Luck, Webs, and Girl Detectives – September’s Comic Book Corner

Reading Time: 12 minutes

There’s so much happening in the world of comics right now that this week’s comic book corner is packed with books you will want to pick up. Several of these issues came out this week, so be sure to head down to your local comic shop and grab them. If digital is your thing, you’ll find a link in the titles that should help get you started.

This week Kay and MAJK have a wide variety of issues for you. We cover some Marvel favorites Domino #6, Amazing Spider-Man #6, and X-Men Red #8. We take a peek at a new title Asgardians of the Galaxy #1. We take a look at some family-friendly favorites with Nancy Drew #3, Tangled #3, Labyrinth #5, and DuckTales #12.

Domino #6

Written by Gail Simone

Art by Michael Shelfer

Cover by Greg Land

Release Date: September 12, 2018

Publisher: Marvel

Age recommendation*: 12+

MAJK says: This issue wraps up the “Killer Instinct” arc in true Domino fashion. Diamondback is on the edge of death, and Shang-Chi’s arms wrapped tightly around Domino’s waist. Neena’s focus is back and she’s on a hot streak in her favorite town at her favorite time.  I don’t know about you, but I was shipping Shang-Chi and Neena from their first sparring match.

She and Shang-Chi grab a bite, he suggests that Domino’s “luck” isn’t so much a random attribute as an actual skill that she can exert control over. As Neena mulls this over Topaz drops back in—fist first.

The pure hate and rage on Topaz face is perfectly articulated in both art and writing. This is one of those moments when the words and the art mesh to bring to bear the full reality of an emotion. Topaz is consumed entirely as she spews the news of Desmond’s demise at the woman she blames for that and every second of her tortured existence.

At that moment, Neena displays genuine compassion only to have it snuffed out as Topaz gloats over Diamondback’s demise. This arc has really defined Domino’s beautiful but tragic humanity.

Shang-Chi reminds a devastated Neena to focus, and with a solid right hook to Shang-Chi’s beautiful jaw, Domino is back and Topaz is her target. Topaz turns Domino’s powers up, but she’s in for a surprise. I couldn’t help but think she intentionally invoked Wade when she reminded Topaz that cancer patients fight through pain every day.

The ending is everything I love about Domino: snarky, solid, real, and unapologetic.

Favorite Line: “I’m not a Superhero. I’m a Disney Princess.”

Amazing Spider-Man #6

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Written by Nick Spencer

Art by Steve Lieber, Humberto Ramos

Cover by Humberto Ramos

Release Date: September 26, 2018

Publisher: Marvel

Age recommendation*: 12+

MAJK says: So, after Peter Parker/Spider-Man finally managed to pull himself together (literally) in issue #5, things are looking pretty close to normal for him. MJ and he are sorting out their relationship, or they would be if they could get a little alone time without Fred Myers A.K.A Boomerang A.K.A Peter’s annoying roommate (as opposed to Randy, the cool roommate). Fred’s a nice-ish, normal-ish guy (for a super-villain) hanging out with his super-villain buddies playing cards and hitting up trivia night in the bar with no name. He’s even looking out for his roommate’s financial situation. Of course, it’s by dragging Peter to the bar with no name for Spider-Man trivia night. Yeah, the look on Pete’s face when he’s staring at a roomful of his enemies is priceless.

The fear doesn’t last long. Maybe some of what Spidey’s lecture to Peter (when they were split up) sunk in because Peter goes from pasty paranoid to show-off smart guy in no time. Dazzling everyone in the bar with his deep knowledge of Spider-Man, Pete loses sight of Boomerang. Which is no small mistake because that big dope just mouthed-off one time too many. Now Mayor Fisk A.K.A Kingpin is texting every baddie in the bar with an offer they can’t refuse. Meanwhile, Pete’s hanging out and for a moment looks like he’s having fun. Yeah, that’s not gonna last.

This issue feels like filler but there’s a lot going on under the surface that looks to be setting up some big fun in Oct. Let’s not forget Kraven was also lurking about last issue. I don’t need Spidey-sense to know, $*&% is about to get real.

Favorite line: “I get why they come here. Why a bunch of loser outcasts can take some comfort in not being alone.”

X-Men Red #8

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Written by Tom Taylor

Art by Carmen Carnero

Cover by Jenny Frison

Release Date: September 26, 2018

Publisher: Marvel

Age recommendation*: 12+

MAJK says: First, this entire book is just bloody gorgeous. Let me get that out of the way first. The art for this entire series has been really good, but this issue has some scenes that allow Carmen’s talent to really shine. I was stoked to see Storm going full goddess on Genosha and the two-page spread of Trinary weaponizing all of the vilest parts of cyberspace was visual poetry.

Carmen’s been doing the art since issue #6 and I really hope she remains the artist for the rest of the run because her work is stellar. I love the expressiveness she brings to each character’s face. The details that she manages without making it too busy strikes the perfect balance for me. Storm is one of my all-time favorite characters, and I can honestly say based on her work on this title, I would love to see her do the art for a title featuring Storm.

As for the story, it’s solid. There’s a lot of political and social commentary going on in this entire arc (which I will explore in another article), and the team figures out who’s been stoking the anti-mutant fires and they are none too pleased.

Cassandra Nova’s abuse of Forge’s talent in her anti-mutant pursuit is probably the clearest display of the way hatred allow us to dehumanize others. She’s an unapologetic villain, intent on infecting everyone, including mutants, with those nasty little hate machines.

Gentle’s backstory is heartbreaking. It demonstrates the brutality of abuse and paints a very realistic picture of the long-term psychological damage that a victim suffers. I love Gentle’s desire to avoid hurting people. His compassion is one of his most endearing traits.

If you weren’t already sold on Trinary, then this issue will cinch that for you. Aside from having powers ripped straight from a Philip K. Dick or William Gibson novel, Trinary has many of the traits that made Storm one of the most beloved characters. I’m already in love with this character. Determination, confidence, and a complete commitment to reduce hatred.

Favorite Line: “I’m crashing them… all of them. With zettabytes of spite.”

 

Asgardians Of The Galaxy #1

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Written by Cullen Bunn

Art by Matteo Lolli

Cover by Dale Keown

Release Date: September 5, 2018

Publisher: Marvel

Age recommendation*: 12+

MAJK says: I’ll admit it I’m a Thor fan. You know that little girl in the 1987 movie Adventures in Babysitting? That was me as a kid. I was the little kid that combed the school libraries for everything on Norse mythology. Which explains why when I saw Asgardian of the Galaxy I snatched it up. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I’m all in for this ride after just one issue. The fact that this is an Infinity Wars tie-in is just icing on the cake… tasty, tasty icing.

So who are these Asgardians of the Galaxy? Well, their self-appointed leader is none other than that not-so-beloved half-sister of Thor, Angela. I mean, she is mercenary AF, no doubt, but she’s also a consummate BAMF. The story opens on the cutest date/not-a-date between Annabelle Riggs and Ren Kimura, which Angel interrupts. If you’ve forgotten or are new, Annabelle Riggs shares her body with the hotheaded Valkyrie A.K.A Brunnhilde A.K.A My Asgardian Girl Crush. Angela and The Destroyer need Annabelle and her body-mate (is that even a word?) to join them on a mission to Draeketh.

Once there we see the rest of the team is assembled.  Skurge the Executioner is freshly returned from Hel and more than happy to lend his axe. Thunderstrike and Throg, the mightiest frog of thunder, round out our little band.

Why has Angela gathered this little band together? Turns our dear friend Nebula is determined to rule the galaxy and she has found the means to do it. The trinket that she’s after is an Asgardian weapon dangerous enough that even the mighty Thor should be afraid.

Favorite line: “Y’know… For a bunch of Asgardians, you know surprisingly little about your culture.”

Nancy Drew #3 & #4

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Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Jenn St-Onge
Colorist: Trionna Farrell
Letterer: Ariana Maher

Publisher: Dynamite

Age Range: Your preteen can handle this

Kay says: Nancy Drew continues to be my absolute favorite adaptation of the girl detective comic since the original books themselves. The developing mystery is multi-layered and intriguing. Nancy originally returned to her hometown because she received a threatening message about her mother’s death. We have since learned that the message was sent by Pete. Pete is furious because his own mother died around the same time that Nancy’s did… but no one cared.

One detail I am particularly enjoying as the story develops is the undercurrent of social awareness in the story. Nancy’s mother was well-off, well known, and white; Pete’s mother was none of these things. The police focused on Nancy’s mother’s investigation; Pete’s mother was just forgotten.

Issue #3 opens with George, Bess, Joe, and Frank catching up with Pete and Nancy; another body has been found, and the police are there. They’re trying to interview Nancy, who is having absolutely none of their nonsense.

Back at the house, everyone convenes to share information and figure out next steps. Nancy steps out for a few moments, and we get a gorgeous conversation between Nancy and George about how she’s feeling, knowing that her mother’s death was just an accident after all. Given how often George and Nancy have been frustrated with each other during this series, this was a great moment. The group then splits up to continue their investigations in different directions.

Another detail I love about the book is how it handles Nancy always being out of touch when Bess and George need her. In the original series, this is, of course, simple; Nancy’s somewhere the others aren’t. But in the modern age of cell phones and GPS, this would be harder to navigate. Simple answer? Nancy’s that friend who absolutely always forgets to charge her phone.

Issue #4 continues the investigation, heading into a wild club that really showcases Trionna Farrell’s skill with colors. The shifting lights in the club are evident in every panel, creating that wild feeling of being in a room with so much sensory stimulation. The danger is mounting now, and Bess is in real and serious danger by the end of the book.

Art and colors by Jenn St. Onge and Trionna Farrell overall continue to be exceptional; little details like the reverse ombre on Bess’s hair and the way colors shift in different settings make the book really come to life. And huge shout-out to whoever decided that this book would start out with a little recap of the arc to date; every comic should do this, and I despise the ones that don’t. It’s been a month, people, I don’t want to go read the last five pages of last month’s issue to know what’s happening this month.

This book is going to be on my pull list basically as long as Kelly Thompson cares to write it.

Best line: “Frank! Shut up and stop being calm!”

 

Jim Henson’s Labyrinth: Coronation #5

Image from Labyrinth: Coronation Issue #5

Writer: Simon Spurrier
Illustration: Daniel Bayliss with Irene Flores
Colorist: Dan Jackson
Letterer: Jim Campbell

Publisher: Archaia

Age Range: Your teenager should be okay

Kay says: I am so in love with this book, but this issue was not my favorite.

In many ways, the themes of this story continue from previous issues. We see Sarah and Maria’s journeys contrasted, just as Jareth and the Owl King’s courts are contrasted.

One detail Sarah never really realized is that much of the labyrinth she faced was created from her own mind. Even the labyrinth itself mimicked the old wooden game that you played by twisting dials and trying to navigate a marble through its twisting paths. The monsters she faced and befriended were toys from her room. Jareth created the labyrinth and its denizens from her own mind.

Maria, however, is quickly realizing that the labyrinth is being taken from her mind—but also from her husband’s. We also begin to see parallels between Maria’s child—and Toby, Sarah’s little brother. The goblin caring for each child—who I believe may be the same goblin—is trying to keep each child from crying.

We are so deep into the narrative now that it’s difficult to discuss how it’s evolving. There is much less of Sarah and Toby in this issue. We mostly see Maria’s understanding of the world evolving, and the Owl King interacting with her directly, criticizing humanity and its inferiority.

In a lot of ways, this was my least favorite issue of the book so far. We’re hitting the middle of the story; this is a twelve issue series, and we’re on issue five. What happens in the next two or three issues of the story is going to say a lot about what I think about the overall series—and whether or not I end up deciding I want a collected version.

Best line: “Your heart is what will ruin you.”

Tangled: The Series #3

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Story A: Lend A Helping Foot
Writer: Liz Marsham
Art: Eduard Petrovich, Rosa La Barbera
Color: Vita Efremova, Ekaterina Myshalova

Story B: The Lost Letter
Writer: Alessandro Ferrari
Art: Eduardo Petrovich, Rosa La Barbera
Color: Vita Efremova, Ekaterina Myshalova

Story C: Hair Raising
Writer: Scott Peterson
Art: Arianna Rea, Rosa La Barbera
Color: Vita Efremova, Ekaterina Myshalova

Publisher: IDW

Age Range: All Ages

Kay says: I have to stop reading this book.

I wrote about the first issue of Tangled a few months back; I was not particularly a fan. The panel design is awkward and difficult to follow, the stories are oddly paced and not very funny, and the comic lacks a real sense of motion. I had hoped to see these issues get better. They haven’t.

In Story A, a cobbler is complaining to the King that because Rapunzel never wears shoes, he’s in danger of going out of business. She has set a fashion, apparently, of not wearing shoes. Realizing that she’s a trendsetter, Rapunzel decides to use her powers for good. She tries doing a bunch of things in public and causes all sorts of problems: painting means that no one does their jobs, teaching people to make bread means the baker is going out of business, and so on. Then she does an anonymous good deed… and that’s the new trend. The book ends with a joke about the king throwing a ball where footwear is required, so the cobbler is happy.

In Story B, the Royal Mail Carrier quits, so Rapunzel takes on his job. She messes up and delivers an invitation to the royal ball to one of the mercenaries from The Snuggly Duckling. Instead of explaining the mistake, Eugene decides to teach him how to behave in society. He does really badly in practice, but is great at the ball? Then the Royal Mail Carrier wants his job back. The end?

In Story C, we get a story about Rapunzel’s hair growing back the day before her coronation, presumably from the cute brown razored bob she had at the end of the movie. She bundles her hair all up inside a weird bonnet that looks like the kind of hairpiece I associate with period movies set around the time of Marie Antoinette. She knocks into all sorts of things… then gets to breakfast with her parents and the hairpiece is intact. I can’t even figure out what the joke is supposed to be here.

I really wanted to like this comic, and for it to be something I could share with my kids. But between the lack of humor, the super weird panel design, and the lackluster art, I’m just pretty well done here.

Best line: “Seriously, I can’t even find one, I really tried.”

DuckTales #12

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Story A: The Greatest Adventure, The Greatest Price
Writer: Joey Cavalieri
Artist: Emilio Urbano, Andrea Greppi, Cristina Stella
Colorist: Dario Calabria
Letterer: Tom B. Long

Story B: When Luck Ran Out!
Writer: Steve Behling
Artist: Giofranco Florio
Colorist: Giuseppi Fontana
Letterer: Tom B. Long

Publisher: IDW

Age Range: Kids

Kay says: DuckTales is the comic I can’t seem to give up, even though it’s never as good as I wish it was. My kids and I are passionate fans of the current TV show, and I originally started reading this tie-in comic because of them. My ongoing frustration with the comic is that I have trouble sharing it with my kids. We bought a few issues, and then I’ve mostly been looking at review issues.

In Story A, Uncle Scrooge, the nephews, and Webby climb a mountain and meet someone claiming to be Scrooge’s cousin. They go after a treasure, realize that they’re not related, and then finish up with a joke about Launchpad meeting a potential relative of his in the last panel. There are quick lines about how Scrooge is the richest man in the world because of his family. Awwww.

But my kids wouldn’t get this story at all. Scrooge realizes that Huge isn’t his cousin because Huge isn’t wearing the McDuck tartan on his scarf. There’s no reason at all for Webby to be in this story, she does nothing and adds nothing. The stories continue to be really wordy, which means that the word balloons mask the art—which, for once, I rather liked. Overall, though, this wasn’t much of a story; it’s not funny, and it’s not adventurous; it just happens, and then it ends.

In Story B, Donald Duck and his cousin, Gladstone Gander—I had to double check with Mathias that Gladstone was, in fact, Donald’s cousin because the story doesn’t explain that until the second to last page—make a bet. Gladstone thinks that the only reason adventures go awry is because Donald is bad luck; if Gladstone goes along, everything will go fine, because Gladstone is the luckiest duck.

This would make more sense in one of the old Carl Barks or Don Rosa cartoons, where Donald actually goes on adventures; in this comic, and in the current cartoon, he hardly ever does. But I digress.

Scrooge, Launchpad, and Gladstone go on an adventure, but are caught by Irishmen cosplaying as leprechauns. Someone made that up, on purpose, and it wasn’t me. They’re going to get thrown into a fire pit—except Gladstone, who is clearly the God of Luck—until Donald shows up. His bad luck cancels out Gladstone’s good luck, and the leader decides to free them all.

In the world of superhero comics, there’s a tendency towards comics that are written for older (or adult) readers. In the world of Disney comics, the same thing seems to be true—only with an even more extreme age gap. At times, it seems like there’s disdain at the idea of including children in the readership at all. But if you had asked Carl Barks—or Stan Lee, for that matter—who they wrote for, the answer would have been children, without question.

This DuckTales series is not for children. I’m not quite sure who it’s for—Disney comics fans, diehard DuckTales aficionados, parents who want to give their kids something with the name DuckTales on it because the kids love the show—but not for children to pick up on their own and read for the fun of it. I may keep reading this book here and there for myself, but I’m never going to give this to my kids.

Best line: “I’m sorry, I really tried, still nothing.”

*Age recommendations listed are only a general guideline. This is just a recommendation. Parents should review the comic content and make their own call as every child is an individual.

*Some comics were received by GeekMom as review copies

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