Score: 7.5/10

Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain #4

Last Call Comics: Wednesday 5/31/23

Courtesy of Marvel.

It’s always sad to see a comic get the axe. In the case of Betsy Braddock: Captain Britain, we don’t really know why it’s ending with June’s issue #5 (even if we can conjecture until the cows come home). It’s a truth made all the more depressing given that issue #4 felt like a real high point for the Tini Howard-penned story. Sure, the previous three issues have been entertaining enough — even as they’ve suffered from a few key issues. Mainly, there’s been this ongoing sense of repetitiveness in the back-and-forth squabbles between Betsy Braddock and Morgan le Fay (and that’s not even mentioning the whole “but she can’t be Captain Britain!” shtick that’s worn a little thin).

Yet issue #4 saw some rather big developments — an assist from the Avengers (artist Vasco Georgiev and colorist Erick Arciniega killed it with the team’s depiction and dynamic) as well as a looming war with Morgan-Dr. Doom — that pushed the series from a slow build into the realm of properly exciting action and all-around development. Even the art (again, props to Georgiev and Arciniega) showed a lot of the versatility here, emphasizing the undertones of joy and energy between the Doom confrontations, the family meeting/planning session (got to love more spy elements being added in), and some top-notch flirting between Braddock and Tony Stark. That last interaction proves Howard gets these characters and the corner of this universe she’s helped forge.

Sure, issue #5 may be the end of this run, but this issue felt like the first time the series aligned in full with Howard’s previous, totes excellent Excalibur series, enhancing that magical title while more firmly standing on its own. (I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that the Betsy-Rachel Summers relationship continues to flourish in vital ways.) I hope #5 can achieve the same kind of results and all-around feel, because that could make this short run something truly powerful.

Final Thought: In which our beloved Captain Britain makes some big moves and even bigger waves.

Score: 6.5/10

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